Difference of 21 Years in Springville

Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific No. 261 journeyed eastward in 1995 far beyond the historic region served by the company that purchased the Northern Type locomotive from Alco in 1944.

Many in Northeast Ohio were trackside on what today is the CSX New Castle Subdivision when the 4-8-4 locomotive went east on a ferry move to help celebrate the opening of Steamtown National Historic Site on July 1, 1995.

The engine remained in the east for nearly a year before venturing back to Minnesota in June 1996.

I knew a guy who had an “in” with Steve Sandberg of the Friends of the 261 group. For a “donation,” a group of people were allowed the ride the ferry move from Orchard Park, New York, to New Castle, Pennsylvania, on June 15, 1996.

Much of the route followed a former Baltimore & Ohio line that linked Pittsburgh and Buffalo, New York.

Originally, the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway, the railroad in 1996 was owned by the Buffalo & Pittsburgh, a property of Genesee & Wyoming.

I don’t remember the details, but a portion of the ferry run out of Orchard Park was used to publicize an effort at the time to launch rail commuter service in Buffalo.

The group placed its emblem on the drumhead of a former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) business car that brought up the rear of the train.

Members of the group promoting the commuter rail service rode south a way, maybe to Springville, New York.

My slides show that I briefly disembarked in Springville, which is 20.6 rail miles from Orchard Park.

A large crowd of people gathered at the Springville depot, suggesting that the visit of the steam locomotive must have received widespread publicity. It was my first visit to Springville and I remember little about it.

Just over 21 years later, I made a second visit to Springville. Marty Surdyk, Ed Ribinskas and I were traveling traveling in Marty’s Jeep Patriot on New York Route 39 to Arcade, New York, to chase Arcade & Attica 2-8-0 No. 18.

The B&O station in Springville still stands, but the B&O tracks are gone. The tracks have been gone since at least 2012 and probably longer.

On our way back toward Ohio, we stopped in Springville to photograph the depot, which was built by the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway in 1910 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

A July 1955 issue of The Official Guide of the Railways in my collection shows the last scheduled B&O passenger trains were Nos. 251 and 252, which operated on daylight schedules in both directions between Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

These were coaches only train that used the same Buffalo station as the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western at the foot of Main Street. They carried a great deal of head-end business.

No. 251 was scheduled to stop southbound at 11:30 a.m. while No. 252 came through northbound at 6:11 p.m.

The top image above was made from the crew car that accompanied the 261. It shows the station from the same approximate angle as the image I made last weekend (shown in the lower photograph) from ground level standing a little farther back from the depot.

The tracks have been replaced by a trail that has picnic tables on the former platform, which is not as prominent as it had been 21 years earlier.

The depot has been restored and is well maintained. It is now the home of the Spring Creek Pharmacy, which wasn’t open during our visit.

I found during an online search search an article from the Buffalo Courier Express that the last trips of B&O Nos. 251 and 252 occurred on Oct. 15, 1955, and ended 72 years of passenger service on the line.

The trains were steam powered to the end, pulled by the last two steam locomotives still active in the Niagara Frontier.

The Courier Express article said the B&O lost $247,000 on the trains in the previous year. Engineer Robert C. Sharnock ran No. 251 to Salamanca and took No. 252 back to Buffalo on their last trips. He had worked for the railroad for 51 years.

It may be that that ferry move of Milwaukee Road No. 261 was the last passenger train to ever pass by, let alone stop, at the Springville depot.

If so it means the last passenger train, like the last scheduled train to stop in Springville 61 years earlier, were both steam powered.

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One Response to “Difference of 21 Years in Springville”

  1. Bob Says:

    Absolutely fascinating.
    Bob

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