Conrail's Fort Wayne Line

Conrail's Fort Wayne line is the ex-PRR mainline from Pittsburgh to Chicago, famously known as the route of the Broadway Limited.  This double track mainline was classic Pennsy with position light signals and towers aplenty.  Unfortunately, all those classic aspects, along with the competing ex-NYC mainline to the north, led Conrail to start downgrading it in the early 1980's.


They routed most of the Chicago traffic off at Alliance, OH and single tracked from Crestline, OH west through its namesake city of Fort Wayne, IN to Chicago in 1985 and '86.  From Pittsburgh to Alliance this line was very busy with traffic from Cleveland joining on its final approach to Conway Yard in Pittsburgh. 

From Alliance to Crestline, OH this line was still a double track, well used, main with traffic for Indianapolis and St. Louis through the end of Conrail, whilef rom Crestline through Ft. Wayne it was a single track secondary dispatched by Form-D's, seeing only local trains and a few roadrailers.

West of Fort Wayne the only Conrail train to use the line was FWEL and ELFW, which only ran to Warsaw before turning north to Elkhart.  Norfolk Southern bought the line west of Ft. Wayne from CR in 1994 and used it until the merger as a second track for its Chicago trains trying to avoid congestion on NS' ex-NKP mainline.

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Coil gons at Rochester, PA

Grant Lowry and his wife were inside Rochester tower on the Ft Wayne line for Grant's wife Sara to lens this westbound train heading onto the Cleveland Line.

Conrail thru Lima, OH in 1994

View looking east on the former PRR at Lima, OH. By this date in September 1994, Conrail had reduced the double-track to a single main. NS Tower is at left and position light signals guard the CSX (former B&O) crossing. Doug Davidson photo with permission

CR 1659 at Emsworth, PA

This westbound local rolls through Emsworth, PA.

CR 21749 class N7A cabin car 08-76

Even as power short as Conrail was in those first years, some of the heritage units were in bad shape or too old to fix, hence scenes like this of funeral trains. With a big chunk of the former Erie Lackawanna Marion deadline, this Conrail eastbound passes through Orrville, Ohio on the ex PRR in August of 1976. Penn Central N7A #21749 brings up the rear. Two E8's (820 and 829), 2 RS-3's, 2 S2's (including #520 still in pure "Erie" black), 2 more RS-3's, and 2 more E8's are visible in this view. Some of the E's and RS's would languish at Altoona for a while, but the S2's would pass this way again as they headed for Chicago as trade in material, better known as "scrap"....

CR 2339 Orrville, OH 07-21-1978

As a N&W coal train glides above, a Conrail westbound passes the east end of Orrville yards. Today the Conrail is the NS, the N&W is the Wheeling. Numbers include 2339, 3050, 8168, and 3135.

CR 2362 Valporaiso, IN 4-1977

CR 2362, still in its Penn Central paint, leads Amtrak's #41, the Broadway Limited after one of the Amtrak engines apparently died thru Valporaiso, IN back in April 1977. William Raia photo, Chris Howe collection

CR 2707 Beaver Falls, PA 8/3/1990

DIM-402 has 1 load as it comes down the hill thru Beaver Falls.

CR 2761 Crestline, OH 04-6-1979

A late day photo of a westbound on the ex PRR Ft Wayne Line hitting the Big 4 diamond in Crestline, Ohio. In this April 1979 shot the old passenger depot was still standing, and was that a CR blue phone booth? Today, phone booths are about as rare as U23B's!

CR 2970 Canton, OH 04-6-1979

I get a wave from the head end man as TV-11A passes through the Canton, Ohio Amtrak station. Note the Amtrak sign off to the left. Amtrak no longer serves Canton.

CR 3224 at Whiting, IN

A westbound Conrail freight with GP40 3224 on the point on the Fort Wayne Line passes the former PRR depot at Whiting, IN, in August 1977. Doug Davidson photo with permission

CR 3281 at South Chicago, IL

An eastbound Conrail freight behind GP40 No. 3281 at the Calumet River bridge in September 1981. Doug Davidson photo with permission

CR 3326 on WIFW-30

CR 3326 and 3325 lead WIFW-30 across the ex Cincinnati Northern diamond at the former site of Estry tower in Van Wert, OH back in November 1997. Jay Williams photo, Chris Howe collection

CR 3332 GP40-2 Sewickley 07-98

A Roadrailer train heads west past the former PRR Sewickley station. This train originated in Rutherford, Pa near Harrisburg, no stranger to the 2nd unit, CR 3277, the ex Reading 3673.

CR 3338 at Fort Wayne, IN 6-1988

Westbound Conrail local freight led by GP40-2 3338 is seen crossing the NS at Mike Tower in Ft. Wayne, IN in June 1988.

