Lorain to Custaloga Junction

The Lorain, Ashland and Southern Railroad

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Looking southwest, rails still remain in a street, in the city of Lorain. Photo by Aaron M., July 2008.

The bizarre story of this short-lived line traces its roots to 1894 with the Millersburg, Jeromeville and Greenwich Railroad (later the Ashland and Wooster Railway), a railroad primarily built to haul bricks from a brick plant Jeromeville to Custaloga Junction with the Pittsburg, Ft. Wayne and Chicago Railway (later became part of the Pennsylvania Railroad). The line was extended to Ashland in 1899.

Meanwhile, president of the Wabash Railroad, Joseph Ramsey Jr., began planning a rail line to connect the steel mills and docks at Lorain to the Wheeling & Lake Erie mainline (still in use). His line would become the Lorain & West Virginia Railroad. Sometime during this project however, Ramsey either quit or was fired, and the line was completed without him.

Ramsey decided to build a line "on his own," the Lorain and Ashland Railroad, to compete with the L&WV. The line nearly paralleled the L&WV from Lorain to Wellington. Both Lines made it to Lorain in 1906. Ironically, the Lorain & Ashland was never used after its completion, and fell into disrepair. This also gave the L&WV time to establish itself, putting the Lorain & Ashland in a position from which it could not recover.

In 1913, a consolidation of several lines, including Lorain & Ashland and Ashland & Wooster resulted in the Lorain, Ashland and Southern Railroad. By 1915, the portion from Wellington and Ashland was completed, unused portions repaired, and traffic finally began on the full length of the route. Despite the fact that this line would have made a perfect access for the Erie Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad from their mainlines to Lorain (it is speculated that this was one of Ramsey's intentions), neither used the line. Ramsey later sold half interest of the line to both.

Despite efforts to stay afloat, severe competition and corporate mismanagement caused the company to go under in 1925, effectively abandoning the line. Rails remained until 1942, when the drive for scrap metal for the War resulted in the line being pulled up.

After many years, virtually no trace of the line exists. Most of the ROW has been destroyed by farms and urban sprawl. However, rails remain in pavement in a few streets in Lorain, some bridge abutments remain, and railbed is still visible in some rural areas. Also, interlocking pads can still be found along the Rail-Trail that was once the NYC Mohawk Division.

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

I grew up on a farm in southern Lorain county. There is still a good portion of this railbed that is preserved that ran through our property, including a huge very well intact culvert. This always fascinated me as a kid. My parents still live there.

Joe Bowman
Formerly Lorain County, OH
5/1/2009

[Thanks for the pictures, Joe!  —Greg Harrison]

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Rails still in-place at the E.34th and E.33rd road crossings. Amazing that these have not been paved over after 84 years of non-use.

Scott
Cleveland, OH
10/13/2009

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Hi Fellows, I live very near Loudonville, in fact have worked there for 21 years, we have spent many days following this and the old Wally RR (T & WV RR). You'll be surprised at how much stuff remains. Lots of ROWs, some buildings that served the railroad, bridge piers, raised roadbeds and abutments abound. You just need time and maps!

Bryan Fuller
Butler, OH
2/10/2010

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Bridge abutments still remain on either side of 28th street in Lorain where LA&S passed over same street, before entering west end of steel mill.

John Thompson
Elyria, OH
8/14/2010

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To more pinpoint remaining bridge abutments from L,A,&S, either side of 28th street in Lorain, right next to B&O bridge crossing of same street, on either side of present day Norfolk Southern mainline (former LS&MS,NYC,PC)just west of Oberlin Road in Amherst Township. Former Lorain and West Virginia bridge over same mainline is also there, still intact, however, not usuable. Former Conrail illegally rised this bridge several years ago to allow for clearance of double stack rail cars. L&WV bridge now about two feet off abutments on either end. About one quarter mile south of Russia Road in Oberlin Towship, west of Elyria, still can tell where L,A,&S crossed L&WV. Both railroads crossed Russia road within 50 feet of each other. Concrete bridge remains can still be seen north of Wellington where L,A,&S crossed Black River, right next to L&WV bridge crossing. *Excellant book about L,A,&S is now available.

John Thompson
Elyria, OH
10/13/2010

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A few copies of "The Rattlesnake & The Ramsey, The History of the Lorain, Ashland, & Southern Railroad" by William S. Snyder, 478pp Custaloga Press; are still available, signed by the author. This is a comprehensive look at one of America's little known rail lines. Over 500 illustrations, maps. extensive indices, personnel rosters, equipment/rollinng stock lists, etc.

A great Christmas gift for the railroad historian. $49.95 + $4.00 shipping.

Custaloga Press

1570 Greenbriar Drive

Ashland, Ohio 44805

William Snyder
Ashland, OH
11/12/2010

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Where exactly is Custaloga Junction? Can someone help me pinpoint the exact location on a map?

Thanks,

Mark - mkibler@alumni.unity.edu

Mark
New Hampshire/ Jeomesville, OH
11/20/2010

[Mark, Custaloga Junction is the point of connection of the LA&S with the PRR line, just east of Big Prairie, OH.  —Greg Harrison]

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I came across your website in researching the area at the end of Reid Avenue in Lorain. I grew up there and have often walked the path in the woods that has the old railroad cinders still there. The path that we walked on the railroad tracks still exists today and leads from Reid Avenue to Elmwood Cemetery near Clearview High School. I live in Grafton but grew up in Twin Wells Mobile Allotment (now located at the end of Reid Avenue) and my parents still reside there today.

Susan Knauff
Grafton, OH
7/26/2011

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Grew up in Savannah, OH in the 60's and 70's. Walked the rail trail from Co Road 500 to SR 302 many times in my childhood. Familar with the bridge, sandstone culverts, etc with the photos posted on line. I know the spot where the engine sank overnight in quick sand, and can point out today. My dad born in 1910, showed all of us kids, many times.

Tara Calame
Medina,, OH
11/10/2012

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As a kid in the 1940s I used to explore the Ramsey as it ran a few miles to the West of our house in Oberlin. At the time there were still RR warning signs on the then US 20 (now Ohio 511). The Ramsey ran South through the Oberlin golf course, where some bridge abutments over Plum Creek were still visible. There was still a rusting old semaphore on my first expedition, but it was gone a few years later, victim of the WW II scrap drive no doubt. I did once hike the ROW from Oberlin to its intersection with Ohio 58 some miles North of town--no one had thought to fence it off then.

You can still see the ROW as a green line on the satellite map. And in fact there were the remains of ANOTHER railroad to the East of this one which seems to have passed through the Western outskirts of Oberlin, running just to the West of the Prospect Street grade school. I believe it connected with the Ramsey and was probably some kind of siding. (Not to mention the Interurban tracks that once ran down College Street.) You could tell where these ROWs had been because of the big bumps the former US 20 made over them, gone now.

Our grandchildren will never know...or care.

Peter Chase
Alpine, TX
3/7/2013

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Sorry--my blunder. Just saw a better map, showing the Ramsay running well within the Oberlin City limits, just West of Prospect Street. THAT was my Ramsey.

HOWEVER, this is NOT the RR that still shows on satellite maps running NS crossing the then US 20 about 1500 feet West of S. Pyle-Amherst road (Presti's Restaurant, then and now). SO--what is this ROW that shows up on the satellite maps? Anyone know?

Peter Chase
Alpine, TX
3/7/2013

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Peter, I hope you see this over 1 year since your post. The line just West of Oberlin is the Lorain and West Virginia.

Tom dkins
Vermilion, OH
4/22/2014

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