The Lorain and West Virginia Railroad
The Lorain and West Virginia was by far the more successful of the two railroads planned by Joseph Ramsey of the Wabash system. Wabash, once the parent company of the Wheeling and Lake Erie railroad, commissioned Ramsey to plan a connection between the W&LE at Wellington, Ohio and the industrial plants at Lorain on Lake Erie. Ramsey planned the line but was replaced before construction began; he then planned and constructed a second line between Wellington and Lorain, the Lorain Ashland and Southern (see The Lorain, Ashland and Southern Railroad). The L&WV, unlike its short-lived competitor, survived through much of the twentieth century. It began at a wye on the W&LE tracks on the west side of Wellington (this "Wheeling" connection is probably how the railroad got its name even though it passes nowhere near West Virginia). From here the line headed north, passing around the western edge of Oberlin, and then took a northeasterly direction across the southern side of Lorain. In the Sheffield Lake area, where the railroad met its northern end at the present-day Norfolk Southern tracks, there was a maintenance facility and small yard. Tracks in this former yard can still be seen on the northwestern side of Interstate 90 during the winter months (the site is now heavily wooded).
Service began around 1906 and mostly consisted of coal shipments to Lorain and Oberlin, and steel shipments from Lorain. The L&WV was acquired by the Nickel Plate Road in 1948, causing traffic to decline. Service was cut back even further when the line was purchased by Norfolk and Western in 1963, by which time the railroad was mainly used as a connector with few customers. The railroad's fate was sealed by a 1969 flood that washed out a bridge near Wellington. All traffic was discontinued and the tracks lay virtually unused until being formally abandoned in 1979.
In the years since, local groups have fought to keep the railroad intact, and they have succeeded in maintaining a well-preserved section of track near Wellington in the hopes of operating a tourist railroad. Lots of old rolling stock, including a restored locomotive, is being stored at the railway's southern terminus in Wellington. Hopefully these efforts will bring some justice to this neglected rail line. Remarkably, nearly all the rails, many bridges, and even some mileposts and crossbucks are still intact on the ROW (although in many places, especially around Lorain, the ROW is so badly overgrown it can be difficult to spot). The most spectacular sight on the L&WV is the trestle over the Black River in Sheffield Village. The trestle can easily be seen to the north side of the OH Route 254 bridge over same.
Thanks to Elias C. Jones for contributing information.
Looking for some old photos of the railroad. Could you lead me in the right direction.
The Lorain and West Virginia is now operated as a tourist railroad. They operate from July through October. They have rehabilitated 6 miles of track from Welington to Hughes Road in Oberlin. They are in the process of rehabilitating the line to the city of Oberlin and eventaully to its original end-point in Lorain. All rails (with the exception of the turunpike interchange at rt 58) are in-tact. http://www.lakeshorerailway.org
Bridge that used to pass over route 58 in Amherst Twsp. for the L&WV was removed quite a few years ago, thereby severing the rail line. Also, Conrail, before it's demise, raised the bridge for the L&WV passing over the former NYC to allow clearance for double stack rail cars. Former NYC now NS.
When I grew up in south Lorain I walk those tracks and cross the train bridge alot N&S still Used the yard East of the bridge and I saw one train heading west to with one load of poles heading too lake ave Ohio Edison That was the only train I ever saw heading west.LWV was trying to get the line back open to run trains to fair grounds but the turnpike took care of that would have been nice.I have been on the railroad 15 yrs now and got to meet some guys that ran train down that line.It just to bad that would be nice way to connect the North and South part of Lorain county for freight and passenger. Thanks Trainmaster Smith WLE Railroad.
An agreement was made with the Ohio Turnpike that will allow the railroad and the interchange at route 58 to co-exist. The interchange construction plans were designed to allow for this. It's just a matter of time for when the railroad will be extended this far north.
Have extensivily researched this railroad. Great photo of steamer lococrossing Black River bridge in Sheffield, Ohio. Short mention of it in book " Nickle Plate Story", by John Rehor. Extensive track remaining all along the railroads route, including four and seven rail yards in Sheffield, plus seven rail yard in Wellington used by Lake Shore Railway Assoc. Bridge over route 58 in Amherst Township removed by turnpike commision, also track removed south of route 113 in South Amherst township, south of Jamies Flea Market, by contractor illegially for scrap. Unfortunately, do not know of any photos that exist of L&WV while in operation.( Railroad mostly used Wabash equipment, as it was parent company)
Ok I have seen many conflicting reports on the future L&WV. The L&WV Website says it is building all the way to Loraine, but another site said this was not going to happen because of the Ohio Turnpike Commision ripped out a section of track for a highway interchange?? So is there any word officially, weather the extention is gonna ever go as far as Loraine???
