New Castle Subdivision
Newton Falls - Creston, Ohio
The objective of this tour is to detail CSX's New Castle Subdivision between West Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Greenwich, Ohio. Individuals who are members of the YahooGroups' CSX New CastleSub e-mail group are the authors of the tour, and we owe them a debt of gratitude. So far, we've completed Newton Falls thru Creston, Ohio, a distance of 61.7 miles of the total length of 138.3. Traffic on the line has been growing strongly in recent years, and the line is a fine railfan destination.
As with all tours in the railfan guide, you will be able to print out this text and hit the road, but before you do, we suggest you take a long, hard look at our tour guide page -- it's got some good tips on it.
Contents And Navigation
Tony Dannemiller, All text from Akron to Creston
Paul Fatkins, Research support, Akron to Warwick
Rob Richardson, All text thru Cuyahoga Falls and Akron
John Stewart, All text from Newton Falls to Cuyahoga Falls
Peter Furnee, CSX logo
Railpace Magazine. In a series of articles beginning in early 2004, Railpace has detailed the New Castle Subdivision, west to east, for subscribers. We have shamelessly used some of the material -- such as train density and structure identification -- to flesh out some of the aspects of this tour. Where we do use the information provided by Railpace, we have tried to scrupulously give credit to that excellent publication. Incidentally, your Webmaster is a subscriber, and recommends that any railfan in the northeast who wants to remain current on the railfan scene there should subscribe to Railpace.
Tony Hill, Webmaster -- the guy who makes Frograil go. Any use of the singular first person pronoun refers to Tony Hill, unless otherwise specifically indicated.
Train Gifs. All train gifs used within this tour are from the Ed Bindler's train gifs site, which is here.
If you'd like to contribute to this, or any other tour, please contact me at email@example.com, and let me know what you'd like to do. We'll work together: You supply the data/info, and I'll do the HTML stuff and upload it. You'll get a chance to review the fruits of your efforts before the general public sees the finished product, so you can let me have your corrections, additions and changes.
Life Support. This tour leads you thru everything from very urban areas to isolated rural countryside. However, you'll never be more than 30 minutes or so from gas, food, and lodging, so we'll not routinely include references to life support during the tour.
Geography. If you look at a three dimensional atlas of the United States, you'll see the broad Appalachian range that railroads have battled in famous places such as Saluda, Horseshoe Curve, "The Southern Loops", and Sand Patch (there are several others, of course). From Pittsburgh west, there are still some convoluted remnants of those major geographical features, but they diminish in significance as the ex-B&O heads to the west. From Ravenna thru Kent, Akron, and Barberton, the Cuyahoga River valley defines the geography of the line, but beyond Barberton, the transition to the "MidWest" really begins to take hold, and beyond Lodi, you are in railfan heaven: Mostly flat, wide-open country.
The Railroad -- General. This is, by God, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The line that went by my boyhood home in rural Maryland; this is the line that changed America and changed the world. It has had its share of historical ups and downs, but in the early part of the 21st Century, it is definitely in an up phase. It is a vital link between tidewater Maryland, the southeast, and Chicago. Traffic off the A-Line/ex-RF&P coming from the southeast, and traffic from Philadelphia and Baltimore, comes thru Cumberland, over Sand Patch, and thru Pittsburgh to New Castle. From the beginning of the New Castle Subdivision in West Pittsburgh, to the important junction in Greenwich this line is humming with some 38 scheduled freights a day. [Information gleaned from Railpace.] Indeed, the most impressive thing about the line is the rate of growth.
Compass vs. railroad directions. The entire line (and tour) is timetable east - west, but you'll have to be map savvy in several places, or you'll be confused. Do your map homework ahead of time.
AG. An at-grade crossing.
NAG. A not-at-grade crossing. Unless I mention otherwise, these are usually not worth the time and trouble to drive to.
NARL. Not a railfan location. This is because of any number of reasons, such as lousy photo ops, dangerous, no shoulder on a NAG bridge, etc. As a general rule of thumb, it is wise to avoid NARL's.
NCS. New Castle Subdivision. Obviously, an often-used abbreviation in this tour.
Mapwork: Much of the tour is not easy if you have no detailed map for back country roads. I definitely recommend you get a DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer, study it before your trip, and copy pertinent pages for your field work. You can find information here about Railfan Maps that are available.
WEBMASTER'S NOTE: I do not recommend or condone walking along the tracks, as this means trespassing or exposing yourself to danger. You will have to be creative, in some instances, to avoid trespassing while getting to the detailed locations included herein, but you will either have to be creative or not visit those sites. At no point in this tour guide, or in any other part of Frograil, is it recommended that you trespass or expose yourself to danger. If you are a fool and have a leg cut off (or worse), don't come crying to me: You have been warned. Trains are big, powerful, and often surprisingly quiet. Don't end up being a statistic.
[Webmaster's Note: Beginning at this point in the tour, all text is from John Stewart. John rates the locations' Safety, Photography, and Creature Comfort aspects with a numerical grade, with 1 being no good, to 5 being excellent.]
