I want to welcome you all to my Railroad. The Paint Creek RR, which operates the former B&O Northern Subdivision.
The Northern Subdivision of the B&O is referred to as an “Incidental Acquisition” by Dave Ratthoff in Vol. #24, Issue #2 of the B&O Sentinel Magazine. The Northern Sub. is in the least a typical romantic or even a masculine line of the B&O. There where no EM-1’s or SD’s that ever charged this line with long trails of cars. Instead it was traversed first by narrow gauge Pittsburgh and Western 4-4-0’s and later by former Buffalo Southern, E-60 2-8-0’s of the B&O. The largest steam power the line ever saw was the K&K’s 2-10-2 Chinese SY-58. Later the line was traveled by a variety of diesels from Baldwin AS-16’s, Alco S-2’s, the ever popular GP-7 & 9, and even an Alco PA set.
It was a rough and tumble line with many steep grades and wooden trestles every mile or two. It also had a set of switchbacks in Foxburg, Pa. which carried the line 442.5 ft. up. The line started life around 1876 in the Allegheny River Valley when access to oil fields was needed to transport the black gold to the refineries in Pittsburgh. In the northern regions of the line lumber was a source of desire for the owners. The B&O became in control of the line in 1884 which gave it the desired Pittsburgh to New Castle line. As Oil Production slowed in the 1890’s the line was leased to the line to the Bradford Bordell & Kinzua. In 1902 this unsuccessful lease was terminated. By this time however the line had been converted to standard gauge. The line received another blow to its success when in 1932 the B&O purchased the BR&P. The bottle neck of a switchback and the restrictive grades where no longer needed. Still the line operated into the 80’s as part of the local infrastructure carrying everything from new glass bottles from the various glass plants, coal, clay, and the new farm tractor or a box of chicks.
Today the line is only operated between Butler and Petrolia by the B&P. The northern section between North Clarion Jct. and Mt. Jewett was left for the trees and weeds by the Knox and Kane RR due to its poor management and ownership skills three years ago. Much of the line can easily be found and “dug up.” All one needs is a good map, and a B&O Form #6. Many sidings and other artifacts are still under that first layer of grass.
I started a new life to the line in 2003 when I proposed to my wife on a curved wooden trestle over Paint Creek. At that time the northern portion of the line was for sale by the Knox & Kane. Trucking was taking a dive due to high gas prices, companies where looking for new locations to build Bio-Fuel plants and lumber was booming due to the war efforts. Why wouldn't I buy the line? I also purchased the line south of Knox to Petrolia and relayed the tracks. Due to the B&P out growing itself the line from Petrolia to Butler was purchased, rejoining the Northern Sub. to its original form. In the northern regions of Forest Co. I was joined in this venture by Bryan Hartle and his Blue Jay Southern Lines in the summer of 2004.
On my railroad you will see a small short line personality which is there to meet the needs of the customer. Why cant a new farm tractor or a set of Caterpillar Dozers be delivered to the local station by rail? Need a load of lumber, or those logs you cut picked up along the rails? The Paint Creek RR is there. Travel the local sights and see the sights not the rear of a truck when you are in your car or better yet take one of our trains and see the other side of the tracks.
The layout currently travels from Butler to Knox. In Foxburg and branch off the main line (Allegheny Subdivision) travels up the Allegheny River to the Quaker-State Bio Fuel Plant in Emlenton. Down river the line goes to a rolling mill in Sara’s Furnace.
Besides main line operations the steel mill operates independently and shares trackage rights with the Allegheny Subdivision RR. Also an industrial switcher operates in the Petrolia and Karns City refineries.