Welcome to Photo Line! While it is a painful fact that many miles of the old Erie Railroad are long gone, what is left is both overlooked and on the verge of a renaissance. The Erie main is intact from Hubbard, Ohio eastward to Croxton, New Jersey. The primary action is from Binghamton to Buffalo, part of NS’ new Patriot Corridor. However, thanks to the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad and new traffic from NS, the line from Hornell to Hubbard is once again an active through route. With the recent explosion in local traffic due to the Marcellus Shale gas field development, plus through coal trains and priority intermodal trains, this stretch of line is busier than ever. While it is true that the Erie does not have the traffic density of the years past, the Southern Tier Line is alluring and enduring, offering a reward to the patient photographer! Join photographer Jim Rowland for a colorful look at today's Erie!
Norfolk Southern westbound at Hornell, New York
A Norfolk Southern westbound intermodal train cruises through Hornell, New York. This city has a long history with the railroad, home to an Erie Railroad shop for many years. Having previously served General Electric and later Morrison-Knudsen, now that shop is an assembly plant for Alstom Transportation, Inc. Norfolk Southern is a heavy user of the rejuvinated Southern Tier Line, which is leased to WNYP west of Hornell.
Alcos comin' round the bend at Hornell, New York
WNYP train OL-3 is awaiting clearance onto the NS main at Hornell, NY. Milepost JC 332 places this location as just west of Cass Street, and marks the boundary between WNYP and NS.
Scenic Southern Tier panorama at Elm Valley, New York
The Route 417 bridge offers a panoramic view of eastbounds on the WNYP. Here, train OL-3, bound for Hornell, rolls through Elm Valley, NY. WNYP owns the four extant Alco Century 430 units anywhere. Lead unit 430 (former NYSW 3000, built as NYC 2050), is one of only two units painted and lettered for the WNYP.
NS coal at Allegany, New York
As the last rays of light fade behind the mountains, an eastbound NS coal train passes through Allegany, New York, 398 miles from the old Erie terminal at Jersey City.
Gray skies over Falconer, New York
In typical western New York fashion, afternoon clouds can be expected to develop given the close proximity to Lake Erie. The clouds only add to the gritty seen at Falconer as WNYP train ME-1 heads west on its return trek to Meadville. The Chicago Belt Railway heritage of WNYP 426 is obvious!
Rolling though Benson Swamp
Located approximately five miles to the east of Columbus, Pennsylvania, is Benson Swamp. The line here was constructed in 1905 as part of the Columbus & Erie Railroad. The C&E was part of president Frederick Underwood’s effort to reduce curves and improve the physical plant of the Erie Railroad. The C&E bypassed the severe grades and curves of Bear Lake, Pennsylvania.
Nice to meet you...
Columbus, Pennsylvania is the location of a passing siding. Here, westbound NS train 533 waits on the main while WNYP train ME-1 rolls past, not wasting any time on this busy stretch of railroad.
Blast from the past
Atlantic, Pennsylvania, a town nearly obliterated by a tornado in 1985, offers this serene locale while NS local C23, lead by a former Conrail SD40-2 still in Conrail paint, heads for Meadville.
Loaded coal eastbound through Transfer, Pennsylvania
Eastbound NS train 532 rolls through Transfer, PA on its way to a hungry power plant in New York State. About two miles ahead once was Pymatuning Junction, the place where the Erie’s Youngstown Bypass rejoined the mainline for the trip east.
WNYP and NS meet at Meadville, Pennsylvania
Norfolk Southern and the WNYP meet in front of the yard office at Meadville, Pennsylvania. Norfolk Southern continues west towards Youngstown, while WNYP's Oil City Branch continues southward towards its namesake. The WNYP is preparing for a new surge in traffic expected to hit the old Southern Tier line in the coming months, which will no doubt add more opportunties for railfans visiting this historic route!