Thursday, July 28, 2016

Modeling Kenwood?

One of the reasons I made a post about the Kenwood Depot and sidings is... Surprise! I'm considering including it on my layout.

I originally had the mainline west of Adena exiting "Stage Left" at the Adena tunnel and ending in a staging yard representing Brewster, Ohio. Due to redesign considerations, now I believe I can move this staging yard to a new location and extend the mainline run by about 20 feet. This allows space for Kenwood and it's sidings, plus room for the Hanna Kenvale Mine mentioned in the blog post. This would add to operations as the Kenvale coal needs to head downhill to Adena and up the AC&NA branch to the Georgetown Prep Plant for cleaning before it heads back west toward Brewster.

To further fan the flames, fellow Nickel Plate Road modeler Jim Kehn wrote to tell me about a Chuck Yungkurth article about the W&LE Kenwood Depot that appeared in a 1960's Railroad Model Craftsman magazine. It almost as if Jim knew what I might be thinking!

A quick Google search, a couple minutes on eBay and several days later a pretty nice copy of the February 1961 RMC came in the mail.

February 1961 RMC Wheeling & Lake Erie Depot by Chuck Yungkurth
I was a little stunned that there weren't any measurements on the depot plans, but the next page had a view of the depot's back side which made up for any disappointment. Having photos or plans of all four sides of a railroad building is a lucky feat sometimes.

We'll see what comes of the mainline extension plans but to have drawings of the depot certainly helps to make a step in that direction.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wordless Wednesday #86

The Thirsty Dog is a local brewery in Akron that produces a number of craft beers. The Rail Dog is a smoked lager tribute to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and it's smoky beginnings with the ex GTW 2-8-2 Mikado #4070. It's a perfect beverage for doing some train work down in the basement!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wordless Wednesday #85

CSX 7 at the Exchange St. CPL Signals in Akron, OH July 7, 2016, Chris Ellis Photo
Today's so called "Wordless Wednesday" has nothing to do with the Nickel Plate Road or tiny Southern Ohio coal mining towns. It's about a terribly shot photo that ended up meaning a lot more to me than I would realize. Today's picture is about my co-worker and train watching friend Gary Schott who passed away on Monday.

We worked together at the Akron Beacon Journal for over twenty years, both of us moving up to full time and then he as a mechanic. In the last few years I discovered that he loved watching the trains go by outside our building in downtown Akron. I had just gotten back into railfanning and together we both got scanners to listen to at work and learned a lot about rail operations in and around Akron.

Gary also loved writing the engine numbers on the wall near the door were we would watch the trains rumble by at work. The lower the engine number the more exciting the train was!

I never got to show Gary this photo because the day I took it I found out he had suffered a stroke. I'm not sure if he'd seen a CSX engine with a lower number than seven, but I know he'd gotten a big kick out of the photo anyways.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Kenwood - Milepost 189.4

After posting Wordless Wednesday #84 I was surprised to have a few people express interest in the little Kenwood depot. This got me digging through my collection for more info and photos to share regarding this obscure spot on the Wheeling.

For starters the Nickel Plate Road's 1954 Databook on their W&LE District contains only the following on Kenwood.

Kenwood (M.P. 189.4)
  • Controlled passing siding - capacity 57 cars.
  • Storage sidings (2) - capacity 82 cars.
  • Main lead to Heil Coal Co. tipple. Tipple not in operation in 1953. Turnout has been removed.
Not even a mention of the little depot but it was certainly still there up until the mid 1970's as seen in Wordless Wednesday #84.

I would bet the area once had a small mining community that gave this location the name of Kenwood, much like the long gone villages of Herrick or Robyville that once dotted the valley along the Short Creek. Areas that are only marked by a unused siding near a "gob" pile or small yards that once served the nearby mines.

Here's a track diagram of the area circa 1960.

NKP 1963 W&LE Toledo Division Track Diagrams from
The Heil Coal spur would've started off the mainline and just to the right of the Public Road in the middle of the map. There the spur crossed the Short Creek where you can still see the bridge mark on the map and extended to the tipple near mile post 190. In fact the USGS aerial image of that area from April 18 1958 still shows the Heil Coal tipple standing (see my "How to use the USGS EarthExplorer website" post for more info) but the track is long gone.

While the only tipple at Kenwood ended production before 1953 there was still plenty of coal mining nearby during that time period according to the NKP 1954 Databook. For easy reference I consolidated all the mining info in the Databook into a spreadsheet named the NKP Wheeling District Coal Production in 1953 that can be found in the upper left under Useful Links.

To the north was the large strip mining operation of Hanna Coal's Kenvale Mine responsible for 16,000 car loads and the Y&O Nelms Mine also pulling 16,000 car loads of coal from its deep mining operation. Nearby to the south was the short Hurford Branch supporting the Fremont Mine, a small strip mine run by Tasa Coal that dug up over 700 hopper loads of coal in 1953. Because of all the nearby activity, Kenwood still had use as a place for hopper storage.

In the below photo (possibly a JJ Young Jr. photo) Berkshire 712 pulls a cut of hoppers out of the storage tracks while its caboose waits on the siding.

712 works the storage tracks at Kenwood, Ohio 1950's. Photo is looking SE toward Adena.
For another photo of the Kenwood station in the 1950's check out page 10 of the 1984 Fall edition of the Nickel Plate Road Magazine by the NKPHTS. If you are a member of the NKPHTS you can access past magazines for free at

At one time however, Kenwood did host to two maybe three mines in the 1920's. Close examination of the next two photos reveals three potential coal mines. Two mine spurs, one in front of and one behind the depot and a hilltop mine in the distance that might lead to a third tipple (This also seems to be where the Heil Coal tipple is located). Let's not also overlook the great views of the Kenwood Depot in its heyday!

