Posts Tagged ‘Wheeling & Lake Erie locomotives’

Tuesday Twofer: W&LE Motive Power

August 11, 2020

One interesting facet of the motive power fleet of the Wheeling & Lake Erie is that you can expect to get some variety.

The railroad is known for putting into service leased and newly purchased used locomotives still wearing their last livery.

Eventually the new units find their way to the paint booth to get the black and orange “Tiger” look but it can be years before some units arrive there.

The top image SD40-3 No. 3034 is westbound on CSX tracks in Akron on July 1, 2011. Trailing it is a former Union Pacific SD40-2 that looks like it is wearing primer paint.

In the bottom image, W&LE SD40-2 No. 6315 is in Akron on Oct. 21, 2009, still wearing its Wisconsin Central colors.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

So Who Was Bo Bo?

June 2, 2020

Wheeling & Lake Erie SD40-2 No. 4003 is noteworthy for two reasons.

It was the first W&LE locomotive to be repainted into the railroad’s orange and black livery.

However, that livery had a slight variation from what became the standard. It had a different font for lettering, and its pilots and the area round the front number boards were black.

No. 4003 was repainted in 2002 to match the rest of the motive power fleet.

As for the name BoBo that appears on the short hood, it’s not clear who that is but it’s probably a W&LE employee or former employee.

In the top image No. 4002 is shown at Navarre on March 9, 2016.

The bottom image shows No. 4003 in January 2001 in Hartland Yard in its original W&LE livery.

Top Photograph by Robert Farkas

The Rio Grande of the East: Part 4

April 2, 2020

The east end of the Wheeling & Lake Erie is known for its many tunnels and high steel bridges.  Probably the best known is Speer trestle over the Monongahela River.

Completed in 1929, Speer is a masterpiece of iron and steel and uniquely was built to house two different rail lines, including the former Pittsburgh & West Virginia on top and the Monessen Southwestern on the lower deck.

The Pennsylvania Railroad objected to this and the lower track was never completed but it makes for a unique design nonetheless. I have caught a coupe trains here over the last few weeks.

The first two pictures are of the Denver & Rio Grande Western pair heading back to Pittsburgh from Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

The last two photographs are of a train heading to Connellsville. The typical operation is a train running Pittsburgh to Connellsville one day and returning the next.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Rio Grande of the East: Part 3

March 31, 2020

At one point The Wheeling & Lake Erie had seven former Denver & Rio Grande Western engines on its roster and all still were painted for their former owner.

This included one GP35, four GP40s and two SD40T-2s. The GP35 has since been rebuilt and repainted as have two of the GP40s, one of which was destroyed in a wreck. That leaves just four engines still in Rio Grande paint.

Here are some photos of the former Rio Grande units from when they were still painted and lettered for the Rio Grande.

The top photograph was made in Glenwillow, the middle photograph in Parma and the bottom photograph in Carey.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Rio Grande of the East: Part 2

March 30, 2020

Last weekend the Wheeling & Lake Erie sent its two Rio Grande painted tunnel motors to Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

For many years seeing either one of these on the east end was a rarity. It was pokicy to keep them west of Brewster because of their larger wheelbase.

Recently this has changed. As a result of CSX and NS converting to Positive Train control the Wheeling has been equipping many of their engines with PTC to run on those lines.

The two former Rio Grande tunnel motors have not and will not be so equipped.

As a result they will be confined to ares of the railroad that do not require PTC use. I caught the pair leading a train into Connellsville this past Saturday.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

The Rio Grande of the East

March 28, 2020

The Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad is considered the “Rio Grande of the East.” It gets this moniker for several reasons.

CEO Larry Parsons worked for the Rio Grande and when he came to the Wheeling he adopted a paint scheme similar to that of the Rio Grande.

Also the territory, especially the east end of the railroad, is very rugged with many tunnels and high steel bridges.

Last Saturday I caught Wheeling train 218 as it exited State Line tunnel on the border of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Engine 301 is a GP40 that is a former Rio Grande engine acquired secondhand by the Wheeling.

Article and Photograph by Todd Dillon

W&LE Motive Power on CSX in Akron

November 27, 2019

Here are two grab shots of Wheeling & Lake Erie SD40-2 No. 7009 pushing its train east on CSX in Akron on Nov. 26. The 7009 had already passed under the Wilbeth Road walk bridge as I got there.

