Posts Tagged ‘Erie Lackawanna passenger trains’

One Morning 53 Years Ago in Akron

August 19, 2021

The wayback machine is set for Aug. 18, 1968, in Akron at Union Depot.

In the top image, Baltimore & Ohio E9A No. 1455 has cut off from the westbound Diplomat in order to, most likely, add or remove a mail car.

Across the tracks the Erie Lackawanna’s westbound Lake Cities is sitting at its station.

In the middle image the Lake Cities can be seen pulling away from its station platform. It was not unusual for both passenger trains to be in Akron at the same time.

In the bottom image notice the family standing and watching trains on the EL platform.

Can you imagine joining this family and watching trains? I said “watching” because that is the dark side for morning photography.

Yet if you look carefully, the man appears to have a camera around his neck.

If you decide to use your own wayback machine and join me for taking pictures on this day, tell me seeing my photos 53 ahead in the future inspired you to join me to photograph Akron. I’ll believe you.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

EL Monday: The Lake Cities in Kent

October 12, 2020

The wayback machine has landed us trackside along the Erie Lackawanna mainline in Kent in the late 1960s.

You’ve got black and white negative film loaded in your camera and show time is at hand as the westbound Lake Cities is about to make its station stop.

Led by E8A No. 822, it will pass by us before stopping. The roof of the passenger station is above the first cars.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

EL Monday: Rainy Day in Akron

September 21, 2020

The photographer is standing on the Akron Union Station platform on a rainy day while Erie Lackawanna E8A Nos. 830 and EL 832 pass by westbound with the Lake Cities one mid-year morning in the late 1960s.

Note that EL 830 has no portholes and EL 832 has three. The Lake Cities used the former Erie passenger depot that was out of view to the left of the photographer.

It would be the last EL passenger train in Akron and made its final trips in January 1970.

Photograph by Robert Farkas


The Lake Cities in Kent

April 20, 2020

How about another Erie Lackawanna Monday from Kent? Both of these images were taken in 1968.

In the top image Train No. 5 is sitting at the Kent Passenger station. Note all of the head-end traffic cars that are assigned to the train.

In the bottom image No. 5 is leaving town for its next stop, which is Akron. It will then continue westward to Chicago Dearborn Station.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

50 Years Ago Lake Cities, Diplomat Made Final Trips

January 25, 2020

The westbound Erie Lackawanna Lake Cities cruises through Wadsworth in December 1966. By now it was the last passenger train on the former Erie through Akron.

The westbound EL Lake Cities and westbound Baltimore & Ohio Diplomat sit side by side as they board and discharge passengers at their respective stations in downtown Akron. Running on similar schedules through Akron, both made their last trips in the same month although a remnant of the Diplomat continued to operate between Akron and Washington. (Photograph by Robert Farkas)

On a wintry Saturday morning the westbound Lake Cities departs Akron. It is Jan. 3, 1970, and in three days Nos. 5 and 6 will be history. (Photograph by John Beach)

Two milestones in Akron passenger train history passed quietly this month.

It was 50 years ago that Erie Lackawanna’s Lake Cities made its final trips and the Interstate Commerce Commission allowed the Baltimore & Ohio to discontinue the Diplomat and Gateway between Akron and Chicago.

In the space of about a week, rail service between Akron and Chicago fell from six trains to two.

The discontinuance of the Lake Cities ended the last EL intercity long-distance passenger trains.

EL’s Cleveland-Youngstown Nos. 28 and 29 continued to operate until making their last trips on Jan. 14, 1977. But those were considered commuter trains.

The Lake Cities was a fine train to the end with a dining car that operated between Hoboken, New Jersey, and Huntington, Indiana; and a sleeping car that ran between Hoboken and Youngstown.

Coaches were carried between Hoboken and Chicago Dearborn Station.

Westbound No. 5 was scheduled to depart Youngstown at 7:35 a.m., Warren at 8 a.m., Kent at 8:45 a.m. and Akron at 9:10 a.m.

Eastbound No. 6 was scheduled to leave Akron at 7:15 p.m., Kent at 7:35 p.m., Warren at 8:11 p.m. and Youngstown at 8:45 p.m.

The Lake Cities had a long history on the former Erie Railroad dating to the June 3, 1939, inauguration of Nos. 15 and 16, the Chicago-New York (Jersey City, New Jersey) Midlander.

The Midlander had sections for Cleveland (Nos. 5 and 6) and Buffalo that operated as the Lake Cities. The Cleveland Lake Cities combined and separated with the Midlander in Youngstown.

The Midlander was renamed Lake Cities in November 1947 and began operating as Nos. 5 and 6 to and from Chicago.

