Railroad that died nearly a century ago now the Bike-Hike Trail
It turns out – and I know that many people that read this will also know this – but it wasn’t designed that way simply as a roadway.
Enter the Dunkirk, Allegheny Valley and Pittsburgh Railroad.
A while back, I stumbled across a photo somewhere (and I don’t remember where because if I did, I would have included it with this article) of a train driving past the county courthouse.
Now, from my limited experience here, that’s not where those belong.
But when you trace where that line went – veering off to the north after the intersection with Fourth Ave. (evidenced by the very visible cuts across East St. and Fourth Ave.) – it’s clear that what is now the Bike-Hike Trail is what that line used to be.
And that one of the depots from the line, the Train Station restaurant in North Warren, remains much as it was in its former life.
A waymarking sign on the current trail gives some key details about the line: The original Dunkirk, Allegheny Valley and Pittsburgh Railroad eventually turned into the New York Central and Penn Central lines before it was abandoned and the tracks were removed. The Warren and Jamestown Street Railway also used the line with service between Warren and Jamestown from 1905 until the economic crash of 1929.
One source says that the idea of the line dates as far back as 1833 but no action was taken for 20 years. It was another 10 years after that before the line would turn to reality. It opened in 1871.
The archive.org Wayback Machine gave me a snippet from the 1913 New York Central annual report which adds some details on the origin of the line, which connected Dunkirk and Titusville directly and then points beyond from there.
“The Dunkirk Allegheny Valley and Pittsburgh Railroad Company was incorporated December 31, 1872, and was formed by the consolidation of the Warren and Venango Railroad Company and The Dunkirk Warren and Pittsburgh Railway Company. The Dunkirk Warren and Pittsburgh Railway Company had been organized May 14, 1870, by the consolidation of the The Dunkirk Warren and Pittsburgh Railroad Company and the Conewango Valley Railroad Company,” that report explains. “The Dunkirk Allegheny Valley and Pittsburgh Railroad was leased to the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company January 3, 1873” for 500 years.
It’s safe to say that agreement didn’t work out for the folks from New York.
The line appears several times in Schenck’s History of Warren County as a boundary or a reference point to another location.
The line’s existence and the change it brought to the area is noted in several places.
“Not until after the construction of the Dunkirk, Allegheny Valley and Pittsburgh Railroad some sixteen years ago, was there a suspicion that the site of Grand Valley was so soon to be covered by a thriving and promising village,” Schenck wrote.
Further on, he concluded, “the first mill that was started in the village of Garland since the birth of the village was erected by Hiram F. Andrews, in 1871, the year of the opening of the Dunkirk, Allegheny Valley and Pittsburgh Railroad.”
A county resident who once served in Congress, Lewis F. Watson, “organized the Conewango Valley Railroad Company” in 1861, Schenck wrote, “now known as the Dunkirk, Allegheny Valley and Pittsburgh, and was elected its first president.”
Schenck also details how the Struthers Iron Works was “conveniently located for the reception and shipment of freight” near this line among many others.
The line, according to abandonedrails.com “served small farm towns in upstate New York and reached into the oil field region of northwestern Pennsylvania.”