Lower Level
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CSXT Shenandoah Division Lower Level

The lower level of the CSXT Shenandoah Division contains both the Salem Terminal and a portion of the Covington Subdivision. The Covington Subdivision extends from MC Cabin at the north end of the Salem Terminal to Alleghany Junction, VA where the Connellsville and Winchester lines split (see the division map from Timetable #1).

Go to a larger version of the plan. (Image is about 348KB.)

In conjunction with touring the line below, refer to the Towns and Industries page for more detailed information about the towns and industries on the CSXT Shenandoah Division.


Salem Terminal

The Salem Terminal extends from SE Cabin at the south end to MC Cabin at the north end.  Prototype influences for the Salem Terminal include CSXT yards at Erwin, TN; Rocky Mount, NC; Hamlet, NC; and Cumberland, MD. 

The tour of the Salem Terminal portion of the layout will begin in the south end staging yards representing Wadesboro, North Carolina and will terminate at MC Cabin at the north end of the terminal.

Wadesboro, NC Wadesboro, NC is the staging yard on the south end of the layout. It represents all points south of Salem, VA, such as Wadesboro, NC; Hamlet, NC; Atlanta, GA, and Waycross, GA. Wadesboro has 6 loop tracks with a total of 12 staging "slots" for 14-foot trains (a 14-foot train in N scale is approximately 3-4 locomotives and 30-36 cars), plus there is a single track for the Rocky Mount Roadswitcher. This total staging capacity allows up to 12 trains to be staged and still have a "slot" open to receive a southbound. Also, the Amtrak Cardinal and NS freight trains depart the Shenandoah Division at Roanoke Junction to head for a separate 4 track staging yard representing the NS Roanoke, VA yard. 

The aisle between Wadesboro and Roanoke is about 30" wide, which should be fine since only 1-2 people (trainmaster and a train crew arriving or preparing to depart) will ever need to be in it at any time. I also plan to devise some sort of "curtain" to connect the end of the staging peninsula with the end of the Roanoke Yard to further "hide" staging from the view of train crews. There will be a "pop-up" access hole in the middle of the staging loops for construction and maintenance. Upper level (north end) staging looks very similar.


SE Cabin The south end of the Salem Terminal begins at SE Cabin. Double track extends through the terminal from SE Cabin to SN Cabin. The northbound track (closest to the backdrop) is the No. 1 track, while the other main is designated as the No. 2 track.

South of SE Cabin, the single track mainline parallels the Roanoke River after emerging from Wadesboro staging.


Salem, VA Salem, VA is home to a couple of large industries in the downtown area. The CSL Salem Intermodal Terminal has two tracks to serve Shenandoah Valley trailer and container traffic. Salem Stamping & Fabricating is the site of a large auto parts plant with 3 tracks: the track closest to the backdrop is for shipping 60' auto parts box car loads, the middle track is for receiving coil steel gons, and the front track is for shipping loaded scrap metal gons. This industrial area gets switched by the Rocky Mount Roadswitcher, which departs Wadesboro staging and runs to North Salem before turning back to Rocky Mount, VA.

The aisle is about 45" wide between Salem and North Salem. 


SY Cabin The North Salem Yard South Lead comes back into the No. 2 track at SY Cabin (Salem Yard). There is a crossover from No. 2 track to No. 1 track just north of SY. This crossover allows access from No. 1 track to the A/D Yard lead.

Salem Market Street Union Station The Salem Market Street Union Station is located between the CSXT Shenandoah Division and NS CR&E Division trackage just south of Roanoke Junction. Amtrak trains calling on Salem make their station stops here today. In the pre-Amtrak era, passenger trains of both the SVL and the CR&E would stop here.

Roanoke Junction, VA (RJ Cabin) NS CR&E Division trains using trackage rights over the CSXT Shenandoah Division will depart for home rails at Roanoke Junction, heading towards the Roanoke staging yard. The CSXT and NS mains cross the Roanoke River just south of Roanoke Junction. CSXT trains pass part of downtown Salem, which is on a slight hill.

RJ Cabin is also the location of the crossovers from the Arrival/Departure (A/D) Lead to No. 2 track, as well as a connection between the South Lead and A/D Lead.  Salem Avenue crosses the South Lead, A/D Lead, No. 2 track, and No. 1 track in this area as well.


SX Cabin SX Cabin is the south end of the A/D yard. An additional crossover has been added here between No. 2 track and No. 1 track to facilitate passing movements on the double track and to allow NS trains working North Salem to get back to No. 1 track before the Roanoke Junction connection to the NS CR&E Division. 


North Salem, VA North Salem is the site of the large classification yard serving the Shenandoah Division. CSXT freight traffic for industries throughout North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia is classified here.

Two industries also call North Salem home. The CSX Salem BIDS Terminal (BIDS stands for Bulk Intermodal Distribution Services) provides chemical, grain, and lumber warehousing services, while Science Diet has a cat food manufacturing plant located here.


SN Cabin SN Cabin is the north end of the double track at North Salem. The crossovers to the Mason Creek Lead and the A/D yard have been arranged so that a yard switcher can continue classifying cars on the Mason Creek Lead at the north end of North Salem Yard while a road train works the arrival/departure yard. This simple change will allow two truly independent yard jobs at North Salem in addition to a yardmaster if we have enough crew members. A/D-1 will hold a 14-foot train, while A/D-2 is about 12 feet long, which would hold a train minus its power. Typically, A/D-2 is used as a setout/pickup track for through trains, so the shorter length should not be a liability.