As you can see, that is a small part of industrial Akron in the background of image one as seen through the fence webbing.

The bottom image is actually a zoomed in shot from the same location.

No. 7009 was used in the making of the 2010 movie Unstoppable and for the filming received a specially painted fictional Allegheny & West Virginia Railroad livery of gray, yellow and black.

It has been given a positive train control apparatus.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas


Mission Accomplished in Monroeville on the WE

September 3, 2015
Four SD40s lead a Brewster-bound train over the West Branch Huron River in Monroeville. Everything just kind of fell into place in getting this image.

Four SD40s lead a Brewster-bound train over the West Branch Huron River in Monroeville. Everything just kind of fell into place in getting this image.

A lone unit brings up the rear.

A lone unit brings up the rear.

About to leave Bellevue on the Lake Shore connection, which is one of the few sections of former New York Central track left still being used for railroad transportation on the original Lake Shore & Michigan Southern route between Elyria and Toledo via Oberline and Bellevue.

About to leave Bellevue on the Lake Shore connection, which is one of the few sections of former New York Central track left still being used for railroad transportation on the original Lake Shore & Michigan Southern route between Elyria and Toledo via Oberline and Bellevue.

During the past year I’ve noticed some rather outstanding photographs posted online of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Hartland Subdivision tracks crossing the West Branch Huron River in Monroeville.

I’ve been through Monroeville countless times going to and from Bellevue. I figured the view was from the adjacent North Coast Inland Trail, a rails to trail project, but I didn’t know exactly where in Monroeville that it was.

In early August I was en route to Bellevue for the railfan festival being sponsored by the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum.

As I crossed over the W&LE tracks on the U.S. 20 bypass around Norwalk, I spotted the headlight of a westbound Wheeling train. Now seemed to be time to find that bridge and get a photo there.

My first guess as to where the bridge was located came up empty. The next road that went through to the Wheeling tracks was Ohio Route 99. It crosses the trail just south of the W&LE tracks and I could see the bridge from the grade crossing.

I parked by the restored Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot and walked the short distance to the bridge.

I waited a good 45 minutes and no train showed up. Had I seen a mirage or a reflection?

It turned out that I had, indeed, seen a locomotive headlight, but it was the rear unit of a train that had come down from Toledo.

W&LE trains going to and from Toledo have motive power on both ends to make it easier to do the see-saw movement they need to undertake in Bellevue to navigate from Norfolk Southern tracks to the Wheeling’s own line.

I vowed that if a Wheeling train left Bellevue during the Akron Railroad Club’s day-long outing there later in the month that I would chase it to Monroeville and get the bridge shot.

As I arrived in Bellevue for the ARRC outing, I spotted a W&LE train on the Lake Shore connection, its two SD40 eastward-facing locomotives cut off so as not to block Prairie Road.

That was a good sign. At some point that train would leave town and head for Brewster.

Then I got to the Kemper Rail Park and noticed a sole SD40 on the west end of the train. During the rail festival earlier in August, I had seen a W&LE train make the transition from the Lake Shore connection to the NS Toledo District. That train had had one unit on the west end.

I figured the train I was seeing during the ARRC outing would be going to Toledo.

It was getting to be late morning when fellow ARRC member Todd Dillon arrived with news that two more SD40s had been added to the east end of the train on the Lake Shore connection.

Todd had seen the crew getting on and presumed the train would be going to Brewster.

But around that time a crew van pulled up and a crew member got on the lone locomotive stopped just short of Monroe Street. That suggested the train was going to Toledo.

The Wheeling assigns two engineers to this train to shave the time needed to do the see-saw move on NS in Bellevue.

Just before noon, I heard the crew call the Wheeling dispatcher on the radio and say it was ready to “head back.” In short order the train began moving toward Brewster.

Todd and I jumped into my car and headed for Monroeville. Everything had fallen into place and I wound up getting the image that I wanted. It was nice to have two opportunities to catch W&LE motive power crossing the muddy Huron River.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

On Photography: Transforming a Roster Shot

February 9, 2015
The roster shot of W&LE 6989.

The roster shot of W&LE 6989.

After zooming out to take in more of the scene around the locomotive.

After zooming out to take in more of the scene around the locomotive.

The roster shot of a pair of GP35-3 locomotives.

