Changing of the Steam Guard in Northeast Ohio

From 1975 to 1990 the summer and autumn norm in northeast Ohio was former Grant Trunk Western 2-8-2 4070 running from Cleveland to Akron on the Cuyahoga Valley Line.

Even though it was shut down during 1986 and 1987 due to the transition of the ex-Baltimore & Ohio branch from CSX to the National Park Service, when it returned in 1988 many figured 4070 would be running for years to come.

During the 15-year period I spent many available weekends riding, photographing, then volunteering on the restoration and operating crews.

Little did we all know that after the September 1990 mechanical breakdown of 4070 that a changing of the guard was in the works with the organizations and steam in the area.

Luckily Jerry Jacobson’s Ohio Central began operating steam tourist trains out of Sugarcreek in October 1988.

For the next 15 plus years we saw a variety of steamers operating, the former Canadian National 4-6-0 No. 1551.

It had been built by Montreal Locomotive Works in April 1912 as Canadian Northern 1354.

These are two of my favorite photos of Jerry’s first operating steamer on the Ohio Central taken just one month after 4070’s last time under steam.

In the top image, No. 1551 leads a train near Fresno. In the bottom image it cruises through Baltic. Both images were made on Oct. 14, 1990.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

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