A CSX GenSet unit brings up the rear of a light engine move late in the day at Wellington. (Photograph by Richard Thompson)
Nine Akron Railroad Club members and one guest trekked through inclement weather to Wellington on Sunday (September 27, 2009), but were rewarded with some 25 CSX trains and mostly sunny skies late in the day. Action on the Wheeling & Lake Erie proved elusive, however.
Rick Houck was the earlybird, showing up about 7:30 a.m. His “reward” was overcast skies and rain, including heavy showers around mid-morning. Given the conditions and the prospect that the grass on the sides of the town’s above-ground reservoir would be slippery, we decided to gather in a city parking lot downtown.
The dark skies precluded photography for most of the morning, so we did roll-by inspections of the CSX intermodal, ethanol and mixed freights that came our way. In the meantime, Craig Sanders, Marty Surdyk, Richard Thompson and Cody Zamostny had joined Rick trackside. Richard and Cody set off on foot for the reservoir.
About noon, the only Wheeling train we would see come through Wellington made an appearance. Marty, Rick and Craig intercepted it at a grade crossing on the edge of town and then chased it to Spencer. The train of coal hoppers with locomotives on each end, received a track warrant to go to Shorbs, located at the west end of Brewster Yard.
That assured that nothing would be coming our way from the southeast for a while. We had hoped to catch the scrap metal/coke train that W&LE sends to Cleveland. But it apparently did not operate on this day.
We chased the W&LE train to the crossing of River Corners Road. The sun had been popping in and out of the clouds, but was mostly hiding when we got our shots. On the drive back to Wellington, the sun came back out again.
During the return trip, we talked about excursions past and Marty observed that he’d had days when the sun would come out in time for the train all day, but he’d had other days when it was hiding every time a train came past.
During our absence, the CSX action had picked up at bit. Two more ARRC members, Drew Deneher and Kurt Schuttenberg, had arrived at the reservoir. The sun had become more reliable and within another hour or two the skies had diminished to patchy clouds.
Marty, Craig, Rich and Cody went to Subway for lunch. We got a cell phone message from Richard Jacobs that he and Barbara were going out for lunch and planned to stop in Wellington afterwards. When we finally saw Jake, he was hanging around the diamonds, looking to get a particular photo angle.
It wouldn’t be Sunday on CSX in northeast Ohio without at least one major disruption and we learned of today’s edition shortly after returning from lunch. The IG dispatcher called the Q299, an auto rack train that we had just missed, to inform him that he would be held at CP 47 (formerly known as Hiles in New London) for an hour because of a broken rail at CP 54 (Greenwhich).
It didn’t take long for trains to begin stacking up, including the L110, a hot intermodal train with UPS trailers. Behind it was the Q108, another intermodal train.
We spent the lull talking and listening in vain for signs of life on the W&LE. But there were none. Craig and Kurt discussed how their respective mothers had attended the same high school at the same time in St. Louis. One of Craig’s uncles was in the same graduating class as Kurt’s mom.
The L110 finally got the go-ahead to come through Greenwich and over the next half-hour CSX had a mini-burst of activity, including the westbound L279, another auto rack train. Unfortunately, the Q108 blocked getting a good shot of the auto rack train for those of us on the reservoir.
The light was beginning to favor the other side of the CSX tracks and we relocated to the Lorain County Fairgrounds. Marty noted that he’d only been to that side of the tracks once. Usually, he explained, by late afternoon there is a Wheeling train out there somewhere and he would be chasing it. But the W&LE continued to be quiet.
Ordinarily, if there is a Wheeling train on the former AC&Y line, you hear it on the radio getting track warrants. But we came up empty today.
It took awhile, but CSX action finally picked up around 4:30. A pair of westbound intermodals came through along with an eastbound coal train pulled by a pair of Union Pacific locomotives.
The highlight of the afternoon was the Q090, a dedicated UP-CSX train with reefers that rush fresh produce from California to a terminal near Albany, New York. Aside from its distinct symbol on CSX, we knew it was the produce train when the engineer of Q109 announced on the radio, “you look good there salad shooter.”
Peter Bowler arrived as the “salad shooter” was passing through Wellington. He had come in hopes of getting a good sunset shot. One of his images, a westbound empty hopper train returning to the Powder River Basin and headed by a two UP units.
Most of the ARRC members who had been in Wellington for the day had to return home as the dinner hour approached. Those who stayed were rewarded with a few more trains and warm, late day sunlight. A prize shot was a light engine move featuring a GenSet switcher.
There was a W&LE train in Spencer, but no one wanted to run over there to check it out
Article by Craig Sanders