Phalanx Station to Minerva

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The building on the right appears to be the old Diamond station (which might have once been called Palmyra Station, since it is in Palmyra Township). It is likely that there were two tracks, one on either side of the building, for northbound and southbound trains. A few hundred feet behind the picture, Interstate 76 has a bridge over the right of way, indicating that this part of the railroad was still present (if not in use) until the late 1960s at least. Photo by Elias C. Jones, July 2003.

Built between 1875 and 1877, this section appears on old Ohio railroad maps as the LEA&W, or the Lake Erie, Alliance & Wheeling Railroad. This line was built at 3' gauge and was standardized in 1880. Here is a description and history of the LEA&W from the Rails and Trails web site:

Lake Erie, Alliance and Wheeling Railroad Company. Incorporated January 20, 1901. Acquired all the property of The Alliance and Northern Railroad Company, The Ohio River and Lake Erie Railroad Company, and The Wheeling and Cleveland Railroad Company.

The line extends from Phalanx, Trumbull County, Ohio, to Dillonvale, Jefferson County, Ohio. The northern portion of this property was originally constructed as a narrow guage in 1875. In 1880 standard gauge was adopted and the line completed shortly thereafter to Bergholz. During 1901 and 1902 the road was extended to Dillonvale, passing through the extensive coal fields now being developed by the Lake Erie, Alliance and Wheeling Coal Company, The Eastern Ohio Coal Company, The Ohio and Pennsylvania Coal Company, and The United States Coal Company.

The main line from Phalanx to Dillonvale is 90 miles long. During the year 1902 the old wooden bridges have been replaced by steel structures, the old portion of the road ballasted and retied, and additional rolling stock acquired.

NOTE: The line actually terminated at a Conrail line at Phalanx Station, about a mile southeast of Phalanx, OH.

The LEA&W was purchased by the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway in 1903. The LSMS became part of the New York Central in December 1914. This section of the line apparently survived until the days of Penn Central, but was abandoned between 1972 and 1976. The railroad's northern end was at Phalanx Station, near Braceville in western Trumbull County, on the Erie railroad Cleveland Branch. From here the railroad passed southward through Portage, Mahoning, and Stark Counties. At Minerva there was an intersection with the PRR and a small yard. From Minerva the railroad continued southeast to Dillonvale, a very small town near the Ohio River. The line from Minerva to Dillonvale outlived the northern half and is or was operated (at least in part) as a short line by Ohi-Rail (although the southernmost part of the Ohi-Rail is likely abandoned now between Hopedale and Dillonvale, as shown in the SPV Atlas). Towns on or near the right of way include Braceville, Newton Falls, Diamond, Deerfield, Alliance, and Paris.

It is not certain exactly when the railroad was abandoned. Some maps suggest the line was out of service in the 1960's, while others indicate it lasted into the Conrail years. "Right-of-Way" (see links page) lists it as being abandoned by Penn Central between 1972 and 1984. Since Penn Central survived only until 1976, this would put the abandonment in the 1972 - 1976 time period. The northernmost end of the line appears to have survived the longest as it is in this area (in and around Newton Falls) where the ROW is most evident. The route can also be traced through Alliance if you know what to look for. In most other places the ROW has not endured the years well and is difficult to find.

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

I grew up here the building on the right is the old r.r. station the tracks were to the right of the car. thank you

Jim
Diamond, OH
3/14/2009

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There was a tunnel north of Minerva, considering the unstable rock in these hills, I have a feeling the section between Minerva and Alliance was probably abandoned in the 60s or 70s. After that point in time the section between Minerva and Dillonvale was operated as the Piney Fork secondary of the New York Central and then eventually the Penn Central.

Numerous visits to the yard in Minerva found lots of coal being pulled by F units in the 70s. The trains that left this yard traveled to nearby Bayard and entered the Pennsylvania's Yellow Creek secondary route. They either went to the Ohio river area or north to Cleveland.

The northern part from Alliance to Newton Falls was operated in the 70s on what appeared to be an as needed basis as during that time I did see trains at Newton Falls, Deerfield and North Benton. When the area became entrenched in the Conrail era all the northern section that was left was abandoned except around Newton Falls?this came later as some industry still used the tracks in the Falls area. The area north of Newton Falls was abandoned before the 70's as I don't recall anything north of route 5 to have existed. This was probably due the major generator of traffic, coal, being routed over the Pennsy.

