Touring the Coal Belt Railroad

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It is early morning in Pennsylvania as a locomotive on Bill Henderson’s Coal Belt model railroad leaves town. The 28-O camelback locomotive was built in 1905. The helper train number 341 was built in 1899. The rear train on the layout is a local passenger number 6. Number 168 moves past the engine house at the west end of town while the Number 153 on the turntable waits for its morning coal drag.

A tunnel takes the camelback locomotive under Walnut Gap and exits near one of the many streams on the layout. A steel deck truss bridge crosses over the Rich Mountain Creek. The first snowfall of the year covers up the grime of the town of Frank Ellison; named for a model railroading master. Most of the grime comes from the nearby metalworks.

A plate girder bridge takes the 168 over Lindsey Creek running above and behind Tresckova. The camelback train slows down on its approach on the Redding Bridge below Tresckova. The loco is working its way to the highest point on the railroad – Walnut Gap. Autumn Park coal dock marks the edge of a small town with a grocery company acting as one of the few main businesses. Ice storage houses along the track use sawdust to keep the ice from melting which is harvested from a local pond.

The upper line again goes over Rich Mountain Creek but this time on a beautiful stone arch bridge. Moving behind Frank Ellison, the train arrives in the lower level of the layout parallel to Lindsey Creek. Finally, the train passes a thaw shed where coal is unfrozen by steam before it is loaded onto freighters at Ontario Port.

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