The signal bridge seen just behind the engines was torn down in the early 90's. This location used to be known as Wabash during the PRR and early PC days. It was renamed Mike by the PC in 1971 or 72. The tower was torn down in late 1988 and the entire interlocking was rebuilt around 1991. The diamond was removed and the mainline(which was single track by then) crossed the NS on a series of cross over switches. NS now controls this interlocking and uses it quite frequently for their Triple Crown trains entering or leaving its nearby facility.

Doug Davidson photo with permission

CR 3389 on TV-22 at Rochester, PA

Conrail TV-22 approaches Conway as he passes Rochester Tower, still open at the time of this photograph. The Cleveland Line diverges to the left, crossing the Beaver River. At this point the lead engine is crossing from the Fort Wayne Line to the Youngstown Line.

CR 3403 at Leetsdale, PA

Conrail 3403 crosses over at Leets while a local trundles past on the eastbound main.

CR 4022 Alliance, OH 02-26-1984

The Conrail OCS passes w/b through Alliance with a 4 car train. The former EL 833 has acquired it's air whistle in this photo.

CR 4105 SD80MAC leads Eastbound Conrail NLPI-1 at Beaver Falls

Conrail SD-80MAC's 4105 and 4106 lead Eastbound Conrail NLPI-1 near CP30.5 on track #1 in Beaver Falls, PA. [on Conrail's Fort Wayne line].

CR 4118 Rochester, PA 7/2/1996

New SD80MACs lead NLPI and UP power leads BUPI. Both trains were holding at Rochester, awaiting space in Conway yard.

CR 4118 Rochester, PA 7/2/1996

4118 leads NLPI by BUPI with the UP 5062. Ironically, it was NLPI that usually had run thru UP power on it.

CR 4120 at Emsworth, PA

A sharp pair of MACs hustle westbound autoracks through the curves at Emsworth.

CR 5023 at Glenfield, PA

A lengthy train of Clairton coke rolls west on the busy Fort Wayne Line.

CR 5080 Rochester, PA 5/14/1992

PXPI rounds the big curve and passes Rochester Tower before it enters Conway Yard. That lead unit was smoking like an Alco! CR did not generally let their engines get so filthy.

CR 5501 at Pittsburgh, PA

An eastbound traverses the former PRR main, adjacent to Alcosan, Pittsburgh's water treatment plant.

CR 5644 at South Chicago, IL 4-1980

An eastbound Conrail transfer behind a pair of GP7s, including 5644, is bound for Colehour Yard on the former PRR, just east of the Calumet River lift bridge at South Chicago, in April 1980. Doug Davidson photo with permission

CR 5668 at Clarke Jct Gary, IN

An eastbound Conrail local freight is clearing Clarke Junction Tower on the former PRR, as it approaches the EJ&E overpass behind GP7 No. 5668, in April 1980. Doug Davidson photo with permission

CR 5909 on train 454 Chicago, IL 10-1-1979

After the N&W suburban train to Orland Park was equipped with RTA bi-level cars in the summer of 1979, Conrail leased the former N&W coaches for use on its Valparaiso trains. Train No. 454 is seen behind two Conrail Geeps(GP7 5909 and GP38-2 8187) running long hood forward above the ICG at Grand Crossing, in October 1979. The use of the ex-N&W coaches in this sevice lasted just a few months, as Conrail turned the service over to Amtrak in 1980. Doug Davidson photo with permission

CR 5959 on train #454 at South Chicago, IL 7-1-1976

The Valpo Dummy, Conrail Train No. 454 behind two GP7s, led by No. 5959 running long hood forward, crosses the Calumet River lift bridge and overtakes a CSL(Chicago Short Line) freight at South Chicago, in July 1976. Doug Davidson photo with permission

CR 6022 SD35 Wood 11-77

A westbound train leans into the big curve just a little west of Wood tower in November 1977. The lead motor is still in Penn Central paint and is followed by a patched EL SD45 and a new CR SD40-2.

CR 6118 Big Beaver, PA 7/28/1994

The Roadrailer heads West thru Highland Cut.

CR 6145 at Pittsburgh, PA

Conrail 6145's westbound train squeals through the sharp curve between Federal Street and CP-Penn.

CR 6165 Hammond, IN 7-1-1976

A Conrail eastbound freight train behind former PC SD45 No. 6165 and EL U33C No. 3313 departs Colehour Yard in Hammond, IN, in July 1976. Doug Davidson photo with permission

CR 6246 SD40 Crestline 01-77

Still in it's Penn Central lettering, this SD40 leads two ex EL units, 6698 and 6069, west at Crestline, Ohio in January 1977. Of note, the first ex EL unit is the ex SDP45 3667 that has a wreck replaced 45-2 long hood.

CR 6273(PRR 8444) on Mail-3 at Crestline, OH

CR 6273, ex LMS 747(now patched as PRR 8444), 6083 and a EMD leads Mail-3 on the connection track as it passes the division post dividing the Pittsburgh division from the Indianapolis Division and prepares to pull onto the ex NYC Indianapolis line to continue its journey west at Crestline, OH on May 29, 1999.

