Strasburg Township in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Pittsburgh and Lake Erie No. 508
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
Builder: 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
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.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Railroads & Streetcars. A significant historical year for this entry is 1875.
Location. Marker has been reported missing. It was located near 39° 58.918′ N, 76° 9.68′ W. Marker was in Strasburg Township, Pennsylvania, in Lancaster County. Marker could be reached from Gap Road (Pennsylvania Route 741) east of Bishop Road, on the right when traveling east. Located in the outdoor display lot for the Pennsylvania Railroad Museum. Touch for map. Marker was at or near this postal address: 300 Gap Road, Ronks PA 17572, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this location, measured as the crow flies. Reading Observation No. 1 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Strasburg Rail Road (about 400 feet away); History of Railroad Pump Cars (approx. 0.2 miles away); 37 East Main Street (approx. 0.8 miles away); 33 East Main Street (approx. 0.8 miles away); Original Head Race & Water Turbine (approx. 1.9 miles away); First Settlement (approx. 3 miles away); Neff's Mill Bridge (1875) (approx. 3.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Strasburg Township.
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.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 3, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 14, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,226 times since then and 46 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 14, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.