Wellington to Lorain

The Lorain and West Virginia Railroad

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Crossbuck and rails still intact at a crossing near Oberlin, looking south. Many crossbucks are still present in this area, even though the railroad has been effectively abandoned since 1969, and officially abandoned since 1979. Photo by Elias C. Jones, June 2003.

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 about this route.

Looking for some old photos of the railroad. Could you lead me in the right direction.

Chris
Elyria, OH
6/8/2009

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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

Scott
Cleveland, OH
10/4/2009

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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.

John Thompson
Elyria, OH
8/14/2010

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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.

R W Smith
South Lorain, OH
9/24/2010

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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.

Scott
Cleveland, OH
9/30/2010

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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)

John Thompson
Elyria, OH
11/28/2010

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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???

Jeremy Harris
Avon, IN
2/7/2011

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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.

John Thompson
Elyria, OH
4/19/2011

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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

todd hastings
oberlin , OH
4/26/2011

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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.

Scott
Cleveland, OH
6/18/2011

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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.

Randall Norris
Rock Falls, IL
3/2/2012

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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!

Sean
Elyria, OH
10/28/2012

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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.

Jack A. Siffert
Elyria, OH
8/21/2013

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Who is in charge of fixing rough crossings where the tourist train goes through?

John Deere
Wellington, OH
10/15/2013

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Picture #1 was taken at 12210 South Pyle-Amherst Road, Oberlin, OH.

freebrickproductions
Huntsville, AL
3/17/2014

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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

Michael Paytosh
Vermilion, OH
9/11/2014

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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.

Andrew
L&WV, OH
9/17/2014

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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.

Pissed Off
Ely Twshp., OH
9/24/2014

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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!!

Deech
Chesterland, OH
10/23/2014

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