Posts Tagged ‘Erie Railroad’

Very Old Rails Without a Doubt

January 20, 2017

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You showed new rail. Here is some very old rail. In an old industrial site next to the Erie Railroad Bergen County Line in Fair Lawn, New Jersey lies some 80-pound rail made in 1912. The yard once served a coal company among other things. The tracks are still pretty much intact, complete with switches. The 1960 Erie employee timetable still listed the main line connecting switch as active. The site is being redeveloped. I don’t know the future of these rails, but so far they have survived for 105 years.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

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Autumn on the (Former) Erie

January 13, 2017

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Several years ago I made an image of a maple tree next to the former Erie Railroad mainline near Kent at Lake Rockwell Road.

That was back in the days when I was making images with slide film.

I liked that image and wanted to try it again as a digital image. But for various reasons it didn’t work out once I went to digital photography in 2011.

I couldn’t get down there, I got there too early, I got there too late. If you’re a photographer you know the reasons why something doesn’t get done.

It wasn’t a high priority on my autumn “to do” list but it was still there.

Last autumn everything finally lined up. I went down to Kent to walk on the Portage Hike and Bike Trail, which runs parallel with the lone track that is left of the ex-Erie.

That tree that I remembered at the Lake Rockwell Road crossing was at its peak fall colors. It was a mostly sunny day.

So, here it is along with a couple other images of the tracks, fall foliage and a few utility poles left over from the days when they had wires used to communicate and provide power for the signal system.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Kent Erie Depot to Become Italian Eatery

January 6, 2017

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An Italian restaurant is planned for the former Erie Railroad passenger station in Kent and it will have a railroad theme starting with its name.

The new restaurant will be named Treno, which means “train” in Italian. It will be operated by Michael Awad, who owns other restaurants in Kent.

This past week, Kiko and Associates auctioneers sold the equipment and memorabilia that had graced the previous restaurant in the station, the Pufferbelly Ltd.

The Pufferbelly closed Jan. 1 after 35 years in business. Among the artifacts sold in the auction were vintage luggage signs and photographs of trains.

Kevin Long acquired the Pufferbelly in 2008 from the previous ownership that started it in 1981.

“Thirty-five years is a good run,” Long said. “It was just the right time to make a change. I’m going to miss my customers. But the day in and day out of the hustle and bustle . . . no,” Long said with a laugh in an interview with the Akron Beacon Journal. “I’m not gonna miss that.”

Located at 152 Franklin Ave., the station was built in 1875 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Awad said Treno will have a “white table cloth” setting and serve upscale Italian food made from scratch.

He said several changes will be made inside the former station, including leveling the floor to make it wheelchair accessible.

Completion of the renovation work is expected by May. “Everything other than the walls are coming out of here and we’re gonna revamp this place,” Awad said.

Some Erie Now and Then From the East End

December 30, 2016

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Centennial Trains

Centennial Trains

Memorabilia from the Erie Railroad's centennial.

Memorabilia from the Erie Railroad’s centennial.

In keeping with the theme then and now, I thought I would pass on this little tidbit from the Erie Railroad’s east end.

On a late December day I am standing at New Jersey Transit’s Ramsey/Route 17 Station in Ramsey, New Jersey, which is less than 10 years old.

Erie milepost JC 28 is about 600 feet behind me. I am on the station platform looking railroad west (compass north).

You can probably tell that this was the Erie main line and four tracks wide in the Erie/Erie Lackawanna days.

Above me, traffic is whizzing by on the Route 17 overpass. Thousands of commuters and tens of thousands of cars go through and over this unremarked spot every day. If they only knew.

Now, we go back 65 years to 1951. The Erie Railroad is celebrating its 100th Anniversary.

A special train is being run with museum cars, the latest in Erie freight and passenger cars and new, shiny roaring diesel locomotives.

There were also some flat cars. On one of these flat cars is carried the Baltimore & Ohio’s 1855- built William Mason and a period passenger car.

They are disguised as an Erie train from 1851 and will be off-loaded at certain display areas to give operating demonstrations to the crowds of visitors.

Which brings us back to the matter of milepost JC 28.

The William Mason and its train were off-loaded here. Erie officials had given orders to an eastbound freight to temporarily stop and pose with the William Mason for the company photographer.

