Upper Level
Home Up What's New Blog Design Construction Operations Original Layout Links Contact Our Cats Site Map



CSXT Shenandoah Division Upper Level

The upper level of the CSXT Shenandoah Division contains the remainder of the Covington Subdivision, which 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). The upper level also includes the Potts Valley Railway (PVRY), a shortline running from Covington, VA to Potts Creek, VA.

Go to a larger version of the plan. (Image is about 363KB.)

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.


Covington Subdivision (Laurel, VA to Covington, VA)

The Covington Subdivision extends from MC Cabin to Alleghany Junction. The upper level of the layout encompass the portion of the subdivision from Laurel, VA to Covington, VA. For information about the portion of the subdivision from MC Cabin to Laurel, VA, go to the Lower Level page.

Laurel, VA The next passing siding north of New Castle is Laurel, which is home to the Appalachian Power Company's Laurel plant. A unit train runs south from Grafton, WV (Connellsville staging) to swap loads for empties before returning to Grafton. Laurel, like New Castle, is a "short" 28-car passing siding, and it is also home to Dixie Plastics and Forming, which receives plastic pellets.


Shenandoah Junction, VA A 1.74% northbound grade from Laurel leads to Shenandoah Junction, the connection to the Norfolk Southern CR&E Division. The former Charleston, Roanoke, & Eastern Railroad crosses the Shenandoah Division, and there is a connection track between the two railroads here. A short portion of the NS mainline is modeled before it disappears into a hidden 4-track staging yard representing the Charleston, WV end of the CR&E. NS trains use trackage rights over CSXT between Shenandoah Junction and Roanoke Junction (Salem), VA.

After crossing the NS, the mainline begins to climb upgrade towards the summit at High Meadow, paralleling Hays Creek along the way. Just south of High Meadow, the main enters Mud Run Tunnel before reaching the peak of the hill. 


High Meadow, VA High Meadow, VA is pretty much just a place on the railroad almost in the middle of nowhere. The 2.0 % northbound grade from Shenandoah Junction peaks here at the highest point on the railroad (63"). Helper locomotives help trains up to the summit in both directions (the helper districts are Covington-Laurel and New Castle-Ridgemont). Blue Spring Wood Products loads pulpwood here.


Ridgemont, VA The next passing siding northbound is Ridgemont, VA. Ridgemont is a simple passing siding "out in the middle of nowhere" to fulfill the desire for a siding with no town or industries, much like those located on real Appalachian and southeastern railroads. The railroad crosses Hays Creek twice near the middle of the Ridgemont siding. There is a brief respite for southbound trains at the big curve near the south end of Ridgemont, where they descend a 1.09% grade before heading up the final 2.49% grade to the south end of the siding. This grade, along with the grade from Carpenter to Ridgemont is the reason southbound trains get pushed out of Covington.

A spur serving Old Dominion Forest Industries leaves the mainline just north of the Ridgemont passing siding. This industry loads wood chips for use in forest products factories.

Heading north towards Carpenter, the mainline runs around Pearson Curve, a horseshoe around the Pearson Farm. This scene has been inspired by Helmstetter's Curve on the Western Maryland.

After rounding Pearson Curve, the Shenandoah mainline ducks into Carpenter Tunnel before arriving in Carpenter, VA.

Southbound trains face a 2.25% grade through Carpenter Tunnel and around Pearson Curve. The southbound upgrade levels off briefly at the south end of Ridgemont, before proceeding to the summit at High Meadow.


Carpenter, VA Carpenter, VA is home to the large Virginia Eastman chemical plant. A two-track interchange yard will allow CSXT to set-off on the track nearest the mainline and pick-up from the next track. Five additional spurs make up this large plant complex. VA Eastman will have a SW1200 as a plant switcher to do all their own local work. 

The CSXT mainline crosses the Jackson River just north of Carpenter before reaching the south end of Covington. Northbound trains climb a 1.14% grade to depart the Jackson River valley at the south end of the Covington passing siding. A 1.34% downgrade then brings northbound trains into the town and industrial district of Covington proper.


Covington, VA Covington is the last town on the layout before entering the north end staging yard. The yard at Covington has four tracks for use in classifying cars for local industries from Covington to Laurel. There are two large industries in Covington: the Westvaco paper mill, and Wampler Longacre's turkey feed elevator. In addition, Blue Ridge Extruders receives plastic pellets on a spur near the north end of town. The Potts Valley Railway (former Potts Creek Branch of the CS&O/SVL), interchanges with CSXT at the south end of Covington.

The Covington Roadswitcher, B703, will classify cars in the Covington yard, work the local industries in Covington, High Meadow, and Laurel, and make interchange runs to the large Virginia Eastman plant at Carpenter, VA.

A set of pushers will also be based in Covington to assist trains, especially loaded unit coal trains, up the grade to the summit at High Meadow. These pushers will stay on trains until Laurel, where they will cut off and head back to Covington.

There will be "city" buildings at both the north and south end of Covington, including some "street running" at the south end of Covington with a one-way street on either side of the tracks and stores or homes on each street. This arrangement is representative of many southeastern railroad towns.


Connellsville, PA & Winchester, VA The north end staging yards at Connellsville, PA and Winchester, VA will have 6 loop tracks for a total of 12 staging slots. This is CSXT only staging and represents the two namesake locations as well as other destinations in the northeast and midwest. There is an additional staging track on the aisle side which will be used as a stub-ended track for the B741/B742 (the "Black Cat") during operating sessions. However, this track is connected to the Potts Creek Railroad (see below for more information) to provide a 40' continuous loop of track for locomotive break-in.

Alleghany Junction is the northernmost point of the Covington Subdivision. This location is off the visible railroad,  so trains appear on the layout just south of the junction. The C&O (CSXT Huntington Division) crosses over the Shenandoah Division at Alleghany Junction on a double-track bridge.


Potts Valley Railway (Covington, VA to Potts Creek, VA)

The Potts Creek Branch of the CS&O/SVL used to depart the south end of Covington to head southwest down the Potts Creek valley. CSXT sold off this former branch to a shortline operator who named the line the Potts Valley Railway (reporting marks: PVRY). The PVRY runs south through Glade Springs, VA and Mill Ridge, VA to the end of the line at Potts Creek, VA, where the PVRY interchanges with a Norfolk Southern branch line. The PVRY uses some old ex-CSXT GP16s as motive power.

Covington, VA The Potts Valley Railway interchanges with CSXT in the CSXT Covington Yard. The connection track to the PVRY leaves the south end of Covington and disappears around the back of the Connellsville/Winchester staging loops.


Glade Springs, VA The PVRY emerges from a backdrop hiding the staging area and enters the small town of Glade Springs, VA. Glade Springs is the location of the PVRY headquarters in the old SVL depot here. The PVRY local power ties up in Glade Sprigns on the passing siding along with any traffic for industries in Glade Springs, Mill Ridge,  and Potts Creek.

Glade Springs is home to two industries on the PVRY: Collins & Aikman and Walton Furniture Co.


Mill Ridge, VA The next worn south of Glade Springs is Mill Ridge, VA, home to a large U.S. Silica plant which ships many carloads of sand on the PVRY. This industry is largely responsible for keeping the PVRY in business.
Potts Creek, VA The end of the PVRY is in Potts Creek, VA. Potts Creek no longer has any rail-served industries, but interchange is made with a Norfolk Southern branch line here, providing the PVRY with a second outlet for traffic. 


Go to the Lower 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.