Posts Tagged ‘Erie Railroad’

Peaceful Rails In Late Afternoon Sunlight

March 3, 2015

Tracks snow sun 01a

Several years ago Trains magazine asked the question of whether railroad photographs must have a train in them. The magazine then proceeded to publish a page of railroad images without trains.

Apparently it wasn’t something that the publication thought that it needed to do frequently because I don’t recall it ever publishing such a page again.

But then again the title of the magazine is “trains” and not “tracks.”

I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of images made by railfan photographers have a train in them and that the vast majority of those feature the lead locomotive. That describes much of my railroad photographs portfolio, too.

But I like to make it a point, particularly in the winter, to make images of rails sans trains. Shown is the former Erie Lackawanna (nee Erie railroad) at the crossing of Lake Rockwell Road near Kent.

It’s late on Saturday afternoon and these rails are inactive during the weekend. The Akron Barberton Cluster Railway only uses these tracks on weekdays and even then it doesn’t travel over these rails every day.

Today it is sunny with only a few clouds in the sky. But tomorrow will bring another winter storm and more snow. For the moment all is peaceful here and the rails glisten in the late day sunlight.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Iconic Southern Tier Rail Bridge to be Replaced

January 4, 2015

An iconic bridge on the Southern Tier route will be replaced soon after the Federal Highway Administration approved the design and construction of the replacement span.

The Portageville Viaduct over the Genesee River on the former Erie Railroad has been a favorite of photographers almost since it was built in the 1870s. It features waterfalls crashing beneath it.

Located in Letchworth State Park, the bridge soars about 245 feet above the river gorge. The wrought iron viaduct is 820 feet long and sits on six steel towers constructed in 1875.

Three spans of pin-locked deck trusses and 10 spans of deck plate girders were built in 1903.

The bridge is at milepost SR 361.66 in the Town of Portage and the Town of Genesee Falls. It will be removed once the new bridge is completed in three years.

Norfolk Southern acquired the Southern Tier route in 1999 as part of the Conrail breakup.

Construction of the new bridge will begin this year with the new span located just south of the existing bridge.

The New York Department of Transportation is paying $3 million in design costs and landed secured $12.5 million in state and federal funds for construction. The balance will be provided by Norfolk Southern.

The bridge was been labeled as one of the 10 most significant rail bottlenecks in New York.

Once completed, trains on the bridge will operate at Federal Railroad Administration Class 4 speeds. NS also expects to reduce ongoing maintenance efforts and costs.



Group Seeks to Buy Knox & Kane ROW

September 1, 2014

A Pennsylvania non-profit organization is seeking funding to purchase the right of way of the defunct Knox & Kane Railroad with plans to convert it into a trail.

The right of way and tracks are now owned by Kovalchick Corp. of Indiana, Pa., which is a scrap dealer that is in the process of removing rails and ties between Knox in Clarion County and the Kinzua Bridge State Park near Mt. Jewett.

The Headwaters Charitable Trust and the Headwater Resource Conservation and Development Council of DuBois, Pa., wants to buy the 73.8-mile former rail corridor.

The Knox & Kane operated excursion trains over the Kinzua viaduct between 1987 and 2002 when the bridge was closed.

Built in 1900, the bridge was owned by the Erie Railroad and carried freight trains through 1959. After obtaining trackage rights on a nearby Baltimore & Ohio route, the Erie sold the bridge to the Kovalchick company, but owner Nick Kovalchick couldn’t bear to dismantle the bridge.

The state later agreed to buy the bridge and establish a state park that opened in 1970.

Even after ceasing to cross the bridge, which spanned the valley of Kinzua Creek, the Knox & Kane continued to operate excursion trains to the western end of the bridge.

A tornado on July 21, 2003, caused 11 of the bridge’s 20 towers to collapse. At the time, an Ohio company had been working to restore the bridge.

The state decided that the high cost of rebuilding the bridge was too much and the bridge remains still stand.

The Knox & Kane excursions ceased in October 2004 after ridership had fallen by 75 percent.

Teen Charged in Salamanca Depot Fire

August 14, 2014

A teenager has been charged with fourth-degree arson in connection with a late July fire that destroyed the former Erie Railroad station in Salamanca, N.Y.

The apprehension of the 14-year-old boy came after investigators eliminated “everything but human hand” as a potential cause, according to Salamanca Fire Chief Nicholas Bochrski. The boy was also charged with second-degree criminal mischief, second-degree reckless endangerment, and third-degree burglary. He will appear in family court to face the charges.

The station had been vacant since Conrail ceased using it in the late 1970s. Plans to renovate it for use as a railroad museum in the 1980s fell through.

The property had been under the jurisdiction of the Seneca Nation of Indians since a city lease expired in 1990. The depot was built in 1904.

Seneca Nation Treasurer Rodney Pierce called the fire “a tragic chapter in the proud railroad history of this region.” Erie Lackawanna’s Lake Cities was the last passenger train to call at the depot in early January 1970.

Some Conrail and Erie Heritage in Akron

August 3, 2014

Despite the clouds and it’s trailing position I ventured out to see the NS Conrail heritage unit pass through Akron on CSX.





It had led going east but went through Akron in darkness. CSX train Q359 is shown from the Miller Avenue overpass in Akron, a spot where I saw many a blue unit pass underneath on the then joint Chessie/Conrail line from AY to Warwick.

The dirt path off to the left is where the Erie was. Speaking of the Erie, the new dorm facility and parking deck located off Broadway near Exchange Street is almost complete.