Steve Paul
Akron, OH
2/3/2010

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I am looking for information about the collapse of a railroad tunnel or an accident in a railroad tunnel near Minerva. The location would be just west of Minerva. Possibly this occurred in the late 1800's. The location, I believe, is a short distance north of where the LEA&W line crosses the old Lincoln Highway. The line was taken up and turned into a bike path in the 60's. The tunnel location was closer to the Lincoln Highway crossing than to the next crossing north (Crowl Rd. - Crowl St.). Just east of the line Tunnel Hill Road (now Tunnel Hill St.) more or less parallels the rail line. No tunnel existed in the 60's, but I walked the line from the Lincoln Highway crossing to the Crowl Rd. crossing and noted a cut through a hill with very high steep sides. It was high enough that a tunnel would probably been the least expensive way of cutting through.

Palmer Cook
Cincinnati, OH
1/2/2011

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i grew up in newton falls and remember this rail line running right trough the newton falls city park. in fact, the old roadbed is now a paved walking trail that extends from the north to the south end of town. i am in the very early stages of researching the abandonment of this line with hopes of someday turning the old mainline from phalanx to dillonvale into a "rails-to-trails" trail.

ron selak
newton falls, OH
6/24/2011

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Thanks for the research you did, quite interesting.

I know for a fact that the line was abandoned before 1979.

I drove to Youngstown daily and there was no track under

Interstate 76, or past the depot in Diamond at that time.

In fact, the RoW was grown over quite a bit by then.

Seeing the depot just south of the interstate caught my

attention, since I worked for EL/CR at the time.

Fred Stuckmann
Akron, OH
1/6/2012

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Back when I was a kid (early 1950s) we would haul our grain down to Freeburg Station to be loaded and shipped, and coal for the farm heat would be brought in and unloaded in the fall. Now there is not even a trace of the old ROW in that area, as it has been bulldozed and reclaimed. I sure miss walking those rails with my old dog Jack!

G. M. Siler
Alliance, OH
2/16/2012

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I came across your site today, and it brings back many memories. My family moved to Alliance, Ohio in 1954 on Watson Avenue, then to Pleasant Place in 1957. I attended South Liberty Elementary School, State Street Junior High School and Mount Union College. Beginning in 1957 I would walk south to the end of Pleasant Place through the woods and the fields to the railroad tracks you describe here. I haunted the woods, the fields and along the tracks for 10 years, when I left home in 1967 for school in Seattle, Washington, the U.S. Army, and to Maryland where I have lived since 1974. I walked the tracks several times every week in all seasons of the year, west to Beechwood then southwest along the tracks towards where they cross Route 153 near Freeburg. I use to study the topographical maps for many hours, tracing the track through the farm country southwest of Alliance. The longest walk I took was down the tracks to Paris, Ohio where the tracks cross Route 172 and then back home. I wanted to see Copes Lake near that spot, which I had seen on the topographical map. Once I cut cross-country from the tracks to Mud Lake, which I had also seen on the map. I use to camp in the woods just off the tracks about a quarter mile west of Ridgewood Avenue. Back in those days there were no houses south of Milton Avenue to the tracks, only woods. I remember when the pheasants were plentiful, and one day around 30 pheasants took flight along the tracks as I walked. I watched birds back then and still do. I did a lot of thinking along those tracks and figuring things out. One of the last things I did before going to Viet Nam in 1970 was to walk along those tracks. The woods are now gone at the south end of Pleasant Place and the tracks.

Bart W. Bartram

Middletown, MD

6/28/12

Bart W. Bartram
Middletown, MD
6/28/2012

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Thank you first of all for the great website. I have the answers to all the questions posted. I was a fireman on the PC during this time and worked the Newton Falls switch run often 1969-1974.

The section from Minerva to Mt Union was abandoned on paper by the Penn Central General Order 325 12/13/69 but the Newton Falls switch run had not used the track for at least a year before. The Newton Falls switch run was moved from Minerva to Alliance around 1972.The rail from Braceville to Newton Falls was being taken up on 05/20/74. The job was abolished 12/04/74.The last time I was called for the job was 11/14/74.

