• Canton

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in the American Midwest, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas. For questions specific to a railroad company, please seek the appropriate forum.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in the American Midwest, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas. For questions specific to a railroad company, please seek the appropriate forum.

Moderator: railohio

  by dhaugh
I posted this more or less on 'Hot Spots', but this would probably generate more responses here. I was wondering what the ex Conrail mainline through Canton sees these days. I believe it's NS now? I was there in about '90 or '91 and saw a lot of action, intermodal in particular.

  by btrains25
Well... I can't help too too much, but I went to Canton in about 1996 and there was plenty of action then as well. A decade later Canton is basically a ghost town. The old snake of trackage around Wandle Jct. that was owned by Timken (the tracks that crossed the WE right where the WE crossed the road right south of the CR diamonds, that crossed the road right in front of the WE crossing signals) was pulled out between 1996 and 1998.

As far as action on the former Conrail, it's few and far between. For the most part, traffic is sparse when on the west side of Canton Yard. The only through trains would be the 4-6 a day that NS sends via Bucyrus (CP Colsan) to taking or coming off the north or south legs of the wye to head towards Bellvue or Columbus. Canton yard still sees action, and a few locals can be seen heading east through Alliance.

In general, the former Conrail line is nothing of what it used to be, however, NS has been quite busy with MoW on this line, replacing a multitude of ties along the entire route. The PRR signals are decently maintained, and there's a diamond replacement project happening shortly in Bucyrus.

There have been rumors of both removal of signals and single tracking the entire line, but obviously with the current amount of MoW done, that won't be happening soon. However, I don't see any feasible increase in traffic either because of the complex agreement between CSX and NS in regards to that line.

NS owns the Conrail line from Pittsburgh (MP 0) to Crestline. At the Crestline diamond owership transfers to CSX, who owns the line to Chicago (although the Fort Wayne line itself doesn't fully head to Chicago intact, as Conrail moved trackage around and used redundant parallel tracks in certain areas). CSX no longer operates any of the Fort Wayne line west of Crestline yard, and has transferred all operations over to Rail America's Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern, which operates from Crestline yard to Chicago. NS however dispatches for the entire length of the line. NS has trackage rights to run 8-12 trains a day between Crestline and the Bucyrus wye/diamond, and 4-6 trains per day from Bucyrus diamond west.

In my opinion, from what I've seen, the most through trains run by NS is between 8-12 because, in all honesty there is nothing between Mansfield's Oak St. yard and Crestline. In Canton you'll see locals from the remnants of Orrville yard, the complex tangle of trackage and industries that is Massillon, and locals with some of NS's more heavy duty power running east from Mansfield. The amount of MoW being done on the Fort Wayne Line would make some people believe NS is planning more traffic, but seeing as though the line is effectively a stub end at Crestline except for 8-12 trains, and no connections with other NS lines except at Alliance and (for the 8-12) Bucyrus, there is no place for all of the extra traffic to go.

So, getting back to Canton proper, you'll see, on an average day (24 hrs.) between 8 and roughly 16 trains, which is nothing when back in the 90's one could see that many trains every few hours. Also, the trains you will see are not very exciting. Most are locals, and as such travel at slower speeds, the through trains are also short. I was taking pictures in Massillon and an eastbound came roaring through at about 40-45 mph, and had I believe a Dash 9 and an SD70 for less than 30 cars. The only thing you'll see plenty of in Canton are Pennsy signals. The absolute signals for Wandle (which are on original PRR/PC signal bridges) are always on, and because of the way NS dispatches their trains and sets signals on this line, the signals will not change unless a train is in the imminent area.

I had a similar run-in at Alliance on the Fort Wayne line, where I heard a slow local heading east through Alliance from Canton, and the horn was blowing at every crossing and the Freedom St. signals were both red. Not until the local rounded the curve before downtown did the signal actually change aspects.

The absolute signals at Wandle are constant lit, as well as the dwarf signals for the third track through Canton. There is a signal bridge west of downtown Canton that was a more recent installation by Conrail (newer aluminum construction containing permissive Pennsy signals), however this bridge is approach lit, and as with all permissive signals, the default aspect is Approach, so the only clues to trains while in this area would be a lit signal bridge and seeing something other than Approach. Because Conrail wanted bi-directional traffic for both mains from Alliance to Massillon (and from Orrville to Crestline), this signal bridge contains 4 permissive signals. So, if you see a stop and proceed aspect, you can assume any train you will see will be coming from the opposite direction.

If you head a little east of Canton (roughly halfway between Canton and Alliance) is Maximo, where the old Maximo defect detector is. East of the dectector, visible along a paralleling road, are bi-directional Pennsy signals, unique to the Conrail era.

Most trains will use Track 2 through Canton (Track 2 is the middle track at Wandle, Track 1 being the "eastbound track" 2 being the "westbound track") as Track 2 is the through track between Massillon and Orrville and therefore no switches need to be thrown until Alliance, where Track 2 converges into Track 1.

Btrains: Excellent writeup on Canton-it answered just about all my questions about the status of the PRR PGH-CHI main line. I have ridden this line many times between 1973 to 1990 when the Broadway Limited was re-routed. How does the Canton Amtrak station look today-and is anyone else using it for anything? I remember signs on the platform there designating EAST NEW YORK and WEST CHICAGO-I got a kick out of them as they could have been used to designate those stations in those two areas: ENY on LIRRs line to Flatbush Avenue-Brooklyn and WC on C&NW/UPs West Line to Geneva and Elburn. One more question-where is the PRR line severed in Indiana as you say? Thanks alot - MACTRAXX