SOUTHEAST SIDE LOCATIONS
The Norfolk Southern Cleveland Line and the Wheeling & Lake Erie Cleveland Subdivision parallel each other through Bedford, a suburb southeast of Cleveland. The NS Cleveland Line carries 50 trains per day of all types, including COFC, TOFC, RoadRailers, autoracks, auto parts and mixed freight. A couple of Amtrak trains come through late at night. The W&LE line carries scrap metal and other miscellaneous freight about four times per day.
West Grace and West Glendale: These two streets run west of Broadway about a mile southeast of Rockside. After turning onto West Glendale from Broadway and just before crossing the tracks, there is a parking lot on the right that is good for trainwatching. CP 110 (formerly CP Maple) is visible to the west. West Grace is one block further southeast. A parking lot for an abandoned meat market used to be a good spot to park, but the market is now being renovated and I'm not sure the lot is available. These sites are reasonably safe at all times of the day or night. Also, there are two other side streets to the northwest of Glendale that dead-end at the tracks. You may find you prefer their photo angles.
Directions: From the Rockside Rd. exit from I-271, take Rockside west to Broadway, and then turn left (south).
Photo samples: Sunlit Wedgie, Eastbound In Winter, Twilight Train
Northfield Road bridge: Northfield Road crosses over the NS Cleveland Line just north of Walton Hills. A dirt road can get you underneath the bridge. From there, you can look southeast to CP 107 (formerly CP Walton). You can use the bridge as an element in photographs, or you can take telephoto shots of westbounds passing the western signal of the CP. There's a tiny spur that runs into the Krick Rd. Industrial Park right here. If you are extremely lucky, a locomotive coming out after delivering tank cars on this spur would be a wonderful photograph. (UPDATE: I got lucky! The "Emerging from Krick" sample shows this spur.) This site is safe during the day, since there's a couple of industries close by. It's probably OK at night, but I'd be a little nervous. It would probably best to have a companion if you go there at night.
Directions: From the Broadway/Forbes Rd. exit from I-271, take Forbes Rd. west. The last side street on the left before Northfield is Division St. Turn down Division, and then take the first right. When that road ends, turn left and drive gingerly down the potholed dirt road to the bridge.
Photo sample: Clear Signal At Dawn, Emerging from Krick
CP 107 (formerly CP Walton): A side street can get you right up to the tracks at CP Walton. There's good visibility for trainwatching, but I don't think it's all that good a site for photography. Of course, that hasn't stopped me. NS employees I've met there have been friendly. It's safe during the day. I don't know how it is at night, but I'd expect it to be OK too.
Directions: From the Broadway/Forbes Rd. exit from I-271, take Forbes Rd. west. Turn left onto Wright St. When it ends, turn right. That road will dead-end in a little circle at the west end of the CP 107 interlocking.
Photo sample: Out the Odd Track
Egbert Road: This road parallels Bedford Reservation along its south edge. A bridge carries it over the NS Cleveland Line. When I was a boy, there was a rickety old bridge carrying Egbert over the tracks. The road was rerouted and a new bridge was built, but the old road and bridge abutments are still there. Two streets, both named "Old Egbert", run off of Egbert, one on each side of the tracks. You can drive up to the abutments and walk down to the tracks, or you can stay on Egbert and watch trains from the bridge.
Directions: From the Broadway/Forbes Rd. exit from I-271, take Broadway northwest. Make a very shallow left turn onto Union. After crossing Northfield and driving down the hill, turn left onto Egbert. The Old Egberts will be the first and second roads on your left.
Photo samples: NS In Snow, Coming To Egbert
Willis Rd. Picnic Area: This little corner of Bedford Reservation is ideal for railfans with families who don't care all that much for trains. The driveway into the park passes under the NS Cleveland Line. You can have a picnic, swing on the swings, play softball, and never miss a train. At one time, you could hike down to Tinker's Creek and see the culvert that replaced the old stone trestle that carried the Cleveland & Pittsburgh over the gorge. Last I heard, that trail was washed out, but it may have been restored. Since this area was a favorite for picnicking when I was growing up, I credit it with sparking my interest in railroads.
Directions: From the Broadway/Forbes Rd. exit from I-271, take Broadway northwest. After passing Bedford Cemetery, turn left onto Taylor. When it ends, turn right. Turn left into the park. (By the way, if you turn left instead of right when Taylor ends, you'll be in a little park owned by the city of Bedford that features a paved walk over the old Cleveland & Pittsburgh stone trestle. The walk ends about 50 feet away from the NS Cleveland Line, and a little below it.)
Photo sample: NS Through Woods
Rockside Rd. bridge:The bridge that carries Rockside Road over the NS Cleveland Line and the W&LE Cleveland Subdivision offers some good overhead views in both directions. CP 110 is visible just to the south (railroad east), controlling traffic coming east out of Maple Hts. Yard. To the west, the main tracks bend around the west edge of the yard and a lead track takes trains into the yard. There are chain-link fences on top of concrete keeping people from falling onto the tracks, but if you see a good opportunity, you can step up onto the concrete and shoot over the fence.
Directions: From the Rockside Rd. exit from I-271, go west on Rockside until you cross the bridge. There's a car wash and an unused parking lot on the right where you can park.
Photo sample: Impressionistic Dash 9s
Norfolk Southern's Ford Yard and Motor Yards are located in the northern part of Macedonia. Their purpose is to handle auto parts and other auto-related traffic destined for the Ford stamping plant in Walton Hills and for the Chrysler plant in Macedonia. There are also maintenance facilities in Motor Yard. Ford Yard is small, while Motor Yard is quite a bit larger. The western end of Ford Yard can just barely be seen from CP 107. The tracks narrow back down to two at the eastern end, and then immediately open out again to begin Motor Yard. The interlocking where the two yards nearly meet is Wheelock. Switches there are hand-operated, and there are no signals.
