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Pennsylvania Railroad

Pittsburgh Cincinnati Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (The Pan Handle)

Columbus & Xenia Railroad (1850)

Columbus Piqua & Indiana Railroad (1853)

Steubenville & Indiana Railroad (1864)

Cleveland Akron & Columbus Railroad (CA&C)

Cleveland Mt. Vernon & Columbus Railroad (1873)

Sandusky Branch

Sandusky & Columbus Short Line (1893)

        Compared to the four other Columbus class I railroads the Pennsylvania Railroad was the big enchilada.  It had more routes into and out of Columbus (five), it had more yards (at least seven), more passenger and mail trains (46 in 1951), a dining car commissary, the biggest shops (Spruce Street and St. Clair Avenue/20th Street) and the most employees.  At one time the PRR was the largest employer in Columbus with 8000 workers just after World War I, 4500 after World War II and 3300 in 1951 working at the 20th Street shops.  The 20th Street shops were the largest PRR shops west of Altoona, Pa.  Steam locomotives could receive all five classified maintenance routines at 20th Street or the men could even build a new locomotive.


Click here for larger Map

        The portion of the Pennsylvania Railroad through Columbus, that would become know as "The Pan handle", connected Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis.  The Pan Handle was a collection of many smaller lines that starting in 1869 were leased and consolidated until in 1916 The Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad Company (PCC&St.L) was created and leased to the PRR as had the previous holding companies starting from 1869.  The name was a handy way to differentiate the PCC&St.L portion of the PRR from the route that ran from Pittsburgh to Chicago across northern Ohio that carried the premier PRR passenger train the Broadway limited.  The Pan Handle came into Columbus from Pittsburgh on a shared PRR/B&O route between Newark and Columbus.  It  entered from the east along what is now the southside of Port Columbus, past the Defense Supply Center, crossing Alum Creek and Nelson Road.  South of Fifth Avenue, it went north of the old Fort Hayes where it then swung southwestward to enter Columbus Union Station on North High Street. 

        Along this route, on the east side of Columbus, were the 20th Street shops, yards A and B, and the St. Clair Avenue roundhouse as well as livestock pens, icing facilities and servicing facilities for the steam locomotives.  In 2007 all but a few railroad tracks, operated by the Ohio Central Railroad are left, with much of the Pan Handle land on the east side of Columbus now used by the I-670 right-of-way.

        From the west there were two Pan Handle routes, the "Little Miami" and the "Piqua Line"  The Little Miami line was the first railroad to enter Columbus in 1850.  Then it was called the Columbus and Xenia Railroad.  At Xenia it connected with the original Little Miami Railroad that ran from Xenia to Cincinnati.  Later a route would be built from Xenia to Dayton and on to Richmond, IN; Indianapolis and St. Louis.  The  Little Miami entered Columbus from  the west in the area north of and parallel to Broad Street, crossed the Scioto river in front of the old Ohio Penitentiary and on into Columbus Union Station.

        The Piqua Line connected Columbus with Bradford, OH; Logansport, IN and Chicago.  At Bradford there was a junction with one leg going to New Paris, OH (just east of Richmond, IN) were it joined with the line from Xenia also giving the Piqua line access to Indianapolis and St. Louis.  Some passenger and mail trains heading to St. Louis from Columbus would take the Little Miami, others the Piqua line.  The Piqua Line also entered Columbus from the west going through Marble Cliff, the southern edge of Grandview Heights, it crossed the Olentangy River, went south of Goodale Street, crossed Dennison Avenue, it went north of the Ohio Penitentiary and finally entered Columbus Union Station.  Along this route was Grandview Yard and the Spruce Street roundhouse used for passenger locomotives.  Spruce Street also included a coach and Pullman car yard as well as the dining car commissary.

        Two other PRR lines out of Columbus were the Cleveland, Akron and Columbus Railroad (CA&C) and the Sandusky Branch.  These two were not included under the Pan Handle name,

        The CA&C joined with other lines to become the Pennsylvania Ohio & Detroit Railroad in 1925, which was immediately leased to the PRR.  The CA&C entered Columbus from the northeast through Westerville, ran parallel to Cleveland Avenue to a  point north of Fort Hayes where it swung southwestward to parallel the PRR/B&O into Columbus Union Station.

        The Sandusky Branch was a big coal hauler, in the 1950's, taking coal from both the N&W and the C&O to the Lake Erie Coal Docks at Sandusky, OH.  Built as the Sandusky & Columbus Short Line in 1893 it was purchased by the PRR in 1902.  Up until 1930 the Sandusky Branch had meager passenger service.  The line came into Columbus from the north through Delaware, the east side of Worthington, along the west side of the Ohio State Fair Grounds and terminated in Grogan Yard just north of the Fair Grounds.

        What made Columbus exciting for the railfan in the 1950's was the heavy use of steam engines on Pennsy freight trains (as well as steam on three of the other class I railroads).  Columbus and specifically the Sandusky Branch became one of the last of the PRR lines to be dieselized.  Here you could see J1's, I1's, H10's, and even in 1956, 2-10-4 oil burners leased from the Santa Fe Railroad.  If you lived in Columbus, in the 1950's, you could easily forget that the end of steam was coming.  From this page you will be able to view scenes from those 1950's.

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This site was last updated 07/31/10