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SINNEMAHONING VALLEY RAILROAD

SINNEMAHONING VALLEY RAILROAD

Started by Frank Henry Goodyear (1849-1907) it was just one element in the empire consisting of mammoth sawmills, coal mines, and a railroad linking the Great Lakes with the forests and mines of Pennsylvania .

Goodyear purchased 1900 acres of virgin hemlock and hardwood in the northcentral part of Pennsylvania in the Freeman Run area, just south of Keating Summit for timbering in 1885. Keating Summit was earlier called Forest House, and was the location of Goodyear’s temporary offices. A large lumber mill was operating there at that time and logs were moved by rail to the mill. This first railroad was to be the start of the fabulous, but, short lived railroad called the Buffalo and Susquehanna.

Goodyear’s first railroad, called the Sinnemahoning Valley, ran from Forest House east to a switchback and then south down the north branch of Freeman Run toward Austin . It opened officially as a common carrier on December 14, 1885. Although most of the railroads of the time and area were 3-footers (narrow gauge) Goodyear used his foresight in building this railroad of permanent quality to a standard gauge and laid with 70 pound rail. Later the offices were located to a two story combination office and station in Austin .

It is said that Goodyear’s capital was almost exhausted when this road was built. Mrs. Goodyear, from property of her own, made her husband a present of his first locomotive, Number 1, the F.H. Goodyear.

Through the 1880’s lumbering in the area was strong and the line extended track to meet it’s needs for shipping as well as supplying tanneries with the necessary hemlock bark which was a by-product of the mills. Goodyear moved his logging operations further south as the surrounding mountains became denuded. By 1892 the railroad reached the East Fork of the Sinnemahoning River and Goodyear owned ten locomotives. Many “construction” railroads were being built to service the timber transport in the early 1890’s and in 1893 these were merged with the SV to form the Buffalo and Susquehanna.

During this time the Goodyear Lumbering was not the only one using rails for the industry in the area. The Lackawanna Lumber Company, Emporium Lumber and Central Pennsylvania Lumber which all used the main lines of the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad tracks with their equipment. By 1910 there was a serious decline in lumbering and then on Sept 30, 1911 , Austin was all but destroyed by a flood. 88 people died and a good part of Austin washed down Freeman Run, putting the city of secondary importance to the Buffalo and Susquehanna RR.

In 1905 the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railway was expanding toward Buffalo and the Great Lakes . Freight shipped over the Pennsylvania Railroad north from Keating Summit was now shipped over the new Wellsville to Buffalo line. In 1907 Goodyear formed a new company called Potato Creek Railroad which hauled freight and passenger service. The PCRR was owned by the Goodyears until about 1924 and then operated until 1928 by Keystone Chemical Company and was abandoned.

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