Railfanning Alliance, Ohio

Alliance is located in Stark County about halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and about halfway between Massillon and the OH/PA state line, in northeast Ohio. Its location on the Mahoning River lent it to settlement, and the arrival of the railroads made it a moderately sized industrial town.

These railroads were the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad Company (C&P), organized in 1845, and the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railroad Company (O&P), incorporated in 1848. The C&P ran from Cleveland to Rochester, PA, and cut through Alliance on a NW/SE tangent. The O&P ran from Allegheny, PA to Crestline, OH and entered Alliance on an east-west tangent. The two railroads met at what was then Freedom, OH, in 1850. In 1854 Freedom merged with two other communities to form the village of Alliance, which became the name of the junction of the C&P and O&P.

In 1856 the O&P merged with the Ohio and Indiana Railroad Company and the Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad Company to form the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad Company (PFtW&C), which in 1862 was reorganized to become the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway Company.

In 1860 the C&P and PFtW&C signed a joint operating agreement by which the C&P line from Alliance to Rochester, PA via Wellsville, OH (on the Ohio River) became PFtW&C's Low Grade route to Rochester. In 1862 C&P began to use the PFtW&C mainline from Rochester to Pittsburgh on a permanent basis after it was determined that the C&P would not be able to build its own line into Pittsburgh.

From January 1860 until July 1869 the C&P was managed jointly by its own organization and the PFtW&C. From July 1869 to April 1871 it was managed by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) by virtue of the fact that the PRR had leased the PFtW&C. From April 1871 to December 1871 it was managed by the Pennsylvania Company (P. Co., PRR's holding company for its leased properties west of Pittsburgh) by virtue of the PFW&C's lease having been transferred to the P. Co.. From December 1871 onward managed by the P. Co. under a 999 year lease, until January 1, 1918 when its lease was transferred from the P. Co. back to the PRR. (note: this was how PRR worked its way west to Chicago and St. Louis; by the leasing or outright purchase of other railroads).

Thus, by 1869 Alliance was a junction town on the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Eastbound Conrail Roadrailer train RR-262X hustles past the Amtrak Station in Alliance at 12:45pm on Saturday May 15th, 1999. He is leaving the Cleveland Line and is about to enter the Fort Wayne Line east to Conway Yard, about 60 miles away. A friendly picnic table assures a good seat with a great view and a safe, legal place to watch trains. Photograph copyright 1999-2001 by Jeff Knorek.

This junction was a very important location for PRR, later Penn Central and then Conrail (and now, sigh, Norfolk Southern). The ore docks that the C&P had built in Cleveland enabled PRR to unload iron ore into unit trains of dedicated cars which forwarded the mineral to the ever hungry steel mills in the Mahoning and Ohio River valleys. Much of this ore moved down to Pittsburgh and Steubinville on the C&P through Alliance.

In PRR days merchandise traffic from New York City and Pittsburgh to Chicago would continue west from Alliance on the PFtW&C, while traffic from those two cities to Cleveland would head northwest up the C&P.

In the Conrail days the mainline from Pittsburgh to Chicago was known as the Fort Wayne Line (ex-PFtW&C), and its western junction with the Cleveland Line (ex-C&P) was called CP-Alliance. The eastern junction of these two lines is, of course, just west of Conway yard at CP-Rochester in Rochester, PA.

Page 25 of the Conrail Pittsburgh Division Employee Timetable #7, the very last one issued. Milepost numbers are from MP 0.0 at CP West Pitt in downtown Pittsburgh. Alliance is close enough to Pittsburgh that you can make a PRR weekend out of the mainline between them. NOTE: The Fort Wayne Line continues west to Adams IN, milepost 314, some 14 mile past the OH/IN state line near Fort Wayne, where the Dearborn Division Fort Wayne Secondary takes, er, took over.

Page 34 of the Conrail Pittsburgh Division Employee Timetable #7. Notes:The Cleveland Line continues west to MP 123.6 Drawbridge Tower at the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland. ETT kindly provided by W. Terry Stuart , proprietor of the Fallston Flagstop in Fallston, PA.

The Steel Industry on the Upper Ohio River Valley in West Virginia and Ohio still depend on the Cleveland Line to bring the ore needed for production from the Lake Erie docks at Cleveland (which is forwarded to the River Line at CP-Yellow Creek in Yellow Creek, OH, on the Ohio River). It is hard to believe that just one railroad goes through this junction. Catch it on a good day and you could get train after train after train. What productive means that Norfolk Southern can do with this gem remain to be seen.

MAIL-4 (East St Louis IL-Harrisburg PA) with CR 6073, PRR 8403, and CR 6784 pulling a train of single level TOFC is eastbound on the Fort Wayne Line at 13:25 on May 15th, 1999. He crossed over from track 1 to track 2, went across the Cleveland Line (the old PRR Bayard Branch), and then crossed back over to track 1. In this view he is about to cross the Cleveland Line single main, seen here connecting to the Cleveland Line double track which is swinging northwest away from its junction with the Fort Wayne Line. Photograph copyright 1999=2001 by Jeff Knorek.

USGS map of Alliance cir. 1974.


These links will take you to web sites with pictures of Alliance

    Directions to Alliance

  • From Canton/Massillon and West:
    Follow US 62 East to the first exit for Alliance. US 62 is State Street in Alliance.
  • From Minerva and South:
    Follow SR 183 North. This route is Union Avenue in Alliance.
  • From Salem and East
    Follow US 62 West. This route is State Street in Alliance.
  • From Interstate 76 and North:
    From Akron or Cleveland: Follow I-76 East and take the exit for SR 14 South (Alliance exit). Turn right on SR 183 South and follow this route to Alliance. SR 183 is Union Avenue in Alliance.
    From Youngstown: Follow I-76 East and take the exit for SR 225 South (Alliance exit). This route ends at SR 183 which is Union Avenue in Alliance.


  • Alliance Rodman Public Library; "A Brief History of Alliance" Website.
  • Baer, Christopher T.; and the PRRT&HS, "PRR Chronology" Website
  • Berndt, Chris; email describing PRR/PFtW&C/C&P relationship (12.19.99)
  • Reynolds, Bruce B.; email describing C&P development (12.19.99)
  • Buchan, Alan; MS Word document describing PRR/PFtW&C/C&P relationship (1.17.00)

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