Wild and wonderful West Virginia—The Mountaineer State—with its majestic mountains and rugged beauty. At one time it was home to such eastern rail giants as the Baltimore & Ohio, Chesapeake & Ohio (Chessie System) and the Norfolk & Western. As the early to mid 1980s ensued, so did the change of the railroad scene. The Norfolk & Western merged with the Southern Railway to form Norfolk Southern in June 1982 while the C&O and B&O were merged into the modern day CSX Transportation in 1986 and 1987, respectively. During the early 1980s, I would venture down to the Baltimore and Ohio’s Maryland and Monongah Divisions with my good friend Mark Perri from Akron, Ohio. We both developed a keen interest in B&O operations during the 1970’s. I was a frequent visitor to the B&O in the Cleveland area, spending time on both the Cleveland and CT&V Subdivisions while Mark was trackside viewing B&O’s Akron Mainline Subdivision mainline and branchline action in his hometown of Akron. We met one another in 1980 while chasing the 4070 steam trips along the CT&V Sub and been good friends ever since.
After stopping at M&K Junction to add a quartet of SD35 helpers, Train 88 is seen rounding a curve near Rodamer, W. Va., on Saturday, October 24, 1982, as it tackles the eastward climb up Cranberry Grade. At CA Tower in Terra Alta, the helpers will cut away before drifting downgrade back to M&K Junction for their next assignment. Kodachrome by Dave Ori
Departing my hometown of Parma, Ohio, on Friday evenings, I would swing by and pick up Mark at his place in Cuyahoga Falls near Akron and head south and east toward West Virginia before arriving at M&K Jct. shortly before midnight. During the night, we would hook up with long-time B&O fans Scott Snell and Rodney Miller from eastern Pennsylvania. The purpose of the weekend trips was to photograph B&O action along the Cumberland-St Louis main line between CA Tower at Terra Alta and MK Tower at Rowlesburg, W. Va. Within these two locations is where Cranberry and Cheat River grades were located. With its twisting and turning topography, it was one of the toughest operating districts on the B&O system. After having breakfast at a diner in the small town of Rowlesburg, we ventured over to MK Tower to get a line-up from the operator. From there, we headed up to Cranberry Grade to begin our day of photographing the action.
The Baltimore & Ohio operated several manifest trains daily across the Cumberland-Grafton segment of the Maryland Division. In June 1981, a GP40-SD35-GP9 consist takes charge of Benwood 99 as it rounds Grave Yard Curve near Rodamer, W. Va. Train BW99 once operated on a 18-hour schedule between Cumberland, Maryland, and Benwood, W. Va., (south of Wheeling), handling traffic for Grafton, Fairmont, Newark, Mansfield and Willard, Ohio. Kodachrome by Dave Ori
Train movements across the Cumberland-St. Louis main line varied greatly between the mid-1960s and early 1980’s. According to a 1966 string line schedule schematic (see page 15), a total of 12 trains (excluding extras) were scheduled across the Cumberland- Grafton segment. Eastbound trains included the Manhattan Trailer Jet, Advance Manhattan, Manhattan, Train 88, Train 196 and Cumberland 94. On the westbound side, the following trains were carded: St. Louis Trailer Jet, St. Louisan, Gateway 97, Cincinnatian, Cincinnati 97, and Train 195. When traffic volume was heavy, extra sections were operated. An increase in traffic was attributed to the tunnel clearance project along the B&O’s Parkersburg Branch, which was completed in 1963. This project eliminated several clearance issues along the 103-mile branch, enabling the railroad to handle higher dimension cars such as trailers and high-wide shipments…