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 and was last updated 2/21/2014. 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.
First up, you may want to read the overview section above, have been making some additons and changes to it and the other areas of the site lately sometimes between official updates. Shortly after completing updates I start a list of ideas for the next one and had one well underway for this time. However, we all know what computers giveth, computers taketh away and sometimes really fast, too! I.E. the list got eaten so I’m starting over from scratch.
Above is the link to an article about Mahoning Dam being retrofitted with a power generator some of you may find interesting. We mentioned this project a few months ago so this would be an update. As I recall, one of the roads leading to the dam, either the lower or upper one, was the former P&S roadbed that was built as a four mile long branch into the dam construction site back in the 1930s.
Looking at my new wall calendar for 2014, am amazed that in just two more years it will have been 20 years since that sad day in April 1996 when the last Pittsburg & Shawmut train ran. We were most fortunate to have Kurt Reisweber document the event and for it to be a cover article in the September 2996 Railroad & Railfan magazine.
Many things about the Pittsburg & Shawmut have held the interest of followers over all the years from the people, the operations, the equipment, and the scenic area it passes through to name a few. In the photo section below this time we’ll focus on the P&S trestles which were usually referred to as viaducts.
From Brockway south the main viaducts were Lanes at Brockway, Little Mill Creek at Brookville, Brookville south of Brookville Yard, East Branch, Sprankle, Mudlick, Sugar Camp, Mahoning 1, Mahoning 2, and the Allegheny River bridge at Reesedale. Of course, there were many other smaller bridges. And then there was the Mountain Laurel Railroad in the later years of which the larger viaducts/trestles were all on the Piney Branch.
Wow, after starting to dig through hundreds and hundreds of Shawmut photos I quickly realized the trestle subject was going to take more than one update to cover! So, take a look below starting at Brockway and working south to Brookville for this time, we’ll continue further south later.
[Click on photos for a larger view, then click your BACK button to return to the site]
Around Milepost 1 is Lanes Viaduct where Stephanie K. gives us this great view of a Brookville local.
On another day caboose 191 rumbles over Lane’s Mills viaduct, this one from my collection. One thing about this viaduct is you never knew which direction the train was going from a photograph as southbounds out of Brockway yard often backed over Lanes viaduct and that still happens to day on the BPRR.
At milepost 18 is Mill Creek Viaduct just north of Brookville. Unfortunately I’ve lost track of who sent this somewhat historic photo, but it was a speeder run just before the viaduct was torn down. In fact, I believe this view is the last speeder to cross Mill Creek.
Ugh! Sad indeed here, Mill Creek being removed from Al Crate.
Brookville is milepost 20, the Brookville Viaduct would be about milepost 21 as we see some switching taking place from the cab of a switcher in this photo from Bob Folger.
In 1987 David Baer got this look at five SW9s northbound over the Brookville Viaduct in a scenic shot from below.
David was also at the same spot in 1989 for a southbound BVL1 crossing the Brookville viaduct.
Here is a really old look at Brookville viaduct from long ago, possibly from an old post card.
Here is another older shot of the other side of the trestle at Brookville.
We’ll continue with a look at the Pittsburg & Shawmut viaducts with the next update!
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.
We have previouslyu included some photos and a video of Mike Thompson’s O Scale Shawmut models from O Gauge Railroad magazine’s web site, the link above will take you to an interesting thread not only featuring Mike’s model photos, but lots of bicentennial unit photos.
Sam Kanish has some nice N scale Shawmut models on his layout.
In an earlier edition of my HO layout was this scene of what was supposed to be Brookville with GP7′s 11, 10, and one of the SW9s. This was pre 2000.
My latest additions are Mountain Laurel units 15 and 16 in Z scale! I like to think of most of my models as fun creatations. These are perfect examples, they were actually GP35′s, but being 3 inches long most would never know the difference.
=================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!