Archive for April, 2010

When the W&LE Went Steam Again

April 29, 2010

A Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway crew applies the W&LE logo to the tender of Ohio Central 4-6-0 #1551 in the Brewster yard. (Photograph by Richard Jacobs)

Like any railroad that can date its heritage to the 19th century, the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway has a long steam chapter as part of its history. Indeed, the original W&LE was a virtually all steam operation when it merged with the Nickel Plate Road in 1949. The only diesels on the Wheeling roster were switchers.

The Nickel Plate phased out the last of the W&LE’s steam locomotives in the mid to late 1950s.

The modern W&LE emerged in May 1990 after being spun off by Norfolk Southern. One of the railroad’s first tasks was to reopen the Cleveland Line, which had been largely dormant for more than a decade under NS and Norfolk & Western stewardship.

The Cleveland line was rehabilitated and the railroad decided to show it off in October 1990 with a shipper’s special. Akron Railroad Club member Richard Jacobs was on hand for this event. The Wheeling obtained passenger cars from the nearby Ohio Central Railroad and OC steam locomotive No. 1551.

The steamer was briefly re-lettered as a Wheeling locomotive. To read Jake’s story about the shipper’s special and to view more photographs, click on the link below.

NS OCS at Alliance

April 28, 2010

Akron Railroad Club member Richard Thompson was at Alliance on Satuday (April 24) to catch the Norfolk Southern office car special as it rolled westward on the Fort Wayne Line en route to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. Rich reports that the railfans on hand were quite excited to see this horse of a different color. (Photograph by Richard Thompson)

NS Executive Train Visits Northeast Ohio

April 24, 2010

The Norfolk Southern executive train made a rare appearance in northeast Ohio on Saturday, April 24, 2010. It was en route to Louisville, Kentucky, where it will carry VIPs to the annual Kentucky Derby on May 1. The train is scheduled to leave Louisville on the Monday after the Derby and return to its home base in Altoona, Pennsylvania. It is shown here coming out of the Garfield sag east of Beloit, Ohio. (Photograph by Roger Durfee)

The ‘Wings of the Wheeling’

April 24, 2010

The "Spirit of Goodyear" lands at the Goodyear hangar at Wingfoot Lake as a trio of Wheeling & Lake Erie locomotives passes by. (Photograph by Roger Durfee)

The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway has long been a favorite of Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee. In particular, he liks to shoot Wheeling trains on the Cleveland Subdivision at Wingfoot Lake.

The railroad is not the only attraction there. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company maintains a hangar at Wingfoot Lake for its blimp, the “Spirit of Goodyear.”

Recently, Roger finally achieved a long-time goal of shooting a train and the blimp at the same time. Read his report about how he made this dream come true and view more photoraphs by clicking on the link below:

Sagging East of Alliance

April 24, 2010

Norfolk Southern westbound stack train 25Z comes out of the Garfield sag east of Beloit, Ohio, on April 10, 2010. (Photograph by Roger Durfee)

Saturday, April 10, 2010, dawned in northeast Ohio with clear skies and pleasant temperatures. It was perfect weather to go out to photograph trains. Akron Railroad Club members Craig Sanders and Roger Durfee spent the day exploring the Norfolk Southern Cleveland Line around and east of Alliance.

By afternoon, they had reached the Garfield sag and were rewarded with ideal lighting for a westbound stack train coming up and out of the sag.

To read Craig’s report on the outing and view more of Roger’s photographs, click on the link below.

Stone Trains Rolling Into Kent

April 24, 2010

From Akron Railroad Club member Bob Rohal comes word that the first stone train of the year was delivered Friday to Shelly Materials in Kent. Unlike in previous years, this train was delivered by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway, a subsidiary of the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

The W&LE won the contract to deliver stone to Shelly. CSX had held the contract in recent years. The first train had two W&LE SD40s with the ABC SW1500 spliced between them. The train had 65 cars.

We’re Building a Tribute to the W&LE

April 20, 2010

Power on Wheeling & Lake Erie trains can be anything and it usually is. (Photograph by Roger Durfee)

The modern Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway will marks its 20th anniversay in May 2010 and we’re building a special section on the Akron Railroad Club blog to pay tribute to the Wheeling.

Already the section includes a historical sketch of the modern Wheeling, complete with a few factoids about the original W&LE, which began in the 19th century and operated through 1949 when it was swallowed up by the Nickel Plate Road.

Today’s feature presentation is a series of photographs and a short story by ARRC member Roger Durfee about a day on the W&LE’s Cleveland Subdivision in the vicinity of Wingfoot Lake, located southeast of Akron.

To read Roger’s story and view his photogaphs, click on the link below. Look for more photographs and content in the coming weeks and months.

