Category Archives: Conrail

All Conrail discussions, topics, & articles.  We miss old blue!

Berea, Ohio Interlocking- Conrail, Penn Central, New York Central- now Norfolk Southern & CSX

Berea, Ohio Interlocking, or BE Tower- has always been a busy spot for railroad traffic.  Originally part of the Lake Shore Michigan Southern (LS&MS), Big Four, and Cleveland Union Terminal (CUT), then to New York Central (NYC), and Penn Central (PC- 1968), Conrail (CR- 1976), then to Norfolk Southern (NS) and CSX (1998-99).

To this day BE Tower is still a busy place.  The tower is no longer used today, but still stands.  The original CUT/NYC Depot still stands as well, across the Short Line track along Railroad St.  This place is a great spot for railfanning.

The lines running through BE are now NS’s Dearborn Division-Chicago Line (west of Cleveland, OH- ex-LS&MS/NYC Water Level/PC Buffalo-Chicago Line-Lake/Toledo Div./Conrail Dearborn Div.-Chicago Line), and CSX’s Chicago Line (east of Cleveland, OH), Short Line (NYC/PC/CUT Branch- Cleveland Short Line Branch/Conrail Short Line) and Indianapolis Line (PC Columbus-St. Louis Line, Columbus Div./CR Indianapolis Div. and Line).  The W&LE regional railroad also runs a few trains through here.   All of the lines actually run at a SW to NE direction at BE Tower, then west and east, and north and south.

The Chicago Line (NS side) runs west to Toledo, OH and Chicago, IL, and the east side (CSX) runs to Buffalo, and Albany, NY.  The Short Line starts at BE Tower, and runs to Short, Parma, orig. to the Flats, White, Collinwood Yard, then to Alliance, and Pittsburgh, PA.  The Indianapolis Line runs south to Galion, OH where it branches off to Columbus, OH, and splits west to Marion, OH, Indianapolis, IN,  and St. Louis, MO.

Below is a map of BE Interlocking duinrg Conrail days:

Photo of Berea, OH Interlocking Map by 1-West Productions™/PJ

(map by 1-West Productions™/P. Jordan)

One can see many freight types of stack, TOFC, auto rack, coal, locals, and more.  Also Amtrak runs trains 29, 30, 48, 49.  Most if not all of the original NYC/PC/CR signals have been taken down and updated to modern signals by NS & CSX.  CSX also double-tracked the ex-CR Short Line after the Conrail split between NS in 1998-99.  Over 100 trains a day pass through BE, with NS having the most traffic. Railroad scanner frequencies in use today are:  NS- 161.070, 160.980, 160.350 MHz, and CSX-160.800, 160.485, 160.860 MHz.

Our new video BEREA, OHIO INTERLOCKING WITH CONRAIL & AMTRAK, 1996™shows BE during Conrail in 1996.  At that time BE tower was still in use, and many freights, including Amtrak, were filmed on all the lines at this location.  This video, originally filmed by Keith Lehman, was orignally our Keith’s Trains Series™ #50 title, which was remastered and updated to our new title. 

 

© 2018 1-West Productions™/PJ

 

 

Railroads We Grew Up With

Most of us like the railroads that we grew up with, and in that same area. Or could be we had a relative or friend who worked for that certain railroad. Maybe on a trip it stuck in our good memory bank in some way, and brings us back to those happy times. Whatever the reason, that railroad name stuck with us through the years.

The N&W / NS and Penn Central / Conrail stuck with me from those days. Seeing those “half-moon” and “zigzag” N&W logos on faded blue and black locomotives respectfully, stuck with me. Also the previous roads that made up the N&W. GP7s, 9s, 30s, 35s, 38s; SD40s, 45s, 35s, etc., especially the high-nosed units made an impact.

Let’s not forget the freight equipment with those logos as well. Even the MofW green equipment, the smell of diesel, running locomotives, generators, etc.

When it came to the PC & CR, seeing those blue engines run at higher speeds on different lines, and seeing they meant business made an impact. Also especially seeing black PC units still wearing the PC logos stuck with me. That PC logo was the neatest thing- I never saw such a design in my life. In the very early 80s, I saw a PC GP7 or 9 switching open PC auto racks in Orville, OH. The sound of the engine, the smoke, the image. Also seeing a few green PC cabooses, with that same logo was just cool. Seeing old PC ROWs, abandoned facilities, track, equipment, deadlines, & more added to the engraving of the N&W and PC likeness. The visual and historical preservation aspects is what motivates me.

When it came to modeling, I could build my dream railroad with those road names. Plus photographing, filming, and restoring equipment of the same road names built even stronger memories and appreciation.

What road names stuck with you, how, and why? We all have reasons for what we like.  Keep those memories alive.

