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Rail Books Review


Akron, Canton & Youngstown and Akron & Barberton Belt by Robert E. Lucas,


published by Morning Sun Books www.morningsunbooks.com


Through their history, the Akron, Canton & Youngstown (ACY) and Ak- ron & Barberton Belt (A&BB) were partners rather than competitors in this region of Ohio. Their history and why they were so important to Akron makes for a most interesting study of small railroads, and perhaps will give the model railroad reader an interest- ing basis for a layout. While there were other small railroads in the Akron area around the turn of the century (the 20th Century, that is), the ACY began in 1914, which coincided with the area’s industrial expansion. For those unfamiliar, Akron, Ohio, is nick- named “Rubber City” since Goodyear Tire & Rubber had its first plant there, as well as others in that industry that sprang up over the years. ACY initially existed to shuttle cars from East Akron rubber plants to trunk line connections with a number of Class I railroads and another terminal rail- road — the Akron Barberton Belt. F.A. Seiberling, a member of ACY’s Board of Directors and Goodyear’s dynamic president, had bigger ideas for the rail- road. Several farmland parcels were purchased and then developed for res- idential and industrial uses, adding to the railroad’s coffers. Passenger rail service began in 1918 for commuting rubber workers. This train used a secondhand McKeen motor car to haul its passengers. The service later extended to Copley, Ohio, and the railroad purchased two GE gasoline- electrics to handle the increased rider- ship. By 1922, however, the commuter rail service to Copley was discontinued, and the railroad sold the GE equipment. The purchase of the Northern Ohio Railway (NOR) made westward expan- sion possible, and ACY became a 169- mile Class I railroad overnight. The 1920s proved to be great years for the combined ACY-NOR, and earnings grew substantially, creating a need for addi- tional motive power.


The Great Depression had a major adverse effect on Akron’s industrial


34 RAILROAD MODEL CRAFTSMAN


base and consequently on the ACY. The railroad remained profitable by cutting costs in 1931 and 1932. The economy continued its downward spiral, and forced ACY into receivership in 1933. As with much of the U.S. rail industry, the Second World War saw a huge in- crease in loadings, and the railroad was reorganized by 1944. The timetable list- ed ten scheduled trains daily. The first delivery of a diesel locomotive occurred during the war years — an Alco S-2 fol- lowed by an Alco RS-1 in 1945. Steam power remained on the ACY until 1955. In the postwar years, ACY invested in new freight cars. The loss of a lucrative postal mail contract in 1951 saw the end of mixed trains. Akron successfully attracted new industry to the area, and terminal interchanges with the A&BB continued to grow steadily. In 1964, Norfolk & Western added


ACY and five other railroads to its sys- tem. While the identity of the other rail-


roads vanished after the merger, the ACY remained an autonomous entity. The subsidiary was locally managed and held the major share of the Akron freight market.


In 1990, Norfolk Southern announced the sale of its rail facilities in eastern Ohio. This included the remaining 122 miles of the ACY. Currently, this track- age is operated by Wheeling & Lake Erie, thanks to the prudent manage- ment in industrial development more than a century ago. Consolidation of three small prede- cessor railroads created the Akron & Barberton Belt in 1902. Shortly after incorporating, the A&BB was sold to four connecting Class I railroads: the Pennsylvania, Erie, Baltimore & Ohio, and Northern Ohio (controlled by New York Central). The purpose of the rail- road then became local switching for these controlling railroads. For most of its life, A&BB operated 23 miles of


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