Davis-Murdoch Stone Company

Transfer at the Wye

Reconfiguring operational elements


A quick exploration of the idea to move the Transfer with the standard gauge rail connection to the wye, making it the first thing a visitor would see as they enter the layout room. For the longest time this area was going to be a quarry scene and I extended the backdrop extra low to accommodate the deep quarry between the tracks and wall.

I am now thinking the scene will still drop down between the tracks and wall, but there will be a coal yard in the hole instead of a quarry. A bucket-belt contraption will lift coal from the sunken coal yard up to load trucks and narrow gauge rail cars at track level.

The long tail of the wye that runs to the corner of the room will dissapear into a warehouse, the standard gauge track will run close against the back of that warehouse in order to hide the end-of-track in the corner. Or something like that. Will have to mockup the buildings in the corner to determine a reasonable solution for the corner.

Davis-Murdoch Trackplan

Reconfiguring operational elements

Davis-Murdoch is an On30 layout in a 12 x 14 foot room

A shift in focal points

Compare this plan with the plan posted in December 2018. Almost every major element on the layout has shifted to a new position. I was compelled to do this because of the nagging feeling that Davis-Murdoch was no more than the remnant of my previous layout. I didn't want Davis-Murdoch to merely be the Piedmont & East Blue Ridge with its head and feet cut off.

It was very difficult for me to see the layout as anything other than what it had been for years. A few O scale narrow gauge modeling friends put up with a long series of emails from me exploring half baked ideas as I tried to see the smaller layout for what it was. Their feedback made it possible for me to consider reformating the operation.

The setting is still the western piedmont of central Virginia. The theme is still a soapstone operation. But the focal points have been shifted around to fit better on a one room layout. The center of operations is now in the upper right corner. Only one quarry is modeled on the peninsula of the layout with two more quarries unmodeled at the ends of branch lines running off the layout; one to a cassette in the office and the other to a small fiddle yard module that will sit on the workbench in my shop.

Once I came to this conclusion about the placement of the major elements in the stone handling workflows, I was comfortable with the whole concept. I am not making any guarantees – expressed or implied – that the details within each scene will resemble what is represented on this trackplan. But the general arrangement of the major elements should stay where they are shown.

Time for a review

Time has past, things have changed. It may be a good time to get reaquainted with the project.

Alberene Stone, Schuyler, Va. - Google Earth

What was the Davis-Murdoch Stone Company?

Davis-Murdoch was bare, unpainted cinder blocks and stone slabs, rusted corrugated metal, old drums, broken pallets, cinder piles, broom sedge, scrub cedars and gum trees. The smell of coal smoke and heavy lube oil. Tan, rust, gray. Not well marked, very easy to miss.

Where was the Davis-Murdoch Stone Company?

Davis-Murdoch was somewhere in a region bounded roughly by Bremo Bluff to the east, Gladstone to the south, Piney River to the west, and North Garden to the north.

What remains of the Davis-Murdoch Stone Company today?

A general impression of Davis-Murdoch can be developed by visiting:
  • Alberene
  • Arvonia and Bridgeport
  • Bremo and New Canton
  • Cartersville
  • Cohasset
  • Columbia
  • Dilwyn
  • Esmont
  • Gladstone
  • James River State Park
  • Lovingston
  • Norwood
  • Schuyler
  • Scottsville

Is there information available related to Davis-Murdoch?

Operations like Davis-Murdoch are referred to in:

Rattling Through Town

The full sized plan is good for mocking up scenes


I have always enjoyed visting small towns along the James River. Their primary attraction for me is the railroad running nearby, but many of them predate the railroad to the old canal days before a railroad was built on the towpath. They serve as the inspiration for this little scene I am mocking up on the full sized track plan. A scene I would love to run up on driving in Nelson County; a few company buildings at a crossroads with the weedy quarry tram running up an alley.

What scale is this?

My current Davis-Murdoch layout is a revision of my previous On30 layout.

Something occurred to me while I was ripping out sections of the old Piedmont & East Blue Ridge layout.

The Piedmont & East Blue Ridge layout never made it this far

In all the time I built and operated the P&EBR, construction never advanced to the point where anything on the layout indicated what scale it was. Being On30, it could easily have been mistaken for an HO standard gauge layout. I had plenty of opportunities to remedy the situation but never did. Whether that insight is significant or not, it is affecting my approach to building Davis-Murdoch. I hope to define Davis-Murdoch as an O scale layout early and often.