Posts Tagged ‘Erie Railroad in Kent Ohio’

Flashback: When Santa Used to Ride No. 321

December 6, 2021

For several years Shelly Materials SD18M No. 321 would deliver Santa Claus to downtown Kent as part of the city’s annual Festival of Lights.

A Shelly Locomotive this year again delivered Santa to town, but it was not No. 321.

The company earlier this year assigned Horizon Rail SD40-2 No. 6089, a former Norfolk Southern unit, to its Kent facility located along the ex-Erie Railroad mainline west of town.

And it was No. 6089 that was dressed up with Christmas lights this year to deliver Santa.

No. 321 has been renumbered 319 and reportedly will be sent to another Shelly facility in Northeast Ohio.

The photograph above was made on Dec. 6, 2008. That was a memorable day.

Veteran transportation reporter Don Phillips was in town to speak to the Akron Railroad Club’s December banquet held at the Martin Center at the University of Akron, a visit arranged by Paul Woodring.

We gave Don a tour of some of the region’s railroads that included a cab ride on the Canton Polar Express train of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, watching CSX trains in Akron, and riding aboard No. 321 that afternoon. Lunch was at the restaurant in the former Erie station in Kent.

Back in those days ARRC member Bob Rohal worked at Shelly and was at the throttle when Santa came to town aboard No. 321.

As the locomotive approached the West Main Street crossing, Bob would “play” Jingle Bells on the locomotive horn.

Bob had nicknamed No. 321 “Flash” and designed the livery. Both paid tribute to Kent State University, whose athletic teams are the Golden Flashes.

Bob fired up the 321 and let Don, myself and Peter Bowler operate the locomotive for short periods of time.

I never got to see “Flash” bring Santa to Kent because the event always occurred the same night as the ARRC banquet.

The banquet has since morphed into an end of year dinner that still is held on the same night s the Kent Festival of Lights although at least once the dinner was held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Bob has since retired from Shelly but some of the traditions he started live on even if carried out by a different locomotive and locomotive engineer.

ABC in Kent Passing Treno

August 30, 2018

Last Friday Akron Railroad Club Vice President Todd Dillon was in Kent when the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway local to and from Ravenna came through town headed back to Brittain Yard in Akron. It is shown passing the former Erie passenger station, which is now an Italian restaurant named Treno.

Photograph by Todd Dillon

Dzeda to Give Erie RR Talk in Massillon

August 22, 2018

Kent author and railroad historian Bruce Dzeda will be giving a program at the Massillon Museum next month about the Erie Railroad in Kent.

Dzeda, author of Railroad Town: Kent and the Erie Railroad, will give his presentation on Sept. 25 at 12:10 p.m. at the St. George Cultural Center. The program is expected to last 40 minutes.

The presentation is part of the museum’s Brown Bag Lunch series and is free. Attendees are encouraged to bring a sack lunch.

The St. George’s Cultural Center is located at 364 1st St SE in Massillon.

Another railroad oriented presentation has been scheduled for Aug. 28 when Steve Korpus of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society will be a presentation titled Rail Car Restoration.

It will be held at the St. George Cultural Center between 12:10 and 12:50 p.m.

Some Erie Sights

November 16, 2017

Hunter’s railroad wasn’t being very cooperative. I had set up on the West Main Street bridge in downtown Kent hoping to get a train or two on the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

Westbound intermodal trains Q015 and Q137 have been operating in mid to late afternoon of late. But I got crickets. There wasn’t as much as a peep on the radio.

After about 45 minutes of waiting, I got out and walked around to make photographs of whatever caught my eye, including some Erie Railroad relics.

The most prominent of those is the former passenger station, which has been restored and now houses an Italian restaurant.

Just south of the station is a heavyweight passenger car painted in Erie colors. It apparently is used as a meeting room, although I’ve never seen anyone in it.

There is a signal box by the station that I know I’ve seen dozens of times, but never photographed. Today I saw something there as the late afternoon sunlight cast a warm glow on the rust-covered box. Who knows how many years it has been here and how many trains it has seen?

Finally, I checked out the siding for the Star of the West grain elevator. Just the night before during a program at the Railroad Enthusiasts meeting in Cleveland there was speculation as to what will happen with this property, which closed earlier this year.

The Erie would have served this facility as did the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway. Now the siding sits unused.

At one time, one of the mainline tracks would have been here, but it has been a long time since these rails were a double-track mainline.