Newton Falls -- Tower. From I-80 in eastern Ohio, take exit 209, and head west on OH-5 for about 1.5 miles. Turn south on OH-534, and then turn left onto the first street on your left, Fairport Road. Pass over the Mahoning River and turn right onto Water Street. Turn left onto North Center Street (a shallow left turn). Head south crossing the Newton Falls Subdivision rails, and after driving beneath the New Castle Subdivision (NCS), turn left at the first cross street, East Franklin Street, and parking is available immediately on your left. On the east side of Center Street is the Newton Falls tower.
To the east, a long-gone NYC line crossed the NCS, and to the west, the present day Newton Falls Sub diverges at the east bank of the West Branch of the Mahoning River, to head up to Levittsburg. This is MP95.3, and the tower is about MP95.1. The tower is still manned (!) 24/7 as of April, 2005.
Safety: 3/2 (bar across from parking lot is a bit rough)
Creature Comforts: 5
Newton Falls -- Windham Road. From the tower, turn left onto Center Street, head south about 1/2 mile, and turn right onto West Broad Street. Pass McDonalds on your right, and make a shallow right turn onto Windham Road. This road deadends trackside with a great view of the Western Newton Falls Siding.
Creature Comforts: 5
Paris. Go northwest on Windham Road all the way out to OH-5, take a left and head west. When you see tracks going north from the main line, you've reached the approximate east end of what used to be a massive US Army ammunition plant known as Ravenna Arsenal. Today, the Arsenal is primarily a training base used by the Ohio National Guard, Specials Operations forces, and other Department of Defense elements.
As you head west on OH-5, keep your ears open, as there is a defect detector at MP102.0, "Apco", which is just west of our next location. When you reach OH-225/Paris-Windham Road, you can see the crossing on your left. Turn onto OH-225 and park northeast of the tracks. Be aware that the military training center is a sensitive location, and be careful not to trespass. The perimeter is actively patrolled. The crossing is MP99.7, and crews refer to the place as "Paris".
Creature Comforts: 1
Charlestown -- Rock Spring Road. Continue west via OH-5 for about 5 miles. There will be signs marking West Branch State Park and Rock Spring Road. Take a left onto Rock Spring Road. After passing over the NCS, there will be an access road on the left. The west end of FS siding can be seen to the east. Be cautious here, as this spot can quickly become rather swampy.
For you visitors with a camper or tent gear, consider making your base of operations at West Branch State Park. There is a huge lake for fishing and boating, as well as hiking, camping, etc.
Creature Comforts: 1
Ravenna -- New Milford Road. Return to OH-5, and head west for another 8 miles or so. Continue to follow OH-5 after it splits from OH-59. After crossing the OH-14 interchange, turn left at the first intersection, New Milford Road. Parking is immediately found on the right side. There should be room for 3-4 vehicles. Again, this area can cause cars to be hopelessly stuck, so use caution. The NCS is about 100 yards down hill from the parking area.
Creature Comforts: 3
Ravenna -- Chestnut Street. Backtrack to OH-5 and head south. Turn right at the next intersection onto Lake Street. Lake follows the tracks on the south side, and offers good video potential. Stay on Lake until you reach Chestnut Street, and take a right. Chestnut is the first street after the traffic light at South Prospect Street. Head down the hill and parking is available on the northeast quad of the crossing, across from the Italian American Society. As you cross the tracks, you can see an old B&O tower to the west. You'll also notice bridge abutments for the old NYC line that once went north/south thru here.
The Prospect Street overpass also offers great angles of early morning westbound traffic and early evening eastbounds.
Safety: 3 or 4, depending on the locals
Creature Comforts: 3
Ravenna -- Diamond Street. If you are starting your tour in Ravenna: From I-76 south of the city, take exit 38 and go north into town via OH-44/South Prospect Street. When OH-5/OH-44 peel off to form a by-pass around the city, go straight north on South Prospect. As you get into town, you'll go over the busy NS Cleveland Line coming up from Alliance, and should look for West Lake Street about 1/2 mile after the overpass. Take a left onto West Lake, and head to a T at Diamond Street. Take a right and cross the CSX New Castle Sub. Parking is available on the left, just north of the crossing.
If you are continuing your tour from the east: Lake Street deadends into Diamond Street. A right turn onto Diamond Street will lead north to the CSX/NS crossing.
CSX is on the south side of the parking area, and NS is to the north. There is a grade separated railroad crossing to the east, and both photographer and train watcher alike will enjoy the experience of seeing two heavily traveled lines; indeed, it is not uncommon to see an NS train on the bridge, while CSX is running beneath.
Creature Comforts: 2
Kent -- Powder Mill Road. Head back south, cross CSX, and take the first right onto Hommon Road. Hommon will T at Lakewood, so take a right to go over the tracks. This crossing is NARL, because there is no place to park, and the road is busy. Just before reaching the NS Cleveland Line, the street has a sort of Y, with Menough Road going to the left. This is the road we'll take, but if you wish, you can go straight on Lakewood and park. There is probably room for one car in the Spring to Fall months. When the snow comes, this spot usually becomes Mt. Slush from DOT road crews. Directly in front of you lies the traffic-heavy Cleveland Line.
