Shortline Inspiration 2: the Edgemoor and Manetta

This line in deepest South Carolina is a little gem, and thanks to Chris Ellis, editor of Model Trains (now, after various name changes, Model Trains International) is quite possibly better known in the UK than in its home country! It featured as long ago as 1980, with all 6 turnouts of the line (plus the interchange connection to and owned by the Seaboard Air Line, Atlanta Division) and a somewhat compressed plan. Although I can see the reasoning behind the latter (the plan would fit onto two shelves in the corner of a room, taking up 7′ x 7′, in H0) I feel that the compression goes too far and prototypical operations would be hard to replicate, particularly at the interchange. With Chris’ permission, the plan – along with a later version by Giles Barnabe for N scale – has been reproduced on RMWeb. (Click to open up a link.)

The prototype was a very short, short line about 2.3 miles long which ran from an interchange with the SAL at Edgemoor to the Mannetta mills at Lando (Manetta Mills owned the line). The line even managed to have a plate bridge over a river (with timber trestle approaches, which collapsed at least once!) In short, it had one of many of the features modellers look for.

E&M number 5
Trains latterly consisted of a Porter 0-4-0 tank engine, hauling up to two freight cars at a time! Freight was primarily coal in, and blankets out, generally requiring hoppers and boxcars. Trains were worked with the engine at the Lando (terminal) end: pushing up the hill to the interchange – sometimes pausing half-way to pump up more air – and pulling down to the mills. When delivering coal, the engine was trapped at the end of the coal ramp spur whilst the hoppers were emptied; coal was also delivered to the boiler house in the same manner. The engine itself was coaled by shovel, from a roadside truck whilst standing on the loopneck at the end of the line. The railroad also owned a flat car which never left Lando: once the day’s switching and shifting was done, it was left between warehouses separated by the tracks at the start of the loop to act as a platform allowing access between them! It had to be pulled out of the way at the start of the raiload shift, and put back at the end. The mills worked three shifts in 24 hours, but the railroad only operated for one of them. At the interchange, empties and deliveries were dropped off by passing ACL/SAL freights, which collected loaded cars and empty hoppers which had been left on the house track at Edgemoor. In earlier times there was even a passenger service, and the line ran with 0-4-4T and 0-4-2T power.

As big as a train can get on the E&M!

It was the last steam-worked non-tourist line in the USA, but operations ceased in July 1975 when the engine failed its boiler inspection. Trucks took over, and that was more or less that, although the loco was still there nine years later!

With a requirement of a small loco (it might be possible to use the old Rex loco as a starting point in S – anyone have one for sale?), half-a dozen boxcars, a couple of coal hoppers a gondola, a flat car and maybe a tank wagon, this would not be a difficult line to equip. I have sketched out an idea for a 12’8″ x 8’10” spare room, designed to feature most of the features of the line. Although I have had to come down to 42″ radius curves, I have used number 8 turnouts as even with a small engine and 40′ long freight cars, this simply looks better than anything tighter. If anyone wishes it, I can supply the plan as a Templot file, or – if you let me know the paper size – as a pdf for printing. There were warehouses both sides of the loop, the spurs served the coal traffic.


For further reading search out the following magazine articless:
Jim Boyd, “The Last Steam Shortline”, Railroad Model Craftsman, March 1972
Chris Ellis, “The Edgemoor and Manetta”, Model Trains, May 1980
Giles Barnabe, “Edgemoor and Manetta Revisited”, Scale Model Trains, May 1986
Giles Barnabe, “Edgemoor and Manetta RR”, Model Trains International, Issue 101
Finally, the Arcadia Publishing book, “Lando”, by Pual Scott Williams of the Lando-Manetta Mills History Center (2007, ISBN 9780738552682) has a lot of information, including the Sanborn Insurance map of the Manetta Mills and railroad tracks at Lando.

3 thoughts on “Shortline Inspiration 2: the Edgemoor and Manetta

  1. Trevor

    What a terrific prototype, Simon. Thanks for sharing this.
    While it would lose some of its character, in S scale one could substitute a GE switcher for the steam engine. As you know, River Raisin Models made a sweet 44 ton centre cab in brass, while Smoky Mountain Model Works did resin kits for the 44 ton centre cab and 70 ton end cab models.
    For steam, there’s nothing readily available in S as small as the prototype’s tank engine. But RRM imported brass models of USRA 0-6-0 engines (with tenders) that would do nicely. One could also use RRM’s Southern Pacific 2-6-0, which I think was offered with a non-prototypical coal tender as an option for those modelling eastern railways.
    I use 42″r curves on my layout and while they look tight under the 80-foot passenger cars in the mixed train (and I therefore wish I could broaden the curves) they’re ideal under 40-foot boxcars.
    -Trevor (Port Rowan in 1:64)

  2. Dunks Post author

    Thanks, T-man.

    I originally drew this out and wrote the post in September 2013! I was going to add some features to the plan, but in this case I think it works well without them, as it is an idea for a layout. The curves, etc, are all correctly handed, and the two ends of the line are fairly close to scale, but I decided against including a couple of hundred feet of open line between them…

  3. Chris Mears

    First I’ve heard of this railway but I can already see the attraction – it certainly speaks to a lot of things I like. Tucked ever so carefully away I still have an old Varney Docksider engine that I’ve had for most of my life and remains a favourite model. While not exactly the same, it feels close enough.

    I’ve just finished reading the PDF you linked out to. That was quite enjoyable.

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s terrific.


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