Railroads: Norfolk Southern (former Pennsylvania, Cleveland Commercial (former Wheeling & Lake Erie).
Traffic: About 50 to 60 trains a day on NS, two trains a day on Cleveland Commercial, generally on weekdays.
Radio Frequencies: NS, 161.070 (road and dispatcher).
Highlights: Located in the southeast Cleveland suburbs, Bedford’s main railfanning attraction is the Cleveland line of Norfolk Southern. This busy mainline offers a mixture of intermodal, manifest and unit trains. Like any route, it has its lulls, but they do not
usually last long.
A good place to start is between Glendale and Grace streets. There is a postage stamp size city park here with a small parking lot dubbed by locals as the “tot lot” because the park it serves is designed to cater to small children. Usually there is parking available here. The park is on Palmetto Street, which has a sidewalk parallel to the NS tracks. There is a grassy area between the sidewalk and the tracks.
In the past, railfans parked on the edge of an overflow lot owned by a local car dealer. But that lot has since been fenced off and is no longer a parking option. Some parking may be available on nearby streets. Downtown Bedford is about a block east of the tracks along Broadway Avenue.
Photo props in this area include a milepost a few feet south of the Glendale crossing that reports that it is 110 miles from Rochester, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. Other props include signals at CP 110, formerly known as CP Maple, the backs of buildings along Broadway Avenue that abut the tracks and the small trees lining Palmetto.
The signals at CP110 work best with eastbound trains in the morning. At all times of the day they provide clues as to whether a westbound train is coming. Note that the area to the north of Glendale contains a massive power line. Norfolk Southern also has an intermodal facility in Maple Heights, although it cannot be seen from Glendale.
The Cleveland Commercial runs parallel with NS between Glendale and Grace. The former W&LE began life in the 19th century as the narrow-gauge Connotton Valley. At one time, this route stretched from Cleveland to Zanesville. The CC leases the ex-CV from the modern Wheeling & Lake Erie. Primarily, the CC serves a scrap metal dealer located within the city of Cleveland north of Interstate 480. At one time the W&LE tracks went all the way to downtown Cleveland, but today the tracks end near the former crossing of the W&LE and Pennsylvania at Harvard tower.
The CC has an ex-Union Pacific SW 1500 switcher that at last report was still wearing UP yellow. At times, the CC borrows locomotives from the Wheeling when its switcher is in for repairs. The CC operates the ex-Wheeling line as far south as Falls Junction in Glenwillow where the two railroads interchange cars. CC trains move slowly and are made up of gondolas.
Another location to photograph trains in Bedford is Viaduct Park, which is part of the Bedford Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks system. Viaduct Park is at the end of Willis Street. In the park you can walk down to Tinkers Creek to inspect the remains of an old mill or walk out on the original railroad bridge over the creek. The NS tracks are adjacent to the park. Photography is a challenge at this location because of heavy
The park also provides panels providing some history of the railroads through Bedford. What is today the NS Cleveland Line began life in the early 1850s as the Cleveland & Pittsburg Railroad. In the early 20th Century, the Pennsylvania rebuilt the C&P between Cleveland and Ravenna, giving it a new alignment through Bedford.
A better photograph location is the bridge carrying Egbert Road over the NS tracks. From Viaduct Park, take Taylor Road eastward to Union Street and turn right. Union intersects Egbert. Turn right onto Egbert and cross the tracks. There is a parking lot just inside the entrance to the Metropark.
Lighting conditions at the Egbert bridge favor eastbounds most of the day, but westbounds can be photographed under the right conditions with a little planning. The view looking northwestward makes it hard to believe that you are the midst of a heavily populated metropolis. There are few high-tension power lines, but otherwise the scene is one of lots of trees.
The Cleveland Line is cab signal territory meaning that the only lineside signals are located at interlocking plants. However, there are signals at CP 110 and CP 112 that you should hear crews calling over the radio.
While in Bedford, be sure to check out the restored W&LE passenger station, which now houses the local historical society. While few trains pass by the depot, it makes for a nice photograph nonetheless. The station is located in downtown Bedford, just west of city park.
Food and beverages: There are numerous restaurants and convenience stores along Broadway in downtown Bedford or within a mile or two in either direction.