As you drive west on Menough Road, the road will swing to the north and end at OH-59. Take a left and head about 1.3 miles to the west. Along the way, you'll pass a Wal-Mart and Radio Shack for all your photo and electro-gizmo needs. About 1/2 mile east of our eventual turn, you'll note the Kent State University Golf Course. When you get to Powder Mill Road, take a left, and go perhaps one football field length to the crossing. There is limited parking on the northwest quadrant of the crossing. There is a great line of sight for eastbounds.
The property where parking is available is owned by a local business, so permission is needed, and very helpful, in the event of a visit by Kent police. Kent is a college town, and police in any such place need to be alert and watchful. Keep your manners about you, and don't show up looking like a bum.
Creature Comforts: 1
Kent -- Franklin Avenue. Go back north to OH-59, take a left, and drive all the way into downtown Kent, a little less than 3 miles. As you approach the Cuyahoga River valley (and the tracks along it), OH-59 will peel to the left. Go straight to stay on Main Street. Just before the Main Street bridge over the river valley, take a left onto Franklin Avenue, and find a parking spot to the north of the OH-59 overpass. There are many, many places for photography and train watching in the area. As a point of reference, the Pufferbelly Restaurant occupies the former Atlantic & Great Western station, and is at 152 Franklin Avenue. There are so many railfan spots to choose from that we'll not detail them all. This is now a walking tour, and John gives us the highlights.
Continue north past the Pufferbelly to East Main Street, and walk towards the bridge over the valley. Take some time to look around and select the place(s) you want to shoot from. Just remember that Main Street is busy, so you will not be able to willy-nilly run back and forth. The tracks are pretty dead north-south here, so you're probably going to spend must of your photography time catching southbounds (timetable westbound).
Kent Dam Interpretive Park can be reached by walking to the west side of the bridge. The park offers arguably THE BEST trackside view of the New Castle Subdivision in Ohio. Those tracks are on the lower grade next to the river, and the former Erie line (now locally operated by the Akron Barberton Belt) is on the other side. The Franklin Mills Riveredge Park trail connects the location with the Summit Street crossing on the western bank. The intrepid explorer can use the trail to continue north along the Sub for wonderful scenic views of the Kent Grain Mill, and more natural settings north of the mill. A wide variety of photographic contexts are available from the classic train and nature landscape to urbanized industrial themes.
Creature Comforts: 5
Kent -- Summit Street. You can easily do this location on foot also. It's included as a separate location because you're at grade, and the "feel" is quite different than that of the previous location. Since you'll leave from this location, we will give you driving instructions. From Franklin Avenue, go south 2 blocks past the OH-59 overpass to a left onto Summit. This will take you down into the valley, over the ex-Erie, over the CSX, and then over the river. You can park on the right immediately past the river.
Be aware that this is no 10 MPH urban creaky piece of railroad. Track speed thru here is 50-55 MPH, so keep alert, as they can be in your lap very quickly and quietly. A set of signals is just south of the crossing, and will give you some warning. The view to the north offers a stunning view of the restored Atlantic & Great Eastern depot, now the Pufferbelly Restaurant. The station dates from the late 1800's. The 2 buildings on the eastern side of the crossing are CSX property, and you do not want to be there.
Creature Comforts: 5
[Webmaster's Note: Beginning at this point in the tour, all text is from Rob Richardson.]
Munroe Falls -- OH-91. Just after crossing the Cuyahoga River, you'll see Munroe Falls Avenue come in from the west and end at OH-91. There is a MacDonald's north of Munroe Falls, so grab yourself a burger and walk to the tracks. As of very early 2005, there were still center position light signals, but these are being replaced system-wide, so get your pix when you can. Actually, while standing on the sidewalk, you can see the signals in both directions. This is MP 122.1, and there is a defect detector "Munroe Falls" immediately to the east at MP 121.9.
Cuyahoga Falls -- Water Works Park. The next location is much more than a nice place to let the kids get out and run around. According to Rob, Water Works Park ..."is the largest municipal park I have ever seen." It just so happens that the New Castle Sub runs right thru it.
Head west on Munroe Falls Avenue, and when you pass both legs of Winter Parkway, look for the entrance of the park on your right. The park is impressive, with an elaborate swimming pool, soccer and baseball fields, and a boat launching ramp on the Cuyahoga. The railroad bisects the park on an embankment, and may be more for viewing than photography, because trees are plentiful. This is, nonetheless, a fine family railfanning location.
Cuyahoga Falls -- Portage Trail. Continue west on Munroe Falls Avenue, which will make a swing to the south such that it will become almost due south once in the city proper. Park on Jackson Avenue, Stone Street or School Avenue, in the Portage Trail area, and walk west on the latter and go up the ramp to the bridge over OH-8/59 and the railroad. There's a nice view south. Indeed, there are several other railfanning possibilities around this area.