I was working as a fireman on the Alliance yard job 02/17/76 we were instructed to go to Palmyra and pick gondolas of loaded rail that was taken up Newton Falls to Palmyra.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer had a short article about the tunnel cave in north of Minerva on 07/08/1902

Chip Syme
Minerva, OH
7/3/2012

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does anyone know the current owners of the abandoned right of way from where it crossed south canal street and headed south through newton township to palmyra? my mother grew up in palmyra in the 20's and 30's, in fact her father worked at the tile plant in diamond and they liveg there on the company grounds also. she remembers walking the tracks on her way to school and taking the train with her mother from diamond to alliance to shop.

ron selak
newton falls, OH
10/10/2012

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Mr. Selak:

I don't know if you are still interested in the future of this being a rail trail but on April 2nd 2013 stark parks is having a meeting at the Minerva library 6:30-8:00 pm on trail and park development trough stark county. they have a small section of this line by alliance open already called the iron horse trail. this trail and several others are going to be discussed to see if there is enough interest in them for the county to continue developing them. portage county also has a section open over Berlin lake. from state rt. 14 to state rt. 224.

dale
homeworth, OH
3/23/2013

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Dale,

Thanks for posting the meeting info in Minerva and the trail info in Alliance and Portgage county.

Ron Selak.

ron sleak
newton falls, OH
4/7/2013

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I grew up right next to the Railroad here. The car in the picture was my Dads. I lived down the alley that goes between he station and the large brick building in the picture. The tracks ran just alittle ways over from the car. Was a sad day for my Grandfather Bob Mordew when Conrail bought and removed railroad. He and my great grandfather had worked on that line for over 30 yrs. I have some good memories of the train that ran thru there.

Nancy Chalfant
Diamond Ohio
4/21/2013

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Nancy,

Do you remember the Cergle family from Diamond? My mother's name was Catherine and her parents were Eva & Frank. My grandfather worked for the tile plant and retired in 1965. My mom graduated from Palmyra High School in 1943. I would like to see the old roadbed turned into a walking and biking trail from Newton Falls to Diamond. Thank you.

ron selak
newton falls, OH
4/22/2013

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Ron, I don't recall the name you asked about. I'm only 51 so that was before my time. Don't recall parents or grandparents mentioning that name. There is one older lady still here that may recall. I will ask. The people who did have the old rr and were R. Savako.

Nancy Chalfant
Diamond Ohio
5/17/2013

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The Erie used this line between Phalanx and Braceville (1.3 miles)for a Cleveland to Marion freight. There was an interlocking at Braceville.

At Newton Falls, the line crossed a tail of the old B&O line (built as the narrow gauge P&W). The diamond was protected by a manually operated "tilt board" signal set for the LEA&W. In Alliance, it crossed both the PRR C&P and Fort Wayne mains.

Minerva is where the coal trains headed to Cleveland entered PRR's Tuscarawas Secondary. Trains used Pennsy trackage rights as far as Brady Lake where they returned to NYC's Lake Erie & Pittsburgh line to Marcy (also abandoned. At Minerva there was in interchange with the Nickel Plate (W&LE).

dan olah
north bend, , WA
6/22/2013

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I lived right next to the RR Station in Diamond most of my life. My grandfather and great grandfather worked on that line for over 30 yrs. Is there any way to get more info or pictures on this station? My boyfriend and a lady from Ravenna bought the land that the rr tracks were on but he passed away in 2006 and I don't know what became of the lady as she was elderly then. I did know her name but can't recall it now. I still can remember the train waking me up in the morning blowing its whistle before it crossed over Tallmage Rd Rt 18 every morn. looking to hear from you regarding this.

Nancy Chalfant
Diamond, OH
9/7/2013

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The information at this site is most useful, interesting and appreciated. Recently I have been physically looking at the old right-of-way of this line, and can add a little more to this story. I am originally from Canton, Ohio where I saw a lot of Pennsy steam & early diesel locomotives as a youth in the 1950's. My father was a fireman on the steam engines of the W&LE, the PRR and the GTW in Michigan, and I have always been fascinated by trains.

I live very close to where this line ran from Minerva to Alliance. I have also been inside the former NYC roundhouse in Minerva, as well as the yard now used by Ohio Rail. Minerva was a very busy rail center until the early 1960's, and I have known some of the "old timers" and heard many stories about the coal trains leaving town, the 'mallets' and double headed steam engines. I had lunch about 20 years ago at the Dairy Royale on Rt. 43 with a steam locomotive fireman who ran the mallet coal trains from Minerva to Newton Falls and back from 1940, until the early 1950's. He said that he really liked the job. Another old timer I knew, Don Lock, worked the yard at Minerva during the late 40's, and he detested the work. He left the railroad and became a carpenter! I too, remember coal drags still being pulled out of this town by diesel F units in the 1970's, when I moved into the area. The late Alvin Stauffer has pictures of some of these steam mallets in the Minerva yard in one of his NYC Steam Power picture books. There is also a picture of a Mallet & its train coming south towards Freeburg in it.

