NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

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NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

Unread postby Bellevue_Guy » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:25 pm

On the Wheeling and Lake Erie thread I have mentioned a rail trail that I walk on a lot and have taken pictures of trains from. Along the trail there are several restored pieces of railroad history as well as some bridges that were re-designed for trail use. I've been meaning to get some pics of some of this stuff to share here and today I was able to do it.

Here is the general history of the line:

1850 - Chartered as the Toledo, Norwalk and Cleveland Railraod
1853 (Jan) - TN&C completed
1853 (Sep) - Merged to form the Cleveland and Toledo Railroad
1867 - Absorbed into the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway
1914 - Absorbed into the New York Central System
1968 - Absorbed into the Penn Central System
1976 - Abandoned by PC
In the years that followed various sections of it have been purchased by a consortium of park districts to be made into the North Coast Inland Trail.
Here is a map of what is complete so far: http://www.firelandsrailstotrails.org/i ... p_2012.pdf
The park district operated sections in Sandusky and Lorain Counties are paved trails, while the Huron County section, which is run by a non-profit organization, is crushed limestone. It is on the Huron County portion between Norwalk and Bellevue that this post is focused.

Now on to the pics...

Sandstone double arch viaduct completed by the LS&MS in 1871 over the East Branch of the Huron River, just west of Norwalk. There is an observation deck built next to it, from which I took this pic
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At US 20 in Monroeville, trail on the left, WLE on the right
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Bridge over the West Branch of the Huron River in Monroeville. This was refurbished by ODOT in 2011 and opened for through traffic earlier this month.
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At the east end of the refurbished bridge, where the diamond across the WLE used to be. The trail organization originally wanted to cross the tracks at grade here, but the WLE wouldn't agree. So a lot of earth had to be moved to drop the trail over to the parallel Lake Shore Electric RoW, which sits about 10-15 feet lower than the WLE. The trail uses the LSE for just under 1/2 mile, and trail users are able to cross the tracks back to the NYC part ofthe trail at Peru Center Road.
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One of two rebuilt bridges over small creeks between Monroeville and Bellevue. This one just east of Young Road.
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Sign in Norwalk between North West St and the river
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Restored 1863 C&T depot in Monroville. The interior has been very well decorated with various railroad memorabilia and timeline plaques, as well as photos of the trail's construction. This building is occasionally open for trail users to took at, and also serves as the headquarters of the trail organization.
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There are several land line markers and whistle posts along the trail. These 3 are in Monroeville.
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Old mile marker next to a new one, in Monroeville. The railroad marker tells the distance to Buffalo and has a
"C 297" on the other side for Chicago. The trail markers are based on the distance from the east end of the NCIT in Lorain County.
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Thanks for viewing, hope you enjoyed it. If anyone has any additional historical info to add about this rail line feel free to do so.
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Re: NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

Unread postby AARR » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:53 pm

I enjoyed your report and pictures! I enjoy walking old and abandoned ROW's as much if not more so than sitting and watching trains.

There is a group led by David Cenci that walk old or abandoned ROW's once or twice a year. When he organizes them I post it here for those who might be interested.
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Re: NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

Unread postby AmtrakCSXRailfan » Sat Jun 23, 2012 10:13 pm

That line used to run through my town Genoa, Ohio! And yes there still is landmarks left...
-Brennen Williams Railfan of Northwest Ohio

Please check out my YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/AmtrakCSXRailfan

Also, my Flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/77988653@N08/

Happy Railfanning!!!!!
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Re: NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

Unread postby Bellevue_Guy » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:59 pm

I recently saw some more of this former line that has been turned to trail, this time on the paved section from Elmore to Fremont. There's not a whole lot of railroad relics left on this section, but there are a few nice ones in Elmore.


The Emlore Depot
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Another Chicago/Buffalo mile marker
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And here is one of several bridges that have been rebuilt, this one over Sugar Creek in Elmore
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Re: NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

Unread postby SW » Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:25 pm

Ohio does a great job with rail trails. This looks like another good one. Thanks for the report!
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Re: NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

Unread postby Notch 8 » Sat Sep 29, 2012 1:34 pm

Was this line part of what was called The Old Road ? If so this was a continous route till when ?


