The Fairport Branch
This abandoned railway began in 1870 as a narrow-gauge line connecting Farmington to Fairport Harbor, named the Painesville and Youngstown Railroad. In 1873, it became the Painesville, Youngstown and Pittsburgh Railroad. In 1886, it was leased to the Pittsburgh and Western Railroad, itself acquired by the Baltimore and Ohio in 1890. It was standardized in 1900, and later became the B&O's Lake Branch or Fairport Branch. At some point, it was extended to Warren. It was operated by the B&O until 1982. Despite opposition from shippers and local governments, the line was ultimately pulled up.
Today, most of the line has been converted/in the process of being converted into rail trails; the Greenway Corridor in Lake County, and The Maple Highlands Trail in Geauga County.
Thanks to Aaron M. for contributing information.
|Baltimore & Ohio Railroad|
|Docket: AB-19 Sub 22||3/18/1975||Section: 1(18)|
|Application for authority to abandon a portion of the Lake Branch between VS 327+00, near North Warren, Ohio, and VS 1896+66, near Chardon, Ohio, a distance of approx. 29.73 mi., all In Trumbull and Geauga Counties, Ohio.|
|Length: 29.730 miles||Citation:|
I work at P.E. TOWER Norkfork and western main crossing B&O FAIRPORT HARBOR BRANCH 1969 TO 1972 WE PASSED UP ORDER FOR Painesville 97 B&o SOUTHBOUND (westbound ) train at 10pm at night pAINESVILLE 92 was Northbound train next day came back in
This was an incredible piece of railroading thru the Swine Creek area. My fathers friend watched the GP's shove cars up the hill from Bundysburg to Chardon every day. Great rail to trail now.Does Mr. Morse have any photos from this section of B&O? I've got video of tripleheaded Emma's and photos from about every city along the line. I've studied, walked and snowmobiled about every section of this branchline.Too bad i wasnt around to see it.
Herbert Harwood Jr photgraphed the imfamous triple headed Emma's on this branch in 57/58. They broke a coupler just north of Grandview Golf course and continued on to Fairport with four cars in tow that day! The video is funny to watch with all that power and no train! I actually found the broken knuckle from that day. I placed it on the hill at the curves when they were paving the trail and sombody took it! Herb had many photos of this line in past Classic Trains magazines if anyone is interested.
An excellent video from Revelation Video called "The Lake Line" of B&O is available for a good video history of the transition from steam to diesel on the line. Great amateur camera work, from the heart.
At Painesville, the line also crossed the NYC mainline at grade, then dropped northward to the lower yard at Fairport Harbor. There was an ancient steam-powered car dumper which was utilized to tranship coal from rail to boat.
The south end of the line was at De Forest Jct. where it connected to the old B&O mainline (Newton Falls / Youngstown).
How nice to finally come across someone who is interested in the Fairport rail line. My husband grew up three houses away from the roundhouse in Fairport and I have been trying to locate a photograph of the building. Yes, there probably is one in the Fairport book, but I want to try to find something special for him. As and FYI, when our children were little we all walked over to the roundhouse and, I, being the bold one, asked if we could visit and it being our lucky day we actually got to climb onboard for a turn-around. Talk about a thrill!!! Like I said, my husband grew up there and had never actually visited and then to finally get to ride around the building... I have just told him to stick with me if he wants to have an adventure.
I find it interesting that I am able to locate photographs of just about every other community in the area, but not of Fairport. Much has changed in the little village, even since I joined the family some 47yrs. ago, but the loss of the roundhouse was bittersweet, esp. since it had been a fixture in my husband's formative years and also that we had actually had a fieldtrip there. A lot went on in that little village and to see the population dwindle is also sad - down better than 2,000 from when my husband was growing up there. We will be returning in July to help the village celebrate its 200th birthday, and hopefully taking grandchildren, one from here in Nebraska and two from Florida as two of the three have been there but only as infants, and what a time to go!
I wish you luck in your own search and do think that if you hang in there you will be successful in your quest for information.
To Ann. Look here for possible pictures of roundhouse: http://www.rsworld.com/~nix66/fpemain.html. If this is what you are looking for then you'll want to search for info on FP&E (Fairport Painesville and Eastern). Specifically built to service Diamond Alkali (D. Shamrock) and a few other industries in the Fairport area. They operated/owned the roundhouse & trackage. See the link for a full history.
I grew up about 200 yards from the B & O in West Farmington. We played along the tracks all the time, searching for lead from the torpedoes and just walking the rails. I spent a lot of time at the station with the station master, Harry Chapel. It was nice that the station was saved, but it has been modified as the town hall.
There is another article about the Lake Line in this months Trains magazine(December 2012). Great photos in Middlefield and the "boys" waiting for thier train to show at Bundysburg siding. Herbert Harwood Jr also took many photos of this line and the Revelation Video is excellent as mentioned above.
Just a FYI: my FP&E website has a slightly different address now (because it's on a new server), so the correct link is: www.rsworld.com/snix66/fpemain.html
I started working on the B&O Railroad in 1977 as a trackman working in a section gang. One summer in the early 80's prior to the Lake Branch abandonment I worked in the section gang headquartered in Middlefield. Leland Cross was the foreman. Jake Kemp, Ralph from Painesville, Pat Layshock, (the former mayor of Newton Falls) and myself maintained the section of track from Middlefield to Painesville. We did all the track maintenance by hand, replacing crossties, surfacing, replacing rail. The old station still stands in Middlefield. I am now retired and my interest lies in seeing abandoned rail lines converted into trails for biking and hiking.
