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"A" Cabin

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A postcard view of Alleghany around 1900.
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Signal towers (known as "cabins" on the C&O) were located at both Alleghany and East Alleghany in1895 to facilitate an "absolute block staff system" of signaling. The C&O built new, or replaced many of its older buildings when it began the massive upgrading of its physical plant beginning in 1930. The old cabin at East Alleghany was eliminated during the mid-1930s tunnel expansion program and the wooden "A" Cabin was replaced with a brick Georgian-style structure that was in keeping with the C&O's new image of being "George Washington's Railroad."

Improvements to communication and signaling continued to be made. Telephones (Morse telegraphy remaining as a backup) were installed in 1904. An automatic block system was installed in 1912. CTC began to be installed on the Alleghany subdivision in the early 1930s with a machine being installed at "A" Cabin in 1936.

"A" Cabin looking northwest, September 1971
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Photo by Thomas W. Dixon, Jr.

CTC at Alleghany

The "A" Cabin CTC machine controlled the five miles of track from Lake's Tunnel, east of Jerry's Run, to Tuckahoe. It had 15 levers that controlled 7 single switches, 2 derails and 6 crossovers, and 23 levers that controlled 44 signals, 2 traffic levers and 4 levers for the control of electric switch locks and as selector levers for hand operated switches. The exhaust fans for the westbound Lewis Tunnel were also controlled by the "A" Cabin operator.

These improvements, including the double-tracked main (signaled for movement in either direction), provided for the safe and efficient control of 30 to 40 train movements per day including 8 passenger trains, 4 manifests, and 16 extra freights, as well as the helper engines that were returned to Hinton.

The CTC system was gradually expanded so that by 1962 a large panel controlled the entire Alleghany Subdivision from Hinton, West Virginia. The operators left "A" Cabin in 1961. Today, CSX controls the entire line from its headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida; "A" Cabin is used to house relay equipment.

"A" Cabin in HO Scale
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Photo by Jim Connal

The HO "A" Cabin

As with Alleghany station, "A" Cabin is a scratch-built styrene structure following the drawings made by Ron Piskor for John C. Paton's book, Alleghany With An A (published by the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society). The windows, slate roofing tiles, and staircase are commercial products.

The building sits on a "concrete" pad that straddles the stream that runs under "A" Cabin. It was cast in place with Plaster of Paris using forms that were also made from styrene.

Because of the lack of experience in scratch-building techniques at the time, a few of the more subtle, yet unique details were omitted. Generally, though, the feel and appearance seem correct.

Allegheny class H-8 at "A" Cabin, Alleghany, VA
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Photo by Bob Rodriguez