Loading and Lugging Coal!

Written by: Gary Dolzall

Coal-hauling is a rich tradition on Sand Patch Grade, and TSW “CSX Heavy Haul” will put you to work hauling black diamonds

For much of its history, American railroading has been nearly synonymous with coal-hauling, and on the upcoming Train Sim World “CSX Heavy Haul” Sand Patch Grade route, along with handling priority intermodals and manifests, you’ll go to work loading and hauling heavy trains of bituminous coal!

Across the decades, coal has been the single-most dominant staple carried by U. S. railroads, and even today more than one-third of total U. S. rail tonnage is bituminous coal. Indeed, deep in the Allegheny Mountains, hauling “black diamonds” is every bit as much a railroading tradition as steel wheels rolling on steel rails. The Baltimore & Ohio was one of America’s great coal-haulers and for much of the 20th century, coal represented upwards of 60 percent of B&O’s total tonnage. The railroad often totted more than 50 million tons of coal per year, and much of that enormous coal traffic moved over famed Sand Patch Grade.

Mines in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and southern Ohio generated much of the B&O’s coal tonnage, most of which moved – and still moves – eastward. On CSX’s Keystone Subdivision, heavily loaded coal trains are lifted, typically with the assistance of diesel helpers, up and over the Sand Patch west slope, then make a careful descent from Sand Patch Summit to Cumberland Terminal. Among the destinations of the bituminous tonnage is the Port of Baltimore, one of the country’s leaders in export coal volume.

In addition to hauling coal tonnage on the main line, the upcoming Train Sim World Sand Patch Grade route will provide the challenges of loading and toting coal from two lineside facilities, one on the Salisbury Branch (now the Salisbury Industrial Track) near Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, and the other near Rockwood, Pennsylvania on CSX’s “S&C” Subdivision.

Baltimore & Ohio’s Salisbury Branch once extended from the Sand Patch main line at Salisbury Junction 12 miles to the towns of Salisbury and Niverton and a connection with the logging Castleman Railroad (which was closed in the 1950s). The branch, which served several small mines and coal loading facilities, was in the 1980s trimmed back to reaching a single coal-loading facility (Shaw tipple) near Meyersdale. As is often the case of small coal mines and facilities, the Shaw loader has in recent decades gone through periods of both activity and inactivity, based on the market for bituminous coal. That uncertainty notwithstanding, the Salisbury Industrial Track has represented a captivating element of Sand Patch operations.

Operations on the Salisbury branch in recent years typically involved an empties train (the branch can accommodate 90-car consists) moving from Cumberland Terminal to Salisbury Junction, where the track layout requires the train then back down the Salisbury branch to the coal loader. This was often accomplished well into the CSX era with a caboose stationed at Salisbury Junction. Loading a full train from the diminutive Shaw loader could take one or two days, after which the train would proceed (often with extra power from Cumberland, given that the branch includes a 2 percent grade) through Salisbury Junction and westward to the 5,200-foot-long mainline siding between Yoder and Garrett. Because coal loads from the branch were generally destined east, the head-end power would then run around the train, recouple to its east end, and proceed to Cumberland. To reach Sand Patch Summit, it was also common for Sand Patch west-slope rear helper sets to aid in the climb.

Near the western end of the TSW Sand Patch Grade route at Rockwood Pennsylvania stands another coal-loading facility that will test engineers’ skills. Located on the “S&C Subdivision” 1.3 miles north of Rockwood is 4,790-feet long Wilson Creek Siding, which serves the Wilson Creek Coal Preparation Plant. Opened in 2011, the facility primarily handles metallurgical and thermal coal for export and has an 80-car loading capacity. Like the vast majority of all coal tonnage on Sand Patch, coal from Wilson Creek typically moves east to Cumberland Terminal and beyond.

Ready for some challenging and tradition-rich coal hauling? Train Sim World and the “CSX Heavy Haul” Sand Patch Grade route will soon put you to work! – Gary Dolzall

On America’s railroads, coal accounts for more than one-third of tonnage hauled, and coal-hauling is a rich tradition on CSX’s Sand Patch Grade dating back to the earliest days of the B&O. With Train Sim World “CSX Heavy Haul,” you’ll soon go to work loading and lugging coal. On the Salisbury Industrial Track, bituminous coal pours out of the Shaw tipple and into BethGon tub gondolas (above). The Casselman River flows alongside as a pair of CSX SD40-2s ease a train through the Shaw tipple on a wintry day (below). Screenshots by Gary Dolzall.

On the upcoming Train Sim World “CSX Heavy Haul” Sand Patch Grade route, a set of CSX SD40-2s clatter across the Casselman River in Meyersdale en route to Salisbury Junction with coal from the Shaw tipple. Note screenshots depict content still in development.

CSX Electro-Motive SD40-2 8181 and a sister are working hard as they lift coal up the Salisbury branch’s 2 percent grade approaching the Sand Patch double-track main line (above), then swing under the signal bridge at Salisbury Junction (below) to temporarily proceed west.

With Salisbury Branch coal in tow, CSX SD40-2 8181 leads the way over the Sand Patch main line. The train will proceed west as far as the Yoder-Garrett siding track, then the head-end power will run-around the consist in order to proceed eastbound across Sand Patch Grade to Cumberland Terminal.

