Taking the Farkas Challenge: Akron’s Railroad of the 21st Century is the Wheeling & Lake Erie

Farkas Mastromatteo

The story of the Wheeling & Lake Erie has two distinct chapters.

The original W&LE was founded in the 19th century and lasted through 1949. The modern W&LE arose in May 1990 and remains a viable railroad in Northeast Ohio today.

The original Wheeling never served Akron per se. It skirted the edge of the Akron metropolitan area, passing through Mogadore and Kent.

But the modern W&LE has a major presence in Akron because when it came to life by taking over from Norfolk Southern the tracks and facilities of the former Akron, Canton & Youngstown.

Arguably, the W&LE is Akron’s major railroad today. CSX may run more trains, but the W&LE has more freight customers.

This image of a W&LE westbound train on the former AC&Y north of downtown is vintage modern Wheeling and is my nomination for the Farkas challenge on behalf of Jim Mastromatteo.

The two locomotives do not match, which is a common theme you find in any photo collection of W&LE operations.

Let’s play nice and say that over the years the Wheeling has had an “eclectic” collection of locomotives.

The trailing unit of this train still has its Southern Railway markings, albeit with the W&LE name. The lead unit is reflective of the Spartan nature of some Wheeling locomotives although the railroad would later settle on an attractive black livery with orange speed lettering and stripes.

This train is in the vicinity of the former AC&Y passenger station on the north edge of downtown Akron. At one time, there were numerous warehouses and other freight customers here.

They are all gone now and W&LE trains merely pass through. A block to the north was the Baltimore & Ohio Valley Line between Cleveland and Akron.

This railroad corridor may was not as busy or developed as the railroad territory on the south edge of downtown, but its history is just as significant.

Article by Craig Sanders, Photograph by Jim Mastramateo

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2 Responses to “Taking the Farkas Challenge: Akron’s Railroad of the 21st Century is the Wheeling & Lake Erie”

  1. Paul Woodring Says:

    While the WE has had a somewhat checkered motive power history, one theme has been consistent. They have always used second generation EMD power, probably the most reliable freight locomotives ever built.

  2. Bob Says:

    Well done. This is a good location with interesting ex-Southern locomotives in older lettering.
    Thanks for the W&LE memories.

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