 

 

Pete

PRR/PC/CR Logan Side-Bradford Line- Part of The PRR Panhandle Route

This article will discuss a section of the PRR/PC/CR Logan Side-Bradford Line, Panhandle Line, that ran from Bradford, OH to Logansport, IN, called the Logan Side.  The PRR railroaders gave the section that ran from Bradford & Logansport the “Logan Side” name.  The Panhandle Line ran from Pittsburgh, PA to Chicago, IL and St. Louis, MO, splitting at Bradford, with Bradford being a major yard, halfway, and crew change point of the line.

The line was first part of the Columbus, Chicago, & Indiana Central- leased by PRR subsidiary Pittsburgh, Cincinnati & St. Louis (formed in 1868), that was formed extend the PRR’s westward expansion.

In Ohio, the Panhandle also ran through towns such as Dennison, Columbus, etc.  This line gave the PRR a westward expansion in the States.  The name “Panhandle” came from a section of WV where the line passed through years earlier, with the Panhandle Ry., and the name stuck years later.

The line was double track, until the 1950s, when PRR downgraded it to a single line, at least between Union City & Logansport, IN.  PRR would use J1 steam engines, and later GP7s and 9s to pull 100-car coal hoppers from the N&W via this line from Columbus, OH.  They hauled coal to power plants in Fort Wayne, IN and Chicago, IL.  PRR also hauled coal from the L&N Railway.  Marion, IN had a GM plant that depended on this line for service as well.

The Logan Side was downgraded by PRR after the yards at Bradford, OH were not being used as much anymore, and because the Richmond, IN yard was phased out.  Also when the N&W merged with the NKP & WAB in 1964, this gave the N&W other routes to use for their coal transport to Chicago (such as the ex-NKP Chicago Line).  Penn Central used the line however for some traffic, with Bradford, OH becoming an important part of the PC.  Most of the traffic however was eventually run on the Panhandle from Columbus, OH to Indianapolis, IN when PC reconfigured the crossover-connection with the ex-NYC Bee Line at Logansposrt, IN, in the early 1970s.

When CR came into existence, they increased traffic again between Columbus & Indianapolis through Bradford, OH, via the crossover-connection at Union City.  Most of the downgrading came with CR later in the early 1980s. CR diverted a lot of the traffic onto other more feasible lines, such as the ex-NYC/PC Bee Line, as they were doing with a lot of lines throughout the CR system.  The part of the Panhandle through Bradford to Union City was torn up by CR in 1985.

At Ridgeville, IN the Logan Side line crossed the ex-GR&I/PRR/PC/CR, that went north and south.  The PRR used a local and a few freights on the GR&I line.  Ridgeville was used as a local crew change point, where they also turned the trains, and interchanged cars.  The GR&I line was mostly removed in the late 1970s by CR.  There were small yards north of Ridgeville on the GR&I line, and west at Ridgeville on the Logan Side-Panhandle Line.

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(Logan Side-Panhandle Line, Ridgeville, IN, facing west, after CR removal.)

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(CR crews picking up tie plates at Deerfield, IN)

At Logansport, the Logan Side-Panhandle Line joined with the Pittsburgh Division Line that ran between Chicago and Pittsburgh, PA (through Ohio towns of Van Wert, Dunkirk, Bucyrus, Crestline, etc.).

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(Both photos above:  CR taking up the rail in Union City, IN)

At Union City, IN, the Panhandle originally crossed the ex-NYC/PC Indianapolis Bee Line.  After the crossovers were removed at Union City, the Logan Side-Panhandle line connected onto the Bee Line, and went west towards Redkey, IN.

In 1994, Conrail removed the rail, starting at Redkey, IN, heading east towards Union City.  Rail was left in about 2 miles east of Redkey, in order to be able to continue to service a few customers who still needed rail service.  There was a connecting track with the NS, so NS could pick up grain cars for Anderson’s.  Also in 1994, a small section was left in at Union City, connecting to the Bee Line, to be used as a short siding for a local industry.

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(Both photos above:  The last train out of Union City on the ex-PRR/PC Logan Side-Panhandle Line- CR 601 moving east to Crestline, OH, via the ex-NYC Bee Line)

At one point the CR crew accidentally left too early east towards Crestline, OH on the ex-NYC Bee Line,  before the project was finished, and had to back-track to finish removing and picking up the rest of the rail.

Eventually, the rail was removed east of Redkey, IN, along with the ex-NKP/N&W diamond there, and a switch was put in by NS, south of Redkey, so they could go northwest and pick up the cars for Anderson’s.  The line is still in from Redkey to Dunkirk, removed from Dunkirk to Hartford City, and still in from there to Marion, IN, used by NS.  The line today is removed from Columbus, OH to Redkey, IN, except for a few short sections near Greenville, OH.  (See sample video below for CR’s Redkey interchange with NS’s Frankfort Dist., taken from our CONRAIL REMEMBERED™, VOL. 3 Featured Series DVD Video.)

