Posts Tagged ‘Abandoned railroad facilities’

Wither the Niles Erie Station

February 10, 2012

Niles, Ohio, is one of those Midwest cities that reflects well the moniker of “rust belt.” Situated in the Mahoning Valley between Warren and Youngstown, Niles hosted lines of the Baltimore & Ohio, Erie and Pennsylvania railroads. Today, few trains roll through Niles and a good portion of the tracks have been abandoned or lie in a state of disuse, a victim of a diminishing industrial base.

As part of his back to the Erie Lackawanna tour on Feb. 5, 2012, Roger Durfee paid a visit to the former EL passenger station in Niles. Actually, he visted the location where it once stood.

Roger recalled having photographed the Niles station in the early Conrail era (top photo) in November 1979. This was the second Erie depot to serve Niles. The older of the two had been a wooden structure that was similiar in design to the passenger station in nearby Girard.

In the image immediately below this article is shown a Conrail Alco C425 sitting near the Niles station in November 1979.

The last passenger train to board paying customers here was the Youngstown-Cleveland commuter service. It made its last runs on Jan. 14, 1977. Prior to that, such EL passenger trains as the Lake Cities, Atlantic Express/Pacific Express and the Phoebe Snow called here. The last of those was the Lake Cities, which was discontinued in January 1970.

Just as Conrail had little use for much of the former Erie in Ohio, it also had no use for the Niles depot. The bottom photo shows the site of the station today. Only portions of the concrete foundation and some flooring remain.

Photographs by Roger Durfee


Then and Now at Youngstown’s Brier Hill Shops

January 30, 2012

The weekend of Jan. 21-22, 2012, found Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee in Pennsylvania for a Conrail Historical Society meeting. But en route, he stopped in Youngstown to take care of some unfinished business.

Thirty-five years ago, Roger shot the above scene at Conrail’s Brier Hill shops. Before Conrail, Brier Hill sported the major classification yard in Youngstown of the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. The EL also maintained a major locomotive repair shop here.

Reportedly, the shop forces, including the managers, were railfan friendly and allowed photographers to record the array of motive power displayed there.

Look carefully at the photo above and you’ll find liveries of at least four railroads.

Initially after the Conrail takeover in 1976, Brier Hill continued to play a key role. It became the western terminus of what had once been a Conway (Pittsburgh) to Haselton Yard train. Locomotive inspections and repairs done at Gateway (Pittsburgh & Lake Erie) and Haselton (Pennsylvania) yards were shifted to Brier Hill.

The collapse of the steel industry in the Mahoning Valley combined with Conrail’s downgrading of the former EL and other lines would diminish Brier Hill. Locomotive servicing was concentrated at Conway. Much of the former EL in Ohio was downgraded or ripped up.

In modern times, some of the Brier Hill shops complex continued to be used as a repair facility by Norfolk Southern maintenance forces. The Ohio Central also uses part of Brier Hill yard.

As seen in the photograph below, though, other parts of Brier Hill are silent, with some remains serving as monuments to a glorious past.

Photographs by Roger Durfee