Posts Tagged ‘Ohio Central Railroad’

Steam Saturday: An ARRC Excursion at Pearl

October 2, 2021

Remember when the Akron Railroad Club used to have steam excursions on the Ohio Central? Yeah, it’s been several years since one of those ran. Shown is 4-8-4 No. 6325, a former Grand Trunk Western locomotive, pulling a southbound ARRC trip at Pearl in October 2001.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

When the Ohio Central was the Ohio Central

January 17, 2018

This is a grab shot, literally. I was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by fellow Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee.

We were driving around the Youngstown area when we crossed over the OC tracks. There sat three OC diesels, probably resting over the weekend. I made this shot out the window as we drove over them.

Ever since the Ohio Central stopped interchanging with CSX at Warrick, I haven’t seen its trains. The OC system is a little too far south of my regular railfanning haunts.

Since it was acquired by Genesee & Wyoming, OC diesels have been slowly been repainted into the G&W livery that is dominated by the color orange.

Soon these maroon and gold units will be just another memory of the days when the late Jerry Joe Jacobson owned the railroad.

One Afternoon in Sugarcreek

January 12, 2018

The Ohio Central began running its steam-powered Sugarcreek-Baltic tourist train behind former Canadian National 4-6-0 No. 1551 in 1989.

Although I moved to Northeast Ohio in August 1993, it would more than four years before I ventured to Sugarcreek to see that tourist train in action.

However, my first encounter with the 1551 had occurred two years earlier when I rode behind it on an Orrville Railroad Heritage Society excursion that originated in Beech City and ran to Coschocton. A diesel pulled the return trip.

What would turn out to be the last time that I saw the 1551 in steam would be on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon on Sept. 27, 1997.

I’m not sure how I learned about it, but the Ohio Central had two working steam locomotives in town that day.

The 1551 would be pulling the regularly-scheduled tourist train to Baltic and back. But also in town was the newest edition to the Ohio Central roundhouse, former Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 No. 1293.

OC owner Jerry Jacobson had acquired No. 1293 in 1996 from Steamtown and restored it to operating condition. It debuted in fall 1997 and would eventually take over the duties of pulling the Sugarcreek-Baltic tourist train.

My memory is a little hazy as to why the 1293 was in Sugarcreek on this day, but it probably had something to do with pulling an excursion train.

In the photograph above, the 1293 is idling on the siding as the 1551 prepares to depart for Baltic.

What is crystal clear in my memory was how I was thinking that on this day this was one of the few places in America that featured two operating steam locomotives. This remains one of my favorite Ohio Central steam memories.

Given that the Ohio Central steam program is a thing of the past, that makes those memories all the more special.

Ohio Central Receives Safety Recognition

March 27, 2015

The Ohio Central was among several short line and regional railroads recognized for its safety practices in 2014 by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.

The Coschocton-based regional received a President’s Awards for maintaining the best safety rate in the category of 50,000 to 150,000 man-hours worked.

Other railroads receiving the award and their category included: Union Railroad (500,000 or more man-hours worked), Portland & Western (250,000 to 500,000 man-hours worked),  Fort Worth & Western (150,000 to 250,000 man-hours worked) and Florida Central Railroad (less than 50,000 man-hours worked).

In a news release, ASLRRA said 274 railroad members earned 2014 Jake Awards with Distinction for reaching the goal of achieving a 0.00 Frequency/Severity Index (FSI) for the year.

Forty additional railroads received 2014 Jake Awards for having an injury rate lower than the industry average FSI of 2.68.

Connor’s Ohio Central Book a Trip to the Past

March 23, 2014

Ohio Central stream locomotives No. 1293 and 6325 idle at the Morgan Run shops in June 2002 after bringing in an excursion train from Sugarcreek. Steam excursions were a regular site on the Ohio Central during the 1990s and early 2000s.

Ohio Central stream locomotives No. 1293 and 6325 idle at the Morgan Run shops in June 2002 after bringing in an excursion train from Sugarcreek. Steam excursions were a regular site on the Ohio Central during the 1990s and early 2000s.

Michael J. Connor probably didn’t set out to write a book about the steam locomotives of the Ohio Central Railroad when he began working on Volume 1 of his planned series of books about his former employer. The Ohio Central was and still is a freight carrier that handles coal, steel and other commodities.

But steam-powered excursions are what most Akron Railroad Club members probably remember the most about the more than 20-year ownership of the Ohio Central by Jerry Jacobson, a lifetime ARRC member.

For several years the ARRC had an annual excursion behind steam over OC rails. Most of those trips began and ended in Sugarcreek, Ohio, which was also the base for the Sugarcreek-Baltic steam-powered tourist train.

And if that wasn’t enough, the OC regularly hosted other steam excursions over various other components of its system. Those steam operations get more than their due in Connor’s book. You will see all of Jacobson’s steam locomotives out on the line in page after page.

