Pretty Locomotive Pulling an Ugly Train

A KCS "Southern Belle" leads a westbound beneath the home signals for CP 37 in Wellington early last Saturday afternoon. Seeing this unit was a nice surprise.

A KCS “Southern Belle” leads a westbound beneath the home signals for CP 37 in Wellington early last Saturday afternoon. Seeing this unit was a nice surprise.

In years past, the top of the reservoir at Wellington had been one of my favorite places to watch and photograph trains. The CSX mainline (former Big Four) route passes between the reservoir and the Lorain County Fairgrounds and the elevated view gives the aura of seeing a model railroad.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie tracks pass to the north although photographing W&LE operations from atop the reservoir is far from ideal.

It has been a while since I’d been to the reservoir. In fact, the last time that I was there with a camera was back in the days when I was making images on slide film. I’ve been digital since July 2011.

Last Saturday I decided to go to Wellington and the reservoir. It was a warm, humid day and a strong wind was whipping the water about.

I got a later start than I had hoped due to waiting in Olmsted Falls for two hours longer than I expected for a late Amtrak train.

By the time I got to Wellington, it was high noon. I hung around for more than an hour and was rewarded with steady traffic on CSX, two eastbounds and three westbounds.

The westbound fleet included a train of garbage containers that was pulled by a Southern Belle locomotive of Kansas City Southern.

I almost wasn’t ready for the Belle. An eastbound auto rack train was passing through and its rear had just cleared the home signal for the CP 37 interlocking when there was the Belle and its train.

Behind the garbage train was the L091, the run-through train of reefers bound for Union Pacific and an all UP motive power consist.

Seeing these foreign units reminded me of the early years following the Conrail split when foreign power of various railroads was plentiful on CSX.

Being on the reservoir also brought back pleasant memories of past trips to the reservoir and I decided that I need to not let so much time pass before I make a return visit. Next time I’ll get there earlier.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The L091 saunters through Wellington having been slowed by an approach signal.

The L091 saunters through Wellington having been slowed by an approach signal.

It was surprising to see a string of five cars that were free of graffiti. These cars must be new. Will they still be pristine when they make the return journey?

It was surprising to see a string of five cars that were free of graffiti. These cars must be new. Will they still be pristine when they make the return journey?

This eastbound train probably originated on Union Pacific given the consist of the freight cars. Several of the boxcars still bore Southern Pacific markings.

This eastbound train probably originated on Union Pacific given the consist of the freight cars. Several of the boxcars still bore Southern Pacific markings.

The Q371 rounded out the westbound trains that I saw during my time in Wellington. The Lorain County Fairgrounds in the background were largely quiet.

The Q371 rounded out the westbound trains that I saw during my time in Wellington. The Lorain County Fairgrounds in the background were largely quiet.

I made a brief side trip to New London and its reservoir. En route, I encountered a parked eastbound Wheeling & Lake Erie manifest freight just west of the Ohio Route 162 crossing. The train might have been waiting for a track car to clear up.

I made a brief side trip to New London and its reservoir. En route, I encountered a parked eastbound Wheeling & Lake Erie manifest freight just west of the Ohio Route 162 crossing. The train might have been waiting for a track car to clear up.

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