Posts Tagged ‘Wheeling & Lake Erie’

NKP Photographer, Historian Howard Ameling Dies

October 10, 2017

Nickel Plate Road photographer and historian Howard W. Ameling died last week at age 88 after a long illness.

A retired post office employee, Mr. Ameling spent much of his life in Fremont, Ohio, which was served by two NKP predecessor railroads, the Lake Erie & Western and Wheeling & Lake Erie.

He became interested in photographing railroad operations after a visit to the Chicago Railroad Fair in 1948 and would later photograph and collect thousands of images and movies related to the NKP and its components.

He also authored numerous articles about the Nickel Plate.

Mr. Ameling was a founding member of the Nickel Plate Road Historical & Technical Society, which was organized in 1966.

The Society presented him with its first Founder’s Award. Mr. Ameling donated his collection to the society’s archives.

Mr. Ameling is survived by his wife, Dorothy, “Dot” Ameling.

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Bonus Time in Bellevue

August 15, 2017

The 5413 has a pair of mismatched number boards as it leads its train out of Moorman Yard on Norfolk Southern.

Whenever I go to Bellevue I figure that if I get any Wheeling & Lake Erie trains it’s a bonus.

I go to Bellevue to see Norfolk Southern and if the W&LE comes into or leaves town that is value added to my day.

Such was the case during a recent visit in which my W&LE bonus time began in Monroeville when I spotted the railroad’s business car sitting on a siding.

A few more miles down the road revealed a WE train sitting at Yeomans with its locomotives pointed eastward.

I wasn’t there when this train showed up and when I left town about 9 p.m, that night this train was still sitting where I had last seen it.

There would be yet one more W&LE bonus to be had in Bellevue. The job that interchanges with NS in Moorman Yard came out on the Brewster connection with a former Denver & Rio Grande Western SD40T-2 leading.

I doubt that anyone ever tires of seeing the Rio Grande on the Wheeling, particularly when one is leading or if two of them are paired together.

A closer view of the 5413 and its mismatched number boards as it rumbles onto the Brewster connection.

Stripes on the noses of W&LE 4000 and 6997.

A tunnel motor and a corn field.

Near Ohio Route 4 and sitting beside the trail built on the former New York Central right of way.

The Monroeville Flyer Doesn’t Run on Saturdays

July 20, 2017

This was the first time I’ve seen the Wheeling & Lake Erie’s “business train. “

I was driving to Bellevue on a Saturday afternoon where I was to present a program at the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum.

As I was passing through Monroeville on U.S. 20, I looked to my left as I passed the grain elevator to the south of the road.

The Sandusky-Willard branch of the Baltimore & Ohio once crossed here.

When passing by I often think about how the Akron Railroad Club in the 1960s sponsored B&O Rail Diesel Car excursions over this line to the Cedar Point amusement park.  Those trips originated at Akron Union Depot.

The line was abandoned in the 1980s but a short stretch remains in place for the Wheeling & Lake Erie to serve the grain elevator next to Route 20.

There always seems to be a small switch engine parked next to the elevator and, sometimes, some covered hopper cars.

The switcher was there as usual, but beyond it was something else and it wasn’t covered hopper cars.

It was W&LE GP35 No. 102 and a passenger car. For reasons not known to me, the Wheeling had parked its “business train” in Monroeville for the weekend.

No. 102 carries an Operation Lifesaver logo so perhaps the car was there for an OLS event. Or maybe it was going to be used for a shipper’s special.

This passenger car has a long and varied history. It was built by Pullman Standard in 1954 as a parlor-buffet lounge car for the Northern Pacific.

Burlington Northern sold it to Amtrak in 1971  and in 1982 it was acquired by the Grand Trunk Western which converted it into a track inspection car with roster number 15013. GTW was controlled by Canadian National, which later sold the car to Robert Bixler of Orrville, Ohio.

Bixler named the car, which was painted blue, the Buckeye Lady. Bixler was one of the principles of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society and the Buckeye Lady often was part of the consist of ORHS excursions.

After Bixler’s death at age 80 on April 24, 2007, the car was acquired a year later by the W&LE.  It was painted in its current livery in 2010.

I am not sure why this car was in Monroeville on this day but perhaps it was was going to be used for an Operation Lifesaver program or a shipper’s special. It is the first time I’ve seen this car since it was repainted in W&LE colors.

I turned onto a side street, parked my car and made this series of images. It has probably been a long time since the wheels of a passenger car polished the rails of that former B&O branch.

W&LE Union Members Authorize Strike

July 1, 2017

Union members at the Wheeling & Erie Railway have authorized a strike if negotiations on a new contract break down.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said it mailed strike ballots to more than 150 members, more than 75 of whom hold seniority as both locomotive engineers and trainmen.

