Pittsburgh Akron & Western Railroad History
Mike Kopach collection
In 1883, the Ohio Railroad Company was incorporated in Columbus, Ohio by William Arnold Lynch of Canton and Akron industrialists Colonel Arthur Latham Conger, Lewis Miller and David E. Hill. The company proposed to construct from Akron westward to Chicago Junction, Ohio, (renamed Willard in 1917), or some other good connecting point. It was desired for a long time to make a new east and west line. At Chicago Junction, the Baltimore & Ohio & Chicago Railroad could be connected with, and at Akron the Pittsburgh & Western leading directly to Pittsburgh. Since the building of this rail link would materially shorten the distance between New York and Chicago as used by existing routes of the time, the project aroused considerable interest in Akron and Medina areas. The city of Medina and it's townships promised considerable money and the right of way. Engineers made surveys, and the route was determined. Negotiating funds for construction purposes were not readily available, however, and the project lagged. Mr. Lynch, who was general counsel for the company, kept at work, and in the end his patience and energy were rewarded with success.
William Arnold Lynch
The name of the enterprise was changed November 10, 1883, to the Pittsburgh, Akron & Western Railway Company. That was the only significant event in the history of the business for six years. Dubbed the "Lynch line", the project saw new life in October 1889, through a consolidation of various proposed and real railroads. The consolidation was of the Pittsburgh, Akron & Western Railway Company and the Cleveland & Western Railroad Company with the new company taking the name of the Pittsburgh, Akron & Western Railroad Company. The Cleveland && Western (previously The Cleveland, Delphos and St. Louis Railroad.) was a narrow gauge road running between Delphos and Carey, Ohio. Its principal owners were William Semple, an Allegheny Merchant and James Callery, the latter for a time president of the Pittsburgh & Western. This consolidation made Carey the western terminus of the link from Akron westward instead of Chicago Junction. While achieving funding to begin construction, on March 17, 1890, mortgage bonds in the sum of $3,680,000 were issued to the Central Trust Company of New York, as trustees. At this time, an election of directors was held. It resulted in the choice of several men from various cities. Directors elected from the city Akron, Ohio were David E Hill, Arthur Latham Conger, and Lewis Miller. Elected from the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was Chas G. Milnor and James I. Callery. Elected from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania were James Schoonmaker and Josiah N. Davidson. Also elected, was James M. Semple from Toledo, Ohio and A.W. Jones from Youngstown, Ohio. An election of officers resulted in the choice of James I. Callery as president, Arthur Latham Conger as Vice President, and William Arnold Lynch secretary and general counsel. Chas G. Milnor was elected the treasurer, and William Semple as the general manager with James H. Sample as chief engineer.
Akron Idustrialists from left to right. Colonel Arthur Latham Conger, Lewis Miller, David E. Hill
The contract for the building of the line from Akron to Carey in Wyandot County was let to W.V. McCracken of New York and Wm. Semple of Allegheny County under the firm name of McCracken & Semple. Work began in the latter part of May 1890 and on January 24, 1891, the tracks to Silver Street in Akron were completed. The right of way in Akron began at Old Forge running along the old Pennsylvania & Ohio Canal almost to Summit Street. There it crossed over to the north side of the waterway that crossed North High Street and North Main Street. It went across North Howard Street by a bridge. It then spanned the valley of the Ohio & Erie Canal with an immense trestle just striking the northern brow of West Hill out to Silver Street and then on to Copley. From Copley, the line went on to Medina and then on to Greenwich, New London and Plymouth. Trains began running from Akron west early in the Spring of 1891 The principal offices were in Akron at the old brick homestead of the Beebe family on North Howard Street. C. W. Risley was superintendent and auditor and W. S. Taylor general freight and passenger agent. The depot was on the west side of North Main street. The PA&W ran no farther than Akron. While PA&W Company expected to get to Pittsburgh over the P & W Railroad, the leasing of the Pittsburgh & Western by the B&O dashed its dreams. The B&O lease made the P&W the eastern connection at Akron, of the Akron & Chicago Junction.
Pittsburgh Akron & Western Railroad Trestle 1891
Consequently, in 1892, the PA&W promoters formed the Akron & New Castle Railway to construct the eastern extension to Pittsburgh. The new company quickly surveyed a line to the Niles-Youngstown area, a distance of about fifty miles, and acquired options for most of the needed seven miles of right-of-way between Akron and the village of Mogadore. There the Akron & New Castle also planned to connect with the Cleveland, Canton & Southern (Wheeling and Lake Erie).
At the end of winter 1893, Akron & New Castle Railway began grading and track laying. After completing only two miles of track in and around Akron, the economic conditions from the Panic of '93 forced the company to suspend construction. The panic, moreover, threw the parent and financially troubled Pittsburgh, Akron & Western into receivership. When reorganization plans failed, the Summit County district court ordered the property sold. On July 29, 1893, William A. Lynch was appointed the receiver of the property, and the road was ordered sold. Sheriff William A. Williams, acting under orders of the court, sold the property at auction on October 17, 1894, to one Fisher Ames Baker. His bid was $844,000, which was two-thirds of the appraised value. On May 31, 1895, Mr. Baker assigned and transferred his bid to Samuel Shortridge, and on June 7, 1895, the sale and transfer of bid was confirmed. On August 6, 1895, Samuel Shortridge transferred and assigned his bid to John H. Sample, and on August 10, 1895, the Master Commissioner deeded the property to John H. Sample.
On August 10, 1895, Mr. Sample deeded all the Pittsburg Akron and Western Railroad property to Arthur Latham Conger et al. incorporators of the Northern Ohio Railway Company.
Wreck on the PA&W at Bluffton, Ohio, October 8, 1892. Courtesy of Fred Steiner Bluffton Icon
Another view of the wreck at Bluffton, Ohio, October 8, 1892. Courtesy of Fred Steiner Bluffton Icon
Fritz Kuenzel collection