In a nice nod to the heritage of the property the “E in diamond” stone/cement logos that were on top of the old Erie freight house that was torn down were saved.

They now are located on a monument outside of the new “Depot” building. I wonder how many of today’s students will even know what that “E” stands for?

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Fire Destroys Ex-Erie Depot in Salamanca, N.Y.

July 31, 2014

A fire suspected of being arson destroyed the vacant former Erie Railroad passenger station in Salamanca, N.Y. , on Tuesday.

The station had been vacant since the late 1970s and had no power. Firefighters were called to the scene at about 3 p.m.

The fire, which was brought under control at about 5:30 p.m. is being investigated by the Cattaraugus County Fire Investigation Team and the Salamanca Police Department. Police said that young people might have been in and out of the building in recent days.

The two-story structure at one time housed dispatchers and division offices, as well as the Railway Express Agency office. The building and property are currently owned by the Seneca Nation.

Richard Jacobs showed a photo of an Erie Lackawanna train passing the station during his program last Friday at the July Akron Railroad Club meeting.



Recreating the Erie and Lackawanna Merger

June 8, 2014



While most people were content with getting photos of their favorite cab units, myself included, I would occasionally try some different views during my time at the Spencer streamliner festival.

When the Erie and the Lackawanna merged in October 1960 to form the EL, they did a publicity photo of two units from each road side by side to announce the combination of the two companies.

Once “Erie 833’s” attendance was announced, the wheels in my head started turning, wondering if it and the Lackawanna Fs might be paired up or spotted next to each other.

Unless I missed it while out seeing other things on the museum grounds, the pairing didn’t happen. For a time they were one track apart, separated by one of the NS Fs.

I did manage a couple of photos with them close to each other, a poor man’s recreation of that merger day advertisement of so many years ago.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

All is Well With the World

June 5, 2014



One of the nice things about the Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive fleet is that it brought back to life several fallen flag railroads that many railfans today remembered seeing during their formative years.

The recently concluded streamliner festival at the North Carolina Transportation museum performed a similar task by bringing together a collection of 1950s era streamlined passenger and freight locomotives, most of which wear the colors of railroads that no longer exist.

Many of the diesels on display at Spencer are museum pieces that seldom stray beyond the museum’s property. Hence, the uniqueness of the event was bringing together in one place a collection of motive power that you would otherwise need to travel the country to see.

Another nice thing about the gathering in Spencer was how various fallen flags were paired as they were moved around for the photographers.

In the photograph above is one of those “it will probably never happen again” moments when locomotives wearing the colors of the favorite railroads of two Akron Railroad Club members were posed together. The Erie is the favorite railroad of a certain ARRC member who goes by such names as Erie833 on Train and RAD. The Illinois Central is of course, the favorite railroad of the ARRC’s president and webmaster of this blog.

Photograph by Roger Durfee

New York Railroad Seeks Grant for Track Work

May 9, 2014

A western New York short line that operates over former Erie Railroad track stands to benefit from a $1.9 million matching grant being sought by the owner of the tracks from the state.

The Southern Tier West Extension Railroad Authority is seeking the grant from the New York Department of Transportation for track rehabilitation between Salamanca and Olean, N.Y.

The track is used by the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad, which would contribute $495,000 toward the $2.4 million project.

Lucas Brewer, assistant chief engineer for the railroad, said the work would involve replacing of 10,000 cross ties between Salamanca and Olean and 11 switches in the Olean yard, which serves as the hub of WNY&P operations.

In addition, three grade crossings will be upgraded during the work that would get underway in 2015 and be completed the following year.

The project comes at a time when the WNY&P is looking to increase its freight business to offset the loss two years ago of Norfolk Southern coal trains.

WNY&P said it moved 6,785 carloads in 2013, up from 6,473 in 2012. The breakdown includes 4,578 carloads on the Southern Tier Extension line and 2,207 on the railroad’s Buffalo line in 2013, as compared to 4,320 on the Southern Tier Extension line and 2,153 on the Buffalo line in 2012.

Brewer said the WNY&P expects “a significant increase” in traffic this year by carrying more steel pipe and fracking sand to Pennsylvania oil shale areas.

NS coal trains boosted rail traffic on the Southern Tier Extension line to more than 54,000 carloads for several years. But the coal traffic ended when a Central New York coal-fired plant closed and NS ceased operating its overhead coal trains across the Southern Tier.

The WNY&P is best known to railfans for using Alco locomotives to pull its trains.

Appreciating the Beauty of a Silent Bridge

December 5, 2013







For untold decades this bridge has spanned the Mahoning River just west of Leavittsburg carrying trains of the Erie, Erie Lackawanna, Conrail and Ohio Central railroads.

But it’s been several years since a train rumbled between its trusses and chance are it will  never again feel the vibration of steel wheels on steel rails.

The ex-Erie Chicago line is still in place between Leavittsburg and Ravenna, but overgrown with weeds and trees.

Roger Durfee found and photographed this bridge in early November, and he and I made a visit to the structure recently during a railroad archeology outing to see how much of the former Erie remains between Ravenna and Warren, Ohio.

Snow covered the rails and right of way. Footprints and ATV tracks indicated that we had not been the first visitors here since the snow fell.

We approached the bridge from the west so all of the views shown here are looking eastward. All images were made with a zoom lens and we did not venture out onto the bridge proper.

There are still many iron truss bridges like this one that carry rails over rivers large and small. They speak of size, they speak of strength and they are monuments to a different generation of bridge engineering.

They have a beauty of their own if you take the time to appreciate it. I’m glad that we did.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders


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