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Railfan Photo Line - July 2011

Welcome to Photo Line! Shortline railroading is a necessity of the modern industry. Fancy paint and clean engines don't pay the bills and yet many photographers refuse to photograph a line without them. What's worse, a a shortline with ratty power that still moves the goods or a bike trail that long ago hosted its last steel wheels? Join photographer Brian Schmidt for an up-close look at the local side of railroading on Ohio's Maumee & Western Railroad.

Maumee & Western by Brian SchmidtMaumee & Western headquarters

The Maumee & Western operates a former Wabash line in northwest Ohio and northeast Indiana. Crews for this operation are based at a CSX interchange in Defiance, Ohio where we see #5 idling by the yard office. The line was operated Norfolk Southern through the 1980s before being conveyed to Indiana Hi-Rail, its previous operator. The Maumee & Western took over operations in 1998.

Maumee & Western by Brian SchmidtForgotten tracks of Napoleon

The remains of the long-forgotten tracks are seen at Union Street in Napoleon. The mainline and run-around track are seen in the foreground; on the left is an abandoned yard track. Napoleon once boasted a freight house, interchange, small yard, and even a TOFC ramp. Today, however, the rails sink into the mud as the railroad fights for survival, being sunk deeper with every load that passes over.

Maumee & Western by Brian SchmidtI love it when a plan comes together

The Maumee & Western crew debates their next course of action in Napoleon on a foggy morning. Without the run-around track in-service the crew must resort to other means to serve the industries on facing-point spurs in town. Shortline railroading will always be a make-do profession. This day only one inbound load, a reefer for Interstate Cold Storage, is on the switch list.

Maumee & Western by Brian SchmidtA watchful eye

The conductor watches the shove with a careful eye at a grade crossing in Napoleon. Normal operations have the conductor chasing the train in an old Ford Ranger, flagging crossings with non-operating crossing protection and keeping an eye out for possible derailments due to track conditions.

Maumee & Western by Brian SchmidtPassing Depot Street in Napoleon

The return westbound passes Depot Street in Napoleon. As in many communities across the continent the depot is long gone and the town's only connection with its history is through street names. The locomotive carries the colors of its former owner and the reporting marks of its current owner, the Connersville & New Castle, a corporate sibling to the featured Maumee & Western.

Maumee & Western by Brian SchmidtWhat used to be

More empties than loads this day, one inbound car has turned into more than a dozen outbound empties from the industries in town. The train passes the local VFW hall and long-abandoned silos on its way out of Napoleon. The grassy strip on the right was once part of the support yard for the freight house.

Maumee & Western by Brian SchmidtWestbound at Okalona

A westbound with one of the Maumee & Western's own engines passes through tiny Okalona on a sunny summer afternoon. The feed mill in town still receives occasional cars. It seems on this day the conductor is using his own personal truck to follow the train.

Maumee & Western by Brian SchmidtMaumee & Western Defiance Yard

The exaggerated condition of the road's Defiance yard is clearly evident in this telephoto view. This shot is indicative of track conditions throughout the line. The Illinois Central heritage of No. 16 can clearly be inferred through this shot.

Maumee & Western by Brian SchmidtPitch and yaw

With banking more befitting a mainline curve an eastbound train leans a bit on its way to Napoleon on a late summer morning. For reasons unknown all of the line's soft spots cause the trains to lean to the north and this shot exemplifies that trait perfectly.

 

Maumee & Western by Brian SchmidtThe customer is always right

The Maumee & Western's lone customer in Defiance is Johns Manville, makers of various fiberglass products. The CNUR No. 5 is seen switching their downtown plant early in the workday, according to the plant manager's schedule. Customer service is a crucial element that many shortlines live and die by.

Maumee & Western by Brian SchmidtClose clearance

Vestiges of the past can be found on almost every shortline, and the Maumee & Western is no exception. An old Southern boxcar remains in the Defiance yard residing in the mud, trucks long removed. It is used for storage of track and locomotive parts, much to the dismay of those observing the railroad. This sign on one end is a reminder of a time when the yard was full of activity and every spur had a purpose, long before the weeds and mud began to take over.

Railfan Photo Line

Railfan Photo Line welcomes your submissions. We're looking for a themed topic (and "theme" can be interpreted fairly broadly) with five to eight photos. Each photo should be no smaller than 14 inches (or 1024 pixels) across at 72 dpi (no verticals, please). Brief caption information must accompany each photo. The best way to submit Photo Line candidates is via e-mail with "Photo Line" in the subject line and no more than two photos attached per e-mail. Please send your submissions to Editor Steve Barry for consideration.
 
 

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