Getting Lucky on a W&LE Chase

On May 7, Rich Antibus and I heard on the scanner that the Wheeling & Lake Erie train 561 crew had engine No. 200, the Ohio Bicentennial unit.

The crew indicated to the dispatcher that they had seven loads and engine No. 101, the Pittsburgh & West Virginia tribute unit, on the other end of the train.

Both engines are GP35-3s. Armed with this new information, the dispatcher gave the 101 a track warrant on the Cleveland Subdivision from Mogadore to milepost 52 at Middlebranch.

The 561 was headed down to the Essroc Cement Facility in Middlebranch to switch them out.

Rich and I first caught up with the 561 at Skelton Road in Mogadore, which is a very tight shot.

The chase was easy from here as the train is limited to 10 mph on the Cleveland Sub.

We got it again at Waterloo Road., which is old U.S. Route 224, in Suffield. A large friendly yellow dog named Brutus always comes out to see us when we photograph here.

Our next spot was Wingfoot Lake with the Goodyear Blimp in the background. The blimp was unable to fly today due to the high winds.

Next we drove behind a storage facility north of Hartville, then it was on to the Hartville Fire Station, which is located south of town.

We did an across-the-field shot in Middlebranch before the 561 reached its destination.

This move of the 561 was a bit unusual in that the 261 road train from Brewster usually switches the plant on its way to Akron. The 561 crew only comes down here on days that the 261 doesn’t run.

While the 561 crew switched the plant, we contemplated our shots for the return trip. The 101 would lead going back to Akron.

Both of us agreed we were quite lucky to find the 561 going south this day. We’d never seen anything like this before.

Having swapped out the seven loads for seven empties, the 561 was now ready to head back to Akron.

We shot it on the siding into the plant, dodging clouds to do so. From here it was back to the Hartville Fire Station, then again to the storage units north of town.

We were going to go back to Waterloo Road but thought the light might be better at Mogadore Road, so we opted to downtown Mogadore.

We barely beat the train to our favorite spot at Die-Gem Way at the east end Brittain Yard.

By now both of us were low on film. Rich did expose a few pixels today, but he still shoots some film.

This would be the only train we would see on this day, but the effort was worth it. A move that was new to us and the chance to see the W&LE serving a customer was a good day. We hope for many more to come.

Article by Jim Mastromatteo

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