Posts Tagged ‘John Beach’

John Beach Dies at 92

July 6, 2022

John Beach is shown in Kona, North Carolina, in 1968 during an outing to photograph the Black Mountain’s successor, the Yancey Railroad.
John Beach (right) and Alex Bruchac pose during the 2011 Akron Railroad Club banquet at the Martin Center of the University of Akron.

Longtime Akron Railroad Club member John Beach died at his home on Monday. He was 92. Reed Funeral Home in Canton is handling the arrangements.

His son Dave wrote in a note that John lived his entire life in Canton and Massillon.

After graduating from Massillon Washington High School, he went to work for the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway, which later was acquired by the Nickel Plate Road.

He worked on the railroad for eight years before deciding to pursue a career as a science teacher.

John taught at Perry and Fairless high schools and the University of Akron. He taught for 54 years.

He held degrees from Kent State University and the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Dave Beach said his father was an active photographer and a frequent contributor to the Nickel Plate Historical Society magazine, was the secretary for the CC&S club for retired railroaders, wrote several articles for Trains magazine.

He also wrote a book on the Black Mountain railway in North Carolina. 

“As railroads modernized and the operations that he knew were disappearing his interest turned more to railroad history,” Dave Beach wrote about his father.  “Many of our conversations started with ‘Did I ever tell you about the time . . .’ And he would proceed to repeat a story I had most likely heard before.

“Maybe I’ll remember a few. I learned a lot about railroads and photography from him. I’ve been lucky to have him for so long but will miss him and realize that so much history has been lost.”

John Beach joined the ARRC on Feb. 26, 1970, which gave him the second longest tenure among ARRC members behind only Paul Woodring, who joined in 1969.

Dave assembled a tribute to his Dad’s photography titled An Evening With John and Dave Beach, that was shown on Dec. 1, 2012, at the ARRC’s annual banquet. It would turn out to be the last banquet the club held. The following year the banquet gave way to the annual end of year dinner.

John Beach Book on the History of the Black Mountain Railway Published by Tar Heel Press

June 13, 2016

Black Mountain Railway

Tar Heel Press has published a book on the Black Mountain Railway written by Akron Railroad Club member John E. Beach.

Titled The Black Mountain Railway, the hardcover book is 200 pages and contains 250 black and white, and color photographs along with maps and locomotive rosters. It retails for $55.

Ordering information is available at:

The 25-mile Black Mountain served the forests of western North Carolina between 1910 and 1955.

It was one of three railroads that operated between Pensacola, North Carolina, and a connection with the Clinchfield Railroad at Kona, North Carolina.

Aside from the Black Mountain, the other railroads included the Yancey Railroad and the Toe River Railroad. All three are covered in detail in John’s book.

Although abandoned in 1955, the former Black River became the Yancey and provided service through 1982.

For a short time, an operator sought to provide excursion service before the last rails of the Black Mountain were picked up.

John spent 35 years researching the histories of these railroads and relied on interviews, documents and newspaper articles for his information.

He first encountered the Black River in 1952 when it ran with steam locomotives. By then, operations had been cut back to Burnsville, North Carolina.

John discovered a small operation with a down home country charm and he began collecting and making photographs of the Black Mountain and exploring the right of way. Work on writing the book, though, didn’t begin until 1982.

In about two weeks, John will be traveling to North Carolina to do book signings at a train show in Charlotte and at a model railroad club in Spruce Pine.

ARRC President Craig Sanders served as a reviewer for the manuscript.

Beach Letter Published by Trains Magazine

March 4, 2009

A letter to the editor written by Akron Railroad Club member John Beach appears in the April issue of Trains magazine.

Beach, of Massillon, Ohio, wrote in response to a story published in the February issue about President Abraham Lincoln and his connections with the railroads. Beach said he always wondered what route Lincoln took through eastern Ohio in early 1861 en route to Washington to be inaugurated as the nation’s 16th president. A map with the article provided the answer.

Accompanying Beach’s letter is a photograph that he submitted of an eastbound Conrail train passing a monument at Alliance, Ohio, commemorating Lincoln’s stop in the Stark County community during his trip to Washington. The monument is adjacent to the Alliance Amtrak station.

Akron Railroad Club members have been frequent visitors to Alliance, located at the junction of the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s Cleveland-Pittsburgh and Chicago-Pittsburgh routes.
Norfolk Southern now owns the tracks that pass through Alliance.

Canton Railroad Book Now Available

March 4, 2009

Akron Railroad Club president Craig Sanders’ latest book, Canton Area Railroads, has been released by Arcadia Publishing. The book was written in cooperation with the Akron Railroad Club and features photographs from club members Richard Antibus, John Beach, Michael Boss, Peter Bowler, Richard Jacobs, Chris Lantz, James McMullen, Bob Redmond, Edward Ribinskas, Marty Surdyk and Paul Vernier.

The book chronicles the history and development of the railroads that served Stark, Wayne, Holmes, Carroll and Tuscarawas counties. Among the cities coverd are Canton, Massillon, Alliance, Orrville, Wooster, Dover, New Philadelphia, Dennison, Brewster, Navarre, Minerva and Sugar Creek.

Canton Area Railroads documents how railroad operations changed as the steel industry declined and railroad consolidations led to traffic shifts and route abandonments. Among the railroads that served this region were the Pennsylvania, Baltimore & Ohio, New York Central and Wheeling & Lake Erie. The book has images of these roads plus their sucessors Penn Central, Norfolk & Western, Conrail, CSX, Norfolk Southern, Ohio Central, R.J. Corman and OhiRail.

Also discussed are modern passenger operations Amtrak, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society. The book is 128 pages and has more than 200 photographs.

Canton Area Railroads is the fifth railroad history book published by Sanders. His other works include Akron Railroads, Amtrak in the Heartland, Limiteds, Locals and Expresses in Indiana, 1838-1971, and Mattoon and Charleston Area Railroads.

The ARRC will be selling copies of Canton Area Railroads at train shows and at its monthly meetings. The book is also available from  booksellers and the publisher (