Akron Canton & Youngstown Railroad Historical Society

Northern Ohio Railway History

Stock Certificate of the Northern Ohio Railway 1895

Though, the sale of its predecessor the Pittsburgh Akron & Western Railroad had taken place almost a year early through foreclosure. Incorporation of the Northern Ohio Railway took place on August 10, 1895. A capital stock of $4,200,000 divided into six thousand shares of preferred and thirty-six thousand shares of common stock were issued. Also 84 thousand of 50 year, 5 per cent gold bonds were to be issued. While the deed of the property changed hands several times, it ultimately ended in the hands of Ohio Senator and railroad promoter Calvin Stewart Brice.

Calvin S Brice

Oil painting of Senator Calvin Stewart Brice in 1898. Allen County Historical Society - Artist John Singer Sargent

Completing the organization of the Northern Ohio Railway, a board of directors was elected at Lima 0hio, on Aug 15, 1895. The officers elected were Herbert Lamotte Brice brother of Senator Brice, being elected President, Arthur Latham Conger of Akron, elected Vice President and W.E. Hackedorn Secretary. The new officers stated that very important improvements were planned for the road.

Northern Ohio Railway Officers

Northern Ohio Railway Officers from left to right. President Herbert Lamotte Brice, Vice-President Colonel Arthur Latham Conger

Involved in many railroads, Calvin S. Brice owned the Lake Erie & Western Railroad and the Cleveland Akron & Columbus Railroad among others. Brice desiring an eastern connection with his roads felt the Northern Ohio could be a crucial link to accomplishing this. He persuaded the directors of the Lake Erie & Western Railroad to lease the Northern Ohio. The lease, finalized on October 1, 1895, and was for a term of 999 year Several days later, Northern Ohio Railway's Vice President Arthur Latham Conger and some of its other officers incorporated the Akron & Pittsburgh Railroad. This railroad was created for the purpose of connecting the Northern Ohio Railway to the mainline of the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railroad in Downtown Akron, and then further on to New Castle, Pennsylvania. Road crews of the Northern Ohio Railway did construct about a mile of tracks interconnecting the Northern Ohio with the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railroad, but the road continued no further.

LE&W Logo Northern Ohio Railway engine No34

Over the next few years, the Lake Erie & Western Railroad would do many of the needed upgrades and maintenance to the Northern Ohio Railway. While theses betterments helped the route, the Lake Erie & Western was becoming consumed by the debts of the Northern Ohio. Already laden in debt the Northern Ohio never made a profit while operated by the Lake Erie & Western.

Calvin S. Brice died unexpectedly on December 15, 1898, of pneumonia at 53 years of age. Unfortunately, his death brought the end to his dream of an eastern expansion of the Northern Ohio. Wild speculation spread as to what would happen to his railroad empire. Brice's roads had fierce competition, especially with the Vanderbilt's New York Central System. Most of the people concerned were convinced the Vanderbilts would attempt to take over the lines, and they were correct. Through a purchase of majority stocks of the Lake Erie & Western Railroad, the New York Central Railroad acquired the Northern Ohio Railway in 1899. They began operating the LE&W and Northern Ohio in February of 1900. From the beginning of the acquisition, the New York Central never wanted or cared for the Northern Ohio. Between 1904 and 1912, after many years of neglect, the New York Central had to provide some necessary maintenance and improvements to the Northern Ohio. The Vanderbilts would attempt to sell the Northern Ohio many times over the next several years.

When the United States entered, World War One railroads were showing inadequacies in serving the war effort. In attempt to take care of the situation, the government created the United States Railroad Administration. Intended for federal control of the railroad industry, the USRA enforced the Railway Administration Act and oversaw the operation of the nation's railroads during the first world war. In 1918, as a part of LE&W the Northern Ohio was taken over by the USRA. Soon after WWI and when the government returned railroads to the private sector, the Akron Canton & Youngstown Railway, a small switching line between Mogadore and Downtown Akron, started to show interest in the Northern Ohio.

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. The AC&Y Railway operated the Northern Ohio until they consolidated with it in 1944.