Sanders Publishes ICRR Passenger Trains Article

April 18, 2010

An article written by Akron Railroad Club President Craig Sanders about the decline of Illinois Central Railroad intercity passenger service has been published in The Mid-American, the quarterly magazine of the Illinois Central Railroad Heritage Association.

The article, titled “Into the Arms of Amtrak: IC’s Steady Retreat from Intercity Passenger Service,” focused on on the period 1969-1971. Like most other railroads, the ICRR trimmed money-losing trains and routes during this period. Unlike other railroads, however, IC made an effort to continue to market its service, particularly in the Chicago-Carbondale, Illinois, “Mini-Corridor. The IC was one of the few railroads in the late 1960s that still purchased advertising time and space in newspapers and broadcast outlets.

Fueled by the growth of three state universities located on or near the Chicago-Carbondale route, IC experienced ridership growth in the middle to late 1960s. However, the railroad said that much of the growth was college travel that was episodic, occurring on weekends and when schools were beginning or ending a term or vacation. During the week, the trains were far less crowded.

In his article, Sanders noted that the creation of the Mini-Corridor had earned the IC much positive press. Donald Stefee, author of an annual train speed survey in Trains magazine, described the Mini-Corridor as among the few bright spots in American passenger railroading in 1968.

But this meant little to IC Chairman William B. Johnson. “Our railroad receives no over-all benefit from handling sudden short surges of passenger traffic,” Johnson told a Senate committee in September 1969. Much of the time, the coaches used to handle that traffic sat idle. IC’s intercity passenger trains had an average load factor of 39 percent, or about 100 passengers per train.

Marketing campaigns, refurbished dome cars and relatively stable patronage were not enough to overcome the challenges facing IC’s intercity passenger service in its final years, Sanders wrote. Federal and state regulators might have delayed some train cuts for a while, but the IC would have continued to make the case for allowing these and other trains to die.

Sanders wrote that it is anyone’s guess as to how long it would have been until the IC prevailed in ending the trains it wanted to remove, but one thing is certain. The Illinois Central was unlikely to be in the intercity passenger business much longer without public assistance. If not Amtrak, then someone else would have to step in if service was to be preserved.

IC executives expressed a willingness, if not a requirement, to continue operating intercity passenger trains if the railroad received public funding. “On a private enterprise basis, I can’t see why the railroads should be forced to underwrite the cost of a public service,” said IC President Alan Boyd. He would later become the third president of Amtrak.

Two other Amtrak presidents also worked at the IC during the late 1960s. These included Paul Reistrup, who was IC’s vice president of passenger services, and David Gunn, who just beginning his railroad career. Since mid-July 2004, Amtrak has operated a train called the City of New Orleans longer than did the IC.

For more information on the Illinois Central Railroad Heritage Association, click on the link below.

And You Thoughts NS was Just Black & White

April 18, 2010

NS caboose 24040 basks in the early morning sun outside the car shops at Motor Yard in Macedonia on April 10, 2010. (Photographs by Roger Durfee)

If you thought you saw a touch of color on a Norfolk Southern local in Cleveland, you were not seeing things.

NS shop forces recently renovated a caboose used by locals based out of Motor Yard in Macedonia. In the process, the caboose received a coat of shiny red pain.

Formerly Conrail 24040, the caboose was built by Penn Central in Altoona in April 1969. That makes this caboose 41 years old. A class N10 car on Conrail, the caboose was repaired over the winter in the NS Macedonia Shop as time allowed.

The most visible improvement is of course that new paint job that covered a faded and tagged Conrail blue. To keep things simple paperwork wise for the UMLER the CR 24040 number was retained.

Internal fixes include a new floor, interior paint, and the heater was cleaned out. It is sub-lettered for the Dearborn Division/Cleveland, and can usually be found on job BF12 out of Motor yard in Macedonia.

Roger Durfee

Before getting its new look, this is what caboose 24040 looked like in its faded Conrail livery.


NS 24040 brings up the rear of BF12 at it waits at Wheelock in Motor Yard in Macedonia to get out onto the mainline and go to work on April 15, 2010.

Dave Would Have Liked It!

April 18, 2010

An NS train passes the signals at MP 102 in Macedonia on the Akron Railroad Club's annual Dave McKay Day. (Photograph by Richard Jacobs)

Akron Railroad Club member Richard Jacobs couldn’t attend the ARRC’s Dave McKay Day at Berea on April 3, but he still got into the spirit of things. He grabbed his camera and took photos of Norfolk Southern and CSX trains at Orrville, Macedonia and Easton as he went about his daily activities. You can read about how he spent the McKay Day and view his potographs by clicking on the link below.


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