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Top Ten Photos

The change in grade as visible as The North Jet, X5000 North, passes the tower at Smith Summit (located right behind the trailers) after making their way across the relatively flat Couch Plateau, the crew will live up to the company's motto of "Safety First" as they descend Helix Mountain to Beverly and their "quit" at North Yard. The coal hoppers on the right are on Old Main, now out of service except for storage, that wound to an eventual summit higher up the mountain. Aggessive improvements in the 1920's lead to the current alignment that curves just north of here and enters the tunnel at ES Cabin on its two percent descent. The blue building in the background is Cheat Mountain Mining Company, one of the larger of the five coal operations between Slaty Fork and Beverly. Several of the Grafton and Greenbrier's influences manifest themselves in this photo. The blue and gold paint scheme of the B&O and C&O came from the time period when each railroad owned half of the G&G before the State of West Virginia intervened in the 1980's. The snow plow on the front end shows that the Grafton and Greenbrier had the same problems with the elements as another railroad in the area, the Western Maryland. In fact, a discerning eye will see that the plow is of the same design of those used on the WM. Of course the Western Maryland plow can also be explained by he influence of Dave Smith, a long time employee and Western Maryland modeler for whom Smith Summit is named.

Grafton and Greenbrier GP30 6980 is seen here spotting a wood chip hopper at Greenbrier Lumber Company at Burdette Creek. While coal is king as far as traffic generation, there are some other businesses on the Grafton and Greenbrier that also contribute. This load of wood chips will likely end up at Tygart Pulp and Paper in Beverly, another online business. A car full of timber can be seen immediately behind the 6980 meaning that this business not only ships traffic, but receives it as well. The Grafton and Greenbrier is a largely a single track railroad with frequent passing sidings. Burdette Creek is unusual in that it acts like a small portion of double track. Spring switches are located on either end of the Burdette Creek double track. Fluidity on this part of the railroad is particularly important as any train that has to stop north of the double track must do so on the street run on Main Street in Couch.

Amtrak #35 rolls through Pipe Falls in this rare daylight photo. Subsidized by the State of West Virginia to serve the residents of this rural part of the state, 35 makes stops at Slaty Fork, Couch, and Beverly. Pipe Falls is the highest point on the railroad. Trains coming north out of Slaty Fork must climb the two percent grade from the Mountain Switch to Pipe Falls. While there was an extensive use of helpers in the past, current practice is to run mostly lighter trains with more front end power and shove only in heavy tonnage situations. While there is a slight hill from Burdette Creek to Pipe Falls for southbounds, helpers have been needed only in the rarest of occasions since steam days. The track on the left and the tunnel behind #35 are part of the new expansion of the Grafton and Greenbrier. Current plans have the branch connecting with the Crescent Valley at Gassaway.

Perhaps the most spectacular piece of railroad on the Grafton and Greenbrier is the Burdette Creek Viaduct, shown here with the annual Santa Claus Special being pulled by a Southern steam engine. Burdette Creek is a scaled-down replica of the Pleasants Creek Viaduct on the former Baltimore and Ohio line between Grafton and Philippi, West Virginia. Pleasants Creek Viaduct holds a special place for Lin Young, the President of the Grafton and Greenbrier, as it is located right across U.S. Highway 250 from the former Young Family Farm. Some of his earliest railroad memories are of B&O steam engines thundering past the farm, so perhaps it is fitting that we show a rare steam operation on Burdette Creek. Speaking of Burdette Creek, we should mention that it is named after Gary Burdette, a fitting acknowledgement of a long-time employee who made the bridge seen here possible.

As the motto of the popular railroad magazine says, "Model Railroading is Fun." Somedays, however, it's not as fun as others. Witness Exhibit #1 for the case against the use of 'live loads'. Fortunately for the company, there will be no charges for soiled laundry by the operator at JD Cabin as the building serves solely as a work space for the signal maintainers in the area. The 'YL' sign shows that the crossovers at JD Cabin are now under the control of the Slaty Fork Yardmaster. A tip of the 'Safety First' hard hat to Jerry Doyle, the first place built to on the Grafton and Greenbrier is named after the person known on the railroad as Employee #1.

