Last Ride on the Three Rivers

Ed Ribinskas sent me this photograph yesterday. It was made in Pittsburgh on Feb. 19, 2005.

All four guys you see were Akron Railroad Club members and two of them are now deceased. They are (from left) Al Philmore, Richard Jacobs, Craig Sanders and Edward Ribinskas.

I remember this trip well. It had started in the wee hours of the morning in Cleveland the day before when Ed and I boarded the westbound Lake Shore Limited to ride to Chicago.

I had strained my back in the Cleveland Amtrak station and sitting in a coach seat or any other seat was somewhat painful. The strain had stemmed from shoveling snow a day or two before.

We spent all day in Chicago, at one point riding a Metra commuter train to Antioch, Illinois, and back, and having dinner at the Berghoff in downtown Chicago. The Three Rivers left Chicago around 9:30 p.m. so it was a long day.

I managed to doze off a few times riding across Indiana and in part of western Ohio. But from about Fostoria eastward I was awake. I wanted to see, even if in the dark, some areas that I had only seen from next to the tracks.

As the train sat in the Akron station, I heard this familiar booming voice coming from the rear of our Amfleet coach. It sound like Jake.

All of us were aboard this train for the same reason. It was running on borrowed time.

The Three Rivers had begin in September 1995 as a replacement between Pittsburgh and New York for the discontinued Broadway Limited.

It was extended west of Pittsburgh in November 1996. The primary reason for that was because of the heavy mail and express business that Amtrak was carrying at the time.

Transferring those cars in Pittsburgh between the Three Rivers and the Capitol Limited was hindering the performance of the latter train.

But a change in philosophy at Amtrak resulted in the carrier deciding to exit the head end business. The Three Rivers proved to be expendable.

Ed got up to check out that familiar voice and it was indeed Jake. He and Al had boarded in Akron for one last trip aboard the last intercity passenger train to serve the Rubber City.

After we disembarked in Pittsburgh we were able to talk someone into making this photograph of us standing in front of the P42DC puling Train No. 40.

I took a Greyhound bus to Akron where a friend picked me up. We had plans to watch a University of Akron basketball game that afternoon. Ed took Greyhound back to Cleveland.

An interesting footnote to this trip is that we had reached Pittsburgh before the Capitol Limited did even though No. 30 had left hours earlier.

A locomotive breakdown en route severely delayed the Capitol and I was able to photograph it coming into the Pittsburgh station.

The Three Rivers were be discontinued west of Pittsburgh just over two weeks later, making its last runs through Northeast Ohio on March 7.

Article by Craig Sanders

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