It does appear that the group from Wellington, Ohio, Lake Shore Railway Association hoping to restore former L&WV from Wellington to Lorain has run out of "steam". As far as information has it, the group has not cleared any additional trackage further than Hughs Road, Oberlin Township. Would doubt if they are even going to get into Oberlin at this point. Tracks just south of South Amherst along the railroad are still torn up, to my knowledge. As mentioned earlier, they were removed illegally by someone and sold for scrap. Besides, the bridge over present day carrier Norfolk Southern in Amherst Township is still raised up off its stone mounts. Speaking solely for myself, there is entirely too much politics involved in efforts to restore this line much further than what it is.
I parked on rt 20 and started walking south on the railroad bed looking for morel mushrooms today.A guy ran out(house on southeast on 20)and pretty much read me the riot act saying he owned the property the tracks were on to the middle and his neighbor to the west owned the tracks to the middle to west,and neither of them wanted trespassers.I was under the assumption that the railroad still owned the tracks,any help so I can put this ahole in his place would be greatly appreciated.thanx
The Lake Shore Railway Association owns the tracks from the yard in Wellington up to Lake Avenue in Elyria. Perhaps the neighbor was just being protective since people probably walk the tracks frequently and may be up to no good. Plans are still to restore the line to Lorain, but like everyone else struggling with the economy, money is scarce. The main focus is to keep the operational portion of the line maintained (replacing switch ties, etc.). There is a culvert just North of Whitney Road that needs repaired before trains can run to its end-point at Huges Road again; temporarily shortening the length of trips. There is a lot of potential with the line. The next main hurdle to clear will be to Oberlin College.
I grew up about five blocks from the museum in the 1950's and distinctly remember my dad taking me to a train wreck in Wellington, downtown, where four people were killed as I recalled. But I can find no mention of it anywhere and no pictures. Any help would be appreciated.
I have recently explored this in the last week. Much of the rail outline is still intact, very good views if looked for in certain places during falltime. Trestle still remains rusty and decayed, tracks covered in certain areas by fences from industries. While most road crossing are paved over, if looked beside the road in the bushes and trees, much rail can be seen. Very good views as leaves are falling off of branches, and route becomes more visible. More exploration soon!
Officially, The people at rt 20 DO NOT own to the middle of the tracks. We own 50 feet each direction from the center line.
We are working on getting to Oberlin in the next 3 years or sooner if possible.
The bridge at mile post 2 never washed out. the 1969 wash out was south of Peck Wadsworth RD. I know due to the fact I helped fill it.
There is an agreement in place with the Turnpike. Th eline will go through once we get there.
Equipment used back in the day was Wheeling and Lake Erie equipment not Wabash. have photos showing that fact. Bad quality pictures but good enough to tell the W&LE on the tender.
The contractor who stole the rail was arrested charged, and has been paying us back the amount of the civil case.
The NS bridge was raised with out permission. They will have to fix it when we get there.
We have not run out of "steam" nay-sayers are fun to prove wrong. Anyone wishing to help in getting the rail line back in service is encouraged to join and help.
Things are changing with the L.S.R.A. and L & WV stay tuned for further updates!
Jack A. Siffert Member since 1979 (in the founding group)and current president.
Who is in charge of fixing rough crossings where the tourist train goes through?
Picture #1 was taken at 12210 South Pyle-Amherst Road, Oberlin, OH.
I've been going over the section of line that goes under Route 2 just past the Broadway exit for about a month now, and I just noticed it last week that the entire Right Of Way from Murray Ridge road, to W. Ridge Road looks to have about 50 ft. on both sides of track cleared down. Not to mention stacks among stacks of what look to be brand new Railroad Ties, does anyone have any light to shine on this new development that has come to my attention, I would greatly like to know since I really enjoy the history behind these tracks. And would be enthralled to know if they are rebuilding that section. Thanks
We are having the ROW logged. The guy doing the work has done amazing progress in the few months he's been working. The next 2 months will show no change as he will be working elsewhere before coming back. In the meantime, we've acquired a new shop building for use at Wellington Station and will hopefully be moving 384 indoors for pending restoration.
