Looking north on the Youngstown Line at Latimer. The Erie crossed the New York Central between the signal and the control box.
In one of my usual quests to catch Norfolk Southern heritage units, I ventured to the area north of Youngstown on Nov. 16.
A stone train bound for Lordstown was making its way from the quarry to the “45″ stone yard in Lordstown.
The routing of these trains has been to use the former Nickel Plate Road to Ashtabula, then the former New York Central Youngstown Line to the ex-Erie Lackawanna Niles Secondary to the Lordstown Secondary.
This routing came about several years ago when NS took over the Lordstown Secondary from just east of Alliance to just west of Lordstown is out of service.
The train I was looking for had the NKP Heritage unit as third of three units. I thought I might be able to catch it on the Youngstown Line as it took the connection to the former EL at Latimer. Prior routing of these trains as well as the Warren ore trains from Ashtabula, had seen them take a section of the ex-EL Youngstown bypass into Warren and exit the EL for ex-Pennsylvania Railroad rails to Warren and onto the Lordstown Secondary.
This is one of the few sections of the EL in the eastern part of Ohio that still saw daily movements of heavy trains.
My goal was to catch this stone train taking the connection at Latimer, which was where the EL bypass crossed the NYC on a diamond.
Conrail lived up to its “consolidated” name and put a connection in the northwest quadrant from the ex-NYC to the ex-EL and ripped out the bypass from Latimer to Transfer (Pa).
Once the tracks of hotshots like first NY 100 and ACX 99, the EL right of way today is a barely recognizable path east of Latimer.
I walked around the interlocking taking several different views, including some that show what appear to be ex-NYC and Erie signals still in use.
I noticed that the connection and the former EL to the west had not been used in a very long time.
The steel mill in Warren slowly shut down its operations in 2012, resulting in no more ore trains from Ashtabula.
This leads me to believe that these stone trains didn’t run on the ex-EL after all. Even though I didn’t see the stone train, I later found out that was the case.
It passed right through Latimer on the Youngstown Line, ran around its train near Center Street in Youngstown, then headed out the Lordstown Secondary, using the Crab Creek connection near downtown. This is an all ex-NYC and PRR routing.
So like many other miles of ex-EL track in the state, this section now waits out its days quiet and rusting, waiting for trains that may never come. On my way to Latimer, I stopped in an area west of Leavittsburg – a former busy EL junction near Warren – to photograph some remains of the former EL mainline to Kent.
Whistle posts and crossing flashers still stand, but have not seen a train in probably 10 or more years.
A rusting but sturdy truss bridge over the Mahoning River reminded me that even though the Erie was built to last it couldn’t survive the economic and political climate that brought down so many railroads in the ‘60s and ‘70s.
Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee
Looking west on the ex-EL toward Cortland. The connection is off to the right.
Wider view looking west standing on what was the EL main.
Looking east on the ex EL, connection to the left, Youngstown Line up ahead.
A lonely whistle post in Braceville, looking toward Kent.
Silent relics in Braceville stand and wait….and wait….and wait.
A rusty lock and peeling silver paint indicate years of no attention from the signal maintainers at Braceville.
Looking east toward Leavittsburg.
Closer view of the bridge over the Mahoning River. Ghosts of the Lake Cities and time freights must live here.