Posts Tagged ‘Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway’

Book Covers AC&Y History in Photographs

June 1, 2015

The Akron, Canton & Youngstown Railroad has been gone for five decades and in most of the country it is just another obscure fallen flag if it is remembered at all.

But not so in Northeast Ohio where the AC&Y remains well known even though three railroad companies have operated the property since the Norfolk & Western acquired the AC&Y in 1964.

img448The operations of the AC&Y have been covered in various books and other sources over the years, but now the railroad has its own book.

Released earlier this year by Morning Sun, Akron, Canton & Youngstown and Akron & Barberton Belt in Color does double duty in covering the history of two railroads that were headquartered in Akron.

Today, what is left of both railroads is owned by the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway, with the A&BB operating under the name Akron Barberton Cluster Railway.

Most of the 128 pages of this book are devoted to the AC&Y and follow the standard Morning Sun “slide show in a book” format.

The majority of the content focuses on equipment, but those looking for an overview of the history of both railroads as well as their operations will come away satisfied.

A few black and white photos made their way into the pages, which is not surprising considering that much of the history of the AC&Y was made before color photography became widespread.

Contributing photographers include current and former Akron Railroad Club members John Beach, Peter Bowler, Roger Durfee, Dave McKay and Chris Lantz. Robert Farkas provided information to the author.

Robert E. Lucas wrote the book in conjunction with the AC&Y Historical Society. ARRC member H. Roger Grant wrote the foreword.

Unlike other roads that the Norfolk & Western acquired in the 1960s, the AC&Y continued to operate with a high degree of autonomy that included keeping the AC&Y name.

It wasn’t until 1982 that the AC&Y Corporation was dissolved and the N&W began operating as a wholly-owned subsidiary the road that never made it to either Canton or Youngstown.

Nonetheless, N&W equipment became common on the ex-AC&Y and the AC&Y identity gradually faded away.

This is a comprehensive look at the company’s history, including the era when the western end of the line was known by such names as Pittsburgh, Akron & Western, Lake Erie & Western, and the Northern Ohio Railway.

Some of the trackage in Akron was built as part of the original AC&Y and the book does a nice job of covering the histories of the predecessor railroad companies.

The book describes with words and photographs the operations of the line from Delphos to Akron before describing in detail the locomotive and freight car fleets. There are sections devoted to such topics as stations, infrastructure and passenger train operations.

The book has brief sections describing how the AC&Y as well as the A&BB have fared in the W&LE era.

Most of the photographs are of the roster shot variety with some action images spread throughout the book. Rosters of equipment are provided along with a few maps.

This book will make a welcome addition to the collection of anyone with an interest in the history of Northeast Ohio railroads.

Review by Craig Sanders


Looking Good After More than a Decade

February 8, 2015

WE 1

WE 2

Ohio celebrated its bicentennial in 2003. As part of the festivities, the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway painted GP35-3 No. 200 into a black and white livery with a red, white and blue bicentennial logo, and an Ohio flag painted on its sides. White stripes adorned the nose.

I’ve seen and photographed this unit before, including a time when it was leading a train on CSX when the W&LE still used its trackage rights on the New Castle Subdivision through Kent.

Although this livery is approaching 12 years of age, the unit itself is much older. It was built by EMD in December 1964 for the Southern Railway, where it carried roster number 2706.

The “new” Wheeling acquired the unit in 1990. It was rebuilt in October 1995. Along the way it acquired Alco trucks.

My latest encounter with W&LE 200 was near New London earlier this month. It was sitting in the siding just east of Chenango Road waiting for the approval of the IG dispatcher to get onto the CSX Greenwich Subdivision.

With fellow unit 4016 (an SD40-3), the 200 was cooling its heels with a Willard-bound manifest freight.

The original plan was to photograph this train at GN Tower in Greenwich after it got on the CSX Willard Terminal Subdivision.

But with time running short — it was getting to be late afternoon — we decided to look for it in New London.

And there is was, looking rather splendid. Maybe the railfan gods were looking out for us because some late day sunlight poked through a crevice in the clouds and No. 200 looked even more spectacular taking a bow for the cameras.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

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


How Do You Move an Old Depot? Very Carefully

July 30, 2014


The 1881 “original” Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway’s Kent depot was moved from its long time location next to the tracks on Sunday July 27.

Stein House Movers had the delicate task of moving this important piece of Kent history across the tracks and onto a vacant field not far from its original location.

In no particular order here are a few photos of the operation. The station was raised up after supports were placed under it, rolled over to the tracks, the wheels spun around, and then rolled north over the right of way and on to its final resting place.

A truck was used to tie onto the support structure (there was no trailer) and slowly pull the load north with some help from a Deere digger.

