The Last Buffalo & Susquehanna Steamer

by Pete Roehm (republished, with permission, from Railpace Newsmagazine, Dec. 1985. Subscribe here.)  Special thanks to Richard Palmer. 




It was thought that once the now-abandoned Castleman River Railroad in Maryland returned its borrowed Buffalo & Susquehanna 2-8-0 (B&S 135, B&O 3112) to the B&O in 1959, the last of the old B&S steamers was history; that "The Grand Scenic Route" in Pennsylvania's northern tier had no survivor. Not true—one does survive! Although it never ran on the B&S, nor even the B&O, it was built in 1910 by Brooks as a B&S engine and photographed as such by them. It happened this way.

The Buffalo & Susquehanna was the dream and creation of the Goodyear brothers, mostly Frank, and to a lesser extent, Charles. These two men were important figures in the lumber and tanning industries of Pennsylvania's northern tier, and Frank was a retired businessman from Buffalo bored by having retired in his forties. Their Buffalo & Susquehanna empire included the 383-mile (peak mileage) railroad in Pennsylvania and New York, a smaller one in New York (now the Arcade & Attica), and the 130-mile New Orleans Great Northern in Mississippi and Louisiana which became part of the GM&N, then GM&O, then ICG, and half of which (below the old Mississippi Central interchange at Wanilla) remains within ICG's Southern Division.

Besides the railroads, the B&S end of the collection also included Great Lakes ore boats, coal mines, iron ore mines in Minnesota and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and a steel mill—The Buffalo & Susquehanna Iron Company. The mill was on Buffalo Harbor adjacent to the Lackawanna Steel Company and close to the Hanna Furnace, adjacent to the Union Ship Canal. The B&S could almost be described as the forerunner of the integrated mine-transportation-manufacturing complexes that became dominant with U. S. Steel and Bethlehem Steel.




The B&S began as the Sinnemahoning Valley Railroad in 1893, and through extensions and acquisitions became the B&S later that year. Galeton ultimately became the center of the railroad from which pushed lines east to Ansonia and Addison, north to Wellsville and Buffalo, and south to Sinnemahoning, DuBois, and Sagamore—these lines included the famous Hogback Mountain switchbacks (later regretted by the B&S once coal traffic began to grow; tunnels should have been built, and to avoid heavy grades, it was diverted to the PS&N and the BR&P for Buffalo routing and then returned to the B&S up line for final delivery).
Following Frank Goodyear's death in 1907 the B&S empire began to crumble, and all but the coal fields and the railroad were disposed of. The railroad went into receivership in 1910, and Charles died in 1911.

The B&S was reorganized in 1913, and it sold the Wellsville to Buffalo segment to an optimistic group in 1915 as the Wellsville & Buffalo Railway. After a year's lease of the line to the B&S, which included two daily passenger runs, the W&B opted for abandonment as the better part of valor. Three of the B&S's 2-8-0's went to the W&B and two ended up with Southern Iron & Equipment and the other, No. 145, went to the Pittsburgh & West Virginia, the reorganized survivor of Gould's ill-fated Wabash entry into Pittsburg.




The decade of the twenties was to be the B&S's last years as an independent railroad. There had been schemes over the years to include the B&S' DuBois-Sinnemahoning segment in a shorter Chicago-New York routing along with the connecting BR&P but such as Loree's "Fifth System" or Willard's "Rainbow Route" never materialized, mostly because they coincided with national financial downturns, not to mention developing changes in railroad management control and traffic patterns resultant thereof. On January 1, 1932, after a little bit of Wheeling (W&LE) and dealing with Cleveland's Van Swearingen brothers, the B&O took over. The B&O got the BR&P, too.

The B&O wanted only the portion of the B&S between DuBois and the Pennsy at Driftwood Junction. This was where the coal was, and Daniel Willard still dreamed of that Rainbow Route, a shorter line by eighty miles than the B&O between Chicago and New York. Came July, 1942, and floods caused by a seven-inch rainfall sent the Sinnemahoning berserk and twenty miles of line below Galeton toward DuBois were heavily damaged. The B&O applied for and received permission to abandon the line between Sinnemahoning and Burrows, six miles south of Galeton. The B&S/B&O was now orphaned from its parent.



Passenger service, which never amounted to much (although when there were trains to Buffalo there were Parlor-Buffet cars) continued to be powered by Atlantics now in the B&O numbering system, until scrapped in 1947 when the final run of passenger service had to be accomplished by one of the "Dapper Dan" 2-8-0's (3132) with a coach and combine on November 19, 1949.

