Posts Tagged ‘W&LE in Monroeville’

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.

Railroad Archeology in Monroeville

March 25, 2017
The most visible reminder of the railroads past in Monroeville, Ohio, is this passenger station, which served the New York Central and its predecessor railroads. It has since been restored, but the tracks are long gone.

The most visible reminder of the railroads past in Monroeville, Ohio, is this passenger station, which served the New York Central and its predecessor railroads. It has since been restored, but the tracks are long gone.

In the past few years I’ve found myself in Monroeville, Ohio, while chasing trains on the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

At one time, Monroeville was served by three railroads plus an interurban railway.

The railroads of Monroville included the Toledo-Brewster line of the original Wheeling & Lake Erie. This line still exists with the modern W&LE owning it between Brewster and Bellevue.

Monroeville was also served by a Willard-Sandusky branch of the Baltimore & Ohio, the Norwalk Branch of the New York Central and the Cleveland-Toledo Lake Shore Electric.

The Norwalk Branch began life as the Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland Railroad, which built between its namesake cities in the 1860s. It was later absorbed by the Lake Shore & Michigan  Southern, which in turn became part of the NYC.

The Norwalk branch was the main route of the LS&MS until it built a cutoff via Sandusky along Lake Erie, which today is the Chicago Line of NS. The Norwalk branch diverged at Elyria and rejoined at Milbury.

Penn Central continued to offer freight service on the Norwalk branch through 1976. The line was not conveyed to Conrail and was subsequently abandoned. Passenger service on the line ended in 1949.

I don’t know when the B&O branch was abandoned, but it likely continued in operation through the 1970s and possibly into the 1980s.  A portion of it still exists in Monroeville for the W&LE to serve a grain elevator.

The Lake Shore Electric last operated on May 15, 1938. Not long before then, the Eastern Ohio Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society — a forerunner of the Akron Railroad Club — ran a trip over the line.

During the 1960s, the ARRC chartered a B&O Rail Diesel Car and ran excursions between Akron and Sandusky to visit the Cedar Point amusement park.

I’ve long been fascinated by what railroads leave behind after they leave town. If you know where to look and what to look for,  you can find reminders of what used to be.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The North Coast Inland Tail uses the former NYC Norwalk Branch. The view is from the bridge over the West Branch Huron River looking westward toward the NYC passenger station.

The North Coast Inland Tail uses the former NYC Norwalk Branch. The view is from the bridge over the West Branch Huron River looking westward toward the NYC passenger station, which was built in 1863.

A train order board at the Monroeville station.

A train order board at the Monroeville station.

I don't know if this train bulletin at the former NYC station is accurate.

I don’t know if this train bulletin at the former NYC station is accurate.

The former freight NYC freight station still stands a short distance west of the passenger depot.

The former freight NYC freight station still stands a short distance west of the passenger depot.

Looking westward on the Lake Shore Electric right of way with the passenger station on the left.

Looking westward on the Lake Shore Electric right of way with the passenger station on the left.

Looking northward toward the Lake Shore Electric (foreground) and NYC stations. The B&O tracks would have been to the right of both stations.

Looking northward toward the Lake Shore Electric (foreground) and NYC stations. The B&O tracks would have been to the right of both stations.

Looking southward on the former B&O right of way.

Looking southward on the former B&O right of way.

A relic from the days when these tracks operated as the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern.

A relic from the days when these tracks operated as the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern.

A restored property boundary marker.

A restored property boundary marker.

A bridge pier that once held the Lake Shore Electric bridge over the West Branch Huron River.

A bridge pier that once held the Lake Shore Electric bridge over the West Branch Huron River.

The concrete base of what was once the northbound home signal for the B&O crossing of the NYC.

The concrete base of what was once the northbound home signal for the B&O crossing of the NYC.

This signal cover is along the W&LE and may be still used.

This signal cover is along the W&LE and may be still used.

Railroad ties once used to hold B&O rails remain embedded in the ground, slowly deteriorating as the forces of nature take their toll.

These railroad ties are on the former Lake Shore Electric right of way. The LSE was abandoned in the 1930s, they probably were used as a connecting track between the B&O and the NYC.

The B&O and W&LE used to cross here. At one time there was a passenger station here that was used by both railroads. Next to the depot was a hotel and freight station. On the other side of that pile of ballast is the only remnant of track once used by the B&O.

The B&O and W&LE used to cross here. At one time there was a passenger station here that was used by both railroads. Next to the depot was a hotel and freight station. On the other side of that pile of ballast is the only remnant of track once used by the B&O.

A short stretch of the former B&O remains in place for the W&LE to serve a grain elevator. But this segment of the B&O is used only as a tail track that ends at a pile of ballast north of where the B&O and W&LE used to cross on a diamond.

