March 27, 2011 - Franklin and Oil City, Pa.
After a long harsh winter we finally had a beautiful, if cold, early
spring day - just made for exploring. We started near the other end of
the line in Venango county. This is the Justus Trail (ex AV Right
of Way) looking south, just across the river from Frankin In the area called Franklin Station on the 1895 map
Heading north towards Oil City you come upon the Melissa Gildersleeve
house, built in 1871. As it is only about 10 feet from the RoW, it must
have been interesting every time a train passed!
An early panoramic map of Franklin. The AV ran up the opposite river bank (far left)
Just beyond the 322 highway bridge sits this building that looks like it may have been a freight shed
Looking north towards Oil City, just 5
miles upsteam. An icy damp wind was blowing down the river valley, so
this was as far as we walked.
The road went over the mountain, the
river and railbed around it, so we missed about 4 miles. This is the
approach to Oil City just below the sewerage plant. These parallel
drives look an awful lot like a rail yard, don't they? The mainline is
the trail in the foreground.
A stone foundation right along the RoW, but for what?
About 250 yards further was another foundation, this one heavy concrete.
Less than a quarter mile further upriver, behind the newspaper office, we found the RoW was just a muddy path.
But there was a neat old White, too
An old panoramic map of Oil City. The northern terminus of the
Allegheny Valley mainline. The AV ran along the far bank (upper part).
"You can't get there from here!".... The RoW switches
between paved bike path and posted property several times on the
final approach to Oil
City. Sometimes with the only way to GET to the beginning of a section
of bike trail is a road posted "No Trespassing" This sign was on
the trail. - 40 feet beyond one such sign.... Am I the only one who
finds this just a little strange?
About this point we also found the beginning of partially active line.
Norfolk Southern still switches a few industries along the old main
A bit further on, behind the Giant Eagle supermarket, was a stripped Pennsy era signal bridge
And an interlocking switch bellcrank connected to... nothing.
The reason we went to Oil City are these photos from about 1971
And the 1880s
This Google Earth view from 2006 shows much of it was already gone. But we still wanted to see what was left.
We found the remains of the roundhouse., the large building
beyond it in the 1971 picture is now an antique mall. Too bad the
roundhouse wasn't saved
The yards were a mess of weeds, rotted ties, and tantalizing glipses of what once was
A drawing of the yards from 1964
The wye bridge across the river still stands, and is half in use
Just north of the bridge we found a surprise. A short stretch of long abandoned, but intact line
The old extension RoW then once again became a dirt path - heading further upriver towards Cranberry...
At which point the camera batteries died, so we'll have to pick up the trail again another day.
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