Bellefonte to Stover

The Bellefonte Central Railroad

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The Bellefonte and Central Railroad was first chartered in 1882 as the Bellefonte and Buffalo Run Railroad, with the intent of building a railroad line from the Pennsylvania Railroad mainline in Bellefonte to iron ore mines along the Buffalo Run. Construction of the line started in 1883 in Bellefonte; grading of the line proceeded to the southwest to Struble, via Waddle and Alto. In 1885, the Nittany Valley and Southern Railroad was merged into the B&BR, forming the Buffalo Run, Bellefonte and Bald Eagle Railroad. The BRB&BE was successful in completing the construction of the line into Struble by 1887. However, low iron ore productions of the mines the BRB&BE served spelled doom for the railroad, compelling foreclosure of the line in 1891 and subsequent reorganization as the Bellefonte Central Railroad.

Under the new moniker, the railroad proceeded to build a short branch to Pennsylvania State College in 1892; both passenger traffic and coal shipments to the university bolstered the finances of the BCRR. Another branch line to Pine Grove Mills was built in 1894 in order to generate logging traffic, but also to perhaps build a line to Huntington and a connection with the Huntingdon and Broad Top Mountain Railroad. This extension was never realized, and the branch never extended beyond Pine Grove Mills. The BCRR was desparate for more sources of revenue, and a lone connection with the outside world in Bellefonte was insufficient.

The answer came in 1927, when the PRR filed to abandon their Fairbrook Branch (see the ICC filing below). While the Fairbrook Branch did not connect with the BCRR, it did connect with the PRR mainline in Tyrone, and Fairbrook, at the end of the line, was not too far from Struble, at the end of the BCRR line. The BCRR successfully purchased the Fairbrook Branch from the PRR, extended their line from Struble to Fairbrook, and, with trackage rights between Stover and Tyrone, was able to obtain a second connection with the PRR in Tyrone by 1930.

At this time, the BCRR was at its peak in terms of route-miles, but it was for nought. The PRR connection at Tyrone proved ill-fated, and the BCRR eventually abandoned the line between State College and Stover (via Struble) in 1941, having acquired it and built connecting lines only a decade before. Passenger service along the route ceased in 1946. The decline of the iron ore industry in the region, along with the transfer of shipping from railroads to trucks, along with the general decline in the railroad industry, forced the BCRR's hand, and the remainder of its plant was abandoned in 1984.

Today, some of the right-of-way still sees rail service in the Bellefonte area under ownership of the Nittany and Bald Eagle Railroad. Moreover, about a mile of the former railbed has been converted to a rail-trail.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD
Docket Number: 6152 Date: Section: 1
App. for authority to abandon a portion of its Fairbrook Branch line of railroad extending from a point near Stover to Fairbrook, Pa., a distance of 18.26 miles, located in the counties of Huntingdon and Center.
Length: 18.26 miles Citation: 131 ICC 547  

The old terminal at State College is North Atherton Street and evolved into a Greyhound Bus Station. Portions of the grade have become walking and bike paths north and west of the campus. Up until at least the early 80s, some of the rail end bumpers were still there at the road way.

Mark Moeser
Pennsylvania
10/26/2013

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Shortened Link: http://a-r.us/8ax
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