WELCOME TO THE SHAWMUT LINE!
SITE UPDATED 07/06/20
This is a place remembering the Pittsburg & Shawmut, Mountain Laurel, and Red Bank railroads of Pennsylvania, a personal site not connected to the former Pittsburg & Shawmut Railroad Company or Genesee & Wyoming, present owner and operator. The Genessee & Wyoming corporate site is at: www.gwrr.com The site was 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: email@example.com
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: http://www.psnrrhs.org
Pittsburg & Shawmut In Color – A Book!
In 2015 Kurt Reisweber and Brad Esposito published a 128 page book on the P&S. The book contains a good bit of history of the Shawmut and many awesome color photographs from the 1950s on. The book is available from Morning Sun Books. Here’s the main Morning Sun web address.
Here is a direct link to the Shawmut book.
July 6, 2020
Hopefully all of you, your families, and your friends are doing well during this very trying time with the Corona Virus situation we have all been faced with these past several months.
Want to take a moment to say thanks all who have visited the site over the years, I’m amazed at the number of visitors it gets, around 3800 since the May update! That, in addition to thanks to all who have contributed to the site, that is what keeps it going!
By now many of you are probably aware that Brad Esposito left the BPRR and became general manager of the East Broad Top R.R. early this year, awesome, congrats Brad! EBT’s web site is at:
In the May update we included the link to a great Doug Lilly photo at Mahoning Yard of a Kittanning local working the loader across the creek by the old coke ovens so we still want to include it this time.
OKay, on to the photo section below to see what we can whip up!
AS ALWAYS, WITH THE PHOTOS, CLICK ON THE PHOTO FOR A LARGER VIEW THEN CLICK YOUR BACK BUTTON TO RETURN TO THE SITE.
Below is a great “viaduct” photo from Andy’s collection, here is another viaduct photo from March of 1992 when David Baer caught this awesome sight at Sprankle Mills viaduct.
Those of you on Facebook may be, or should be aware of the fantastic group “Railroad Photos and Memories, Western NY and PA.” Do check it out, you won’t be disappointed. On that note, earlier this evening I had a nice chat with my friend Andy Hepp who used to live in the Brookville area. He had just posted this awesome photo at the Brookville viaduct he recently added to his collection of a northbound P&S with two of the big steamers pushing a train into the yard while a PRR train passes under the viaduct!
For this photo we move to Applewold/Kittaaning and this snowy photo from Barry Householder looking under the “Old 422” from track level.
Back in 2017 Brad sent along this shot into “BV” yard looking through the old car shops.
Remember the Brookville station on the “Low Grade?” This was it back in 1999, sadly like so much of the Shawmut and Low Grade, it’s gone now.
This is Timblin from Windy Whiz in 1915. Timblin is very near and dear to me, my grandfather worked on the P&S track gang and lived there. Timblin was right in the middle of the Shawmut at Milepost 44. I can identify the Snyder’s Mill building at the far left, the church my grandparents attended just right of the center, also what eventually became Alvin “Mutt” Snyder’s Clover Farm store next to the road underpass. I consumed many bottles of “pop” on the back porch of that store while watching P&S trains pass by.
Back in 1967 P&S caboose 167 looked like this at Brookville.
One of the earliest photos I have on file is a mystery found online somewhere, years ago, it’s listed as a P&S trestle at Dora. Anyone out there have any more info on this one?
Here we see P&S 235 coming off the siding from Linde Air Products south of Kittanning from Randy Kiser. The 235 became 1851 after getting the Bicentennial paint scheme.
Here is former 235, now the 1851 “Sam Colt” at Markle.
Now were back in Brookville for a look at caboose 194.
There were many chapters in the long life of the P&S R.R. beginning, with the P.S.& N., then the P&S in the steam era including steam powered passenger trains which eventually changed into the hoodlebug era. Then came the nine EMD SW9 diesel switchers in the early 1950s. The mid 1970s with the Bicentennial brought many changes, red and yellow switchers morphed into red, white, and blue ones, three GP7’s came along, coal operations changed dramatically with flood loading, etc., then in the late 1980s the Red Bank and Mountain Laurel were born only to live a short life before everything really changed, the Genessee & Wyoming took over, then as the 1990s wound down and the 2000’s came along more and more of the Pittsburg & Shawmut would fade into railroad history. The above photo is from David Baer in October 1992 at Falls Creek with a mix of P&S and MNL power on a coal train to Driftwood.
