I am currently working on a model railroad
featuring Subdivision 6 / Section 18 of the Monongahela Division in
late 1948 and early 1949, between Beck's Run and 20th St. in the South
SIde. This is the extreme north end of the division, just below
its connection to the Panhandle Division at 'MONON' interlocking.
My layout was going to be 1940's PRR in Western
Pennsylvania, N scale. The 11'x15' front bedroom of my
apartment was available for construction, though, since I rent, I could
not penetrate or modify the walls or wiring. Practical table size
is really 8'x15', after allowing for door swings and aisleway access.
I wanted prototypical track arrangements and
operations on a continuous segment of the railroad without ridiculous
compression, allowing for 20 car freight train lengths. I wanted
to feature a shop facility, some interlocking and signalling
opportunities, and a good mix of switching and through running. I
was willing to forgo passenger traffic and focus primarily on freight
(especially bulk freight) if necessary, though passenger traffic would
be a plus. Additionally, I wanted a tall layout near eye level
without much hidden trackage or need for additional levels.
So what fit? I knew I would be working on a
relatively short segment of railroad, no more than a couple of miles.
Most of the Pittsburgh area shop facilities were in the middle of
large yards that would be difficult to represent satisfactorily.
There were a few, however, that were not so extensive.
Youngwood, PA was one. It sat in the wye between the
Southwest and Sewickley branches at the south end of the Youngwood yard
complex south of Greensburg. In addition, 'YU' interlocking
guarded the northern end of the wye, providing a signalled interlocking
close by. The Sewickley Branch itself was fairly short but
generated a large amount of traffic from coke oven batteries up in the
hills that often required reverse running or runarounds to switch.
As I began tio plan, however, I realized that there wasn't a
really satisfactory way to wedge the wye and turntable in the space
simultaneously and still allow branchline running.
I turned then to 30th St. Yard just south of
downtown Pittsburgh. It began as the northern terminal of the
Monongahela Division, but morphed into a feeder yard for the massive
J&L South Side Works complex. This was also a small facility,
itself better to a linear track plan. I also gained the complex
'OB' interlockng plant, a four track main, and commuter traffic, as
well as at least one and possibly two interchanges. From here
the plan developed as a simple loop with switching activity out of the
grade-separated yard. The schematic is simple, but in practice I
suspect that the variety of traffic will keep everyone hopping at the
op sessions. (For a funny consequence of this choice go here). top Track Plan
Here is a pdf of the current track plan:
I developed the plan from period PRR
Employe Timetables, the 1939 track chart, Abe's ABC Maps of the
Pittsburgh Operational Switching District, 'OB' and 'MONON'
interlocking diagrams, Hopkins maps from the 1930's, Sanborn maps from
the 1930's, and period photos through the Historic Pittsburgh website.
There are a few edits left to do at the north end of 30th St.
Yard (I recently acquired a pair of Monongahela Connecting Railway
rulebooks that detail ops at this interchange) but the planning phase
is more or less done. There are two optional extensions.
The first is to develop more of the Mon Conn trackage into their
29th St. Yard and down an embankment amdist the J&L buildings to a
connection with the P&LE main. This could be done on a very
narrow shelf with flats for the steel mill buildings. For now,
this trackage is represented by a short, detachable fiddle yard for Mon
Conn traffic in and out of J&L (not shown). The second option
is to extend the hiddem trackage out to a visible curved yard (20th
St.) that connects the PRR Whitehall Branch to the Allegheny &
South Side (Oliver Iron and Steel's plant railroad) paralleling the
P&LE main. Staging for this is currently being provided under
the PRR main staging and the Duquesne Brewery area. top Photos
Overview of the south end of the railroad. Staging on a transfer
table will go up at the right of the photo sometime during October.
The gaping hole to the left will be the Beck's Run viaduct,
construction immanent. The lower level Homasote is roadbed for
the hidden portion of the Whitehall Branch - once the rest of the
layout is done, this connection gives me the option of modeling 20th
St. Yard, a short section of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie mainline, and
a connection with the Allegheny & South Side switching line.
Track laying through 'OB' interlocking north of Beck's Run: roadbed
phase 1 - full size print of the track plan laid over the
Homasote, with holes poked thru at key points
Due to an unplanned move, the original plan staled out and had
to be abandoned. The new place is somewhat more cramped, and
doesn't have a spare bedroom. Consequently, the scope of the
railroad had to shrink a bit. I salvaged the OB trackwork, and
will use it as the north end of a new plan, running down to Hays and
West Homestead. For the new plan, see here: