Seeing Things, Saying Things

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Canton Area Railroads

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Summary: Canton and the nearby cities of Massillon and Alliance are located in the great steel-making region of Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. Railroads brought coal, much of it mined in Southeastern Ohio, and iron ore to the steel plants and hauled away the finished products. The Timken Roller Bearing Company moved to Canton in 1902 and in the 1920s began making roller bearings for railroad locomotives and rolling stock.

The decline of industry in Northeast Ohio diminished railroad operations in Canton and Massillon. Railroad consolidation further depressed traffic on the routes serving the two cities. That has not been in the case, though, in Alliance, which continues to see a high volume of railroad traffic due to its location on Norfolk Southern’s primary freight artery between Chicago and the East Coast.

Written in cooperation with the Akron Railroad Club, this book chronicles the history and development of the railroads that served Stark, Wayne, Holmes, Carroll and Tuscarawas counties. It shows how rail operations changed as the steel industry declined and railroad consolidations led to traffic shifts and route abandonment.

Among the railroads that served this region were the Pennsylvania, Baltimore & Ohio, New York Central, and Wheeling & Lake Erie. The coverage is comprehensive and includes the predecessors and successors to the legacy railroads. The book also has a chapter devoted to interurban railways and city trolley systems.

Among the cities covered in the this book are Alliance, Brewster, Canton, Dennison, Dover, Massillon, Navarre, Newcomerstown, New Philadelphia, Orrville, Salem, Sugar Creek and Wooster.

Published by: Arcadia Publishing (2009)

Chapter Titles: (1) Electric Railways; (2) Pennsylvania Railroad; (3) Conrail; (4) Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; (5) Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway (6) Ohio Central System; (7) Other Railroad Operations.

Photographs from: Richard Antibus, John Beach, Michael Boss, Peter Bowler, Jeff Darbee, Dan Davidson, Richard Jacobs, Jerry Jordak, Chris Lantz, James McMullen, Jeff Pletcher, Bob Redmond, Edward Ribinskas, Marty Surdyk and Paul Vernier, Additional photographs from the Special Collections at Cleveland State University.

Backstory: The idea for this book came to me as I was watching trains in Alliance. There is a lot of railroad history in Alliance, but as I thought it about I decided to widen the focus to include Canton and the surrounding counties.

Members of the Akron Railroad Club, of which I am president, had been helpful in providing photographs for my book Akron Railroads. I correctly anticipated that they would be willing to contribute to a book focusing on Canton, Massillon and Alliance.

A book on Canton also seemed a natural follow-up to Akron Railroads. Akron and Canton are virtual twin cities and share an airport. Hence, many think of them as a tandem.

It also helped that I knew much of the history of the railroads that served the Canton region because many of those railroads served Akron and Summit County. Still I spent some time at the Canton Public Library digging out what information that I could on the railroads of the region.

Aside from railroad history, I discovered that there are some intense rivalries among the cities of Stark County, which probably are rooted in the annual high school football grudge matches played here. Football is big in this part of Ohio and indeed Canton is home to the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Massillon has a rich high school football history.

A Massillon man who knows a great deal of the history of the railroads of Stark County suggested that I rename the book because there is a great deal of antipathy toward Canton. I’ve since become friends with this guy and sometimes when I’d see him he would refer to the book as the Stark County railroads book.


Written by csanders429

March 3, 2009 at 8:04 pm

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