So how does one develop a fascination with trains so profound that one's basement and life becomes filled with them? For my father, Lin Young, I'm sure that boredom had something to do with it. But really, is that a satisfying answer? After all, his occupational life has included service as a Naval Aviator, several years running a coal mine, and selling heavy construction equipment. Sitting in a basement and building models and running trains 1/87th the size of the real thing just doesn't seem to compare.
Picture this: it's the 1950's and your grandfather has ?asked? you to come to the grocery store on Main Street in Grafton, West Virginia to sell corn with him. Now I don't now about you, but if I was my father's age at the time, this would not have been an exciting proposition. What is a young boy to do? I'm sure that he didn't appreciate it at first, but just one block away was one of the finest examples of mountain railroading in all of America: the Grafton Terminal of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
Those of you who know railroading intimately will already appreciate the significance of this place and time. For those of you don't, let me try and explain. To the south lies the coalfields of Northern West Virginia where the B&O gather carloads from a multitude of branches. After arriving in Grafton, the cars were assembled in trains to be forwarded over the two heavy grades to the east and on to the ports in the city where the railroad gets the first half of its name. To the west of Grafton is the other half, Ohio, and beyond to St. Louis and the Mississippi River. Throw in some area industries and you can see just what significant place Grafton is.
What of time? The 1950's were a time of great change in American railroading. The steam locomotive, the workhorse of the industry since, well, real workhorses, was in its last days. The steam locomotive: where, unlike today's diesel engines, smoke and steam mean that the engine is alive and healthy and working hard. The largest and finest steam locomotives in the history of the were assembled in small Grafton, West Virginia, living out their final days lifting the heavy loads over the mountain grades. The future was there too. The diesel engines of the day were not dressed in the cost-efficient, bi-color liveries that would follow in the next decade, but multi-colored affairs that advertised the railroad and the pride the people had in it. Other railroads were represented as well as rolling advertisements for distant companies rolled past on the cars that went through from west to east or east to west.
I can just imagine what it must have been like for a young boy back then to stand at the end of the street just down from where his grandfather sold corn, watching men working the big machines and getting their jobs done. I know it had to have been exciting. Why? Because my father took me to the very same place in the 1980's and it had the same effect on me.
If you were expecting something more from this page like dimensions or track plans or how we run the railroad, then I am sorry to disappoint. There are many words and pictures elsewhere on this site that can serve that purpose for you. If you ask me what the Grafton and Greenbrier is about, then I have to say it's about people. It's about my father's lifelong fascination with railroads. It's about a group of people that get together once a week in my father's basement in Gallipolis, Ohio, each with their own story about how they developed a fascination with railroading. It's about building and then operating a HO scale version of what Grafton would have been like had it been in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. It's about sharing what, for many of us, has been become and obsession.
Please take the time to explore our site. May I suggest that you start with our Top Ten Photos that show the very best of our railroad.
Thank you for your interest in the Grafton and Greenbrier.
Charlie Young, Webmaster