Railroads: CSX (former Big Four) and Wheeling & Lake Erie. The W&LE’s Brewster-Bellevue route (Hartland Subdivision) crosses CSX’s Cleveland-Greenwich line.
Traffic: The CSX routes sees between 50 and 60 trains a day. Many of them are intermodal trains, but there is a good mix of manifest, grain, auto rack and coal trains. The W&LE has six to seven trains a day.
Radio Frequencies: CSX, 160.860 (road), 160.485 (dispatcher); W&LE, 161.025 (road and dispatcher)
Hightlights: Every popular railfan hotspot has its own quirks and idiosyncrasies that give it a certain charm. One quirk of Wellington is that it might be a better place to listen to trains on the radio than to watch trains.
That’s because of the excellent radio reception atop the above ground reservoir located southeast of the junction. You will hear trains calling signals or talking with dispatchers that you will never see because they are not on lines leading into Wellington.
Nonetheless, a day spent at Wellington will be one of enjoyable train watching. You just have to use the radio reception to your advantage, particularly if you are looking for Wheeling & Lake Erie action. The W&LE’s former Akron, Canton & Youngstown line (Cary Subdivision) crosses the Hartland Sub at nearby Spencer.
From Wellington, you can hear the W&LE dispatcher talking to trains at Spencer, Hartland or points west of Spencer on the former AC&Y. You can even hear crews chatting on the radio as they perform switching moves at Spencer.
But if you don’t have a radio, don’t despair. There are several grade crossings in town so CSX and W&LE trains will announce their presence in advance.
And there is the old fashioned way of finding out about an approaching train by reading the signals at the CSX-W&LE crossing – CP 37 on CSX – although that might not be as easy to do as it seems because of the way the signals are placed.
Aside from superior radio reception, the reservoir also offers the best vantage points for watching and photographing trains on CSX. The reservoir rim features long, open views with the Lorain County Fairgrounds, forests and fields as backdrops for your photographs.
Unfortunately, there are wires between the reservoir and the tracks. You can frame the wires out of your photos by moving down the side of the reservoir, but then you lose the perspective of being above the train.
The reservoir is a good place to view W&LE trains, but photography is less than ideal because of the distance from the Wheeling track and the clutter you will have in your shot. You need a telephoto lens to capture most W&LE trains from the reservoir.
Reaching the top of the reservoir might be a challenge for those not in good physical condition. A stairway is located at the south end at the public parking lot. There also is parking at the north end that is closer to the CSX-W&LE diamond, but no stairs up the side of the reservoir.
In addition to the reservoir, you can also watch and photograph trains from the fairgrounds, which are adjacent to the tracks of both railroads. The advantage of the fairgrounds is the shade offered by several large trees along the CSX right of way.
You might be tempted to go onto the property of a business located in the southeast quadrant of the CSX-W&LE crossing for a better view, but the owner reportedly does not want railfans on the property.
The most interesting rail operation in Wellington is the Wheeling’s Cleveland coke and scrap metal train. It arrives on the W&LE from Brewster, crosses CSX and pulls west of the fairgrounds where it stops. The train then goes around the fairgrounds on a loop track. Just south of the diamonds, the coke train gets on CSX to head to Cleveland. The train from Cleveland does this process in reverse.
As is wont to happen when a railroad has trackage rights on another road, the Wheeling train might sit at Wellington for some time before the CSX dispatcher allows it to proceed to Cleveland. Similarly, W&LE trains passing through Wellington might get delayed at the crossing, which is controlled by the CSX IF dispatcher in Indianapolis.
CSX offers a steady diet of trains, but there can be long lulls. This being CSX, you usually can expect an array of locomotive power from western railroads BNSF and Union Pacific as well as the customary lease units and oddball foreign power.
The W&LE has less traffic, but if you spend a day at Wellington you probably can count on seeing two or more Wheeling trains. Wellington is close enough to Spencer that if the radio reveals something going on there that you want to see or photograph, you can hop in your car and be there in several minutes.
That is not the case, though, with trains on CSX’s former Baltimore & Ohio line to the south. On the radio, it might sound as though trains on that route are close, but by the time you get to the tracks several miles away the train whose radio transmissions that you heard is likely to be long gone.
Another railroad related attraction in Wellington is the Lorain & West Virginia Railway tourist line and museum located on the west side of town on Ohio Route 18. The L&WV operates short train rides on weekend between July and October.
Wellington has a railfan park of sorts. The city built a faux railroad “station” in a downtown parking lot next to the CSX tracks. It is a nice place to watch and photograph CSX trains, but a little too far away to see W&LE trains. There is a nice, red grain elevator next to the CSX tracks in downtown Wellington that makes a nice photo backdrop in the afternoon for westbound trains.
Food and beverages: Wellington is a small town and the food and beverage offerings are limited. Still, such railfan friendly haunts as Mickey Ds, Subway and Dairy Queen are in town along with a handful of convenience stores, local pubs and pizza parlors.