• Lakeshore 1985 detours

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New York State.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by Roscoe P. Coaltrain
You all remember when the culvert collapse over Elk Creek in Lake City PA happened in 1985 that booted all the traffic off the NYC west of Erie?

I found a youtube account that has video footage shot from the loco cab of the detours as they plied over the parallel NKP. The initial plan had CR detours running down Erie's street trackage, but that plan could not uphold given the volume of traffic involved. So construction began on a few brand new NYC to NKP cutovers that eliminated Erie's slow 19th St running.

West connection was made in Conneaut, east connection was just west of CP-92, close to MP 94, west of Erie. CP-128 in Ashtabula was the diamonds with the Youngstown line to the Ashtabula dock. CP-124 was where the SE quadrant connection for the Youngstown line tied into the NYC main. CP-124 was also the temporary end of double track for the duration of the detours, with all CR traffic using main 2 (south main) to CP-117 west of Conneaut. CP-117 had no crossovers, but were just entrances to sidings off of both mains. All CR traffic was routed Main 2 into the south siding at 117, and about halfway up the south siding, the siding was cut for construction of a new connector over to the NKP, which tied in at the interlocking plant on the west end of the NKP yard.

The CR detours passed through Conneaut yard, across the Conneaut trestle, and then began about 12 miles of double track 251 territory between Woodward and Thornton Jct (where the abandoned PRR E&P used to cross the NKP). Once past Thornton it was all single track across Elk Creek trestle, past the B&LE connection at Wallace Jct, and then across Swanville trestle. All Conrail traffic then entered the west end of Swanville siding on the NKP, which was also temporarily broken for the newly constructed east end connector. Conrail Main 2 was cut just west of CP-92 and shoved over to become part of the temporary connector. Once back on CR Main 2, it was single track past CP-92 and down to CP-89 where double track was regained at the crossovers there. CP -92, right behind the Erie airport, was only a siding entrance off the north track, no crossovers, and by then the siding was derelict and the switch had been removed at 92.

Along the NKP single track, there were 2 other signalled sidings, a dilapidated one (off to the right) adjacent to a quarry in Fairview, and at Girard (left side). From the looks of things, these single-train capacity sidings got little use. The NKP double track between Woodward and Thornton really saved the day, as Conrail could collect up to about 3 trains at each end (Ashtabula and Erie station) and fleet them together onto the single track in both directions, with both fleets meeting each other on that 12 mile stretch of NKP double track, with 3 westbounds capable of passing 3 eastbounds, that sorta thing.

A rather brilliant design, as CR dispatchers controlled each end of the single track funnel using existing crossovers at 89 and 124, while NKP dispatchers also controlled the detouring traffic's entrances and exits to the NKP via existing dispatcher controlled interlockings.

The other thing you notice in the videos was the blocking of traffic has been disrupted and the Conrail freights are a mess. A block of intermodal, a block of empty coal hoppers, and mixed freight on the rear. Or a block of ballast cars, followed by empty TTX strings. Just some weird emergency train makeup habits on display.


Aboard ballast train BAL-732, C30-7A 6572, video begins passing Ashtabula yard and crossing the YT line diamonds at 128. Dock helper on main 1. Pay attention to all the ornate NKP structures! Train is held at Thornton for a westbound, watch that signal flicker green and the sound of those GE's echoing off the trees!

Part 2 same train, begins on NKP approaching dilapidated quarry siding in Fairview, approach signal for Swanville siding. Jet takes off from Erie airport as train is passing CP-92. Somerset empty waiting for the single track at Erie Station. BAL-732 held at CP-79 for dispatcher to prioritize approaching westbounds for the single track awaiting them.

Part 3 same train, begins at CP-23 west of Angola and ends at switch-less CP-21 in downtown Angola. Switches at 21 probably claimed by a derailment and never replaced.

Part 1, a different train, this time aboard a 6600 series C30-7, starting at Conneaut. Lots of trains meeting on the NKP double track.

Part 2 this time covering Elk Creek, Girard, and Wallace Jct. Girard siding to the left, looks rough at its west switch, rebuilt and quickly re-ballasted after a detouring CR ELSE derailed 30+ cars. Again, awesome timeless NKP structures!

Part 3 a quick closer at the cutover

A westbound aboard SD40-2 in 1987, from Dunkirk to Lake City 2 years after the detours. Train goes Track 2 to Track 1 at CP-49 in Portland. Passing GE Erie with tons of undelivered LMX units awaiting a power-by-the-KW court case for BN to accept delivery on. Slide past MP 94, can hardly tell there was a connection there 2 years before! Train crosses the repaired fill at the end.

Cleveland TV news footage of the ELSE derailment on the NKP.
  by lvrr325
Shouldn't this be in the Pennsylvania forum?
  by BR&P
Certainly of interest to NY members as well, since it's so close to the border. At least one of the videos he links is taken in Angola, which is in NY.

For my 2 cents worth, the thread is welcome here.
  by pumpers
Lots of fun stuff to look at in those links. Who knows in 1986 how many trains Conrail and the Nickel Plate (Norfolk & Western by then?) we’re running each way each day back then? Must have been a big number if they were fleeting thru 3 at a time as noted earlier
Also fun to see all the infrastucture they had to support at one time. I was looking at that old telegraph lines on one RR (not sure which it was now)
Thanks for posting. Jim S