The Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad: Ohio's Road of Service
The Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railroad was a small Class I carrier
that came into existence in 1907. Throughout much of its life the
AC&Y served northern Ohio's industries and was actually rather
profitable despite the fact that it only stretched from roughly Akron to Delphos operating a singular main line. The AC&Y lasted as a
completely independent railroad until 1964 when it was sold to the
Norfolk & Western Railway. The AC&Y's name remained in use
until 1982 when it was finally dissolved with the formation of the new
Norfolk Southern Railway. Today, the former AC&Y lines continue to remain in operation under the new Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway a Class II, regional that stretches into western Pennsylvania.
Wheeling & Lake Erie SD40-3 #3049 leads two other Electro-Motive units as all three locomotives pull a string of coal hoppers over the bridge at Kirwan Heights, Pennsylvania during the evening of May 31, 2009.
The AC&Y has its beginnings dating back to the Akron, Canton and Youngstown Railway
and Northern Ohio Railway. The original AC&Y was formed in 1907 as a small 7-mile system connecting Akron with
Mogadore, Ohio to the east. The point of the railroad was to serve as a
transportation artery for Akron's industry base, particularly its
established rubber businesses. The other half of the future AC&Y was the Northern Ohio
Railway. This railroad was chartered in 1881 with the dream of becoming
a major narrow-gauge operation. However, these plans
never materialized and the unprofitable railroad, which connected Akron
with Delphos, Ohio to the west was leased to the Lake Erie &
Western Railroad. The LE&W operated the property from 1895 until
the Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railway purchased it in 1920 and in
1944 the two systems were formally merged to form the Akron, Canton
& Youngstown Railroad.
The new railroad, although interestingly never reaching its namesake
cities of Canton and Youngstown, became a rather profitable system,
moving merchandise across its east-west route in Ohio's industrious
northern region. The new AC&Y was also successful due to its many
connections with other, larger Class I systems including the Chesapeake
& Ohio Railway; Norfolk & Western Railway; Erie Railroad; New
York Central; Baltimore & Ohio; Detroit, Toledo & Ironton
Railroad; Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway; and Pennsylvania Railroad.
As the 1960s unfolded the modern-day merger movement was just
getting underway. Understanding that it was a David among Goliaths the
AC&Y approached the Norfolk &
Western about a possible merger. The N&W agreed to the purchase and
took over the AC&Y in 1964.
W&LE GP35-3 #708, a former Southern unit, leads an interesting lashup of counterparts wearing other liveries as all three power an ore drag over the trestle at Baidland, Pennsylvania on May 12, 2009.
The N&W is remembered as one of the most highly respected railroad
companies in history and for good reason. Aside from well-managed
operations the railroad’s property was meticulous and its equipment was
always in excellent working
order. Of course, operations aside, from a railfan and historical
standpoint the railroad is remembered for many other things such as
being the last Class I to operate steam locomotives (until 1960), its
symbolism with coal, and legendary photographer O. Winston Link whose
black and white photos of the railroad’s final days of steam are now
considered all but priceless works of art (not only for the photography
itself but also the historical images captured). For more information on the railroad please click here to visit the AC&Y Historical Society.
A worn and faded AC&Y caboose has yet to be repainted as it sits at the yard in Akron, Ohio during June of 1983.
The AC&Y's steam locomotive roster consisted mostly of 2-8-0
However, aside from small switchers the railroad also rostered a small
fleet of 2-8-2 Mikados (11 in total). During the diesel era the
railroad stuck entirely with Alco and Fairbanks-Morse for power. More
information about its locomotive rosters can be found below. Despite
the its purchase by the
N&W, this wasn't the end for the northern Ohio railroad. It
remained mostly an independent operation under the N&W until the
merger of the AC&Y's parent with the Southern Railway in 1982 to
form today's Norfolk Southern Railway
at which the AC&Y was dissolved and became yet another fallen flag.
Today, the portion of the original AC&Y main line between Carey
and Akron remains in use by the new Wheeling & Lake Erie system.