PRR Panhandle Division in O Scale
The Prototype - Background & History
This layout is my second attempt to model the 7 miles of the PRR Panhandle
that ran through the northern panhandle of West Virginia and Steubenville, OH.
The Panhandle was a second mainline of the Pennsylvania Railroad that ran from
Pittsburgh to St. Louis.
It existed from 1848 through 1995.
Grif Teller immortalized the double track bridge across the Ohio River in the
painting "Crossroads of Commerce" which appeared in the 1953 Pennsylvania Railroad
Calendar. That bridge still stands and the track using it serves Weirton Steel
(now Arcelor Mittal) and the brick refractories and businesses on the New Cumberland
secondary. Unfortunately, from Weirton Junction through Burgettstown and points east,
the track has been pulled up and the right of way has been converted to a hiking /
I grew up in Weirton, WV in the 1950s & 1960s. I left in 1978, but still have family
and other ties in the area. The PRR double-track bridge at MP 42.11 was always a
source of fascination for me, even as a small child going to Steubenville with my
parents and grandparents. However, it was not until I saw Teller's painting
(in the late 1990s) that I realized what I wanted to model.
Layout Facts & Features:
- Size & Shape:
Folded dog bone – 11' x 47'. Of that, there is a 10' x 6' staging yard behind
the eastern divider backdrop. Total dimensions are 11' x 47' (517 square feet).
- Layout Height & Benchwork:
The mainline track is 50" from the floor. The River Route (kid's loop) is 38"
off the ground. Subroadbed is 5/8" plywood. Legs and supporting timbers are 2"
square pine or poplar (in places).
Mostly GarGraves with some Curtis sectional curves, Curtis Hi-Rail turnouts,
and Ross Custom Switch turnouts. Mainline curves are O72.
Weirton Junction, Weirton Steel, Armour Packing, Federal Paperboard, Staging.
- Command System:
TMCC. Turnouts have Z-Stuff DZ-2500C switch machines and are both TMCC and
- Wiring & Blocking:
8 power districts (bus wiring) supplied by 1 centrally located power
- Power:6 Lionel 180 watt PowerHouse transformers and 2 Lionel 135 watt
Powerhouse transformers supply 18VAC to districts 1-8, respectively.
Two (2) K-Line PowerChief 120 transformers provide 15VAC to switch machines
will power switch machines, signals, crossing gates / signals and a few AC
accessories. All building lights, other accessories, and mill animations are
supplied by 12VDC power supplies. Street traffic signals and street lights
get their power from 3VDC power supplies.
12 Z-Stuff DZ-1060 PRR position signals and 2 MTH PRR signal bridges
(2 signal heads each) provide signalling for travel in the counter-clockwise
The layout is intended for operations by as many as 6 individuals.
It is capable of operating up to 4 mainline trains and 4 switching operations
simultaneously. The details are still to be worked out for operations.