Brief History of the Z&W

The Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad’s Beginnings

By Erich Diebold

Travel and History Columnist

The Ohio Railroader “Rails Beyond” Staff

From the Z&W RR FB Page
2017 Image from Z&W Scenic RR FB Pageformerly Mt. Perry Scenic Train

This organization, developed in 2008, known as the Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad, operates train rides on the old original Zanesville and Western Railroad line.

The tourist railroad originally began in 1982 as the Buckeye Central Scenic Railroad.

It operated between National Road at US 40 and Raccoon Creek in Heath, Ohio, on the outskirts of Newark on the old Baltimore and Ohio Shawnee Branch.

Up until the late 80’s, the train would also cross over US 40 where it would continue south past the depot until crossing underneath I70.

The track was shortened and used for storing cabooses until the early 2000’s when the track across US 40 was pulled.

Passengers would typically board the train at the National Road Station (1875 built) and the old freight house, and ride through farmland, over bridges and creeks and pass farm houses, and rolling hills.

Beginning in 1983, the Buckeye Central Scenic Railroad (BCSR) established a volunteer-staffed short line scenic railroad attraction in Licking County.

The train initially ran about three miles between Rt. 40 across from Lakewood High School to Irving Wick Drive in Heath, and eventually across Hopewell Drive towards the Raccoon Creek bridge.

A small station next to the south end of the line on Rt. 40 was used to sell souvenirs.

The Newark, Heath, and Buckeye Lake Scenic Railway was the corporate name for the BCSR.[1]

The founding of the BCSR began with former railroad employees, enthusiasts, collectors, and volunteers. A group of former B & O Railroad employees negotiated an agreement to lease the line from the Chessie Railroad at $1 per year. Chessie also donated five railroad cars. The engine was provided by one of the directors of the BCSR. [2]

The equipment included an EMD SW1, built in 1948 for the Pennsylvania Railroad by the Electro Motive Division as #5999, later Penn Central #8599 in 1968, Conrail #8599 in 1976 and then Buckeye Central Scenic Railroad.

The 4 Canadian National coaches were acquired from the Cuyahoga Valley Line (now Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad) in the mid 1980’s, and also owned an old B&O baggage car, a B&O Car (named Constitution), a Chessie System Caboose, N&W Caboose, C&O Caboose and an ex B&O gondola car. In the mid 1980’s and early 1990’s, 2-4-0 steam locomotive #7 from the PL&W ( Pittsburgh Lisbon and Western), American Viscose and Laurel Highland RR operated steam powered trips (some photos can be found online or at the Buckeye Express Diner in Bellville, Ohio).

The steam locomotive operated at several other railroads until 1997 or 1998 and is now on display in McDonough, Georgia.

Video footage of it near Youngstown (with some Ohio Central cars now at Age of Steam Roundhouse) can be found in these links:

There is also a 1992 newspaper that can be downloaded from the Newark Advocate of when steam locomotive #7 began running on the Buckeye Central. You can access it by subscribing to it online:

In 2003, #8599, and the four coaches went to Byesville, Ohio to help restart train service on the old Pennsylvania Railroad Marietta Branch to start the Byesville Scenic Railway.

For two years, the Buckeye Central Scenic Railroad operated their “Byesville Division” while back at home, the old line needed lots of work and repair, but a newly acquired Davenport Locomotive #4, which once operated at a coal mine and a Plymouth model JDT locomotive No. 7 (now in Colorado) operated short runs to White Chapel Road, including a Pumpkin Patch train. By mid 2005 and early 2006 Byesville Scenic Railway had their own equipment and the SW1 and coaches returned home to Jacksontown, Ohio.

Footage of it in Byesville can be found here:

Unfortunately, the old home met the coffin nail. In mid 2007, the Thomas J. Evans Foundation made a proposal of putting in a bike path in place.

Operations were suspended for two weeks and on September 30, 2007, I rode the very last departure on their Final Runs out of Hebron.

I had the opportunity to climb in #8599’s cab, ring the bell and sound the horn (a Leslie RS5TFX “experimental” horn).

When the BCSR’s lease was not renewed by the current leaseholder, the Licking County Foundation, the train took its final passenger run in September 2007. Much of the equipment and the contents of the station were to be auctioned off. It was suggested that the track bed may be used as a bike path.[3]

The last runs I took can be seen here.

Many equipment was auctioned off, and the equipment which ended up moving out were as follows:

Chessie System Caboose (now stored in Granville)

Railroad signal at National Road Depot and Hopewell Drive (Mr Tree Farm Reynoldsburg)

Plymouth JDT #7 (unknown, possibly scrapped or in an unknown location)

Several MOW equipment

Several other coaches (unknown)

Old Amtrak Coach (now alongside the Ohio Central line in Newark at 21 st Street)

The railroad then moved ALL the rest of their other equipment north to Hopewell Drive near Heath, Ohio. The track was then torn up south to the National Road depot from Hopewell.

In 2008, the Buckeye Central Scenic Railroad and the Bass Run Rail Riders worked together to establish a new railway—the Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad. The group planned to operate the new scenic railroad in Muskingum County. Several railroad cars, the cabooses, and the engine from the Buckeye Central Scenic Railroad were to be utilized by the new ZWSR.[4]

[1], [2], [3], & [4] came from this link: … ic_Railway

In summer 2008, the equipment was moved to Avondale. #8599 and the C&O Caboose and N&W Caboose sat between SR 93 and Crock Road across from Carter Lumber where temporary Santa Caboose days were held to raise funds for train rides and rehabilitation. Unfortunately, in 2012, vandals broke windows and the locomotive and two cars were taken back across the street to Carter Lumber on the old siding where trains were once loaded.

The other remaining equipment, the Constitution and B&O baggage car did not arrive at Avondale until 2009 or 2010, as I was told by ZWSR volunteers. I found the cars on Google Maps near the Ohio Central Switch in Avondale.

In 2009, the railroad acquired a privately owned bay window caboose from Cincinnati, and an old US Army 45 tonner #4541. Two 75 tonner Timken engines, a transfer caboose for MOW, high-rail trucks and an extra baggage car also arrived around 2009 or 2010.

In 2013, the railroad trucked the new diesel, B&O gondola and new caboose to Mt. Perry where operations finally began after a 6-year hiatus.

Train rides currently run at Mount Perry between a bridge and Coopermill Road (many crossings were paved over since 2000). The railroad is intending to rehabilitate the line west to 668 (crossing completely taken out and hill removed in 2006) and into Glassrock, as well as repair bridges and head east to Fultonham and eventually Avondale, Ohio where the Ohio Central line connects up.

2014 saw the acquisition of an old open air car which will hopefully be used for MOW.

In 2016, a New York Central baggage car and an ex Long Island “ping pong” coach were acquired from Knightstown, Indiana.

As of 2019, the Zanesville and Western Scenic Railroad is now listed on the Ohio Rail Development Commission list of tourist railways in the state of Ohio.

For more information about train rides and how you can help visit

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