Hinton represents the western gateway to the "rest of the world" for the fictitious portion of my Virginian Railway. It is a six-track staging yard located directly beneath Klotz (visible in the right background). Vertical clearance is at an absolute minimum, and maintenance access to these tracks will be via removeable fascia panels along the benchwork.
Quarter-inch wood lath supported by threaded rods holds the visible track above Hinton staging. Not only does this scheme yield maximum vertical clearance, the 1/4-inch rods can fit between the staging tracks without eating huge amounts of space (I spaced my staging tracks 2-3/4 inches apart to accommodate the rods).
This is what the Hinton area looks like now that the fascia panels are installed. Since Hinton is beneath Klotz, it is important to hide it completely. The fascia is made in small panels that can be easily removed, should access to Hinton be needed.
Why Hinton? Some Design Philosophy A major factor in my decision to graft a freelanced general-freight theme to Virginian's coal-hauling operation was the possibility of a water-level route through the mountains.
The Virginian Railway followed the New River from Whitethorne to Glen Lyn where it abruptly entered the mountains of West Virginia to reach the coal fields. Merchandise freight was hauled over these same mountains to Deepwater, on the Kanawha River. There (or nearby) it interchanged with New York Central and Chesapeake & Ohio. But . . .
Why not, I mused, continue down the New River from Glen Lyn to Hinton and interchange with C&O there? What a great route for high-speed freight trains! It would bypass the steepest grades on the railroad and separate the merchandise trains from the slow coal drags.
So that's what I did. And that decision affected (and justified) the way much of the layout was designed.
The Hinton connection would increase merchandise freight traffic on the railroad. And since much of that traffic would bypass Roanoke (via the Danville Division), a classification yard would be needed close to Hinton. Glen Lyn is as close as the Virginian got to Hinton, so that was the logical choice for such a yard.
Operationally, there should be something for everyone.
- Fast freights between Hinton and Danville or Roanoke will stop briefly at Glen Lyn to exchange "hot" cars.
- The setout tracks at Pepper will be used as a small yard to exchange cars for "off-route" destinations. For example, a Hinton-Roanoke through train will drop Danville cars - and pick up Roanoke cars - at Pepper, thus relieving the load at the Glen Lyn yard.
- A couple of second-class freights will originate in Danville or Roanoke, turn at Glen Lyn, and return.
- A morning and an afternoon local will run from Glen Lyn to Radford and return, swiching local industries along the way.
- Up to three coal drags will run from Elmore staging to Roanoke, and three empty trains in the reverse direction.