SITE UPDATED: 7/10/14
This is a place honoring the Pittsburg & Shawmut, Mountain Laurel, and Red Bank railroads of western Pennsylvania. It is a personal web site not connected to the former Pittsburg & Shawmut Railroad Company or Genesee & Wyoming, Inc., present owner and operator. The Genessee & Wyoming corporate site is at: www.gwrr.com The site was first created in May 1996 to share history, memories, photos, and information about these colorful railroads. Email about the site may be sent to Dennis Snyder at: firstname.lastname@example.org
REMEMBER The Pittsburg, Shawmut, and Northern Railroad? That is their green and yellow logo below, it was the parent of the Pittsburg & Shawmut. The PS&N historical society web site is at:
The Pittsburg & Shawmut Historical Society is currently being reorganized. This can be rather confusing with the PS&N and P&S both being nicknamed the SHAWMUT LINE, of course the two lines are related. This web site is mainly about the P&S. For PS&N information refer to the PS&N link above.
BRIEF OVERVIEW and HISTORY
The Pittsburg & Shawmut Railroad was originally called the Brookville & Mahoning which began in the early 1900s allowing parent railroad Pittsburg, Shawmut, & Northern access to Pittsburg, PA. The first section between Brookville and Brockway was completed in 1907. In 1910 the line was renamed Pittsburg & Shawmut. When completed in 1917 the P&S covered 88.1 miles from Brockway, PA to Freeport, PA. Coal was always the main business of the P&S although it also ran passenger service until the 1930s, and other types of freight traveled over the line.
In its early days the P&S operated with a fleet of steam locomotives some former PS&N and some former Monon 2-8-2s. Starting in October 1953 the P&S began what many other railroads did, switching to diesel power by purchasing nine EMD model SW9 1200 HP switchers outfitted for multiple unit operation. The bright red and yellow SW9s operated in teams of 2-5 units. In the mid 1970s the SW9s were repainted red, white, and blue in celebration of the nation’s Bicentennial. From the mid 1970s through the early 1980s three used GP7 diesels were added. The Shawmut continued to use cabooses into the late 1980s or early 1990s.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s the P&S began expanding with the purchase of the Conrail (former PRR) low grade secondary line from Lawsonham, Pa to Driftwood, PA. The ten mile line from Lansonham to Sligo was first and was named the Red Bank Railroad. They had no locomotives or rolling stock, all P&S equipment was used. Shortly after, the rest of the Low Grade was purchased from Conrail and became the Mountain Laurel Railroad. The Mountain Laurel had six GP10 locomotives, but no other rolling stock. The P&S and MNL locomotives were used on all three railroads and P&S as well as other hoppers were also used system wide. In April 1996 all three lines were purchased by Genesee & Wyoming. A few years later all operations were asorbed into the Buffalo & Pittsburgh. More details about these railroads will appear further down the page.
Time for a SUMMER 2014 site update! If you happen to get here while the site is being updated the photos may be missing, just return in a little while and we should be good to go.
Here is a link to some interesting photos of the area, specifically at Colwell long ago!
Recently I was contacted via the site from Bill Bullers of the family that operated the Markel-Bullers coal mines and coal loaders on the Shawmut. Always great to hear from people whether they are directly or indirectly connected with the railroad or just those who have an interest in the P&S regardless of the reason. Bill is collecting information, photos, and models hoping to build a P&S layout of some sort. As we start the photo section below Bill shares some interesting photos, not specifically of the railroad, but a little inside look at the coal mine, etc. from the 1960s.
Was also recently contacted by Andy Hepp, a long time photo contributor and friend I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago as he visited the Orlando area. Andy is originally from the Brookville area and sent along a few photos from there.
Here we go with the photos!
[Click on photos for a larger view, then click your BACK button to return to the site]
Above are three photos from Andy at Brookville as you enter the B&P yard area including the mailbox, company sign, and safety zone warning sign.
Remember when it looked like this!
