Mountains and Monuments to Railroading’s Golden Age
Written by Gary Dolzall
Baltimore & Ohio’s fabulous Mountain Subdivision – the railroad’s historic “West End” crossing of the Alleghenies – is coming soon to Train Simulator and we take a preview tour of the legendary line.
Baltimore & Ohio’s Mountain Subdivision – the legendary “B&O West End” – was rugged, scenic, daunting, and ancient. Built in the mid-1850s, the line was at once an engineering masterpiece in its crossing of the Allegheny Mountains, and a route rich in classic stations and structures that fully recalled the golden age of railroading.
And soon, the B&O Mountain Subdivision – in 140 glorious miles – is coming to Train Simulator!
Created by High Iron Simulations with the team of expert and renowned developers who built the popular CSX Hanover Subdivision route, the upcoming B&O’s Mountain Subdivision extends from Cumberland, Maryland to Grafton, West Virginia, a distance of 101 route miles. And included in the upcoming Train Simulator edition are also more than 30 route miles of the Western Maryland Railway’s Thomas Subdivision, B&O’s sprawling Cumberland Terminal, and portions of several adjoining B&O subdivisions.
Anchored by two of America’s timeless and classic railroad towns – Cumberland, Maryland and Grafton, West Virginia – the route will feature four grueling Allegheny Mountain B&O grades – 17-Mile Grade, Cranberry Grade, Cheat River Grade, and Newburg Grade – each with steep and twisting gradients of more than 2 percent. And the B&O Mountain Subdivision route will also be host to extensive yards and terminal facilities, plus large lineside shippers including coal mines and cement, paper, steel, and manufacturing plants.
The Train Simulator B&O Mountain Subdivision route will recall the years on the daunting line when helpers were based at three locations to help lift tonnage over the Alleghenies and when traditional railroading remained the norm as nine open towers and operators helped move traffic across the Alleghenies. Guiding you across the Train Simulator B&O Mountain Subdivision route, too, will be masterfully re-created B&O color-position-light (CPL) signals!
As famous as the Mountain Subdivision was (and is) for its torturous Allegheny crossing, it was legendary, too, for the magnificent stations and structures found along the line. Cumberland was home to sprawling Cumberland Terminal and the B&O’s massive locomotive shops, the magnificent brick B&O Queen City Hotel and station, Western Maryland’s beautiful passenger station, and the long-arched span which gave Viaduct Junction its name.
Keyser and M&K Junction (Rowlesburg) were host to major yards and facilities and served as helper stations. All along the route, classic towers stood to help keep the rail traffic moving and numerous handsome stone and concrete arch viaducts, perhaps none more impressive than Tray Run Viaduct, helped carry the route through the mountains. Grafton, West Virginia, home to a grand B&O station, the towering Willard Hotel, roundhouse, and shops was, simply put, one of America’s greatest and most evocative traditional “railroad towns.”
In the screenshots and captions that follow, let’s take a brief preview tour of the upcoming B&O Subdivision route. And stay tuned here at Dovetail Live, as we’ll soon bring you an article detailing the route’s operations, four types of locomotives, 20+ types of freight equipment, and thirteen career scenarios that will bring realistic and challenging railroading to full life on the upcoming B&O Mountain Subdivision route! – Gary Dolzall
For more information on the upcoming Train Simulator B&O Mountain Subdivision route, also see our earlier article, “The Momentous Mountain Subdivision,” available here
Soon, the B&O Mountain Subdivision is coming to Train Simulator in a route which will bring both the majesty of the Allegheny Mountains and the appeal of traditional railroading. The east terminus of the route – Cumberland, Maryland – was home to the beautiful and classic rail stations of the B&O (above) and Western Maryland (below). Screenshots by Gary Dolzall.
Totaling 140 miles in length, the upcoming B&O Mountain Subdivision route will include its full namesake subdivision, B&O’s sprawling Cumberland Terminal, and 30 miles of Western Maryland’s Thomas Subdivision. Outside the locomotive shops at Cumberland, EMD SD35s and a GP9 await their next duty. Note: Screenshots depict content in development.
At aptly named Viaduct Junction on the west side of Cumberland, four EMD GP9s in Chessie and B&O liveries are leading a manifest freight off the Mountain Subdivision. Viaduct Junction marked the connecting point of B&O’s Mountain Subdivision and Sand Patch Grade route.
The upcoming B&O Mountain Subdivision route is distinctive in being a mountainous line that also includes extensive and large yards, lineside industries, and shippers which will include coal mines and cement, paper, steel, and manufacturing plants. At the large tire manufacturing factory west of Cumberland, B&O EMD SW1200 9621 is busy switching a cut of cars.
At West Virginia Junction, the B&O Mountain Subdivision crossed the North Branch of the Potomac River and Western Maryland’s Thomas Subdivision on a unique combination concrete arch and steel girder structure. B&O GP40-2 4108 is on the point of a high priority St. Louis to Philadelphia piggyback.
The B&O Mountain Subdivision route will include four daunting and legendary grades – 17-Mile Grade, Cranberry Grade, Cheat River Grade, and Newburg Grade. Fabled 17-Mile Grade on the east slope of the Alleghenies was so torturous that several emergency “run-away” tracks were constructed. On a snowy morning, a B&O westbound manifest grinds up 17-Mile Grade and passes Bond Tower and its nearby run-away track.
The memorable stations along the B&O Mountain Subdivision route were not limited to the giant stations at Cumberland and Grafton. At Oakland, Maryland, B&O SD35 7413 is leading an eastbound coal drag past the town’s ornate depot which today hosts a B&O Museum.
Ancient in its origins, the B&O Mountain Subdivision route called upon many stone and concrete viaducts for its mountain crossing. High above the Cheat River, four SD35s are leading an eastbound coal train across magnificent Tray Run Viaduct (above) located west of Rowlesburg, then later make for a Christmas-card scene crossing Saltlick Creek (below).
Located near the top of the Cheat River and Newburg Grades, Tunnelton, West Virginia (above) was home to B&O’s connection with the West Virginia Northern short line. Just west of Tunnelton, the line dove through 4,137-foot-long Kingwood Tunnel, which when built in 1949-1852, was the longest tunnel in the United States. A new double-track bore (below) replaced the original tunnel in 1912.
Highway traffic has come to a stop in the small village of West End, West Virginia, as a coal drag lead by Electro-Motive SD35 7436 wearing Western Maryland’s flashy “Circus Colors” livery grinds past under an ominous sky.
With Grafton’s classic station and towering Willard Hotel in the background, a westbound train of empties grinds past Grafton’s D Tower. Grafton was the junction point between the Mountain Subdivision and B&O’s busy Fairmont, Parkersburg, and Cowen Subdivisions.
In a timeliness Allegheny Mountain railroading scene, Chessie EMD SD35 7418 and kin have hoppers in tow on an October morning. The upcoming B&O Mountain Subdivision route will include 140 miles of main line, four locomotive types, more than 20 types of freight equipment, and thirteen realistic career scenarios!
Mountains and Monuments to Railroading’s Golden Age