The roster shot of a pair of GP35-3 locomotives.

Zooming out to make an environmental shot.

Zooming out to make an environmental shot.

We were cruising eastbound on Interstate 76 past Brittain Yard in Akron. I spotted an orange locomotive so we got off at the next exit and backtracked to check it out.

It was Wheeling & Lake Erie No. 6889, an SD40-2 still wearing a BNSF “pumpkin” livery.

It had begun life in April 1968 as Canadian National SD40 No. 5041 before being rebuilt by Alstom in 1999.

Despite single digit temperatures, we parked on the side of the exit ramp and traipsed through the snow to get a photo.

It was a bright sunny morning with the low sun angle illuminating the minute detail on the locomotive’s right flank.

Many guys would have made the roster shot and been done with it. I did the roster shot, too, but saw other possibilities.

Towering over the rear of the locomotive was a light tower and two elevated sand tanks.

If I zoomed out, I could get the light tower and all of the sand tanks.

You can somewhat see in the roster shot that the locomotive is at a service facility, but the wider photograph has a stronger sense of place.

What about those trees and the hillside in the background? What do they add? The snow and bare trees strengthen the feel of winter.

I thought about cropping to eliminate what appears to be empty space in the right third. But I didn’t want to lose the light tower.

I could create a vertical image by cropping just beyond the locomotive nose, but that would have meant losing the movement that the tracks create.

Your eyes naturally follow the tracks in the foreground to the right because we usually think of locomotives moving forward.

Crop out that space and that movement is lost. Lack of a sense of movement is one of the downsides of roster images.

Also in the service area were the W&LE Operation Lifesaver unit (GP 35-3 No. 102) and the Akron, Canton & Youngstown tribute unit (GP35-3 No. 107). They were coupled together and made an out-of-the ordinary sight.

After making the roster shot, I zoomed out to see what the scene entailed.

Two lines of covered hopper cars sat on the west edge of the property in what appeared to be a transloading operation.

Zooming out also enabled me to incorporate the engine house, the yard’s light tower and a few other locomotives.

This wider angle photo is more compelling because of its stronger sense of place. It shows the locomotives in a railroad environment.

Incorporating the covered hopper cars gave the image a richer perspective by showing another of the multitude of tasks that go on in a railroad yard. The hoppers also created a left frame for the railroad property.

The wider views in both images deprive the viewer of the ability to see more easily some detail on the locomotives. That was particularly the case with the two GP35s.

Some might argue that the brush in the foreground of the GP35s photo contributes little to nothing to the image.

The brush could be cropped out, but that would result in a shallow horizontal image. I’m not fond of those because it feels like the image has been squeezed.

That foreground brush along with the trees in the background help contribute to the sense of the railroad yard belonging to an environment.

Railroad facilities do not exist in isolation. Brittain Yard is bordered by a neighborhood that can be seen through the trees above the engine house. There is a variety of vegetation from the edge of I-76 to the railroad property.

None of these images are going to win any prizes. They lack a high “wow” factor.

But most images that we make don’t have that potential nor do they need to have it.

Make your roster shots if you must. But don’t overlook creating a more interesting image by zooming out and capturing a more comprehensive perspective.

Commentary by Craig Sanders



W&LE Locomotive News and Notes

February 9, 2014
W&LE No. 6347 is shown trailing west of Greenwich, Ohio, on Nov. 6, 2011. The blue and white EMD livery has been replaced with W&LE black and gold. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

W&LE No. 6347 is shown trailing west of Greenwich, Ohio, on Nov. 6, 2011. The blue and white EMD livery has been replaced with W&LE black and gold. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

Another blue and white Wheeling & Lake Erie blue and white locomotive has been repainted into the company’s black and orange liver.

No. 6347, a former EMD SD40-2 lease unit that the W&LE acquired, re-entered revenue service in January after a rebuild. The unit was originally Milwaukee Road No. 174 before becoming EMD 6347.

In other W&LE locomotive news, the 6387 is still wearing its original Burlington Northern green paint although it has received a patch with its W&LE road number. The unit was originally BN 6779, a number it carried onto the BNSF roster.

Earlier this year, former BNSF/BN 7800 and former Kansas City Southern 668 were awaiting renumbering in Brewster and being made ready for service.

The W&LE planned to begin rebuilding and repainting another SD40-2 early in the year after releasing the 6347.