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Re: NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

Unread postby railroadchoad » Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:22 am

Notch, the Norwalk Branch was the main line until the Bridge/causeway across Sandusky Bay was completed. So, if one takes into consideration the period of time before that line was completed and the "Air Line" from Toledo to Elkhart via Wauseon, Bryan, Butler and Kendallville was built, the Norwalk Branch and Old Road were the Lake Shore's line to Chicago from Buffalo.
Lookin' and smellin' darn GOOD!
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Re: NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

Unread postby Bellevue_Guy » Tue Feb 12, 2013 6:11 pm

Fireland Rails to Trails, who operates the Huron County part of the NCIT, puts out a newsletter 1-3 times per year. On their website (http://www.firelandsrailstotrails.org) they have an archive of past newsletters and while reading them I found some neat little articles about the history of the rail line. Here they are:


PART 1 OF 5: THE EARLY DAYS OF THE TOLEDO, NORWALK & CLEVELAND RR

“We are happy to announce that the contractors upon our Rail-Road, or a part of them, have arrived, with men, horses, carts, and other implements; so that, in a few days, we may expect to see the entire line from Toledo to the Junction (Grafton) in a state of bustle and progress. Go ahead, say we.” - Norwalk Reflector, September 9, 1851. Imagine life in Huron County in 1851. Most have never even seen products of the industrial revolution and for many, the steam locomotive is the first such mechanized device they would see. “We have to-day for the first time, had a view, from our office window of the “Iron Horse,” as he snorted and pranced along through the town.” Norwalk Reflector, November 18, 1852.

Our TN&C was part of the original east-west transcontinental between New York and Chicago, and though very significant, its completion at Grafton (“The Junction”) was much less heralded than the joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific in Promontory, Utah some 16 years later. The line was constructed to serve as a link between Toledo and the Cleveland, Columbus & Cincinnati Railroad at Grafton, hereby giving the TN&C a direct
connection to Cleveland. At the time, rail itself was not even being produced yet in the U.S. and the first rails came from England. Norwalk would soon grow into a hub for the TN&C’s successors and would feature a large car and locomotive shop complex and the line would see regularly scheduled freight and passenger traffic for over a century. After merging with the Junction Railroad, the line would soon become secondary branch line.
In the next issues we’ll take an in-depth look at how the railroad evolved through different companies, hit its zenith, slowly declined and would someday be reborn as a recreational trail and historic treasure for all to enjoy

PART 2 OF 5: THE CLEVELAND AND TOLEDO RAILROAD

LARGE TRAINS.-The Freight Trains on the C.&T. Railroad, fer a few days past, have been very large. On several occasions we have noticed two locomotives attached to single trains. We would judge from this, that the Freight business of the Road is large, and increasing. We understand that the passenger business of the Road is also good. ...We always feel, when traveling over this Road, that a certain member of the Editorial fraternity will not be sent to “kingdom come” by any mismanagement or negligence. There is no better managed Road in the State - Norwalk Reflector, 1858.

Such was said of the Cleveland and Toledo Railroad, successor to the original builder of the line, the Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland Railroad. The TN&C was just two years old when they merged with the Junction Railroad in 1853. The Junction Railroad was building west from the west side of Cleveland to Sandusky and completed a bridge across the Sandusky Bay in 1855. This bridge was soon abandoned as the road’s financial condition worsened. After the Civil War a bridge across the Cuyahoga was completed giving the road direct access to Cleveland without relying on the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad (later the “Big Four Route”) connection at Grafton. The Sandusky Bay bridge was then reopened. The 1853 timetable shows three passenger trains each way through Norwalk with Monroeville and Clyde being important junctions on the line.The map below shows the original line beginning in Grafton and dates to 1859.

