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PENN CENTRAL NORWALK BRANCH

PENN CENTRAL NORWALK BRANCH (CONRAIL/PENN CENTRAL (PC)/NEW YORK CENTRAL (NYC)/LAKE SHORE & MICHIGAN SOUTHERN (LS&MS) (Millbury-Elyria, OH)

In this article, we are covering the ex-New York Central/Penn Central (& Conrail) Norwalk Branch, part of PC’s Columbus Division, that ran from Millbury, through Genoa, Fremont, Clyde, Bellevue, Monroeville, Norwalk, Collins, Oberlin, to Elyria, OH.

The line connected to the NYC/PC Toledo Division (ex-LS&MS/Water Level Route) at Millbury and Elyria, OH, and ran east/west, about 25 miles south of the Lake Erie shoreline.  Today a lot of the original ROW was preserved and made into a public trail.  The trail currently (as of 2022) extends from Genoa to Collins.  Hopefully the rest of the original ROW gets preserved to Elyria and Millbury.  The trail follows most of the ROW through Fremont, and Clyde (the trail jogs a bit due to Whirlpool).

At Clyde, between Amanda/Spring and Vine Streets was a small yard that consisted of about 3 or so tracks.  It was still in tack in the early 1980s, then torn out about mid to late ’80s or so.  There also were some siding tracks (possibly continuation of the tracks from amanda/Spring Street), downtown Clyde near Maple, Main, and Church Streets, that served factories near that area and the depot west of Main Street.  Just west of Maple Street there was a freight house and connection track that curved a bit NE, and connected the Norwalk Branch to the ex-NYC/PC Sandusky Branch (that ran north/south), for interchanging cars.  A NYC/PC local crew and power (usually a GP9 or 7) came out of Toledo- Airline Yard, to service businesses along the Norwalk Branch, especially in Fremont, Clyde, and Bellevue.  There was a signal near the crossing of the Sanduky Branch, near Maple Street.  One of the signals (most likely from the sandusky Branch side just east of Maple Street at that crossing was restored and placed east of Main Street on the trail (it now looks much shorter in height, and the original had 2 red lights- no green!).

In Bellevue, the trail temporarily branches off and follows Rt. 20, due to NS still owning the ROW just east of CR 177 (west of Bellevue), on east into Bellevue.  Just west of Kilbourne St. in Bellevue, NS has a siding track on the ex-ROW, and the MR&NKP Museum has tracks that was part of the Purina-Sunrise Mill from there to SW St.  Between Kilbourne and SW St. was and still is the original team/freight tracks for NYC/PC Bellevue Yard, near the Depot and Freight House.  The small yard consisted of 3 tracks that also crossed York St. (now closed by the museum).  It also originally had a short spur track that curved south and ended just south of the original concrete Purina Checkered silos (spur was removed by the museum a few years ago, and a new building added just south of the yard in the middle of the original alley road).  The Freight House still stands, with some modifications through the years, and the Depot was torn down by NYC in the 1960s or so.  There was a signal near the brick apron walkway on the south side of the yard-in front of the depot.  Most of this line was dark territory with no signals, except for crossovers.

From SW St. to Monroe St. there is no trail on the ROW, but from Monroe St. east past Bauer Raod, east of Bellevue, NS/W&LE have tracks on the orginal ROW.  At that point near Bauer/Prairie Road, the trail starts again along the tracks, and eventually back onto the original ROW, going east into Monroeville and on.   The Sandusky County Park District have a lot of credit getting a lot of the trail through Sandusky County, with a lot of help from R. Jordan.

The Norwalk branch line was originally built by the LS&MS, because the construction halted of their orignal first line near the Lake Erie shoreline.  Later they continued the lakeshore line, and eventually the NYC downgraded the Norwalk Branch, moving most of the east/west traffic to the  more north line.  As years went by, the NYC and PC neglected most maintanence on the line, so speed limits were eventually made down to 25-20 MPH in some areas, to prevent derailments.

The NYC took over the LS&MS, and NYC named it the Norwalk Branch, Columbus Division, and later the PC (came about with the merging of the NYC, PRR, and NH in 1968) used the same names of the line.  When Conrail came into existence in 1976, the line was abandonded.  There are stories where PC took a lot of the joint bars off the line prematurely, to get it ready to be taken up.  The PC then  had to run a few trains during these track conditions- they either put the bars back in or ran the trains without them.

