"God Bless, and Save America"

The Last of Pennsylvania Railroad Steam between Columbus and Bradford, Ohio.

From color films by Jerry W. Fisher







In 1955 the Pennsylvania Railroad suddenly laid up its steam locomotives. Jerry Fisher grew up along the Pennsylvania Railroad at Piqua, Ohio. His favorite locomotive, the PRR J1 2-10-4, was missing from the landscape. Word came in 1956 that some J1s were being withdrawn from storage and would be used for traffic west of Columbus. Jerry purchased a 16mm movie camera and headed out to capture those last days of steam in 1956 and 1957 and a few early diesel powered trains. For almost a year he spent weekends along 83 miles of the PRR between Columbus, Ohio, and Bradford, Ohio, capturing the last days of steam on the PRR in western Ohio. This CD contains his historically significant scenes of the Pennsylvania railroad during the last days of steam, some early diesel powered trains and scenes of cabooses. The railroad is gone today, it did not survive Conrail.


Sequence 1

An eastbound train at Piqua, Ohio, pulled by Geeps and a J1 streak out onto the overhead fill that removed track from grade level at Piqua in 1913.

Double headed J1s speed Westbound through Urbana, Ohio, at Miami Avenue with an N & W coal train. They are racing toward the base of the Blue Hill just a few miles west of town to slug out several miles of 1 percent grade before reaching it summit at St. Paris, Ohio.


Sequence 2

At the Pennsylvania Railroad's Yard B in Columbus, Ohio, steam is in its twilight with only months left until it will be silenced and cast to the scrappers torch. Several ATSF 2-10-4s are visible, as they await their next call to haul coal north to Sandusky. They came out of Chicago on the Panhandle in two trains, pulled backwards. Those locomotives burned oil. PRR J1s await call for a westbound merchandise or coal train as I1s switch yard tracks. Note the track of cabin cars in the opening scene. A panning shot reveals the dead line of steam locomotives near the St. Clair Street Shops.

The shops and yard were closed in 1970 when Buckeye Yard was opened. Today all is gone with the exception of a few tracks.


Sequence 3

A J1 zips by at speed near Bradford on the Logansport Division. The second scene shows an eastbound empty coal train coming through the Junction switch in front of BF tower and heading east under the coal dock.

On a bitterly cold day a J1, Westbound with mixed freight comes speeding out of the Stillwater River Valley West of Covington at the Rangeline Road. The train heads around the long curve and into the sunset towards Bradford.

Near dusk the same train is at the Bradford coal dock and setting off cars in the yard before heading west.

Another J1 heads west from under the coal dock near dusk, on a cold snowy day. It goes by the home signals and BF Tower as it heads southwest on the Richmond Side for Indianapolis.


Sequence 4

A Westbound train with a J1 starts at Lena-Palestine Road crossing at the berg of Lena, between St. Paris and Piqua. Twenty minutes later the same train is seen at coal dock in Bradford near dark. This sequence closes with another train pulled by a J1 Westbound at Lena.


Sequence 5

Mixed power including three F units and a J1 head Westbound at Bradford on the Logansport Side with an N & W coal train.

J1 #6161 hauls an Eastbound empty N & W coal train through Fletcher MP 66 in a cold and stiff wind. Note the rare signal bridge. This is the top of the Eastbound ruling grade between Indianapolis and Columbus. The grain elevator on the left burned to the ground just a few weeks after this film was shot.


Sequence 6

Doubleheader of J1s Westbound at Lost Creek-Shelby Road, a mile east of Fletcher The railroad maintained a water station here. It included a steam powered pump house, cistern, water tower and two trackside stand pipes. The lead locomotive will be cutoff at Bradford and return to Columbus as a light engine.

The turntable at Bradford and J1 Number 6472 being tuned to run light back to Columbus from helper duty of a Westbound coal train from Columbus.

J1 and Westbound train at Bradford just west of BF tower on the Logansport Side.


Sequence 7

On the 1% grades of the Blue Hill a Westbound N & W coal train with double headed J1s, led by Number 6472 claw for every inch of track at Kite Road east of St. Paris. The eastbound and westbound tracks were separated at this point. The train is on the lower westbound tracks, the photograph is being taken from near the eastbound track up in on the hillside.