In 1866 the C&T connected their Northern and Southern divisions with eight miles of new track between Oberlin and Elyria. The original line to Grafton was abandoned soon after, traces of which can still be seen just east of Parsons Road in Oberlin. Under C&T management, the road built extensive shops in Norwalk which sat just north of the now closed grocery store and east of Home Lumber on Whittlesey Avenue. The Norwalk Shops were capable of building their own 4-4-0 steam locomotives in entirety and employed hundreds of men. The railroad scene was expanding in the late 1800’s and in 1869 the C&T would become part of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern, extending to Buffalo and Chicago

PART 3 OF 5: THE LAKE SHORE & MICHIGAN SOUTHERN

As you jog along the NCIT you may not be aware of the many beautiful sandstone viaducts and culverts beneath your feet. Viaducts like the one at left near Rt 547, were constructed by the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad after they merged our Cleveland and Toledo Railroad in 1869. The newly expanded Lake Shore extended from Buffalo to Chicago with lines to Detroit and Grand Rapids. While Cleveland and Toledo’s original 1852 wood trestles were being supplanted with sandstone by the LS&MS, it was also the beginning of the end for our line as a main line. The parallel LS&MS route through Sandusky was seeing the bulk of the traffic and the new Collinwood Shops east of Cleveland would become the primary shops, thus eliminating the need for duplicate shops in Norwalk.

The Monroeville depot photo at left dates from the final days of the LS&MS. Around 1877 Cornelius Vanderbilt and his New York Central and Hudson River Railroad gained a majority of stock of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway. The line provided an ideal extension of the New York Central main line from Buffalo west to Chicago, along with the route across southern Ontario (Canada Southern Railway and Michigan Central Railroad). In 1914 the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad merged with the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway to form a new New York Central Railroad. Under New York Central control our line would be forever relegated to branch line status and forever known as “The Norwalk Branch”. More on the NYC in the next issue of Trail News.

PART 4 OF 5: THE NEW YORK CENTRAL SYSTEM

The New York Central years were often regarded as the “Golden Era of Railroading”, however, such was not necessarily the case on our beloved Norwalk Branch. The Norwalk Branch reached its zenith about the time the New York Central took control of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern in 1914. The New York Central grew into a massive, four-track mainline New York to Chicago route with lines extending to Boston, Montreal, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Charleston. Our Norwalk Branch was just that, a branch, and from 1914 on, the line’s importance steadily declined to a local route to serve on-line customers and provide a bypass in the event of a derailment on the main line which ran through Sandusky.

The Central was known for magnificent streamlined Hudson and powerful Niagara steam locomotives, passenger trains like the Twentieth Century Limited, lightning-striped diesels and the first installation of CTC (Centralized Traffic Control) in 1927 in Fostoria, allowing a remote dispatcher to control signals and train movements from afar. Meanwhile, the Norwalk Branch often saw 2-8-2 Mikado type locomotives pulling small local freights, with passenger service on the branch ending in the late 1950’s. Depots closed soon thereafter. Starting in 1954, NYC President Alfred E. Perlman streamlined the Central, shedding excess trackage and fully dieselizing the railroad. In their quest for dieselization, many steam locomotives, some with less than 10 years of service, were sent to the scrappers. Not a single Hudson nor a Niagara was saved for posterity. However, Perlman transformed the Central empire into a lean and profitable machine. All of this would change in 1968 when they merged with arch-rival Pennsylvania Railroad. “To me it was not a merger; it was a takeover, frankly”, said Perlman.

PART 5 OF 5: PENN CENTRAL

In the early 1900’s, railroad mergers were typically end-to-end to expand systems. By the 1960’s, railroads, especially in the northeast, were looking to merge to eliminate duplicate lines and facilities. Beset by heavy passenger losses, antiquated work rules, excess WWII trackage still on the tax rolls, and competition from trucks and highways, the trunk lines (the New York to Chicago railroads) sought out merger partners. Erie teamed up with Lackawanna in 1960. C&O took control of B&O and later added Western Maryland. In 1964, N&W added the Nickel Plate, the Wabash, the AC&Y, and the P&WV.

