A Battle of Men, Machines, and Mountains
Written by Gary Dolzall
The B&O Mountain Subdivision route for Train Simulator is coming soon, and we take a look at the route’s daunting and challenging operations and wealth of locomotives and equipment.
Baltimore & Ohio’s Mountain Subdivision – the legendary “B&O West End” – was, to put it simply, a battleground. It was a place where men and machines struggled to defeat steep mountain grades and enormous and endless tonnage. And it was a battle for the ages, too, which began in the 1850s and continues to this very day.
And soon, the extraordinary B&O Mountain Subdivision is coming to Train Simulator!
With foreboding 2 percent+ grades named 17-Mile, Cranberry, Cheat River, and Newburg, B&O’s Mountain Subdivision conquered the Allegheny Mountains, but the job of forwarding tonnage – coal drags, manifest freights, and intermodal traffic was an arduous task. Coal was king, and the toil of moving eastbound coal, which originated not only on the Mountain Subdivision but also flowed from B&O’s Fairmont, Cowen, and Kingwood Subdivisions, was a monumental challenge. In the days of steam, the West End was home to B&O’s biggest and best – the ponderous S-Class “Big Six” 2-10-2s and magnificent EM-1 2-8-8-4s. In the early diesel era, omnipresent EMD Fs and Geeps were supplemented by the likes of Alco FAs and Baldwin Sharks, then replaced by high-horsepower road-switchers such as the EMD SD35 and GP40-2. Whatever the era, the Mountain Subdivision was helper country, with busy helper sets based at West Keyser, M&K Junction, and Hardman.
The upcoming B&O Mountain Subdivision route, created by High Iron Simulations with the team of expert and renowned developers who built the popular CSX Hanover Subdivision route, is set in the years of the Chessie System, when the line was busy and colorful, with motive power dressed in not only Chessie’s vibrant vermillion, blue, and yellow livery, but traditional B&O blue, the liveries of Western Maryland, and classic Chesapeake & Ohio blue and yellow.
Accordingly, the B&O Mountain Subdivision route will feature authentic locomotive types in a kaleidoscope of liveries: From DTM comes an all-new and potent Electro-Motive SD35 in Chessie, B&O, C&O, and two Western Maryland liveries. Ready for duty on manifest and piggyback trains (called “Trailer Jets” by the B&O) is the successful EMD GP40-2 in Chessie colors. That All-American workhorse, the EMD GP9, is featured in both “long-hood forward” and “short-hood forward” variations in Chessie, B&O, and C&O schemes. And ready for yard and switching duty is the venerable EMD SW-series diesel switcher in B&O dress.
Each of the locomotives included with the B&O Mountain Subdivision route will deliver realistic air brake controls and performance as developed specifically for the route by expert Mike Rennie of Smokebox. The locomotives feature authentic types of air brakes (26L for the SD35 and GP40-2; 24L for the GP9, and 6BL for the switcher).
With all that motive power, and lots of tonnage to move, the route also features a magnificent assemblage of freight rolling stock, including more than 20 types of equipment in Chessie, B&O, C&O, and WM liveries, plus the colors of other CSX predecessors. To bring up the markers, the route includes B&O’s famed I-12 “wagon-top” steel cabooses and ex-Western Maryland 1800-series cabooses in multiple authentic liveries.
High Iron Simulations is well known for its realistic and challenging scenarios, and with the upcoming B&O Mountain Subdivision, you’ll be ready to go right to work with 13 realistic and challenging career scenarios that will include hauling coal, manifest, and intermodal tonnage, working local duties, and tending switching tasks!
The B&O Mountain Subdivision route: 140 miles of main line, four types of locomotives, 20+ types of freight equipment, and thirteen career scenarios – and it’s coming very soon to Train Simulator! – Gary Dolzall
For more information on the upcoming Train Simulator B&O Mountain Subdivision route, also see our earlier articles, “The Momentous Mountain Subdivision,” available here and “Mountains and Monuments to Railroading’s Golden Age,” available here.
Soon, the B&O Mountain Subdivision is coming to Train Simulator in a route which will pit machines and men in a timeless battle against mountains and tonnage. On the ever-busy Mountain Subdivision – B&O’s legendary and historic “West End” – eastbound and westbound tonnage meets amid autumn’s splendors. Screenshots by Gary Dolzall.