The Norfolk Southern Cleveland Line continues south (OK, NS calls it east) from Motor Yard through Macedonia. The Crown Industrial line branches off of the Cleveland Line at CP 102 and runs up to Chrysler Yard in Twinsburg and some other industries.
Motor Yard east end: The east end of Motor Yard can be seen from Freeway Drive. This is a road that parallels I-271 and hosts various light industries. Just before it passes under I-271, there is an excellent turn-off area from which you can watch trains on the main tracks and switching activity at the east end of the yard.
Directions: From the Rt. 82 exit of I-271, turn east (toward the railroad bridge). Before passing under the tracks, turn right onto Freeway Drive.
Rt. 82 underpass: There are good train-watching spots where Rt. 82 passes under the tracks. On the south side of Rt. 82, west of the tracks, is a little city park with a gazebo and picnic tables and a little mown lawn running up to the tracks. You will be on the outside of a gentle curve, making this a good spot for photography.
Photo sample: Amtrak Over Rt. 82
On the north side of Rt. 82 is a lumber store whose parking lot abuts the NS Cleveland Line. You can't get as close to the tracks here, but there are still good photographic possibilities. Ancient, disused spur tracks can still be seen there, along with a ramp that used to be used for unloading boxcars. The owner of the lumber store has no objections to railroad photography there; just keep children off the ramp.
Photo sample: Eastbound at MP 104
Directions: From the Rt. 82 exit of I-271, turn east (toward the railroad bridge). To get to the park, turn right at the light before the tracks, and then immediately turn left. To get to the lumber store, turn right onto Freeway Drive, and the store is on your right.
CP 102: CP 102, formerly known as CP Twin, is the location at which the Crown Industrial line branches off to run up to Chrysler Yard and a few other industries. The interlocking straddles Highland Rd. There is a siding on the east (railroad north) side of the tracks. The Crown Industrial branches off the siding south of Highland Rd., and there is a spur serving one industry that branches off the siding north of Highland. There is a good deal of traffic up and down the Crown, and you can also see the Cleveland Line. In particular, the 48K runs up to Chrysler Yard in the morning and the 49K runs back down in the evening. It has to be near midsummer to catch 49K in daylight, though. There's also a stone plant next to Chrysler Yard. Occasionally yard power has to come down to push stone trains up the Crown.
If you have older children, you can drop them off at Fun 'N Stuff, a short distance west of the tracks on Highland, with enough money to keep them occupied for an hour or two, and then go in back of their parking lot and watch the trains. You can see the eastbound signals from there.
Directions: From I-271 southbound, get off at Rt. 8. Follow the exit ramp all the way around to get onto Rt. 8 southbound. Get in the left lane immediately. Turn left at the first light where you're allowed to turn left. Just after you cross the tracks, turn right into a wide dirt driveway. I usually park close to the road. You can walk back down Highland to the tracks (being careful of traffic, since Highland is a busy two-lane road), or you can follow the dirt road back to the Crown Industrial. I believe that that is Norfolk Southern property, but I have never met anyone there. From I-271 northbound, get off at Rt. 82, since there is no exit from that side to Rt. 8. Turn west on Rt. 82 and then south on Rt. 8. After passing under I-271, take the first left.
Photo samples: CP Twin from Fun 'N Stuff, Local and Poles
As I was growing up, Maple Heights was home to a yard that stretched completely across the city, from Bedford in the south to Garfield Hts. in the north. Of course, I didn't care much about trains then and never photographed it. By the time I realized the opportunity I had, the tracks had been torn up. But then Norfolk Southern decided to put an intermodal yard where the old yard used to be! It's not as good as it was, but it's got its attractions.
Granger Rd. bridge: The bridge that takes Granger Rd. over the Norfolk Southern intermodal yard gives a fine view of the operation of the yard, as well as the little W&LE track. This is one of the few bridges in the area that does not have a chain-link fence hampering photography.
Directions: From the I-480 Broadway exit, take Broadway southeast (left off the ramp). Granger Rd. will be marked by a McDonalds on one side and a Burger King on the other. You can park in either one, buy a sandwich or some fries to assuage your conscience, and walk over the bridge. Or you can drive across Granger and turn right onto what used to be Dunham Rd. before they tore its bridge down. It runs between Burger King and Mapletown Shopping Center. You can park on that little road and not worry about the businesses getting mad at you. If you have just been to Bedford, you can drive northwest on Broadway and through Maple Hts. to Granger.
Chrysler Yard: Norfolk Southern's Chrysler Yard is located in the city of Twinsburg, at the end of the Crown Industrial Line, and next to Chrysler's Twinsburg plant. The yard also serves a stone plant. Chamberlin Rd, a fairly busy four-lane divided highway, crosses over the Crown Industrial just before the entrance to the yard. Good photographic angles are available from that bridge. Also, every time I've been there, there has been a locomotive idling just outside the yard, on the west side of the bridge.
Photo sample: Waiting at Chrysler
Directions: From I-271, take the Rt. 82 exit and turn east. At Chamberlin Rd. turn right. (If you pass the Chrysler plant on your right, you've gone too far.) The road will rise gently to the bridge. Park on the shoulder (well off the road). After admiring the view and recording it for posterity, continue south on Chamberlin. It will end at Highland. Turn right (west), and you'll come to CP 102.