Posts Tagged ‘Abandoned railroads’

Two for Tuesday: Then and Now at Warwick

June 29, 2021

Here are two photos from nearly the same location in Clinton (Warwick). This is the now-removed east leg of the wye that was in Warwick. As I recall the east leg was ripped out in the early 1990s.

In the top image, it’s 1968 or 1969, and a trio of Pennsylvania Railroad locomotives are heading toward Massillon.

In the bottom image, it’s May 20, 2021, and very little is left to suggest a railroad once ran through here.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Trains Don’t Run Here Anymore

January 17, 2020

As far as I can remember this is the only train I ever caught on the Norfolk Southern line (former Wheeling & Lake Erie) between Massillon and Dalton. NS GP38AC No. 2849 is heading west to Dalton in 1988. The line was abandoned soon after this. Today parts of this long-gone line are a hiking and biking trail.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

Digging Up Berea’s Sandstone Railroad Heritage

August 4, 2019

A group of us were spending a Saturday afternoon underneath the shade tree near the Dave McKay memorial in Berea back in June.

A property owner across the street behind us was using a front end loader to move dirt and remove trees and brush on his property.

During a chance conversation with him he mentioned that he had dug up some old rails.

That turned out not to be the case, but he had dug up some cross ties and a couple of spikes.

Those artifacts, which had been buried for decades were probably remnants of a sandstone quarry railroad that once interchanged with the New York Central in the area that is now Depot Street where railfans like to hang out to watch CSX and Norfolk Southern trains.

Sandstone quarrying was once a major industry in Berea.

Berea Sandstone was particularly ideal for creating grindstones, which is why the grindstone is part of the city’s identity.

Marty Surdyk’s grandfather worked for the quarry railroad and if you know where to look you can see the former right of way and a few bridge abutments that carried the quarry railroad tracks over the East Branch of Rocky River.

Today some of the sandstone quarry lands are part of the Mill Stream Run Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks.

I’m told that there was a small yard located where the ties and spikes dug up by that property owner is located.

For something that has been buried for several years, one of the ties looked remarkably well preserved.

The sandstone quarries in Berea closed in the 1930s, a victim of the Great Depression and a declining market for sandstone. The sandstone quarry railroad likely would have shut down at the same time.

Aurora, First Energy Vie to Buy Ex-Erie Track

June 8, 2018

The right of way of a former Erie Railroad line in Northeast Ohio is being sought for use as a hike and bike tail or the route of an electric transmission line.

The City of Aurora wants to buy a portion of the largely abandoned Cleveland-Youngstown line, which is owned by Norfolk Southern, to make it into a trail.

But NS is also talking with First Energy Corporation about buying the property.

NS is seeking approval from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to abandon 5.5 miles of the route, including a segment that passes through Aurora.

The line has been inactive since 1980 although the rails remain in place between Solon and Chamberlain Road in Mantua Township.

The rails were kept there because at one time there were discussions about launching a commuter rail service to downtown Cleveland.

First Energy spokesman Doug Colafella told the Record-Courier newspaper that the utility is planning a 69-kilovolt line through Aurora.

“Customers in the Aurora area have suffered several power outages in recent months, and this line would help eliminate them,” he said.

The master plan for Aurora, though, calls for the ex-Erie to be transformed into a recreation trail.

Aurora Mayor Ann Wormer Benjamin said the city is opposed to First Energy placing the transmission line on the former railroad right of way.

“We feel that abandonment is imminent, and since the city’s master plan favors using that route for a future hike and bike trail, I feel it is important for us to seek control over it,” she said.

Colafella doesn’t see the future of the right of way as an either-or proposition.

The utility company is willing to allow a trail to be developed on the property. “We’ve done that with many park districts,” he said.

Although Aurora has made a purchase offer to NS, it has yet to respond.

A portion of the former Erie line is already used for the Headwaters Trail between Mantua and Garrettsville.

That trail is maintained by the The Portage County Park District, which also maintains a trail on former Erie right of way that is adjacent to still active rails between Kent and Ravenna that are used by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway.