Most of the old NYC road bed is still intact on the line to Alliance, except for several places where coal stripping was done in the last few decades. I have seen the Tunnel Hill Rd. deep cut (where the tunnel colapsed in 1902), as well as the deep cuts under Warren Rd., near Paris, Ohio. The bridge abutments are still there on Pleasant Valley Dr., south of Paris, where the PRR Bayard cutoff crossed over the NYC line. I well remember walking along the Bayard line in the late 1950's, and the NYC tracks near Cope pond in 1971.

The line through Mt. Union is barely traceable today, except for the part further south along Beech Ave., going south towards Freeburg. The old Right-Of-Way can still be seen, however, in the older neighborhoods going north through Alliance (just east of Union Ave), from Mt. Union north into downtown, where there is still an old overhead road bridge over the old line, just before coming to Main St. There is a caboose & a small park there now, just north of the aforementioned overpass. Amazingly enough, I was surprised to notice just today, while driving around the area, that the NYC track to the north of Alliance is still there! There is a current, but older connection with the old Conrail, PRR line (now Norfold Southern), and the merged track then runs north into the NYC line, and across the NYC rail bridge over the Mahoning River. The bridge is definately still there with the NYC track intact, near N. Webb Ave. The tracks then run north towards Berlin Lake, across Oyster Rd. and West Middletown Rd and beyond. I intend to drive up that way soon to see just how far the existing tracks still go.

Incidentaly, and in closing, I do recall having seen a local NYC freight going north on the line between Paris and Freeburg, just north of the Georgetown Rd. crossing back in 1961 while I was hunting. This was where the line crossed the Rosenberger farm. Sadly, one of the young Rosenberger brothers was killed there by a NYC train in the late 1940's, or early 1950's, as he was crossing the track on the farm lane. This story came first hand from a relative of the family, who I knew very well. I also remember when, in the 1970's, the Rosenberger family bought the right-of-way and had excavating equipment brought in to remove the former line on their property & restore their farm fields.

Gary Juwell
Paris Twp, Stark Co,, OH
2/10/2014

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Upon further checking today, (Feb. 11, 2014), while driving around Lexington Twp. of Stark Co., and Smith Twp. of Mahoning Co., I found that the existing NYC track seems to end NE of Oyster Rd, before it gets to Middletown Rd. This area is very flat, as it was scraped level by the Pleistocene glacier in an earlier geological period. The general area in question was heavily strip mined for coal & clay, (which was very close to the surface), in the 1940's & 50's, and there is a huge earthen fill mound to the east of Oyster Rd. at the present time. This is where there was a recent landfill, which also has a huge, green, metal industrial building that the original track leads directly into. It appears that the track was used until the last decade or so to accommodate rail trash cars going into this now dormant dump. This probably explains why this section of the NYC line is still there.

I then followed the old right-of-way to the north-east across Bandy and Johnson Roads until I came to North Benton. I found that there is now a public walking path from about where the old N.B. station sat, north along the Berlin Lake R.R. causeway all the way to State Rt. 224. Despite the deep snow and extreme cold, I walked the R.O.W. out to the railway bridge over the lake. The bridge, which is 475 ft. long, is in excellent condition, having been built in about 1943, when the Mahoning river was dammed, and the lake formed. The causeway to the north of the bridge, that leads to Rt. 224, is very long and straight. This was a very scenic and serene place to visit on a late Winter afternoon, and I was the only person there. I took photos of the lake location, as well as photos of several other crossings along the R.O.W., such as at Western Reserve Rd., Courtney Rd, Benton Rd. etc. The old right-of-way really stands out in Winter, for following it, as well as photographing it. The Berlin Lake causeway & bridge is well worth visiting, and I plan to return in the Spring.

I also intend to follow the line north to Newton Falls & Phalanx in the future. I have already seen the line at Stillfork, Watheys, Mechanicstown, Bergholz and the old yard at Amsterdam, but do intend to go down south to Dillonvale, which I have never been to yet. The country south of Minerva is un-glaciated and very hilly, but picturesque. I will comment on these trips in the future.

Gary Juwell
Paris Twp, Stark Co., OH
2/11/2014

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Additional commentary.