The rails 50 variance runs through our family's backyard. The 'guy' Lake Shore Railway is using to clear out wooded area has absolutely no respect for others property. We have lived enjoying the aesthetics of our yard which we assumed was our property up to the tracks,being that we maintained every year, only to find out they can rip down every tree, leave the stumps, throw the brush in our yard,park their vehicles and machinery on the property, not to mention starting their racket at 7 am. These people are taking total advantage of this variance and show no respect at all for others lives or property.
Cry me a river, the tracks were there first! You don't own right up to the tracks let alone the tracks themselves or the land they are on! It's great to see them being restored! Keep up the good work L&WV!!
Nobody said we did. The tracks were abandoned (thus the title of link) many years before the houses were built. Trying to revive railroad tracks in a now residential area would disturb and infringe on the rights of those living there. Until tracks appear 50' from your back door on 5th & Hamilton, you will not understand.
You do not own the railroad property and you do not have any rights to stop them from legally using it. I'm so glad I live in a county without zoning.
Bring history back, great. Calculate consumer cost of fuel and brakes when crossings are not taken care of: slow way down, speed back up, engine brake, rough ride....all for a tourist train...! Fine, just take care of the crossings!!!! (right of way-just do with respect)
You bought the house knowing that there are tracks in the back yard... your fault not the railroad! Do you know if the rail line was officially abandon even???? Read about rail banking, it might give you some insight on things. So since you have nothing to go on the best thing you can do is to MOVE! Also for Johnny Boy the tourist railroad brings money in for the local economy and from what i heard they would like to have freight moves as well. Which in turn can create jobs and take trucks off the roads and there you go less trucks "slow way down, speed back up, engine brake, rough ride"
Friends, we are in no way trying to infringe on anyone's back yard. The law is on our side, but we are more than willing to play nice with our neighbors. Our aim is to add value to Lorain County, not fight over peoples' property, perceived or actual. We will get the railroad running. That's given. It is happening. The logging is only step one. The property at the western corner of Dellefield Rd. is being planned as a possible station, picnic area, and maybe a bike/walking path trail head. We will run trains there once restoration of the line is complete. Please understand that this has been the organization's goal for over 30 years. It predates most of the houses built near the line. We apologize for any inconveniences caused, but please don't try to stand in the way of positive progress for Lorain County.
Whoa, I love the tourist train...just rode it....like everything about it, but the crossings can be smoother. go one way and it's smooth, the other way real rough. Not sure why Deechy Boy is so emotional. Dude was saying that they weren't respecting HIS property during the clearing. CHOO CHOO
How can I join the group to help rebuild? Ive Hiked this line for years and I love it! I have always wanted to see a train go down these tracks.
Membership form link
You can also join the organization through the website: http://lsra.org
Concerning the property rights issue. As far as I understand it, the tracks belong to the RR IF the land was purchased by the RR. If the landowner granted an easement, he still owns the land. There are caveats- if the line was officially abandoned, the easement is likely nullified. Maybe a trip to the county assessors office might help, or hire an attorney who can find out the details. There are some things you want to avoid: Don't put too much resources into restoring the line before you find out your organization's legal claim on the property in question. Also, don't piss off the adjacent landowners if at all possible. This means keeping the contractors equipment off their property, cleaning up any brush, trash, etc. left within view (even if it's on your property and especially if the tracks bisects his property*). Finally, an invitation to your shop to show what you are doing and what your goals are. If you are a 501c3 (non profit), let them know. And giving comp tickets to train rides may help them understand your organizations goals. Be professional at all times in dealing with all adjacent landowners. If you have clear title to the property, you will be neighbors with them*. If your tracks bisect an owners property, offer to construct a crossing to allow him access to that part even if you have no legal obligation to do so. I give this advice because I saw an area property owner sever a scenic rail line because the RR had an easement and their efforts to resolve the situation with the landowner was ham-handed and unprofessional. Good luck. I hope this helps.
yes, that would be the proper pro-active response in a situation as this. Unfortunately when you complain about unsightly land cleared for supposed use of abandoned tracks that lacked absolutely no maintenance whatsoever for many decades, you get "too bad", "tough luck", and "you shouldn't have moved there". How can it be possible in this country to build neighborhoods decades after a railway get's used, trees can grow 100 feet tall, roads can be surfaced over, tracks become formally abandoned in 1979, 35 years ago, and someone come along like Lake Shore Railway Ass and do this very thing? You can't. Do not let anyone try to bully you into their interpretation of the law. Do your own homework.