CR 6319 PC 6066 Orrville, OH 11-16-1976

An eastbound Conrail train passes under a classic PRR signal bridge on the outskirts of Orrville, Ohio in November 1976. The SD40/GP40/U25B/GP7 consist has yet to be renumbered PC 6066 in the lead. It would become CR 6319 as Erie Lackawanna SD45 3601 would be assigned #6066 on Conrail....sometimes you needed a scorecard in those days!

CR 6327 at Crestline, OH

CR 6327, 3285, and 6569 lead a westbound TV train past the Indianapolis division post marker at Crestline, OH on August 15, 1992. Photographer unknown, Chris Howe collection

CR 6335 at South Chicago, IL

Westbound Conrail freight behind SD40 No. 6335 at South Chicago, in September 1981. Note the EL painted SD45 trailing the lead engine on the train. The Chicago Skyway is the bridge on the far right side of the photo. Doug Davidson photo with permission

CR 6458 at Orrville, OH

An eastbound general merchandise train is just about to pass the historic Orrville depot in Orrville, OH in July 1996. Orrville is on the ex-PRR Fort Wayne line and was where the Hudson-Akron-Columbus branch of the PRR crossed the mainline at one time. In this consist is CR SD40-2 6458, GECX 0593 and CR SD60I 5605. Of note, GECX 0593 was once a Santa Fe locomotive once painted in the SPSF scheme. Many of these same C30-7s were eventually painted in Conrail blue and became either part of the CRL lease fleet, or GE lease fleet. This links show a picture of 0593 before being painted the color of Conrail blue.

CR 6485 McKinley tower 06-81

A Conrail eastbound pounds the B&O diamond at McKinley tower in Canton, Ohio in June of 1981. Both the tower and the B&O at this location are gone.

CR 6486 at Mansfield, OH

A pair of Conrail SD40-2s, Nos. 6486 and 6454, wheel a roadrailer train(either RR241 or RR261) west through Mansfield, OH, on the former PRR main on Sept. 26, 1994. Doug Davidson photo with permission

CR 6550 Warsaw, IN 5/1977

CR 6550, a U33C still in pure Penn Central paint leads a eastbound at Warsaw, IN back in May 1977. The tower that guards the diamond of the Marion Branch with the Pennsy main can be seen in the background and the connection track that ELFW/FWEL uses can be seen in the foreground. Photographer unknown, Chris Howe collection

CR 6631 GE C36-7 Rochester 04-99

Conrail C36-7 #6631 rounds the curve through Rochester interlocking with an eastbound van train. That's the Cleveland Line off to the left, and the center two tracks beside the train are the Youngstown Line. 6631 would end her days on the Ohio Central as their 7133 (see surviving GE's section).

CR 6669 Wooster, OH 07-01-1979

A westbound coke train drifts down Wooster Hill near Wooster, Ohio in July 1979. Still in it's (rough) EL red/white/blue scheme, it would receive a coat of dress blue. Of interest is the trailing unit, CR 6688, the former EL SDP-45 #3657 that has a wreck replaced long hood.

CR 6726 Beaver Falls, PA 3/13/1993

Specially painted 6726 leads ENEL up the grade on the Fort Wayne Line during a snow storm that fell on the Pittsburgh area on March 13, 1993

CR 6780 on RR 262 meeting CR 8217 on WILI-50 at Upper Sandusky, OH

RR 262 with the CR 6780 and friend meets WILI-50 with CR 8217 and fellow GP38 at the siding just east of Upper Sandusky, OH back in October 1998. Jason Hall photo, Chris Howe collection

CR 7635 Homewood, PA 9/19/1994

CR 7635 was perhaps the rarest locomotive on the CR roster. The 7635 was an experiment, using the body of a GP35 and rebuilt into a GP38. The unit would frequent the Conway area and on 9/19/1994 it was being used in a helper set on the Fort Wayne Line to the West of Conway. The 7635 & 8230 are shoving hard on the rear of PIPR at Homewood, PA.

CR 7949 Alliance, OH 02-2-1985

Two sets of helper power meet at the east end of CP Alliance on a cold but sunny February 1985 day. The 7949 would be one of the 100 leased GP38-2's that EMD called back after their 15 year lease was up. Many then went to work out on the Union Pacific from '87 to '89, this one as UPL 749. That nice PRR signal bridge has since been replaced.

CR 8138 at South Chicago, IL

Conrail GP38-2 No. 8138 leads a westbound freight through the former PRR Calumet River bridge, in August 1980. The lift bridges in the background(from left to right) are ex B&O, ex NYC, and ex PRR. The NYC bridge was abandoned at the time of this photo. The B&O bridge would stay in service until it was destroyed in a collision with a ship in 1987.  Doug Davidson photo with permission

CR 8195 at Lima, OH

CR 8195 at NS tower in Lima, OH - CRHS Collection

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