Elyria to Millbury Junction

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Oberlin passenger depot and caboose. Note crossties still present at lower left. Photo by Elias C. Jones, July 2003.

The Toledo, Norwalk and Cleveland Railroad began in 1852 and was among the first passenger rail lines connecting Cleveland and Toledo. It was first built to Grafton, OH, where it connected with the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railway, along which the TN&C had trackage rights into Cleveland. After a merger with the Junction Railroad in 1853 which formed the Cleveland and Toledo Railroad, a more direct route from Oberlin to Elyria was built utilizing its former Junction Railroad route from Elyria to Cleveland in 1866. The old route from Oberlin to Grafton was abandoned but a short segment from Oberlin going a few miles southeast to where a stone quarry spur branched off was used until the early 1900s before it to became abandoned. The line carried the C&TRR name up until 1868 when it merged with other railroads into the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern system, which later became part of New York Central. At its peak in the early twentieth century, the route was a part of NYC's busy Buffalo-Chicago passenger mainline.

Ultimately, the line's eastern end lay at the LS&MS track on the west side of Elyria. From here, the route headed southwest to Oberlin, where it turned westward and continued to Norwalk, passing through the towns of Kipton, Wakeman, and Collins. From Norwalk, the railroad continued to Toledo alongside the Wheeling & Lake Erie/Nickel Plate/Norfolk & Western to Fremont. The line joined the northern LSMS line to Toledo at Millbury Junction.

Passenger service on the line was terminated in 1949, and traffic in general started to decline around this time as NYC began routing freight trains on its more direct lakeshore line to the north. The railroad had fallen into disuse by the 1970s and was deemed unfit for absorption into Conrail. The line was abandoned concurrent with that company's formation in 1976.

Today, the right of way between Elyria and Kipton has been preserved as a bike path, and many mileposts and other artifacts along the route have also been saved. The Oberlin passenger station also remains standing with a caboose on display. The remainder of the right of way hasn't been preserved very well but can be found easily.

Towns on the line from Elyria to the west are Oberlin, Kipton, Wakeman, Collins, Norwalk, Monroeville, Bellevue, Clyde, Fremont, Lindsey, Elmore, Genoa and then to Millbury Junction. At the west side of Bellevue lay a small 4-track staging yard called Klines which is still in use today by the Norfolk Southern.

Reference: Joseph P. Schwieterman, When the Railroad Leaves Town, 2001

Thanks to Elias C. Jones and Fritz N. Kuenzel for contributing information about this route.

Caboose that used to sit in Oberlin next tp depot and right of way is now gone, having been sold to private collector. More of the old railroad has been cleared beyond Monroeville and westward as part of the rail trail.

John Thompson
Elyria, Ohio, OH
6/27/2010

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I lived in the Wakeman area from 1969 up until 1983 and watched the last trains run on the line and also watched the line get ripped up. Back then i became interested and began walking a few parts of the line and later after it was abandoned started researching its history and have copied everything about it from the newspapers microfilm from 1851 up until 1896 where am currently at. I have collected what ever old photos of the line i could find along with any photos of LS&MS equipment. I have lived in the Norwalk area since 1984 and have spent countless hours walking and metal detecting the lines right of way searching for relics of the past left behind and have taken many photos of what was still left along the line in the early 1990s of which much has disappeared.

I'm a RR engineer with Norfolk Southern, a trustee with Firelands Rails to Trails Inc. which manages the Huron County portion of the North Coast Inland Trail and am involved with the history of the RR line.

We are currently restoring the Monroevile depot which was built in 1863 by the Cleveland & Toledo RR. We are restoring it back to its 1919 NYC RR appearance when the RR did all the evaluation photos of the line. The depot is used as our trail headquarters/meeting room and will also house a interperative museum of the rail lines history and other RRs in Huron County.

