January 10, 2020

OpsLog – WVN – 1/8/2020

t’s one of the ops sessions for the 2020 Protorails, and I managed to get the golden ticket, a shot at running on the West Virginia Northern, a line way way over in Tampa. Worth the trip. The Komars have an absolutely amazing layout. Wide aisles (well, as wide as you’re ever going to get on a layout). Wonderfully working equipment (transition era). Stunning scenery. And a comfortable but doable session – not rushed and hectic but sequential in all the right ways. When I heard there wasn’t a dispatcher (my favorite job) I wasn’t sure how it would work […]
October 4, 2020

OpsLog – WVN – 10/3/2020

n these days of Covid, one has to weigh the risk of getting a disease with the fun you’ll have. Granted, I’m not about to jam into a bar just so I can get a watered-down drink and a reminder of how bad the current generation of music is. And my hair really, really needs a cut. But a chance to run on the Komars’ West Virginia Northern (in full masks and even cute blue booties (well, that’s for static but maybe it will help)) is a chance not to be missed. I was so excited driving over. I can’t […]
June 13, 2021

OpsLog – WVN – 6/13/2021

he soot-black tunnel roils with fire and smoke, the den of a dragon. I’ll admit I don’t like this final tunnel into Elkview at all, a long slow curving decent. The left bend of the track makes me all but blind with our long boiler. Fortunately my fireman is in his left seat keeping watch, his shovel across his lap, empty coal cars ringing and banging behind us. Even unloaded, I’m having to apply pressure on this stiff downgrade to keep our speed in check. Suddenly I hear something detonate under our driver, a second, third. Torpedoes. Some brave soul […]
November 7, 2021

OpsLog – WVN – 11/06/2021

harlie might be ecstatic over his golden ticket to the chocolate factory. But it’s nothing compared to getting a slot on the the Komar’s West Virginia Northern. I mean, crap’s stake, I gotta get up at 6am, leave by 6:30 and drive for over two hours (in the rain) to get there. Yeah, it’s that good! Don’t believe me? How about this? Since I was first in the door, I got first dibs on job and I took my new favorite, the Ashbury Hostler. My post was way down in the back of this photo (you can just make out […]
January 8, 2022

OpsLog – WVN – 1/5/2022

y green West Virginia Northern RS units grunted like laboring elephants as I slowly pushed a flat car into a the New River mill, down in a river valley where the mainline ran. I’ll admit that I nearly put the flat off the end of the crude siding, distracted as I was by my paperwork spread over the oil-reeking cab. I wasn’t really confident in my work orders. See, some newbie back in Ashbury yard, a guy with no west-end switching, had built this train. And he’d gotten one or two corrections from the superintendent while doing it. Also, he’d […]
March 6, 2022

OpsLog – WVN – 03/05/2022

rinding into Harris Yard after the long ascent up the mountainous grade above Elkview. Rumbling under my metal unadjusted (inside joke) seat  is the first of two GP7s (after a mixup at Ashbury left me standing at the ready track, litter rustling around my feet, no engines). Haivng been reassigned these fine units, I did the in-and-out switching on local 252 easily. So now I’m in Harris with a coal train idling next to the unloader track (the crew hunched over their orders) and a red board on the Clifton Forge line, denoting a wesbound arrival. I’ve only got a […]
May 1, 2022

OpsLog – WVN – 4/30/2022

here has to be a reason I crawl out of bed at 6 AM, hitting the road by twenty-after, running west for Tampa to operate on the West Virginia Northern. The sunrise in my rearview was breathtaking – the haze turned it into a giant molten ball imperfect with bands of clouds. Two cars pulled over on the side of I-4 to watch it. The rearview mirror gave me enough of a treat and a couple of miles more distance. And the fast food joint I always stop at, I had a quiet coffee over a book, eating an egg-McSomething. […]
June 26, 2022

OpsLog – WVN – 6/26/2022

o be honest, I feel a little like one of those people who are reading Time Magazine at 30,000 feet, rationing my peanuts and trying to ignore the loudmouth in the seat next to me. The next moment, I’m waking up in a muddy field surrounded by wreckage, still strapped to my smoldering seat. First thought: what just happened? The first shift on the Komars’ West Virginia Northern went really well – the railroad was clicking through its paces and we actually finished up a little early, allowing us time to prep up for the post lunch & meridian shift. […]
September 5, 2022

OpsLog – WVN – 9/3/2022

‘m in my hard wooden chair in a West Virginia Northern caboose, my coffee sloshing about my green company cup as I ride the rough rails down from Clifton Forge to Harris, a line of WVN green boxes banging along. I hear the head-end throw an uneasy four-note whistle as we reach the engine house grade crossing just outside of town. The engineer in the iron seat up front is a newbie. But it’s not what you would expect, not some gnarled tobacco-spitting local boy made good, no. It’s my wife. JB came along with me to run on the […]
February 5, 2023

OpsLog – WVN – 2/4/2023

think there is a trope forming, that for some reason everyone I attempt to carpool with suffers a medical episode. This time, got a call from the ER the night before, my co-ride bowing out. Come on, how dangerous are heart flutters in the grand scheme of things, you big baby! I mean, we’re talking operations on the West Virginia Northern! So, flying solo, I made my way out there. We were a bit short (with an additional cancellation), with Hostess Gail doubling up on yard jobs (“Thankee, no,” I thought). Instead, I got to run some really nice rolls, […]