The Courier » Bellaire Viaduct, Then & Now…

Bellaire Viaduct, Then & Now…

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As mentioned in my previous post, I was recently looking for some photographs and ran across some that I hadn’t looked at for quite some time. That brings us to the photo above, taken by J.J. Young many years ago in Bellaire, Ohio. I’m not sure how I happened to cross paths with John, but as I’ve mentioned here previously, he was an avid railroad photographer who got his start back in the Ohio Valley. He took lots of pictures in places I remember from growing up so it was kind of neat to get to know him a little.

I had read an article in a train magazine a long time ago about how a friend of his who worked for the B&O Railroad arranged for him to get a ride on one of their very large EM-1 locomotives that operated out of Benwood, West Virginia, when the locos were in the twilight of their career. They were called upon to haul coal drags out of the Valley to locations where they could then be resorted and routed to various parts of the B&O system. I knew that meant that they would have crossed the railroad bridge in Bellaire so I asked John if he had any photos of one of them on the stone viaduct there. He replied that the EM-1s only went north; they never were on the stone bridge and sent me this photo of a passenger train headed for Zanesville & Columbus.

When I went home and my brother wasn’t working, it wasn’t uncomon for us to take field trips to these various railroad spots and the Bellaire Bridge was no exception. So early one Saturday, we loaded up and headed south. I don’t think that part of the bridge is used any more but when we were there in the early 1990s, there was still iron down and it was reasonably shiny so trains still used it at least once in a while. We weren’t lucky enough to catch a train like John was but I did get this picture of the viaduct.

You can still see some of the buildings that were there when the first photo was taken. I’m not familiar with Bellaire but do know that the taller, light colored building is the bank there and I believe that the brick structure on the top center was the old passenger station. In the upper right, note the 5-6 “humps” of the railroad bridge superstructure. In both pictures, you can clearly see the metal bridge that was added later to route trains to the north. There is… or was, a switch on the bridge itself to route traffic in either direction. You may remember from a post a long time ago that this was the area where the runaway train scene from “Unstoppable” was filmed.

Maybe someday, I’ll make it back there and take the passenger train photo with me and try to duplicate it. That would really be neat.



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