The photographer was on – you guessed it – the Route 17 overpass directly above my head. Although I can show the spot of the photo I could not duplicate the elevation due to bridge changes and the volume of traffic.

If everyone that passes through today only knew what happened at this very spot 65 years ago.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

Still Flying the Flag 56 Years Later

December 19, 2016

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There is something comforting about seeing a relic of the long ago past even if it is just a rusty hulk of its former self. I have had a lifelong interest in history so finding such relics is a way to see and almost touch something that I never was able to experience in its prime.

Such is the case with old railroad bridges that still wear the markings of a past owner. As this is posted in December 2016, it has been 56 years since the Erie Railroad operated its last train.

In October 1960 it merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western to form the Erie Lackawanna. Even that road has been gone now for 40 years.

Much of the former Erie in Northeast Ohio has been abandoned. Some rails are still in place, but have been out of service for many years.

Motorists traveling on North Forge Street in Akron, Ohio, can see a daily reminder of the Erie.

This bridge carried the Chicago route of the Erie over North Forge near Akron Junction. All of the mainline railroads serving Akron crossed over Forge in a two-block area with the Erie being the westernmost of them.

Today the former Erie bridge is silent. As best I can tell from looking at an overhead view on Bing Maps, there may be one set of tracks on the bridge, but otherwise the rails have been removed.

Excursion to Cover Ex-Erie Branch Line

November 4, 2016

The Buffalo, Cattaraugus & Jamestown Scenic Railroad is offering rare mileage excursions on Nov. 12 and 12 over a former Erie Railroad/Erie-Lackawanna branch line in New York state.

EL LogoThe four-hour excursions will depart from Hamburg and travel to South Buffalo, using an Alco locomotive operated by the Buffalo Southern Railroad.

Passenger equipment will be two 1930s-era passenger cars and an open-air car.

The ex-Erie line being traveled was once a branch that handled traffic out of Buffalo to the Chicago-New York mainline via Jamestown, New York.

Scheduled passenger service last ran on the branch in 1955, being provided by a diesel-electric doodlebug in 1955.

Although the line is mostly intact, it is out of service where it connects with the ex-Erie mainline that is now operated by the Western New York & Pennsylvania.

Railroading as it Once Was: Still Chasing Fate

October 19, 2016

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In light that October 17 was the day the Erie Lackawanna was created in 1960, I’ll repost this “Roger’s Reflections” piece.

The Erie Lackawanna Railroad was (and remains) very instrumental in how I got into this hobby back in the early 70s.

Friendly crews and an attractive company image drew me to that railroad right from the first time I started hanging out where the railroads passed through my home town of Akron, Ohio.

Sure, there were other railroads in town, several of which passed right next to the EL lines.

Yes, they were trains and were interesting in their own right. It was the EL that grabbed my attention the most.

With fast mainline trains, frequent cab rides in the yard, and railroaders who took the time to explain the workings of their job to a young fan it’s no wonder I got hooked on the EL.

I would also come to learn that the EL was struggling just to continue operating. A smaller underdog surrounded by larger carriers, the EL kept rolling mostly through the sheer will of its people.

The beginning of the end came in 1976 when the EL was merged into Conrail and ceased to exist as an operating carrier, its motive power and people scattered to the four winds.

In a few short years the tracks through town that once held my undivided attention fell quiet, the sound of steel wheels replaced by the sound of growing weeds. The railroad was gone.

While the EL may be long gone its presence  — its spirit if you will – is often in my thoughts to this day.

It was something that was in my life but then gone all too quick, new found friends and pretty locomotives all disappearing in the blink of times eye. Hard lessons learned at an early age.

Yes, seasons change, and as fall approaches I like to remember how the colors of the EL seemed to fit the fall season just perfectly.

It’s the time of year I miss the EL the most. I paraphrased a song by David Arkenstone called “Slip Away” as a caption to the below above that I’ve titled Missing Diamonds.

The seasons change
and age our temporary souls
I was chasing fate
along its winding road

Your flame burned bright but passed into smoke
And those trains
that passed through my life
now roll down rails of gold

I close my eyes
and drift into a shining memory
but I can’t see your trains
as those rails fade into dreams

Yes, the seasons change . . . and age our temporary souls
And I’m still chasing fate along its winding road.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

Restoration Completed on Erie S-2 in Meadville

October 8, 2016
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The former Erie Alco S-2 switcher as it appeared last July before completion of its lettering.

