Unit Coal Trains in Northeast Ohio

A CSX westbbound loaded coal train of DKPX hoppers enters the Sterling, Ohio, interlocking at 2013 hours on June 2, 2010. Ties are piled ready for installation on the CL&W subdivision. (Photographs by Richard Jacobs)

As I have been out railfanning lately, I’ve photographed two separate unit coal trains passing through our area of Northeastern Ohio.

One was on the W&LE. I first heard it called on the scanner. I knew it was not the usual W&LE train due to the BNSF locomotive numbers. On Sunday, May 14, 2010, I caught it eastbound at the Ohio Route 57 crossing just south of Orrville. It was a 12,000- to 16,000-ton train of 125 cars.

I later caught the returning empties on a different train westbound at Creston on Wednesday, May 26.

I found out from the Wheeling that it is a Powder River Coal train handed off from NS at Bellevue to the Wheeling. It travels on the W&LE to Rayland on the Ohio River. There is a train to barge transload facility there. The coal is taken by barge to power plants on the river.

The second unit coal train I saw and photographed was on CSX at Sterling. It was a westbound led by CSX No. 533 on Wednesday, June 2. The T388-31 train was loaded, with a mix of DKPX (Duke Power) and CSX hoppers, mostly DKPX.

I found out from Tony Dannemiller that it started in Newell, Pennsylvania, and ended in Terrell, North Carolina, at the Duke Power plant. This is a roundabout routing for sure. It goes westbound through Sterling to Greenwich and then travels via Columbus and Russell, Kentucky, over the former C&O east to the CSX route that serves North Carolina south of Richmond, Virginia.

Not all unit coal trains in our area are Powder River ones. The CSX loaded coal train that I caught at Sterling had coal that had been mined in Pennsylvania.

There is something about a long train of matched loaded hoppers of coal that inspires my railfan photography. I don’t have to go to Wyoming either!

 Richard Jacobs

A W&LE unit coal train is led eastbound by BNSF No. 8947 at MP 123 (Route 57) on the Brewster Subdivision on May 4, 2010. The train of Powder River coal is received from NS at Bellevue for delivery to the rail-barge facility at Rayland on the Ohio River.

BNSF SD75MAC No. 8878 leads a westbound empty Powder River coal train into Creston on May 26, 2010. The train is coming from the rail-barge transload facility at Rayland, Ohion, on the Ohio River. It will deliver the cars to NS at Bellevue for westward return.

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2 Responses to “Unit Coal Trains in Northeast Ohio”

  1. John S Says:

    Thanks for these pics … I live in the Chicago area and see many Powder River coal trains headed for Wisconsin.

    Do you know which route the NE Ohio trains take to from Wyoming? Do they come through the Chicago area?


  2. Eric Harmon Says:

    Hello- I love one of your pictures with a BNF train and a remote bungalow. I would love to be able to use it on a catalog cover and if I can, could i get a hi-res file so I can possibly use it on a tradeshow graphic.

    I work for the company Newmar. We manufacture DC Power Supplies and a new application for one of our products is a Power Supply for the Positive Train Control.

    Looking forward to your reply.

    Eric Harmon

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