BLET said that all ballots returned favored a strike if necessary, the union said in a news release.

The union represents locomotive engineer and trainman crafts at the W&LE and has been negotiating for a new contract since January 2012.

The union requested and received mediation and the two sides negotiated under the mediation for nearly five years.

BLET members rejected a tentative agreement last September. In May, BLET National President Dennis Pierce asked the mediator to declare an impasse and proffer arbitration as a possible prelude to being released from mediation.

 

Waiting and Waiting

June 28, 2017

Railroads spend a lot of time waiting, often to get permission from a dispatcher or yardmaster to move ahead.

If you work for the Wheeling & Lake Erie, it is almost a given that you’ll spend time waiting in Bellevue for Norfolk Southern to give the OK to move onto NS tracks.

With NS owning most of the trackage in Bellevue and with NS trains often coming and going, the Wheeling doesn’t have the highest priority.

During the Akron Railroad Club’s longest day outing in Bellevue last Sunday, the W&LE job that interchanges at Moorman yard arrived a little after 8:30 a.m.

It then sat on the Brewster connection for the next three hours.

Finally, shortly after 11:30, the Bellevue dispatcher lined the signal for the Wheeling to enter the mini plant and proceed eastward into the yard.

The motive power consist of the W&LE train included a pair of green, silver and black FURX sD40-2s that were numbered consecutively 6986 and 6987.

The third unit was “tiger stripe” 6351, which once starred as an Allegheny and West Virginia locomotive in the movie Unstoppable.

ARRC Longest Day is Sunday in Bellevue

June 21, 2017

The Akron Railroad Club will use the Kemper Railfan Park in Bellevue for its base of operations for the 2017 longest day outing.

Although it has been less than two years since the Akron Railroad Club held an outing in Bellevue, the club’s last longest day outing there occurred on June 27, 2010.

The outing was memorable for being cut short in late afternoon by a major thunderstorm.

We retreated to the Bob Evans restaurant in Norwalk for dinner and were greeted with a rainbow upon leaving. By then the storm had moved on.

Much has changed since the last ARRC longest day in Bellevue. The NS motive power fleet has grown more colorful with the addition of 20 heritage locomotives paying tribute to NS predecessor railroad.

The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum has added a railfan park on Monroe Street inside the NS mini plant, and the yard has been enlarged and named after former NS President and CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman.

With any luck we will be able to bag an NS heritage locomotive and maybe a train or two on the Wheeling & Lake Erie, which also comes into Bellevue.

Foreign power from Union Pacific, BNSF and Canadian National makes regular appearances in Bellevue.

It’s a given that there will be a lot of trains throughout the day. But we won’t be seeing the RoadRailer trains that we saw in 2010 and high-hood diesels, once a common sight in Bellevue, are pretty much gone.

Also gone are the Nickel Plate Road-style block signals on the Fostoria District, the Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals on the Sandusky District and the searchlight signals on the Toledo District. They’ve all been replaced by Safetrans signals.

The traffic mix will be mostly merchandise freight and auto rack trains. Some intermodal trains run on the Sandusky District, many of which take a connection between the Sandusky and Fostoria districts near Slaughterhouse Road on the south side of town.

As with other ARRC longest day events, it begins when the first person arrives and ends when the last person leaves.

The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum will be open between noon and 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (age 60 and older) and $5 for children (ages 5 to 12).

A portion of the museum’s collection, though, can be seen for free. This includes some locomotives and rolling stock.

Those still around at the end of the day will likely gather somewhere for dinner before heading home.

Maybe it will be the Bob Evans in Norwalk or somewhere else. It remains to be seen.

The focal point of the day will be the Kemper Railfan Park. It features a pavilion with tables and is strategically located to see most rail traffic in and out of Bellevue.

Parking along Monroe Street at the park is limited, so you might have to park across the tracks in a large gravel lot.

Also be advised that there are no restroom facilities at the railfan park.

As for food, there is a pizza shop (Pizza House West) within walking distance that is said by some railfans to be good. Subway has a shop at 301 East Main Street and there are a variety of restaurants in town including the standard fast food joints of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, East of Chicago Pizza, Marco’s Pizza, Burger King and Taco Bell.

Local establishments include Bone Boy’s BBQ The Smokehouse, Pizza Wheel, Twin Lakes Restaurant, Jenny’s Amsden House Restaurant, Happy Garden, Fontana’s Italian Eatery, Casa Mexicana, Little Italy Pizza, and Long Way Home Family Restaurant.

W&LE Focus of June ARRC Program

June 19, 2017

Matt Arnold will be presenting the program at the June 23 meeting of the Akron Railroad Club, a presentation that will focus on the Wheeling & Lake Erie in east central Ohio with brief coverage of a couple other short lines railroads as they relate to the W&LE.

