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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Strasburg in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Pittsburgh and Lake Erie No. 508

1950

 
 
Pittsburgh and Lake Erie No. 508 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 19, 2008
1. Pittsburgh and Lake Erie No. 508 Marker
Inscription. The Little Giant:
The Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, established in 1875, connected the steel centers of Conellsville, Pittsburgh, and Youngstown, Ohio. Only 120 miles long, the P&LE served most of the major industries in the region, providing it the most revenue per mile of any railroad in the United States. This lucrative traffic earned the road the nickname "Little Giant," and made it an attractive acquisition for the New York Central. The Central, which owned a controlling interest in the railroad, used the line to compete with the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The P&LE also had strong ties with its eastern interchange partners, the Baltimore and Ohio and Western Maryland. The B&O ran most of its freight via the P&LE through Pittsburgh since its own mainline faced sharp curves and steep grades. The Western Maryland interchanged large amounts of freight as part of the "Alphabet Route," a cooperative venture between several eastern railroads to provide competitive long-haul service.

Despite being controlled by the NYC and later Penn Central, the P&LE remained profitable and was not included in the 1976 Conrail merger. With its on-line and interchange traffic curtailed by the decline of the steel industry and mergers, the P&LE was finally force to merge, becoming part of CSX Transportation in 1992.

Builder:
Pittsburgh and Lake Erie No. 508 and Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 19, 2008
2. Pittsburgh and Lake Erie No. 508 and Marker
P&LE, McKees Rock, PA
Build Date: 1950
Retirement Date: 1991
Number Built: 10
Length: 35 ft.
Weight: 52,000 lbs.
PHMC Cat No. RR92.11

No. 508:
Controlled by the New York Central, the P&LE adopted many of the larger road's designs for equipment, including cabooses. No. 508 is one of 10 bay window cabooses built to NYC plans in 1950 by the railroad's own shops in McKees Rock, PA. As freight cars grew taller, the traditional cupola-style caboose provided limited forward visibility. Climbing the ladder to the cupola also presented a challenge and safety risk on a swiftly moving train.

No. 508 is believed to have spent most of its career in and around the Aliquippa Yard in Beaver County, PA. Railroad Museum volunteer Earl Kinard purchased No. 508 upon its retirement in 1991, accompanying the caboose to Lancaster County and subsequently donating the car to the Railroad Museum.

(Banner across the bottom):
The bay window design provided a better view around larger cars and a safer ride for the crew.
 
Erected by Pennsylvania Railroad Museum.
 
Location. 39° 58.918′ N, 76° 9.68′ W. Marker is near Strasburg, Pennsylvania, in Lancaster County. Marker is on Gap Road / Strasburg Road (Pennsylvania Route 741), on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Located in the outdoor display lot for the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum. Marker is in this post office area: Strasburg PA 17579, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lehigh Valley No. 40 (here, next to this marker); Pennsylvania Railroad No. 6755 (within shouting distance of this marker); Pennsylvania Railroad No. 460 (within shouting distance of this marker); Pennsylvania Railroad No. 3750 (within shouting distance of this marker); Monongahela Railway No. 67 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Reading Observation No. 1 (about 300 feet away); Pennsylvania Railroad No. 7688 (about 300 feet away); Strasburg Rail Road (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Strasburg.
 
More about this marker. On the lower right is a photo of the caboose during its service. No. 508 was caught between runs in the P&LE's yard at Aliquippa, PA in the 1980s. On the lower left two photos show the internal arrangements in the caboose. Despite the relatively short distances traveled, the P&LE's cabooses offered many amenities to on board crews including comfortable seating, refrigerator, and cooking stove.
 
Also see . . .
1. Pennsylvania Railroad Museum. (Submitted on June 14, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
2. The Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Historical Society. Additional history of the line. (Submitted on June 14, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. Railroads & Streetcars
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,010 times since then and 82 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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