Introducing the Old Main Line and branches
The Old Main Line leaves the current mainline at the east end of double track, a station referred to as LEWIS on the railroad. From there, it passes the Hopper Yard (a three-track storage yard for loaded and empty coal hoppers from the local branches) before crossing the Greenbrier River and ducking into Cando Tunnel under the former Chesapeake & Ohio. From there, the Old Main Line roughly follows the current mainline alignment, straying away from the new line near Caldwell, WV.
(Above) - NS train 359, led by a colorful consist of SP and D&RGW power, passes the Hopper Yard and the Old Main Line coming into Lewisburg, WV. The track in the background is the yard lead for Lewisburg's classification yard. Train 359 has exited White Rock Tunnel, crossed the Greenbrier River, and will soon be entering double track at Lewis. The Old Main Line diverges from Main Two at Lewis. The lone box car sits in double-ended track HO-1, while single-ended tracks HO-2 and HO-3 remain empty. Coal and hopper trains to and from the Laurel Creek Branch utilize the Old Main Line, as does the Brushy Mountain Railroad shortline.
East of Caldwell on the Old Main Line is Laurel Creek Junction, where the coal-rich Laurel Creek Branch diverges to the south. This branch serves a large floodloader at Hokes, as well as other mines down the branch. Only the flood-loader at Hokes will be modeled, while traffic to and from the other mines will arrive from staging.
The Old Main Line is no longer owned by Norfolk Southern east of Laurel Creek Junction. A few smaller mines were located up the line around Brushy Mountain, but they were idled for years due to employee-labor relation problems. In the early 1990's, however, a couple of the mines were reopened and the line became operated by the Brushy Mountain Railroad (BMTR). A large Weyerhaueser plant, a flour mill, and a few smaller businesses are now located on the BMTR. These are all "off layout" on the shortline's staging track. The Brushy Mountain utilizes trackage rights into Lewisburg to add several cuts of coal and merchandise per week to the CR&E's diet.
(Above) - The Brushy Mountain's two former Southern Railway SD35's are returning from Lewisburg. The track they are on is the CR&E's former mainline that was replaced by the newer routing seen above the engines. Norfolk Southern has leased the track to the BMTR as a part of the Thoroughbred Shortline Program. The track in the foreground is the Laurel Creek Branch, which leaves the Old Main Line at Laurel Creek Jct. The mainline mine at Caldwell is visible in the background above the trailing engine.
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