A short stretch of the former B&O remains in place for the W&LE to serve a grain elevator. But this segment of the B&O is used only as a tail track that ends at a pile of ballast north of where the B&O and W&LE used to cross on a diamond.

 

Wavy Rails

July 7, 2016

Wavy track-x

A telephoto lens can create some interesting effects due to distortion. In the case of this image, it exaggerated the curve of the rails.

The view is looking westward in Monroeville on the Hartland Subdivision of the Wheeling & Lake Erie. The track on the right is a connecting track that leads to a short piece of former Baltimore & Ohio rails that are still in place to serve a grain elevator.

Look carefully and you will see the connecting track has a derail just before it joins the main. Presumably, that exists in the event that one or more covered hopper cars would break free and roll on their own toward the W&LE main.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Chasing a W&LE Train Out of Bellevue

April 8, 2016
A Wheeling & Lake Erie manifest freight threads its way through the switches at the mini plant in Bellevue. It is headed for the Brewster connection, which can be seen in the foreground.

A Wheeling & Lake Erie manifest freight threads its way through the switches at the mini plant in Bellevue. It is headed for the Brewster connection, which can be seen in the foreground.

The W&LE train is entering the Brewster connection and will soon be on its home rails.

The W&LE train is entering the Brewster connection and will soon be on its home rails. Note how the letter “O” has been used for the numeral zero in the number board on the left.

Crossing the West branch of the Huron River in Monroeville was my last glimpse of this train as I did not chase it any further.

Crossing the West branch of the Huron River in Monroeville was my last glimpse of this train as I did not chase it any further.

I had been in Bellevue less than an hour when I heard a Wheeling & Lake Erie train crew tell the Norfolk Southern dispatcher that it was ready to depart from the Wick Moorman Yard.

The dispatcher told them to stand by, which is another way of saying it will be a while. After a few NS movements through the mini plant, the NS dispatcher called the W&LE crew and told them their turn had come.

I walked down to the crossing of East Center Street and waited. I could see a small spec of orange in the distance and it took the train a while to work its way out of the yard.

My immediate objective was to use my longest telephoto lens to get the train weaving through the switches of the mini plant.

Then I briskly walked back to my car and headed off to Monroeville. I knew it would take time for the long train to snake its way onto the Brewster connection and out of town.

It would also need to call its own dispatcher to get a track warrant to go to Hartland.

I was able to easily get ahead of the train on the drive to Monroeville. My next objective was to get a shot of the train on the bridge over the West branch of the Huron River.

I discovered this location last year and this would be the third time that I’d worked it, all with eastbound trains.

A couple of other railfans were already in place on the bridge. It seemed to take the W&LE train longer to get to Monroeville than I had expected.

But soon there was a nearby locomotive horn and I could hear the grade crossing gates for Ohio Route 99 come on.

It was nice to see a pair of matching orange and black units. It was a long train and had a lot of tank cars. The other two fans left, but I stuck around to see the entire train cross the bridge before moving on in search of NS traffic on the Sandusky District.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

W&LE Tunnel Motors Running as a Pair

November 25, 2015
The money shot of the chase was catching the two Wheeling & Lake Erie tunnel motor locomotives crossing the Huron River in Monroeville.

The money shot of the chase was catching these two Wheeling & Lake Erie tunnel motor locomotives crossing the Huron River in Monroeville.

I was watching an outbound Norfolk Southern train slowly make its way westward through the mini plant in Bellevue.

I heard a Wheeling 90 talk on the radio, but it appeared to be switching in the yard.

I looked up and there it was about to enter the Brewster Connection.

I grabbed my camera and sprinted for an open area at the end of East Street.

The train was led by a pair of former Denver & Rio Grande Western tunnel motors. I’ve seen two tunnel motors paired together before, but it is not necessarily a common sight.

The train was moving slowly and there was a track crew ahead working on the rails. I knew I had time to get to Monroeville ahead of the train.

In Monroeville, it was a short walk on the North Coast Inland Trail to the bridge over the West Branch of the Huron River.

The black water of the river reminded me of a line from a Dobbie Brother song, “Oh black water, keep on rollin.’ ”

Both the train and the river did just that.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Making its way onto the Brewster Connection.

Making its way onto the Brewster Connection.

Crossing East Street in Bellevue, which dead ends where I am standing.

Crossing East Street in Bellevue, which dead ends where I am standing.

The going away shot.

The going away shot.

Clear track ahead on the Brewster Connection in Bellevue.

Clear track ahead on the Brewster Connection in Bellevue.

Just starting out on the bridge.

Just starting out on the bridge.

Looking down the North Coast Inland Trail on a bridge once used by New York Central trains.

Looking down the North Coast Inland Trail on a bridge once used by New York Central trains.

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