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.comte - This site was created in May 1996 to share history, memories, photos, and information and was last updated 5/17/2013.
Email about this site may be sent to Dennis Snyder at: email@example.com
Email to the P&S RR Historical Society may be sent to:
REMEMBER The Pittsburg, Shawmut, and Northern Railroad? That is their logo below, it was the parent of the Pittsburg & Shawmut. The PS&N historical society web site is at:
BRIEF OVERVIEW - The Pittsburg & Shawmut Railroad was originally called the Brookville & Mahoning and began in the early 1900s as an extention of the parent railroad PS&N to make access to Pittsburg. The line was soon renamed as Pittsburg & Shawmut and ran for 88 miles from Brockway, PA to Freeport, PA. Coal was always the main business of the P&S although it also ran passenger service well into the 1930s. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the P&S RR company 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 came first and was named the Red Bank Railroad and had no locomotives or rolling stock, all P&S equipment was used. Shortly after, the rest of the Low Grade was purchased and became the Mountain Laurel RR. The Mountain Laurel had six red, silver, and black GP10 locomotives, but no other rolling stock. P&S and MNL locomotives were used all across the three railroads and P&S hoppers were also used system wide. In April 1996 all three lines were purchased by Genesee & Wyoming and a few years later all operations were asorbed into the Buffalo & Pittsburgh. (There are more details below the photos, etc.)
Here is a not-to-scale map of the Pittsburg & Shawmut area.
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Back in February I made some changes to the site appearance, but it just didn’t work so we’re back to the original look and after a long delay it’s time for another site update as we celebrate the beginning of our 17th year so lets dig into the vast collection of P&S photos and other goodies again.
First up, not directly Pittsburg & Shawmut related, but did you know that Mahoning Dam is in the process of being retrofitted with a power generating plant downstream from the main dam? This project has been in the works for a few years now. Here is a link to a bit more info about it.
Here are three short scenes Tom Crawford took before deciding to do the full length videos in the early 1990s. First is at Tait Siding, then East Branch Viaduct, and finally Rayard just south of Brookville.
Since we included Rick’s on board video to Freeport here’s an even earlier photo from Kurt Reisweber of a P&S train at Freeport including one of the bay window cabooses.
Kurt also caught a Brookville local near Knoxdale back when the Shawmut switchers were still red and yellow.
Here’s two from Robert Shook of one of the NS 562 Shelocta coal trains on the way to the plant, seems like so long ago!
It’s always nice to know the P&S locomotives are still out there moving tonnage. In this case here are two of them in Lycoming Valley colors in this scenic shot from Mike Zollitsch.
Here’s a rare one, one of if not the last Red Bank/Mountain Laurel coal trains at Diamond on the Red Bank line from Channing Frampton.
John Hartman took this view of a quintet of Mountain Laurel GP10s at the Coder Trestle in the mid 90s.
Robert Shook was on hand when this set of NS power was climbing the connection track between the PSR and BPRR at Mosgrove in January 2006.
In March 1991 David Baer was present at Colwell when BVL1 had GP7 #10 and #11 along with SW9 1866 southbound crossing Mahoning Creek on the way to Mahoning Yard. The coal was for Reesedale and they were delivering a tanker of diesel fuel for the engine terminal at Kittanning. KGL 1 would pick up these cars at Mahoning Yard and continue on south.
MODEL TRAIN CORNER
Here’s a nice writeup from Dennis morgan about Brookville’s Charles Bowdish with a couple of photos.
Saturday, March 2 was Charles Albert Bowdish’s birthday (he started the model railroad collection in Broovville, PA that was moved to Buhl planetarium in Pittsburgh). By 1954 he had counted over 300,000 visitors through his home at Christmas time to see his work.
Charles Bowdish 1896-1988 lived in Brookville, PA. Between 1919 and 1955 he invited guests into his home in Brookville to see his special train display he assembled each Christmas, He hand built many model buildings from Brookville and Jefferson County. Charles kept track of his visitors and by 1954, more than 300,000 boys and girls, men and women, had gone through his home hearing the music and story of Christmas.
In 1954 and 1955 Christmas season, Charles created his last exhibit in Brookville and moved his work to the Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh. He traveled to
Pittsburgh and supervised people there who helped him build a new scene each Christmas season. In 1992 the exhibit moved to the new Carnegie Science Center. The Miniatute Railroad & Village (TM) is there today and includes many new miniatures representing places in western Pennsylvania.
When the Jefferson County Historical Society began the preservation of the Edelblute Building as the home of the Historical Center in 2001, one room was set aside for An old-fashioned Feller: Charles Albert Bowdish exhibit and model railroad layout built in the Bowdish-style. Many of Charles’ original building models and animations on loan from the Carnegie museum are included on the layout.
Today dedicated volunteers operate and maintain the Bowdish model Railroad Exhibit. They move, remove and add new models and animations each year to reconfigure the layout.
Local volunteers now maintain the display so individual tastes dictate what is on display. The Shawmut material is included this year but how long it has been there I do nor know. I am assuming Shawmut material has been on display for a long time since Shawmut had a RR shops in Brookville and Buffalo and Pittsburgh still has shops there.
Here are some photos Dennis took.
KGL 1 southbound at McWilliams
Great clip from 1990s at Falls Creek with MNL & P&S power.
Here is a short clip from Rick Tonet’s Shawmut adventures in the late 1980s.
Here is a clip of my HO scale P&S layout in Florida.
Here is another short layout clip of a Brookville Local picking up cars at Dora.
And below are two HO scale P&S trains with quite the variety of color and power!
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 of the information and photos were 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:
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. The 88 mile long rail 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 and Northern. Note that in the late 1800s Pittsburgh was spelled without the “h” and both railroads used the 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 was finally abandoned in 1948. The P&S was completed from Brockway to Freeport in 1917 and continued to operate for nearly 100 years and although it struggled at first, did very well at times.
The during the last half of the 1970s and first half of the 1980s business was really 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 loaded at places like Dora, Colwell, Reddco, Brockway, and other loaders and found their way to power plants in the northeast and the power plant at Reesedale.
MORE RECENT HISTORY - During the last half of the 1980s business was dropping off. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the company expanded by purchasing around 110 miles of track from Conrail. This was the former Pennsylvania Railroad “low grade secondary” from Lawsonham to Sligo and Lawsonham to Driftwood including the 25 mile long 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 and six additonal red, black, and silver GP10 locomotives were received. 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 April 1996 the Pittsburg & Shawmut along with the Red Bank and Mountain Laurel Railroads, were purchased by Genesee & Wyoming, Inc. (GWI) and received the reporting marks PSR. Genessee & Wyoming has purchased and operated many smaller railroads around the country. Although it originally appeared the Shawmut name would continue under G&W ownership, all PSR operations were absorbed into the neighboring Buffalo & Pittsburgh (BPRR) in 2004 effectively eliminating the proud little Pittsburg & Shawmut name from railroading.
TODAY - 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.
Coal has always been the Shawmut’s main business and coal 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 Mahoning, Red Bank Railroad from Lawsonham to Sligo, and Mountain Laurel from Lawsonham to Brookville (including the Piney Branch) have all been abandonded and removed. This includes the Widnoon and Conifer branches off the original P&S mainline. All of these have been removed since the 1996 purchase by G&W. Some of the earlier branches had been removed long ago.
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.
As always, many thanks to everyone who have helped with photos and information over the years, it is only because of you we’ve been around for so long!