Next, the Markle-Bullers Coal Mine. Bill Buller tells us: I thought I’d send you some photos of my Dad’s Markle-Bullers Coal Co. Coheen mine from 1966. I think it was kinda typical of the small scale mines that fed many of the P&S coal tipples at that time. It was quite a bit smaller than say the Doverspike Bros. mine(s) in the Dora area. For the most part my Dad’s mine ran one shift with I believe a 6-man crew, plus himself (or me in a pinch as a fill-in while he ran company errands) as the outside mine worker. He had a 2nd shift for a while, but it was tough to find either a qualified Joy Mfg. continuous miner operator for the 2nd shift or a good foreman. So the 2nd shift didn’t last very long.
My recollection is that 5,000 tons a month was an extremely good month for output from the mine. The Coheen mine was located on Lost Hill south of Dora just off the Dora-Porter Road. I don’t remember whether the coal from the mine went to my Dad’s former coal tipple at Markle for loading on the P&S or whether there was some tipple down at Dora or Ringgold that loaded his coal. That was well before the expanded coal processing plant at Dora of the later 1970s.
After the mine roof caved in early 1966 (fortunately overnight when no one was in the mine) and buried the continuous miner, my Dad decided to get out of the coal mine business and go into mining consulting. Insurance covered a replacement continuous miner, but the stress of being shut down for a couple of months getting the replacement was too much. The new owners (I forget who) eventually “mined” their way into the mine room where the Joy Mfg. continuous miner had been been and recovered it. It wasn’t even damaged. The mine shafts leading to it had just been buried with the roof fall.
In this photo a crew (just left of the center of the photo) is riding a mine car up to the miner’s building with various mining equipment visible such as roof posts, shims, conveyor belts, etc.
This photo is of the conveyor belt where it dumps on to the coal pile.
Thanks to Bill for some interesting information and photos!
To continue with our viaducts subject, five Mountain Laurel GP10s are rounding the Coder viaduct here on the Piney Branch in this John Hartman photo from the mid 1990s.
Although I’ve posted this photo several times previously, this John S. Murray view of P&S 1949 and for sister switchers northbound a Muclick Viaduct is among my most favorite Shawmut photos, this is a rescan of this from my collection.
David Baer was on hand above Colwell overlooking the first Mahoning Viaduct as a southbound loaded coal train for Reesedale was led by Mountain GP10 #13 and a P&S SW9.
On another day David caught this one with GP10, GP11 and a SW9. Both above photos were taken from the Highway 28-66 bridge over the Shawmut
And that’s all we have time for on this update. Hope everyone is having a great summer, enjoyed the update, and as always thanks to everyone who has shared photos with us! Don’t forget, there are also some model train photos in the Modeler’s Corner below.
Some present day clips around Punxsutawney, Kittanning. Freeport, Butler, Sabula, and Brockway from Mark.
It was 1989 when KGL1 with two switchers and caboose 186 took this southbound through the McWilliams area with coal loads for Reesedale and other freight.
The Shawmut steam era!
A short clip of my HO P&S layout.
From Al Crate’s great layout a southbounder is about to exit Brookville Yard under SW9 and GP7 power.
=================Detailed Information About The Pittsburgh & Shawmut Railroad======================
EARLY P&S RR HISTORY
The Pittsburg & Shawmut Railroad was being planned in 1903 and was constructed over the next several years. Originally named the Brookville and Mahoning Railroad, it was renamed Pittsburg & Shawmut in 1910 due to conflicts with the Boston & Maine having the same reporting marks. There was also speculation the name change may have been to make it appear to be the PS&N. The 88 mile long line ran southwest from Brockway, PA to Freeport, PA to connect with the Pittsburgh, PA area as an extension of its parent railroad The Pittsburg Shawmut & Northern. Note that in the late 1800s Pittsburgh was spelled without the “h” and both railroads used that older spelling.
In 1916 the P&S broke away from the PS&N and became a separate railroad. The PS&N had financial problems through its entire history and the tracks were removed in 1948. Meanwhile, the P&S was completed from Brockway to Freeport in 1917 and continued to operate for nearly 100 years and although it also struggled at first, did very well for the most.