With foreboding 2 percent+ grades named 17-Mile, Cranberry, Cheat River, and Newburg, B&O’s Mountain Subdivision conquered the Allegheny Mountains, but the job of forwarding tonnage – coal drags, manifest freights, and intermodal traffic was an arduous task. With B&O SD35 7400 in the lead, a coal train is coming off the wintry Cheat River Grade and arriving in Rowlesburg (above), while on a summer day, Chessie GP40-2 4108 is easing down 17-Mile Grade with the Savage River Reservoir in the background (below).
In addition to large terminals at Cumberland and Grafton, the Mountain Subdivision was host to busy intermediate yards and facilities. On a snowy day at M&K Junction, an SD35 helper set has just begun its push of an eastbound coal drag (above), while at West Keyser a pair of veteran GP9s are pulling away from the shops (below) for their next duty. West Keyser, M&K Junction, and Hardman were regular bases for helpers on the Mountain Subdivision.
The upcoming Mountain Subdivision stretches between two of America’s great railroad towns, Cumberland, Maryland and Grafton, West Virginia. At famed Grafton, a coal train behind B&O SD35 7417 is coming off the Fairmount Subdivision and passing D Tower and the B&O’s large shop and roundhouse complex. The Electro-Motive SD35, masterfully created by DTM in five liveries, is one of four realistic locomotive types included with the upcoming route.
Amid sprawling Cumberland Terminal, an eastbound freight is just arriving at the yard while a trio of EMD Geeps stand near the yard’s flyover track. The venerable Electro-Motive GP9 is featured in the upcoming route in both “long-hood forward” and “short-hood forward” variations and in Chessie, B&O, and C&O schemes.
The Electro-Motive 3,000-horsepower GP40-2 was purchased by B&O, C&O, and WM and all of the units wore Chessie System’s striking vermillion, blue, and yellow dress with railroad sub-lettering. A trio of Chessie GP40-2s is flashing past the brick depot at Tunnelton with a hot-shot piggyback train, called a “Trailer Jet” on the B&O.
Electro-Motive’s SW-series switcher is the fourth member of the diesel roster included with the upcoming B&O Mountain Subdivision route. Near Williams Street Yard in Cumberland, SW1200 9615 has a string of gondolas loaded with steel pipes and coils in tow. Each of the locomotives included with the B&O Mountain Subdivision route will offer realistic air brake controls and performance (26L for the SD35 and GP40-2; 24L for the GP9, and 6BL for the switcher).
Just a sampling of the diverse freight equipment to be featured with the B&O Mountain Subdivision stands on display at Cumberland. Rolling stock will include more than 20 types of equipment in not only Chessie, B&O, C&O, and WM liveries, but also the colors of other CSX predecessors. And to bring up the markers, the route will include B&O’s famed I-12 “wagon-top” steel caboose and ex-Western Maryland 1800-series caboose.
The B&O Mountain Subdivision route for Train Simulator will feature 140 main line miles of track, including the complete 101-mile B&O Mountain Subdivision and 30 miles of Western Maryland’s Thomas Subdivision. Dawn is breaking as the “St Louis Trailer Jet” hustles west along the North Branch of the Potomac (above), while near Rawlings the action is intense as two trains meet on the B&O main line and further ahead is the caboose of another freight working the WM’s Thomas Subdivision (below).
Coal and more coal. Both the Western Maryland Thomas Subdivision and B&O’s Mountain Subdivision carried massive amounts of coal tonnage. Western Maryland SD35 7433 and a Chessie sister are working the Hampshire Mine on the WM (above), while a trio of SD35s are arriving with a train of empty hoppers for loading on B&O’s remote Austen Spur (below).
At McKenzie, Maryland, Chessie GP9s are hustling empty hoppers west on the Mountain Subdivision main. To the right is B&O’s Patterson Cutoff and McKenzie Tower. The B&O Mountain Subdivision route: 140 miles of main line, four types of locomotives, 20+ types of freight equipment, and thirteen career scenarios – and it’s coming very soon to Train Simulator!
A Battle of Men, Machines, and Mountains