Over the course of hosting operating sessions, I have made a list of subjects to review with visitors upon their arrival
. This orientation can take as long as half an hour, which is time that the more experienced operators in the group would rather be spending running trains. The Crew Call! page will provide visiting operators an opportunity to review the pre-op orientation beforehand. Hopefully, this will reduce the time required to get trains out on the line.

The Piedmont & East Blue Ridge is a freelanced On30 model railroad. It depicts an industrial shortline serving the soapstone industry that once flourished in the Blue Ridge Mountain foothills of Albemarle and Nelson Counties in Central Virginia. The primary function of the railroad is to deliver stone from the quarries to the mills where it is processed. The railroad also hauls the finished products from those mills to a transfer point with a standard gauge railroad.

For more information on the soapstone industry in Virginia, visit the
Alberene Soapstone website.

Primary tasks for the crews to perform

The soapstone workflow
The supply and fuel workflows
passenger accommodation


Soapstone leaving the quarries falls into one of three categories:
1. Large blocks of high quality stone to be delivered to Piedmont for cutting, polishing, and assembly into fixtures and sinks.
2. Fractured pieces with fissures and other imperfections that prevent the stone from being good enough to be used for assembly. This stone is delivered to the Dust Mill at Cove to be ground into talc.
3. Fractured pieces mixed with other minerals and overburden that cannot be milled. This stone is dumped at various sites along the railroad right-of-way.


Finished products leaving Piedmont and the Dust Mill in Cove are loaded into boxcars for the trip to Winwood to be transferred to the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad.


Track Scale at Shops is for weighing flatcars of stone blocks headed to Piedmont, and all outbound boxcars of finished products from both Piedmont and Dust Mill.

At the same time that the primary tasks of moving stone from the quarries and finished products to the Transfer are going on, the railroad is also busy with additional duties. Coal needs to be delivered to the boilerhouse, lumber to the carpenters shop, repaired air compressors and drill rigs to the quarries, etc. It all adds up to quite a bit of activity during a typical op session.