The NORWALK BRANCH is described in more detail as follows by Mile Pole (MP)/Control Point (CP):

Lake Region, Toledo Division, Norwalk Branch
(from 4/28/1968 TT No. 1 Penn Central)

Elyria Jct. to Millbury Jct.:
MP (from Buffalo, PA, WB from Elyria to Millbury, OH)
207.9 Elyria Jct. (Interlocking)
Stop sign at B&O Wye
Elyria to Oberlin Yard Limit between point of switch 600 ft E of MP 208 & 1034 ft W of MP 217
215.9 Oberlin
220.5 Kipton
225.8 Wakeman
230.5 Collins
237.1 Norwalk (Yard E & W siding tracks 40 car lengths
Norwalk Yard Limit 900 ft W of MP 236 & 1900 ft W of MP 239
241.6 Monroeville (Interlocking; N&W & B&O Crossing)
249.0 Bellevue (Interlocking; N&W Crossing)
249.1 Bellevue (Yard, E & W siding tracks 46 car lengths)
Bellevue Yard Limit between 2175 ft E of MP 249 & 2250 ft E of MP 252
256.5 Clyde (PC Sandusky Br. Crossing, Yard, E & W siding tracks 55 car lengths)
Target Signal (Vertical-Proceed) at Clyde- operated by trainmen
Clyde Yard Limit between 2600 ft E of MP 257 & 1640 ft W of MP 258
264.9 Fremont (N&W Crossing, Yard, E & W siding tracks 52 car lengths, Train Register at Scale Box)
Target Signal (Vertical-Proceed) at Fremont, operated by trainmen
Fremont Yard Limit between 1930 ft W of MP 265 & 400 ft E of MP 268
272.0 Lindsey
277.2 Elmore (Yard, E & W siding tracks 36 car lengths)
282.0 Genoa (Yard, E & W siding tracks 48 car lengths)
Yard Limit Genoa to Millbury Jct. between 171 ft W of MP 281 Norwalk Br. & point of switch in Tol. Div. Main 1146 ft E of MP 281
286.8 Millbury Jct. (Interlocking; Yard, E & W siding tracks 26 car lengths)

2nd Class Freight Trains:
#645 WB M, W, F, leave Elyria Jct. 9:30 AM, leave Norwalk 11:30 AM, arrive Bellevue 1:30 PM
#649 WB T, Th, Sa, leave Bellevue 7:30 AM, arrive Fremont 8:01 AM
#647 WB daily-no Sun, leave Fremont 1:30 PM, arrive Millbury Jct. 3 PM
#646 EB T, Th, Sa, leave Fremont 8:30 AM, leave Bellevue 9:30 AM, leave Norwalk 11:30 AM, arrive Elyria Jct. 1:30 PM
#648 EB daily-no Sun leave Millbury Jct. 9:50 AM, arrive Fremont 12:30 PM
Extra Trains: no train orders needed between Elyria & Oberlin, Fremont & Clyde, Genoa & Millbury Jct.
All Trains: cleared on single track, no Clearance Form A needed at Elyria Jct.- for Norwalk Br. trains, at Bellevue-WB 2nd class trains, Fremont- 2nd class trains, Millbury Jct.- Norwalk Br. trains. All trains must stop at all non-interlocked RR crossings.

Max. speed allowed: 30 MPH on full Norwalk Br. all trains- also 10 MPH max at Whittlesey, Foster, Milan ave- Norwalk; Monroe St. W of station 10 MPH & between home signals 20 MPH-Monroeville; between home singnals 20 MPH & E yard limit board 15 MPH-Bellevue; Main St. Rt. 101 10 MPH- Clyde; Groghan & Garrison St., Birchard ave. 10 MPH- Fremont.

315,000 pounds max. load limit capy. between elyria Jct. & Millbury Jct.

Dispatcher in charge of Norwalk Branch- Toledo
Radio at Toledo/Toledo Div., in cabin cars and locomotives, channel 2- ex-NYC channel, radios have 2 channels (other channel- 1 for ex-PRR lines)

Siding Information: (per PC 4/69 TT)

Trains taking sidings would take first switch except at:

Norwalk– WB, second switch on north side, east of station;  EB, crossover west of station.
Bellevue– WB, crossover;  EB second switch
Clyde– EB crossover west of station
Fremont– EB, crossover

Per a PC 4/28/68 timetable, they labeled the line from Elyria Jct. to Millbury Jct., OH as WB.  Most of the line was “dark territory”- a term used by railroads to mean the line had no working lighted signals in most areas of the line, except before and at railroad line crossings.  Passenger trains were removed from the line, the line was downgraded by NYC and PC, and most freights were rerouted to other NYC/PC lines- such as NYC’s/PC’s NE, Lake, and Toledo Divisions of their Buffalo, NY to Chicago, IL Main Line, including their Western Region.  All signals were removed decades ago, along with the rails, ties, and telephone poles.

Starting at Elyria, OH, the line began there, connected to NYC’s/PC’s Water Level-Lake/Toledo Division, and continued WB to Millbury Jct., where it connected back to the NYC’s/PC’s same Water Level route.

