SITE UPDATED: 9/21/2016
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P&S SW9 231 was practically brand new in this black and white photo!
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: 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:
SEPTEMBER 2016 UPDATE
Here we are again (finally) with another long overdue update of the Pittsburg & Shawmut Railroad site. Hard to believe the 88 mile long P&S and its two sisters Red Bank and Mountain Laurel have been gone for twenty years now. Although most of those lines have been torn up there is still some action around Brookville, Brockway, and Kittanning. However, news of present day operations is very slow.
Something new with this update, at the top of the page/site will try to add a different photo every week. Regular site updates take hours to complete, but changing one photo is much quicker.
We did recently hear from Sam Kanish who reported passing by Greco Salvage in mid August and spotting a string of hoppers most likely about to be cut up. Among them was PSR 1854, a former Lake Erie, Franklin, and Clarion car. It has been quite a few years now since hoppers with the big SHAWMUT LINE white letters has been seen, sad.
Usually these updates mostly contain a dozen or so photos of the hundreds I have in the collection, but sometimes we find links to some pretty neat things, here are a few.
BRIEF OVERVIEW and HISTORY of the Pittsburg & Shawmut Railorad (More detailed history further down)
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: CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR LARGER VIEWS THEN USE YOUR BACK BUTTON TO RETURN TO THE SITE. (Some photos will not be much larger.)
The steam era on the P&S RR ran from it’s beginning as the Brookville & Mahoning 1903 until the SW9s arrived in late 1953, unfortunately, there are not that many photos of that era of the Shawmut including in my collection, but here is one of P&S 4-4-2 104 with a passenger train. In 1909 the B&M became The Pittsburg & Shawmut.
Here’s another steam era passenger train northbound at the Kittanning station. In the last update we included a nice photo of SW9 #232 in factory paint, here is another pretty good look at her at Brookville after the nose strips had been made into the solid “bloody nose” as some called it.
Back in June 2016 our old friend Andy Hepp returned to the Brookville area again, this time he found this B&P caboose along with the PSR hopper 851, one of the old Western Maryland cars.
And, of course, Andy had to take his token shot of the sign at the entrance of the yard.
Personally, I prefer this one of another era as most of us Shawmut fans certainly do. Anyone know what the earlier era signs looked like before the bar-diamond Shawmut Line logo?
In June of this year Sam paid a visit to the area just north of the Allgeheny River bridge at Reesedale.
In October 1992 David Baer stopped by Falls Creek by the old BR&P era tower for this photo of P&S and MNL power rumbling over the diamond.
At Brookville David Bear caught 2/3 of the Shawmut switchers tied up at the north end of the engine shop.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, P&S 233 made a trip to Chicago for some work!
How about another look back into the steam era? Here, P&S 213 sits next to the engine shop at Kittanning in 1953, from my collection.
Time travel is alive and well on this web site! From 1953 jumping ahead to the latter days of the Shawmut with a southbound crossing Brookville viaduct powered by three of the Mountain Laurel GP10s complete with caboose 195 bringing up the rear.
Here’s an earlier look at P&S caboose 195 at Brookville in 1976 before it took on the SHAWMUT LINE lettering and with the yellow hexagon logo. In the SHAWMUT LINE era the only caboose to have a logo was the 191 with the diamond-bar red and white logo.
Hopefully, RMC magazine won’t sue me for plugging this issue from November 1989 featuring John Crede’s fabulous P&S HO layout. It was this very magazine that got me into the Shawmut and led to both modeling it and starting this web site. If you haven’t seen this issue and can find one, get it! Well, if you’re into modeling the Shawmut. Sadly, I recently learned John had to tear down this layout. (Note, was always a Shawmut fan, but it was this mazazine that really got me movitated.)
This was my 2nd generation P&S HO layout, a 4 x 4 styrofoam Lifelike double loop. After adding the switching yard to the upper right it got a lot more interesting.
In the beginning Al Crate’s East Branch viaduct looked like this!
Al’s East Branch looked a whole lot better when this southbound popped out of Knoxdale tunnel and on to the trestle!
Many years after the above two photos of Al’s layout, in this telescopic view taken by Mike Rabbit, Dave Findley’s models of Gp7 10 and 11 are seen on East Branch viaduct. Wow, what a powerful telescopic lens to be able to pull Knoxdale tunnel’s south portal in so well! Ha, the things we do in the world of model trains!
I’ve been working on the railroad! Months ago I got an AZL (American Z Line) Z scale GP38 in G&W colors. Just for fun I added in the P&S letters to the logo. My100 ton Shawmut Line hopper fleet has grown to six. Speaking of six, that is how big this scene is in real life!
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.
=============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!