P&LE RR Gateway Yard

Struthers, O. - When it opened in 1957 the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Gateway Yard was considered a major milestone in the timeline of the P&LE. The yard was over 5 miles long, stretching from from Center St. to Lowellville, and handling freight for many of the area's heavy industrial concerns. They didn't call this railroad The Little Giant for nothing, the P&LE moved more tonnage than average for such a short railroad. It only operated between Youngstown and Pittsburgh, but think how many steel mills they serviced.

Here are some photos I took down there, mostly from 03/04, so excuse the low resolution/poor quality. I feel fortunate to have taken photos of the footbridge into the yard before it was demolished, and of the rooftop sign before some white rappers from Poland turned it into a billboard for suburban struggle music.

All images copyright Paul Grilli 2017

The P&LE's history in the Youngstown area goes back much further than 1957, they actually owned and operated a dining hall and a YMCA on Wilson Avenue, directly across from the Campbell water plant. Check out this Sanborn map from 1928. 

The P&LE was completely absorbed into CSX in 1993. The photos below were taken 10 years later when the footbridge from Wilson Avenue into the yard still stood. I was always fascinated by this bridge. Think about how many hardworking people walked to work, or took a bus from Youngstown/Campbell/Struthers/Lowelville, and crossed this bridge every day. 

Footbridge on left. Hump center. Car barn and now demolished building that housed locker rooms/med station center right.

I'm assuming the workers that crossed that bridge walked directly through this man tunnel that went under the hump. There wasn't much light at the end of it when I was down there. 

The photo below is one of my favorites I took down there, a long forgotten employee directory. I love seeing the writing that was left on the walls by guys that were laid off years ago. Who are these guys, where are they now? Why did Blackie suck? Were Sam, Frank, Natale and Al the kind of guys you would want to drink a beer with after work on Friday, at the same bar on Wilson Avenue you cashed your check at?

Below - Clockwise from top: Sink - Medical Station - Union sticker - Missing control panel in hump yard tower - locker detail - car barn grease bay

Jacket found in basement of main hump yard tower.

Below - Clockwise from top: Main hump yard tower and the hump - PSA - Demolished - RR propaganda

Car barn interior

Below - Clockwise from top: Hump yard tower - Open manhole - Remnants of last crew - Rain lockers - Another yard tower - Locker room

This yard tower was located down in Lowellville at the far end of the yard. It was re-purposed by kids that rode the rails. I wish I had more photos, but you can see some hobo graffiti above the window in the second image. There was a notebook where different freight train riders signed in with where they were from and where they were going. Remarks about the weather and which trains you had to wait on for hours to pull out. There was a track map scrawled on the wall, with arrows pointing to Cleveland, Pittsburgh etc. It was fascinating. 

J&L Steel + P&LE RR

Youngstown, OH: These photos, which i borrowed from eBay, show the transition of industrial assets during the fall of the steel industry. Re-industrialization maybe?

J&L Steel - Campbell, OH: What once was Sharon Steel Hoop Corp. transitioned to J&L Steel. J&L did not have much of a presence in Youngstown, but their mills dominated the south side Pittsburgh skyline. The Youngstown mill is where my great uncle Al Grilli worked most of his life. When he retired this was known as Cold Metal Products. The photos below show the way they transitioned these mills in the 80s, in this case they just slapped some paint over the iconic J&L, and didn't even take care to cover the whole logo. The mill is still active, and is now known as Youngstown Pipe and Steel. 

Pittsburgh & Lake Erie RR: Locomotive #1501, which once was a workhorse for the "Little Giant" P&LE RR. At some point this loco transitioned to use on the Youngstown & Austintown RR. What once pulled massive amounts of raw materials and finished prodcuts for the steel industry, became my alarm clock in the summer. I grew up 8 houses from the Y&A line on North Hazelwood Avenue. Every morning around 9:15, the Y&A would blast it's horn, which let me know it was time to go down by the tracks and play. I would run outside and count the cars, which was usually 3 or 4. This loco was on light duty in it's retirement compared to what it used to pull I'm sure. Either way, it played a major part in my childhood. It makes me think of the men who ran it for the P&LE in it's heyday, and how their lives were affected by the closing of that rail road. Photos below courtesy www.railpictures.net

P&LE Gateway Yard

Youngstown, OH. Today is the 50th anniversary of a milestone for the now defunct Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. Per the Youngstown Vindicator, "Railroad officials gather at the Gateway Yard in Youngstown for the "humping" of the 5 millionth car (enough to circle the earth). Humping is the act of shoving a line of freight cars over a hill onto multiple tracks, to be divided into a new train. 

The P&LE got it's nickname, The Little Giant, because they moved so much tonnage in relation to the amount of track they controlled. While they did offer passenger service, they primarily moved steel, and the ingredients to make it in its raw form: coal, limestone and iron ore. 

I have photographed what is left of the Gateway Yard many times, but on an occasion such as this anniversary, I wanted to show it in it's prime, not the post industrial wasteland I know it as. Check out the video below from YouTube user Erie1264.