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The Pennsy Boneyard


        By the 1950's the old Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railroad's Chase Avenue Yard in Columbus had long been replaced by a larger CA&C yard further to the west.  Rather than a yard for freight cars It was used to store steam locomotives.  It was located on the east side of the shared CA&C/N&W line that ran between the Pennsy's Grogan Yard and the N&W's Joyce Avenue Yard to the north and Columbus Union Station to the southwest.  It was also adjacent to the Pennsy's St. Clair Avenue Roundhouse which played a big role in the use of the Chase Avenue Yard for storing locomotives.

        At the Ohio Railway Museum we referred to this yard as the boneyard.  I don't know what the real railroaders called it.  The 1950's were the expansion years at the ORM when we were building track extensions on the west side of Proprietors Road in Worthington and expanding the yard area.  We were given track donations by the Pennsy and sometimes they came from unused sections of the Chase Avenue Yard.  We would borrow a truck and spend a Saturday taking the track apart, loading rails, ties, angle bars and spikes on the truck and taking it to Worthington.

        Most of the locomotives stored in the boneyard were in a variety of disrepair.  As the Pennsy replaced steam with diesels, steam operation wound down across the Pennsy with Columbus being one of the last places to operate steam.  Steam locomotives required extensive heavy maintenance that could even include completely dismantling the engine or boiler and rebuilding what became almost a new locomotive.  When this had to be done was dictated by government regulations and was determined by how long the locomotive had gone since the last "class" repairs, as they were known.  At the end of the steam era the railroads did not want to do any unnecessary class repairs.

        The railroad was also subject to seasonal traffic fluctuation and there were times when serviceable locomotives were temporarily stored at Chase Avenue as well as Spruce Street.  In the early 1950's serviceable passenger locomotives were also stored at the Spruce Street yard.  These locomotives would be prepared for storage by covering windows, the stack, electrical appliances and the headlight. 

        What fascinated me about the boneyard was that you could find locomotives belonging to classes, such as the K-4, M-1 and B-6, that were no longer used.  These were locomotives I had never seen in operation.  You could pretty much climb all over them without anyone chasing you out. 

        The Gibbard Avenue article on this website has some photos that provide a panoramic view of the boneyard.  Here are black and white photos taken in 1956-57 and color slides taken in 1958 all by Alex Campbell.  Photos at Spruce Street were taken in 1954 by Donald A. Kaiser.


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Two K4s past their glory put out to pasture in the "boneyard" waiting for disposition.


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  A string of locomotives with the St. Clair Avenue round house in the background. 


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B6 #1345 is stored near the Pennsy servicing facility just to the west of the roundhouse.  #1345 may have started out as stored serviceable with a stack cover and other protections, but parts such as the front number plate and part of the running gear are missing.


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A K4 followed by an M1 with the St. Clair Avenue round house in the background.  The sun is shinning off the gold paint or was it gold leaf?


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Another K4 with the 20th Street back shop in the background.  The roundhouse is to the right also in the background.  The tracks in the foreground are the CA&C/N&W shared trackage.  The Grogan and Joyce Avenue yards are about a mile to the left and the Columbus Union Station about a mile to the right.


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An M1 with a long distance tender.  M1's could be used for fast freight or heavy passenger trains.  They were not used on the coal heavy Sandusky branch, but would be seen going toward Pittsburgh or Cincinnati/Indianapolis/Chicago.


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Here is an H10 stored serviceable at the Spruce Street yard.  The Spruce Street roundhouse, used mostly for servicing passenger engines is in the background toward the left.  The building  to the right was a shop building.  The H10 was once a main line freight engine.  In the 1950's it was used on local freight and light switching duties.  This one may have been used to switch passenger cars in the Spruce Street coach yard.


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A K4 stored serviceable at the Spruce Street yards.


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Another B6 stored serviceable with the Joyce Avenue coaling tower in the background.


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There were many I1's waiting their fate as well.

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These two H10's were back in the shop area.  Some of the scrapping was done in the old 20th Street shop buildings which were pretty much empty of equipment by the late 1950's.

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A J1 starting to come apart.

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Just piles of scrap.

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And boiler tubes.