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The Bustling Bessemer

Written by: Gary Dolzall.

1920s American steam railroading is now available with the extraordinary Bessemer & Lake Erie route!

The drama, bustle, and challenges of classic American heavy steam railroading in the 1920s is now available for Train Simulator with the remarkable new Bessemer & Lake Erie route!

Masterfully created by G-TraX and the team of Rick Grout, Wayne Campbell, Jim Friedland, and Michael Stephan, the newly released Bessemer & Lake route for Train Simulator brings to life the B&LE as it operated in the heart of the steam era. This new Train Simulator route includes the B&LE’s rugged and busy main line from the shores of Lake Erie at Conneaut, Ohio to North Bessemer, Pennsylvania, approximately 140 miles, as well as a variety of important B&LE rail yards and facilities, secondary lines, rail interchanges, and coal branches!

In recent weeks, we’ve explored the history and operations of this notable American railroad in the articles “Andrew Carnegie’s Railroad” and “Roaring Twenties Railroading”, sharing the story of the railroad and extraordinary new route. Now, to celebrate the release of this landmark Train Simulator route, let’s take a further look at the route’s authentic and expansive features!

A Heavy Hauler: The Bessemer & Lake Erie was a railroad created to serve the steel industry and deliver iron ore from the holds of Great Lakes freighters docking at Conneaut Harbor to steel mills located around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. And B&LE was blessed, too, with the opportunity to complement its southbound ore movements with the haulage (mostly northbound) of bituminous coal dug from the mines of western Pennsylvania. B&LE also totted its share of general freight and operated limited passenger services – and the new Train Simulator Bessemer & Lake Erie route brings to life each of those captivating aspects of the railroad.

Infrastructure Extraordinaire: B&LE’s infrastructure and route system matched the demands of its assigned task, and the railroad was a highly engineered, double-tracked railroad famed for its bridges and trestles, including its awe-inspiring 2,300-foot-long, 160-foot-high bridge over the Allegheny River. And to keep its traffic moving, the railroad was governed by numerous lineside towers handing up traditional “Form 19” orders, and classic semaphore signals, all of which is beautifully and authentically replicated in the new Bessemer & Lake Erie route and its accompanying selection of authentic and challenging career scenarios.

Conneaut Harbor: Fabulous Conneaut Harbor was the essence of heavy steam-era railroading and America in the industrial age. On the south shore of Lake Erie, it was at Conneaut that Great Lakes freighters laden with iron ore arrived and gigantic, lanky Hulett unloaders transferred ore into B&LE hoppers for movement to Pittsburgh’s steel mills. And yet the Huletts were only a part of the show at Conneaut, which also was host to coal loading and storage operations, a carferry dock, limestone handling, and B&LE’s ever-busy railroad yard. The new Bessemer & Lake Erie route for Train Simulator re-creates this Conneaut activity in remarkably authentic fashion, right up to including fully functional Hullet unloaders!

Yards and Terminals: Conneaut is one of five major yard and terminal complexes featured in the new Train Simulator Bessemer & Lake route. Albion, Ohio; Butler, Pennsylvania (home to three yards and key railroad interchanges); and North Bessemer, Pennsylvania (where the B&LE interchanged with Pittsburgh’s Union Railroad), each host railroad facilities. And at B&LE’s “hometown” of Greenville, Pennsylvania, the railroad’s expansive facilities include the line’s erecting, car, and locomotive shops, highlighted by a transfer table and 17-stall roundhouse.

Standard Steel Complex: On a railroad rich with lineside industries, among the most important and impressive was the massive Standard Steel complex at Butler. Home to steel production, rail car-building, and automobile production, Standard Steel’s giant works is fully replicated on the new Bessemer & Lake Erie route, and its labyrinth of industrial trackage delivers remarkable steam-era switching and operating challenges.

