Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh & Lake Erie’

Another P&LE Locomotive to View

May 12, 2020

The wayback machine has taken us to Youngstown and we’re on the property of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie on Aug. 25, 1979.

That’s a GP38-2 we’re looking at working in the yard. The unit is a mere couple years old having been built in June 1977.

It would later wind up on the roster of the Grand Trunk Western where it had roster number 5846.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

In the Waning Days of P&LE Commuter Service

April 12, 2020

The former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie route north of Pittsburgh was a once a busy passenger artery.

Baltimore & Ohio passenger trains between Chicago and Pittsburgh used the route as did the the Erie Railroad and New York Central.

Some of those Erie trains operated between Pittsburgh and Cleveland while the Central used the P&LE for its trains to Youngstown and Ashtabula.

The P&LE had its own network of passenger trains including commuter trains that operated between College Hill station in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and downtown Pittsburgh.

By the time P&LE GP7 No. 1501 and its largely unseen commuter train were photographed in Beaver Falls on April 23, 1983, that service was in its twilight years.

The commuter service had diminished to one roundtrip by the late 1960s although between 1979 and 1980 when a second roundtrip was ended on a reverse commute schedule.

The College Hill station was named after nearby Geneva College.

The P&LE commuter trains lasted for two more years after this image was made before being discontinued in July 1985.

There is footnote to the history of No. 1501. During the nation’s bicentennial celebration in 1976 it was painted into a bicentennial livery.

That lasted for a while before it was repainted black and gold as seen here.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

When the P&LE Served Youngstown

April 12, 2020

We’re taking another look today inside the collection of images made by the late Mike Ondecker.

In today’s series we’ve gone back to mid 1968 to take a look at Pittsburgh & Lake Erie diesels in Youngstown.

In the top image is GP7 No. 5727, which was built for the P&LE in April 1953.

It later served the Illinois Central Railroad, where it was rebuilt into a GP8 and given roster number 7965.

In the bottom image we see a pair of SW9 switchers, Nos. 8939 and 8938.

Notice how the last three numbers on the cab are at an angle.

Both units were built in March 1951. No. 8938 would spend all of its career on the P&LE, but the 8939 would move off the property to enjoy a second life on various other short line railroads.

Photographs by Mike Ondecker

A Pair From New Castle in 1968

April 2, 2020

The late Mike Ondecker often traveled with Bob Farkas on railroad photograph expeditions in the 1960s and 1970s.

However, these photographs were made during a trip Mike made on his own to New Castle, Pennsylvania, in 1968.

In the top image, Pittsburgh & Lake Erie No. 5719 has a bent frame and missing handrail.

It would be sent to Penn Central’s Collinwood diesel shop in Cleveland.

Reportedly it was to be repaired and put back in service. Notice also the big dent in the nose of former New York Central No. 1696.

Striegel Supply Company Alco S-2 No. 9386 is bound for the Striegel scrap yard in Baltimore.

This unit was built for the New York Central in October 1945.

Photographs by Mike Ondecker

Under the Lights at North East Museum

June 19, 2017

I had heard about the annual night at the museum event hosted every summer by the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

Every year the museum stays open all night for people to watch trains on the adjacent Cleveland-Buffalo lines of CSX and Norfolk Southern.

It seemed like an interesting event, but I never made it over there for it until this year.

The promotional materials on the museum’s website said there would be a slide show in the former New York Central passenger station and a night photo shoot starting at 10 p.m.

Photographers were asked to make a donation of $20 for the night photo shoot.

Not until Friday did I make plans to go, prompted by the news that Chesapeake & Ohio No. 8272 had reached the museum.

The B30-7 had been built by GE’s Erie locomotive assembly plant in Lawrence Park Township and had been recently repainted into the Chessie System livery by CSX shop forces in Huntington, West Virginia.

I called fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and he agreed to go with me to the museum.

Neither the museum’s website or Facebook page had many details about what the night photo shoot would entail.

I presumed that C&O 8272 would be on display under lights and it was. But the museum also transformed former New York Central U25B No. 2500 into Pittsburgh & Lake Erie No. 2800.

This was done by placing black tape or paper over the NYC markings and applying P&LE markings, including white stripes on the pilot.

I’m told that the P&LE had early versions of the U28B that used a U26B car body.

The night photo shoot was not as elaborate or wide ranging as I thought it might be. It consisted of rented portable lights that illuminated the side of the C&O 8272 and P&LE 2800.

Museum personnel moved the 2800 around a couple times, using a small switcher.

The lighting was bright enough to make hand-held images, albeit with a high ISO setting. However, I made most of my images with a tripod.

The side lighting wasn’t enough to fully illuminate the nose of No. 8272, so Peter and I took turns painting the shadows with light from two flashlights that did an amazing job of adding fill-in light.

I had thought that the lights would be moved periodically to illuminate other pieces in the museum’s collection, but that didn’t happen.

Someone brought in a P&LE truck and at one point it was positioned next to the P&LE 2800.

The slide show featured images of the P&LE and Chessie system, but I ended up seeing only a few images. The interior of the depot was quite warm, so I elected to stay outside and watch CSX trains pass by.

I had been hoping to get some time exposures of CSX operations, but the last train before we left was a westbound at 10 p.m. and that was during the night photo shoot of No. 8272.

