The eastbound manifest freight passes the Conrail-era signals that guard the diamond in Wellington. This train originated in Toledo and was bound for Brewster.
It had been quite some time since I’d been to Wellington, a small town on the former Big Four mainline that is now part of the primary CSX artery between Chicago and the Atlantic Coast.
The weather wasn’t the best for photography. Although it was a bit sunny as I drove out to this Lorain County community that is home to the county’s fairgrounds, I could see a front moving in and by the time I got there the skies would be overcast.
But I pressed on. Even if I took only a few photos I would be content with having sat next to the tracks for a few hours and seeing a few trains pass by.
Of course I also had the Wheeling & Lake Erie road channel turned on in my scanner. Spencer, a nearby town where two W&LE routes cross, is but a few minutes’ drive away.
I had not photographed the Wheeling in Spencer in I don’t know how long. I was overdue to visit there.
Around 9:30, I heard someone toning up the CSX IG dispatcher. It was an eastbound Wheeling train looking to cross CSX at CP 37. The dispatcher told him to watch for a signal.
That got me moving. I drove over to the Erie Street crossing, which offers a nice view of the diamond of the two railroads.
The lead unit was a disappointment. It was a blue and white former EMD lease unit that still features the General Motors logo on the nose. The two trailing units were clad in the W&LE’s black and orange livery. Either would have made a better lead unit.
But the railroad doesn’t assign power to meet the needs of photographers. Some guys would have put down their cameras and maybe even walked away. But I fired away.
Then it was on to Spencer where I got this train passing a feed mill or whatever it is. I was surprised to see that an old grain elevator that used to be here had been demolished.
Now fast forward to early afternoon. I am back in Wellington next to the tracks watching the CSX traffic.
I needed to leave in a half hour to get home to take my wife to an Irish bar for St. Patrick’s Day.
I heard the W&LE dispatcher talking to a train. When I heard the words “you’re all back on the W and L E” I presumed that it was an eastbound on the Carey Subdivision that was headed for Spencer after having cleared CSX at New London.
That was confirmed when the dispatcher gave the train instructions to leave in the yard at Spencer a cut of cars bound for South Akron.
Off I went again to Spencer. I parked just south of the crossing and locked my scanner into the W&LE road channel.
I didn’t see any headlights to the west on the ex-Akron, Canton & Youngstown line but I figured – correctly – that I would know when the train was near because I’d hear tones on the radio as the engineer lined the switches and the signal guarding the diamond.
The stone train stopped at the Spencer “yard office,” the conductor got off and the train moved ahead before stopping yet again.
The cut of hoppers that was to be left in the yard was situated just behind the motive power. A pair of black and orange W&LE SD40s were on the lead. The third unit, though, was a gray and blah looking ex-Kansas City Southern unit.
The train passed by and I got my photographs. I could have stayed longer and gotten the power coming out of the yard, but I could hear a pint of Smithwick’s calling me and another pint of Harp behind it. Erin go Bragh.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
Approaching the diamond with CSX in Wellington.
The train passed through Spencer without stopping or working the yard.
A lone locomotive sits in the Spencer yard. It likely was either set out as a bad order or is awaiting re-assignment to a train that will be working in Spencer. I’ve never known the W&LE to assign locomotives to Spencer for switching.
The stone train is moving toward the yard. Look carefully and you’ll see the conductor standing by the Spencer “yard office.”
The open space on the other side of the tracks is where the grain elevator used to be.
Hoppers filled with stone rumble into the yard. These work-a-day hoppers may not be the most glamorous looking cars on the railroad, but they get the job done.
The conductor rides the last car into the yard. He is dressed for outdoor winter working conditions.