Posts Tagged ‘W&LE in Bellevue Ohio’

Relics of the Past Near Bellevue

August 13, 2021

I see a number of things when I look at this image made east of Bellevue on the Wheeling & Lake Erie’s Hartland Subdivision near Young Road.

I see smoke from the locomotives as the engineer throttles up. I see farms and fields that are typical of this region of Ohio.

And I see a pole line and a signal mast that has been shorn of its signal heads. The latter is due to the Wheeling receiving regulatory approval to decommission a centralized traffic control system that once was operational between Bellevue and Brewster.

CTC dated back to the days when the Nickel Plate Road owned these tracks.

Pole lines were once ubiquitous on rail lines with significant levels of traffic but have rapidly vanished in recent decades as railroads move to other forms of communications technology.

You may also notice that the three locomotives of this train reflect former owners Kansas City Southern and Wisconsin Central.

That long has been a hallmark of the W&LE. It has leased or acquired second-hand motive power that it took months if not years to repaint into its black and orange tiger stripes livery.

My memory is that I was with Marty Surdyk and, I believe, his brother Robert, when I made this image on July 13, 2008. It was made at mid day so the lighting is rather harsh.

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.

Tied Down on Easter Eve

April 20, 2016

WE in Bellevue

It was late in the afternoon on the Saturday before Easter. I had spent the day in Bellevue and Bucyrus, starting in the former, moving to the latter around noon and then finishing in Bellevue.

I heard the Wheeling & Lake Erie detector go off and shortly thereafter someone keyed up the remote control switches at Yeomans.

The Wheeling crew called the Bellevue dispatcher on the yard channel and asked for permission to come into town on the Lake Shore connection where they planned to tie down their train. Sure, come on in, the dispatcher said.

Getting into town wasn’t the issue for the crew, it was leaving that posed a minor problem.

The company the W&LE uses to ferry crew members had a driver who was unfamiliar with Bellevue and she couldn’t find the train.

Apparently she had either called or found a Norfolk Southern office. I learned that when the W&LE dispatcher called the Wheeling train to ask if they had been picked up yet.

No, they had not. The dispatcher asked if they had contacted the NS about getting a ride. The crew assured the dispatcher they had not.

In time, the cab driver for the Wheeling came onto the W&LE road channel and asked the crew where they were.

They had to give her directions, but she eventually found them in the usual spot where Wheeling crews stop their trains on the Lake Shore connection.

I left Bellevue not long after the Wheeling crew did, stopping on the way out to get this photo. I don’t know if a crew came on duty later to take this train to Toledo or whether it spent Easter Sunday sitting here.

Railroads operate 24/7/365, but on some holidays some moves aren’t that important. Perhaps this was one of them.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders 

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

Lights, Camera, Bellevue After Dark

August 17, 2015

The first train under the lights was a westbound RoadRailer that came down from Sandusky. There was still some residual blue light left.

The first train under the lights was a westbound RoadRailer that came down from Sandusky. There was still some residual blue light left.

The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum sponsored a festival last Saturday at the Kemper Rail Park in Bellevue.

One of the attractions was lighting on the rails by the park, which is located on Monroe Street opposite of the former Wheeling tower.

The lighting consisted of a single portable unit of four lamps that gave 4,000 watts of lighting power.

The lamps were aimed at the Monroe Street crossing of the Sandusky District. Trains coming from or going to the Sandusky and Fostoria districts pass this location.

A museum officials said he didn’t want to blind the locomotive engineers or interfere with the signals of the nearby mini plant interlocking.

The lights were turned on at about 8:30 p.m. and I left shortly after 10:30 p.m.

The lighting turned out to be fair. I was able to get decent hand-held shots at shutter speed 400 and, later, at 320. Fortunately, the trains coming past here were moving slowly.

All my images were made at ISO 6400, which resulted in some slightly grainy images, but at least they were reasonably sharp.

I found that the lighting worked best for outbound trains, but I was pleased with the results I got in capturing the nose of the lead locomotive of an inbound train at about 10:30 p.m.

I had traveled to Bellevue expressly to check out the night lighting, arriving there about 6 p.m.

Earlier in the day, officials had blocked one lane of the Ohio Route 4 bridge so photographers could get images of the hump operation in Moorman Yard.

Akron Railroad Club member Dennis Taksar was among those taking advantage of that enhanced access and said that 40 to 50 people were on the bridge while he was there.

The portable lighting at the Kemper Rail Park was slated to be on all night. I had to leave so I don’t know now many photographers were there during the dead of night.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The head end of a manifest freight coming into Bellevue from the Fostoria District.

The head end of a manifest freight coming into Bellevue from the Fostoria District. By now it was 10:30 p.m.

The last car of the last train that I photographed on this Saturday night.

The last car of the last train that I photographed on this Saturday night.

