• What's happening in Oil City?

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in Pennsylvania

Moderator: bwparker1

  by Aa3rt
Just wondering if someone can provide an update on what's happening in Oil City? My father tells me that a goodly portion of the remaining refineries are being dismantled and the famed Wye bridge probably won't be far behind. Would appreciate an update from anyone more familiar with the area.

  by N3JQW
I was up there 2 weeks ago and gave the place a once-over. Here's what I know:

I went up to Rouseville and took some shots of Pennzoil #1. I would estimate that it's about 40-50% demolished. The towers, canning plant, many of the tanks, and number of other structures will still there as of then.

Merisol (the old Koppers plant) is still on-line and is still recieving cars.

Pennzoil #2 was demolished last year. Only 1 or 2 small buildings remain.

I have heard nothing about the Wye Bridge being demolished. I think that would be unlikely anytime soon as Continental Can is still on-line and recieving covered hoppers - I saw one from Rt. 8. I read in the news last year that ConCan had recieved a contract, I believe from Mobil? and that has kept them going, at least for now.

I have heard that Calumet will likely be closing it's plant in Reno in the near future, but have no idea when exactly. I'm rather sorry to see that.

  by joshuahouse
Is it a matter of being able to extract oil cheaper elsewhere (texas, the middle east etc) or have the oil fields in that part of Pa played out?

  by Big Al
I was up in Oil City in July 2003 (second weekend, before the 7/21 storm), a Norfolk Southern engine and caboose was parked near the old roundhouse area, off US 62 (East 2nd Street), south of the Wye Bridge. I believe the NS Oil City-Meadville crew is based there.

  by N3JQW
"Is it a matter of being able to extract oil cheaper elsewhere (texas, the middle east etc) or have the oil fields in that part of Pa played out?"

I would say some of both. From what I've read, there is still oil to be had, but there aren't any more "gushers", and you have to work at it to get it out now. Many people up there apparantly still drill and pump oil, but most of it is done now either as speculation or as a hobby, something to tinker with.

I do know that American Refining Group up in Bradford still refines using just Penn-Grade crude, so there is at least enough being produced to keep a refinery running. Beyond that, I don't know.

  by Big Al
This past week, The Petroleum Street crossing was repaired, in a joint venture by PennDOT and Norfolk Southern Railroad. The crossing has reopened. According to the article in Thursday's 7/1 "The Derrick", the crossing near the Veterans Bridge (Seneca and Elm Street crossing) by the Arlington Hotel, will be repaired later in the month.

  by Ron S.
On or about June 14th (the job bids closed on June 13th), the Oil City crew was readvertised to a Meadville home terminal.

The end of an era. :(

Ron S.
  by Ron Mele
I was in Oil City the week of the 4th noticed that the old PRR southside yard is empty except for a solitary transfer caboose. NS still has a MOW office in an old baggage car and a MOW truck is parked there. It's good to hear that Continental Can is still shipping by rail. The Calumet plant in Reno is still functioning and has been receiving tank cars. OMG Chemicals near Rocky Grove is running and has a siding running into it that crosses Route 8. I didn't see any tank cars during this visit. They usually have one or two. I was talking to an Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad official and he said their line now accounts for over 50% of the cars NS hauls in and out of Oil City. Also, now that NS only runs into Oil City twice a week(in contrast to 10 years ago when CR switched 5 days a week) the OC&T has lost some lumber traffic to trucks. Some of their customers have complained about the slow rail transit time. It takes a car about a week to get between Pittsburgh and Titusville. One former customer is using truck-hauled containers to ship to and from the intermodal yard in Pitcairn.

Ron Mele

  by RS-3
Hey Ron, did you happen to notice what engine the OC&T was using? (ie, was it the M420 or the switchers?)

Seems like the Oil City trackage would be ripe for the OC&T to take over.



  by Big Al
According to today's article (Tuesday 7/13) in "The Derrick", NS crews are repairing the crossing at Seneca Street (near the Veterans Bridge) in Oil City. Repairs should be done by Wednesday or Thursday.
  by Ron Mele
OC&T is still using #75 for most passenger and nearly all freight duty. #85 (also an Alco S2) is an emergency unit. The M420 isn't in use right now but would be pressed into service if the other units weren't available.
As for the OC&T taking over NS trackage, that's a good question. The OC&T would love to extend excursion runs into Franklin but insurance costs make that move prohibitive. I've wondered over the last few years how NS can justify keeping the branch into Franklin and Oil City now that most traffic is gone. If NS were to pull out, it wouldn't surprise me to see the WNY&PA move in.

Ron Mele

  by RS-3
Thanks Ron, nice to know the switchers are still in front line duty.

I sure don't see why NS hasn't spun off the track, then again they haven't hardly gotten rid of any of the ex-CR trackage


  by N3JQW
Does anyone have any idea when NS could be seen in OC? I've been meaning to try and catch one, but haven't had any luck so far. I've been getting the impression that they have no set schedule and run as needed.

Brian B.