Corner lot... I think you need a hug! What the lake shore railway is doing is a great thing! Saving a part of history for people to enjoy. The lake shore railway brings money into the city, people come from all over to ride the train. In turn people spend money for gas food etc. It's a good thing for the city. You are just blind to the benefits. I hope a downer like you doesn't ride a scenic train ride anywhere because most of them are doing the same thing as the lakeshore railway is. Restoring old unused for many years abandoned tracks. I know I wouldn't want you or people like you riding on a train line if I owned one! People that have rail lines running through their yard with trees growing through them or not should know that there is always a chance that the rails could be reactivated someday!
Comments like Corner lot mentioned are not only unfortunate and unprofessional, but outright rude. Whomever made them should be taken behind the woodshed by the officers of the LSRA. If the person who made them is an officer of the group, in time they will sink their whole organization. Not monitoring a contractor who parks equipment on private land, leaving debris, etc. is another mortal sin. However, in the long run it comes to whether or not LSRA has the legal right to restore the trackage involved. All parties will benefit by having this issue resolved before any more (verbal) shots are fired. Maybe both parties can split the cost of a deed search? If the landowner(s) have clear title to the property- game over. However LSRA will save the expenditure of time, money and energy by knowing where they legally stand and not restoring tracks they will never be able to use. But for arguments sake let's say they do have the legal right to the tracks and run their trains, they should meet with their neighbors and see what the neighbors main concerns are (noise, security, whatever) then do their best to mitigate the neighbors concerns. Some adjacent property owners may be the kind of people that can't be placated. If so, making a genuine attempt to see what their concerns are and try to work with them will help LSRA in future situations with other neighbors by having a reputation for doing their best to work with those who live along the tracks. Remember the old saw, "You get more flies with sugar than with vinegar".
Donald Trump(Deech) has no idea what he is talking about. I was told that the scenic railroad 'most likely' will not ever happen due to finances. This entire wooded area lot was destroyed for the sale of wood to probably finance the association. Deech,I'm sorry, Donald, care to put a wager on THE scenic railroad coming within the next decade? It's pretty obvious who you are or represent.It's wrong in the way it's being addressed. Nobody is opposed to the railroad itself.You are the one reading into this and getting defensive. Stick to the facts at hand.
Corner lot, you are so angry. Deech, Donald makes great points. Yes he could be less defensive but you my friend are lost. If the scenic railroad will "most likely not ever happen" they how did I ride it a couple years ago?
Corner lot, you are so angry. Deech, Donald makes great points. Yes he could be less defensive but you my friend are lost. If the scenic railroad will "most likely not ever happen" they how did I ride it a couple years ago?
Good grief! Are the members and supporters of LSRA tone deaf? I have been involved with the local railway museum for most of the past 25 years. Experience taught us that if somebody has a complaint, no matter how unreasonable, the first action should be to LISTEN to the person making the complaint. REPEAT what you understand their complaint is, then reassure them that you will look into the matter and see how it can be resolved. Not only is this "Marketing 101", it's the best way to further your cause.
I'm assuming LSRA considers itself a business rather than a bunch of grown ups who want to "play trains". If you don't recognize yourselves as a business, you are doomed to failure. Marketing studies have found that if one person has a good experience with your business they will tell about 7 others. If that person has had a bad experience they will tell 19 other people about it. Calling people names, or being condescending ("he needs a hug") be they neighbors or customers is a losing strategy, and will ensure that group's will not survive, let alone flourish.
I would like to see LSRA succeed in their endeavors, and am only trying to point out that there are ways to solve problems with others that are productive, and ways that are not. My guess is that LSRA's neighbors have little knowledge about the important role railways have made in making the US a world power. They probably don't understand the role railway museums (and tourist trains) have in educating the general public who just hear about railroads when there is a derailment or strike. Rather than call names at those who have issues with what you want to do, try community outreach. Invite them to where your yard/shop in Wellington. Show them around, give them a free ride. Have an "ambassador" from your group give them a chance to see what you aim to accomplish. Educate them! Don't react by circling the (covered) wagons.
Maybe the adjacent landowners are unreasonable, but to blow them off is not going to help you at all. If your group can't wrap their heads around that, you truly aren't "ready for prime time".
To Corner Lot, Pissed OFF, and others who have issues with rebuilding the line: It would help your cause clearly explain to LSRA exactly what your concerns are. Is it noise, or what? Just because you thought the RR was totally abandoned, or won't be put back into service because of their finances does little to help your cause.
