The MRPS train waits at Glenwillow until passenger unloading is completed.
The Midwest Railway Preservation Society sponsored a round trip train ride on the Wheeling & Lake Erie’s Cleveland Subdivision on Saturday, July 6. The train left the Falls Junction Depot in Glenwillow and travelled to the former Erie Depot on Franklin Street in Kent, which was celebrating its annual Kent Heritage Festival. There was much to do and see close by the depot.
The train was operated by the Cleveland Commercial Railroad with able assistance from MRPS car hosts and a trainmaster. Four coaches were leased from the Orrville Railroad Historical Society. An ORHS mechanical crew was on board to keep things running smoothly. Two MRPS former Nickel Plate Road cars were in the consist, including the Mount Baxter first class car.
Barbara and I bought tickets as part of our July 4th mini vacation. We stayed near Glenwillow at the Solon Hampton Inn, arriving at the former Connotton Valley Railway depot, built in 1883, about 9 a.m. The train soon passed by but did not stop. The crews were switching the consist east of the depot and then backed the train in for passenger loading about 9:45 a.m. Fortunately, the ominous looking clouds did not dump any moisture on the passengers waiting in the open.
Coach passengers boarded onto one of the ex-NKP cars and walked through the train to find their seats. The train left shortly after 10 a.m. and a scenic journey to Kent commenced. As the train entered Kent, we passed a second former Connotten Valley Railway depot at West Main Street. It is now used commercially.
We passed over the CSX New Castle Subdivision mainline on a high bridge and then started backing down the connection to the former Erie mainline, now used by the W&LE. We continued backing over Summit Street, passing behind the B&O depot, and continued to our stop at the former Erie Kent Depot.
The depot, built in 1875, sits along Franklin Street on a bluff overlooking the Cuyahoga River and CSX tracks. The depot is an impressive two-story brick and stone structure. It saw the passage of many Erie trains throughout its years.
The Erie was merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in October 1960. The last EL passenger train stopping in Kent, the Lake Cities, made its last trips on Jan. 5-6, 1970. The depot was saved from demolition by the efforts of the Kent Historical Society and now houses the Pufferbelly Restaurant.
After passengers unloaded, the train moved away in order to put the locomotives on the lead for the westbound trip back. Barbara and I had lunch in the Pufferbelly and then walked about, taking in some of the Kent Heritage Festival.
There was a bandstand with live music in the plaza across from Main Street. I found a 1929 Ford Model A pickup truck finished as a Railway Express vehicle near the corner of the depot. Cars of many styles and makes lined two city blocks.
The MRPS train returned to the depot about 2 p.m. with the Cleveland Commercial Railroad No. 2372 on the lead. LTEX No. 2519 in Santa Fe heritage freight colors of blue and yellow was the second unit. CCR No. 2372 was in UP yellow and gray colors.
The train left at 3:30, proceeding west along the former Erie track. I managed some photos through the coach window of railroad equipment, including two locomotives and a bay window caboose as we passed the former Erie car shops site. I was also able to catch through the window a photo of our locomotives pushing the train up the connection to the W&LE.
After deboarding in Glenwillow, I walked into the Falls Junction yard tracks for some sunlit photos of the train. Fellow Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee and I were sharing the view.
My last photos were of the train heading west toward the end of the yard. It would spot the ORHS coaches on the siding for later pickup by the W&LE for the return to Orrville.
It was a fine train ride and a nice visit to Kent. Several ARRC members were on board and it was a great way to spend a July 4th weekend Saturday.
Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs
MRPS attendant Dave Mangold converses with Kurt and Diane Korfhage of the ORHS about passenger procedures.
The MRPS excursion train pulls back into the Kent former Erie Station at 1:55 pm on July 6. Four ORHS coaches are behind the two engines. CSX tracks are in the foreground.
A 1929 Ford Model A is finished as a Railway Express pickup truck. The cars were part of Kent’s Heritage Festival.
The MRPS power waits for passengers at Kent’s former Erie Station. LTEX No. 2519 in Santa Fe’s blue and yellow freight scheme is behind Cleveland Commercial Railroad’s No. 2372 in UP colors.
MRPS attendant Dave Mangold chats with Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee on the return trip.
A window view of railroad equipment at the site of the Erie Railroad car shop south of Summit Street.
The locomotives are pushing the train around the connection to the Wheeling’s Cleveland line.
The MRPS train leaves westbound at Solon Junction at 6 pm. The ORHS cars will be set out for W&LE pickup for the return to Orrville.
The MRPS excursion train is at the Kent former Erie Station for passenger loading later on July 6. Four ORHS coaches are behind the two engines with two MRPS cars at the rear.