Classic Steam: To move tonnage (and passengers), the Train Simulator Bessemer & Lake Erie route includes two authentic steam locomotives – the B&LE’s venerable 0-6-0 steam switchers as constructed by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in 1909, and the railroad’s potent D-1-A class 2-10-2s built by Baldwin in 1919. The diminutive but potent 0-6-0 is provided with both standard and sloped-back tenders and serves the role of not only B&LE yard power, but also the in-plant switcher of Standard Steel at Butler. B&LE’s burly D-1-A 2-10-2 “Santa Fe” types numbered 19 in total. Whether the task is sorting hoppers in Conneaut or Butler, or hauling heavy mainline tonnage at 50 mph, the 0-6-0 and 2-10-2 deliver captivating and realistic steam railroading.

Equipment Galore: The Bessemer & Lake Erie includes an extraordinary wealth and diversity of period-authentic rolling stock, with boxcars, flatcars, gondolas, hoppers, refrigerator cars, tank cars, pickle cars, cabooses, crane cars, and heavyweight baggage, coach, and commuter coaches all included, many in various liveries and with multiple loads.

The time is here to experience the bustling B&LE – and the memorable and captivating era of 1920s American steam-era railroading – with the Train Simulator Bessemer & Lake Erie route now available at the Steam and Dovetail Games stores! – Gary Dolzall

BR-02 The Bessemer & Lake Erie route for Train Simulator, masterfully created by G-TraX, is now available and takes you to the memorable age of 1920s American steam railroading. First and foremost, the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad was built to transport iron ore, and in a bird’s-eye view of sprawling Conneaut (Ohio) Harbor, the giant Hullets at Dock 4 are transloading ore from a Great Lakes freighter into B&LE hoppers. Screenshots by Gary Dolzall. BR-03 Bessemer & Lake Erie employed numerous large yards and servicing facilities, including at Albion, Ohio, 14 miles south of Conneaut. Baldwin-built B&LE D-1-A class 2-10-2 502 is framed by a pair of classic wooden cabooses as it awaits assignment at Albion engine terminal (above), while in Albion Yard, B&LE 0-6-0 227 has a string of wooden boxcars in tow (below). BR-04 BR-05 From Meadville Junction on its main line, B&LE operated a branch line which reached to both Conneaut Lake and Conneaut Lake Park, where, as dusk settles on a pleasant evening, 2-10-2 No. 508 waits to depart with a B&LE employee’s passenger special bound for Greenville. BR-06 As re-created in exacting detail on the new Train Simulator Bessemer & Lake Erie route, the railroad’s double-track main line in the 1920s was alive with the passage of steam power and heavy tonnage. Baldwin-built B&LE 2-10-2 502 is hauling coal north past KO Junction tower (above) and pounding through Grove City, Pennsylvania (below). BR-07 BR-08 Butler, Pennsylvania and environs was a busy and important operations point for the B&LE, home to three yards, interchange point with three railroads including the Baltimore Ohio and the Pennsylvania, and site of the sprawling Standard Steel plant. B&LE “Santa Fe” type 505 is departing Calvin Yard with northbound coal (above), while B&LE 0-6-0 230 has just coupled onto a string of refrigerator cars at the Pennsylvania Railroad interchange (below). BR-09 BR-10 On the south side of Butler, at the massive Standard Steel complex, the company’s in-plant switcher, Standard Steel 0-6-0 No. 1, works the huge steel production plant (above). Coal mines, many along or near the B&LE main line, were another source of significant tonnage for the railroad and a burly B&LE 2-10-2 is switching coal hoppers at Ford Mine (below). BR-11 BR-12 The Bessemer & Lake Erie was (and is) famous for its big bridges and trestles, and no single structure was more awe-inspiring than the railroad’s 2,300-foot-long, 160-foot-high crossing of the Allegheny River north of North Bessemer, Pennsylvania (above). Just north of B&LE’s North Bessemer Yard stood another impressive trestle being crossed by a northbound coal train (below). That’s the coal-rich Unity Railroad Renton branch in the foreground. BR-13 BR-14 The extraordinary Train Simulator Bessemer & Lake Erie route is now available at the Steam and Dovetail Games stores – and the signal is “High Green” to experience dramatic 1920s American steam era railroading at its best!

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