The digital program will open with photographs in Brewster, then cover the W&LE’s Rook, River, Brewster, Cleveland and Akron subdivisions.

The meeting will begin with a short business meeting at 8 p.m. followed by the program at approximately 8:30 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

Following the meeting, some members gather at the Eat ‘n Park restaurant at Howe and Main streets in Cuyahoga Falls for a late dinner, dessert or an early breakfast.

Visitors are always welcome at Akron Railroad Club meetings.

NEORHS Picnic to be Held Saturday

June 16, 2017

The Northeastern Ohio Railway Historical Society will hold its annual picnic on Saturday in Hartville, starting at 6 p.m.

The picnic will be held at the Maple Street Gallery, the former Wheeling & Lake Erie depot in downtown Hartville.

Attendees are asked to bring an extra lawn chair if you have one as well as a favorite beverage, entrée and snack to share. A grill will be provided.

The event will run through 10:30 p.m. and include slide shows of railroad images. A digital projector and slide projector will be provided.

The depot is located at 120 E. Maple Street, just east of the intersection of Ohio routes 619 and 43.

Arnold to Present June ARRC Program

June 3, 2017

Matt Arnold will be presenting the program at the June 23 meeting of the Akron Railroad Club. He will replace Ron McElrath, who was scheduled to present but had to cancel due to a schedule conflict.

Ron will instead present a short program at the July 28 program, which will be the night of the roundhouse rubble silent auction.

Matt’s program at the June meeting will focus on Wheeling & Lake Erie operations in east central Ohio with brief coverage of a couple other short lines railroads as they relate to the W&LE.

The digital program will open with photographs in Brewster, then cover the W&LE’s Rook, River, Brewster, Cleveland and Akron subdivisions.

A graduate of Tuscarawas Valley High School, Matt is currently studying photojournalism at Kent State University. He works as an operator at The Wooster Brush Company and lives in Bolivar.

Matt’s photographs can be found on Flickr and Trainorders.com, as well as at a W&LE Facebook page that he oversees.

Changes in Railfanning in Sterling

May 25, 2017

Many moons ago, I wrote a hot spot report for the Akron Railroad Club Bulletin on Sterling.  Much has changed since then and I thought an update was in order.

Sterling for the newcomers is a spot on the former Baltimore & Ohio, now the CSX New Castle Subdivision, where the CL&W Sub turns off and heads to Cleveland and Lorain via Lester.

CSX is trying to stop using the CL&W from Sterling to Lester, servicing Lorain and the yard at West Third Street in Cleveland via their ex-Conrail trackage in Cleveland.

Sterling has lost a couple of trains due to this change, but that is nothing new for fans of the New Castle Sub.

CSX has been adding and subtracting trains on this line for many years. It always seems to be in a state of flux. What has changed the most since I wrote the last article is where you hang out to watch trains at Sterling and what photo spots have come and gone.

Sterling is at MP 155.5 of the New Castle Sub. Besides the junction with the CL&W, the B&O used to cross the Erie at a sharp-angled diamond that was guarded by RU tower. The tower sat between the mains west of the diamonds.

Visiting railfans used to gather in the dirt/gravel area across the B&O from where the tower used to be. The driveway into the gravel area looped around and headed back out to the street.

This led the Sterling railfan group to call themselves the “Sterling Loop.”

Today, the visiting railfan will find a paved parking lot for the hiking and biking trail that is on the former right-of-way of the Erie on the southwest side of the Kauffman Avenue crossing with CSX.

This spot allows for good side views of passing CSX trains. No signals are visible at this spot, so to get advance warning of a train, you will have to monitor the scanner.

CSX still uses 160.230 (road channel) and 160.320 (dispatcher channel) for communications on the New Castle Sub.

The signals that are facing away from you at the parking lot can be shot with a westbound by walking a short ways west on the former Erie and looking for the clearing just after the bridge over Chippewa Creek.

I haven’t actually done a photo here yet, but a normal to wide-angle lens should work.

If you like to hike/bike, the trail continues west to Creston, where the tracks of the Wheeling & Lake Erie come up next to CSX.

To the east, the trail stays close to CSX as far as the outskirts of Rittman.

While Sterling is not as busy as Greenwich or other CSX hot spots, it can provide some quality time trackside. Plus you could use it as a starting point for a W&LE chase if you get wind of an imminent move on that railroad.

On weekends, for food it may be best to head for Creston, which is a short drive or bike ride from Sterling.

Creston has a Subway sandwich shop in the Circle K convenience store and gas station just south on Ohio Route 3 from the downtown area.

Article by Marty Surdyk