Photos of the original ROW recently:

At Clyde:

(Vine St., facing EB, a few of the NYC/PC Clyde Yard tracks went through here, with the Main to the far right, and the interchange track to the far left, that went to NYC’s/PC’ Sandusky Branch also in Clyde, next to ex-Clyde frieght house.  Freight house is the brick building to the far left.   The crossover of the 2 branches was behind this later-added gazebo, near Maple St.:)

Photo of PC Norwalk Branch Clyde, OH ©Copyright 2020 1-West Productions™/PJ WB--

 

(Maple St., facing north, but Norwalk Branch went W/E- left to right- this is where both the NYC/PC Sandusky and Norwalk Branches crossed.  NYC/PC Sandusky Branch pretty much followed where or to the left of the crosswalk stripes.  The original tall wood plank- with 2 lights-type semaphore signal was also at this location where the small triangle of dirt is- the signal was moved to the far right of Main St. near the police/fire house. The original depot that served both lines was also in this location to the right.  The brick walk and station platform roof there today at the far right not in the photo, was put in the 1990s or so, and is not original.  2020:)

Photo of PC Norwalk Branch Clyde, OH ©Copyright 2020 1-West Productions™/PJ EB---

 

(Ex-NYC/PC Clyde Freight House, now Moose, facing NW, south side of building, in foreground is where the Norwalk Branch and interchange track to the Sandusky Branch use to be.  Before this parking lot was there, you could still see the lower graded wide area where the Norwalk Branch Clyde Yard tracks use to be.  2020:)

Photo of PC Norwalk Branch Clyde, OH ©Copyright 2020 1-West Productions™/PJ Freight House

 

(Woodland Ave. facing EB, now trail, 2020:)

Photo of PC Norwalk Branch Clyde, OH ©Copyright 2020 1-West Productions™/PJ

 

(Spring St. facing WB, 2020:)

Photo of PC Norwalk Branch Clyde, OH ©Copyright 2020 1-West Productions™/PJ WB

 

(East end of NYC/PC Clyde Yard facing WB- had about 3 or so tracks, plus the main was on the far left,  George St., 2020:)

Photo of PC Norwalk Branch Clyde, OH ©Copyright 2020 1-West Productions™/PJ WB-

 

(West end of NYC/PC of same Clyde Yard, facing EB, near Amanda St., 2020:)

 

Photo of PC Norwalk Branch Clyde, OH ©Copyright 2020 1-West Productions™/PJ EB-

 

At Bellevue:

(CR 302, west of Bellevue, OH, or Klines technically, facing WB.  Norwalk Branch ROW was where the NS’s stone drive is.  To the right is the ex-W&LE 1st Dist./NKP Toledo Div./N&W Toledo Dist./now NS Toledo Dist., 2021.:)

Photo of PC Norwalk Branch Bellevue, OH ©Copyright 2020 1-West Productions™/PJ

 

(Klines- west of Bellevue, CR 302, facing EB, ROW was where NS’s stone drive is:)

Photo of PC Norwalk Branch Bellevue, OH ©Copyright 2020 1-West Productions™/PJ EB

 

(York St.- behind us- Bellevue, facing EB.  SW St. is in the background.  Main track in to the right, then both Bellevue Yard tracks to the left- the far left track was extended by the museum in the 1980s.  These tracks were rebuilt a few years ago with new ties, plates, and possibly newer rail.  Some of the rail and plates may be original.  The ballast in this picture is not original and was added during the rebuild.  The majority of the original roadbed underneath the rails that was left was old coal slag and dark dirt, between the rail sets and ties, with the dirt being level with the ties and below grade compared to the brick apron to the left.  The older slag/dirt roadbed was that way since the last time NYC rebuilt the roadbed in the 1940s or 1950s.  Later in the 1990s the museum added some limestone ballast in between the rails overtop of the ties.  The brick apron is original, and where the garden dirt mound is where the original NYC Bellevue Depot stood, which was torn down by NYC in the 1960s.   Also an orginal semaphore signal use to be in front of the depot.  The NYC and PC locals always rested here with a caboose and locomotive.  See this site and look for the transfer cab at Bellevue, OH on the page taken by H. Ameling- it shows a photo of this yard facing north, just west of SW St. near the depot area in the background of this photo.:)

Photo of PC Norwalk Branch Bellevue, OH ©Copyright 2020 1-West Productions™/PJ EB-

 

At Norwalk (MP 237.1):

Photo of PC Norwalk Branch, Norwalk, OH, 3-2022-© COPYRIGHT 2022-1-WESTPRODUCTIONS™-PJ, facing EB, Newton St.

