Passengers board the 3:15 pm McKinley Day train on October 16, 2010 with Orrville Railroad Heritage Society crew members assisting. (Photographs by Richard Jacobs)
Five roundtrip train excursions from the historic Hartville Train Station to Mogadore were operated on October 16, 2010, by the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway. The hour-long leisurely trek by rail was a part of Hartville’s McKinley Day celebration.
The trains journeyed along the golf course of Congress Lake and the waters of Wingfoot Lake. Two hundred seats per run were sold. The train was scheduled for four runs every two hours starting at 9:15 a.m.
A fifth run at 5:15 p.m. was added, due to the overwhelming response for tickets. More than 1,000 rode the train during the day.
President William McKinley impersonator Jerry Sandifer was aboard the train. McKinley was no stranger to Hartville and the train service from Canton to Congress Lake. He was a founding member of the Congress Lake Club, then known as a hunting club. McKinley was a Canton prosecutor, governor and the 25th president of the United States.
The five trains ran from Hartville MP Q47.4 to Mogadore about 8 miles north on the Wheeling’s Cleveland subdivision and returned to Hartville.
At MP Q40.1, the line meets the Akron subdivision of the Wheeling, which is the former Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railway. Both lines became part of the current W&LE in May 1990 when spun off from Norfolk Southern, the owner and operator at that time.
The line is former original W&LE/Cleveland, Canton & Southern/Connotton Valley. The line was originally 3-foot narrow gauge. It was widened to standard gauge in one day on Sunday, November 18, 1888, with the simultaneous effort of 1,150 men along the 115 miles of mainline track.
Motive power for the trains was the Wheeling GP-35 Nos. 106 and 102. Coaches and train crew were provided by the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society. The ORHS train crew assisted the loading and unloading of passengers, as well as providing assistance and trip highlights along the way.
W&LE GP-35 No. 102 leads the McKinley Day 3:15 p.m. train back into Hartville.
The 3:15 p.m. McKinley Day train leaves Hartville with W&LE GP-35 No. 102 trailing the consist.
Memories of the Chessie System! C&O wood caboose No. 90946 resides next to the Hartville Historic Train Station.
The 1880 historic Hartville Train Station, former W&LE, now the Maple Street Gallery.
The 5:15 trip returns to Hartville.
President McKinley boards the train in Hartville for the trip to Mogadore.