We stuck around until 12:20 a.m., but no trains came by. We faced a two-hour drive back to my house and thus left with some unfinished business left behind.

Pitt Tunnel Project Wins Engineering Awards

February 28, 2014

A tunnel project in Pittsburgh that was part of establishing the CSX National Gateway Network has won an engineering award.

The J&L Tunnel modification project the Project of the Year Award from the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania and the Diamond Award for Engineering Excellence from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania.

The awarding organizations cited the project’s safe completion, sustainability, cost-effectiveness and community benefits.
Completed in late 2013, the J&L Tunnel Project increased the vertical clearance of a 130-year-old tunnel running through Pittsburgh’s “SouthSide Works,” a mixed-use residential and commercial development on the site of former steel mill.

CSX worked with public officials, local businesses and residents to minimize noise and disruption during construction. CSX later restored trees and plantings, and made landscaping improvements to the overlying Tunnel Park.

The J&L Tunnel was constructed in the 1880s as part of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie line to enable trains to pass beneath the former J&L Steel Co.’s Pittsburgh Works facility.

CSX recently announced a $50 million proposal to redevelop the former P&LE yard in McKees Rocks and Stowe Township into a new intermodal rail facility.

Remembering the LE&P

February 22, 2013
Most of the former right of way of the Lake Erie & Pittsburgh is now a hiking and biking trail. The trail is shown crossing over Barlow Road.

Most of the former right of way of the Lake Erie & Pittsburgh is now a hiking and biking trail. The trail is shown crossing over Barlow Road.

The right of way of the Lake Erie & Pittsburgh railroad is today mainly a hiking and biking trail, but it used to be an important link in the area’s transportation system.

The LE&P was a paper railroad. It existed legally but had no equipment.  Everything was supplied by the New York Central, which owned it.

Built around 1910, the LE&P ran from Marcy in Cleveland to a connection with the Pennsylvania Railroad at Brady Lake. From there trains ran on trackage rights either to Alliance and Minerva, or to Ravenna where they got on the Baltimore & Ohio to go to Niles Junction.

From there trains went back to the PRR until reaching the Lake Erie & Eastern (another paper railroad) at Girard. The Lake Erie & Eastern took the trains across Youngstown into the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie yards at Struthers, Ohio.

This was quite a confusing arrangement but it made for a direct Cleveland-Youngstown route for both the NYC and PRR.

The B&O between Ravenna and Niles Junction had trains of the NYC and Pennsylvania railroads as well as its own. That must have been a sight. Also, the LE&P had PRR trains using it as well.

The story doesn’t end there, however. The LE&P originally planned to build from Cleveland to Lorain on a routing that would take it through Berea just south of the current Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

This was never completed but it was graded and bridge piers were constructed over the east and west branches of the Rocky River. These piers still stand.

The LE&P was busy until the Penn Central merger. It was quickly abandoned and torn up with only a two-mile siding from Brady Lake to serve Hugo Sand near Twin Lakes and the Akron water treatment plant. The grade of the route was level, but it hugged the east side of the Cuyahoga Valley. Many tall steel bridges were required to cross Marcy, Tinkers Creek and Brandywine Creek

These bridges required heavy maintenance that Penn Central could not afford.

The ex-PRR mainline paralleled the LE&P just a few miles east and had signaled double track as opposed to the single-track dark territory of the LE&P.

Throw in the automotive plants located on the Pennsy and it was a no brainer for Penn Central’s management team to favor that route over the LE&P.

I was able to photograph a Conrail local on the ex-LE&P in 1989 switching the remaining track at Brady Lake. NS served this branch for while, but I have not seen any trains on it in about four years now.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

There were plenty of trees along the last segment of the ex-LE&P that was used by Conrail and later Norfolk Southern.

There were plenty of trees along the last segment of the ex-LE&P that was used by Conrail and later Norfolk Southern.

A pair of Conrail GP38-2s was typical power for a local freight.

A pair of Conrail GP38-2s was typical power for a local freight.

Bringing up the rear is bay window caboose 21313, N21 class. Interstingly, the N21 class 21202-21313 built by Conrail in 1978 was the last of that order. These were the only cabooses builtfor Conrail.

Bringing up the rear is bay window caboose 21313, N21 class. Interstingly, the N21 class 21202-21313 built by Conrail in 1978 was the last of that order. These were the only cabooses that were built for Conrail.

The LE&P diverged from the ex-PRR at Brady Lake tower. The westbound track rose in elevation until crossing over the Pennsy on this bridge located just west of Lake Rockwell Road.

The LE&P diverged from the ex-PRR at Brady Lake tower. The westbound track rose in elevation until crossing over the Pennsy on this bridge located just west of Lake Rockwell Road. The eastbound track is visible at the far left.

The former eastbound main of the LE&P is still extant, joining the NS main nearly beneath the Lake Rockwell Road overpass. A westbound NS manifest freight passes the junction.

A map of the former New York Central Cleveland Division shows the former LE&P and the trackage rights arrangement that the NYC had to reach Youngstown from Cleveland.

A map of the former New York Central Cleveland Division shows the former LE&P and the trackage rights arrangement that the NYC had to reach Youngstown from Cleveland.

Brady Lake tower still stands inside the Tower's Woods Park in Portage County.

Brady Lake tower still stands inside the Tower’s Woods Park in Portage County.

The former LE&P right of way, now a trail, in a view looking west from Ohio Route 91.