PC Locals

PC had at least one local that came out of NYC’s/PC’s Toledo Airline Yard, and serviced at least Fremont, Clyde, and Bellevue, with interchanges between NYC/PC Locals from their Sandusky Branch at Clyde.  At Clyde they serviced lumber yards, grain mills, possibly Whirlpool, and other businesses.  Locals also serviced Norwalk, Monroeville, and other towns on the line.  Most units for the locals were GP7 or GP9 units.  (More info to follow in more detail from Tom, an ex-NYC/PC employees who worked these locals out of Fremont, Clyde, etc. during the 1960s and 1970s, and who’s father also worked these locals.)

(We will continue to add to this article with more information and photos.)

 

© Copyright 2022 1-West Productions™/P.Jordan.  References:  E. Durnwald (ex-N&W/NS Tower Operator/Clerk), A Sampling of Penn Central by Jerry Taylor- IN Univ. 1973, 2000).

 

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

 

 

Penn Central Locomotive Paint Schemes

Penn Central locomotive paint schemes will be discussed in this blog.  Penn Central had a standard paint scheme they applied to their locomotives. This general version was the road name (applied to the hood of the unit), nose logos, and side logos applied to the hood. However, they had many versions due to different shops using different methods, available paint/supplies at the time, and in order for the image of “red and green team” to be erased as much as possible.

This was a tactic brought on by ex-SOU RR President Bill Moore, who became President of the PC in the early 70s. After the bankruptcy in 1970, he and other officials did their best to reform their broken image to the public, and among fellow employees. He ordered all predecessor logos and road names of the NH, NYC, & PRR to be painted over in any means possible, especially on locomotives. This is why sometimes one would see a locomotive still in ex-NH orange or red paint, but with PC logos, etc. applied. The same for ex-Tuscan red PRR paint on E7s, etc.

Penn Central RR logo photo- 1-West Productions™

PC also had partial schemes, where the locomotive may be painted in new paint, but only nose logos and cab numbers applied. Below is a list put together on variations of PC locomotive paint schemes, as seen in photos, books, etc.:

-FULL: road name, nose logos, cab numbers, large/mid-sized side logos, all logos & lettering were white

-FULL Red P:  the same as Full, but with a red P inside the PC logos.

-FULL Orange C:  the same as Full, but with an orange C inside the PC logos

-PARTIAL 1: road name, nose logos, cab numbers
-PARTIAL 2: road name, cab numbers
-PARTIAL 3: nose logos, cab numbers
-PARTIAL 4: nose logos, cab numbers, side logos
-PARTIAL 5: cab numbers

-PARTIAL 6:  any versions of the partial variations, but using the red P or orange C logos.

The following is a list of color type variations:

-Ex-NEW HAVEN: orange or red body (McGinnis or Alpert Schemes) w/ PC markings (any variation). All NH engines had new numbers applied, since they were not previously numbered in preparation for the PC merger.

-Ex-PRR: Tuscan red (usually E-units), DGLE green. All PRR locomotives received similar roster numbers as did NYC units, to prepare for the PC merger before 1968. Therefore some units kept their original gold/yellow PRR cab numbers, with PC markings.

-Ex-New York Central: gray (E-units), black. All NYC locomotives received similar roster numbers as did PRR units, to prepare for the PC merger before 1968. Therefore some units kept their original white NYC style cab numbers, with PC markings.

-Ex-Lehigh Valley: PC applied their road name to the hood of an RS2 in order to use for scrap-trade material, while still in LV paint. They did the same to a few other types of locomotives.

-Ex-D&RGW: PC received F-units from the Rio Grande they were originally going to use as trade in bait. However they found a few of the As & Bs to be still functional. They put 2 As & 2 Bs in service, and they wore the original yellow, silver, & black paint, with PC numbers & logos applied for a few years before finally being painted in PC black.

Although the PC paint scheme was a great one, with a futuristic logo & lettering fonts, and a basic but great black scheme, to those who didn’t like the straight-forward scheme, a little variety of various colors could be found within the PC system.  There are many books, publications, DVDs, & other sources available out there for those who would like to see actual pictures & more.  We have even found even more variations never seen before during our research.  With the PC, anything was possible, and new variations are found all the time!

What was your favorite PC paint scheme?

 

1-WP

 

© Copyright 2015, 1-West Productions™/PJ.  Duplication Prohibited.   Sources used for this information were:  Penn Central Power, Penn Central Power 1-4, Penn Central In Color 1-4- Yanosey;  Penn Central System Bi-Annual- Reid;  A Sampling of Penn Central- Taylor;  The Wreck of the Penn Central- Daughen & Binzen;  original Penn Central RR Posts employees magazines;  various PC DVDs by Green Frog, Clear Block, Revelation Video, & other books & photographs with PC locomotives.

