Hope For Ohio’s Worst Maintained Railroad

A crew on the newly-formed Napoleon, Definance & Western does some work in the second of its namesake cities on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013.

For my first trip of 2013, I headed to Northwestern Ohio to check out the Maumee & Western shortline – MAW for short – which is now operating under new ownership.

Pioneer Rail Corp. took over operations on the first of the year and changed the name to Napoleon, Defiance & Western. The new owners want to aggressively fix up the plant and turn it into a first-class operation.

The previous owners did practically zero maintenance on the line. Just search “world’s worst maintained railroad” on Youtube.com or Google and you’ll see what I mean.

We headed west to Defiance on Interstate 80 and the newly opened U.S. 24 west of Toledo.

We quickly passed through Maumee where Norfolk Southern serves an Anderson grain facility. There was not much activity here so we continued west.

There are several miles of an old Wabash Railroad branch, which is the same trackage that makes up the former MAW further west. This was filled with stored unit coal hoppers due to lowered coal use.

Arriving at Defiance yard we found idling the No. 5, a former Santa Fe GP7. We took this to be a positive sign.

We checked the other end by the CSX diamonds and found work crews busily replacing ties. There was a PREX No. 3054, A GP20, also an ex-Santa Fe, working the interchange. We watched the crews work for about an hour and got many good pictures.

We then continued west toward Ft Wayne, Ind., following the line. There was not much activity although we did see No. 7, a former Illinois Central Paducah rebuilt geep. The tracks are in really bad shape so Pioneer has its work cut out in fixing them.

At Ft Wayne we checked out the local NS yard and saw little activity. A local was tied up east of the yard and another train was waiting on a crew but little else. We did photograph a freshly-painted caboose and an old N&W snowplow.

On the way home, we did some nighttime photography. At Clyde, Ohio, we caught an NS unit grain train north of town. This is a remnant of the Big Four’s Sandusky-Bellfontaine line.

Next we tried some pictures of the Ohio Route 4 bridge at Bellevue. These turned out OK.

As a bonus, the Conrail heritage was up front here. Night photography is something I never really mastered with film cameras but with a digital camera I can take hand-held night shots.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

The tie gang takes a break. Wonder who Jim and Joe are.

Doing interchange work is a common assignment on short line railroads.

Still wearing with pride its Santa Fe markings.

Does this show you why the MAW was known as the world’s worst maintained railroad?

This Paducah rebuilt geep was still wearing its Illinois Central colors.

A freshly-painted Norfolk Southern caboose in Fort Wayne, Ind.

A freshly-painted Norfolk Southern caboose in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The Conrail heritage locomotive was front and center in Bellevue Yard.

The Conrail heritage locomotive was front and center in Bellevue Yard.

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One Response to “Hope For Ohio’s Worst Maintained Railroad”

  1. John Says:

    I’ve been watching the “world’s worst maintained railroad” videos on Youtube for sometime now. I’m glad to get a first-hand report of track maintenance being done.

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