Photo of the Month - June 2008
1956 Worthington, Ohio
Click to enlarge
Santa Fe #5018 is
northbound through Worthington on the Pennsy's Sandusky Branch headed for the Sandusky docks
on Lake Erie. The Cleveland - Columbus NYC tracks are behind the
engine in the distance. The camera was pointed south. Photo by Dave Bunge
Worthington was railfan heaven in 1956 with
Santa Fe 5011's and PRR J1's on Pennsy freight trains; PRR H10's on the
local; and about 10 passenger trains a day
on the NYC. Very occasionally you might even see a PRR I1 as well.
When you got tired of watching the steam locomotives go by you could walk
over to the Ohio Railway Museum and check out their collection of
streetcars and interurbans.
This is an excellent overall view of the rail facilities in Worthington.
The next photo gives more detail to the scene.
1 - The Potter Lumber Company buildings that sat between NYC
and PRR tracks. At one time the Big Four
(NYC) had a depot on the east side of this large building. It was
gone by the 1950s. The Potter Lumber Co. did have a siding off the
NYC and receive their lumber shipments by rail.
2 - The Worthington tower which controlled the PRR/NYC crossing.
From Grogan Yard, just south of the Ohio State Fair grounds to the
Worthington tower the PRR and NYC tracks are closely paralleled with the
PRR located on the eastside. At Worthington the PRR crosses the NYC and
separates from the NYC as seen in this photo. Just north of the photographer the PRR curves back toward the NYC and they again closely parallel each other
until just south of Delaware.
In front of the left corner of the tower the NYC signals can be seen.
The NYC is single tracked with a passing siding that starts just north of
the tower and extends north about a mile.
3 - The white building under the "three" is the old Worthington PRR
station. It once had an overhanging roof and bay window. By
the 1950's the roof had been replaced without the overhang and a door
large enough to allow a section gang speeder to fit inside replaced the bay
window. In the 1950s the building was the section house for the local track
The very little building in front of white section house/station was the
4 - The line is pointing to the Worthington Coal and Supply Co.
office building which sat overlooking State Route 161. The coal yard
shown in the photo was owned and managed by Gorden and George Silcott,
father and son. When the coal business declined in the early 1960s
George Silcott used the property for his locomotive sales and
reconditioning business. It is still there now owned and operated by
George Silcott, Jr.
5 - The old PRR Freight House. In the 1950's it was leased to the Worthington Foods Company which was just to
the right off the photo. The smaller building connected to this side
of the old freight house was a garage used to house coal trucks for the
6 - The line is pointing to the Ohio Railway Museum main line.
At one time this was the mainline for the Columbus Delaware & Marion
Electric Co. interurban line. The ORM car barn is behind the
7 - This is the Pennsy team track. The "seven" is over the
coal pit with the coal conveyer sticking out of the pit. The box cars
could have been bringing flour for the Worthington Foods Co. One business in
Worthington would receive an occasional tank car. (The photographer
is standing on one of those tank cars.) The team track was also used
to set out bad order cars when necessary. It was served by the local
which was normally an H10 2-8-0 steam locomotive in 1956.
I lived about a hundred yards
from the tracks shown in the picture. I have strong memories
of the sounds of the trains going by. Northbound there is a grade
from Grogan Yard to the south and Lewis Center to the north. Most
coal drags used a helper engine, normally a J1 2-10-4, on the front of the
Even two engines could have a
struggle with those 10,000 ton coal trains. While they were allowed
35 mph a heavy coal train would often be going 20-25 mph especially if
they had to stop and wait for a NYC train to clear the crossing.
At night when all was quiet I
could first hear a northbound train whistling for Morse Rd. which was a
grade crossing in the mid 1950s. Morse Rd. was about two miles away
from our house. Once it whistled for Lincoln Ave. now about one mile
away I could start to hear the two engines working. If they were working
particularly hard or had to stop for the crossing you would
occasionally hear one engine lost its grip and spin its wheels. Once
one spun out there was a good chance the other one would also slip.
When they both regained their footing the train would be going even
slower. If the train stopped for the crossing you would hear it
whistle off with four long blasts just before starting to call in the rear
Our house had a four foot wide
picture window facing the tracks and once the engines got across from our
house that window would vibrate and any hope of hearing the TV was gone.
Until the engines passed our house the locomotive sounds predominated.
Once past you could better hear the coal cars. The track had many
low rail joints which would set the cars rocking and you could hear the
metal rattling and groaning. Some cars would develop flat spots on
their wheels which would give a loud pounding sound each time they rotated
past the flat spot. You would next hear the lead engine whistling
for Schrock Rd about a half mile north of our house. At night
while laying in bed I would try to see just how long I could still hear
the last whisper of sound as the caboose and last few coal cars went over
yet another low joint.