Ashtabula to Brookfield Station

The Franklin Division

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The last segment of the active line for the Ashtabula, Carson and Jefferson is used for car storage. A locomotive and some rolling stock occupy the very southern limits of the track. Photo by Russell Blackburn, February 2009.

This abandoned railway line opened in 1872, as the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern's (LS&MS) Franklin Division, running from Ashtabula to Andover, passing trough the towns of Jefferson and Dorset. It was connected to the Jamestown & Franklin Railroad at Andover, itself built in 1871, which provided connections to the coal and oil fields in western PA. At some point, the LS&MS leased the Mahoning Coal Railroad (built in 1873), which provided connections to coal fields of western PA to the steel mills in Pittsburgh, PA and Youngstown, OH.

A low-grade line was constructed in 1903 between Plymouth (now Carson) and Brookfield, OH, which eliminated the routing of slow-moving ore trains on the original, higher-grade line. The low-grade line was also straighter. After the opening of the low-grade line, the high-grade line became strictly a passenger route. By 1913, the LS&MS officially became part of the New York Central System (NYC), though the NYC had used the LS&MS for many years prior. Between 1922-1923, the high grade line was upgraded with heavier rail for 60 MPH operations, which enabled faster connections to and from the mainline.

By 1957, the struggling NYC ended passenger service in Jefferson, and concurrently removed trackage from Jefferson to Dorset. The NYC merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1968, to become the ill-fated Penn Central (PC). In the early 1970s, the PC abandoned the portion of the high-grade line from Andover and Brookfield. By 1976, the bankrupt PC merged with several other bankrupt railroads to become Conrail.

In 1983, Conrail announced its intentions to abandon the portion of the high-grade line from Jefferson to Carson. However, in 1984, the State of Ohio purchased the segment, and in turn, leased it to a short-line railroad that still operates today, the Ashtabula, Carson, & Jefferson Railroad. In 1988, Conrail abandoned the remaining line east of Dorset. Today, the low-grade line is still in use by Norfolk Southern. The rest of the ROW remains undeveloped.

For an extensive history of this line, see The NYC's Franklin Division.

Thanks to Aaron M. for contributing information about this route.

I appreciate your work both photo and text, thanks.

Fred Stuckmann
Stow, OH
7/5/2009

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Wonderful collection of photos!

Kevin M. Smith
Cicero, NY
2/8/2010

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I have a few pictures of the pennsy line near lake city to starting from the csx tracks to to the bessamere line.

It is west of lake City ,pa and goes to Albion

Thomas Kurilko
Erie, PA
3/25/2010

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As an former employee of the AC&J RR and an lifelong Jefferson resident i can tell you first hand that i have explored all of the section of railway and row all the way to rt 11 and it is beautiful. I even remember the conrail crews switching the local industries before it was abandoned.

Joe Conoboy
Geneva, KY
4/1/2013

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I believe the high grade line south of Andover was torn out in the early 60's. My Dad bought a camper in '64 and a frequent destination was the state park on Pymatuning Reservoir. We'd take Rt.5 to Kinsman and Rt. 7 from there. I vividly remember a spot where the highway crossed an abandoned RR ROW.

Never knew about the interlocking at Latimer where both the high and low grades crossed each other and the Erie line that bypassed Youngstown. That must have been an interesting operation.

dan olah
north bend, WA
6/23/2013

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There is an old building that I believe to be a railroad depot of some sort on Wayland Street in Farmdale, slightly southwest of Kinsman.

Steve Z
Warren, OH
6/23/2013

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Dan: I, too, spent many a happy holiday weekend in andover and turnerville, pa. on the pymatuning reservoir (as a kid in the 60s). the point where ohio SR7 crossed this line was near french's mill and the circle in downtown andover. my uncle owned and operated the local western auto store right in the square. we frequently drove up to the lake from levittsburg (SR5), so railfanning this line from brookville to simons and from andover down to jamestown was a regular part of our trip. also great railfanning while visting my grandparents in hubbard and campbell. sheet & tube country! good times!

robert calabrese
san diego, CA
10/20/2016

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I grew up in Andover across the street from this railroad line. As kids, we used to "play" on these tracks exploring culverts and picking up iron-ore pellets to use in our slingshots! Later when I was a teenager we rode our dirtbikes alongside sections of this route. My family left Andover before the tracks were removed and when I returned many years later my hometown was not nearly the same without the presence of a railroad. At least they have the old line to still hike along.

Mark Lyzwa
Andover, OH
12/8/2016

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