Here are some sights from the real thing which have an inspirational impact on my Z Scale modelling.


Birmingham Ala
13 November 2019

CSX rebuilt EMD GP38-3 #2046 is switching tracks west of Railroad Park. The 19-acre park stretches from 14th Street to 18th Street along First Avenue South and lies immediately south of the Norfolk Southern and CSX rail lines through downtown Birmingham, providing various great opportunities to watch trains. The park is a public facility, owned by the City of Birmingham and managed by the non-profit Railroad Park Foundation.

  CSX GE ES44AC-H (built in April 2012) and GE ES44DC (built in July 2007) pull a long string of empty coal hoppers due east past the viewing areas at the western corner of Railroad Park.

The eastern corner of the park offers better (i.e. unobstructed) views, but on this day a string of empty 73' centerbeam flatcars sitting on the track closest to the park was proving otherwise.

  Union Pacific GE AC45CCTE #7377 is playing peek-a-boo as it brings up a double stack container train together with UP GE ES44AC-H #8138 (the UP units are so-called "run through power" as UP doesn't actually reach into Alabama).

This eastbound train is partly obscured by a string of empty 73' centerbeam flatcars sitting on the track closest to the park's viewing area.



Bluefield WV
1 November 2019

Rebuilt EMD SD60E #6918 is waiting in Bluefield Yard for its next call of duty with one of two Norfolk Southern track geometry trains. This one is formed of NS #38 (rebuilt from NW SD40 #1620), aka "the Brick", which contains sensing and measuring equipment for track geometry and rail profile as well as the the power supply for itself and NS Research Car #36 (at the rear),which houses the recording and processing equipment for the data supplied by NS #38.




Across the yard tracks, three locomotives sit in front of the Bluefield Locomotive Shop: GE ES44AC #8175 (left), GE ET44AC #3615 (centre), and GE ES44AC #8138 (right).





Norfolk Southern GE ES44AC #8170 and EMD GP38AC #4140 head a long coal drag from the West Virginia coalfields to tidewater.

Video of this scene




C&O Railway Heritage Center
Clifton Forge, Va
31 October 2019

Clifton Forge Va was once an important place on the C&O, with a large shop facility for the overhaul and repair of locomotives and a large classification yard. Locomotives were serviced and readied for the trip West over the Alleghany Mountains and East over the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as down the James River. It was also home to the division headquarters for the region. Today, Clfton Forge still has a railroad yard, although greatly diminished in importance and size since the demise of the C&O, even though two railroads - C&O successor CSX and shortline Buckingham Branch RR - still run into town.

Occupying a space which once was part of the massive Clifton Forge yard, the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society today runs the C&O Railway Heritage Center, an outdoor and indoor museum which features several fully restored locomotives and rolling stock.


  C&O 4-8-4 Greenbrier type steam locomotive No. 614 was built by Lima Locomotive Works in June of 1948.

Used on regular C&O passenger trains until 1952, the locomotive continued to run after that date pulling special excursion trains.


Two diesel locomotives are also on display: C&O road switcher GP7 No. 6858 (built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division in 1952 and largely restored to its as-delivered appearance), and road freight SD40 C&O No. 7534 (built in 1971 and in use until 2017 on C&O, C&O/B&O, Chessie System, and CSX and restored to its 1971 original appearance).






C&O successor CSX's tracks run right by the Heritage Center, and there's a good chance of seeing several trains run past whilst visiting (click image to play video).



More information on the C&O Heritage Center, including opening times, is available from its website; the Museum is loacted at 312 E Ridgeway St, Clifton Forge VA 24422, which is only a few minutes off Interstate 64 - and a must-see if you are in the region.

All images on this page are (c) Adrian Wymann



page created 14 December 2019
page updated 27 March 2020