Remembering the LE&P

Most of the former right of way of the Lake Erie & Pittsburgh is now a hiking and biking trail. The trail is shown crossing over Barlow Road.

Most of the former right of way of the Lake Erie & Pittsburgh is now a hiking and biking trail. The trail is shown crossing over Barlow Road.

The right of way of the Lake Erie & Pittsburgh railroad is today mainly a hiking and biking trail, but it used to be an important link in the area’s transportation system.

The LE&P was a paper railroad. It existed legally but had no equipment.  Everything was supplied by the New York Central, which owned it.

Built around 1910, the LE&P ran from Marcy in Cleveland to a connection with the Pennsylvania Railroad at Brady Lake. From there trains ran on trackage rights either to Alliance and Minerva, or to Ravenna where they got on the Baltimore & Ohio to go to Niles Junction.

From there trains went back to the PRR until reaching the Lake Erie & Eastern (another paper railroad) at Girard. The Lake Erie & Eastern took the trains across Youngstown into the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie yards at Struthers, Ohio.

This was quite a confusing arrangement but it made for a direct Cleveland-Youngstown route for both the NYC and PRR.

The B&O between Ravenna and Niles Junction had trains of the NYC and Pennsylvania railroads as well as its own. That must have been a sight. Also, the LE&P had PRR trains using it as well.

The story doesn’t end there, however. The LE&P originally planned to build from Cleveland to Lorain on a routing that would take it through Berea just south of the current Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

This was never completed but it was graded and bridge piers were constructed over the east and west branches of the Rocky River. These piers still stand.

The LE&P was busy until the Penn Central merger. It was quickly abandoned and torn up with only a two-mile siding from Brady Lake to serve Hugo Sand near Twin Lakes and the Akron water treatment plant. The grade of the route was level, but it hugged the east side of the Cuyahoga Valley. Many tall steel bridges were required to cross Marcy, Tinkers Creek and Brandywine Creek

These bridges required heavy maintenance that Penn Central could not afford.

The ex-PRR mainline paralleled the LE&P just a few miles east and had signaled double track as opposed to the single-track dark territory of the LE&P.

Throw in the automotive plants located on the Pennsy and it was a no brainer for Penn Central’s management team to favor that route over the LE&P.

I was able to photograph a Conrail local on the ex-LE&P in 1989 switching the remaining track at Brady Lake. NS served this branch for while, but I have not seen any trains on it in about four years now.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

There were plenty of trees along the last segment of the ex-LE&P that was used by Conrail and later Norfolk Southern.

There were plenty of trees along the last segment of the ex-LE&P that was used by Conrail and later Norfolk Southern.

A pair of Conrail GP38-2s was typical power for a local freight.

A pair of Conrail GP38-2s was typical power for a local freight.

Bringing up the rear is bay window caboose 21313, N21 class. Interstingly, the N21 class 21202-21313 built by Conrail in 1978 was the last of that order. These were the only cabooses builtfor Conrail.

Bringing up the rear is bay window caboose 21313, N21 class. Interstingly, the N21 class 21202-21313 built by Conrail in 1978 was the last of that order. These were the only cabooses that were built for Conrail.

The LE&P diverged from the ex-PRR at Brady Lake tower. The westbound track rose in elevation until crossing over the Pennsy on this bridge located just west of Lake Rockwell Road.

The LE&P diverged from the ex-PRR at Brady Lake tower. The westbound track rose in elevation until crossing over the Pennsy on this bridge located just west of Lake Rockwell Road. The eastbound track is visible at the far left.

The former eastbound main of the LE&P is still extant, joining the NS main nearly beneath the Lake Rockwell Road overpass. A westbound NS manifest freight passes the junction.

A map of the former New York Central Cleveland Division shows the former LE&P and the trackage rights arrangement that the NYC had to reach Youngstown from Cleveland.

A map of the former New York Central Cleveland Division shows the former LE&P and the trackage rights arrangement that the NYC had to reach Youngstown from Cleveland.

Brady Lake tower still stands inside the Tower's Woods Park in Portage County.

Brady Lake tower still stands inside the Tower’s Woods Park in Portage County.

The former LE&P right of way, now a trail, in a view looking west from Ohio Route 91.

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2 Responses to “Remembering the LE&P”

  1. Marty Surdyk Says:

    The LE&P was owned and built and maintaned by the PRR, A haulage/trackage rights agreement with the NYC is why the NYC ran trains over the line. PRR never did to my knowledge.

  2. Todd Dillon Says:

    Actually Marty the PRR did run trains over the LE&P. The book Pennsy Power II clearly shows a Pennsy train taking the connection at Brady Lake

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