But the thrust of  book, which was released earlier this year by Morning Sun Books, is how Jacobson took over a number of moribund railroad operations that Norfolk Southern and Conrail didn’t want and turned them into profitable ventures that earned him the moniker of “Doctor of Sick Railroads.”

Without the arrival of the Ohio Central, most, if not all, of these routes might have been abandoned.

Connor joined the OC in August 1988. By then, Jacobson was more than four years into the railroad business, having purchased Ohi-Rail in 1984. Ohi-Rail used tracks that the State of Ohio had purchased from Minerva on south to prevent their abandonment by Conrail.

In 1985 Jacobson began operating another state-owned railroad, this one based in Zanesville and thus was born the Ohio Southern Railroad and the beginning of the Ohio Central System.

Connor’s book provides an overview of how Jacobson cobbled together the OC system and how it proved to be quite successful in providing a level of service that the previous Class 1 owners had little to no interest in offering.

That helped to win back customers who had long since switched their shipping to trucks. But the OC also had to overcome the antics of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which Connor writes had a decidedly anti-rail orientation. The OC was able to circumvent that in a way that might be comical if it wasn’t true.

In the typical Morning Sun “slide show in a book” format, Volume 1 is heavy on photographs. The content is organized by railroad segment. The captions are informative and it helps that Connor was around for much of the Jacobson ownership era of the Ohio Central.

The book also provides some information about how the freight business of the Ohio Central operated during the Jacobson era.

I came away with a sense that there is much more to be told about the Jacobson era of the Ohio Central and that will have to wait for another book in another format.

The Jacobson era at the Ohio Central ended at midnight on Sept. 30, 2008, when he sold the OC to Genesee & Wyoming.

The G&W owns numerous short-line railroads and takes a more corporate approach. Whether that is good for the customers that the Ohio Central spent years wooing and serving remains to be seen and probably depends on your perspective. Connor doesn’t go there in Volume 1.

The steam era on the Ohio Central as we knew it had ended well before Jacobson sold the OC system. Perhaps nothing like it will ever again happen in the lifetimes of those ARRC members who made numerous treks to OC territory to document Jacobson’s fleet of steam locomotives in action.

Volume 1 is a good way to remember those times. Although none of the excursions trains shown in the book are described as ARRC excursions, some of them might have been.

For those like myself who only got in on the tail end of the OC steam era, Volume 1 does a nice job of showing what we missed.

Review by Craig Sanders

Ohio Central Receives Safety Award

March 23, 2014

The Ohio Central Railroad has been recognized as one of the winners of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association 2013 Safety Awards.

The OC, which is owned by Genesee & Wyoming, Inc., receives a President’s Award for most hours of injury-free operation in the category of 50,000 to 150,000 man hours worked.

“2013 was a successful year from a safety standpoint for ASLRRA member railroads,” ASLRRA said in a news release.

Two-hundred ninety-five railroad members earned Jake Awards with Distinction for reaching the ultimate goal of achieving a 0.00 FSI* (Frequency/Severity Index) for the year.

Among those were the Cleveland Commercial Railroad, the Ashtabula, Carson & Jefferson Railroad, R.J. Railroad Corman Cleveland Line, Columbus & Ohio River Railroad, the Flats Industrial Railroad, the Mahoning Valley Railway Company,  Newburgh and South Shore  Railroad, Ohi-Rail Corp., Ohio Central Railroad, Ohio Southern Railroad, Warren & Trumbull Railroad, Youngstown & Austintown Railroad, the Youngstown Belt Railroad, and the Youngstown & Southeastern Railroad.

Twenty-eight additional railroads received Jake Awards for having an injury rate lower than the industry average of 2.42.

Connor Authors Book About Ohio Central

February 14, 2014

Morning Sun books released on Feb. 1 the first volume of a planned line of books focusing on the Ohio Central System.

Ohio Central In Color Volume 1: Southern Lines was written by former OC chief operating officer/chief marketing officer and later vice president Michael J. Connor. The book focuses on the southernmost routes of the OC.

Ohio Central Book CoverLifetime ARRC member Jerry Jacobson was instrumental in developing the modern day Ohio Central, which began in 1988. Jacobson ran the railroad until selling it to Genesee & Wyoming in 2008.

During Jacobson’s ownership of the Ohio Central, he graciously offered steam and diesel-powered excursion trips on the OC, many of them between Sugar Creek and Morgan Run near Coshocton.

Morning Sun is offering the book for sale on its website for $59.95 plus postage (www.morningsunbooks.com)

However, Connor has a number of the books that he will offer for sale to members of the Akron Railroad Club at the Feb. 28. Watch this blog for further information about that.

Connor spoke about the Ohio Central to the ARRC several years ago about the early years of the railroad.

The southern end of the OC opened in 1889 as part of a standard-gauge line from Coshocton to Zanesville. The OC north of Coshocton was, with the exception of the relocation of flood-prone segments near Beach City in the 1930s, originally built to a 36-inch gauge.

