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Nostalgia & History > A Whole Railroad in One Image

Date: 02/22/24 17:21
A Whole Railroad in One Image
Author: MacBeau

While digging through scans left by the late Richard Egen, this aerial (date unknown) with nothing but a number surfaced among a collection of Lake Shore Electric material. The bend in the Black River along the west side of National Tube Company in Lorain, Ohio is distinct, and this image appears to show a majority of the Lake Terminal Railroad. Comments and corrections welcome, as always.
Be of good cheer,

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/23/24 16:09 by MacBeau.

Date: 02/22/24 17:47
Re: A Whole Railroad in One Image
Author: EL833

Neat photo. I flipped the image- that helped me get my bearings. Indeed, Lorain, Ohio. That's Rt 57 (E 28th St) cutting across, it generally runs compass e/w at this location (South Lorain) . The diagonal rail line running SE to NW is the B&O (CL&W) from Lester. That wye no longer exists. All the rest of the tracks should be the Lake Terminal. The Rt 611 bridge (Henderson St) over the Black River would be just out of the upper left frame. Anyway, that's my take on it :)

Roger Durfee
Akron, OH

Date: 02/22/24 22:51
Re: A Whole Railroad in One Image
Author: jgilmore

Very interesting photo, thanks for posting. What got me really interested is trying to decipher the time frame of when this shot was taken. I did some research and could only come up with a 1960s-1970s (or possibly into the early 80s) span of time. First off, you can see the Hulett unloaders still in the scene, all four of them, which has to be after 1960 (these were the last new Huletts installed in the US) but obviously before the end of iron production at Lorain in 2008. The Huletts were of course done for sometime before that, but I couldn't discern this from my research. I'm guessing they were last used in the 80s, as the last ones used in the area were at the CR C&P dock on Whiskey Island in Cleveland in 1992. With self-unloading lake boats proliferating on the Great Lakes in the 70s and 80s, most Huletts were doomed by this era, and the lake boats themselves in the picture look like something from that era. Also, as for pictures of the works by the 90s and later that I found, the Huletts were gone and they relied on the easy access to Lake Erie and the self-unloaders to deliver the ore. My overall best guess is maybe sometime in the 70s for the date of the photo. 

As for the Lake Terminal trackage, most of it is in the photo, but some important parts of the mill are not seen, like the other blast furnaces, the BOF steel furnaces (installed in 1983), continuous caster and many of the rolling mills. This is the more intricate and complex gaggle of spurs, loops and other connections often unseen in ground level shots of mills. More of these facilities in the photo would also help better place the date of the photo, but needless to say it's a very interesting look back at industrial America, including its usage and connection to railroads that has disappeared so much in our modern life. Definitely a great look back...


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/22/24 22:55 by jgilmore.

Date: 02/23/24 18:57
Re: A Whole Railroad in One Image
Author: halfmoonharold

One feature that I believe might backdate this view is the presence of the Lorain Ashland & Southern rail yard just north of (above) E. 28th St. The main line south is the s-curve shaped line toward the lower left. This line, also known as the Ramsey after it's builder, only lasted into the 1930's. The B&O later used part of it to access some industries that would be out of view to the bottom left, but even that ended by the 1950's I think. Since there are cars in the yard, I would say this view is pre-WWII.

The Lorain mill was considered for a vast enlargement in the early 1900's, but that investment was ultimately made in Gary, IN. Not however before sparking a furious push by all area rail lines to access Lorain and hopefully tap into the projected traffic surge. The LA&S was a Pennsy/ Erie project that never really panned out. The plant was served by B&O, NKP, and NYC, with Lake Terminal providing the traffic via interchange to the trunk lines. This view shows the western half of the LT, whose trackage spans the length of the plant.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/24/24 10:35 by halfmoonharold.

Date: 02/24/24 18:28
Re: A Whole Railroad in One Image
Author: cr7998

Thanks for sharing this fascinating photo of the Lorain Works in its halcyon days.  As jgilmore noted, this photo shows the western end of the US Steel Lorain complex, but there are many parts of the mill that are to the east and unseen in this photo.  The Lake Terminal (LT) extended around three miles further east to serve the entire mill complex, and also to interchange with the NYC and Nickel Plate at South Lorain Yard.  This photo shows B&O's yard north of 28th Street, where interchange was done with the LT.  

Halfmoonharold mentioned the Lorain, Ashland & Southern, which appears as the "S" shaped line to the south of the mills, crossing over 28th Street just east of the B&O overpass above that street.  The LA&S was envisioned as a connection between Lake Erie and the Ohio River, but only made it about 1/3 of the way.  For a short time it held some strategic value when construction of the steel mills at Lorain began circa 1895.  By the early 1900's, the mills had come under control of US Steel.  The LA&S connected with the Erie at Ashland and with the PRR's Chicago Line at Custaloga, OH, west of Shreve.  The LA&S provided a way for the Erie and PRR to reach the mills at Lorain, competing with the B&O, NYC and Nickel Plate.  The PRR eventually acquired control of the LA&S circa 1916.  However, the anticipated traffic did not develop, as PRR was at a definire disadvantage compared to the railroads that directly accessed the LT at Lorain.  With too much debt and too little traffic, the LA&S ceased operations in 1925.  After that, the B&O provided service on a short segment in Lorain, including the segment shown on this photo.  After studying some topo maps and aerial photos, I believe the LA&S overpass over 28th Street was gone by the early 1950's, which suggests that this photo is prior to that time.  

The definitive history of the LA&S is a book titled "The Rattlesnake and the Ramsey, The History of the Lorain, Ashland & Southern Railroad", by William S. Snyder.  It's a well written and researched look at one of Ohio's most obscure railroads, highly recommended.  

As for the Hulett ore unloaders, I believe this photo shows the original Hulett's that were installed sometime in the early 1900's.  As noted by jgilmore, Lorain got new Hulett's in 1960, which were the last to be built, and these replaced the older and smaller Huletts.  As an aside, I believe that Lorain was the only place where the Hulett's operated on curved rails.  All the other locations I'm aware of were on straight rails. 

Steve Salamon
Valley City, OH    

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/24/24 18:39 by cr7998.

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