The Smith's Ferry Branch
This branch line was operated by the Youngstown & Southern Railway (a joint venture between Pennsylvania RR and the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie (itself a part of the New York Central)). Its purpose was to move bituminous coal brought in from ferries on the Ohio River at Smith's Ferry and transport it inland to coal processing plants. The line connected with another Y&S line at Negley.
The branch served a coal washing facility just south of Negley that was operated by the Pittsburgh Consolidation Coal Company. After being washed, practically all of the coal would move further along the Y&S to Republic Steel Corporation at Youngstown, Ohio.
The right-of-way included a tunnel in the mountains near Little Beaver River; the track was removed in 1995.
Grew up in this area of Beaver Creek, Smith's Ferry and Midland PA. Have you ever seen photos of the old wooden trestle on this line? It was torn down but my relatives have a few photos of it beforehand.
I hiked a good portion of this old rail line to photograph Grimms Tunnel. Unfortunately, I went the wrong way down the line but, I came upon the old abutment and piers for the wooden trestle you mentioned, Paul. Would it be possible to post the photos your family has? Or perheps you could send them to me via email @ email@example.com
I have several pictures of the now removed bridge that spanned Bieler Run just south of Fredericktown. It was 1500ft long and 100ft high. Made of steel it had a wooden deck. I walked across it many times in my youth.
I also remember an old wooden caboose, possibly an N6B, sitting about 1/4 mile north of the tunnel. Sadly it was torched by kids...
Thanks for this information about the Smith's Ferry Branch. In the 1970s, specifically 1975-1976 I turned 16 and got my drivers license and made several trips to Fredericktown, Ohio between 1975 to 1977. We used to swim on the North Fork of Little Beaver Creek just northnof Fredericktown at a place called "The Tubbs", you can see it on satellite view today. Then we would hikenthe abandoned rail line, hopping on just near the plate-girder bridge you have pictured. The hike was just over a mile on this line which had been abandoned for years and there were several rock slides and huge boulders on the rails along the way. I remember the rails were embossed with the name of Carnegie Steel who produced them. The hike was fascinating and then all of the sudden out of the blue came the prize...the beautiful trestle and breath taking view. I could sit for hours right in the middle of the thing and just take it all in. Sadly, I was not aware that they tore it all down. I had been trying to locate it on the maps on satellite, but of course it's not there. Even though I have a tear in my eye, I am so very grateful for this site and the posts. I know those who's posts I have read here have felt the same and share the special memories that I have of this place. Thanks again for sharing.
my grandfather was an engineer on that line...e had a cabin on beaver creek near the old tunnel...the family had it for a long time. I remember playing in the old caboose when I was a kid.....one of my uncles had the lanterns from it that he acquired when he was younger at some point in time. its a shame that the line wasn't kept to operate a tourist/rail enthuseist a cousin of mine told me about it being de railed............. what a shame
My father walked me down that line from fredrickstown. The bridge was definitely the treasure to be found. I to was very sad when they took it down! Finding the tunnel was fun also. Does anyone know why the south portal was covered long ago?
Paul, you said you have old pics. You, or anyone who reads this I would sure like emails :) thx in advance.
cmc051000 @ yahoo.com
I like to bike the rails to trails. Has anyone tried to consider opening this up to a bicycle trail? It sounds like it would be a much needed trail for this area.
I heard they maybe reopening this line. If you want a good book that covers this line is Rail of Dreams by Wayne A. Cole it has a lot of info and tons pictures. You are missing Champion #6 coal wash at Brush ran.
The state has been working for years on running a hiking trail through south of this area, connecting in Beaver Creek St Park, just recently a State funded group is taking efforts to turn this old rail line into a trail and reopen the tunnel end that is closed off ,drain it install lights ect. but seems to be running into trouble with right of ways on the Pa. side, the group has already leased a big part of this land from the "Vodery Trust" who owns the majority of the rail line in Ohio where this trail would be, also heard a rumor this area could someday be part of B.C.S.P., Hiked there all through my youth & swam at the "Tubbs" use to get a pass to be in this area, tried recently but no luck was told by many "area was closed" that was before i learned the State has leased a big part of this, been hiking there again with no problems... yet, just to take some pictures of where the "Trestle" was, and the "Tunnel" "Tubbs" old "Locks" and walk the old tracks and see the old waterfall, have some old photos from the 80's & 90's but have to look for them, don't remember any caboose, must have been before my time, awesome views in this area, the "look out" (it changed names)i think it was "Elmers" the last i remember,where you could see the trestle was one of my favorite spots in C.C. Ohio, just beautiful! Best hiking around, loads of interesting things to see and explore! The south end of the tunnel was closed from "Slip" during mining above the tunnel, that's what i heard
I meant to say "North" not south.
Just hiked from Grimm's bridge road north to just south of Frederickstown. Went to where the old bridge use to be. Very sad. My dad and I hiked over it years ago. Pretty grown in. Between the former bridge and Frederickstown is very rough. Many significant rock slides just north of the bridge and again a little closer to frederickstown. Two places completely covered by slides. Must climb over them.
It actually is the south end of the tunnel that is covered and blocked. Was just at the North End last fall.
Thank You Ken Blackburn for sharing the Facebook link with the trestle photos. Made my day!
i have many photos of the smiths ferry rail line from the late eighties and early ninties before the rails and testle were removed. i also have photos of the tunnel from over the years. just took a series photos of the south portal as it was uncovered. they did a great job. hope the rails to trails project continues. want to take my bike through the tunnel