EL Monday: Mail and Express Train in Akron

This is thought to be Erie Lackawanna mail and express train No. 3 shown on a cloudy day passing McCoy Street Yard in Akron in the late 1960s.

I managed to open up the f-stop enough to get some light on the side of the train thereby not making it entirely backlit and thus fooling me into initially thinking this was the morning westbound Lake Cities.

This is an easy mistake to make, since the EL only had one regular passenger train through Akron by the late 1960s, but this one isn’t No. 5.

I was told by one of my followers that this is the only photo he’s seen of a mail and express train on the EL, although such trains were common on mainline railroads through Northeast Ohio and they all looked pretty much the same in their consists of a long string of head-end cars followed by a rider coach on the rear for the crew.

Until July 1965 No. 3 used to be No. 7, the Pacific Express, which handled passengers until the Interstate Commerce Commission allowed the EL to cease handling passengers on No. 7 and its counterpart No. 8, the Atlantic Express, which was renumbered No. 4.

Nos. 7 and 8 were scheduled to depart late night from Chicago Dearborn Station (10:10 p.m.) and Hokoken, New Jersey (12:30 a.m) to make 24-hour runs across the Erie Railroad mainline.

The EL told the ICC that patronage of both trains was light and having to carry passengers forced the head-end heavy trains to operate on a rigid schedule and stop where there was no mail and express business.

The Pacific Express was scheduled to reach Akron in late afternoon. It and the Atlantic Express typically operated with one passenger coach, with No. 8 having lost its sleeping cars in 1964. Dining service had ended in 1963 on both trains when No. 7 also lost its sleeping cars.

It is amazing how a photo can bring the past to life. This image is at least 55 years old. I knew there were mail trains still operating in the late 196os but had forgotten about them. More than half a century does that since they were not often listed in the Official Guide.

The image also is reminder that at one time a host of Christmas packages moved by Railway Express instead of Federal Express, an airline and ground delivery service best known as FedEx.

Amtrak has pretty much left the package haulage business but intermodal trains handle some holiday package business on behalf of FedEx and its chief competitor United Parcel Service.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

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2 Responses to “EL Monday: Mail and Express Train in Akron”

  1. pwwoodring Says:

    Based on other photos from this general location by Bob, the time period for this photo is probably before 1968, since construction had not yet begun on Cascade Plaza, which is a tall black skyscraper next to landmark First National Tower.

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