Restore the AC&Y!

August 24, 2017

The former Akron, Canton  & Youngstown track between New London and Greenwich was removed several years ago in favor of the Wheeling & Lake Erie using trackage rights over the parallel CSX Greenwich Subdivision.

West of New London the ex-AC&Y right of way is still in place, although largely overgrown with weeds.

During a recent railfan outing to New London, I noticed that a piece of panel track had been placed on the former AC&Y right of way near the CSX crossing at the northwest corner of the New London above ground reservoir.

Could it be part of a plan to put the AC&Y back in? That’s not likely. It was probably left there by a CSX maintenance of way gang.

Railroad Archeology in Monroeville

March 25, 2017

The most visible reminder of the railroads past in Monroeville, Ohio, is this passenger station, which served the New York Central and its predecessor railroads. It has since been restored, but the tracks are long gone.

The most visible reminder of the railroads past in Monroeville, Ohio, is this passenger station, which served the New York Central and its predecessor railroads. It has since been restored, but the tracks are long gone.

In the past few years I’ve found myself in Monroeville, Ohio, while chasing trains on the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

At one time, Monroeville was served by three railroads plus an interurban railway.

The railroads of Monroville included the Toledo-Brewster line of the original Wheeling & Lake Erie. This line still exists with the modern W&LE owning it between Brewster and Bellevue.

Monroeville was also served by a Willard-Sandusky branch of the Baltimore & Ohio, the Norwalk Branch of the New York Central and the Cleveland-Toledo Lake Shore Electric.

The Norwalk Branch began life as the Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland Railroad, which built between its namesake cities in the 1860s. It was later absorbed by the Lake Shore & Michigan  Southern, which in turn became part of the NYC.

The Norwalk branch was the main route of the LS&MS until it built a cutoff via Sandusky along Lake Erie, which today is the Chicago Line of NS. The Norwalk branch diverged at Elyria and rejoined at Milbury.

Penn Central continued to offer freight service on the Norwalk branch through 1976. The line was not conveyed to Conrail and was subsequently abandoned. Passenger service on the line ended in 1949.

I don’t know when the B&O branch was abandoned, but it likely continued in operation through the 1970s and possibly into the 1980s.  A portion of it still exists in Monroeville for the W&LE to serve a grain elevator.

The Lake Shore Electric last operated on May 15, 1938. Not long before then, the Eastern Ohio Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society — a forerunner of the Akron Railroad Club — ran a trip over the line.

During the 1960s, the ARRC chartered a B&O Rail Diesel Car and ran excursions between Akron and Sandusky to visit the Cedar Point amusement park.

I’ve long been fascinated by what railroads leave behind after they leave town. If you know where to look and what to look for,  you can find reminders of what used to be.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The North Coast Inland Tail uses the former NYC Norwalk Branch. The view is from the bridge over the West Branch Huron River looking westward toward the NYC passenger station.

The North Coast Inland Tail uses the former NYC Norwalk Branch. The view is from the bridge over the West Branch Huron River looking westward toward the NYC passenger station, which was built in 1863.

A train order board at the Monroeville station.

A train order board at the Monroeville station.

I don't know if this train bulletin at the former NYC station is accurate.

I don’t know if this train bulletin at the former NYC station is accurate.

The former freight NYC freight station still stands a short distance west of the passenger depot.

The former freight NYC freight station still stands a short distance west of the passenger depot.

Looking westward on the Lake Shore Electric right of way with the passenger station on the left.

Looking westward on the Lake Shore Electric right of way with the passenger station on the left.

Looking northward toward the Lake Shore Electric (foreground) and NYC stations. The B&O tracks would have been to the right of both stations.

Looking northward toward the Lake Shore Electric (foreground) and NYC stations. The B&O tracks would have been to the right of both stations.

Looking southward on the former B&O right of way.

Looking southward on the former B&O right of way.

A relic from the days when these tracks operated as the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern.

A relic from the days when these tracks operated as the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern.

