Archive for December, 2010

New Addition at Bellevue Museum

December 26, 2010

Norfolk Southern recently donated to the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum in Bellevue a former NKP SD9 locomotive. Wearing NS No. 52, the unit was originally Nickel Plate No. 349. The unit was delivered on December 22, 2010.

The locomotive is expected to be cosmetically restored by the museum. It was turned over with its seats having been removed.


W&LE ‘Painted Lady’ Getting Repainted

December 20, 2010

W&LE No. 2679, of the two “Painted Ladies” in the Wheeling’s locomotive fleet, leaves the engine terminal at Brittain Yard in Akron for the days work on September 20, 2008. Soon the red and yellow will be replaced by black and orange. (Photograph by Richard Jacobs)

The Wheeling & Lake Erie is rebuilding one of its famed “Painted Ladies.”The moniker describes two former Southern Railway high hood GP35s with Alco trucks that were leased by Norfolk Southern to the new ‘Wheeling’ in 1990. Two of these locomotives, Nos. 2662 and 2679, were later painted in a bright red and yellow livery that was designed by Wheeling employees.

No. 2662 was rebuilt in 1997 as a GP35-3 with a microprocessor control system and Canac Controltac LT controller for remote control operation. No. 2679 is being rebuilt by the Locomotive Department at Brewster. It will be painted in the current W&LE black and orange scheme. Its a new lease on life, indeed, for an engine that came onboard in May 1990.

Over the years, the “painted ladies” have been used to pull such special trains as the Canton YMCA Specials out of Waterworks Park in Canton. Those trains were operated during the July 4 holiday from 1993 to 1998. They were staffed by the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society.

The painted ladies were always popular, due to their bright colors. Later, No. 2679 could often be seen working at Brittain Yard in Akron, and sometimes out on the line with a local train doing pickups and setouts.

Thanks to the W&LE Unofficial website by Chris Toth for some of the information in this article. Those interested in the current W&LE Railway can access the site at

In other W&LE news, the railroad is now fully owned by itself. Warrants for stock certificates held by the Bank of America and the Bank of New York/Mellon have been extinguished. The modern W&LE turned 20 years old last May.

Article by Richard Jacobs

W&LE “painted lady” GP35 No. 2679 switches the lumber facility in Orrville on July 15, 2008.


Caboose Back on NS Local

December 20, 2010

NS caboose No. 555603 returns to Orrville on the C27 local on December 7, 2010. It has not been used on the local for quite some time. (Photograph by Richard Jacobs)

As I was leaving the Orrville depot recently, I noticed a long missing caboose in the Norfolk Southern Orrville railroad yard. I hurried over there to see and photograph it.

The caboose used to be a regular on the C27 local, but has been missing for some time. I assume the crews did not want to ride any longer on the open end of the last car during backup moves. Riding on the porch of the crummy is a better option in the winter weather.

Richard Jacobs

ORHS Brings Santa Claus To Town

December 19, 2010

Santa Claus peeks through the window of ORHS car No. 102 on December 4, 2010.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway this year sponsored “Santa Express” trains to extend a Merry Christmas wish to employees and their families. Three “Santa Express” trains left Brewster at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. on Friday, November 26 for the trip westward on the Brewster subdivision to the outskirts of Creston.

The train had several coaches from the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society. It was led eastbound by W&LE SD40-3 locomotive No. 3102, while the ORHS GP-7u No. 471 led the train westbound.

Four private cars were part of the train, W&LE No. 1990, Larry Marshall’s C&B Marshall No. 3850, Glenn Bowman’s Paul Revere No. 3125, and J. Kidd’s former RF&P No. 386.

ORHS also provided its concession car (No. 105) for snacks and souvenirs. ORHS volunteers staffed the train, which was operated by a Wheeling crew. The weather was sunny but cool and breezy for the trips. Those aboard, including the crews, soon caught the Christmas spirit.

Greg and Jane Levy were onboard as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus to greet the young folks, and delight their parents. Kasey O’ Connor doing his portrayal of Santa Claus with elf Heidi Kaiser also provided much Christmas cheer amid many ho-ho-hos. Both Santas were the subject of many Christmas photographs by excited parents.

