The Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway, Safety And Service


The Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway was a western New York and Pennsylvania railroad system that was best remembered for hauling vast amounts of coal from the region in which it served, particularly in Pennsylvania. It reached two of its namesake cities (Buffalo and Rochester) but interestingly never made it to Pittsburgh, its most southern point being Walston, Pennsylvania. Despite this it was able to reach the Steel City beginning in the 1880s thanks to trackage rights over the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad from Butler, Pennsylvania sharing that railroad's Smithfield Street Station in Pittsburgh. In 1932 the BR&P was taken over directly by the B&O, which for years held an interest in the company. Today, large sections of the BR&P remain in operation under the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad, part of the Genessee & Wyoming family of shortlines.

Baltimore & Ohio Class B-8 4-6-0 #1396 is about to depart Ravenswood, West Virginia with a single coach during the winter of 1946. The railroad abandoned its bucolic RS&G Branch in the early 1960s.

The BR&P has its beginnings as the Rochester & State Line Railroad. This railroad was chartered in 1869 to connect Rochester with points south, eventually reaching Salamanca near the New York/Pennsylvania state line. The railroad's farthest southern point was Carrollton where it connected with the Buffalo, Bradford & Pittsburgh Railroad. The original BR&P served west-central Pennsylvania and the lucrative coalfields around Ridgeway.  The R&SL would go on to have a rather rocky existence. It was sold in early 1881 with an intent to build a railroad that would connect western New York with Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately this idea never came to pass and the new Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad (which incorporated much of the former R&SL and BB&P) was again sold in 1885 and split in half as the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railroad and Pittsburgh & State Line Railroad. The former operated the lines in New York state which now connected Buffalo via a branch from Ashford (it also reached as far north as Charlotte, above Rochester, on Lake Ontario) and the latter operated the coal fields in Pennsylvania.  This setup lasted only a few years as in March of 1887 the two separate railroads became the unified Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway. The new BR&P was never an overly profitable system with its primary source of revenue always based in coal (partly due to the fact that it never served any major population centers outside of Buffalo and Rochester).

Crewmen prepare B&O Class B-8 4-6-0 #1343 for another trip as it sits at Moundsville, West Virginia with a local passenger train during the 1930s.

Aside from its Pennsylvania coal fields the BR&P also operated a car ferry service between Charlotte and Cobourg, Ontario. The service was operated along with the Grand Trunk Railway at Cobourg and lasted between 1907 and 1950, when it was discontinued. After less than 45 years of service the BR&P lost its independence forever when it formally became part of the B&O's vast system in 1932.

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, commonly known as the B&O, holds the distinction of being this country’s very first common-carrier railroad (meaning a railroad chartered specifically for public use) being officially incorporated and organized on April 24th, 1827. – Just as a side-note the B&O was not the first railroad actually chartered in this country, that distinction goes to the Mohawk & Hudson Railroad which was created a year earlier in 1826. – By being this country’s first common carrier the railroad was instrumental in helping to build and grow not only our economy but also the country itself when the “west” meant the Ohio River.

As one might expect because of this early merger the BR&P never operated any diesel locomotives. However, it did have quite a collection of steam locomotives ranging from 4-6-2 Pacifics and 2-8-2 Mikados to massive 2-6-6-2 and 2-8-8-2 heavy articulateds. Most of the BR&P's steamers went on to join the B&O's roster. Unfortunately, today only one BR&P steamer is known to exist, an 0-6-0 switcher on display in Bellevue, Ohio. More information regarding Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh steam locomotives can be found below.   While never a wealthy railroad throughout its existence (when compared to the likes of its much larger and powerful northern competitors, the Pennsylvania [PRR] and New York Central [NYC] railroads) the B&O's legacy will forever be remembered as a survivor and that it put customer service above all else.

Steam Locomotive Roster

Class F

The BR&P's Class F included its roster of 0-6-0 and 0-8-0 switchers.

Class LL

The BR&P's Class LL included its massive 2-6-6-2 heavy articulateds.

Class P

The BR&P's Class P included part of its roster of 2-8-0 Consolidations.

Class S

The BR&P's Class S included part of its roster of 2-8-0 Consolidations along with its fleet of 4-8-0 Twelve-wheelers.

Class V

The BR&P's Class V included part of its roster of 2-8-0 Consolidations.

Class W

The BR&P's Class W included its roster of 4-4-2 Atlantics.

Class WW

The BR&P's Class WW included its roster of 4-6-2 Pacifics.

Class X

The BR&P's Class X included part of its roster of 2-8-0 Consolidations.

Class XX

The BR&P's Class XX included its only roster of massive 2-8-8-2 heavy articulateds.

Class Y

The BR&P's Class Y included its roster of 2-10-0 Decapods.

Class Z

The BR&P's Class Z included its roster of 2-8-2 Mikados.

(Thanks to Todd Blide with help regarding the information on this page.)



This view of the B&O's Brighton Yards in Cincinnati, Ohio was taken on September 3, 1945 from the Western Hills Viaduct.

When the company’s name and existence finally came to an end on April 30th, 1987 it had just celebrated its 160th birthday and witnessed the industry grow from nothing more than few scattered systems to a rail network consisting of tens of thousands of miles linking the country from coast to coast (it also outlived its wealthier northern competitors by over a decade).   While the BR&P was only marginally successful, even under B&O ownership, interestingly much of the former system remains in operation today under the Buffalo and Pittsburgh Railroad, a G&W system. It began operations in 1988 buying former sections of the B&O and BR&P in Pennsylvania and New York from CSX. Today it is a system covering more than 400 miles of railroad and in 2006 was even named the Regional Railroad of the Year by Railway Age magazine. 

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