After the Erie merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western in 1960, the Lake Cities operated between May 1961 and April 29, 1962, as the Chicago Lake Cities with the Buffalo section known as the Buffalo Lake Cities.

The train was rerouted over the former Lackawanna between Hoboken and Binghamton, New York.

Between April 26 and Oct. 25, 1965, Nos. 5 and 6 operated as the World’s Fair as the EL upgraded its passenger service to try to draw travelers visiting the New York World’s Fair that summer.

The EL netted little financial gain from travel to the Fair and once it ended the carrier began whittling away in earnest at its passenger service between Chicago and Hoboken.

The EL ceased carrying passengers on its head-end heavy Atlantic Express and Pacific Express in July 1965 and discontinued the Phoebe Snow on Nov. 28, 1966.

That day the Lake Cities began carrying sleeping and dining cars that operated between Chicago and Hoboken.

Famed railroad photograph Philip R. Hastings once described the Lake Cities as “old school passenger railroading in the best sense of the phrase.”

Hastings said Nos. 5 and 6 operated in 1968 as through it was still 1948 including carrying a heavyweight diner and making long station stops in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

But it wasn’t the 1940s. The Lake Cities was losing patronage, losing mail revenue and losing money.

EL posted discontinuance notices for Nos. 5 and 6 in mid June 1969, effective July 18 but the ICC on July 7 stayed the discontinuance while it conducted an investigation that included public hearings in 10 cities, including Youngstown, Kent and Marion.

Those hearings drew 128 people who protested the removal of the train, but 16 of them admitted to never having ridden it.

“The public liked the trains, but they didn’t use them, and this cost us a bundle after we lost the mail business,” said EL attorney Wallace Steffen.

Evidence presented during the ICC investigation showed EL still had fresh flowers on the table in the dining cars where patrons still enjoyed clean linens and cloth napkins.

The ICC said there was no evidence that EL had done anything to try to drive away passengers. The passenger cars were clean and well maintained, the crews were described as courteous and meals as good.

The menu had krusty korn kobs, a longtime Lackawanna novelty item of muffins baked in the shape of an ear of corn.

Dinner entrees included baked halibut Creole, Virginia ham southern style, and young fried chicken. There were also a few sandwich selections including sliced turkey.

By the ICC’s calculations, the Lake Cities was costing the EL $18 per passenger to operate and losing $2,700 a day.

The Commission decided not to order EL to continue the train but did urge the railroad to use its managerial acumen to make an all-out effort to save Nos. 5 and 6.

That advice meant nothing because the EL had no intention of doing that.

By law the Lake Cities could have ended on Dec. 30, 1969, but the EL agreed to continue operating it through Jan. 5 to accommodate holiday travel.

The last trips of Nos. 5 and 6 would depart on Sunday, Jan. 4 from Hoboken and Chicago.

An eleventh hour effort by the public service commissions of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York to block the discontinuance by asking a federal district court in Columbus to issue a restraining order was brushed aside by the court.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart on Jan. 2 dismissed an emergency appeal to stay the lower court’s decision.

Art House, who said he rode the last runs of the Lake Cities between Binghamton and Elmira, New York, posted on on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the last trips of Nos. 5 and 6 the final consists.

He said the normal consist was two coaches but the last weekend of service  followed New Year’s Day, which fell on a Thursday in 1970, had additional cars to handle the holiday weekend loads.

The last No. 5 was pulled by E8A Nos. 826 and 828 and had a consist of primarily ex-Lackawanna equipment.

That included baggage express car 251, lightweight coaches 1301, 1325, 1321, 1314 and 1305, diner-lounge 747 and 10-6 sleeper Pequest. Only the diner lounge was former Erie. Coach 1305 did not operate all the way to Chicago.

The last No. 6 had E8A Nos. 825 pulling baggage express car 2013 (ex-Erie), lightweight coaches 1311, 1308 and 1318 (all ex-Lackawanna), diner-lounge 746 (ex-Erie) and 10-6 sleeper Tunkhannock (ex-Lackawanna).

Mr. House said that several railfans were aboard when No. 5 departed Hoboken during its final weekend of operation and the engraved silverware in the dining car had been replaced by plastic to discourage souvenir hunting.

An uniformed EL special agent also rode in the diner to prevent theft.

The crew on the last No. 5 to depart Binghamton included former Lackawanna employees wearing Lackawanna uniforms. The last No. 6 into Binghamton had former Erie employees wearing Erie uniforms

The sleeper and diner on the last No. 5 ran all the way to Chicago rather than being dropped at Youngstown and Huntington respectively due to there being no eastbound train to pick them up later that night.

When the last No. 5 arrived in Dearborn Station in Chicago 48 minutes late it  brought an end to 83 years of passenger service between the Windy City and the New York City region.