Cuyahoga Falls -- Main Street. The CSX New Castle Subdivision runs thru the city, paralleling OH-8/59, with eastbounds running compass north. Continue south on Munroe Falls, which may be signed as Newberry Street south of Portage Trail. At Tallmadge Road, turn right and then another right onto the remains of Main Street. Walk back to the tracks, wait for the trains, and sniff! There's a Schwebel's Bread bakery there.
Cuyahoga Falls -- Sill Street. Go back to Newberry Street, turn right to go further south, and then take your second right onto Sill Avenue. Park on Sill before you get to the tracks. Walk ahead to Main Street, and find a photo location that you like. Main is one-way southbound. This is an excellent morning location for southbounds (railroad westbound).
Between this location and downtown Akron, the tour is incomplete, so go back to Newberry Street, turn left to get back to Tallmadge Road (which becomes Broad Boulevard at some point -- probably at the river), take another left, go past the railroad and OH-8/59, and then take a third left onto the entrance ramp for the latter. OH-8/59 is a freeway in this area.
In Akron, The prime railfan draw in town is the CSX New Castle Subdivision, which approaches from the east, north of Cuyahoga Falls, and leaves to the southwest of Akron. Essentially, the tracks have to deal with a wide valley that runs east to west north of Akron. The valley narrows significantly on the east end; so, from the east, the tracks veer south thru Cuyahoga Falls, wind along one side to the valley to a 15-mph S curve, where they find a way across the valley. They then run east along the south wall of the valley until they curve south again and run through Akron. Rob estimates that the tracks are visible to railfans for at least half of their passage thru Akron.
The Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway also has a significant presence in town, with Brittain Yard east of town, and various tracks through the city. It takes a bit of luck to find trains on some of the WLE tracks.
[Webmaster's Note: As of April 2005, the Tallmadge Avenue T bridge was being rebuilt. Therefore, the next few locations may not be available as written, and I've temporarily put them in italics. Skip down to Akron -- AY to enter Akron and begin railfanning. Hopefully, when the bridge is finished, the text as originally written will again be correct.]
Akron -- Tallmadge Avenue. From OH-8 southbound, get off at Tallmadge Avenue and turn left. Just before you get to the bridge, park in the lot of a closed Dunkin' Donuts shop. The bridge is a T, with a leg to the right. Walk over it and turn right. You'll get a good view of eastbound trains, with a chemical plant on the left that always has several hopper cars on various tracks.
Akron -- BD Interlocking. From Talmage, drive onto the overpass T and turn right onto Home Avenue. In about a mile, take a left at the traffic light onto Evans Avenue. Turn right into the first side street, Young Street, and park. Walk, via Evans, to the tracks and you'll be at the east end (compass north) of the CSX Akron yard, a point known as BD.
You won't get long-distance views, because the tracks are twisting and curving, but this is a very picturesque spot. On the east side of the tracks, there is a dirt road leading into the yard proper, but that is all CSX property, and you should avoid that road.
Akron -- Coaling Tower. From Evans Avenue, go back to Home Avenue and turn left to head further south. As you go down hill towards the Little Cuyahoga River, the road will make a broad turn to head from southerly to westerly. Before crossing the river, take a left onto Eastwood Avenue. This road will wriggle thru the countryside and shortly go under the CSX New Castle Sub tracks. It will then open out into a large dirt area, with the coaling tower to your left. There are "yard" tracks here, but they are rarely used. [Webmaster's Note: Based on its location to the south of today's Hill Yard, one would be led to assume that this point used to be where locomotives on thru freights were serviced, thereby avoiding getting stuck in the yard. This is the same system used by virtually all railroads today for their hotshots. As this point is about 2 miles north of the Union Station, it's possible that passenger train locomotives were also quickly serviced here.]
Akron -- Arlington Street. Go back out to Home Avenue, take a left, and continue on what is now a westerly direction. Cross the Little Cuyahoga River, and at the bottom of the hill, turn left again -- this is North Arlington Street. Drive over a bridge and just before the tracks, park in the now-closed Holub Steel lot.
Akron -- AY & BD. From OH-8 heading south, take the Perkins Avenue exit and head east. Stay in the right lane, since the left lane is left turn only (but not clearly marked). Perkins will soon end. When it does, take a right, and after only a couple of hundred feet, this street will also end. When it does, you'll be facing a driveway into a hospital. Turn left onto Forge Street. You'll go down a steep hill and under two bridges -- for the NCS and a WLE track. Just before Forge ends, turn into the defunct Holub Iron & Steel parking lot.
You are at AY tower. Note that the stenciling on the electronic tower cabinet says "AR", but the train crews and local railfans call it "AY". Jeff Knorek refers to this location as "AY".
There's a great view to the north (railroad east), with a coaling tower in the background. The view west is pretty good too, with nice old CPL signals, although by the time you read this, those may be gone, as CSX continues to modernize its infrastructure. The tracks run along the side of a hill here, and at one time there were tracks on four different levels on this hillside! Walk back to the bridge and you'll see the remains of the ex-B&O Valley Yard, which is today occasionally used by the Akron Barberton Belt (a Wheeling & Lake Erie subsidiary). You might see the ABB switching with a shiny, Rio Grande-reminiscent, black and orange SW1500.