Trying something different. The headlights of a Wheeling & Lake Erie train reflect in a window of the former Wheeling tower. The W&LE train was taking the Mad River Connection to the Toledo District.

Trying something different. The headlights of a Wheeling & Lake Erie train reflects in a window of the former Wheeling tower. The W&LE train was taking the Mad River Connection to the Toledo District.

RoadRailers passing the Monroe Street grade crossing. The man in the orange shirt operated the lighting.

RoadRailers passing the Monroe Street grade crossing. The man in the orange shirt operated the lighting.

Checking Out Bellevue’s New Railfan Park

December 30, 2014

A railfan keeps an eye out for the next train to pop out of Bellevue yard. The shelter at the Kemper Rail Park was completed in November.

A railfan keeps an eye out for the next train to pop out of Bellevue yard. The shelter at the Kemper Rail Park was completed in November.

There has been talk about having an Akron Railroad Club outing in 2015 at the new Kemper Rail Park.

It is Fostoria’s turn in the rotation for the ARRC’s longest day outing in late June and there is a new railfan park in that city, too.

There is no reason why we couldn’t hold outings in both towns as each is a superb place to spend a day watching trains.

With the club’s interest in holding a Bellevue outing in mind next spring, summer or fall, I paid a visit to the Kemper Rail Park recently to check it out.

The shelter was completed last month just before Thanksgiving and I wanted to spend some time there watching and photographing trains.

Arguably, the strength of the park is its location. Situated along Monroe Street inside a wye located just beyond the Mini Plant, you have excellent views of passing trains on the Toledo and Sandusky/Fostoria districts.

The view of the Mad River Connection is good, although more distant. The shelter affords a good view of trains coming out of the yard.

You can’t see from the park trains on the New Haven Connection making the transition between the Fostoria and Sandusky districts out by Slaughterhouse Road.

Signals on the Sandusky/Fostoria District and at the Mini Plant can be easily seen from the park. You can see one of the westbound signals on the Toledo District, but need to walk across the tracks to see the eastbound signals because of the angle at which they are positioned.

But those trains must traverse the Mini Plant and the signals for the Toledo District in the Mini Plant are easily seen from the park.

The sheltered area of the railfan park measures 24 feet by 24 feet and is a bit small. There are no electrical outlets and, thus far, no picnic tables.

Seating is concrete and wood benches, all of which are set up to face the tracks. There is enough open space around the shelter to place lawn chairs.

Perhaps the park’s major drawback is minimal parking space. That’s not a problem if there are only a small number of people there.

But lack of adequate parking spaces could be an issue with larger groups. There is parking in a nearby vacant lot across from Wheeling Tower. Railfans have been hanging out in that lot for years.

Parking is also available at the close-by Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum, which is a short walk from the railfan park.

Norfolk Southern maintenance forces still use the area right by Wheeling Tower, so parking there might seem convenient, but is ill advised. You could be cited for trespassing.

From a photography perspective, there are number of photo angles available from the railfan park, including framing trains passing beneath the signals on the Sandusky/Fostoria districts. A long telephoto lens could yield views of trains coming out of the yard.

On the Toledo District, you could make images of trains rounding the curve coming toward the Mini Plant and of trains coming out of the Mini Plant. You’ll need a wide angle lens to get the latter images.

Of course, you can walk around the immediate vicinity to try out other photo angles. One nice thing about the railfan park is that you can photograph trains in virtually every direction.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie comes into Bellevue on two routes, the Brewster Connection and the Lake Shore Connection. Neither passes directly past the railfan park, but can be seen from the park.

The W&LE has installed a talking defect detector just outside Bellevue that I was able to hear on my scanner. W&LE crews also must use their radios to “key up” the remote control switches.

One Wheeling train came into town during my time at the railfan park and I was able to hear it sounding its horn for grade crossings as well as see it by looking down the former W&LE right of way.

As for eating, there are two pizza joints within sight of the railfan park. Other eateries are not far away although you would likely want to drive to them.

Bellevue is one of Ohio’s premier railfanning hotspots and the addition of the Kemper Railfan Park is a welcome addition. I’m looking forward to our 2015 ARRC outing there.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

There are plenty of benches at the Kemper Rail Park in Bellevue, but ample space to set up lawn chairs on the grass or under the shelter.

There are plenty of benches at the Kemper Rail Park in Bellevue, but ample space to set up lawn chairs on the grass or under the shelter. The view is looking toward the Toledo District.

An NS westbound as seen from inside the pavilion of the Kemper Rail Park in Bellevue.

An NS westbound as seen from inside the pavilion of the Kemper Rail Park in Bellevue.

A westbound Norfolk Southern train accelerates out of the Mini Plant in Bellevue as it heads for the Fostoria District. The view is from the Kemper Rail Park.

A westbound Norfolk Southern train accelerates out of the Mini Plant in Bellevue as it heads for the Fostoria District. The view is from the Kemper Rail Park.