Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Northeast Ohio’

Back by Popular Demand NOT!

April 5, 2019

Back in late November 2018 I wrote what I expected to be the last post for this blog.

I had conducted my last meeting as president of the Akron Railroad Club and a new president has been elected to replace me.

The blog I had created in 2009 to promote the ARRC would remain live but I wouldn’t create any new content. Besides, I would be moving out of state within a few months and would no longer be active in the ARRC.

I expected that traffic would quickly dry up. But that hasn’t quite been the case.

Because the site continues to get a fair amount of spam comments, I visit it every few days to clean out the spam.

In doing that I’ve been amazed that the site continue to have a fairly high level of visits despite there no being any new material posted here four months.

My thinking was to allow the site to remain live as an archive of ARRC activities and other historic information about the railroads of Northeast Ohio.

But no news would be posted about the ARRC or the region’s railroads.

I’ve since rethought that somewhat. I am not going to resume posting news about railroads or the ARRC.

The current leadership of the ARRC has a Facebook page and I see communicating with members as the responsibility of leadership, not former leaders and rank and file members.

But if people are still going to come to the site then I will on occasion give them something new to read.

That will be a mix of memories of ARRC events and activities and a few of my own memories of railfanning in Northeast Ohio whether connected to the ARRC or not.

I won’t necessarily post every week. There may be some long gaps between postings.

But I look forward to walking down memory lane with you and remembering what used to be.

Maple Grove Park on the NS Cleveland Line

November 14, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, I had a few minutes to kill before leaving for work. I checked out former Akron Railroad Club member Richard Thompson’s Flickr page. A couple of photos on Rich’s page intrigued me.

The captions said they were in a park between Hudson and Macedonia. I quickly visited Google Maps to see if I could find the spot.

Indeed I did. Railroad west of Hudson on the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern between the Hines Hill and Twinsburg Road crossing is a hiking trail that comes up next to the tracks for about a quarter of a mile. The identifier on the park said “Maple Grove Park.”

I had to leave for work, so when I got home I googled “Maple Grove Park” and found it listed in the Hudson Park District’s site.

It features a hiking trail of just over a mile in a triangular shaped piece of land and not much else.

Since the trail is west of the tracks, I figured afternoon light would be best. On a recent sunny Sunday afternoon, I headed to the park to see what it was all about.

Maple Grove Park is located at the end of a dead end street called Farnham Way. I parked at the cul-de-sac at the end of the street and walked into the park.

The hiking trail is a loop and the shortest distance back to the tracks is to take the trail going to your left. It is about a quarter of a mile from your car to the tracks.

When I got to the tracks, I found the spot to be just as Rich had it in his photos.

A split-rail fence separates the trail from the tracks for a short distance then the trail dips down into a low area and rises back to track level before turning back into the woods.

Within 10 minutes of my arrival, NS ran two trains. The 24M went east and the 21Q went west.

It was now about 2:45 in the afternoon. The lighting was great for these trains, but the tall trees that surround the area combined with the low sun of October meant it wouldn’t last very much longer.

I was right and by 4 p.m. I gave up my vigil at the park because shadows now enveloped the area. Summertime may offer a longer window to shoot here. It didn’t help matters that NS did not have any more trains to run from 21Q’s passage until I left.

If you check out the park, eastbound trains can be heard calling the signal at CP 102. They do not blow for Twinsburg Road crossing; it is a quiet zone. Westbounds blow for Hines Hill Road, so you get some warning that they are coming.

The parking area for the park is on a cul-de-sac, with houses on both sides. Respect the residents’ property and we should be able to railfan at Maple Grove Park for many years to come.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Strategies for Getting The West End of the W&LE

August 20, 2014

The brother and I have been doing things in the past few years that we call quests. We set out to get one specific photo or to cover a particular area.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie’s west end, the area that I define as anything west of Brewster, is one area that we concentrated on last spring and during the early summer.

The W&LE is not busy enough to warrant sitting at Spencer and waiting for a train. You may have a very long wait.

But if you incorporate another railroad into your railfanning plans and keep the Wheeling locked into your scanner, you can accomplish a good chase while getting multiple photographs.

Here is our top strategy for finding trains on the W&LE. Wellington is the base of our operations. It sits between the Spencer and Hartland radio bases for W&LE radio communications.

If a train is working at Spencer, you can hear them talking on the radio rather clearly. The transmissions from a train working at Hartland are more scratchy and distant, but this is where a little luck and railfan savvy comes into play. More on that in a moment.

We start our quest at Wellington because CSX will keep us entertained while we’re waiting for the Wheeling to run something. If by some chance they don’t run, you haven’t wasted your day.

The Wellington reservoir is great place for shooting CSX trains in the morning. Another plus here is that the radio reception is great from atop the reservoir.

By afternoon the light shifts to the other side of the tracks and now it’s time to head for the Ohio Route. 18 crossing in town and shoot the Wellington Elevator.

Sometime during this time, the W&LE’s channel should have come to life.

“Dispatcher Brewster answering Spencer Base.”

There is often a turn job that comes into Spencer in the afternoon from Medina. Since this is the least scenic and hardest to chase W&LE line out of Spencer, we pass on this train.

The Toledo-bound train has been running in the afternoon fairly regularly lately. It picks up cars in Spencer and get a track warrant to continue west. By this time we’re set up at our first photo spot between Spencer and Wellington.

Hopefully, CSX cooperates and delays the W&LE at Wellington so that we can get through town ahead of the train, thus giving us a choice of photo locations. You can shoot at the main entrance to the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington at the west entrance to the fairgrounds, along Pitts Road, or at the grain elevator in Brighton.

From Brighton to Clarksfield the spots are very ordinary, but the expanded elevator in Clarksfield is a must-do shot.

Don’t like elevator shots? When there are no leaves on the trees, the DeRussey Road overpass make a nice photo location. As soon as the leaves appear, the railroad is barely visible in a tunnel of trees.

The yard at Hartland may or may not slow down your westbound. If it does, look to shoot the fertilizer plant at Greenwich/Milan Town Line Road.

If not, head into Norwalk to get a shot near downtown coming under the Main Street bridge.

Monroeville offer a nice shot of the train on the bridge over the Huron River from the adjacent h and bike trail on the old right-of-way of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern

From here to Bellevue, the shots are across the fields or from the hike/bike trail. At Bellevue, the Toledo train may get a new crew, which may impede any further progress. Since you’re in Bellevue, you may as well enjoy some time railfanning the Norfolk Southern.

If the Toledo-bound W&LE train is not in Spencer during the afternoon, you might get lucky and get an eastbound heading for Brewster.

This chase is more difficult, but worth the effort. We usually pick out a spot east of Spencer, but not too far out. There is a shot at Fulton Road near Smithville that features a farm on a hillside that shouldn’t be missed. You have to hustle to get there from Spencer ahead of the train. We avoid Lodi while driving there.

After Smithville, hustle your way further east/south to the area around Kidron Station.

This area is quite scenic with two elevators that are shootable. When trying to get here from Smithville, remember only the main roads have direct access to U.S. 30.

When railfanning the W&LE, unpredictability is the rule. We had a train headed to Carey to chase one day but another day netted no W&LE trains. Just be ready for anything and enjoy Northeast Ohio’s favorite regional, the W&LE.

Article by Marty Surdyk