I've lived near the West Akron part of the old Akron, Canton & Youngstown for just about all my life, watching it as the Norfolk & Western, then Norfolk Southern and finally the new version of the Wheeling & Lake Erie. In all those years I had never seen a true "Foreign" railroad engine, one that wasn't owned by the current operator, travel that line. Not to say it couldn't have happened before, but I had never seen or heard of one until today.
Headed home from work this afternoon, my scanner picked up the W&LE dispatcher issuing a track warrant to the engine UP 5006 to run to Medina then presumably on to Spencer. I knew the W&LE had been receiving pipe trains at Bellevue from the NS, sometimes with Union Pacific power still attached, bound for the Ohio River for use in the fracking boom. Recent reports had the W&LE using the UP engines around the Ohio River area, but had one really made it up to Akron?
With school called for the zero degree temperatures I was able to grab my son Brendan, camera bag and try to find a good photo spot to take advantage of an unusually sunny winter day in Ohio.
First spot was the AC&Y viaduct bridge over the Ohio & Erie Canal near St. Vincent St. Mary's High School. AS soon as we found a place to park the train arrived, leaving no time to find a good angle in surprisingly my first visit to that particular spot.
|UP 5006 SD70M with W&LE 6383 SD40-3 Akron, OH 2-13-2015 Chris Ellis Photo|
Not a terrible shot but the wires were unavoidable giving the short notice. The crew was very friendly and gave us a wave and a couple of honks. Coincidentally the W&LE 6383, was the same engine that my son and I went into and blew the horn during a tour of the Brewster Engine Shops in March of 2013.
Next we chased it a few miles away to West Akron and caught it near the West Market St. crossing. To my surprise, there were a couple other railfans there waiting to shoot it also.
|UP 5006 SD70M with W&LE 6383 SD40-3 West Akron, OH 2-13-2015 Chris Ellis Photo|
In all it's kinda odd to get all excited about a Union Pacific engine. I mean it's not like I've never seen one before, they show up time to time at my favorite train watching spots on the CSX and NS mainlines near me. But for one to show up in MY backyard is well, oddly exciting.
As a bonus the W&LE train had two very worn and weathered Rock Island covered hoppers in their final white and sky blue paint scheme. Whats the big deal with that? Well the Rock Island went bankrupt in 1980 and was then auctioned off to other railroads. This means those cars are at least
35 years old and survived to this day still in Rock Island paint, and that's pretty neat in my book.
|Grab shot of former Rock Island Covered Hopper now W&LE #753002 2-13-2015 Chris Ellis Photo|