But times were not good and the B&O wanted out. The isolated trackage produced too little traffic and it was a real inconvenience to have to ship the 3100's to Cumberland for major overhauls via a "foreign" carrier: the Erie from Wellsville to the old BR&P at Salamanca. The 3100's were the Consols inherited with the B&S purchase. A purchaser was sought and found in the H. E. Salzberg Company.




Salzberg had been in business since the thirties taking over marginal shortlines and branches such as the Arkansas Valley Interurban, Unadilla Valley, Southern New York, StJ&LC, and the Fort Dodge Line, and would now organize the Wellsville, Addison & Galeton in 1954 to formally begin operations on January 1, 1956, of the remaining 97 miles of old B&S trackage. With the railroad, Salzberg would receive six former B&S/B&O 2-8-o's, Nos. 3123, 3127, 3132, 3133, 3134, 3135, of which the 3127 would be the only one relettered for the WA&G. By November, however, all would be on their way to Buffalo for scrap.



The Salzbergs were not about to spend money running steam so set out to dieselize as quickly as possible and began with a couple of ex-Rock Island (originally CN) Whitcombs and then several 127 and 132-ton GE center-cabs purchased secondhand from Ford Motor Company.

On the WAG they were painted in orange and cream, but on Ford's operations they had been vermillion and black with raised logos not unlike Ford's common carrier Detroit, Toledo & Ironton when Henry ran it. Later came F7A cab units from the Southern Pacific and the Texas & New Orleans, some of which stayed on the WAG until the end. Others went on to Salzberg's one remaining railroad, the Louisiana & North West. The funeral train that ran to the Conrail connection on November 7, 1979, carried with it F7A's 2200 and 2300 and GE 1700. The two F7A's would go to Hornell to be rebuilt with HEP capability for Pittsburgh's PAT as 6690 and 6691 (ex-SP 6443 and ex-T&NO 365) and the 1700 would end its trip a few miles farther on with the Lake Shore Chapter, NRHS, for future operation.





That's the railroad in brief—now, about those ten Consolidations. Between 1905 and 19110, Brooks and Pittsburgh built forty-six 2-8-0's, Nos.123-168, to handle the B&S' increasing amount of coal tonnage. It was anticipated that more engines would be needed and in January, 1910, an additional order was placed for Nos. 169-178 (B&S' last order for power). But that was the year that the line went bust and in April the order was canceled. Brooks had already completed the order, and sent the engines into stock, although Nos. 169 and 170 had already been photographed for the company files in B&S livery. By 1912 all but one had been sold and the last one was sold in 1915 to Sharp & Fellows Construction as No. 31, then in 1917 to Nevada Consolidated Copper as No. 97, but used on the now-(1984)-dormant Nevada Northern as No. 97; it was scrapped in 1952.

No. 172 was sold to the Lorain & West Virginia (abandoned 1982), a subsidiary of the Wheeling & Lake Erie, then NKP, then N&W. It was the L&WV's only locomotive to bear its name but was used mostly at the docks in Toledo, OH, by parent Wheeling and never saw ownership under the two successor lines to the W&LE: No. 1 was scrapped in 1946. Nos. 173, 175, and 176 went to the Chicago & Alton as 440, 441, and 442.





When the B&O acquired the C&A and changed its name to Alton Railroad, the three engines were renumbered Alton 2997, 2998, and 2999, and bore B&O Class E-50 (the B&S engines that were acquired by the B&O from the B&S became Class E-60, the 3100's). After the B&O set the Alton free, it went to the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio, and the numbers remained the same until the three were scrapped in 1949. No. 174 was sold to the Chicago & Illinois Midland as No. 10, later 510, until 1938 when it was sold to the Midland Terminal (no relation) as No. 61, a railroad that had served the Colorado Cripple Creek mining district using, in part, trackage from the nation's first major railroad abandonment, the Colorado Midland (1918); No. 61 was scrapped with the railroad in 1949. No. 177 went to the Southern Utah as 104, later Utah Railway 4, and scrapped in 1946. The 178 went to the Saint Louis, Troy & Eastern as No. 6 and then in 1939 to the Illinois Terminal as No. 27 and scrapped by 1948.

Now, Nos. 169 and 170. Both were sold to the Anaconda Copper Mining Company for their Tooele Valley Railway as Nos. 11 and 12. As far as can be determined these two survived the longest. No. 12 had its tender turned into a snowplow, but No. 11 remained intact and operated as late as 1962 when the TV's lone diesel underwent repair. It thus became the last Buffalo & Susquehanna steam locomotive to see operation.