On your right is a stone arch bridge which carries the ABB west from Valley Yard and under the CSX New Castle Sub tracks.
From AY, turn away from the tracks, drive over the bridge and down the hill. At the bottom of the hill, turn right. At the next light, turn right again onto Evans. Park at the first side street on the right and walk down to the tracks. You'll be a BD.
Akron -- Grace Park North. We will now visit several minor locations as we head into downtown Akron. Get back to Home Avenue, which has probably become East North Street at this point, and continue west. You'll see a Y warning sign, and should take the left fork, which is Furnace Street. There is a seldom used Wheeling/ABB track on your right, ending at a strange spot where there are a couple of wheel-mounted conveyor belts, and seemingly nothing else. Nonetheless, hopper cars are delivered to this location.
From this spot, turn left onto North Summit Street, cross another set of WLE tracks, and you will shortly arrive at Martin Luther King Boulevard. Note that most older maps show this as Perkins Street, which it still is thru much of the downtown area -- they are one and the same street. Turn left onto MLK and you'll shortly notice Grace Park on your right. At the end of the park, take a left onto North College Street, drive to the end, and park. Walk thru the trees, and you can get a peek at the CSX New Castle Sub running thru a cut. For much better viewing, walk back to MLK/Perkins and then over the overpass of the tracks. You have a good view of the CSX cut in both directions.
Head west on MLK/Perkins, and you'll shortly be downtown. Find a meter to park at, and walk back (north) across the street. You'll have a good photographic view of the WLE tracks we saw and crossed on North Summit Street. There's little traffic on the line, but that makes a good photo location and its resulting images all the more enjoyable.
Akron -- Quaker Square/Station Area. From Perkins/MLK, take a left onto High Street. After just a few blocks, turn left onto either Mill Street or Bowery Street. The prefab Amtrak station is at the east end of Bowery Street. There is a parking lot where you can park all day for the princely sum of $2.00.
At this point, your Webmaster will interrupt Rob's mini-tour with some comments. The University of Akron is on the east side of the CSX New Castle Sub tracks (the station is on those tracks, by the way), and like all large, urban campuses, parking is at a premium in the area. That all day parking lot Rob mentions is a real bargain for tourists. While in the area, don't miss checking out the Crowne Plaza Hotel, as it is very famous. This conference center is actually made from the old Quaker Oats grain storage silos -- the rooms are all round! There are several restaurants in the area of the hotel and downtown, so plan to walk around, take in the sights, and have a good meal. OK, back to Rob's mini-tour....
At the Amtrak station, there are an 0-6-0 standard gauge locomotive and a tiny, narrow-gauge, light blue 0-4-0T. At the north end of the lot (railroad east), there is a caboose chassis you can climb on for a good angle to see westbound trains. In the other direction, you can walk past the Amtrak station and onto the passenger platform between the two tracks of the CSX New Castle Sub.
Akron -- Health Department. After walking back to the station and Bowery Street, walk west on Bowery to the first traffic light, and turn sharply right. Walk up the steps outside the Akron Health Department Building. You'll end up on top of a parking garage. Walk back to the wall and over to the south (railroad west) corner. You'll get a good down-on view of westbound trains. Incidentally, the tracks run below the level of city streets, so every east-west street has to cross over them, making the tracks visible all the way thru downtown Akron.
Akron -- Bartges Street. From the Amtrak station, drive west and take a left onto High Street. After several blocks south, take a right cross Broadway, and drive to the end of the road east of Broadway, where it will end at a circle just west of the tracks. This is a good afternoon location. (May 2020 update)
Akron -- Voris Street. [Per a report from the field in March, 2020, "Since the reconstruction of the I-76 overhead bridge, South and Voris Streets no longer exist. While they can still be rail fanned at the East Thornton Street overhead bridge (with a sidewalk on the western side viewing where South and Voris Streets were), the actual streets themselves no longer exist." This description has been updated accordingly.]
From Bartges Street, go back out the way you came, and take a left onto S. Main Street. At Thornton Street, take a left, go beyond Broadway and then the tracks, and take a right onto Wolf Ledges Parkway then turn right onto Voris Street, which ends at the tracks. Park on the street and walk to the crossing (closed due to construction). As for photos, you'll have good luck both east and west bound. Westbound shots can be shadowed in the afternoon, however.
This is generally a safe area, and you'll probably see some fellow fans on sunny days. You can take the Wolf Ledges Parkway across the interstate to South Street, where there is a McDonalds at the intersection of those two streets. There is a BP gas station behind the McDonalds, so you should have no trouble keeping yourself and your car filled up.
With el mucho thanks to Steve McMullen for this nice info about the Voris Street location.
[Webmaster's Note: Beginning at this point in the tour, all text is from Tony Dannemiller. Between Akron -- Voris Street and Warwick, Tony was assisted during the on-the-ground research phase by Paul Fatkins.]
Akron -- South Street. Go left out of the Voris Street railfanning area and turn left onto Voris and cross the tracks. Immediately after the rails, turn right onto Sweitzer Road, go under I-76, and turn right onto East South Street. Turn left into the dirt area near the tracks.