The two giants, New York Central (NYC) and the Pennsylvania (PRR) suddenly found themselves unattached and decided to merge in 1968 to form the sixth largest corporation in the world: Penn Central. It began profitable but would soon become a disaster. Little thought had been given to the actual merging of operations. PRR was an archaic railroad with miles of excess unneeded trackage and ancient operating methods. NYC was a lean, streamlined machine. NYC’s “Green Team” and PRR’s “Red Team” (named for their boxcar colors ) didn’t have a plan to integrate operations. The Green Team saw the merger as a takeover and soon left for other jobs. PC’s Chairman, PRR’s Stuart Saunders, and PC’s President, NYC’s Alfred Perlman, maintained separate offices in Philadelphia and New York, respectively, and rarely spoke. Shipments, freight cars, and entire trains became lost for days as the early computer systems didn’t mesh. Accounting was an intricate web of lies and the road’s system map was a bowl of spaghetti.

By 1970, the PC was bankrupt and most maintenance was deferred. Weeds choked busy mainlines, tracks washed out, and derailments were common. By 1976, Congress created Conrail which consolidated PC with other bankrupt railroads in the northeast. The Norwalk Branch had a severe washout near North West Street and was not to be included in Conrail. It was abandoned on March 31, 1976 by Penn Central and the property was sold off. Railroads had hit an all time low but would come bounding back as you will see in the next issue. The many branch lines that didn’t survive have given us plenty of trails!
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Re: NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

Unread postby bdconrail29 » Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:43 pm

Notch 8 wrote:Was this line part of what was called The Old Road ? If so this was a continous route till when ?


Mike


Also called the Southern Division. The original line did not leave Elyria like it does now, it actually veered west at Grafton, going over to Oberlin. At any rate, I did investigate Monroeville Saturday and you go east across the river on the NYC grade, veer off and join the LSE at the old NYC/WLE crossing location. You stay eastbound on the LSE to Peru Center Road, where you cross the WLE on that road, so that you can rejoin the NYC eastbound north of the WLE.
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Re: NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

Unread postby bdconrail29 » Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:44 pm

The Milbury end did not make it to CR as it was gone in 1974.
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Re: NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

Unread postby Bellevue_Guy » Fri Apr 24, 2015 9:58 am

Here are some more pics and recent news from this line/trail

A new section of trail is being built on this NYC corridor on the west side of Norwalk between N. West St and the the corner of Baker & Jefferson. This pic is what the corridor 500 feet east of N. West looked like after having what was left of the ties dug out with a backhoe. Very few of the ties were anything close to being fully intact, and there were several short stretches in this area with no ties remains at all.
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These next 2 pics were looking either direction from a point about halfway between N. West and Pleasant streets on the day the tie removal was started.
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The orange flags in the middle mark the spot where a short siding between the NYC and WLE branched off. The removal of ties from the main NYC line has since been completed all the way to Baker, and roughly half of the open areas didn't have any ties left at all.
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This was taken at Pleasant St looking west. This spot is there the NYC and WLE go their separate ways, with the WLE curving to the south, ending a 25 mile parallel run that begins at the Sandusky River in Fremont
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Moving just east of Norwalk, here are a couple pics taken on a section of trail between SR 601 and Medusa Rd that opened a couple years ago. This section is called the "big cut" since the railroad built it by digging through a glacial moraine, creating a little man made valley that lasts for a few hundred feet of the trail's length.
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This is the only place I can think of on this rail line where there is ground higher on either side, and I'd guess the height of the slopes to be about 10-15 feet.
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Moving further east to Wakeman, here is a double arch sandstone viaduct over the Vermilion River built by the LS&MS in 1872. It is similar to the Norwalk one in my first post, although taller and narrower. This bridge will soon become part of the trail system thanks to a state grant to install railings on it.
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The view from on top the bridge, looking at the parallel US 20 bridge and the Vermilion river flowing 60 feet below.
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Re: NYC Norwalk Branch - North Coast Inland Trail

Unread postby Bellevue_Guy » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:24 am

Here's a rather excellent drone video of the trail, showcasing the 3 main bridges:

https://www.facebook.com/firelandsrails ... 100908561/
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