 

 

 

PENN CENTRAL SANDUSKY BRANCH (CONRAIL/PENN CENTRAL/NYC-Big 4/MAD RIVER & LAKE ERIE (Cincinnati-Sandusky, OH) Coverage

PENN CENTRAL SANDUSKY BRANCH (CONRAIL/PENN CENTRAL/NYC-Big 4/MAD RIVER & LAKE ERIE (Cincinnati-Sandusky, OH)

We’re covering the ex-New York Central/Penn Central (& Conrail) Big 4 Line- Sandusky Branch (also called PC Sandusky Secondary), that ran from Cincinnati, through Springfield, Kenton, Patterson, Forest, Wharton, Carey, Tiffin, Green Springs, Clyde, Castalia, and Sandusky, OH. This was one of many Big 4 lines that ran in Ohio. The other lines were the Cleveland to Columbus & Cincinnati; Toledo through Bowling Green to Columbus (Toledo & Ohio Central West); and Toledo through Fostoria to Columbus (Toledo & Ohio Central East).

The Sandusky Branch ran from Sandusky, OH and south to Cincinnati, OH. There are many areas where the ex ROW can still be seen, and others where it has been built upon, plowed away, or covered in some way.   Also there are areas of the line where tracks still are in tact and see service.  For example in Carey, OH, a quarry uses part of the original line with CSX.  In Clyde, the line is still in from the north side of NS’s (ex-W&LE/NKP) Toledo District east/west line, to the north side of a grain mill (before CR 260).  Also in Springfield there are a few areas where the line is still used.  We will cover this line from Sandusky and southward.

The Sandusky Branch line was originally built by the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad (MR&LE), as an alternate route from their original Sandusky through Bellevue and Flat Rock route, which then proceeded SW through West Lodi and to Tiffin, OH. The MR&LE abandoned this section between Sandusky and Tiffin after building a newer route from Sandusky to Tiffin (through Castalia, York, Clyde, Green Springs- bypassing West Lodi). They built the alternate route for fewer miles and grades. The line from Sandusky to south of Flat Rock continued to be used later by the PRR, then N&W and today NS. The area south of Flat Rock where the two original MR&LE ROWs split (one to Marion & Columbus, OH splits SE, the original ROW to West Lodi and Tiffin split SW. Not much is there to see of the SW ROW today).

A forgotten town on the MR&LE SW split ROW? By word of mouth, supposedly there was a small town or refueling/watering station just south/SW of Flat Rock, OH, although no past maps so far show any existence of a town there. This station or town was abandoned or reduced to a few houses or a farm when the MR&LE abandoned their SW ROW.

Back to the PC/NYC Sandusky Branch line- the NYC/Big 4 took over the MR&LE Sandusky to Cinci line. NYC and PC later named the line the Sandusky Branch, Ohio Central Division, per 1968 timetables. By 1967, before the NYC and PRR merger to form PC, the NYC pulled up the tracks and ties from north of Clyde to Sandusky. PC used the line from Clyde to Kenton, OH for local trains. They also interchanged locals from PC’s Norwalk Branch that crossed the Sandusky Branch in downtown Clyde. A PC Toledo local picked up cars from the PC Sandusky Branch also. The Sandusky Branch in Clyde served a few lumber companies and grain mills. 

Per a PC 4/28/68 timetable, they labeled from Clyde to Sands, OH as WB, but physically it’s SW, so we will call all directions as SB & NB. Most of the line was “dark territory”- a term used by railroads to mean the line had no working lighted signals in most areas of the line- after passenger trains were removed from the line, and most freights rerouted to other NYC/PC lines.  The line did have signals, and was apparently one of the first lines in the US to have the new CTC signaling systems of the time in certain parts of the line.  Except some approach signals to mark the line on both sides of any crossovers.  All signals were removed decades ago where the line was taken up. 

Starting at downtown Sandusky, OH, the line began at Water St., near the shore of Lake Erie.  Passenger trains from the NYC would take people to and from Cedar Point to this area of town, where they boarded boats to and from Cedar Point.

Next through Castalia, OH, the line ran parallel with the ex-Lake Erie & Western (LE&W) Railroad (later became NKP LE&W District then N&W-abandonded by N&W at this point/NS- Sandusky Branch-Lima District through Fremont, Fostoria, then Arcadia and Lima, OH- their Lima Dist., then through Muncie, Portland, and Frankfort, IN- their Frankfort Dist., and onto St. Louis, MO).  South of Castalia both lines split away.  

York was next as we head SW on the Sandusky Branch.  York was technically more south from the line, but NYC and PC called this area on the line York, between Castalia and Clyde, per their timetables.

Photo of ROW of PC Sandusky Branch (ex-CR/NYC-Big 4/Mad River & Lake Erie), Facing SW, NE of Clyde, OH, 12/2019. © Copyright 2019 1-West Productions™/PJ.

(Photo Above:  ex-ROW of the PC Sandusky Branch (ex-CR/NYC-Big 4/Mad River & Lake Erie), Facing SW, NE of Clyde, OH, 12/2019. © Copyright 2019 1-West Productions™/PJ.)

