1930s HO scale layout

Joe’s been in touch with his 1930s HO scale layout:


Hello from Wild and Wonderful West Virginia!

Not only are we Hillbilly’s but BIG Railfans too.

The Railroads have played a huge part in West Virginias history, from the Lumber Industry to Coal Mining. The town I grew up in is Ronceverte, WV and it is roughly halfway between Clifton Forge, VA and Hinton, WV on the C&Os (CSX) Alleghany Subdivision.

The C&O ran “Pushers” from here to Alleghany, VA to help coal drags up the grade to Alleghany.

Both places had Turntables that were 120’ long to turn the big H-4s and K2s. Today CSX runs CW4400s, two in the front and two halfway back in 200 to 250 car coal drags. Impressive to say the least.

We have a Train Show here the first weekend of May, which brings me to the project I have taken on. I Iike to call “History through Models” projects.

As the name implies, they’re models that are 3D, HO scale representations of a period, in time on The Alleghany Subdivision.

Below are photos of the Ronceverte model during the 1930s. The model is incomplete and still under construction, but I think you will get the idea.

I have to “scratch build” most all the buildings. I used old photos from the C&O Historical Society to get a general idea what the buildings looked like.

The water tank is a model kit from Walther’s.

The passenger station is the next big thing to build. The station was built in 1915, really nice too. It is a brick structure with a long platform that connects to a brick Freight House.

Enough said, here’s some pics.



1930s HO scale

1930s HO scale

1930s HO scale

1930s HO scale

1930s HO scale

1930s HO scale

1930s HO scale

A big thanks to Joe.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, a layout with a ‘theme’ will always turn out well. I love the way he’s using the pictures to recreate the scenes from the past. Brilliant.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

28 Responses to 1930s HO scale layout

  1. Gene says:

    I love the sled sitting in the corner. Had one just like if. Slid down the campus of the hospital hurling over a five-foot wall, crashing into a snow bank after an all night snow storm.
    Great fun….huh?

  2. James Malins says:

    Very Impressive.

  3. Allan Feeser says:

    To Joe from another in West Virginia,
    Hello Joe. Would like to know more about your show in May. I live in Martinsburg, WV and lovin it!

  4. Colin Edinburgj says:

    This layout looks like being one of the nicest layouts currently under construction. It really looks like it has captured the feeling of the period being modelled. Good scratch building, ground cover and design. Please keep us up to date.

  5. Brian Olson says:

    Love it!

  6. Greg Marples says:

    Wonderful! This is exactly what I am doing with my 1920’s representation of the Union Pacific Central Division Hub and Marysville, Kansas, where I live. Alastair posted pictures of my N scale layout in progress some time ago.

  7. George Zaky says:

    Great job on that very real looking layout. Keep us posted with any updates.

  8. JC says:

    Hey Joe,
    Your ground cover and track look great and help set the mood. Good work over all. Keep it up.

  9. Stephen Hill says:

    Joe, awesome what you’ve done . I grew up just north of you on the Allegheny river and in that valley . Trains were constant , hard not to be excited about them both real and modeled . They provided the life and sustained many generations . I hear a whistle blow in the distance snd it brings back waves of memories. Thank you for your display and it’s authenticity takes me back decades .

  10. Timothy J Smolinski says:

    As a fellow West Virginian, I will say “Mega Kudos” to Joe! I recently transplanted myself here (like 2 years ago) and now live very happily on top of a mountain almost dead center of the state! Got a beautiful home with a finished man cave that aside from the bar and pool table, will also allow me an 8×16 foot platform I’ve always dreamed of! Had a few opportunities to visit some of the old rail lines that have been discontinued. Lots of history in these mountains. Joe, please post with Alistair a few weeks before the train show, as we would love to attend! Keep up the great work!

  11. Vince sama says:

    The tree lines along side the road look amazing. Wish I could do that.

  12. GaryM from Long Island says:

    Great work……scenery and buildings outstanding

  13. Kevin McArdle says:

    Wonderful representation of a snapshot in time. Great modeling skills, thank you for sharing. Please keep us posted on the ‘scratch’ built buildings.

  14. Tony Kitty Hawk, NC says:


    Excellent atmosphere you are creating- keep us updated as you progress!

  15. ScenicsRme says:

    What is the structure in the second picture that looks like a tall water tower straddling the track with an elevator on top?

  16. Bob From Towson says:

    Great stuff Joe! I had family inn Moundsville some years back. I remember it had a Dairy Queen, a bowling alley and 1 traffic light…

  17. Bill in Virginia says:

    Excellent modeling! Great level of detailing and eye catching to say the least! Well done!

  18. Robert J Green says:

    One of the best I have seen. Awesome

  19. Steve Gardner says:

    Flexible Flyer in the corner. Doesn’t get any better. My cousin had one at the farm and we’d sled down the hill behind the barn that ended up at the UP tracks. Quite a thrill with a train coming on and sledding right into the track embankment. Thanks for the memory. Great layout, too. Good on ya.

  20. Phil from California says:

    Super layout Joe but you have to get rid of Joe Manchin or you won’t have any more railroads!

  21. Chuck says:

    Hi Joe,

    What a layout! So realistic looking. It looks to me like you used real dirt for roads and ground cover. You have done an amazing job. My grandmother lived in New Martinsville. I would visit her and my cousins every summer. There were railroad down the street from her and they were still in use. I would here a horn blow and I would just stop and watch. Some trains were short but the long ones were the best ! Thanks for sharing.

  22. Mark T. Pianka says:

    Great photos great story and a great looking layout, Enjoyed!

  23. Gerald Edgar says:

    Great detailing!

  24. C.H. Specht says:

    Startled by the edge-on cymbal in picture 5. I didn’t think the UFO craze started until the 40’s and 50’s.

  25. Jim Baker says:

    Looking great! I think the landscaping is exceptional…so realistic. I should know, I grew up In Mt. Hope WV, about 10 miles from Thurmond. Trains and coal everywhere, half of the roads were dirt. I will try to find more about your show on the internet, would like to visit. Now live in Michigan, but get your way every now and then. As a matter of fact, was in Hinton for Railroad Days just last week.

  26. William Haynes II says:

    The structure in the second photo is the 70 ton Coaling Tower in Ronceverte, which is still there, If you look in the background, the brick building, is where The Red Matheney train show happens first weekend in May.

  27. William Haynes II says:

    Allan Feeser ask about the train show. We’re on facebook. Follow us. “The Red Matheney Train Show”

  28. william janmes palmer says:

    very nice

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