Akron -- Firestone Plant. From Voris Street, return to Wolf Ledges Parkway, turn right, then turn right on Thornton St. Turn left at the light for South Main Street. On the bridge will be CSX beneath, and you can shoot the trains by the Firestone Plant.
Akron -- 27th Street. After shooting on the bridge, go back north on Main Street, take it up to West Miller Avenue, and turn left 135° to head straight south on Ira Avenue. This is a little confusing, so check your map before you depart the Main Street overpass.
Ira will curve to the right after about a hundred yards. At this curve, Ira is separated from the tracks by a fence. Pass the stop light at Edison Avenue, and go to the left at the second blinking light for Kenmore Boulevard. This is not a sharp left. The NCS runs to your left along Kenmore, behind the industrial buildings. Stay on Kenmore thru 3 lights around the Manchester Road, and you'll enter the Akron neighborhood of Kenmore. Continue on Kenmore Boulevard for another 6 more traffic lights and then go underneath I-76/I-77. Kenmore curves after that to the left; follow it. At the next light, turn right on West Wilbeth Road. Turn left at another blinking light onto 27th Street SW. You'll begin up a bridge that will go over CSX's NCS below you.
Here, you can shoot trains sitting or coming at Lambert (Street and CSX location) to the southwest, which is the start of single track westward. Signals are in view from the 27th Street overpass.
There's an historic aspect to this location. This is the start of single track heading to Warwick. To even a casual observer, it would appear that the amount of traffic carried by CSX must make that 9-mile stretch a bottleneck, and it is. In years gone by, the PRR and B&O paralleled each other between Akron and Warwick. They agreed to operate this stretch of track as a double track mainline, with each company being responsible for its own maintenance of way expenses.
That worked well for many years, but when the ugly days of the PRR's last years and PC's precipitous decline, its track deteriorated to the extent that there was a 10 MPH speed limit. CSX's predecessor Chessie System purchased the line from PC successor Conrail when the latter was abandoning its line down from Akron. To make a long story short, sometime after buying the track, a very heavy ore train, traveling at 6-8 miles per hour in the Barberton area underwent an emergency brake application. In very slow moving trains, that means that the head end of the train will stop, while there is still immense kinetic energy stored in the cars behind the front end that are still moving.
Cars were "popped" out of the train, into the path of an on-coming freight. A railroader lost his life, and the railroad made the decision to remove that decrepit trackage between Akron and Warwick. Increasing traffic had CSX ready to install a new second main track in recent years, but a huge washout in West Virginia forced the company to devote scarce capital to that. Speculation (in early 2005), is that the money will be allocated to allow that second main track.
Akron -- Coventry Road. Keep straight on 27th Street until you reach the traffic light at West Waterloo Road. Turn right and head to the tracks. It is now single mainline to Warwick. Right after the tracks, make an immediate right into Coventry Street. There is a grassy area there where Lambert is in view to your left. This is a PM photo location. Lambert interlocking itself is MP 134.8.
Barberton -- Fairview Avenue. Go back on Coventry and take a right onto Waterloo Road. At Wooster Road, make a left. Soon, make a left on a side street named Camp Street. You'll very shortly come to the tracks on Coventry Street, so make a right. Continue on until you reach Fairview Avenue. Here, you'll see the CSX mainline on the far track, and the Akron Barberton Cluster Railroad branch closest to you. This, believe it or not, it the former Erie Railroad main line to Chicago.
[Webmaster's Note: Oooops! Rob has another temporary break from the as-written tour, as Wooster is now blocked by construction. So...] Instead of trying to take a left onto Wooster, take a right to follow the detour sign. Then, take your first left onto Second Street. After crossing a major street, which is probably Wooster Road West, park in a free public lot that will be on your right. The ABC headquarters is across Second Street from you. Construction may block you from close access to the tracks that were once available, but the view from the Tuscawaras Avenue bridge is excellent. If the latter is to be torn down, it will not be done until well into the last half of construction.
Here is the rest of the as-written, original text. Pick up the tour after the Tuscarawas bridge: Some ways south, Wooster will bend to the left at West Hopocan Avenue. Stay on Wooster and curve to the left. Go thru 2 traffic lights and under a bridge (West Tuscawaras Avenue). While under the bridge, take an immediate left into a parking area.
At this point, you can view operations of the Akron Barberton Cluster Railroad and the CSX New Castle Sub single main track somewhat in the distance.
Barberton -- Snyder Avenue. Go thru the parking lot to the other end, and take a left onto Second Street. You'll soon come to a stop sign at Snyder Road. There is a grassy area on your left by the railroad crossing that you can access. There is the single main NCS track and another ABC Railroad branch parallel here.
Franklin Twp -- Vanderhoof Road. Go left onto Snyder Avenue and cross the tracks. Soon cross another ABC branch and come to a traffic light. Take a right onto Van Buren Road. Van Buren will take you out of Barberton, and into the countryside of Franklin Township. You'll drive by a usually foul-smelling sewage plant on your left. After that, come to a blinking light stop sign, and take a right. This is Vanderhoof Road. It will wind down to the tracks and you can sit near them and near Jones Chemical.
