"Buffalo Creek and Gauley - Early Years"
Official Web Site:
25' x 44'
Loop-to-loop, with logging branch
Min. Turnout Frog:
36" (visible); 21" (hidden)
43" to 57"
Mainline Track Length:
100% completed before dismantling due to a move
Central West Virginia
Buffalo Creek & Gauley; Elk River Coal & Lumber (logging)
DCC (North Coast Engineering)
Great Model Railroads 2011, pg 26
Railroad Model Craftsman, Dec 2006, pg 52
NASG Dispatch, Apr 2006, pg 17
S Gaugian, Jul 2003, pg 28
NASG Dispatch, Jun 1995, pg 10
NASG Dispatch, Dec 1995, pg 10
Model Railroader, Dec 1993, pg 124
Brooks successfully completed the NMRA's MMR program.
The Buffalo Creek & Gauley (BC&G) main line ran from the B&O interchange at Dundon through Swandale and Cressmont and terminated in Widen. The Elk River Coal & Lumber (ERC&L) logging branch left the BC&G main at Cressmont and meandered around the mountain climbing to a logging camp at the highest point on the layout. The prototype BC&G operated three Consolidations in the 1950s and 60s. All three are seen, below, at the modest engine facility located at Dundon. The engine house was scratchbuilt from photos and the three locomotives are from SHS. Each engine was modified to more closely represent its prototype. The caboose and passenger car are built from AF cars. The wreck crane was scratchbuilt.
As on the prototype, on the layout BC&G engines backed to the B&O interchange to pick up empty hoppers for the mine at Widen. This train has returned to the interchange from Widen with loaded hoppers. After setting them on the interchange track the engine will return to the engine house at BC&G yard in Dundon.
Brooks scratchbuilt this model of the company store at Dundon from photographs and information from interviews with former residents. The smoke and headlight effects were added in Photoshop to create what it must have looked like when a train arrived from Widen after the sun had set behind the tall mountains.
A scenic highlight of the layout was this curved trestle. It was right inside the door to the layout room and so was one of the first things visitors saw. The trestle was freelanced as there was no such structure on the BC&G but it made for great train watching!
Continuing over the trestle, trains arrived at Swandale where the ERC&L company operated a huge bandsaw mill. Here Plymouth #20, the only diesel ever to operate on ERC&L trackage, and 3-truck Climax #4 are seen going about the day's work. The body of #20 was scratchbuilt from styrene and is fitted on a Steam Depot 44-tonner chassis. The Climax was built by heavily modifying a Bachmann On30 2-truck Climax.
Brooks' model of the Swandale sawmill includes many accurate details including the jack slip, the chip loading conveyor, the triple stacks of the power house and the stacks of drying lumber. The B&O wagontop boxcar was built from a Lehigh Valley kit. The muddy log pond was made from EnviroTex over a Masonite painted base.
The next town along the line was the tiny settlement of Cressmont. The ERC&L operated a small dairy here which provided milk for company employees. The structure was scratchbuilt from photos. The body of the BC&G Mack Railbus was scratchbuilt from styrene and rides on a scratchbuilt chassis. It is fitted with a DCC sound decoder.
The largest industry served by the BC&G was the Rich Run Mine at Widen. Brooks' model of the mine was also the signature scene and the center of action during operating sessions. All of the structures were built with mat board walls. The walls of the tipple were covered with corrugated aluminum foil. Electronic modules created sound effects for coal loading and dynamite blasts at the mine head.
The BC&G layout was located in a fully finished, carpeted, and brightly lit room. The area under the layout was enclosed with Masonite panels fitted in slides to permit access while providing a finished look. The layout fascia and enclosure were painted brown. Brooks' workshop was through the white doors in the background. This view looks toward Widen.