What We’ve Lost over Time on the EL in Kent

February 18, 2017


Sometimes when a railroad becomes a fallen flag, much of the rails and other infrastructure disappear and only memories are left. Compare this view of the Erie Lackawanna trackage in Kent in the late 1960s with what the Wheeling & Lake Erie operates now. We are looking toward West Summit Street and into downtown Kent. What a difference almost half a century makes.

Article and Photograph by Bob Farkas


Reminder of What is in Store for Us: Winter

November 7, 2016


Some meteorologists are calling this year’s winter one that we’ll remember. Here is a preview of what might happen.

This Baltimore & Ohio freight is heading east beyond the B&O passenger station where I am standing and approaching downtown Kent in the late 1960s. That is the Erie Lackawanna passenger station on the hill above. Now, do you remember winter?

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Waiting For Winter to Uncover an Erie Relic

April 22, 2016

Tank base-x

I had seen and photographed the concrete base of what had been a water tank in the Erie Railroad yard in Kent, but that was several years ago.

I had on my “to do” list finding the water tank base and photographing it again. The base sits a little ways off the Portage Hike and Bike trail, which skirts what had been the edge of the Kent yard in the area where the roundhouse had been many decades ago.

The water tank base can’t be seen during much of the year because it is obscured by foliage. Even with all of the leaves off the trees in winter I missed it the first time I went looking for it.

I had forgotten that is is farther off the trail than I remembered. I only caught a glimpse of it and made a mental note to find it again when I had more time.

That moment came this past winter. There was a trail leading back to the water tank base,

Judging by the graffiti on it, this must be a popular place. Maybe at night the ghosts who live in the woods surrounding the tank come out.

As I stood looking at the concrete base I recognized that it has outlived everything it was designed to serve, whether it be the railroad, steam locomotives or the men who used this facility in their work.

In time, the forces of nature will weaken the massive concrete structure and I can envision a future generation of public officials making the decision to haze it razed because it has become a safety hazard.

But that decision is well off in the future. This structure was built to last and survive it has.

For now, the water tank base is among a handful of reminders of what was once an important location for the Erie Railroad.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Another Touch of Erie Heritage in Kent

August 19, 2015

Erie car in Kent-x

Kent was an Erie Railroad town for many decades. It was a crew change point, the home of a large classification yard, and the location of a roundhouse and shops.

Over time, the railroad cut back its facilities and activities in Kent and by the time the Erie Lackawanna had turned into Conrail in 1976 there wasn’t much left.

Today, the Erie yard and shops are gone but the former passenger station remains as restaurant.

There are other reminders of the Erie. A local student painted a mural of the Lake Cities passenger train on a wall in downtown Kent.

Now another paean to the heritage of the Erie has come to Kent. For the past several years, there has been a passenger car sitting next to the former Erie station.

It was painted Pullman green and used as a meeting room. When passing through town recently I noticed that the car has gotten some new paint to reflect the passenger livery of the Erie.

On the day that I was there, the paint job had been completed on just one side of the car. So here is to the memory of the Erie Railroad.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Rohal Photo of B&O Train published in Newspaper

March 8, 2015

Bob's Picture 1958 aA photo made by Akron Railroad Club member Bob Rohal was published in the Record-Courier last Friday.

The photo was made in 1958 of a Baltimore & Ohio mail train passing through Kent. Rohal made the photograph atop the Main Street Bridge.

The caption mentions that an Erie Railroad passenger train was due about a half hour after the passage of the B&O train.

However, the caption incorrectly states that B&O passenger service in Kent ended year before the Erie Lackawanna discontinued its last passenger trains in January 1970.

The B&O continued to operate four passengers trains a day through Kent until the coming of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.

The caption also mentions that Erie employee Otis Taylor was waiting at the Kent station to put water into the passenger train’s locomotives.

“Little did I know that in three years along with my Journeyman Jimmy Powell I also would also be putting water in the Passenger Diesels after Mr Taylor retired,” Bob wrote in an email message.

Just Another Day on the ABC at Kent

August 5, 2014







I caught the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway Kent job last week as it pulled into Kent and made a pickup at the Star of the West mill. W&LE No. 102 with its Operation Lifesaver logo was the motive power.

A couple other goodies from last week included a nicely lettered (for a scrap car) hopper and the MetLife blimp in for the Bridgestone Invitational PGA golf tournament at Firestone Country Club in Akron. They are walking the airship away from the mast. Note the man still up the pole for its takeoff.

The top photo is the ABC train pulling by some of the original Atlantic & Great Western shop buildings in Kent. With the large Star of the West mill looming tall in the background the crew backs up to get three cars. (next two photos) The lift made, the 102 pulls back out onto the former Erie mainline and a return to Akron.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee