SITE UPDATED: 3/2/2015
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
Welcome to our 2nd update of 2015! Got several goodies to pass along and of course will dig into the vault of photos to feature several from over the years. Before all of that, want to emphasize again that the Pittsburg & Shawmut book by Brad Esposito and Kurt Reisweber came out in January and is a MUST SEE for any Shawmut fan. The book is available at several places such as www.morningsunbooks.com or www.ronsbooks.com as well as other places. As should be expected from such a colorful railroad, the book is screaming with color photos and a lot of great information about the P&S R.R.
Just below this Latest News section is s small section about the Pittsburg, Shawmut, & Northern. They have just redesigned their web site at the link below so take a look, it’s very nicely done.
Here is a link to some photos of abandoned tunnels along the Low Grade you might enjoy.
Here a nice little treat from October 2014, dig this six minute video of P&W 1201 (ex P&S 1866/232) pulling a short freight train. Of course, the horns are different, it’s still in Shawmut colors, and has been upgraded to SW1200 status with the improved long hood handrails, etc., but oh so sweet to hear a Shawmut switcher’s prime mover again.
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:
BRIEF OVERVIEW and HISTORY of the Pittsburg & Shawmut Railorad
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.
REMEMBER TO CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR LARGER VIEWS, USE YOUR BACK BUTTON TO RETURN TO THE SITE
In 1977 P&S’s first “geep” was working at Conrail’s Conway yard with a former PC unit from my collection.
Speaking of the 357, once in awhile on Ebay one can find some Shawmut glasses and other P&S goodies such as this glass featuring the GP7.
At Brockway Yard in 1955 two switchers were working and coal hoppers from P&LE, NKP, PRR, NYC, and other railroads were common on the Shawmut as noted here.
Circa 1999 in this Robert Shook photo R&S 104 was working on the now PSR north of Kittanning.
The next three photos are rather “ho hum” in quality, etc., but indulge me with the caption below them.
Imagine having moved from the P&S area in 1962 then in the late 1990s you’re trackside over 1000 miles away watching a rock train pass through and suddenly you see a Shawmut hopper! Here are two I saw, but I think there was also a third one with the red and white logo I didn’t get to photograph.
Speaking of Shawmut hoppers, here’s a rare look at P&S 1000, one of the four bay cars that were not successful on the line, note the SHAWMUT LINE lettering, but no logo!
I always liked this view from Brad’s former P&S Historical Society site at Colwell on the siding into the Reid Mine. Mahoning Creek is to the right in the distance.
Speaking of Colwell, here is a sad shot at Colwell in 2006 from Brian B, the track had just been torn up.
In the model train section (further down) is my N scale model of BAR 30 on the P&S. Here is one of the BAR switchers at Dora in this Kurt Reisweber photo. (The Dumaines owned the BAR as well as the Shawmut in that era.)
In the last update we included some photos from Bill Buellers and mentioned upcoming were some from the former West Penn Power plant at Reesedale, below are a couple of those. We’ll feature more in the future.
There is lots of “stuff” at the power plant as witnessed here the two short stacks and a bit of the huge one at the far right.
Here’s a look at the big stack.
Bicentennial caboose 196 is seen here at Brookville in fresh new “Shawmut Line” paint in this one from Dudley Dumaine bringing this update to an end. Also note the Modeler’s Corner below and that the video section has been updated with links to clips that were featured previously, but I forgot to add to the video section.
SW9s, cabooses, and the fuel tanker used at Kittanning are seen here at Brookville on Al Crate’s fne HO Layout in this Bob Netzlof photo.
Another highly detailed scene from Al’s layout is this of a road underpass with excellent trackwork and lots of greenery.
I recently made this detailed N scale “pizza” layout, 16 inch diameter, to run some of my N scale equipment on. Also just added this model of BAR 30 when it ran on the Shawmut in the early 1970s for awhile.
The rebuild of my HO P&S layout is going well, but slow. A recent addition is a 2nd Mountain Laurel GP10. The layout is in about version six having been moved several times. Seems like each time I get into a lot of landscape detail something happens and I have to start over. It’s a fun little layout, lots of switching even without all the hills and details.
Note that some links will not show up as clickable links, you’ll have to copy and paste into your browser.
Above, P&W 1201 (P&S 1855/232) and a short freight in October 2014.
Some present day clips around Punxsutawney, Kittanning. Freeport, Butler, Sabula, and Brockway from Mark.
It was 1989 when KGL1 with two switchers and caboose 196 took this southbound through the McWilliams area with coal loads for Reesedale and other freight.
The Shawmut steam era, what a treasure!
A short clip from Railway Video Quarterly video magazine around Brookville circa 1992 with a run to the Conifer Branch and East Branch.
Hop aboard KGL1 from Applewold to Freeport in the late 1980s, a Rick Tonet (Leechburg) video.
Some P&S clips from Tom Crawford who did the Vol 1 and Vol 2 Shawmut Line Videos in the early 1990s.
=================More 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 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!