Pittsburgh & Lake Erie RR
Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Rail Road Tower
When: January 2008
Well this was a bit of an unusual one. Long story short, which never happens because I'm clearly the wordy person you know, a reporter from the Warren Tribune got in touch with me and wanted to go out and check out some abandoned buildings. Being the media whore that I am, I was more than willing, so we meant up at her office, and headed out to check out a few places in the Youngstown area. I had three places in mind, and this was one of them. You see, if you're as much of a dork as me, you actually have a mental arsenal of abandoned buildings for the places you're familiar with.
The three places to check out were Republic Rubber, Youngstown Sheet and Tube, and of course, the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Rail Road tower. As of this writing, we hadn't made it to Republic, although I've been on my own without a camera in the past, we barely were able to check out Youngstown Sheet and Tube, and we were successful at walking around the one of the two Rail Road towers at the old P&LERR yard. The other was near a business that is still being run, and we didn't want to find ourselves in trouble. I frankly thought that getting caught would make a great news article, but at the same time, I wasn't up for it on this particular day.
It appeared to be mostly office space back in the day.
When we arrived, we noticed someone parked near where we were trying to park. Without giving too much away, you actually have to park across the tracks from this place and walk over the currently used tracks. There is pretty much no other reason to be parked there, so we thought maybe we'd run in to someone. As we approached the building, I could hear hammering. It was a scrapper removing scrap from the building. I'm not a fan of theft, but in this case, the building is going to complete waste, it'll never be used again, it wasn't being taken care of at all, so if someone can do the hard work of removing this stuff, make a buck, and recycle in the process, I'm all for it.
A storage closet.
This guy was hands down the nicest guy you could run in to in an abandoned building. He welcomed us in, asked us not to take any pictures of him, told us the safest steps to use, what to watch out for, etc. He was working his butt off to get what he wanted... this wasn't the obvious stuff, but rather stuff that was hard to remove. He even checked on us before he left, which required walking all the steps to the top of the building, and told us the easy way out. He was super nice, and I hope he was able to come back for his scrap before someone else took it.
So we walked through the building from top to bottom. We weren't there long, but we saw pretty much all there was to see. The building was very stripped down.
From what we could tell, the building closed in the late 1980s. There were employee records going to 1988 if I recall correctly as well as some magazines. It was obvious that the building had been wired heavily for communications.. of course back then it wasn't with a network like you'd have today. This was old school solid wire telephone type connections. I assume that operating a rail yard from one building isn't easy.
I'm sure the rail road guys will correct me on this, but basically I believe these buildings were used to weigh the cars as well as direct them to which train they would be taking to get where they are going. I believe that the cars came in one side, were pushed up the hill by pusher trains, weighed, documented, etc, then allowed to roll down the other side, and were steered to the train in which they would be attached. Gravity would give them enough momentum to connect to the train at the bottom and hopefully no workers would accidentally find themselves in the middle of that mess. That is about the extent of my rail yard knowledge, and it may be totally wrong. I get that from watching Conrail yards as a child when we'd drive past it, and from playing with my hot wheels rail set.
Hallways of old 'cubicle' type offices, separated by thin steel walls. I picture lots of guys dressed with suspenders talking fast and saying "well I oughta..." and "I got half a mind to..."
Our trip was uneventful other than running in to the scrap guy. He warned us to avoid the neighboring buildings, so we did. I may go back for them some day. It appeared to be another similar tower, and some partially used offices. I can live without seeing it.
The tower itself was pretty basic. Most of the metal was long gone. It appeared to have had offices on most of the lower floors, then a two story control room type of place where I'm assuming people were able to see the yards, feeder tracks, all that stuff. You could tell they once had some really cool windows that leaned outward. I'm guessing this place was built in the 50s from the looks of it, but I may be way off.
The graffiti was mostly childish crap, but entertaining in its stupidity. I personally liked being informed about the African American's love of STDs, and that Struthers Sucks. Where do these people come from?
This room overlooked the tracks, and I assume was where the switching was controlled?
Before long, Amanda, the reporter, had completed her first walk through of an abandoned building. I don't know if she enjoyed it. I think I enjoyed it, but I have a low entertainment threshold. I can enjoy anything as long as its not too fun. It was a cool building. The stripped internals took away from it slightly, but I still had a good time poking around. This was my third place using the tripod, and although the pictures aren't great, I think I'm learning to use it better.
Last but not least, its worth mentioning that we ran across the river to the old sheet and tube building to check out some rail cars. In the process, the reporter, who was driving, picked up a screw in her tire. She seemed agitated and we discovered for good reason because it was leaking (sometimes screws plug their own hole. I've had one in my tire for months). We drove to AutoZone, and me being the manly man that I am, plugged the tire at the local speedway who I have to mention because they gave us free air. So now... the picture. There are two pages of pictures with descriptions, or you can skip to the archive of just pictures.
Front of building. From the roof. Cherry Bombs? I love that someone left the paper, and I'm confused as to why someone didn't take the paper towel holder for scrap. This is what is left after the scappers take the internal walls. I believe this was a payroll office or something.
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ALSO FOUR PAGES of pictures without descriptions can be found in the gallery here.