Before World War II, the railroad south of Coshocton served several coal mines, all of them since closed.

Following the war, the railroad began to focus on traffic for Armco Steel Corporation’s Zanesville plant, which was linked with another Armco plant in Butler, Pa. The OC developed this traffic in cooperation with four other railroads that made up the Butler-Zanesville service lane.

OC’s efforts led to improved reliability and transit time on the route. The OC also worked to develop through traffic, principally coal, over the Zanesville gateway in conjunction with the Ohio Southern Railroad.

In 2005 the Columbus & Ohio River Rail Road, an OC affiliate, acquired the CSX lines east of Columbus, resulting in all railroads in the Zanesville area becoming part of the Ohio Central System.

Connor

Michael J. Connor

Since September 2011, Connor has served as president of the The Buffalo, Cattaraugus & Jamestown Scenic Railway Company.

Before that he served as principal railroad consultant at Excelsior Transportation Management between 2008 and 2010.

He joined the Ohio Central in August 1988 and served for more than 17 years before leaving in March 2006, when he joined the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville/Western New York & Pennsylvania system as vice president—operation and maintenance.

Before joining the OC, Connor worked at Conrail for seven years, coming on board with its inception in 1976. At Conrail, Connor worked in the Philadelphia headquarters as director of light density lines.

Connor began his railroad career while he attended John Carroll University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in transportation economics in 1967. During his summers while in college, Connor worked for the Buffalo Creek Railroad, the Erie Lackawanna and the New York Central.

Following graduation from John Carroll, Connor served as a lieutenant with the U. S. Army Transportation Corps. He was assigned to the 714th Transportation Battalion (Railway Operating) (Steam and Diesel-Electric) in the Military Railway Service.

After leaving the Army, he worked at Penn Central, serving as trainmaster in Muncie, Ind.; and East St. Louis, Ill.; and as supervisor of locomotive utilization in Indianapolis.

Connor also served as a vice president of the Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad between 1983 and 1988. He is currently the president of the Erie Lackawanna Historical Society.

Excerpted below are a couple of pages from Connor’s Ohio Central book.

Pages courtesy of Michael J. Connor

Ohio_Central_sample_Page_2

Ohio_Central_sample_Page_4

Canal Fulton Trackside Landmark Demolished

June 27, 2013

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Many small towns have one building that stands out as a great photo prop. Until recently when the roof collapsed into Fulton Feed Company and it was demolished,  it was perhaps Canal Fulton’s most interesting railfan landmark.

Located along the RJ Corman tracks, an afternoon running RJC or Ohio Central train could use this as a backdrop. In the top image Fulton Feed Company stands alone and almost begs to be modeled for a model railroad.

The bottom image shows OHCR 3253 heading south on the RJ Corman track through Canal Fulton. Both photos are from Sept. 9, 2004. Now the Fulton Feed Company and the Ohio Central’s afternoon Warwick train are only memories.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

When 13 Was a Lucky Number

June 24, 2013

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Remember When 13 Was A Lucky Number? Here is Ohio Central 13 sitting at the Sugarcreek, Ohio, station boarding site on a beautiful October 1997 day.

She was originally ex-Buffalo Creek & Gauley No. 13 and was used into the early 1960s making her one of the last steamers in regular service in the United States.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Trains to Roll Again on ex-B&O in Warren

February 13, 2013

Ohio Central tains will soon be traveling this former B&O line in Warren after years of inactivity. The line is shown just north of where it used to cross the Erie Railroad in Warren. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

Ohio Central tains will soon be traveling this former B&O line in Warren after years of inactivity. The line is shown just north of where it used to cross the Erie Railroad in Warren. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

A former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad line in Warren will see trains again after a reported 13 years of inactivity. WKBN-TV in Youngstown reported on its website that the Ohio Central plans to begin serving Warren Steel Holdings, located on Mahoning Avenue on the northwest side of Warren.

“Having rail is going to be key for our facility,” said Steven Clancy, vice president of Commercial, Warren Steel Holdings.

Clancy said his company has been renovating the rail lines inside the facility. Shipping by rail is not only important to customers, but part of the company’s growth strategy, he said.

“We are excited to be expanding and spending money in the community and growing, and I think it’s not only going to benefit our company, but the community itself and our customers. We are very excited about that,” Clancy said.

Ohio Central has installed signs at many grade crossings and warned people not to walk on the tracks because they could be fined for trespassing.

The line formerly extended to Fairport Harbor and Painesville, diverging from the Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline at DeForest Junction between Warren and Niles.

The ex-B&O route has been removed north of the Route 5/82 bypass. The right of way is a hike and bike trail in Lake County.

In the late 1950s, this route was served by B&O’s large EM-1 steam locomotives. A feature on the use of those locomotives on this route was published in the Winter 2012 issue of Classic Trains.