Clyde (MP 17.0) (PC & N&W Crossing)  Here was an interchange and crossroads of different railroads.  At Rt. 20, the Sandusky Branch crossed the Lake Shore Electric Railway that ran parallel with Rt. 20, on the south side.  The crossover diamond of the Sandusky Branch and the LSE was just west of Rt. 101.  *The double tracks of the PC Sandusky Branch crossed the ex-W&LE 1st District/NKP W&LE District/N&W Toledo District (now NS Toledo District) east-west line  between Rt. 101 and Rt. 510, on the north side of the convient store in Clyde*.  Originally in Clyde there were Approach Target signals (at least one was just west of town, later removed by PC/CR in the late 1970s/early 1980s), to mark the line before the crossover Target signal that originally was located in downtown, near Maple Street, where both the PC Norwalk and Sandusky Branches crossed. Today the city of Clyde restored the original Target signal, and moved it near the now bike/walking trail of the ex-Norwalk Branch, also downtown.

There is a viaduct that crossed over Raccoon Creek presently.   As noted before, Clyde was serviced up into the PC era, which had a few lumber yards (mainly on Maple St.), grain mills, and other businesses.  The line ran along the south side of Maple St. after it crossed the PC Norwalk Branch at Maple and Depot St.  Also at that crossing there originally was an L-shaped depot, which serviced both Branches.  It was torn down before PC came into existence.  The line then crossed Woodland Ave.- a winding road.  During that time Woodland Ave. ran through a middle of a farm field.  Since then many houses have been built in the area, with no sign of the ROW, except a small ditch area on the NE side towards a church.  Just on the west edge of town on Limerick Road at a sharp curve, the ROW originally cut through a tall but small sand hill, near the NE side of the road.  Since then, it has been filled in with dirt and newly-planted trees/shrubs.   On the left side of the road (SW) at the curve, the land is flat.     We continue south/SW to Green Springs.

At Green Springs (MP 22.2), the Sandusky Branch crossed the Nickel Plate (NKP) Chicago line (Nickel Plate Division), later Norfolk & Western (N&W) Ft. Wayne Division-Fostoria District. There use to be an interlocking tower there.  E. Durnwald was one of the many operators that worked there in the early 1970s (for N&W), who remembered seeing PC locals, and talked to the PC crews who crossed there. The original NYC/PC depot is still in town there.

Between Green Springs and Tiffin, the ROW can be seen in areas, with a few viaducts, and many areas where the ROW has disappeared, due to farmers plowing through it. One can still see however the original grooves of the ROW from aerial maps online.

Tiffin (MP 32.4) (PC and B&O Crossing)

As we arrive into Tiffin (MP 34.0), on the NE end of town between a few warehouses and a store, and a trailer park nearby,  wide flat areas can be seen where the ROW was.  To the west of 101, the Sandusky branch crossed (going north to south) the CR/PC/PRR Carrothers Branch (Toledo to Mansfield/then Ciro, OH), and the CSX/B&O Willard Sub. (Chicago line), the Sandusky River, and Riverside Drive.

Onward SE through town part of the ROW is a pathway and goes by the original Depot on Monroe St. that has been restored.  We think the depot and property is privately owned (more info to follow on this).  The path that’s part of the original ROW then parralells Benner st. for a few blocks and and at Hopewell Ave.  Here the ROW turned into Fair Lane, which is the road to the back of the Fairgrounds.  In the back of the Fairgrounds the ROW continues SB/SW as the lane goes more south/SE. 

Below are photos of the ROW that goes SB-NB (left to right):  

PC-NYC-Sandusky Branch ROW Left to Right SB-NB, Tiffin, OH, Fair Lane, 9-16-23, © Copyright 2023 1-West Productions™/PJ

Then in the same area facing SB/SW:

PC-NYC-Sandusky Branch ROW SB-SW-Tiffin, OH, Fair Lane, 9-16-23, © Copyright 2023 1-West Productions™/PJ

PC-NYC-Sandusky Branch ROW SB-SW-Tiffin, OH, Fair Lane, 9-16-23, 2 © Copyright 2023 1-West Productions™/PJ

PC-NYC-Sandusky Branch ROW SB-SW-Tiffin, OH, Fair Lane, 9-16-23, 3 © Copyright 2023 1-West Productions™/PJ

Same ROW now looking NB-NE in the same area (Fair Lane):

PC-NYC-Sandusky Branch ROW NB-NE-Tiffin, OH, Fair Lane, 9-16-23, © Copyright 2023 1-West Productions™/PJPC-NYC-SanduskyBranch-row-NB-NEtiffinOH-fairLane-_09-16-23-Copyright2023-1westproductions-pj-17-09.57.32

