In the past few years I’ve found myself in Monroeville, Ohio, while chasing trains on the Wheeling & Lake Erie.
At one time, Monroeville was served by three railroads plus an interurban railway.
The railroads of Monroville included the Toledo-Brewster line of the original Wheeling & Lake Erie. This line still exists with the modern W&LE owning it between Brewster and Bellevue.
Monroeville was also served by a Willard-Sandusky branch of the Baltimore & Ohio, the Norwalk Branch of the New York Central and the Cleveland-Toledo Lake Shore Electric.
The Norwalk Branch began life as the Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland Railroad, which built between its namesake cities in the 1860s. It was later absorbed by the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, which in turn became part of the NYC.
The Norwalk branch was the main route of the LS&MS until it built a cutoff via Sandusky along Lake Erie, which today is the Chicago Line of NS. The Norwalk branch diverged at Elyria and rejoined at Milbury.
Penn Central continued to offer freight service on the Norwalk branch through 1976. The line was not conveyed to Conrail and was subsequently abandoned. Passenger service on the line ended in 1949.
I don’t know when the B&O branch was abandoned, but it likely continued in operation through the 1970s and possibly into the 1980s. A portion of it still exists in Monroeville for the W&LE to serve a grain elevator.
The Lake Shore Electric last operated on May 15, 1938. Not long before then, the Eastern Ohio Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society — a forerunner of the Akron Railroad Club — ran a trip over the line.
During the 1960s, the ARRC chartered a B&O Rail Diesel Car and ran excursions between Akron and Sandusky to visit the Cedar Point amusement park.
I’ve long been fascinated by what railroads leave behind after they leave town. If you know where to look and what to look for, you can find reminders of what used to be.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders