Posts Tagged ‘Van Swerigen brothers’

An Original Van Sweringens’ ‘Bible’

April 21, 2017

Once upon a time two brothers named Van Sweringen controlled the Erie, Chesapeake & Ohio, Nickel Plate Road and Pere Marquette.

They wanted to standardize things on their railroads so they set up a committee to come up with specific standards on everything from mixing concrete to cloth rubber lined fire hoses. You name it, they standardized it.

My girlfriend was in a junk shop near her home in Suffern, New York, and found this book, which is the “bible” of the Van Sweringens’ standards.

There can’t be too many of these 80-year-old books around. There probably weren’t many too many to begin with.

As you can see from the bottom right hand corner of the cover, this copy was used by the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad, which during this time period was controlled by the Erie.

I think it is neat that each standard is signed off by officials of all the railroads involved. I think you have to agree it is a neat gift for a railroad historian.

Article and photographs by Jack Norris

Erie Heritage With the Erie H Unit in Cleveland

April 30, 2016



The Erie Railroad heritage unit has been assigned to Norfolk Southern intermodal trains 22K and 23K for about a month now. Sometimes it leads, sometimes not, but until today (April 30), I had not been able to catch it.
One challenge in chasing H units is to somehow work in the actual railroad the heritage engine represents.

Catching the New York Central on the NYC or the Pennsylvania on the Pennsy is like a double bonus. Getting the Erie on the Erie is difficult to do in northeast Ohio.

But the 22K, which the Erie lea today, traverses the former Nickel Plate Road east of Cleveland and it passes former although now abandoned tracks that the Erie used.

The Cleveland Union Terminal hosted passenger trains from the NYC, Baltimore & Ohio, NKP and Erie.

This is appropriate as the Erie heritage is based on the two-tone green colors of Erie passenger engines and trains.

Another Erie connection is the Terminal Tower complex seen in the background. Passenger trains ended their run here but Erie also had its headquarters located in this complex.

The Erie at one time was a Van Sweringen road. The Van Sweringen brothers owned a consortium of railroads including the Nickel Plate, Erie, Chesapeake & Ohio and Pere Marquette.

They were also responsible for building the massive Terminal Tower complex, a Cleveland landmark.

Their intent was to merge these holdings into a giant rail system. Alas, these plans fell through and while Pere Marquette did merge with the C&O, the Nickel Plate and Erie went their separate ways.

I wonder how today’s rail network would look had this merger happened. It would likely have been a dominant player in the rail scene.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

CSX Seeking to Absorb the BR&P

November 24, 2013

If you are a descendent of the man who died in 1928 owning the sole share of stock that CSX needs to have complete ownership of the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad, then CSX would like to speak with you.

But thus far those descendents have not been found so the railroad is seeking Surface Transportation Board approval to merge with the BR&P

The BR&P was a part of the Baltimore & Ohio, which merged with the Chesapeake & Ohio in the early 1960s, which became the Chessie System in the 1970s and then merged with the Seaboard System to form CSX Transportation.

CSX owns 99.9 percent of the issued and outstanding common stock and 100 percent of the issued and outstanding preferred stock of the BR&P.

The railroad is using the Pennsylvania Abandoned and Unclaimed Property Act to overcome it lack of the last remaining share.

CSX said in its filing that  “the transaction will reduce corporate overhead and duplication by eliminating one corporation while retaining the same assets to serve customers. In addition, CSX will obtain certain savings as a result of the transaction.”

O.P. and M.J. Van Sweringen of Cleveland acquired control of the BR&P in 1928, but sold it a year later.

In the late 1980s, CSX spun off much of the former BR&P to Genesee & Wyoming, which operates its as the Buffalo & Pittsburgh and Rochester & Southern.

CSX said the transaction would not affect operations of those G&W railroads.

Ex-C&O Signal Bridge Finds New Home in Michigan

October 29, 2013

A Chesapeake & Ohio Railway signal bridge that once stood in Fostoria, Ohio, will be restored and displayed at a park in Port Huron, Mich. The bridge will be part of a waterfront development project.

The signal bridge was removed by CSX three years ago as the railroad upgraded its signal system with new fiber optic and digital technology.

The signal bridge will be used as an archway/centerpiece of the Community a Foundation of St. Clair County’s Bluewater Land Fund Project, which is redeveloping nearly 90 acres of the former Pere Marquette/C&O/CSX carferry yard in Port Huron.

“With the removal of many of these signals over the last 10 years, they have become quite rare,” said T.J. Gaffney, whose firm Streamline Historic Services coordinated the project. “Streamline Historic Services was happy to partner with Community Foundation of St. Clair County’s Bluewater Land Fund and Jim Lesiak of Jim’s R&R Rescue Services to find, preserve and reuse this classic icon of American railroading for future generations.”

In addition to the railroad heritage area consisting of the signal and former Carferry Apron, the Riverwalk also will also include homage areas to the Native American and nautical past of the site, as well as public access fishing areas and the reestablishment of fish spawning and native species habitats.

The venerable C&O style signals date to the steam era and were once commonplace on railroads controlled by the Van Sweregin brothers of Cleveland.

The Advisory Mechanical Committee for those railroads established standard designs for everything from signals to steam locomotives, and as such nearly identical signals could be found on the Erie, Nickel Plate Road, and Pere Marquette railroads.