Franklin Twp -- Center Road. Continue up the steep hill until you reach a stop sign. Take a left onto Fairland Road. Go straight approximately 2 miles through a hilly, grassy, back country-type road. You'll come to a T at Center Road. Take a left and drive down to the tracks.
There is a towpath entrance here, and you can take a hike or just sit and enjoy the action on the single track main line.
Clinton -- Cleveland - Massillon Road. Leaving the lot, turn right onto Center Road, and take it until you reach a jogging crossroads, and turn left onto Van Buren Road. In about 2 miles you'll reach Clinton and come to a red blinking stop light at North Street. Take a right and go up to the stop sign at Main Street. Go right and cross the Tuscarawas River and you'll be at the tracks. There are many vantage points here.
Clinton -- Warwick Park. After leaving the crossing, go down hill to South Division Street. There will be a park in front of you. Division is essentially an east/west street, with the park to the south and the tracks to the north. This is a good place for the kids to run off some steam, while you sit and relax as CSX entertains you.
[Webmaster's Note: Continuing at this point in the tour, all text and research are from Tony Dannemiller.]
Clinton -- Warwick Tower. Continue west on South Division Street (be careful, as there is a 10mph speed limit in the area of the park), and take it to the stop sign at South 2nd Avenue. Take a left and go down to the right onto South First Street. Head down First until just before the tracks (RJ Corman). Make a right into a dirt road type driveway. You'll be at Warwick Tower. Keep in mind that the Franklin Township Police are understandably somewhat edgy in the vicinity of the tower.
At this "junction" of Summit, Stark, and Wayne counties, there is a railroad junction of some historical interest: Warwick Tower. At one time, 3 B&O lines and a secondary PRR line met at Warwick, but today's junction is quite a bit less complicated. The ex-CSX, exx-CS, exxx-B&O line coming up from Massillon is now operated as an RJ Corman property, and ends in the Warwick yard. The old PRR to the south and one of the westbound B&O lines are now long gone, but the CSX New Castle Sub provides plenty of action for the visiting fan.
The tower building is used as a maintenance shed for CSX employees. You can sit well back from it and have a nice view of the action. Do not approach the building itself or the tracks. Do not go down into the yard itself. The tower is at MP 144.0.
Chippewa Township -- Hametown Road/CR-169. From the tower, take a left onto South1st Street, and then another left onto South Second Avenue. This will go uphill and T at Hickory Street. Take a left to begin your trek northwest into Wayne County. As you wind along this road, you'll see the yard below you on the left. Depending on the time of year, you may be able to get shots from along here, but the sun will be your enemy for the most part. Continue northwest on what is now called Galehouse Road, past OH-21, and you'll reach a sort of wye. Take the left fork onto Hametown Road/CR-169.
This crossing yields a view of signals in both directions.
Chippewa Township -- Black Diamond Road/CR-133. Continue south on Hametown southward until the first road to the right, which will be Black Diamond Road/CR-133. Turn right and go up to the tracks. This is a nice place, as you can see signals in both directions. This is not a place to fan at night, as vandals have made the area a police watch location.
Chippewa Township -- Coal Bank Road/CR-95. Continue north on Black Diamond Road to a 4-way stop at Galehouse Road. Take a left and go for a mile or so until you reach a sort of jog/wye. Take a left and take Coal Bank Road down to the tracks. There is parking on the south side. Here, you have a photo field of a straight away to the east, and a curve to the west.
Easton -- Whitman Road. Retrace your drive back up to Galehouse Road. Take a left, and at your next 4-way stop, take a left onto Whitman Road. Parking is available south of the crossing, on the road's shoulder. Just to the east of the crossing, at MP 148.0, is a defect detector "Easton". The crossing itself is at MP 148.2.
As a photographic consideration, from Coal Bank Road thru the eastern edge of Rittman, the bias of the railroad is virtually 310° southeast - northwest
Easton -- Galehouse Road. Continue south on Whitman. It will wander around the countryside and magically become Porr Road, and meander even more than Whitman did, as it tacks to the north and west. Porr will eventually come to the tracks at an intersection with what has become an old friend: Galehouse Road. For your photographic backdrop consideration, a lumber yard has thoughtfully been provided.
Easton -- Portage Street. Go left on Galehouse Road and head into the community of Easton, and continue up the hill to the stop sign. Take a right onto Portage Street you'll soon be back at the tracks. You can turn into a parking lot on the south side. The lot is owned by the Galehouse Lumber Company. This is a busy commercial activity, and Tony recommends you fan their after business hours. You should definitely stay at your car.
Rittman -- Hatfield Road. Directions to Hatfield Road are somewhat confusing, because of some dead end roads. Therefore, take Portage Street back to the south, and then a right onto Orchard Street. After about only 70 yards, take a left on a road only identified as "5A" on MapQuest. This will take you out to OH-94/OH-585. Take a right to go north, and be careful to go left where OH-94 and OH-585 split (immediately past the railroad). The first left after the split will be Hatfield Road. Take it and it will go dead west to a crossing. To continue the tour, go further west for a short ways, and the road will then turn 90° to go straight north to another crossing. Take your pick. The two crossings are only .3 railroad miles apart.