PC-NYC-Sandusky Branch ROW NB-NE-Tiffin, OH, Fair Lane, 9-16-23, 2 © Copyright 2023 1-West Productions™/PJ

PC-NYC-Sandusky Branch ROW NB-NE-Tiffin, OH, Fair Lane, 9-16-23, 3 © Copyright 2023 1-West Productions™/PJ

PC-NYC-Sandusky Branch ROW SB-SW-Tiffin, OH, Fair Lane, 9-16-23, 4 © Copyright 2023 1-West Productions™/PJ

(Near Hopewill Ave-Fair Lane:)PC-NYC-Sandusky Branch ROW NB-NE-Tiffin, OH, Fair Lane, 9-16-23, 4 © Copyright 2023 1-West Productions™/PJ

From there the line continued south/SW to Carey, OH.

At Berwick (MP 42.7), the PC Ohio Central Eastern line crossed the PC Sandusky Branch.  There was an operator’s tower there at one point.  

Adrian (MP 45.3)

MP 48.5 (PC crossing with C&O Toledo to Columbus line and AC&Y)

At Carey (MP 49.7), CSX still uses part of the line that’s still in tact for a stone quarry.  Also at Carey the original depot still stands downtown.  Carey had a PC local (CCK-3) that would switch cars at Sands (south- more information below) and Tiffin.  PC local CCK-1/2 switched cars at the AC&Y and C&O interchanges at Carey and the quarry.  

Wharton (MP 57.3) is south of Carey, which is another small town.  The original wood depot use to stand downtown, but was later turned into a garage and eventually fell over, or was torn down.

Then Forest (MP 62.2), where the line crossed the CR/PC/PRR Ft. Wayne to Pittsburgh line.  South of Forest the ROW follows along side Rt. 53, and the ROW is built up higher than the surrounding land for several miles, until we get to Kenton. 

Patterson (MP 63.9)

McVittys (MP 65.5)

Grants (MP 68.4)

At Kenton (MP 74.1), OH, the Sandusky Branch had a connection with PC’s (ex-NYC/TOC) Ohio Central Western Branch. 

By 1972, the Sandusky Branch was abandoned about 2.5 miles south of Kenton, near Sands (where the diamond with the Erie Lackawanna-EL was), and the PC Sandusky Branch at this point was called the PC Sands Industrial Track.  There also was a PC/EL tower there called Sands.  Two industries were serviced at Sands by the PC local crew from the Ohio Central Western Branch Yard crew.  One of the PC locals would come from Carey (PC CCK-3), and switch cars at Sands. 

PC Locals

PC had at least one Local that ran from Kenton/Carey/Tiffin to Clyde, OH in the early 1970s.  E. Durnwald (now deceased) was on the extra board for the N&W, and worked all of the N&W towers between New Haven, IN & Green Springs, OH, from 1971-75 (at Green Springs Tower in 1971 & 1972, and the tower closed in 1972 or 1973).  He couldn’t remember the PC Locals’ train symbols, but he remembered other details about the PC Locals on their Sandusky Branch. 

At Green Springs, OH, the N&W Ft. Wayne Div.- Fostoria District (ex-NKP-Nickel Plate Dist.) crossed the PC’s Sandusky Branch, with a tower owned and run by the N&W.  It was just west of SR19, and was torn down in the 1980s.  When he worked Green Springs (GR Tower), he would be called by the N&W Dispatcher by phone on M, W, F (not so much traffic during winter months), was called to go to the tower around 5 pm, wait for the PC Local to arrive NB on the PC Sandusky Branch, and give them the clear to go across the N&W to service Clyde, OH (he normally wouldn’t talk to the PC crew- they would just wait for the signal while waiting at the diamond).  As he sat in the tower, he would wait to see the headlight from their train, they would come to a stop before the PC/N&W diamond, and he would then call the N&W dispatcher by radio.  The N&W dispatcher would give him the clear for the PC, then he would move the PC semaphore signal (most on this line were of the wood board plank style, with a red light on each end) to clear (vertical position), and the PC Local would move NB to Clyde.  The PC would usually arrive with a Baldwin type S switcher (ex-NYC, either with NYC or PC markings, most likely an S-12), cab forward, with about 12 or more boxcars, and a PC transfer caboose on the rear. 

The PC Local would switch out cars at Clyde, and interchange a few from the other PC Local from the PC Toledo Division-Norwalk Branch line in Clyde.  Then the PC Local would come back SB to GR Tower SB from Clyde (loco cab forward in most cases), with about a dozen boxcars, approach the crossover again at GR and stop.  E.D. would give PC the clear (after getting the clear from the N&W dispatcher by radio), then the PC Local would head south to Tiffin/Carey/Kenton, OH. Top speed on the PC Sandusky Branch during that time was about 10 mph, due to deferred maintenance (from as early as the 1950s/60s NYC days).

