This early 1900s key is from the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad, probably during the time it was owned and operated by the Carnegie Steel Company. It is stamped B&LERR on one side of its bow in tall, slender, serif Roman letters. On the opposite side is stamped serial number 7300 above early oval logo SLAYMAKER mark.
This key has wonderful darkened color and terrific patina. It does show wear from long use, but there are NO splits or cracks and NO metal damage. Please look at our pictures -- if only it could talk. There is "finger polish" on the bow which has partially obliterated some of the stamping (SEE OUR CLOSE UP PICTURES PLEASE). There also is some rubbing at the top of the barrel where it joins the bow. The end of the barrel is worn from service and the bit edges are well rounded. Although the key is 100% sound and has a great deal more use left in it, it deserves a good retirement home with an appreciative collector; or it could be a fine start for a younger, beginning collector.
Because of the railway's background, B&LE relics are not the most easily found memorabilia.
The Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad was primarily an iron and steel hauling railroad that operated between 1900 and 1988. It was created in 1900, when its predecessor the Pittsburgh, Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad Company was renamed. Th PB&LE, which had emerged from a series of small predecessor companies including the Pittsburgh, Shenango & Lake Erie Railroad, was founded in 1897 by American steel magnate Andrew Carnegie to haul iron ore and other products from the port at Conneaut, Ohio on the Great Lakes to Carnegie Steel Company plants in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region. On the return trip, Pennsylvania coal was hauled north to Conneaut Harbor. Carnegie Steel had an exclusive 999-year lease to the PS&LE, and this lease was acquired by US Steel when that company acquired Carnegie Steel in 1901.
In 1988 the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad became part of Transtar, Inc., a privately held transportation holding company with principal operations in railroad freight transportation, dock operations, Great Lakes shipping, and inland river barging that were formerly subsidiaries of USX, the holding company that owns U.S. Steel. In 2001 the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad became part of Great Lakes Transportation, LLC. On May 10, 2004 Canadian National Railway acquired the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad. Iron ore and coal are still the route's major freight commodities.
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