To LSRA members and supporters: Please don't let your enthusiasm for what you want to accomplish be ruined by hostility towards people who question your efforts. At least try to meet with them and discuss face to face the issues and concerns both of you have. If those who object to what you want to do are in fact being unreasonable, you will have the satisfaction that you did what you could to work with them to resolve their concerns. Alienating your neighbors will come back to haunt you when you apply for grants- which you WILL need to accomplish your goals.
Again, having a title search will help everyone determine what their legal rights are.
P.S. To those who wonder why a guy from Wash State is sticking his nose into a situation that doesn't involve him, I'm a native Ohioan (Akron), and former E-L employee who would love to see the state's rich railroad heritage preserved. I hope to visit your (and other) trains and see what you are doing the next time I visit.
Great reply to all this madness Dan O! You make great points. I'll admit that the "need a hug" was pretty funny though. I wish the Lake Shore Railroad the best of luck! I'll will be out to ride it very soon!
everyone contributing their advice and opinion need to check out the land itself that was cleared for this project if it even comes. it looks like a bomb went off directly behind our street. Piles of sawdust, rubble, branches and whatnot are everywhere. They even took about 35 feet of land of what was maintained from people living in that house since it was built in 1987.Eight foot weeds now border the property where the woods used to be.All the big huge beautiful trees are now gone only in hopes of a railroad. You must see for yourselves.
I get what your saying about the property looking like a bomb went off but it is what it is. If it is their property then they can do what they want with it. I fully support the LSRA and I really hope someday they will make it across the bridge over the Black River! Fingers crossed!
Looking "like a bomb went off" is not very specific. However, if it's not too bad, I suggest LSRA gather a group of their volunteers to clean it up. If there is too much for a volunteer work party, They would be wise to get the contractor to come back in and clean it up (along with a volunteer work party). Ask the landowner if you can have access to the area to be cleaned up. If you want to show that you're "god neighbors" cut up some of the thicker branches/trunks and ask if they'd like some free firewood (a peace offering). If you have to pay the contractor to clean it up, think of it as an investment rather than an expense. Finally, apologize for the hassle they had. These simple gestures will reassure the neighbors that you are a decent lot, and not a bunch of wild eyed "train nuts" foaming at the mouth.
Whether or not LSRA has the right to reopen the line (which it seems nobody yet knows for sure) I strongly suggest this for several reasons: It will give some of your people a chance to meet their prospective new neighbors face to face. Also, these simple gestures could make the difference as to whether or not you have to deal with litigation. Even if they don't have a legal leg to stand on, if sued you'll have to hire an attorney to defend your side. This could end up costing your group big $$ depending on how far the other side wants to take it. If they have deep pockets, you'll be screwed no matter how it ends up.
I will try to contact LSRA so they can ask and answer any questions. I'd really like to see you guys resolve this, for your own sake. This is my last post on this site/thread. It wasn't intended to be a gripe board, so maybe we can give Abandoned Rails a break and find a better forum.
above link shows map of area that is at least 2 years old. All the trees from West Ridge heading East lopped off. Dellefield Rd. houses lost their backyards. Trees all cut down last summer, why no development at all this year? Looks pretty messy back there.
You can't lose something that wasn't yours to begin with. Even if the railroad should have cleaned up better it's still their land to do whatever they want with. Get over it.
I think the reason there hasn't been any development in the summer of 2015 is because odot is replacing their bridge over the abondoned railroad tracks. I've heard rumors that State Route 2 is being widened to 3 lanes from Avon to Amherst. Whatever the deal is, construction trucks have been driving down the railroad's right of way working on the bridge all last summer. Hopefully we'll see some development when odot gets out of the way.
Randall in IL: There was a bad wreck of an eastbound passenger train in Wellington on the NYC. I believe the cause was excessive speed. I remember pictures of coaches overturned going down the main street. The interlocking tower was wiped out. I thought that it was in the '60's.
I am all for this line being opened up. Sometimes it is not the railroad's fault when debris appears along the right of way. Take the Ashtabula, Carson, & Jefferson for example. Many of the residents along the line have backyards that look like public dumps. It goes on for miles. Old refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, bags full of garbage, and old junk cars make you feel like you are on the train from Sanford & Sons dump. Brush is easy to clean up, but garbage and old waste is not. Most people in general are open to reason, and I'm sure if this endeavor continues, a firm handshake and a calm attitude will work for both parties.
At present how far does the train go from Wellington? This is the first time I've heard there was a operating railroad in this area other then the big commercial ones.