Introducing the Keeney Creek Shifter

Keeney Creek Shifter at work. From C&O Historical Society
Keeney Creek Shifter at work. From C&O Historical Society

Graham and I have started working on a new N scale layout. Graham decided after looking through lots of magazines and books that he liked coal mining railroads. He really likes the Model Railroader project railroad Clinchfield RR in N scale. However, right now we do not have room for it as we continue to do work in our basement.

After Graham decided on an N scale coal mining railroad, I started looking for a suitable candidate. My Dad had scrapped an interesting C&O branch in West Virginia in the 1970s. I recall him talking about it so I pulled out our “Ride the New River Train” and found the information we needed, the Keeney Creek branch to Lookout, WV. We decided to start in Lookout and work our way down the branch through Winona for now. We are still doing our background work, but we did start on our version of Lookout. We built a 12 inch deep by 48 inch long baseboard for the end of line. We will be using code 55 for the branchline and a mix of code 40 and 55 for the spurs and sidings.

Our version of the Keeney Creek shifter. Two RSD-5s and RS-1 at the end of track in Lookout
Our version of the Keeney Creek shifter. Two RSD-5s and RS-1 at the end of track in Lookout

Since our layout is going to be a shelf layout at a set height, I have not figured out the best way to recreate the almost continuous 4% grade from the C&O mainline along the New River up through Nuttallburg and the switchbacks to Lookout.

Follow along with us as we build an N finescale switching layout.

7 thoughts on “Introducing the Keeney Creek Shifter

    1. Hi Trevor,

      Yes we have a plan. We are going to try to work from the actual C&O trackplan for several locations. We have a small drawing from “Riding that New River Train” including track lengths, private sidings and grades. What we really lack is how the various loaders and tipples were laid out at each site.


    1. Jonathan,

      Thanks for following. Yes this should be fun. We are going to use code 55 and 40 rail, number 8 switches stick to a minimal radius of 36 inches. We have the luxury of a shelf that can extend for a considerable distance in our basement without a need to double back. I doubt if we model the whole 7 mile branch. Even in N scale it is too big. The longest siding in Lookout is 800 ft long which is 5ft in N scale. I think the Nuttallburg tipple, Winona, and Lookout will make a nice layout. The branch’s switchback goes under the Nuttallburg conveyor. There are two cliffhanging trestles on curves as the line climbs out of New River Gorge, those and a few bridges along the way should make for an interesting model railroad.


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