Recent Internet searches have led me to a new string of customers that were served by the Wheeling Freight Terminal. It seems wrong to call these the product of a search as I actually just stumbled into related details. Note the tall buildings in the background of the image above. These structures constituted a block that all had docks along the tail track that accessed the team yard. I had wondered about these buildings before, but there was little info at hand when the layout was being designed in 2012. Click on any image here to review a larger size.
The details were found in the HABS/HAER collection at the Library of Congress website. One of the buildings in the block was surveyed because it had a cast iron front and back, and because it once housed the largest West Virginia wholesale grocer in the last quarter of the 19th century. The Joseph Speidel & Company building was documented about the same time as the B&O freight house.
It was this one photo in the HABS/HAER documentation that made me realize I had to include this block as a scenic and operational feature. A scale drawing of the block included the individual docks that were served by the team yard access track.
I created a mock up of the block using foam core. The building widths were taken from the drawing above while the heights were extrapolated by comparing the Speidel building drawing with photos of the buildings taken from a distance. Now I had a good idea of the building sizes, but I did not know the other businesses that were located in this block.
A previous visit to the Ohio County Public Library Flickr site turned up a crude map documenting the downtown Wheeling merchants and businesses, circa 1939. All but one of the buildings at the far left of the above image are noted with business. This is the block that the B&O served. Some Google sleuthing found all the businesses, except for the Miller Grocery Company, dated back into the 1800s at these same locations. Miller occupies the Spiedel Bulding on this 1939 guide. These extra details pushed the construction along.
The front of this mock up is one continuous piece of foam core. The back was sliced at the interfaces for each building in order to bend the front to follow the curve on my model railroad. Walls and roofs were installed along with a scaled print out of the Speidel Grocery building drawing. While the drawing was only for the building front, the HABS/HAER notes indicate the back was the same, except for the first floor loading dock. I wasn’t going to quibble with some printed details that may not be easily seen once an awning is installed.
The new block of buildings had been added to the lower left corner of the Wheeling Freight Terminal trackplan above. The plat drawing was resized and placed into the trackplan. The mock up is curved to follow the tail track. Eventually, I hope to create line drawings that reflect the architectural details of the adjoining structures. Those drawings will be printed out, trimmed, and laminated into the proper place on the building block. Tags hang from the tops of the buildings to communicate the business names to guests and crews.
The first operating session after the block was set into place was pretty interesting. The team yard crew felt they were thrown a curveball as they would now need to clear cars from the docks in order to do their team yard work. Additionally, they would need to spot cars at these docks as the last order of business. The new customers would add at least a dozen more moves to the team yard crew duties. In the long run, they have enjoyed the new challenges and accepted the work involved. To date, there have been no union grievances filed.
In model railroad layout design circles, the addition of these customers on an access track to a team yard violates commonly accepted principles. I have received many comments questioning the short tail track that is used to access the team yard and these docks will raise another flag for many. But I hold up the prototype in defense of this situation. While it is odd and unconventional, real B&O crews had to work these tracks for decades and that is what my Wheeling Freight Terminal layout is trying to reflect. Sadly, all of this is gone now from Wheeling, W. Va.; the B&O freight house, the team yard, the building block, and even the B&O mainline.
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