Also as noted above, PC had a Carey stationed Local called CCK-3, that switched cars at Sands and Tiffin.  PC CCK-1/2 switched cars at the AC&Y and C&O interchanges at Carey and the quarry.  At least another Carey-Kenton PC Local is known of (CCK-3/4) as well.

Mike C. (originally of Galetown, OH) told us a story about around 1971-75, while in highschool, he and a buddy of his would hitch a ride on the PC Local to Clyde from the Galetown area (CR 195 crossing between Green Springs and Clyde).  Once the Local was done working in Clyde after a few hours or so, they would hitch a ride back to the same area.  Sometimes the PC crew would let them board the caboose (most likely a PC transfer caboose).  At that time the Local was only moving around 20-25 MPH, due to speed restrictions from bad track. 

This article is dedicated to E. Durnwald, a dedicated railroad worker, railroad historian, railfan, and family man, who worked for the N&W from the early 1970s, then with NS in the early 1980s, and then retired from NS around 2000.  We met him in the late 1980s, and railfanned with him a few times until the very early ’90s.  We caught back up with him in the late ’90s, and we would railfan many times at many locations, until he passed during 11/2021.  Besides a fellow railfan and historian, he was also a very good person and good friend, and is greatly missed.   

(We will continue to add to this article with more information and photos.)

 

© Copyright 2019, 2020, 2022, 2023 1-West Productions™/P.Jordan.  References:  E. Durnwald (ex-N&W/NS Tower Operator/Clerk), A Sampling of Penn Central by Jerry Taylor- IN Univ. 1973, 2000).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Penn Central, NYC, PRR, NH, & Conrail

The Penn Central, NYC, PRR, NH, & Conrail- one topic I’m really familiar with is the Penn Central Railroad. I’ve written extensively on this subject for some years, and even have another website dedicated to this railroad. Although there were many people who despised that railroad, it still played a very important part of keeping America’s economy flowing, regardless of its mis-haps. Those of us in the younger generations appreciate the PC for what it was, and the very wide range of modeling that can be done with it.

The PC was the joining of the New York Central, Pennsylvania, and later the New Haven Railroads. The NYC & PRR were joined in 1968, and the NH in 1969. The NYC and PRR were great competitors originally, with parallel routes. The NH was considered mostly a passenger road, with some TOFC trains, and the PC did not want to include them in their merger. However the ICC required them to take in the NH, if they wanted the ICC to approve the PC merger in the first place.

The new PC at the time seemed like it was going to work in the beginning, then hard times came. Unfortunately many factors happened, which caused the merger to fail in 1970. Factors were corrupt management, investments spread too wide, government regulations on rates that the railroad was allowed to charge to its customers, competition with trucks and air, deferred maintenance of facilities, tracks, and equipment, weather-related catastrophes (hurricanes, floods, severe winters, etc.), lack of freight cars, locomotives, and cabooses, parallel routes, and the government not allowing the railroads to abandon older secondary routes not needed by the railroads throughout the country.

Many would say that the PC was the only railroad merger in the States to have paralleled routes that failed or plagued with problems, and the only railroad to have dirty and run-down equipment, loosing money everyday, bad track, and corruption. But history and many good sources say that was not the case. Many US railroad mergers and companies, especially in the Midwest and East were in the same trouble. In fact, the ONLY Class 1 railroad that had fewer problems, especially during this time was the Santa Fe. Also the only merger that actually worked with fewer problems was the NS merger between the N&W and SOU later in the 1980s!

Finally the government had to step in to help, or an economic catastrophe was on the way. Conrail was formed and took over the PC, EL, RDG, LV, & CNJ- all that were in the same situations as the PC. CR grew a profit in the 1980s, and was taken over by NS & CSX in the late 1990s.

The PC is a favorite to many in modeling, studying, photo collecting, and more.  They had many paint scheme variations, colors, equipment types, unique colors, great facilties, yards, and more.  The PC was not a separate company that came and took over the NYC, PRR, and NH- they were simply the combining of these roads, just under a new name. And some say the PC lived on even under CR, since most of CR’s operations, tracks, equipment, personnel were PC. These days the PC is getting more difficult to see, as equipment is being replaced, things changed, etc. May the PC live on!

DVDs to check out:

-You can see some history about the PC on Revelation’s Penn Central DVD HERE.  Just one of many PC DVDs out there that has material the others do not have.

-Also a DVD about the NYC (by Revelation) HERE

-Many great DVDs with CONRAIL can be found in Keith’s Trains Series™ HERE

 

(Sources one should read that backup these facts are:  Wreck Of The Penn Central, Merging Lines, Penn Central Power, just to name a few!)

© Copyright 2015 PJ/1-WP™