Kenwood Depot, Kenwood, OH 10-19-1925 (CSU Archives,W&LE Collection) Photo is looking NW to Brewster/Toldeo.

Kenwood Depot, Right of Way and Mine Branches at Kenwood, OH possibly late 1920's - early 1930's(CSU Archives W&LE Collection) Photo is looking SE toward Adena.

Fifty years later in 1975 the small depot has fallen into disrepair as seen in the Wordless Wednesday post. I haven't discovered when it was torn down.

Kenwood Depot 1975. Photo from
Recently while browsing a railfan group following the modern W&LE on Facebook, I ran across a photo taken at Kenwood in the years before the Norfolk & Western would sell off the old W&LE.  The photo looks westbound (NW toward Brewster) and the CTC signals still guard the tracks. Based on the other photos in this post I figure the photographer is standing right next to the depot or where it once stood.

W&LE Signals Kenwood Siding 1980s, Gene P. Schaffer Photo, W&LE Facebook Group
The new Wheeling & Lake Erie's Valley line now ends just a few hundred feet north of the old Kenwood Depot where Unionvale-Kenwood Road crosses the tracks. A gravel facility has been built next to the track but a unloading ramp now buries the mainline severing from Adena and points east.

I've made a link in Google Maps to near the spot where the depot once stood. If you explore the maps link, notice also all the natural gas pipeline construction in the area. Perhaps the gravel facility built on the mainline supports this operation. Once coal mining ruled this area, now Natural Gas from fracking has stepped in to fill the economic void.

I hope you enjoyed this look at Kenwood, one of many spots on the Wheeling now slowing being reclaimed by nature.

Eastbound looking toward Kenwood at the Unionvale-Kenwood Rd crossing. 4-9-2014 Chris Ellis Photo

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wordless Wednesday #84

Long abandoned in this 1975 photo is the W&LE's Kenwood depot at MP 189, three miles west of Adena. At this location was a CTC controlled siding and a couple yard tracks for the nearby mines that have come and gone such as the Y&O Nelms Mine and Hanna Coal's Kenvale Mine. Photo from

For a photo of the Kenwood station in better days check out page 10 of the 1984 Fall edition of the Nickel Plate Road Magazine by the NKPHTS. If you are a Member of the NKPHTS you can access past magazines for free at

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Construction Report: July 2, 2016

I'll admit there hasn't been much activity lately here on the blog. I can blame the seasonal toll that summer takes on hobby time but not without also accepting my shift to a new career has also taken a bit of steam out of my engine so to speak.

But fear not! There has been some small progress to report.

In places were there wouldn't be a raised gravel profile typical of mainline track, I plan use a rubber sheeting as roadbed material for the flat yards, industry or sidings. I first used this material in my Scenery Test Module and a year later I've found no issues with materials flaking off or becoming unglued to the rubber sheet. As for it's sound qualities, it blows cork roadbed on plywood or "noisy" foam out of the water in sound deadening tests when glued down with adhesive caulk. I'm even considering using it under cork or homasote roadbed for areas where there will be a ballast profile. It makes that much of a difference to my ears on foam benchwork.

Luckily I came across a ton of this material for free when I worked for the local newspaper. The giant rolls of newsprint the press room received on semi-trailers used this rubber sheeting from Allegheny Industrial Associates called a Transmat to prevent the rolls from shifting around inside the trailer. After unloading the trailers this rubber sheeting was unwanted by the truck drivers and was piled up in the dock until thrown away or taken by my co-workers for various home uses. Typically around 2' by 3' in size and a 1/8" thick, I originally used it to cover the back cargo area of my old Jeep until I realized it could be used for model train roadbed! After that epiphany I collected as much as I could before the printing operation was shut down and moved to a neighboring newspaper.

I'm glad I had the forethought then because now years later I'm ready to use it!

First off I needed to clean a few pieces of rubber sheeting I'll use for this first phase of track laying. The floors of semi-trailers are really dirty so a good hosing down was in order.

Bath time
Hanging them out to dry
Next I cut at least one sheet into single track sized strips using a sharp knife and a straightedge. Several light passes were necessary or else the rubber would pull and stretch out of shape when cutting it.

Track sized strips.
I quickly discovered that the long 3' strips of rubber sheeting didn't really curve very well without slots cut into the strips similar to the flexible homosote roadbed sold by Cascade Rail Supply.
Since the rubber material was already a little tricky to cut and I had plenty of it, I plan on just cutting the shapes I need directly out of the sheets. Truthfully I did slot one strip, and said screw that idea, it was way too time consuming with a knife or scissors...

As a side note, one of the few things I discovered that could mark the rubber material for cut lines and track center lines was a white Prismacolor pencil I originally bought for making chalk marks on freight cars.

One pencil, many hobby uses.
The curve starting the Adena Branch off the mainline is an example of just cutting the shape I need instead of trying to slot a strip to make it curve. I found that a pair of good scissors can also be used to cut the rubber sheeting instead of a boxcutter. I can't say however that these are my good scissors, maybe now they are.

I followed the same procedure gluing the rubber sheeting down as I did in my Scenery Test Module using DAP Clear Kitchen & Bath Adhesive Sealant.

A small kitchen dough roller (now permanently acquired for this task) was used to make sure the rubber sheet was applied and flat.

Glued in place.
After gluing a few more pieces of rubber sheeting down, I began to focus my efforts of building up the foam layers to form the terrain that will make up the Adena wye area. I hope to have more on that in another update that shouldn't take as long as this one took to get out on the blog.