To those involved in moving this building, thank you, and a big thank you to Ted Klaassen Jr.,

who purchased it. Plans are to restore it to as close to its original appearance as possible.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee




















A Train, er, I Mean a Depot is Coming

July 29, 2014
The excursion train from Glenwillow to Kent on July 5 rolls past the former Wheeling & Lake Erie passenger station in Kent. It would be the last passenger train to pass the depot in the location where it had sat for 133 years.

The excursion train from Glenwillow to Kent on July 5 rolls past the former Wheeling & Lake Erie passenger station in Kent. It would be the last passenger train to pass the depot in the location where it had sat for 133 years.

On Sunday, July 27, it appeared as through the Kent depot was moving down the tracks as the station was maneuvered to a new location on the west side of the railroad.

On Sunday, July 27, it appeared as through the Kent depot was moving down the tracks as the station was maneuvered to a new location on the west side of the railroad.

Roger Durfee was on hand this past Sunday for the moving of the former Wheeling & Lake Erie passenger station in Kent to a new location. It turned out that the last train that he photographed passing that depot was, appropriately enough,  a passenger extra powered by Cleveland Commercial power headed for the Kent Heritage Festival on July 5. Additional photographs that Roger took of the depot’s moving day will be posted on this blog on Wednesday.

Photographs by Roger Durfee


Kent W&LE Station to be Moved Today

July 27, 2014


The former Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway passenger station in Kent is slated to be moved today to a new location. But it won’t be going far. It’s new home will be across the tracks from its current location.

Kent businessman Ted Klaassen Jr., the president of Components & Equipment International, agreed to buy the 133-year-old depot and to move it to his property.

The station, built in 1881, had been in danger of being razed in order to make room for expansion of Carter Lumber, which owns the property on which the depot current sits.

Klaassen plans to have the station rotated during the move so that the side facing the rails will continue to do so.

Workers from Stein House Movers prepared the station during the past week for its move today by digging out the earth around the foundation of the building.

Once the station is in place in its new location it will likely be used for storage, Klaassen said.

Moving the depot is expected to cost $15,000.

Kent Feed and Supply was the last tenant of the station, but it closed last year. Carter Lumber had in 2012 acquired the property on which the depot sits and worked with Kent groups interested in saving the depot. Otherwise, the lumber company had planned to demolish it.

The last scheduled passenger train to use the station was a Cleveland-Wheeling, W.Va., roundtrip that last operated on July 17, 1938.



Kent Railroad Depots In Danger of Demolition

June 3, 2014

The former Wheeling & Lake Erie depot in Kent was previously a feed store, but now faces possible demolition if the building is not sold.

Kent is fortunate to still have the three railroad passenger stations that once served this Portage County city, but two of them are in danger of being razed.

The former Wheeling & Lake Erie depot may be facing the wrecking ball unless a private investor comes forward soon to save it.

The depot, built in 1881, is located on West Main Street and features chipped red siding, dingy white doors, broken windows and a weathered foundation.

The depot has changed hands several times and most recently was used by Kent Feed and Supply, which closed last year.

Carter Lumber purchased the depot in 2012 with the knowledge that it would be turned over to it once it was vacated.

Carter Lumber used part of the depot property to enlarge its outdoor storage yard. In an effort to save the 133-year-old depot, Carter Lumber offered the structure to the City of Kent.

“We told Kent that if it has some kind of historic value, you’re welcome to salvage it,” said Chuck Price, vice president of construction/development at Carter Lumber.

The city, though, declined the offer.

“The problem from the public perspective is the building condition and previous use, all of which brought the city to the final conclusion that the city could not re-purpose the building,” said Kent Service Director Gene Roberts.

Carter isn’t planning to demolish the building just yet but likely will if no one else comes forward to preserve it.

Price said there has been some interest from at least one individual, who he declined to name, but it is uncertain if anyone will commit to saving or relocating the station.

Price said he expects to know more later this month.

“Not all buildings can be reused, and not all buildings can be saved,” said Sandy Halem of the Kent Historical Society, which originally formed in the 1970s to save the Erie Depot on Franklin Street when it was abandoned.

That building is owned by the KHS and space is leased to the Pufferbelly Ltd. restaurant and other entities, creating a revenue stream for the nonprofit organization.

The KHS doesn’t have the financial resources to take on the depot on West Main Street, but supports its preservation.

Halem, however, fears rough winter weather may have damaged the building’s aging foundation base, noting that it now might be impossible to move.

In the meantime, the future of the former Baltimore & Ohio passenger station in Kent also remains murky.

That structure, built in 1905, caught fire last April. CSX had been using it for storage, but the railroad has not revealed what plans it has for the structure.

