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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Life and Life and Death of G Cabin

The former C&O Railroad's G Cabin Gordonsville, VA has been a well known railroad attraction for years.  Constructed in the 1930's at the Y junction of the C&O's single track line between Richmond and Clifton Forge via Doswell and the short Washington Branch to Orange.  The tower stood at the west leg of the wye and for decades controlled the all US&S interlocking plant from its upper floor.   Of course, after many years of service, G Cabin, like most small towers like it, closed and the interlocking plant was put under remote control using US&S 504 code equipment with the vital hardware stored in the lower floor of the old interlocking tower.

Over time the C&O was merged into the Chessie System, then CSX and finally leased to the Buckingham Branch ShortLine.  Under the BB, the former G Cabin territory was split into three separate logical interlockings.  These were CP-YOWELL at the south end of the wye, CP-NORTH GORDONSVILLE at the north end of the wye and CP-EAST GORDONSVILLE (formerly CP-G TOWER) at the east leg of the wye.  Each of these interlockings were fairly simple, basically consisting of one or two switches and some classic C&O signals.  Anyway, over the last year or so some money was made available to "improve" the BB route for the 3-a-week Amtrak Cardinal service and slowly the deadly pall of re-signaling is falling over what had been a pristine route.  The most recent victim of this slowly moving resignaling effort was unfortunately G CABIN with the new signals being cut in over the first weekend in November, 2012.



Now  this actually went beyond just ripping out some relays and putting up a bunch of new signals. While CP-EAST GORDONSVILLE was treated to the extra generic brand of cheap LED lit 4-stack Darth Vader heads, the cost savings didn't end there.  As the Piedmont Sub from Gordonsville to Richmond via Doswell is run under TWC rules starting just a mile past CP-YOWELL, CP-YOWELL itself was completely ripped out.  So was CP-NORTH GORDONSVILLE and the line between there and the NS connection at Orange (which probably sees the Cardinal as its only traffic) lost two intermediate signals and two controlled points at ANNE and SOUTH ORANGE to be replaced by a pair of single headed block signals with 3+ mile long blocks.  The entrance signal at Orange was also replaced as was CP-GORDONSVILLE about a mile west of G CABIN.  

So here a short line bucks the trend of unecessary signal spending, by instead ripping out most of the signaling plant it inherited.  I guess I should be glad that it took them do long to get around to it.  Hopefully further austerity budgets will prevent any more of these "upgrades which have also included the removal of one siding, the downgrade of the IVY siding from signaled to controlled and the removal of the holdout signals around the Charlottesville yard limits.  The only bits of good news is that the BB seems to be committed to the C&O signal rules (not so you'd notice with the lack of signaled sidings), the C&O signal into NS's  ORANGE interlocking has been left unmodified and I was able to fully document both the G Cabin wye and the signals around Orange.  I hope to write a full essay on the G Cabin signaling at some point, but if you want to view images of things now gone you can find the full set here.


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