A restored property boundary marker.

A restored property boundary marker.

A bridge pier that once held the Lake Shore Electric bridge over the West Branch Huron River.

A bridge pier that once held the Lake Shore Electric bridge over the West Branch Huron River.

The concrete base of what was once the northbound home signal for the B&O crossing of the NYC.

The concrete base of what was once the northbound home signal for the B&O crossing of the NYC.

This signal cover is along the W&LE and may be still used.

This signal cover is along the W&LE and may be still used.

Railroad ties once used to hold B&O rails remain embedded in the ground, slowly deteriorating as the forces of nature take their toll.

These railroad ties are on the former Lake Shore Electric right of way. The LSE was abandoned in the 1930s, they probably were used as a connecting track between the B&O and the NYC.

The B&O and W&LE used to cross here. At one time there was a passenger station here that was used by both railroads. Next to the depot was a hotel and freight station. On the other side of that pile of ballast is the only remnant of track once used by the B&O.

The B&O and W&LE used to cross here. At one time there was a passenger station here that was used by both railroads. Next to the depot was a hotel and freight station. On the other side of that pile of ballast is the only remnant of track once used by the B&O.

A short stretch of the former B&O remains in place for the W&LE to serve a grain elevator. But this segment of the B&O is used only as a tail track that ends at a pile of ballast north of where the B&O and W&LE used to cross on a diamond.

A short stretch of the former B&O remains in place for the W&LE to serve a grain elevator. But this segment of the B&O is used only as a tail track that ends at a pile of ballast north of where the B&O and W&LE used to cross on a diamond.

 

Silent Monuments to the Valley’s Industrial Heritage

February 14, 2017

This bridge over the Cuyahoga River once led to the Jaite Paper Mill, but has not been used since the middle 1980s.

This bridge over the Cuyahoga River once led to the Jaite Paper Mill, but has not been used since the middle 1980s.

I’ve long known that there was a paper mill in Jaite that was served by a spur off the Baltimore & Ohio’s Valley Line between Cleveland and Akron.

Maps at such online sites as Google, Mapquest and Bing still show the rail spur diverging from the Valley Line, which is now owned by the National Park Service and used by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

But I always thought that those maps were in error and that the rail spur had been removed years ago. It turns out that I was mistaken and not the maps.

While doing research for my CVSR book, I was able to determine where the paper mill had been located. I thought it had been west of the Cuyahoga River, but it was east of the river and southeast of Jaite.

I also discovered that the spur to the paper mill, which had been established in 1909 and closed in 1984, crossed the Cuyahoga on a through truss bridge.

That this bridge existed at all was news to me. I’d never seen a photograph of it and no railfan I know who is a native of Northeast Ohio has ever talked about it.

In reviewing satellite images, I discovered the bridge and most of the railroad spur still exist. I wanted to find them and the best time to do that is during the winter when there is less vegetation to deal with.

Saturday, Jan. 21 turned out to be an ideal day for railroad archeology in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

There was no snow on the ground, no precipitation was likely to fall and the temperatures rose into the lower 60s.

After having lunch with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler at the Winking Lizard in Peninsula, we drove to Jaite, parked in the lot of the CVNP headquarters and began walking southward along the CVSR tracks.

The switch for the paper mill spur has been removed, but its location was easy to find because there are still long cross ties that once held the diverging rails.

The spur has been cut a short distance from the Valley Line and it was apparent that it is used as a trail by fisherman and bird watchers.

As we made our way through the brush along the spur, we talked about how this location would make a good place for a nighttime ghost walk.

The spur is a virtual continuous curve and I could hear in my mind the shrieking and squealing of flanges combined with the low rumble of a Geep’s prime mover as it moved boxcars in and out of the paper mill.

Given the layout of the spur switch, the paper mill must have been worked by a northbound B&O local that backed cars in and pulled them out.

In short order we reached the bridge that carried  the single-track spur over the Cuyahoga.

I’ve always had a fondness for the visual aesthetics of through truss bridges.

