Editor's note: This is the second part in a series of articles based on a presentation given by area historian and photographer Ray Beimel regarding the history of the Pittsburg, Shawmut, & Northern Railroad.
During a recent presentation on the history of the Pittsburg, Shawmut, and Northern Railorad, local historian Ray Beimel discussed the high operating costs that plagued the business.
According to Beimel, the main purpose of the railroad was to haul coal, and a branch known as the Kersey Railroad was also formed to transport coal from the mines located in Byrnedale and Force.
Beimel noted that the topography of St. Marys presented unique challenges when it came to hauling material into and out of the community.
"It's a curious thing about St. Marys. The Pennsylvania Railroad had to use pushers to get its train into St. Marys, and then the Shawmut had to use pushers to get its train out of St. Marys. It wasn't built on a really level place like we really like railroads to be," Beimel said.
Beimel explained that as trains headed north out of St. Marys on the Shawmut, one H-Class locomotive "was good for maybe 10 cars of coal because it is steeply uphill to North Fork."
"They would take the cars up there, leave them on the siding, come back down for another load, and after they had taken three or four trains up to North Fork, then there was enough and one engine could take it the rest of the way to Richburg, where they needed helpers again to get over the West Notch Hill," Beimel said.