In the meantime, the ICC also was investigating the B&O’s plan to discontinue the eastbound Gateway and westbound Diplomat between Akron and Chicago.

B&O had posted discontinuance notices on Aug. 11, 1969, effective a month later but the ICC stayed that while it conducted an investigation.

Nos. 7 and 10 were said by the B&O to be losing $195,000 a year and averaged fewer than eight passengers a day west of Akron.

During public hearings, B&O said it could not compete with faster service between Chicago and Pittsburgh on a parallel Penn Central (former Pennsylvania) route via Canton.

Because of its daylight schedule through Akron No. 7 was the B&O’s most photographed passenger train in Northeast Ohio.

Originating in Washington, the Diplomat left the nation’s capitol at 11:45 p.m. and was scheduled to depart Youngstown at 9:12 a.m., Ravenna at 9:47 a.m., Kent at 9:54 a.m. and arrive in Akron at 10:40 a.m.

This was about an hour later than EL’s westbound Lake Cities, which stopped in the same cities except Ravenna.

The Diplomat had for decades been a name applied to a Washington-St. Louis train but it was given to Nos. 7 and 8 in 1964 when B&O dropped the Shenandoah name from those trains.

Starting in 1966, the B&O began strategically removing passenger trains and curtaining the services of those that survived.

No. 7 saw its dining car replaced in September 1966 by a food bar coach and lost it sleeping cars in May 1968

No. 10 operated as the Washington Express on a daylight schedule that ran at about the same time as EL’s Lake Cities between Chicago and Youngstown.

That changed in July 1968 when No. 10 was discontinued between Washington and Pittsburgh and the remaining Chicago to Pittsburgh segment of the train was renamed the Gateway.

Like No. 7, No. 10 was a shell of its former self, having lost its dining car in September 1966 in favor of a food bar coach and having lost its sleeping cars in May 1968

In January 1969, the Gateway was scheduled to arrive in Akron at 6:50 p.m. and leave Kent at 7:23 p.m., Ravenna at 7:31 p.m., and Youngstown at 8:20 p.m. The Gateway was the only B&O passenger train to stop in Barberton.

B&O said it would add additional station stops for the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited and the ICC concluded that those who had ridden Nos. 7 and 10 west of Akron could be accommodated by the Capitol. However, Barberton was not one of those additional stops.

The State of Indiana and City of Chicago asked the ICC to reconsider its decision not to order the B&O to continue operation of Nos. 7 and 10, saying the Commission had overstated the financial losses of the trains by about $20,000.

But the Commission rejected that appeal and Nos. 7 and 10 were discontinued west of Akron soon after the Jan. 6 ICC decision.

East of Akron those trains became the Akron-Washington Shenandoah, which on some days operated with a dome car.

Intercity passenger service in Akron after the events of January 1970 remained unchanged for more than a year.

Nos. 7 and 10, also underwent a schedule change.

It departed Akron at 6:45 a.m. and returned at 6:45 p.m. It made stops in Kent, Ravenna and Youngstown of which only Youngstown was also a stop for the Capitol Limited.

Minor schedule changes were subsequently made to the Shenandoah schedule and by October 1970 the Akron departure time has changed to 6:55 p.m. with arrival back in Akron at 6:40 p.m. The consist was still coaches, a food bar coach and a dome car on select dates.

The coming of Amtrak on May 1, 1971, would lead to the discontinuance of the Shenandoah and Capitol Limited and Akron would not have intercity rail passenger service until Amtrak’s Broadway Limited was rerouted in late 1990 to serve the city.

First EL Monday of 2020

January 13, 2020

For our first Erie Lackawanna Monday of 2020 we take a look at two points in time involving EL motive power and get a look at a former EL passenger train.

.In the top image, EL 7091 is westbound in Akron in the late 1960s. Although these look like F7 locomotives, they are really F3 locomotives.

In the middle image, Conrail F7A No. 1884 is in Toledo on Aug. 26, 1977. Notice the black nose door and the Conrail roster number.

This unit was built in July 1949 as Delaware, Lackawanna & Western No. 636A.

In the EL era is received roster number 6361. Conrail gave it the number seen above.

Finally, the bottom image shows EL dining car No. 741 attached to the  westbound Lake Cities in Kent in the late 1960’s.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Happy Old Year 1967

January 2, 2020

It was Kent State University’s Christmas vacation in December 1967, and Mike Ondecker and I had ridden Erie Lackawanna’s Lake Cities to Marion, Ohio. EL 823 and another E8A would power the Lake Cities west to Chicago while EL 833 would be left behind in Marion. The open nose door suggests that 833 had had a problem. How strange and wonderful the railfan world of 1967 looks through 2020 eyes.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas

Sleuthing to Solve a Historical Mystery

July 5, 2018

Historical artifacts don’t always come with much explanation of their past. Such was the case with this train bulletin board that is mounted on a wall of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society roundhouse in Cleveland.