The Tooele Valley was a seven-mile Utah carrier owned initially by Anaconda's International Smelting & Mining and later Anaconda Copper and most recently ARCO (once Atlantic Richfield) when Anaconda was sold to them in 1978. It ran between Warner and International, UT, and served Anaconda's IM&M mill until it closed in 1972. The TV's 2.6 mile West International branch was abandoned in 1958 (it was built in 1937 and went out of service in 1947).





The line dieselized about 1955 with EMD SW1200 No. 100, which went later to ARCO's now-dormant Butte, Anaconda & Pacific as No. 100, and later still to Anaconda Aluminum in Montana as No. 100. In 1969, the TV obtained SW900 104 from Pickering Lumber, where it had been their 104, and this unit served the line until it was abandoned in 1982, going then for storage on the Salt Lake, Garfield & Western, and finally to Minnesota (the SLG&W still uses two ex-NYO&W 44-tonners, 101 and 105, SLG&W DS1 and DS2). The TV had handled only occasional traffic in its last years, and in 1980 just three cars—one for each employee!

Thus, in August, 1981, ARCO filed to close the line and one year later did so. Number 11, the last TV steamer, operated in 1962 as relief for No. 100, but had long been on display in Tooele so it survived the railroad. It went to a new city-sponsored museum at the old station in Tooele. It had been in the Tooele City Park since 1967, having been relegated there by the TV's diesel. An air compressor from the Tooele Army Depot pumped air into the main reservoir and the air operated the drive cylinders in the piston chamber on both sides of the steamer permitting it to run on embedded rails for stationary display. On July 9, 1982, volunteers from the same army depot using heavy equipment including a Caterpillar, pulled the Number 11 out of the park to the main line for return to the town's depot museum.

The museum contains No. 11, formerly B&S 169, and the tender of No. 12, formerly B&S 170, now a snowplow; as well as two USAF RBS coaches donated by Hill AFB, and a TV wooden caboose and other equipment. Thus, in 1985, one and one-half Buffalo & Susquehanna locomotives still exist. With recent attempts to purchase one or more ex-NYO&W GE 44-tonners from not-too-faraway Salt Lake, Garfield & Western, maybe someone ought to talk with the folks up at Tooele about B&S 169.

As for the forty-odd B&S steamers that were sold to the Baltimore & Ohio when it acquired the railroad on January 1, 1932, all were class E-60 and became the 3100 series on the B&O: B&S 123-143 became B&O 3100-3120 and 147-168 became 3121-3142. Of the three missing in the total forty-six locomotive series (B&O received forty-three), all had been sold to the ill-fated Wellsville & Buffalo and after the year of operation, sold. As far as is known, all of the engines that went to the B&O worked only for that carrier, save for three that were leased to Maryland's coal hauling Castleman River Railroad. On the B&O, several found a niche on the B&S itself as well as on the old narrow gauge Foxburg line between Butler and Mount Jewett where there existed a switchback at Foxburg to make the Consols feel at home. Otherwise, they turned up in Pittsburgh, Lorain, Parkersburg, and many other locales throughout the Tri-State area of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The three that went to the Castleman River Railroad were 3104 (ex-127), 3105 (ex-128) and 3112 (ex-13 5) with the 3105 seeing service first followed by 3104 and then 3112. The line connected with the B&O's Salisbury branch at Worth Junction, all of this being southwest of Meyersdale, PA, below Connellsville toward Cumberland. It is safe to say that the last of the B&S cum B&O 2-8-0's to operate was the 3112 which ran on the CMR until service ceased in 1957 (torn up in 1959). The last to haul varnish was the 3104 which assisted B&O FA 809 and its train of Kent's Train Treks revelers from Salisbury Junction to West Salisbury on March 18, 1956, through a blinding blizzard. TV's 11 did haul at least one excursion the year before with Western Pacific RDC 375, later NP B31, and ultimately Amtrak 31, until wrecked in Illinois. At the time the TV and the Sierra RR were the only all-steam common carriers west of the Rockies.

Today, the Buffalo & Susquehanna as a railroad is gone, save for some B&O-operated coal trackage around the DuBois area. All of the 3100's are gone, too, but one wishing to venture to the open spaces of Utah will find the best part of what does remain of "The Grand Scenic Route"—B&S 169 and the tender-snowplow of B&S 170. It matters not that they never ran on the B&S for they were photographed as B&S engines and had been ordered by them. They're still B&S engines, just as the Erie's Russian Decapods that never went to Moscow are still referred to as the Russian engines.