J1 6410 with an Eastbound train at Heck Hill Road east of St. Paris, at a place called Garrett, near the place where the separate mains reunite. Look carefully and see the doubleheaded Westbound train in the distance as it emerges from the cut in Blue Hill.


Sequence 8

On the Blue Hill, Mixed power including 3 F units and a J1 are Westbound on the Blue Hill at Runkle Road. The train is on the middle track. Note the third unit is a Wabash F unit Number 1166, borrowed from that railroad for power short PRR. Note the Eastbound track on the left is at a grade separated level. It is the original main line and follows the 1851 survey with steep grades and sharp curves. The double track, grade eased westbound mains were installed in 1906 when the railroad was double tracked from Columbus to just east of Piqua. This area was notorious for runaway trains. The grade on the westbound tracks was one-percent.

The same train is Westbound between Piqua and Covington near Washington-Newberry Road.

The same train at Bradford coal dock then heads west out the Logansport Side with the N & W coal train. This scene closes with the train starting and passing BF Tower.


Sequence 9

Rare shot of Westbound coal train on the Great Miami River Bridge at Piqua. In front of the J1 are thee F units, common during those last months of steam on the west end of the Panhandle.

At Bradford the J1 Westbound with Fs on front stop  at coal dock and EB freight with F units sneaks into the picture.


Sequence 10

Back on the Blue Hill a double header of J1s Number 6471 and 6154 are lugging coal train at Runkle Road. Note the difference in the tenders along the top of the coal bunkers. The far right track is hardly used at this late date and was pulled up about 1960.

J1 doubleheader Westbound at Bradford on the Logansport Side with an N & W coal train. Note the skiff car winching up and down the track at the coal tower. The coal tower was taken out of service at the end of 1957 and demolished in 1960.


Sequence 11

On a clear day a J1 Number 6154 runs light with N6b cabin car Westbound at the Sunset Avenue Bridge in Piqua. It is heading to Bradford to pick up a train and return to Columbus.

Looking west up the grade out of the Great Miami River Valley west of Piqua. The summit was call Crest and at one point a tower stood near the western horizon, it was called "MD" and was abandoned about 1927.

J1 Number 6154 Eastbound at Sunset Avenue in Piqua with a mixed freight, later in the day.


Sequence 12

Mixed power including 3 Geeps with a J1 Westbound at Sunset Avenue at Piqua. The use of Geeps with the J1s was quite rare. It was the last time Jerry saw a PRR J1 in steam. A few weeks later steam was silenced for all time on the Panhandle.

Three F units Eastbound with reefer train at Sunset Avenue in Piqua.

Three F units Eastbound with empty coal train at Sunset Avenue in Piqua.


Sequence 13

Two F units Westbound with cattle and reefers at the Westbound Set-off track and crossover east of Sunset Avenue in Piqua.

Three F units Eastbound with Mail train near the Westbound Set-off track and crossover east of Sunset Avenue in Piqua.

Four F units Westbound with mixed freight at Sunset Avenue in Piqua.


Sequence 14

Three F units Eastbound on the Blue Hill with cattle  and TOFC trailers.

Caboose shots East of Fletcher near Burr Oak-New Hope Road at the west end of Conover Siding.

Three F units Eastbound drop down the Blue Hill with an empty coal train.


Sequence 15

Westbound Passenger Train Number 85 shoots by on the Blue Hill. The Baldwin A-1-A shark was making a rare appearance on this run. It usually consisted of a doodlebug. The train is briefly seen at Piqua near Sunset Avenue in a second shot.

Three F units Eastbound with mixed freight, subway cars and two cabin cars at Sunset Avenue in Piqua.


THE BOOK:                            Bradford The Railroad Town

Revised Edition

Author: Scott D. Trostel. This book is the first to explore in-depth, the history of a railroad town - Bradford, Ohio, on the Pennsylvania, Railroad.  From the founding of the railroad, to the establishment of a small railroad construction camp to a major rail center and the abandonment of the railroad, here is a story well worth reading. A revision of Trostel's first book, this book established a standard for local history books and brought a new focus to the railroad industry and the Pennsylvania Railroad.

• 154 pages, • 14 maps, • 150 photographs • soft cover  978-0-925436-00-9  $33.95     

For the PRR fans, the book about Dennison, Ohio's WW II canteen. CLICK HERE for the story and to order the book.




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