Today I drove to Phalanx Mills and Phalanx Station. There is little to be seen here, without a considerable walk up the old Cleve. branch of the Erie, to where the NYC branch ended. Weather permitting, I'll do it sometime, but heavy snow cover prevented it today. I then drove down to Braceville and saw where the NYC crossed over the Erie main line, which is still there, tracks and all. From there I went down to Newton Falls and found the old NYC r.o.w. still plainly visible in many areas. It basically skirts the Mahoning River in town. The old Passenger depot is still there, and is now a barber shop & beauty salon. The old PRR line to Brady Lake is now gone, although the girder bridge across the river is still in place. The beautiful old B&O station has also been torn down [thanks to "big hearted" CSX]. From there I went down to Palmyra, and then to Diamond. The old depot is still there, (like in the above picture), but in the cold and snow, and grey of Winter, is quite forlorn looking today. This line certainly saw much happier days, once upon a time.

Gary Juwell
Paris Twp. Stark Co., OH
2/14/2014

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Chip Syme.. Would you have any information on the section of old line that ran behind the old bliss manufacturing complex off of first street in newton falls? I live beside the old r.r bed and today it's mostly used as a place to ride 4 wheelers. What I'm wondering is if their were any tunnels in that immediate area especially up close to Main Street where it crossed. The old bed is literally only feet away from my property and we are experiencing sinking in and around our yard and garage. Just wondering if we're sinking into an old tunnel/ sinkhole. Any tunnel info you could provide if any would be appreciated.

Matt funk
Newton falls , OH
3/31/2014

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gary,

if you're referring to the old b&o tower that stood on franklin street in newton falls, that building was damaged beyond repair when a train derailed and a car from the derailed trIN slammed into the office occupied by the signal maintainers. no one was in the office at the time but the building was damaged beyond repair and the decision was made to demolish it.

ron selak
newton falls, OH
4/2/2014

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matt,

i grew up in newton falls during the 60's and don't recall a tunnel at main street. that is not to say one never existed prior to that time.

ron selak
newton falls, OH
4/2/2014

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Ron,

Thanks for the information on the B&O tower. I remembered seeing that building years ago when I went through the town, and thought that it was the station. I stand corrected. Do you know about where the last B&O station was located?

As regards Matt's question about land subsidence, was there ever any deep mining of coal or clay in the immediate area, and has anyone else had a similar problem? I suppose that problem could also be caused by prior backfilling, the subterranean hydraulic shifting of glacial till, and/or fissures in the strata under the Mahoning River basin.

Gary Juwell
Paris Twp, Stark Co., OH
4/8/2014

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Gary,

The B&O Tower was also a passenger station back in the day. The B&O discontinued passenger service in the early 70's.

Ron.

ron selak
newton falls, OH
4/9/2014

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Nancy, my husband and I just purchased the palmyra station and plan to restore it. I would love to hear your stories of living next door and get any information about the history of the property...

Natalie
Diamond, OH
4/26/2014

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Natalie would you contact me at nancy.chalfant50@gmail.com? Are the old desks in back etc still in station. Roger Savako changed locks. if email doesn't get posted I will leave you a note at station. I only live up street. I will share what I know about the station.

Nancy Chalfant
Diamond Ohio, OH
4/26/2014

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Ray, we would love to hear any stories that are associated with your mother's memories of the Diamond/Palmyra Depot.

Any others who have information about the Palmyra Station/Diamond Depot, we would love to hear from you as well.

We are very excited about restoring this building and appreciate any input. This site has been very informational. I set up an email account for correspondence and we will be setting up a Facebook page to post updates and photos. For now, the email address is PalmyraDepot@neo.rr.com if you would like to share any information.

Natalie
Diamond, OH
4/27/2014

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My father and grandfather both worked at the Minerva Roundhouse. The Southern portion of the line (Piney Fork) from the completely rebuilt Minerva yard to Hopedale and the interchange at Apex is currently being re-tied and rebuilt by Amtrac and CR Construction to haul frac sand and limestone South to Utica/Marcellus oil & gas wells. Coal (Murray Energy and Rosebud), well flowback and brine will return North. The trackage from Dillonvale and Piney Fork are gone, but I was told Wolf Run spur was going to be refurbished.

Robert King
Minerva, OH
6/5/2014

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I worked on this line in 1971 and it was taken out in 1972 or early 1973

mark lane
n.canton, OH
6/11/2014

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