The Lake Erie & Pittsburg Railway

by John A. Thompson, Jr.

Of all the forlorn railroads or right-of-ways explored, the LE&P certainly had the best
of storied pasts. Planned as a connecting route from a Pennsylvania mainline at Brady Lake,
Ohio to the port city of Lorain on Lake Erie, the railroad never achieved the latter of these

Although considerable grading was accomplished with some bridge abutments set in
place wherever the the road encountered a waterway, the original course of the railroad through
Berea, Olmsted Falls, North Ridgeville, and into Lorain had to be abandoned due to
unfavorable conditions encountered at Berea.

Track layers or construction crews came upon some very soft and subsequent swampy
terrain that attempts to lay ties or track on resulted in these materials virtually
disappearing any time any form of weight was laid upon them. Constant dirt fill was brought in to
try and alleviate the problem, all to no avail.

Therefore, a new route was laid out, taking the LE&P some distance to the east of its
original course, and resulting in it now becoming a bridge or connecting route between
two major rail carriers, they being the New York Central and the Pennsylvania.

Both railroads had a vested interest in the LE&P, each sharing a 50% ownership in
it, thus allowing for both of them to operate trains over its rails. However, and as to why remains
an unanswered question, the Pennsylvania never exercised these rights, leaving that privilege
to sole descretion of the Central.

The “new” route of the LE&P took it from a connection off of the NYC’s
so-called “short line”, itself connecting to the Central’s lake-front line, from a point
near Cuyahoga Heights, Ohio, which in earlier times had been known as Marcy.
At this location was a railroad yard, aptly called Marcy Yard.

Leaving this yard headed southeast, the rails almost immediately crossed the
first of three steel trestles that had to be constructed to cross steep valleys encountered
along the new route. This first trestle was called, again aptly enough, Marcy
Trestle. A real labor of construction, it stood some 70 to 100 feet above the valley it
crossed and, another railroad, while stretching some 800 feet in length.

The other two trestles earlier mentioned were equally as impressive in their
own right, offering spectacular views of the countryside they traversed. They were
at locations called Tinkers Creek, which is now a state park, and near a present
day ski resort called Brandywine.

Operating solely as a freight transferring railroad, the LE&P from its inception
in 1906 to the ill-fated days of the Pennsylvania-New York Central merger, the
LE&P proved to be a very worthwhile venture. It never secured any other forms of
revenue, managing to survive solely as a bridge or connecting route. The
unsecured other forms of revenue also included no passenger service offered,
mainly because the railroad never passed by any populated areas.

At its end in 1968, a more favorable passage into Cleveland was to serve the
newly formed Penn Central, and the Lake Erie and Pittsburg passed into railroad
history. The steel trestles were dismantled, while track and ties were removed with
right-of-way left to be reclaimed by nature.

Though this is the case presently, some of the former railroad has been turned
into a hiking/biking trail by the city of Akron, Ohio. What ever else remains has
been pretty much reclaimed by nature. Sandstone bridge abutments, set in place,
but, never seeing rail or ties still stand at Berea in the Rocky River river bed and again
in the same river bed at Olmsted Falls, near where present day Bagley Road
crosses the river.

The right-of-way through the city of North Ridgeville’s eastern border presently
has a line of metal towers carrying high voltage electrical wires. A partial
bridge abutment sits on the bank of the French Creek at a metro park site in Sheffield
Lake of the same name.

Stone bridge footers that once supported the steel trestles can be found at the Tinkers
Creek site, at the point where the railroad began its journey from Marcy Yard, and, at the
valley crossing near present day Brandywine ski resort.

Marcy Yard still survives, operated by successor to Conrail, Norfolk-Southern.
It is not clear as to what capacity the yard serves. There is a medium sized trestle
still in place at this location, called Marcy Trestle by the railroad. It is not, however,
the one referred to earlier in this story.

RELATED PHOTOS by Willis McCaleb, from the collection of Mr. Al Doane of Lorain

Tinkers Creek Trestle with NYC 2955 crossing 02/23/48

Brandywine Creek Trestle with NYC 2955 crossing 02/23/48

Mill Creek Valley Trestle with NYC 2955 crossing 02/23/48

Tinkers Creek Trestle being built (1911), and torn down (1974)

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