With part of its train still on the steep grade on the north side of the Mountain Switch, the crew of x2319 South probably still has the dynamic braking engaged as they roll past Corley Coal on their way to Slaty Fork. Foreign road power is quite prevalent on the G and G, actually making a majority of power found. In addition to motive power from the Chessie System roads, power from fellow Appalachain Railroads Cooperative roads like the Crescent Valley, West Virginia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Southern, and Southern Ohio are also prevalent. Unlike most of the coal online, traffic generated at Corley Coal both orignates and terminates on the G&G. Brown Generating Station in Slaty Fork gets most of the output from Corley Coal. There's a good reason for this, empties spotted at Corley instantly become empties ready for pick up at Brown Generating Station. X2319 North is getting ready to cross the viaduct over Weaver Creek named after another long time employee Keith Weaver, which brings something else to mind. While we are glad that some '1:1 scale' railroaders have decided to join our company, we are even more proud to say that at least four of our employees have gone on from the G&G to work on various railroads from tourist pikes to regionals to Class I's.

While the Grafton and Greenbrier uses track warrants to regulate movements on the railroad, train order signals like this one are occasionally used to regulate traffic flow on the line. This red signal could be hung for any number of reasons: the Trivett Shifter may not yet be in the clear yet as he switches Couch Industrial on the other side of town or the dispatcher may be trying to arrange a meet at Smith Summit and needs to give an additonal order or the Town of Couch may be hanging yet another banner downtown over Main Street. Anyone who has ever been to West Virginia knows that flat land can be hard to find and Pocahontas county is no exception. Because of this fact, the G&G runs on a street run right down the middle of the Central Business District of Couch. Woe be unto the engineer that exceeds the 10 mph speed limit, if the encounter with the local constabulary isn't enough to make them hang their hand their head in shame, the end of run debrief with legendary superintendent Nev. R. Again will certainly do the trick.

A Burlington Route Zephyr rolls northbound past SS Cabin on its way to... OK, look, I know that there is no good way to explain this picture having any relevance to West Virginia railroading rather than a liberal dose of 'modeler's license'. The employees of the Grafon and Greenbrier are a diverse lot with many interests that come together mostly to have fun and not all of it by the rules. Sometimes that even means getting together virtually. There have been a few occasions where the railroad has been dispatched remotely from miles away just like the real thing. Why is this picture here, because I like it and anyone wanting to pick on me for including it beware, I'm 6'3" and over 300 pounds and I don't fight fair.

Engine 6980 is seen once again here switching deep within the confines of the Couch Industrial Track. Unsuspecting 'new hires' beware, the Couch Shifter can eat up the better part of the operating session between switching the multiple industries in the Couch area and getting into the clear for through traffic that must obey the 10 mph speed limit on the street run. 6980 is seen here spotting a car at Young and Son furniture. The grade leading up to Trivett Coal can be seen in the background.

What would a Top Ten Photos be without this one? Company President Lin Young is taking a turn at the Grafton and Greenbrier Dispatch Desk. The grey box that he is using is an FRS radio base station used to talk to crews on the railroad. While it is possible to hang an order at one of the train order stations along the route (Slaty Fork, Pipe Falls, Couch, Smith Summit, and Beverly), most orders are copied by radio. The white box to the left is the intercom directly to the Slaty Fork Yardmaster. Lin is writing on one of the two main forms used by the dispatcher. The first form is the dispatchers log. This form has a listing of all movements made on the railroad during a session as well a listing of all trains that are are ready movement during the session. The second form is a list of all orders issued during the session. In front of him is a schematic of the entire railroad from Slaty Fork to North Yard. The switches on the right control the train order signals on the railroad. All switch throws are the responsibility of the road crews or the Slaty Fork Yardmaster. There is one section of the railroad that is controlled by signals (Elk Yard to South Slaty), that switch is also found to the right. Long gone are the days when operations were limited to one train on the Tygart subdivision and one on the Elk Division and one at Slaty Fork. DcC makes the dispatcher's job much more interesting these days on the Grafton and Greenbrier.