Leavittsburg to Mantua

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Half of a bridge over OH 82 in Garretsville. At some point the eastern abutment and the bridge itself were removed so the street could be widened. Photo by Elias C. Jones, July 2003.

In 1848, the Cleveland and Mahoning Valley Railroad was chartered to build a line from Cleveland to Youngstown, then over to Sharon and Sharpsville, PA. The segment between Leavittsburg and Cleveland became known as the Cleveland Branch of the Erie Railroad (later Erie Lackawanna), and was one of the principal rail routes into Cleveland. A portion of the line was also used by Atlantic and Great Western Railroad for its passenger service.

The line began at Erie's New York-Chicago mainline at Leavittsburg, near Warren (most of the mainline through Ohio is now also abandoned). The line traveled in a westerly direction, passing through the towns of Garretsville, Mantua, Aurora, Solon, Bedford Heights, and Warrensville Heights. The western terminus of the line was a yard on the east side of Cleveland. During its heyday, the railroad was double-track all the way from Leavittsburg to Cleveland. The segment from Mantua to Solon was reduced to single track in the 1960s, and the remainder of the road was "narrowed" in the 1970s.

The line at Geauga Lake was the route of Cleveland-Pittsburgh passenger service (joint with the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad). The last EL passenger service west of Port Jervis was Nos. 28 & 29, the Youngstown-Cleveland commuter train that ended in early 1977 under Conrail. Freight traffic was mostly coal and ore, but with a fair amount of merchandise to and from Cleveland. Oil and oil products also were a factor; in the early days A&GW with C&MV had one of the earliest through routes from the Pennsylvania oil fields to the refineries in Cleveland (Rockefeller later controlled most of the refineries).

The railroad remained in use up until the formation of Conrail, which made the line redundant to other rails to the south. The segment from Leavittsburg to just west of Mantua was abandoned in the late 1970s or early 1980s. The rest of the railroad survived and went to Norfolk Southern after the Conrail breakup. From Cleveland to Solon, the line is still used (occasionally) by NS. Track is still in place between Solon and Mantua, but the rails are in poor condition and some crossings have been paved over, suggesting that NS has no plans to resume service on this portion. Most of the right-of-way between Mantua and Garretsville has been made into an unpaved bike-walk trail, and the Mantua station remains as a small business.

Thanks to Elias C. Jones and Adam Dietrich for contributing information about this route.

Concrete structure was an Erie trackside telephone booth. They were extremely well-built.

Gary Lambillotte
Medina, OH
12/18/2008

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This line runs along the now defunct Geauga Lake Amusement Park. Several roller coasters were delivered to the park via the Lake Erie Railroad. The line is abandoned south of Harper Rd to Chamberlain Rd where the tracks end. There is discussion of re-activating the line as part of a commuter railroad and even re-building the track from it's now end-point in Mantua all the way to Youngstown. We'll see if it happens.

Scott
Cleveland, OH
10/4/2009

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The in service section of this line owned by NS is now operated by the Cleveland Commercial Railroad.

Dave
Stow, OH
4/21/2010

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The bridge over SR 82 (west abutment in picture #1) was removed in 1995 or 96. The east abutment was removed about that same time, and the ROW graded to make way for the new/expanded IGA store. The IGA gas station now sits on ROW 'wiped out' in picture #6. The freight station was disassembled and removed to an unknown location in 2009. The local building supply store that owned it closed in 2007 or 2008.

Gary Girt
Garrettsville, OH
7/8/2010

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Picture #3 shows a line side telephone booth. EL had those in many places, I worked the EL between 1967 into Conrail to 1982. This line in particular, I worked in 79/80.

Fred Stuckmann
Akron, OH
11/26/2012

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I worked for the EL in Akron (a LONG time ago). The structure near Mantua was a company phone booth connected to the dispatcher and allowed train crews to get instructiosn.

dan olah
snoqualmie valley, WA
5/15/2014

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Here is where I spent time with Gramma, Ruth Coster waiting for Grampa Charles Coster or "Bill" Sr. to come home on the train from Cleveland Ohio working for my other step Grandfather Charles Uhlir. Uhlir Bros. Printing Co. I used to put pennies on the track waiting at the train station at Geauga Lake and get them back flat as the train rolled off. I remember the tears silently dropped as Grampa got off the train for the very last time. It would no longer go to Cleveland.It's a very vivid memory for me.

Susan "EVANS" Brown
Geauga Lake orig, now SC, SC
7/12/2014

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My dad owned the land between the railroad tracks and Brosious road. He sold some land to the city for the dump, right up next to the tracks. We kids used to shoot rats at the dump with pellet guns and 22's. 1950 to 1957.

a. Gary smith
garrettsville, OH
10/28/2014

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