Fritz N. Kuenzel
Norwalk, OH
2/7/2011

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There is or used to be a really cool stone arch bridge I think over vermillion river near Wakeman along US 20. It is too bad the state wasn't farsighted to railbank these lines - bike trails are great, but I'd rather see it used for a active line. this would be a great route for a Cleveland & Toledo hi speed rail line, and we wouldn't have to worry about interfering with the freight line's business

rosko
coshocton, OH
6/15/2012

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My father was an NYC engineer over this branch during the 1960's. I have a great photo of him and his crew aboard a GP-7 locomotive, No. 5600, still in the lighting stripe paint that was taken in Clyde OH by Howard Aemling. I also have his time books with dates and engine numbers that were assigned on a daily basis. The local freight was assembled every morning in the Airline Yards on the northwest side of Hill Avenue. Dad would report to the Central Union Terminal on Emerald St. where he parked his car. His engine was spotted on a siding behind C.U.T. and after given the go ahead to enter the main, he would back his engine down to Hill Avenue to pick up his train. GP-7's and 9's were most always assigned to this train. They did try to assign some SW-7's and 9's, but they were too light an engine for this assignment. The local generally left around 7-8 a.m. It crept down to the Swan Creek Tower on the east end of the yards over the old Panama section of the yard. When finally given the highball it would quickly re-enter the main and accelerate to about 50 m.p.h. all the way to Milbury where it entered the third rail siding and gently onto the Norwalk branch to Genoa. A dog met the freight in Elmore and escorted it through town, yapping merrily every inch of the way. Most of the work was in Genoa at the lime plant. The crew normally spotted the engine at a siding near Genoa and walked to lunch at a diner in downtown Genoa. They then moved on to Fremont where they switched the small yards and the battery plant. Sometimes they would "outlaw" after working 16 hours and a taxi was sent to get the crew. I worked as a brakeman for a short time and was assigned to the Fremont local a couple of times and it was a joy to work with my father. It made me appreciate his job.

Tom Ross
Toledo, OH
8/11/2014

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The caboose from Oberlin is now at the Amherst Historical Village donated by the Nord Family, it is right next to the railroad tracks where the 3 train wreck occurred in March of 1916.

james wilhelm
amherst, ohio 44001, OH
7/25/2015

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I was staying at the Best Western in Norwalk, OH. and noticed a very old railroad line behind the hotel, the only thing that remains are some old cross ties. The address is 351 Milan Avenue. Norwalk, OH. I was curious to know what railroad used to be there. Thank you , Joe.

Joe Westbrook
Gaston, SC
11/5/2015

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My Grandpa, Dave Milky, said he used to see Hudson locomotives go past his aunts house in Linsey,Oh. He remembers balancing on the NYC bridge over mud creek. His big brother used to know every engineer on the NYC. Sometimes they would give his brother a candy bar every morning.

Jason.Learakos
Batavia, IL
1/4/2016

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Joe,I think from what you describe you are talking about the Wheeling line to Huron Ohio which was ripped about 10 years ago.

NS made a connection off the Nickel Plate,and the Wheeling goes to Bellevue and out the Nickle Plate to get to Huron now.

It was the original Wheeling line,which ended there,before they extended it to Toledo.

Not positive about the route to Huron now,but I know they load ore trains there and some stone.

Carl
Grafton, OH
1/5/2016

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I should also have mentioned I, as a small boy in the early 1950's, recall riding with my mother to the Oakdale Crossing in E. Toledo to pick up my father. He was a fireman at the time and when he'd be assigned to the Fremont local, the train was made up in the small yards that existed at that time at Oakdale. The engine was generally an N.Y.C. H-5 Mikado. The engine would tie up all night at Oakdale and the freight was assembled there by the switch crew for the following day. As the train pulled into a siding, the rails would groan and strain under the weight of the engine. I'll never forget the hissing and belching of steam and that wonderful smell of coal and oil.

Tom Ross
Toledo, OH
6/15/2016

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