In September 1979 over Labor Day weekend my friend Bob from Ocala, FL visited the Pittsburgh area with some friends. While there Bob and his friends got to do a little exploring. There wasn’t much running and Bob stopped by the engine terminal at Kittanning/Applewold and found quite a brace of power tied up. Here’s Bob and several SW9s.
Above, is a John Hartman photo in New Bethlehem on the Mountain Laurel with a five unit lash up of P&S SW9’s.
Speaking of five unit SW9 lash ups, here’s another over on the Red Bank from Ron Mele from back in July 1994.
Al from Brookville continues to work on his awesome Shawmut HO layout!
During the early weeks of the Covid 19 “lockdown” I built this Z scale layout, 18 inches in diameter. The GP38 was unlettered so just for fun added P&S inside the G&W logo sort of as a “what if.”
Here’s the same layout with Mountain Laurel 15 & 16 (upgraded to GP35s) and a short mixed freight. Here’s a short video of the same:
VIDEOS – Note that some links may not show up as clickable links, you’ll have to copy and paste them into your browser then return to the site afterwards.
In the late 1980s Rick Tonet of Leechburg was lucky enough to ride on the Shawmut several times, here is a 10 minute clip from Brookville to Brockway and part of the return trip.
Here’s a short clip of Al Crate’s P&S HO Layout, we have featured many photos of his great layout here over the years.
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.
HISTORY of the Pittsburg & Shawmut
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.
A visitor to the site asked what Shawmut meant. The word Shawmut originates from the Boston, Maine area where this not only a hill/mountain with the name, but a bank as well which had some financial history with the P&S. Shawmut is also related to the Algonquian Indian’s word Mashaumowuk which as above refers to the Boston area. There is also a Shawmut Dam on the Kennebec River. There is also A large (unrelated) Electrical Manufacturing company named Shawmut. Other railroad related subjects include Shawmut, Montana on the Union Pacific and the tiny town of Shawmut near Brockway, PA on the original P.S.&.N.
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.
P&S Engine Number Cross Reference including names.
231 – 1775 Independence
232 – 1866 Oliver Winchester
233 – 1774 Ben Franklin
234 – 1891 John Browning
235 – 1851 Sam Colt
236 – 1865 B Tyler Henry
237 – 1949 Bill Ruger
238 – 1816 Eliphalet Remington
239 – 1776 Betsy Ross
357 – GP7 Dan Wesson
1774 – 233
1775 – 231
1776 – 239
1816 – 238
1851 – 235
1865 – 236
1866 – 232
1891 – 234
1949 – 237
357 – GP7
Note: Gp7 10 and 11 and all the Mountain Laurel GP10s did not have names.
More P&S Early 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.
1980s and beyond
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.
The former P&S mainline from Freeport to Mosgrove 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 are being phased out. 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. 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 the B&P yard 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, it is believed the last coal train to the plant ran in February 2012.
P&S MILEPOSTS and STATIONS with STATION CALLSIGNS
MILE – STATION – ABBREVIATION
20.9 Brookville – BV
22.8 Rayard – RD
38.2 Sprankle Mills – SN
56.0 Reddco – RC
60.4 Mahoning – MX
60.4 Carpentertown – CC
69.8 Limestone – LI
73.8 Kittanning – KG
74.1 Linde – LE
85.2 Walker – WK
88.0 Freeport – FP
Limestone – LI – (Entry Point)
GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN – The Pittsburg & Shawmut maine 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 were also removed. Some of the earlier branches had been removed long ago. These lines are officially “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 for 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 were saved. Special thanks to Mike Cyr of Jointed Rail 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 webcams, check out Mike’s site at: www.jointedrail.com or www.virtualrailfan.com
Also, I can’t thank to all of you enough who have sent in info, photos, or just to say hi over the years! THAT is why this site exists today, because of you!