On a rainy, hazy day at Wilson Creek on the CSX “S&C” Subdivision, lone CSX GE AC4400CW 412 (above and below) performs loading duty at the coal preparation plant located north of Rockwood, Pennsylvania.

Lugging coal loads off the S&C Sub at Rockwood, GE AC4400CW 109 is on the point as the train traces along Coxes Creek (above), then swings east at Rockwood Junction for the run over the Keystone Subdivision to Cumberland (below). Train Sim World and the “CSX Heavy Haul” Sand Patch Grade route will soon put you to work loading and totting heavy coal!

We’re always happy to receive your comments below but please ensure they are related to the subject of the article, we’ll remove any that appear to be unrelated.

Gary Dolzall


  • Something I’ve noticed in all of the winter screenshots is that the trees still have leaves. Is this intentional, or an oversight?

    • Some of the trees are in fact evergreens whereas others are deciduous.

  • Will we be able to create our own routes and scenarios?

    • The tools that will allow players and partnered developers to make routes and other content are currently still in development. While we understand how much many of you like to enhance your hobby with our creativity tools, it’s important that these tools are built carefully, with the assistance of your feedback, to ensure they are as powerful and intuitive as we all need them to be.

  • This is brilliant and I can’t wait to try it out myself. But I would like to know if the coal hoppers automatically load up the wagons or we do it ourselves and what over features there are that we have not been shown or are they kept a secret for the time being. Keep up the good work to all the team members, you deserve the success when the game is released and the add on’s and multiplayer are released.

    Keep it up

    • The loading is commenced automatically Harry, but you’ll have to set the right travelling speed and ensure the coal is distributed properly in each hopper. As for other features, we’ve given you all the detail on the major features but there are a few little things we’ve left for you to discover for yourself.

  • Steve, any news on the next update of the game? I mean a locomotive addon update or something like that…

    • I have no details for you right now Saurav

  • The coal loading is very nice and some of the images are hard to tell from photos, but is there anywhere to take the coal to or a way of emptying the hoppers as in Trainz where you can send a loaded train into a portal and have it return empty? It’s only half a simulation of coal hauling if you have to take loaded cars back to the mine. I know I could simply run the scenario again to restart with empty cars but I like running an endless free roam, or what ever it will be called, rather than playing the same scenario over and over again. Hoping TSW will have better AI dispatcher and trains than TS20xx for the same reason.

    • There are no coal unloading facilities on Sand Patch Grade that I’m aware of. If there were in real life, then they would have been represented.

      • can you tell us about engame in service mode?
        what happend, if every coal hopper is fully loaded? where can i unload the coal?
        can we interact with other goods.

        • As I mentioned above Chris, there are no coal unloading facilities on Sand Patch Grade in the real world. Each time you replay, you’ll have empty hoppers to fill. As for other loads, there are no other loading/unloading facilities on Sand Patch Grade.

  • It’s amusing to note that the second coal car on the train with CSX 8181 is a lot less full than all the other cars. I guess that means we can have our coal cars loaded less if we move quickly through the loaders, and more loaded if we go slower. In the case of number 8181, I figure whoever was driving sped up a bit too much for that second car to load fully 😉

  • Is the Xbox One version of TSW: CSX Heavy Haul Release date going to be announced on the release date for all the users on the website, and is the Xbox One going to be either later in 2017 or 2018. I would also want the Mac OS and Linux releases of TSW: CSX Heavy Haul to be happening sometime soon in the future because Microsoft Windows 10 is the last version of Windows and you could read why Windows 10 is the last Windows version…


    Windows 7 Extended support ends in 2020, Windows 8.1 Extended support ends in 2023 and Windows 10 support is Extended until 2025-26 and after that Microsoft Should change Windows to the new name of the OS for PCs and Laptops in the future?

    • The Xbox One version of Train Sim World: CSX Heavy haul is still deep in development and I don’t have any details for you right now Jonathan.

  • Two days coal loading… will be nice and very boring scenario to load all 90 wagons. How long were the working days? 8 hours or more? Looking forward to play this .

  • Glad you printed this article Gary, thank you, I didn’t know there were 2 coal loading facilities on the route, that’s great news, pity that there isn’t anywhere to unload the coal when we get down to Cumberland Yard, still, thinking about it, I can have 40/45 hoppers in my consists and run multiple trains up and down all day long, brilliant !!!!!

  • How long do you think it will before the next dlc and will it be an american map.

    • I have no details for you right now Ash

  • Maybe this is nitpicking, but in my opinion having only 3 different types of vehicles in parking spaces and traffic hurts immersion a bit.

  • Hope i can pull a 130 car long coal train up the grade. That would be fun

  • So we’re in for two-day-long scenarios, Gary? I sure hope the simulation of those in-cab toilets is up to par! Your teasers are well-written and thoroughly enticing. More or less three days more to wait?

  • This is all great information but what I really want to know is how to use the multiplayer part of TSW.

    • The multiplayer feature is still deep in development currently and I’ll have more information on this at the appropriate time

  • Im so excited this keeps getting better and better with every post yous put up. 3 days to go, Quick question will you load other carts not just coal or will they already be made up.

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