The during the late 1970s and first half of the 1980s business was booming on the Shawmut. In the mid 1970s the red and yellow Shawmut switchers were repainted red, white, and blue for the nation’s Bicentennial and over the next few years additional GP7 power was added. During this time coal was being loaded at places like Dora, Colwell, Reddco, Brockway, and other loaders and found its way to power plants in the northeast as well as the power plant at Reesedale. In the earlier years there were many other coal loaders and businesses that received rail service along the P&S.
MORE RECENT HISTORY
Business began dropping off in the late 1980s. Trying to survive, the company expanded by purchasing the former Pennsylvania RR Low Grade line from Conrail running from Lawsonham to Sligo and Lawsonham to Driftwood including the 25 mile former New York Central line from Rose to near Clarion known as the Piney Branch. The lines were operated as the Red Bank Railroad from Lawsonham to Sligo and the Mountain Laurel Railroad from Lawsonham to Driftwood. Six additonal red, black, and silver GP10 locomotives were received for this new operation. However, business continued to decline on all these lines over the next few years and it was finally decided to sell all the lines in the mid 1990s.
In April 1996 the Pittsburg & Shawmut, Red Bank, and Mountain Laurel Railroads were purchased by Genesee & Wyoming, Inc. (GWI or G&W) and received the reporting marks PSR. The Genessee & Wyoming company has purchased many small railroads around the US and other countries and has become a large company. Although the Shawmut name would continue under G&W ownership, all PSR operations were absorbed into the Buffalo & Pittsburgh (BPRR or B&P) in 2004 effectively eliminating the proud little Pittsburg & Shawmut name from railroading.
Today the former P&S mainline from Freeport to Colwell remains in operation by the BPRR as does the tracks from Dellwood to the glass plant at Crenshaw including Brockway yard. The locomotive and car repair shops at Brookville remain in operation. The former Mountain Laurel section of the low grade east of Brookville is being operated by BPRR as well. Much of the tracks from Reesedale to Colwell are being used for car storage as is some of the area around Brookville and to the south near Rayard. Several years ago the Brookville Locomotive Company built a new facility next to the BPRR (former P&S) Brookville yard and shops. Over the years Brookville has been expanding from mining type locomotives to full sized locomotives and this allows them rail access. During 2013 and 2014 several Tri-Rail BL36 commuter locomotives have been produced for the Miami, FL area and have been seen making their trips to Florida.
Coal was always the Shawmut’s main business and is presently being loaded at Rose Bud Mining operation at Penefield on the former Mountain Laurel as well as a Rose Bud loader at Clinton on the former Shawmut. Coal and other commodities are sometimes loaded at Brockway Yard and coal is also loaded at Bridgeburg. The power plant at Reesedale had recieved coal by the railroad until it was announced in January 2012 that the plant will be closing by September 2012, it is believed the last coal train to the plant ran in February 2012. Several other businesses are served by the railroad today as well.
GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN – The Pittsburg & Shawmut mainline from Brockway to Brookville, from south of Rayard to Colwell, the Red Bank from Lawsonham to Sligo, and the Mountain Laurel from Lawsonham to Brookville (including the Piney Branch) have all been removed. The Widnoon and Conifer branches off the original P&S mainline wre also removed. Some of the earlier branches had been removed long ago. These lines are oifficially “railbanked” and can be put back in operation by the railroad in the future if needed and some of them have been converted to hiking trails. Be sure to check out the link below forr some great information and photos of the development of the trails in the Red Bank Valley area.
MORE PHOTOS AND INFORMATION – Additional photos and info are available on the Shawmut Yahoogroup. You can join this group by creating a free Yahoo account, then by sending an email to the address below.
Another Yahoogroup for the Buffalo and Pittsburgh (BPRR) covers present day operations of the former P&S and MNL as well as the BPRR and can be joined by sending an email to the address below.
================================ABOUT THE WEB SITE=============================
The original P&S site started May 16, 1996 and ended October 31, 2008 when AOL discontinued all web sites. All the information and photos have been saved. Special thanks to Mike Cyr of Tampa, FL for hosting this new site for us Shawmut fans. If you’re a fan of train simulators, etc. or would like to watch alot of trains on the live Folkston, GA webcam, check out Mike’s site at: www.jointedrail.com
Many thanks to all of you who have sent in info, photos, or just to say hi over the years!