Very Bad Railroad Track

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  • Member since
    January 2012
  • From: Michigan
  • 11 posts
Very Bad Railroad Track
Posted by tlapteditor on Sunday, January 1, 2012 9:16 PM

I make short films on railroads all over the Midwest and figured some people on here may enjoy reading up, or watching my videos about interesting shortlines that I have Railfanned. I figured I would post videos and accounts concerning the shortlines with railroad trackage in bad condition. If anyone has any of their own stories, videos, or pictures, please post them as well! If you like my videos, please pass them around. I'm new hear and excited about being part of this community! If you would like to view my videos, just press play:

watch?v=0TaNeam J g

The Maumee & Western Railroad (reporting mark MAW) is located between Defiance and Napoleon, Ohio. It is a 15 mile long, shortline railroad. The line has two locomotives, ex-Illinois Central GP10 #16 (a GP9 rebuild) and an ex-Santa Fe Railway C-F7 (CNUR #5). Trains operate daily between Napoleon and Defiance, except for Saturdays and Sundays. This was a former Wabash Railroad mainline, which ran Westward from Toledo. After the merger between Norfolk & Western Railroad and the Wabash Railroad, it became a neglected branch line under N&W, which sold it to Indiana Hi-Rail Company. Maumee & Western later acquired it, with financial assistance from the ORDC, when the Indiana Hi-Rail liquidated. The line passes through an area known as the Great Black Swamp, combined with the fact that it was lightly built to start with, means lots of headaches. Maumee & Western, with continued assistance from the State of Ohio, has made some progress, but no heavy maintenance has been done to this track since the Wabash days around 1964. The local port authority has offered to purchase the line, but Maumee & Western isn't interested in selling. 

The first scene takes place on Friday November 4th, 2011, in Defiance. #16 was kicking out several cars for Monday's 16-car long train to Napoleon. #5 (CNUR) can be seen at Defiance Yard resting her old C-F7 carbody. #5 is often used for shunting freight cars at Defiance Yard, but occasionally makes it out when #16 needs a little more assistance with handling a train. It was interesting to see this operation being carried out. However, this was the last move of the day, and I was not able to shoot any more footage of the MAW. So, due to popular demand, and requests from my fellow YouTuber's, I set out to film MAW again.

I caught up with #16 on December 28th, which was hauling empties back to Defiance Yard, just North of a small town called Jewel, Ohio. #16 is again seen in duty, hauling this train on what is considered to be, "THE WORST STRETCH OF RAILROAD TRACK IN NORTH AMERICA." An employee followed the train in a white maintenance truck the entire way, just to make sure nothing derailed. It was a blustery, 30-or-so-degrees Fahrenheit day; but it made it interesting evermore. The rails seemed to resemble spaghetti noodles, strung out a crossed a golden plain. As the train entered into the center of Jewel, you can see the empties, "bob-n'-weave," as they slowly crawl down the track. A stray cat is seen walking the rails in this video, and I bet the cat could give Maumee & Western a run for their money - speed wise! Overall, this was a fun trip. The employees were very friendly, waved at me most of the time, and even gave me information on where to get the next best shot. I recommend giving the Maumee & Western a try next time you're out in this neck of the woods! If you're handicap-disabled, don't worry! Just grab a scooter and you'll be just even paced with this slow roller of a train! 

My latest YouTube video:


  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 24,508 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Monday, January 2, 2012 12:02 PM

Couple of questions....

1. If track were upgraded to say 25 MPH standards - how much operating expense would MAW save?
2. If track was upgraded as above - how much new business would MAW attract?

Railroads are a business and track upgrading is expensive - if either of the above questions would allow for a return on the investment in upgrading the track - the upgrades would be forthcoming.  A 15 mile long short line, without securing business such as a grain processor that handles 130 car 286K car capacity unit trains has no financial need to upgrade their property much beyond what you have pictured.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!


  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Denver / La Junta
  • 10,741 posts
Posted by mudchicken on Monday, January 2, 2012 12:08 PM

(1) JoeKoh, where art thou?

(2) MAW is owned by some of the same folks that owned IHRC, Spence Wendelin among others.

(3) They run it as excepted track, which partially allows the railroad to survive in the condition it's in. IF the railroad made more money, they could invest in the trackwork and afford a real manager with a solid engineering/maintenance background instead of a wannabe.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
  • Member since
    January 2012
  • From: Michigan
  • 11 posts
Posted by tlapteditor on Monday, January 2, 2012 6:20 PM

Here is another shortline with poorly conditioned track:


watch?v=VtT2 FU6vSE&list=UUqpvHYdGIEk3SEVpAWsLGCg&index=8&feature=plcp


I took a trip with a friend of mine, who is also the President of a shortline railroad, to Adlake Supply Company in Elkhart, Indiana. Adlake Supply Company has been in business since 1857 and is a world leader in railroad supplies. They relocated to Elkhart, Indiana, in 1927, where they are still located today. My friend needed to purchase railroad keys and locks for his railroad's locomotives. While he was inside, I was able to take my camera and capture a Elkhart & Western local freight train, which happened to have two early, rebuilt EMD's doing the honors. #1000, was a former Great Northern Railroad, High-Nose GP9, which was later rebuilt as a GP10 by the Illinois Central Railroad, fitted with a chopped, Low-Nose for better visibility. The second unit, #911, was built for The Milwaukee Road in the mid-50s as a High-Nose GP9 locomotive. #911 was also retrofitted with a chopped, Low-Nose for better cab visibility. To my knowledge, this is the only video on the net of this line in action. I'm not sure how often they run trains, but this was just a streak of luck catch. Adlake Supply Company can be seen in the background (the whitish factory building). Here is some general information I found from Pioneer Railcorp on Elkhart & Western:

General Overview:

The Elkhart & Western Railroad Company (reporting mark EWR), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pioneer Railcorp, operates two segments of track. One segment runs 11 miles west from Elkhart, Indiana. The other segment is 23 miles of track form Argos to Walkerton, Indiana. The railroad's principal commodities are auto frames, cement, lumber, tomato paste, plastic and aggregates.

Profile of Railroad Services:

Miles of Branch Line Operated: 10
Location of Offices: P.O. Box 1468, Elkhart, IN 46515
Stations Served:
County Line
Railroad Type: Interline Carrier
Connecting Railroad:
Norfolk Southern Railroad (NS) - Elkhart, IN

My latest YouTube video:


  • Member since
    July 2012
  • From: Des Plaines, IL
  • 20 posts
Posted by MR77200 on Thursday, July 12, 2012 10:10 PM

Here is my footage from 2000, and I wonder if these tracks are even usable?

The Land of the Lime Green and Yellow! 


  • Member since
    October 2010
  • From: Centennial, CO
  • 3,218 posts
Posted by Stourbridge Lion on Thursday, July 12, 2012 10:39 PM

MR77200 - Welcome to! Cowboy

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • 445 posts
Posted by Kootenay Central on Friday, July 13, 2012 2:10 AM
Thank You.

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