A freight depot that once sat across from the B&O passenger station was demolished in 2010.


W&LE to Operate Operation Lifesaver Trips

May 13, 2014
WE 102 "Operation Lifesaver" leads the  OLS train on May 17, 2012. (Photograph by Richard Jacobs)

WE 102 “Operation Lifesaver” leads the OLS train on May 17, 2012. (Photograph by Richard Jacobs)

The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway in conjunction with the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society is operating a series of Operation Lifesaver specials. Ten trips will be operated as part of the OLS programs in several local schools.

A trip on the railroad will follow classroom presentations about trains and safety around them. Law enforcement and railroad personnel will speak on the trains about railroad safety concerns, particularly at rail/highway crossings.

The first trip ran on Monday and additional trips are set to run this week and next. Here is the planned schedule and the city from which the train will depart.

Tuesday, May 13, Brewster at 1:30 p.m.; Wednesday, May 14 Smithville at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.; Thursday, May 15,  Smithville at 9:45 a.m. and Creston at 1 p.m.; Friday, May 16, Orrville at 1 p.m.; Monday, May 19, Spencer at 9:30 a.m. and Lodi at 12:30 p.m. A trip will also be made on Thursday, May 22, from Bowerston at 10 a.m.

ORHS has partnered with the W&LE for several years in the Operation Lifesaver safety programs.

Reeling in Some Good Catches This Week

May 2, 2014


On Tuesday, the freshly repainted Conrail caboose came through on the 15K.  I saw it pass Hudson but didn’t get it. I ended up chasing it across town, catching it east of downtown Cleveland and again at West 150th St and at CP Max.

While the 15K switched Rockport yard, a 145 came off the NKP with a Citirail engine in the lead.  I wouldn’t have caught this engine without the caboose coming through so it’s funny how railfanning works sometimes.

Wednesday found me at Bellevue where a Wheeling & Lake Erie train heading for Toledo had a freshly painted SD40-2 No. 6384 in the lead.

This is the Wheeling’s contribution to the NMRA Cleveland 2014 National convention.  I caught this train east of town but then it parked in a tight fenced-in location while waiting to cross NS.  After nearly three hours it finally moved, but it was nearly dark by then.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon




W&LE Employees Enjoy Santa Claus Train Ride

December 7, 2013
Westbound W&LE Santa train crosses Pigeon Run Ave SW at Justus.

Westbound W&LE Santa train crosses Pigeon Run Ave SW at Justus.

Thanksgiving weekend is the traditional start of the Christmas season and operation of Santa Claus trains began by several railroads in Northeast Ohio.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway is among those that offer Santa trains for their employees and families. On Friday, Nov. 29 three Santa trains were operated from Brewster, the Wheeling’s headquarters. The trains left at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The passenger cars on the trains were provided by the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society. ORHS passenger car attendants and a mechanical crew were onboard.

The W&LE theater car was added to the train. A Wheeling locomotive was at each end to eliminate switching maneuvers at the end of the run before the return trip to Brewster.

I arrived in Brewster in early afternoon to photograph the action. The 1 p.m. train was out on the road, headed for Bolivar.

I set up at Justus where the RJ Corman line crosses the Wheeling’s Brewster sub division. The westbound Santa train arrived shortly after 2 p.m.

After photographing it, I went to Brewster to catch the passenger unloading. I visited with Superintendent Jim Hill who was busy securing the train since it was scheduled to proceed later to Orrville for the ORHS “Riding with Santa” trains on Saturday. The afternoon sun was bright for nice photos.

The W&LE Santa train also operated along the Ohio River at Rayland on the River subdivision. Santa trains would be ran on Sunday, Dec. 1 for the enjoyment of the Wheeling’s eastern employees and their families. I served as a crew member on those trains in 2010.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

Westbound W&LE Santa train crosses the RJCL line at Justus. W&LE 04 is at the rear of the train, having led eastbound to Bolivar.

Westbound W&LE Santa train crosses the RJCL line at Justus. W&LE 04 is at the rear of the train, having led eastbound to Bolivar.

Happy W&LE employees leave the 1990 after a delightful Santa train ride to Bolivar.

Happy W&LE employees leave the 1990 after a delightful Santa train ride to Bolivar.

Happy W&LE employees leave the Santa train after a delightful ride to Bolivar.

Happy W&LE employees leave the Santa train after a delightful ride to Bolivar.

What a great ride with Santa!

What a great ride with Santa!

Superintendent Jim Hill and son make ready to tie down the Santa train at the end of the third trip.

Superintendent Jim Hill and son make ready to tie down the Santa train at the end of the third trip.

ORHS First Class cars on the W&LE Santa train.

ORHS First Class cars on the W&LE Santa train.