Virginian and Ohio
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The Virginian and Ohio is both the name of a fictional railroad company created by W. Allen McClelland and the HO scale model railroad he built featuring this railroad. The V&O is famous in the model railroading world for setting a new standard for freelanced (fictional) model railroads designed to operate in a prototypical manner and was a major influence upon many model railroaders of the time. In 1984, Mr. McClelland wrote a detailed guide to the construction and operation of the railroad.
The original V&O was built in 1962 and was set in the 1950s. The railroad operated from Afton, VA to Elm Grove, VA. In the mid 1970s, Allen McClelland began a second phase of construction that expanded the railroad from Elm Grove to Kingswood Junction, VA. McClelland was very interested in actual prototype running so the railroad constantly moved forward in time. For example, in 1980 (1958 on the railroad), the V&O ran the last of its steam locomotives and switched entirely to diesel. Allen then moved the timeframe of the railroad to 1968. In the late 1990s, the railroad was expanded one final time and was updated to 1975.
In 2001, McClelland moved into a new home, forcing him to dismantle the original layout. The Clintwood section of the layout is currently stored at the National Model Railroad Association's headquarters building in Soddy-Daisy, TN, pending public display in the Scale Model Railroading exhibit at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. Allen began construction on a second V&O in the basement of his home.
Construction of the new V&O (the "Gauley Division") was cut short in 2008 by another move, this time to a house without a basement, as detailed in the October 2008 issue of Scale Rails (the official publication of the National Model Railroad Association), and the January 2009 issue of "Model Railroader".
Several factors came into play in the formation of the Appalachian Lines. Model railroaders Tony Koester and Steve King had become fast friends as they developed their interest in proto-freelancing (developing a fictional railroad based on real-life practices) and railroad operations. The V&O was constantly moving forward in time period, reflecting McClelland's interest in prototype modeling. Heavily influenced by repeat visits to Appalachian coal country and the realization that their three small regional railroads would face challenges surviving in the real world economy of the late 1970s, Koester suggested that the V&O, his Allegheny Midland and King's Virginia Midland form the Appalachian Lines. Modeled after the Chessie System and the SCL/L&N Family Lines, each railroad would retain its own identity and color scheme, but follow similar layout for paint styles and road names. The V&O would keep its deep blue and white, the AM would adopt a bright red and yellow, and the VM would go with yellow and deep green. Like Chessie System and Family Lines, the Appalachian Lines would be a name used in marketing and advertising, and the three railroads would be able to pool their resources to remain competitive. Not only was this a great excuse to use "run-through" power from the connecting AM and VM roads, but it also helped strengthen the idea that all three model railroads were somehow part of a larger system, and in fact connected to the national railroad network. Thanks to regular coverage in both Railroad Model Craftsman (of which Koester was editor at the time) and Model Railroader magazines, this is probably the most well-known period of the V&O's operations.
- McClelland, The V&O Story, supra, at 92.