Online background information about the bridge indicates that it was built between 1907 and 1909 and known as B&O Bridge No. 451/1.

The spur has not been used since the paper mill closed and the switch connecting it to the Valley line was removed in 2002, probably during a track rehabilitation project.

I’m not a bridge expert or structural engineer, but I could see that although the bridge appears to be in good condition, much work would need to be done to enable rail operations over it again.

Of course there is little to no likelihood that that is going to come about.

The paper mill spur and the bridge are silent monuments to the industrial past of the Cuyahoga Valley.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Still spanning the Cuyahoga River decades after the last train rolled over it.

Still spanning the Cuyahoga River decades after the last train rolled over it.

No way would I walk across this bridge to the other side although I'm sure some people have done so.

No way would I walk across this bridge to the other side although I’m sure some people have done so.

Come spring the vegetation covering the rails on the bridge will turn green again.

Come spring the vegetation covering the rails on the bridge will turn green again.

Nature-made tunnel

Nature-made tunnel

Some rail has started to disintegrate.

Some rail has started to disintegrate.

Rails amid the weeds and trees.

Rails amid the weeds and trees.

The vegetation covering the spur is quite high in some places.

The vegetation covering the spur is quite high in some places.

Today, the Jaite Paper Mill spur is used as a trail by some.

Today, the Jaite Paper Mill spur is used as a trail by some.

Where they cut the rails of the Jaite Paper Mill spur.

Where they cut the rails of the Jaite Paper Mill spur.

Long ties mark the spot where the switch for the Jaite Paper Mill spur was located on the B&O Valley Line.

Long ties mark the spot where the switch for the Jaite Paper Mill spur was located on the B&O Valley Line.

One Day in May the Railroad Went Away

February 28, 2015

A former Pennsylvania Railroad cabin car bears witness to the removal of a former New York Central route. West of Terre Haute at least, the Pennsy won one. It was a different story east of there where the Central survived.

A former Pennsylvania Railroad cabin car bears witness to the removal of a former New York Central route. West of Terre Haute at least, the Pennsy won one. It was a different story east of there where the Central survived.

It was a mostly sunny spring day. My recollection is that it was late afternoon when I drove out on Illinois Route 16 west of Mattoon, Ill., to look for a Conrail rail train.

The line had been abandoned more than a year earlier, but by law Conrail had to wait at least 120 days in case someone wanted to buy it. There had been talk of that, but nothing materialized.

On this day the rails were being removed to be sent somewhere to be refurbished and, eventually, reused.

My mission was to make a few photographs to document the rail removal.

This day had been years in the making. It began when Penn Central decided it didn’t need two routes between Terre Haute and St. Louis.

PC had expected to abandon or dramatically downgrade the former New York Central route, but that didn’t happen.

Even with a mandate to rationalize the rail network that it inherited from PC, it took Conrail seven years to finish the job.

I didn’t spend much time at the site where the workers were pulling up the rails.

I didn’t have the documentary mindset that I have now. Back then, making photographs was a sometime thing.

How I wish today that I had done more to document the abandonment of a rail line that had played a significant role in my life.

It was over these rails that I made my first railroad journey in the 1950s aboard an NYC passenger train to St. Louis.

I saw these rails often as I went about my life activities while growing up and later working in Mattoon.

As a reporter for the Mattoon Journal Gazette I had written about the process that led to the ex-NYC being abandoned between Paris and Pana, Ill.

But when the rail train came through Mattoon to pick up the rail, I was at home. I made no effort to go see, let alone photograph, the rail removal operation in my hometown.

I must have figured that the photographs that I made the day before west of town were a good enough record.

Today you would hardly know there had been a railroad here. Farmers have claimed the right of way and extended their fields.

The only traces of the railroad are a few small concrete bridges left behind and linear empty space in the towns where the rails had been.

Shown are a few of the better images that I made on that 1983 day. They were scanned from the original color print film negatives.

For the most part, I consider these images to be nothing special. Most of them are not composed well.

And yet they are very special because they show something that happened once and won’t happen again. They have historical significance.

