Winter on the Water Level Route in Lake County

An eastbound CSX manifest freight near Bowhall Road east of Painesville.

An eastbound CSX manifest freight near Bowhall Road east of Painesville.

Most of the time, trees are not a photographer’s friend. They cast shadows and diminish the amount of open space with work with next to the tracks.

But when coated with snow, trees can create for some striking winter photographs. And so it was on a recent Sunday when we found ourselves looking for trees next to the tracks.

Shown is a selection of CSX trains on the Water Level Route of the former New York Central east of Cleveland. It was an odd day from an operating standpoint.

Traffic was fairly steady, but from the time we got trackside around 11 until nearly 3:30 p.m. all of the trains were headed east. Where were the westbounds?

A fleet of them began reaching Lake County in late afternoon. The images shown here were taken at various locations including the crossings of Bowhall Road, Park Road and Davis Road. We also photographed near the ex-NYC Painesville passenger station.

One of our primary goals was to catch one or both of the Canadian Pacific intermodal trains that began running on CSX between Chicago and Buffalo late last year.

But we struck out on that objective. As reported in an earlier post, we did get four trains with BNSF power in the lead. The last train that we caught had Union Pacific power.

Aside from a few flurries early in our outing, there was no snowfall. Skies were cloudy all day, but the beauty of the snow clinging to the trees and everything else made for some nice winter scenes.

There also was enough snow on the right of way to create those clouds of misty snow that add drama to the sight of a fast oncoming train.

When we called it a day just past 5 p.m., we had photographed 18 trains. And we were pleased to have photographed all of them.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

If only there were trains on Sunday on the NS Fairport, Painesville & Eastern branch.

If only there were trains on Sunday on the NS Fairport, Painesville & Eastern branch.

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