The CSXT North Salem Shops are located in the vicinity of SN Cabin as well. The shops service power for road and local trains (and pushers) on the 3 stub ended tracks, while the double-ended track serves as a ready track. Car repairs are also performed here. Fuel and sand are delivered to the shop area on the short stub track.


MC Cabin MC Cabin is the north end yard limit of the Salem Terminal. The Covington Subdivision heads northward at MC Cabin.

The entire Salem Terminal is 42" high, which is the lowest point on the railroad.


Covington Subdivision (MC Cabin to New Castle, VA)

The Covington Subdivision extends from MC Cabin to Alleghany Junction. The lower level of the layout and the peninsula which transitions between the two levels encompass MC Cabin to Laurel, VA. For information about the  portion of the subdivision from Laurel to Covington, VA, go to the Upper Level page.

Hanging Rock, VA Hanging Rock is a small town between North Salem and Catawba, VA. A slight upgrade of 0.67% northbound lifts trains from MC Cabin to the Hanging Rock Tunnel, just north of the town of Hanging Rock. The grade levels out to cross the Catawba Creek Viaduct. The mainline then traverses a northbound downgrade of 1.51% through a deep cut before reaching Catawba, VA. 

The Catawba Creek Viaduct is a scale 560' long (3.5 actual feet). Similar to several viaducts on the Clinchfield Railroad, this bridge crosses the Catawba Creek and the NS CR&E Division. The benchwork has been lowered about 10" here to accommodate the valley scene below.

The distance from SN Cabin (north end of double track in North Salem) to the south end of the Catawba passing siding is about 30 feet, while MC Cabin to the south end of Catawba is 20 feet. Since the nominal train length on the railroad is 14 feet (3-4 locomotives and 36 cars), this allows about 2 train lengths of just running room between North Salem and Catawba. The long run through the countryside between MC and Catawba helps with the desire to have several scenes on the railroad that aren't dominated by track, towns, and industries.


Catawba, VA Catawba, VA is the first town north of the Salem Terminal. The Catawba Roadswitcher, B712, will be based here. This roadswitcher will work the industries in Catawba, Abbott, and New Castle. Through freights or road locals will set-off and pick-up cars from the two track yard in Catawba. The yard should hold about 30 cars on the two tracks, and the south end of the Catawba passing siding should allow B712 to sort cars in the yard without fouling the mainline. Power for the Catawba Roadswitcher will tie up on the Valley Feed track.

Catawba is home to four industries: Alleghany Building Supply, which receives lumber and building materials; Catawba Propane, which will receive LPG gas; Valley Feed, which receives feed in covered hoppers, and the dominating James River Company paper mill. The James River Lead on the east side of the mainline serves as an additional track where through trains can set-off and pick-up cars for the Catawba Roadswitcher.

The Catawba passing siding is approximately 15.5 feet long, which translates to about 38 cars. Catawba will serve as the "hold-out" siding for southbounds coming into Salem, similar to Hannum, TN on the Clinchfield Railroad.

At the north end of Catawba, the main line will duck into the Catawba Tunnel to hide the turnback curve at the end of the peninsula.


Abbott, VA Abbott, VA is the next industrial location north of Catawba. There is no siding at Abbott (and not much of a town), but there are two industries here: the Craig Creek Chip Co., which ships wood chips, and Martin Marietta's Abbott Quarry, which ships gravel for use in construction as well as supplying the Shenandoah Division with ballast. 

The mainline will enter another stretch of open running north of Abbot. First, the main dives into Chimney Rock Tunnel in the curve behind the Abbott Quarry. The track then crosses Broad Run Bridge and enters Broad Run Tunnel. The next tunnel along the line bores through Sandy Ridge before crossing Craig Creek just south of New Castle.

A northbound grade of 1.02% challenges trains leaving Catawba and running through Abbott. There is a brief respite from the grade at the bridge crossing Broad Run. Entering Broad Run Tunnel, northbound trains face a grade averaging 2.2% until they exit McAfee Tunnel in New Castle.


New Castle, VA New Castle, VA is the next town and passing siding. The peninsula on which New Castle resides was salvaged from the original Shenandoah Division layout.

Industries in New Castle include Roanoke Cement, the large Georgia Pacific plant (which manufactures OSB, so this plant receives wood chips and resin, while shipping OSB panels), and a team track on the old Apple Track. The Apple Track will also continue to be used for off-spot cars in New Castle. The Rich Patch Pusher will be based in the Apple Track as well for assisting northbound trains to the summit at High Meadow, VA.

The passing siding here at New Castle was the longest on the original layout, but at about 28 cars long, it will be one of the two shortest on this layout, which should keep the dispatcher on his or her toes. :-) The main and passing siding go through McAfee Tunnel at the south end of town.

The distance between the north end of Catawba and south end of New Castle is about 28 feet (~2 train lengths), so there should be a good amount of running time between these two towns. Leaving the north end of New Castle, the main line will climb Bald Knob and Rich Patch Mountain through the "Corkscrew" and into Laurel. This steep grade, which averages 2.34%, passes through the Bald Knob and Rich Patch Tunnels before the track loops over itself at the "Corkscrew," with the steepest part of the climb, a 2.8% grade, occurs right at the summit.

The distance between New Castle and Laurel is about 2 train lengths as well.


Go to the Upper Level page to continue the tour of the design.


This page was last updated on 01/01/11.


All material on the CSXT Shenandoah Division web site is Copyright 2001-2011 by B.L. Faulkner, unless noted otherwise. All rights reserved. None of the material (including text and photographs) on this web site may be reproduced in any form without prior written permission.