I am interested in information about the history of the Fairport Branch or Lake Branch railroad. My grandfather's farm abutted the right of way and i spent many hours watching the steam trains go by as a boy. Any suggestion on sources of information would be appreciated.
Ron: Do you have any photos of the line from when you worked on it? I ride my bike a lot on the rail-trail between Painesville and near Middlefield. I'm excited about the extension of the trail down to Swine Creek. I've seen the video of the triple-EMAs that once traveled thru there.
to Brian Dugan - Brian, I found a copy of Trains magazine, December, 2012, but could not find any pictures or info on the Lake Line. Did I have the right issue?
No Brian I do not. On my travels up to Chardon I see where the bike trail crosses the highway. How far down from Painesville does it run?
Ron: Currently the bike trail runs from Painesville to Route 608 just north-west of Middlefield. There's a small segment in Chardon that was never connected, but that's in the works now to be connected. The tail is currently being extended from Route 608 near Middlefield all the way to Swine Creek Reservation which is just south-east of Middlefield. It will follow the old B&O ROW the whole way to Swine Creek. There's a large iron span bridge still in-place over Swine Creek Rd which will be used in the trail extension.
Wow, tons of replies since I last logged on. Tom in Chagrin..... The latest Classic Trains issue was almost all about Middlefield and the helper siding in Bundysburg. This was part of the Lakeline but the issue with some Fairport shots was from years ago. Herbert Harwood Jr took many of the shots and video from this area and was the contributing author for both stories in Trains?
Thank you for the bike trail info Scott. Do you travel the trail regularly?
I'm an avid user of this corridor and trail as well. I'm most interested in helping to get the trail completed from Jackson St in Painesville to Headlands. Some of the tracks are still there although they are mostly overgrown with trees and brush. How do I determine who is responsible for this corridor?
The tracks that run from Painesville into Grand River are still owned by CSX Railroad. They have not been used since 2002 and are currently out-of-service. There has been recent interest to re-open that 2.56 mile segment to once again service Morton Salt by rail.
Scott in Cleveland. Thanks a million for your input. You obviously have a wealth of knowledge about the subject. Given that GRR could service Morton Salt, one would obviously think that a "Rail with Trail" arrangement might be made. This type of arrangement has become very popular. Could we possibly communicate outside this website? my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello, I had sent in some photos of the old track bed of the Fairport branch last month. I just wondered if you can use them.
Correction to last message; it should read L.A.
Kirtland was my old home town. Thanks.
Scott, have you heard anymore on the progress to re-open the 2.56 mile segment to service Morton Salt? I'm really interested and I really hope that everything goes as planned. I would love to see train run on those tracks in the future!
To Ron Selak....somewhere is a pic of three of you guys working at the grade crossing at Mayfield RD (322). Pick and shovel as you stated. There's also a pic of a sheriffs car that got plowed at the same crossing, by a helper unit and caboose probably on its way down to Bundysburg siding.
Dharma: There have been no updates since December 22. According to the STB, the transaction for Grand River Railway to purchase the 2.56 mile line was allowed to happen on or after January 7, 2015. I will post any new info that I find. I'm also hoping that all works out for this line to be resurrected.
Some recent activity in Grand River. There was a hi-rail excavator parked on the tracks adjacent to River St. in Grand River. No work had been performed, but appears to be evidence of track rehab work in the near future for this portion.
Ron and Brian: Here's the link of the photos showing track maintenance being performed in East Claridon at the US 322 Mayfield Rd crossing. I wish there were more photos of this line. Each time I bike the trail south of Chardon I still find something new that I've never noticed before such as discarded ties or segments of old track that have been thrown off to the side.
I was in Painesville and Grand River two days ago. They are actively doing track maintenance in that area, to reopen it to Morton Salt. Wednesday, May 20, they were by Rutherfords replacing ties, etc. I took a few pictures.
There is an article about the line in today's local newspaper. http://www.news-herald.com/general-news/20150522/commerce-to-roll-once-again-as-lake-county-railroad-line-restoration-nears-completion
Thank you for posting that article. It's great to know that this line will be up and running by mid-June with two locomotives.
Images of the refurbished locos are at http://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/new-diesels-at-the-age-of-team-roundhouse
The line has been up and running in recent weeks with a leased CSX locomotive.
Chris - Are there any reports that they're planning to remove the bridge that spans over Swine Creek Rd? It seems like it would be more logical for them to re-purpose the bridge and build right on top of the decking for the trail's extension.
Scott- I know that they send out these news letters in geauga, talking about their big plans to continue the trail south to the little Swine Creek .They already scrapped the classic B&O bridge over the Cuyahoga River recently , so i see no way for them not to sweep out the much larger "swine creek bridge" from under us.but,their information and plans are hard to come by under a google search.
@Scott can you fill me in more about the news letter about plans to contuine the trail to "little Swine Creek". Like you said I found nothing about that doing a google search. Also I have never heard of "little Swine Creek" or found anything about a "little Swine Creek" on Google, more info would be great. Thanks!
Article with photos regarding the reopening of a portion of the line to Morton Salt Co. http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2016/12/grand_river_railways_revived_short_line_spurs_businesses_in_lake_county_photos_video.html
i worked on b&o and later csx for over 40 years. iworked the lake branch as brakeman and conductor from 1968 until its abandonment in 1981. the last train left fairport on 10-31-81 holloween.