David Parks'

  Cumberland West


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The Cumberland West is a model of the Baltimore and Ohio and Western Maryland railroads in the vicinity of Cumberland, Maryland in 1953. The bulk of the layout represents the track in the city of Cumberland and the routes to the southwest.

Both railroads had major mainline junctions in Cumberland. B&O trains from the east are routed either northwest on the Pittsburgh division or west over the West End sub to Grafton, while Western Maryland trains from the east are routed northwest toward Connellsville or southwest on the Thomas sub to Elkins.

The Baltimore and Ohio and Western Maryland were both major coal carriers and over half of the trains consist of loaded or empty coal hoppers.

Operating sessions can feature either railroad running separately, or in a joint session with both running independently of the other, except for interchanges and minor trackage rights.

Cumberland West resides in a 1200 square foot room excavated under an existing house. The ceiling is 8 to 11 feet high and without interior posts. The layout is single level with truncated scenery dividers so that most of the layout can be seen from an elevated entrance platform.



Most trains originate in the staging yards located below the layout. The B&O and Western Maryland each have a separate double ended staging yard. All trains are stored facing the same direction. There are 35 tracks, each portioned for two trains for a maximum of 70 stored trains (25 car average). Any staged train can be sent to any location on the layout and any train leaving the layout can be stored on any track. Track selection and destination route are selected on an interactive computer schematic. A multi panel computer display is located on the entry platform for the use of the stage manager . JMRI Panelpro is the primary computer programs used for control.



The B&O has four touch screen stations around the layout which can display one or more tower panels. The tower displays show the track plan of the interlocking. The tower operator communicates with the dispatcher by telephone and on his direction, controls the switches and signals and issues train orders to crews. Train crews do not contact the dispatcher directly.

On the Western Maryland the dispatcher can control train order boards at station locations and can communicate with the train crews by telephone.


DCC Control System

The Cumberland West system uses Digitrax DCC with Duplex Radio for control. All track switches are controlled with stationary decoders. The throttles are a mix of radio DT400 and UTX. Switches can be controlled by computer, throttle or fascia mounted momentary toggles. The staging switches do not have fascia toggles. Some of the complex track patterns such as yard throats use route selection buttons.

Two central power racks contain all DCC power sources and the major auxiliary supplies. 25 regional power distribution stations contain circuit breakers, auto-reversers and sensor boards.


Telephone System

The telephone is a seven line key system with 17 stations, designed and installed by Seth Neumann. The B&O and Western Maryland dispatchers, towers and stage manager each have separate lines to facilitate independent conversations and functional separation. When operating both railroads communication control is completely independent.


B&O Signaling

The B&O has Tomar Color Position Lights (CPL) with marker lamps to designate various speed requirements. The system supports 9 of the B&O's 14 signal aspects. The CPLs at an interlocking section are controlled by a tower operator and govern the passage of trains through the controlled section of track. Between control sections, train movement is governed by Rule 251. Trains proceed in the direction of travel subject to intermediate signals until reaching another control section. Dwarf CPLs from ISS protect entry to the main track from many yard and industry switching leads


Western Maryland Signaling

The Western Maryland has a few signals to indicate hidden turnout position when entering staging, a long tunnel or to protect a turnout not visible from the aisle. Most Western Maryland towers and stations have Tomar operating bi-directional train order boards. The boards are Dispatcher controlled by the DCC control system.


Car Forwarding

Car forwarding uses car cards and color coded waybills for manifest freights. Coal and empty hoppers use multi-car orders. A Coal Manager prepares Coal Orders to regulate coal loads and empty hopper traffic.



All visible track is hand laid. Stage and ramp track is flex track. All switches are hand laid using Micro Engineering rail and Tortoise stall motors controlled via DCC stationary decoders.

B&O Mainline track is code 83, sidings and yards code 70 and industry tracks code 55. The Western Maryland follows the same pattern except that code 70 main is used on the Thomas Sub and the West Virginia Junction Beryl Wood Yard is code 55.

There is about 1200 feet of visible track for both railroads and 2400 more in staging. The mainline run is 243 feet of double and triple track for the B&O and 320 feet of single track with passing sidings for the for the Western Maryland. In addition each railroad travels about another 190 feet on the ramps back to staging from the western end of visible trackage. There are a total of 365 turnouts on the layout.



Scenery is constructed using Bragdon two part urethane foam. The foam has imbedded fiberglass screen and is supported by foam core board. Most larger areas are removable to all access to hidden tracks which are part of the staging or ramps. Rock casting are Bragdon two part urethane resin. Hot glue is used for assembly. The backdrops are all hand painted by noted railroad artist Mike Kotowski, who also constructed much of the scenery.


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Updated December 31, 2019




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