P&LE Commuter Train Last Run
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a lot of people traveled by train to and from work every day. It still happens in some cities here in the US as it has for years. In some cities, our local leaders have perhaps decided that the trains weren’t so bad after all. They’re spending exorbitant amounts of our money to put them back right where they used to be before! Progress is sometimes strange, but I digress.
By 1985, Pittsburgh PA was down to two commuter train services.
The PATrain was operated by Port Authority Transit. It served the Monongahela and Youghiogheny River Valleys between the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station at 12 Grant Street in Pittsburgh and the terminus at Versailles, PA. (You had to learn to pronounce some funky street and place names in Pittsburgh!)
The other nameless service was operated by the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. It ran between its’ headquarters at Station Square on Smithfield Street and College, PA. The P&LE commuter train followed the Ohio and Beaver Rivers on its’ route.
The former Pennsylvania Railroad commuter trains that served the Pittsburgh area in river valleys and over and through the hills were all gone in the 1960’s.
There were no bands or gala events at College to greet Train 261’s last run. There were a few reporters, some families to greet the riders, and some active and retired railroaders.
A train of empty coal cars headed south to the mines for another load to feed a steel mill or power plant crept by to break up the voices of the crowd. As the train passed and the quiet singing of the welded rail went silent, the crowd dispersed. A few stayed to watch the 1501 run around her train and prepare for the deadhead run back to the shops at McKees Rocks.
And then, with two short horn blasts, the 1501 headed south. Quiet returned to College as an era ended.
It was by no means a fancy train, but it was dependable point to point transportation for many. But the many were not enough in the eyes of those funding the train. While it may not seem like it, lives were altered by the loss of the train. What was once a bearable commute became less so. Some were left to ponder the balance of a bucolic existence in the river valleys and a job in Pittsburgh. I don’t remember thinking about that then. I didn’t appreciate it until I became a semi-regular city commuter and found myself taking the train every chance I could. In my present job, I can’t feasibly take the train or any other form of public transportation. I wish I could. Instead, I get a sore butt like millions of others. But I am digressing again.
Join me in a look back at the last run of the P&LE Commuter Train. It’s easy – just click here.
Don’t forget to visit Laughing Frog Images – it’s never to early to start shopping for the holidays!