At one time an important line for the PRR & PC, it almost stayed an important line for Conrail, until they decided against it later.  CR had even rebuilt part of the line, only to downgrade shortly after.  As most railroads have done in the past, some lines were favored over others, in order to help cut costs.  What is interested is today in 2015, railroads are re-opening and upgrading lines they at one time saw as unimportant.  This is due to increased rail traffic causing congestion on lines, especially due to the transporting of oil.  This makes the railroads and historians both happier.

The removal of this part of the Logan Side-Panhandle PRR/PC/CR Line is covered in Keith’s Trains Series™ (from the camera of Keith Lehman, from 1-West Productions™), Title #33 CONRAIL RAIL REMOVAL BRADFORD, OH –REDKEY, IN 1994.               

As railroads improve their plant, they make changes in order to help keep things profitable and to save costs. Even though changes are made today, history is kept preserved in films and photographs for tomorrow. Also a lot of abandoned railroad ROWs are being made into bike trails, which can also help preserve its history. But sometimes railroads change history by bringing back to life a downgraded or abandoned line or ROW. Presently NS and CSX are working to bring back to life the ex-PRR/PC/CR Pittsburgh to Chicago line, in order for NS to be able to relieve traffic congestion on the ex-NYC/PC/CR Water Level route.  Also there is talk that NS will be purchasing and re-using the ex-NKP/N&W line to Lima because of congestion problems on other NS lines.

Sample of our CONRAIL REMEMBERED™ VOL. 3 Video available for purchase, that shows CR action at Redkey (line now removed):


Like more Penn Central/CR Routes information?  Try this Penn Central Website.

[All photos are screenshots taken from the Keith’s Trains Series™, by 1-West Productions™ (from the camera of Keith Lehman).   Sources used for this article/blog information are:  K. Lehman;  P. Jordan;  A Sampling Of Penn Central, Jerry Taylor, Indiana University Press, 1973, 2000 ]

Article & Photos © Copyright 2015, 2018 1-West Productions™/PJ, Duplication Prohibited.

CONRAIL- April 1, 1976

This month, CONRAIL- April 1, 1976, was formed by the US government, to help save the Midwest & Eastern US railroads’ financial problems. For years the roads involved pleaded to the government to help out, but refused, or did little to help matters.

Penn Central for example, went bankrupt in 1970, due to many reasons (computer problems, government rate regulations, bad weather, poor management, poor financial decisions, “red team vs. green team” mentality, the New Haven railroad’s financial problems and the forcing of the NH to be merged into the PC by the ICC, etc.). The PC asked the government for a bail-out, and even made a movie about their problems, to prove to the government. However they refused to help.

The PC’s pleading didn’t go totally un-noticed though. The Nixon administration looked into the problems of the PC, and many other railroads in similar situations, and saw that if nothing was done, it could very well cripple the US economy, due to the railroads being a very important part of economic health in the country.

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Conrail was formed under the Regional Rail Reorganization Act of 1973, to help bail out these railroads in trouble, by combining them into a merger, and being run by the US government. Even though CR was incorporated in PA, October of 1974, it went into effect on April 1, 1976. The railroads combined to form CR was: Penn Central, Lehigh Valley, Reading, Jersey Central, Erie-Lackawanna, and Lehigh and Hudson. Even though these railroads were all included in CR, it was much like the Penn Central, only under a different name and paint scheme. This is because the PC part of CR has the most miles of track, equipment, and employees, and most of the operations were run like PC.

CR poured millions into the railroad plant, by repairing track and facilities, purchasing new equipment to replace the old, combining terminals, closing unnecessary routes, etc. By the 1980s, CR was finally making a profit. Stanley Crane, who came from the SOU Railway, and became CEO if CR, helped bring CR out of its financial slump.  He used his political connections, high energy, his belief in CR, and his business ideas to help make CR become an important, strong, and independant railroad.  By 1987 it was privatized. In 1999, CR was split between Norfolk Southern and CSX.

So this month we remember Conrail and its memories. Today we still see CR on the tracks in freight cars and other things.   One day, it will vanish, just like the PC is now more difficult to see these days.  Thankfully, railfans have helped preserve CR during its years of operation.  Many DVD examples HERE, are available that shows a lot of CR in action.  Also thankfully, in 2012, NS painted 8098, a GE ES44AC, into the standard Conrail scheme, as part of their heritage group of locomotives.  There is now the CRHS that helps keep CR history preserved as well.  Keep CR alive, and take those pictures!

 

 

 

© Copyright 2015 1-West Productions­™/PJ