The same train consist was operated from Orrville to Lodi on a cold and cloudy Saturday, November 27 for the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society. Four trains were operated that day. Each traveled westward from Orrville to Lodi and returned.

The ORHS advertised its trips as “Riding with Santa.” The ORHS trips from Orrville were repeated on Saturday, December 4. The Lodi Railroad Museum was a partner for the December 4 trips, with members and their families boarding the trains at Lodi. W&LE GP40-3 No. 302 provided the eastbound motive power on December 4.

The W&LE operated three “Santa Express” trains on Sunday, November 28 to extend Christmas wishes to their employees of the Ohio River lines and their families. The train traveled from Warrenton northward along the river to Brilliant on the River subdivision. The second and third runs were operated for passengers sponsored by the area Rotary Club. The day’s weather was also sunny for the trips along the Ohio.

As the last “Riding With Santa” train came to a halt in Orrville, it provided a spirited conclusion to two weekend’s holiday festivities on the railroad.

Story and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

Excited Wheeling families hurry to the “Santa Express” from the ‘brick’ at Brewster on November 26, 2010. The brick is the nickname for the railroad’s headquarters building.

Santa Clause, played by ORHS member Dean Mark, waves from ORHS car No. 105.

Young folks have a chance to climb aboard a real locomotive, W&LE No. 3102 at Brewster.

Boarding the “Riding With Santa” train at Orrville on November 27, 2010.

Children and adults alike enjoy the model trains in the Orrville depot on November 27, 2010.

ORHS locomotive No. 471 and W&LE theater car No. 1990 are on the south end of the ‘Wheeling’s’ “Santa Express” train in Warrenton on November 28, 2010.

Santa Comes to Kent by Train

December 18, 2010

Kids of all ages eagerly anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus by rail in Kent on December 4, 2011.

If it’s the first Saturday in December that must mean its time for Akron Railroad Club member Bob Rohal to done his Santa hat, take the control of “Flash” and bring Santa Claus into Kent via the rails.

Rohal, a locomotive engineer for Shelly Materials, was at the throttle of the company’s SD18M as it plied the former Erie Railroad tracks from the Shelly stone facility west of town to the former Erie depot just south of Main Street. The tracks are now owned by Portage County and used by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway, a subsidiary of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway.

As if planned, snow flakes were flying as the Santa train made its way into Kent.

As he has in past years, Rohal had “Flash” decorated with Christmas lights and “played” Jingle Bells on the locomotive horn. The unit is dubbed “Flash” because of its blue and gold color livery that honors hometown Kent State University, whose teams compete as the Golden Flashes.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Rob Rohal at the controls of "Flash."

Presumably, this guy needs no identification.

Bob Rohal pauses beside the Shelly Materials SD18M before it leaves for Kent.

"Flash" pauses at the former Erie Railroad depot in Kent. The depot is now a restaurant.

The Shelly Materials SD18M is all decked out in holiday lights.

Amtrak Locomotive Catches fire in Elyria

December 18, 2010

Amtrak No. 112 sites on a siding near the Blue Star Salvage Company in Elyria on Wednesday morning. (Photographs by Dan Davidson)

An Amtrak P42 locomotive caught fire early Wednesday morning (Dec. 15, 2010) shortly after the eastbound Lake Shore Limited. Flames were reported to be shooting about 10 feet into the air before Elyria fire fighters arrived to douse the blaze.

The fire was reported at 5:56 a.m. The train had departed the Elyria station seven minutes earlier. The train carried 128 passengers, none of whom were harmed. No Amtrak crew members were injured either.

Fire fighters reported the major challenge was getting water to the scene. They approached the engine from both sides of the Norfolk Southern tracks, using two fire trucks and a nearby hydrant. The train was halted behind the Elyia post office, 345 Bridge Street.

The damaged locomotive was detached from the train at nearly 6:30 a.m. Although Amtrak’s plan had been to bus the passengers on to their destinations, safety officials determined the train was safe to use and No. 48 departed Elyria just after 10 a.m.

News accounts reported that Norfolk Southern brought in another locomotive to assist No. 48.

Damage to the locomotive was estimated at $1 million.