A Chicago Train Connecting Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad
(New York Central System)

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The Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad (P&LE), also known as the "Little Giant", was formed on May 11, 1875. Company headquarters were located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The line connected Pittsburgh in the east with Youngstown, Ohio at nearby Haselton, Ohio in the west and Connellsville, Pennsylvania to the east. It did not reach Lake Erie (at Ashtabula, Ohio) until the formation of Conrail in 1976. The P&LE was known as the "Little Giant" due to the amount of tonnage that it moved was dramatically out of proportion to its actual number of route miles. While it operated around one tenth of one percent of the nation's railroad miles, it hauled around one percent of its tonnage. This was largely because the P&LE served the steel mills of the greater Pittsburgh area, which consumed and shipped vast amounts of material. It was a specialized railroad deriving much of its revenue from coal, coke, iron ore, limestone, and steel. The eventual closure of the steel mills led to its downfall.(wik) The P&LE provided a link from Youngstown, Ohio to Pittsburgh for the New York Central System to provide service from Chicago to Pittsburgh. The connection from Cleveland to Youngstown was provided by the Erie Railroad, so there were three railroads involved in this Chicago to Pittsburgh run, the NYC, The Erie and the P&LE. The Pennsylvania was the leader in the Chi-Pitt rivalry, the P&LE's claim to fame was the steel industry during the 30's and 40's. The P&LE interchanged with the Western Maryland at Connellsville so it had connections to both coal, in the southeast and iron ore from lake ports. (rp)
Short History of the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad
1870 - State of Pennsylvania authorizes Railroad to build 57 miles in competition with Pennsylvania Railroad.
1877 - First track laid in Beaver Falls Pennsylvania.
1877 - Agreement with Atlantic and Great Western (Erie), and LS&MS to route traffic at Youngstown, Ohio.
and Lake Erie
Nov. 1, 1936

p&le herald
1879 - Single track P&LE completed to Youngstown. Immediate success draws financial support.
1880 - Vanderbilt's Lake Shore and Michigan Southern buys into P&LE.
1881 - P&LE linked to the planned South Penn Railroad
1881-83 - Vanderbilt and Carnegie finance the building of the Pittsburgh McKeesport and Youghiouheny Railroad from Pittsburgh to Connellsville. It was to be a part of the South Penn, but was the only part built.
1884 - P&LE leases PM&Y for 999 years.
1884-early 1900's - P&LE a large coke hauler from Connellsville coke operations.
1887 - NYC System (LS&MS) gets formal control of P&LE.
1887-1927 - P&LE becomes heavy duty double track railroad, run independently.
1901 - P&LE and Pennsylvania extend to Brownsville, and agree to work together to reach the West Virginia coke fields and coal mines. Thus the Monongahela Railway south to Martin, Pennsylvania.
1915 - Monongahela reaches Fairmont, West Virginia.
1934 - B&O gets trackage rights over P&LE from McKeesport to New Castle, eliminating excessive grades on old B&O through Pittsburgh.
1967 - P&LE part of Penn Central but operates independently.
1976 - P&LE independent due to PC debt as PC goes banKrupt and Conrail is formed.
1993 - CSX takes over P&LE. New designation is Three Rivers Transportation.

Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad map
(Youngstown to Pittsburgh, Connelsville, and Brownsville)

Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940

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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April 30, 2009