Rittman -- Morton Salt. Continue north on Hatfield Road, until you encounter a T. Hatfield will go right, and Sheets is to the left. Take the latter into Rittman, cross OH-57, and you'll come to another T. This shows as "Morning Star Drive" on MapQuest, but on the ground it's actually Shondel Road. Take a left to go south, and you'll shortly bend 90° to continue on Shondel (which is labeled "Salt Street" by MapQuest. You'll go over a spur track that goes into a mill that is no longer used. Be aware that the road in this area is VERY rough. Take it easy. If you're observant, you'll notice that you also cross a small waterway labeled "River Styx" by DeLorme. Some old-timer had a sense of humor.
MapQuest shows not only the spur you cross, but also a small network of tracks to support the defunct industry in the area, and a connector between CSX and the Conrail (ex-Erie) track coming from the northeast. This was part of the same Erie line we encountered back in Kent. It was pulled up years ago in the Rittman area.
Morton Salt has a parking area south of the road, and you can unobtrusively park and watch trains. We don't suggest you get out and wander around.
Rittman -- Depot. Get out of the parking lot via a left onto what is now called Salt Street. Take it down into town and make a left at the T for Main Street. After you pass Sterling Street (the first block after Salt Street), the tracks will be straight ahead, and the ex-B&O station is just north of the tracks, on your right. This is a good area for photography.
Milton Township -- Blough Road/CR-200. Go back north to Sterling, take a left, and you'll shortly be back in the country. After Rittman Limits you'll pass a private drive and then the first crossroads is Blough Road/CR-200. Take a left and go to the tracks to find a nice photogenic straightaway.
Milton Township -- Shorle Road. The railroad between Blough and Shorle roads is dead east - west, so if the sun is wrong for you at Blough, consider scooting on down the the end of the straightaway at Shorle. To get there, go back north on Blough, and then turn left onto Sterling Road/CR-504. Take a left at the next crossroads, which is Shorle Road, and head south to the tracks.
Milton Township -- Sterling Road. Backtrack on Shorle Road and go up to Sterling Road; turn left at the stop sign. Take it over the hill and down the other side, and make the left curve. You'll intersect the tracks there, just after Atlantic Avenue, which runs to the right, and which we'll re-visit shortly.
Sterling -- The Loop Railfan Area. If you want to see mainline junction action, go north on Sterling Road and take a left onto Atlantic Avenue. Within a mile or so, you'll be in beautiful, downtown Sterling. There you'll find a railroad junction. You'll cross the east leg of the CSX line up to the Cleveland area via Lester, and immediately after that, you'll see a turn into a dirt parking area. Turn left into the parking area, and here is where it is fun to meet. There is a local railfan club there that is called the Sterling Loop. They meet on Wednesdays and Sundays, and have 9 +/- members and many guests. There are many people that come and visit, and almost anyone is welcomed. Please be safe and respect the rules of railfan etiquette while there. From here, you can see signals in all directions, and trains can take several routings.
Sterling -- Kauffman Avenue/CR-60. Continue west on Atlantic Avenue until it T's at Kauffman. Take the very sharp left onto Kauffman, cross the tracks, and park in the gravel area to the right. This is a wide open, safe area to watch trains, and you folks who can't stand being near other folks (see The Loop, above) should be quite comfy here.
Milton Township -- Eby Road/CR-73. Head north back out of Sterling on Kauffman (which will become Seville Road) to the first crossroads, which will be at Doylestown Road/CR-70. Turn left and go about one-half mile. You'll see a crossroads with Eby Road. Take a left and head to the tracks.
Canaan Township -- Jordan Road. Go back north on Eby Road to Doylestown Road, and when you get there, take a leftt. Go about a mile to Jordon Road, and take a left. Take Jordan to the tracks -- you can see signals west of this location.
Creston -- Brooklin Street. Go back north on Jordon Road to Doylestown Road. Take a left, and then enter the Creston Village limits. You'll go for a short time, and before the stop sign see a crossroads for Brooklin Street. Take that left and go to the train tracks. Here, you can sit by the Creston Police station and see both CSX New Castle Sub and the W&LE Brewster Sub action, all with walking distance.
Creston -- OH-3. From the Creston Police Department on Brooklin Street, head west on East Baum Street. This will T at OH-3, and you're between both the CSX and Wheeling & Lake Erie tracks. There's a Subway restaurant and a Circle K gas station and convenience store to the left on OH-3.
Creston -- Burbank Street/CR-70. Go north on OH-3 and the first crossroads will have Sterling Street to the right and Burbank Street to the left. Take the latter turn and after 3 blocks, you'll be at the tracks. CSX and W&LE are very close here, and there is interchange trackage.
This ends Tony Dannemiller's portion of the CSX New Castle Subdivision tour. We'll extend the tour as soon as fans like you generate the material for Frograil. Call me here.