The Ashtabula Carson & Jefferson Railway operates on one of the few remaining
portions of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway's Franklin Division.
The line was built by the LS&MS between 1871 & 1872, and serviced communities
south of Ashtabula including Plymouth, Griggs, Jefferson, Leon, and Andover. These
communities were serviced with heavy freight and passenger service to and from
Ashtabula. What used to be a day's travel to Ashtabula could be done in an hour
At Andover, the LS&MS connected with the Jamestown & Franklin Railroad,
built in 1871, and the Mahoning Coal Railroad, built in 1872 to 1873.
The Jamestown & Franklin Railroad was a line under lease by the Lake Shore &
Michigan Southern, and connected to the coal and oil fields of western Pennsylvania.
The Jamestown & Franklin Railroad line was abandoned by Conrail in the late 1980's
after closure of coal mines near Stoneboro, Pennsylvania.
The Mahoning Coal Railroad connected the LS&MS with the coal fields in
southwestern Pennsylvania, and steel mills in Youngstown, Ohio, and Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. It too was a line under lease by the Lake Shore & Michigan
Southern, and was originally leased for 40 per cent of gross earnings generated
by this line. A portion of this line between Andover, OH and Brookfield, OH was
abandoned by Penn Central in the early 1970's. The remainder of this line remains
in operation today, by the Norfolk Southern Railroad.
Carson Yard & The Low Grade
In 1903, a double tracked, low grade line was built between Plymouth, OH and
Brookfield, Ohio. Carson Yard was constructed at this time in Plymouth, OH,
for the staging of coal trains to Ashtabula Harbor and of iron ore trains to
Youngstown, OH. The original purpose for this line was for slow iron ore trains
from Ashtabula Harbor to run on a shorter, relatively level route to the steel
mills in Youngstown, OH and Pittsburgh, PA. This eliminated the need for hauling
such trains up the .5% grades between Plymouth, Jefferson and Andover, and
eliminated delays to the increasing passenger trains serving LS&MS communities
south of Ashtabula. At the time of it's construction, the line used 100 lb rail,
which was the heaviest rail anywhere on the LS&MS. Today, the same line uses
135 lb rail. After the opening of the low grade line, the high grade route from
Plymouth to Jefferson to Andover to Brookfield became a dedicated passenger train
route, operating at 60 mph.
New York Central Era
In 1913, the New York Central consolidated with it's subsidiary, the LS&MS,
after passage of the Clayton Antitrust Act by the federal government. The New
York Central continued to use of the high grade route for passenger trains
connecting Ashtabula to Pittsburgh, Pa. Businessman in the Youngstown and
Pittsburgh areas would ride trains regularly to Ashtabula to verify coal and
iron ore shipments. From Pittsburgh, the public could ride a train continuously
to Ashtabula with stops at the villages of Jefferson and Andover, and occasional
flagstops at stations located in Plymouth, Griggs, and Leon. Once reaching
Ashtabula, you could travel at high speed be between New York and Chicago riding
in the 1st class Pullman accommodations of the 20th Century Limited, or ride in
couch accommodations on other trains like the Lake Shore Limited, which still
operates on the same route by Amtrak today.
End of Passenger Service and Abandonment
With completion from the airplane and automobile, the New York Central began
cutting back passenger service in 1957, and rescheduled fewer passenger trains
routed via the low grade thru Dorset to Andover to Youngstown to Pittsburgh.
Stops at Jefferson and Dorset were removed at this time, and Andover became a
flagstop until the early 1960's. Trackage was removed from Jefferson to Dorset
between 1957 and 1958. The line to Jefferson was redesignated the Jefferson
Industrial Track at this time, and remained in use by Penn Central and later
Conrail, until the line was put up for abandonment by Conrail in 1984.
Birth of the A C & J Railway
The Ashtabula Carson & Jefferson Railroad Company was chartered in 1984 by
local businessman, working with the State of Ohio, to preserve the 6 mile long
Jefferson Industrial Track. Since 1984, the A C & J has developed business
locally, and primarily hauls fertilizer, paper used in the manufacturing of
corrugated boxes, and plastic pellets used in injection molding. Freight
operations occur 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Additionally, the A C &
J transloads bulk commodities from rail car to truck for shipment locally. The
fertilizer and plastic pellet shipments are examples of this business segment.
The A C & J hauls 1200 cars per year.
The A C & J Railroad's sister
company, A C & J Scenic Line, Inc., has been operating passenger excursions
since 1991, reintroducing area residents and tourists to the pleasures of railroad
passenger service. A C & J Scenic Line offers charter services and has special
events through out the year, in addition to the regularly scheduled weekend