AC&Y Railway History
The Akron Transfer Railroad, incorporated in November of 1891 by Canton Cement entrepreneur Zebulon W. Davis, et al.; to build a rail line from Akron to Canton. Zeb Davis desired reasonable and fair shipping for his Diamond Portland Cement Company in Middlebranch Ohio just northeast of Canton. To solve his shipping arrangements problems, he started the Akron Transfer Railroad. Davis's construction company laid tracks from the west of Main Street to Forge Street a distance of just over a mile. Davis stopped construction because of the Panic of 1893 and built the road no further until almost a decade later.
Entrepreneur Zebulon W. Davis
Zebulon W. Davis and Harry Bartlett Stewart © AC&YHS - Stewart Familly Collection
The promoters of the Pittsburgh Akron & Western Railroad formed the Akron & New Castle Railway to construct an eastern extension to Pittsburgh. During the economic depression of 1893, the PA&W and the A&NC were forced into receivership. While the A&NC had only laid around two miles of track in downtown Akron; it had secured the valuable right-of-way from Akron to Mogadore. The sale of PA&W did not include the A&NC. Since the promoters of the Northern Ohio did not acquire the A&NC, they incorporated the Akron & Pittsburgh Railroad with the hope to build on to the east. During the late 1890's all of these roads had conceived rival schemes projected to build connecting lines to either New Castle or Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
For several years, various rail promoters attempted mergers and consolidations of all the projected Eastern bridge routes. It was Zebulon W. Davis who with his financial backing orchestrated the owners of the dormant lines to sell.
In June of 1907, Zebulon W. Davis, William Simpson, H. B. Stewart, Isaac H Taylor, and others incorporate the Akron Canton & Youngstown Railway. The road's purpose was to build a line to connect Akron Ohio with Canton and Youngstown. The first shareholder's meeting was held on June 17, 1907. Zeb Davis was elected the president. In 1910, Zeb Davis resigned as president and H.B Stewart was elected to replace him. Stewart was wanting more investment in the Corporation and gave a director position to F. A. Seiberling of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co fame. Seiberling obviously was more than happy to come aboard wanting to have a better connection to the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company coal mines. Situated on the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad, Goodyear had coal mines in Adena, Ohio. The proposed connection to the W&LE at Mogadore would give Seiberling his route to Adena.
AC&Y Railway Officers from left to right. Harry Bartlett Stewart, Franklin Augustus Seiberling
Studies and surveys were made to determine the best routes to build. Ultimately, it was decided to build initially from Davis's Akron Transfer Railroad southeast to Mogadore a distance of about 7.5 miles.Construction did not begin until 1911 due to problems securing the right of way to Mogadore. While the A&NC had secured many of these right of ways, by the time Davis acquired the A&NC most of them had expired.
Construction began in earnest in spring of 1911. Several team outfits work at different sections of the route. They worked year round in all weather on the project. Greatly changing the geographic area between Akron and Mogadore, the construction of the AC&Y Railway took several years to complete. They were extremely busy grading, steam shoveling cuts, building culverts, bridges, diverting parts of the Little Cuyahoga River, laying track, ballasting, and building facilities. During construction, the Company started buying locomotives and rolling stock necessary to operate the road. The first train operated on the unfinished line ran in July of 1912, delivering 60,000 pounds of bricks from Colonial Brick of Mogadore to F. I. Young of East Akron.
Akron was beginning to become a "Rubber Metropolis" in the early teens of the 20th century. This growth gave the AC&Y Railway increased business moving freight to trunk line connections in the Akron area. During WWI, the AC&Y was taken over by USRA. When the war ended, and the AC&Y regained control of the road a new rubber boom was beginning. The demand for automobiles led to the need for more rubber products. Seeing an increase in shipping traffic the AC&Y wanted to grow their business.
In May of 1920, the AC&Y Railway purchased the portion of the Northern Ohio Railway from downtown Akron to Copley Ohio. Having further negotiations with the Lake Erie & Western (NYC), they leased the remaining route from Copley to Delphos Ohio. This acquisition changed the AC&Y Railway from a small switching terminal road into Class 1 railroad overnight.
AC&Y Railway Engine #2 Lima 0-6-0 and crew. © AC&YHS - Stewart Familly Collection