Local railroad line used for storage following coal plant closure, trains likely won’t return


The railroad line has yet to be cleared of a fallen tree from a recent storm.

By Staff Report

A railroad line headed north from Zanesville through Dresden has been sitting dormant, used only occasionally for storage, following the closure of the coal-powered Conesville Power Plant.

Railroad officials say the route was primarily used to haul coal. Future uses or plans for the track are unknown at this time.

The line was constructed sometime in the second half of the nineteenth century and was used for various roles, including reportedly passenger rail service for some time.

When the Conesville Power Plant first started operations in 1957, the line was reportedly used to bring coal north for the production of electricity.

For many residents in the past decades, especially those in Dresden, it was a nearly daily occurrence that long coal-carrying trains would slowly come through town blowing their whistles as they headed north to Conesville.

As natural gas became cheaper, with increasing domestic production, coal power plants failed to stay competitive, such as with the opening of the Dresden Power Plant in 2012.

According to Tom Ciuba, Vice President of Communications for Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Services, the owner of the track, the route was most recently used nearly exclusively as a coal route.

“With the closure of the AEP Power Plant in Conesville, CUOH currently doesn’t run trains on this route and is storing cars on the line for customers,” Ciuba added.

Cars can be seen on the track often along Linden Avenue, as the route runs almost parallel to it, up past the Bell Farm near its crossing with Richvale Road.

The route is still actively used from Cliff’s Zanesville Works, along Linden, south to downtown Zanesville.

There are nearly 20 crossings of the route with roadways, only a few feature crossing gates.

As seen in the feature photo of this article, trees that have fallen in recent storms on the track have not been removed at various points along the route.

The line has not been abandoned and walking on the tracks without permission could be classified as trespassing on private property.

While the route may not be in use, it doesn’t appear the railroad has any intention of selling the line or abandoning it anytime in the near future.