Regardless of the quality of these images, I’m very pleased that I made them.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The lead locomotive of the last train to travel over the rails of the former New York Central mainline west of my hometown of Mattoon, Ill. For the record, the direction of travel was east.

The lead locomotive of the last train to travel over the rails of the former New York Central mainline west of my hometown of Mattoon, Ill. For the record, the direction of travel was east.

After getting fixed up, these rails will be put down again elsewhere on the  Conrail system.

After getting fixed up, these rails will be put down again elsewhere on the Conrail system.

Just another day of picking up rail on just another Conrail abandonment. A lot of those occurred during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Just another day of picking up rail on just another Conrail abandonment. A lot of those occurred during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

A side portrait of No. 1921, the trailing unit in the rail train.

A side portrait of No. 1921, the trailing unit in the rail train.

It would have been appropriate had the lead locomotive been 1855, the year that these rails reached Mattoon from the east.

It would have been appropriate had the lead locomotive been 1855, the year that these rails reached Mattoon from the east.

All that was left behind was some ballast, ties and tie plates. Crews will be back later to pick that up. Today the ex-NYC right of way is part of a farm field and you might not know that a railroad once ran here that hosted the Central's finest passenger trains between New York and St. Louis.

All that was left behind was some ballast, ties and tie plates. Crews will be back later to pick that up. Today the ex-NYC right of way is part of a farm field and you might not know that a railroad once ran here that hosted the Central’s finest passenger trains between New York and St. Louis.

Railroad Heritage Still Visible in Wakeman

December 31, 2014

 

Trains no longer rattle and roll on the sandstone bridge over the Vermilion River in Wakeman, Ohio, but it remains an impressive looking structure. A recent brush cutting  job has opened the view a bit.

Trains no longer rattle and roll on the sandstone bridge over the Vermilion River in Wakeman, Ohio, but it remains an impressive looking structure. A recent brush cutting job has opened the view a bit.

Wakeman is a town with just north of 1,000 souls that I’ve passed through numerous times during trips to railfan in Bellevue.

Whenever I’m going through this sleepy little Huron County burg I think of Marty Surdyk because he claims the town is a speed trap run by a cop named Roscoe.

Marty tells anyone who will listen – and a few who won’t – that you better be doing the speed limit when you cross the town line because Roscoe will be watching you.

I don’t know if Marty made that story up or if Wakeman is any more of a speed trap than any other podunk town in America with a police department seeking to raise revenue for the city.

Still, I keep one eye on the speedometer and the other out for Roscoe although I’ve yet to observe him running radar.

Wakeman has caught my eye for another reason. If you are traveling west on U.S. 20 you’ve probably noticed the massive sandstone double-arch bridge over the Vermilion River on the east side of town. It used to carry a railroad.

Near downtown Wakeman sits a railroad freight station and a pair of old-style grain elevators. The linear empty area next to these structures suggests “railroad space.”

Wakeman used to be a railroad town. The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern mainline between Cleveland and Toledo was built through here in 1852-53.

Construction of a more direct route via Sandusky relegated the original LS&MS to branch line status during its New York Central years and on through the end of Penn Central in 1976.

With the formation of Conrail that year, the branch that came off the mainline at Elyria and ran via Oberlin, Wakeman, Norwalk, Bellevue and Fremont before meeting up again with the mainline at Millbury was abandoned and the tracks removed.

Today, parts of that railroad right of way are a hiking and biking trail, although not in Wakeman.

On a recent trip to Bellevue I stopped in Wakeman to document what is left of the town’s railroad infrastructure.

I began with that sandstone arch bridge over the Vermilion River. Winter is a good time to see the bridge because of the lack of foliage.

From outward appearances, the bridge still appears sturdy enough to support contemporary railroad operations.

I’ve seen conflicting reports on when this bridge was built. A website devoted to old bridges says 1853 but a site devoted to abandoned railroads says 1872. Whenever it was built, it is more than a century old and looks good.