Cosmetic restoration of a former Erie Railroad Alco S-2 switcher has been completed by the French Creek Valley Railroad Historical Society in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

The project got underway in 2007 and was completed with society members finishing the lettering of No. 518 in late September.

The locomotive came to the society from the Ashtabula, Carson & Jefferson Railroad.

Built for the Erie in October 1948, No. 518 served on the Erie Lackawanna and for Cleveland Electric Illuminating before ending up at AC&J.

It is now displayed in Pomona Park in Meadville along with a 1908 wooden Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad boxcar and an Erie Lackawanna bay window caboose, No. C356.

The boxcar is on loan from the collection of the Lake Shore Railway Historical Society while the caboose and the caboose belongs to the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society.

Colorful NS Motive Power Duo

September 15, 2016

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It wasn’t an all heritage locomotives consist, but Norfolk Southern train 64T had an unusual motive power consist when it passed through Northeast Ohio during the morning hours of Monday, Sept. 12.

Leading the train was the Erie Railroad heritage locomotive while the tailing unit was the DC to AC conversion No. 4000.

The same duo had led the train or tank cars westbound through the region last Saturday, but that was during early morning hours and NS 4000 had been leading.

Reports on HeritageUnits.com indicated that on Monday the 64T was reported at Alliance at 11:06 a.m.

No reports were made for the time that train passed through Cleveland.

Rich Thompson was able to get to Hines Hill Road near Macedonia to capture the 64T as it made its way east on the NS Cleveland Line.

Photographs by Richard Thompson

Chasing Erie Ghosts, Alcos in Meadville

August 10, 2016
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This Alco S2 was an unexpected find during our time in Meadville. It is within sight of the former Erie mainline.

A while back after the conclusion of a chase of a train on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie, my friend Adam and I drove over to Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Our intent was to find Alco locomotives on the Western New York & Pennsylvania, which we did, but I also found myself chasing ghosts of the Erie Railroad.

Meadville was a big Erie town and some passenger trains would set out and drop off cars here, including sleepers, lounges and diners. This practice continued into the Erie Lackawanna era.

The Erie also had a major yard in Meadville, which is used today by the WNY&P. The yard is not hard to find and neither were the Alcos.

We were there on a Saturday of a long holiday weekend, so the Alcos were probably spending the weekend waiting until being recalled for service on Tuesday.

There didn’t seem to be any activity in the WNY&P yard. We got our photos and left.

I then spotted what turned out to be a museum display devoted to the Erie and EL.

The display is maintained by the French Creek Valley Railroad Historical Society and features an Alco S2, a caboose in EL markings and a boxcar, among other artifacts.

The S2 was in the process of being restored to its Erie livery and it turned out that it used to be owned by the Cleveland Illuminating Company and also spent time on the Ashtabula, Carson & Jefferson.

I may have seen No. 518 reposing on the AC&Y and maybe photographed it when it was still in its CEI markings.

So, it turned out, we found more Alcos than we expected in Meadville.

We then turned our attention to our other reason for venturing to Meadville, which was to check out the Voodoo Brewery and Brew Pub, which was quite good.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Keeping alive the heritage of the Erie Lackawanna in Meadville.

Keeping alive the heritage of the Erie Lackawanna in Meadville.

The Erie diamond etched in concrete was saved from the coaling tower in Meadville when it was being razed.

The Erie diamond etched in concrete was saved from the coaling tower in Meadville when it was being razed.

The former Erie mainline in Meadville just east of the yard is now operated by the WNY&P.

The former Erie mainline in Meadville just east of the yard is now operated by the WNY&P.

Looking eastward on the former Erie mainline at Osgood, Pennsylvania. Norfolk Southern owns the tracks here.

Looking eastward on the former Erie mainline at Osgood, Pennsylvania. Norfolk Southern owns the tracks here.

WNY&P No. 427, an Alco C425, was sitting idle at the east end of the former Erie yard in Meadville.

WNY&P No. 427, an Alco C425, was sitting idle at the east end of the former Erie yard in Meadville.

WNY&P C424 No. 435 was one of the Alcos that we came looking for in Meadville.

WNY&P C424 No. 435 was one of the Alcos that we came looking for in Meadville.