The Lake Cities Stops in Kent in Early 1968

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Next  month will mark the 45th anniversary since the last pair of Erie Lackawanna intercity passengers trains made their final trips between Chicago and Hoboken, N.J.

Traditionally, the Erie Railroad had three roundtrips between Chicago and New York. The first to go were the Atlantic Express and the Pacific Express, which ceased carrying passengers in July 1965.

The next pair of trains to face the hangman was the Phoebe Snow. These trains had for years operated as the Erie Limited and had been the premier passenger trains on the Erie’s Chicago-New York route. They acquired their “new” name in October 1963.

Phoebe Snow had been the name applied to a pair of New York-Buffalo, N.Y., trains on the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western. The Erie and the DL&W had merged in October 1960 to form the EL.

That left the Lake Cities to carry on. Even this train had once operated under a different name. Nos. 5 and 6 had been the Midlander until November 1947. Previously, the Lake Cities name had been given to the Cleveland and Buffalo sections of the Midlander.

By 1969, the Lake Cities was losing $2,700 a day due to, the railroad said, falling patronage and head end revenue.

EL announced that it would end Nos. 5 and 6, but the Interstate Commerce Commission stayed that while it conducted an investigation and held public hearings.

In the end, the ICC found that, in the legal jargon used in these cases at the times, that Nos. 5 and 6 were no longer needed to serve the public convenience and necessity.

The EL said the trains would continue running through early January 1970 to serve the needs of holiday travelers. They began their final trips on Jan. 6.

When the sun the next day the only EL passenger trains left were commuter trains in the New York City area, and between Cleveland and Youngstown.

But all of that was in the future when this photograph was made in early 1968 as No. 5 halted for its daily station stop in Kent. E8A No. 828 was on the point and No. 5 had a string of head end cars.

The westbound Lake Cities was scheduled into Kent at 9:45 a.m. and into Akron at 10:05 a.m.

Today the Kent depot still stands and is used as a restaurant. The tracks are now owned by Portage County and used by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

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One Response to “The Lake Cities Stops in Kent in Early 1968”

  1. Paul Woodring Says:

    The Akron RR Club rode Nos. 5 & 6 on New Year’s Day 1970. No. 5 was about 3 hours late at Akron, due to a snow storm on the East Coast. It was deadheading a string of coaches and sleepers for storage in Chicago. We were only supposed to go as far as Marion, watch trains at the station for several hours, and take No. 6 back to Akron. However, we found out from the crew before we got to Marion that there had been a wreck near Huntington, IN, and the equipment from No. 5 would turn at Huntington for No. 6, with Chicago passengers from No. 5 and Eastbound passengers for No. 6 being bussed around the wreck site. So, most of us formed groups of 3 to get group tickets (like another $3) for the round-trip from Marion to Huntington (not going to get that mileage again). I remember we watched the “Wabash Cannonball” (I think only a two or three car train by then) cross in front of us in the dark near Huntington. I believe the return trip arrived in Akron nearly on time. As a result of that adventure and other railroad club and Midwest Chapter excursions at one time or another, I’ve got the mileage on the EL from Huntington, IN to Little Valley, NY. Not bad for having it by the time I was 12.

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