There are fences and no trespassing signs at each end of the bridge, but the fences are not that high and would not deter someone determined to walk across the bridge.

I then made my way down Railroad Street, which runs north of the former railroad ROW.

Much of the former ROW remains open and is covered with grass. Whoever pulled up the tracks more than 30 years ago probably scooped up the ballast along with the ties and rails. Whatever was left has sunk into the earth or been covered.

As typically happens over time, nature and man have obliterated the physical appearance of a railroad ROW by moving earth and erecting structures where tracks had been.

In Wakeman, a small park and a building now occupy part of the ROW. But the ROW near the former freight station and the grain elevators remains an open area with the appearance that says “railroad space.”

Nonetheless, it was difficult to determine how many tracks used to be here. There was probably a mainline and one or two sidings to serve the freight station and grain elevators.

Online sources say the passenger station, which resembled the existing depot in Olmsted Falls, was razed in the early 1950s not long after passenger service ended in late 1949.

The sources also say the freight station was built in 1873. It appears to be in decent condition considering its age but doesn’t shown signs of having an apparent use these days. Perhaps it was used for something in the past and was well maintained then.

One of the grain elevators has been repurposed into some sort of meeting center with a grain elevator motif. The other grain facility is still used although I didn’t observe it all that closely to determine for what purpose.

Information that I found online said that in its final years Penn Central had a daily local that passed through Wakeman westbound in early morning and eastbound in late afternoon or early evening.

That train had a lone geep, a transfer caboose and a small number of cars.

Whatever business Penn Central had in Wakeman probably was related to agriculture. The freight house had probably stopped receiving less-than-carload shipments by the early 1960s if not earlier.

I didn’t spend much time in Wakeman. It was already midday and I had business to take care of in Bellevue. Perhaps I’ll make it a point to stop in Wakeman again and study the remaining infrastructure a bit more closely.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The top of the sandstone bridge that once carried tracks of the New York Central, Penn Central and various other predecessor railroads over the Vermilion River in Wakeman.

The top of the sandstone bridge that once carried tracks of the New York Central, Penn Central and various other predecessor railroads over the Vermilion River in Wakeman.

The passenger station was demolished more than 50 years ago but the freight station still stands. The path the tracks took through town is apparent in this image although changes to the former ROW make it difficult to tell how many tracks were here.

The passenger station was demolished more than 50 years ago but the freight station still stands. The path the tracks took through town is apparent in this image although changes to the former ROW make it difficult to tell how many tracks were here.

The wood of the freight station is well weathered. How many people over the past century or so have walked through this door?

The wood of the freight station is well weathered. How many people over the past century or so have walked through this door?

It is evident that there used to tracks past the grain elevator complex, but note how the earth had been graded. This is removed the part of the ROW substructure.

It is evident that there used to tracks past the grain elevator complex, but note how the earth had been graded. This is removed the part of the ROW substructure.

One of the town's grain facilities has been converted into a storage facility and meeting center. It also has received quite a facelift.

One of the town’s grain facilities has been converted into a storage facility and meeting center. It also has received quite a facelift.

 

Iowa Railroad Relic Still Kicking

September 20, 2012

I’m finally back from my wanderings west of here. Shown is one little gem that we spotted near Hartly, Iowa. It is ex-Waterloo Railroad SW900 No. 1.

This locomotive was built by EMD in 1957 the year after Illinois Central and Rock Island railroads acquired the former Waterloo and Cedar Falls Rapid Transit Company and renamed it the Waterloo Railroad.

The routes dates to 1896 as the Waterloo Street Railway. By 1913, the then named Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern Railway Company had completed its route between Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The company offered interurban railway service through the late 1950s.

The Rock Island sold its share of the Waterloo Railroad to the IC in 1968. The locomotive shown here is painted in the IC colors that were in use in the late 1960s and into the Illinois Central Gulf era. The Waterloo Railroad had at least four SW900 switchers, all built in June 1957.

Most of the original Waterloo Railroad was abandoned in the 1980s.

Photograph by Roger Durfee