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Turntable and Operational Routine During the Steam Era

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H-8 1601 on the 115-foot turntable, September 1950
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Photo by B.F. Cutler

The second of Alleghany's two turntables was installed in 1923. It was a Bethlehem twin-span bridge that was designed to accommodate the H-7 2-8-8-2s, the first of which arrived on the property in January 1924. Identical turntables were also located at Hinton and Clifton Forge. True to the adage that form follows function, the C&O's class H-8 2-6-6-6 steam locomotives (Alleghenies, spelled with an e) were designed in 1940 with these constraints in mind. There were literally only inches to spare when positioning these 125-foot long (over the couplers) engines on the 115-foot turntable bridge.

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It was logical and efficient to locate the turntable at the west end of Alleghany (between "A" Cabin and the station) to facilitate the return of the helpers which served as pushers. The topography of the area, with Alleghany being at the summit, created the necessity for eastbound helper engines to this point. After reaching the summit, of course, there was no need for further assistance, so the helper engine was cut off and sent back to Hinton, West Virginia to assist another coal drag toward their ultimate destination of Newport News.

 

Upon reaching Alleghany these coal extras would take to the eastbound siding and pull ahead toward East Alleghany/Lewis. While the rear engine remained coupled to the train the lead locomotive uncoupled from the front of the train and pulled ahead to the Lewis water plug to replenish the water supply. Brakemen spent this time walking the length of the train to turn up the retainers to assist in controlling the downhill trip.

 

With the lead engine reconnected to the train the pusher would cut off, and after backing up would uncouple the caboose (for obvious safety concerns the C&O required cabooses to be on the rear of the train). The rear engine would then make a run-around move to get behind the caboose and then re-couple it to the rear of the train. After this series of moves the helper would proceed to the turntable and return (presumably after watering as well) either singly or in pairs to Hinton, sometimes stopping off to shift the Pullmans that were parked at the White Sulfur Springs station.

 

An HO Turntable?

 

With an operational scenario as interesting as the one described above, the addition of an HO turntable to the Alleghany modules was most compelling, but, unfortunately, unrealistic given the constraints of space. The solution, short of constructing a permanent "home" layout (which is a distinct possibility), was to represent the area of the turntable after the pit had been filled in. There's nothing really there except an open area with a suggestion of the pit's concrete rim. Perhaps this could be regarded as appropriating the artistic concept of using "negative space." It certainly was the easiest scratch-building project one could imagine.

Turntable Postscript

 

So, after the author had reconciled himself with the idea of a post-steam version of Alleghany,Virginia, along came Rivarossi's model of C&O's H-8 Alleghenies!

Allegheny (with an E) at Alleghany (with an A)
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Photo by Bob Rodriguez