There are some clues about its past starting with the name of the railroad. When created in October 1960, the Erie Lackawanna used a hyphen, but that was soon dropped.

It can clearly be seen that someone painted over the original name of the railroad with “Erie-Lackawanna.

Given the shaky condition of the EL throughout its lifetime, I can understand how no one cared to change it once the hypen was dropped in 1963.

I can also understand why one bothered to paint over the numbers of trains that no longer operated. The EL was in the passenger business for nearly a decade and took a certain pride in it, but the period was marked by retrenchment until its last intercity train, the Chicago-Hoboken, New Jersey Lake Cities completed its final trips in early January 1970.

So where did this train bulletin come from? Given that the trains shown operated between Chicago and New York that suggests it came out of a former Erie Railroad station.

The Delaware, Lackawanna & Western had New York-Chicago through cars that interchanged with the Nickel Plate Road in Buffalo, New York, but I doubted this artifact came from a former Lackawanna station.

A check of the train numbers in the Official Guide of the Railways substantiated that. The Lackawanna did not have a Train No. 1 on the eve of the merger.

In the EL era, Nos. 1 and 2 were the Erie-Lackawanna Limited (nee Erie Limited), and later the Phoebe Snow, a former Lackawanna train.

Nos. 5 and 6 were The Lake Cities, which had a Buffalo section numbered 35 and 36.

No 8 was the Atlantic Express whereas No. 7 was the Pacific Express. These were mail and express trains that also carried passengers.

Train No. 80, though, baffled me because the only No. 80 I could find in Official Guide schedules for the Erie Lackawanna was a commuter train that originated in Port Jervis, New York, and operated to Hoboken.

Could it have once operated to Chicago? Going back into the early 1950s schedules of the Erie, I determined that No. 80 was a Sunday-only section of the Atlantic Express.

The number for another westbound train has been obliterated, but it probably was No. 9, a Saturday-only section of the Pacific Express.

Despite this artifact being displayed in Cleveland I ruled out it having come from Cleveland or anywhere on the former Erie line between Cleveland and Youngstown.

That line once had a substantial passenger business, but those trains in the EL era carried 600 series numbers and did not operate between Chicago and New York.

There are times shown for some of the train, but those were not helpful. Eastbound No. 2 didn’t have a scheduled 43-minute layover anywhere along its route.

It did pause in Binghamton, New York, for 23 minutes, but not at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m.

I checked the times shown here for various stations, but that did not lead me to a particular station. That suggests someone added these times for show.

Buttressing that belief is the fact that Nos. 7 and 8 ceased to carry passengers in July 1965.

There was never a time when the EL had trains 2, 5, 6 and 7 operating when Nos. 1, 8 and 80 did not operate.

There was one more clue to pursue. The board used the letters “P” and “A,” to the right of the column “due,” which probably means p.m. and a.m.

Barely visible for Train No. 5 is the numeral “10” followed by “A,” presumably meaning a.m.

In late 1965 The Lake Cities was due into Akron at 10:10 a.m.

The Pacific Express when it still carried passengers was scheduled to arrive in Akron just before 8 p.m.

The only other train for which there is an “A” or “P” is the eastbound Lake Cities, which was due into Akron at 6:42 p.m.

I detected a faint trace of the letter “A” for the westbound Phoebe Snow, which was scheduled into Akron at 1:25 a.m.

This led me to conclude that this just might have been the train bulletin board at the Erie station in Akron.

Or was it? In checking the schedules more carefully I discovered that on the eve of the Erie and Lackawanna merger No. 5 was scheduled into Youngstown around 10 a.m.

As late as 1963 No. 5 was scheduled to arrive in Kent just after 10 a.m.

The best I can therefore conclude is that this bulletin board probably came out of a station somewhere in Northeast Ohio.

A Forgotten, But Once Common, Akron Scene

February 13, 2015


It wasn’t until I took the negative from its glassine envelope and scanned it that I realized this was a slice of Akron’s railroad history.

Thankfully, this was taken of the whole scene and not just one train. It is most likely 1968 or 1969 and Akron still had two westbound morning passenger trains. Erie Lackawanna No. 822 with the Lake Cities is approaching the EL passenger station while Baltimore & Ohio No. 1442 sits at Akron Union Station with the Diplomat.

At the far right is a B&O switcher. Soon the EL and B&O trains would begin their westward race to Chicago. At Sterling, the EL crossed the B&O.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas