But don’t let it get you down, because it means an Ohio shortline has a future.
Peoria, Illinois-based Pioneer Railcorp’s Michigan Southern Railroad (MSO) has acquired the Maumee & Western Railroad, which runs from Woodburn, Indiana east to Liberty Center, Ohio. The newest addition to the Pioneer roster of shortlines will officially be known as the Michigan Southern Railroad Company d/b/a Napoleon Defiance & Western Railway. Pioneer took over operations December 28, 2012 and posted this press release on January 3.
Click here for photos and information from recent days showing the condition of the railroad, and why it earns the “World’s Worst Maintaned Railroad” moniker, and what Pioneer officials and contractors are doing about it. Also check out this 22-minute video of MAW operations.
Though beset with poor track conditions, there does appear to be a decent customer base, at least on the east end. Advanced Drainage Systems (inbound plastic), Oldcastle Precast (inbound plastic), Meadow Brook Meat Corp, Cloverleaf Cold Storage and Interstate Cold Storage are served at Napoleon. Given the presence of a large Campbell Soup plant where 1,200 people manufacture soup and juices (including V8), some rail shipments for that company are probably made from these warehouses.
Republic Mills operates a feed plant at Okolona, Ohio but is probably using trucks. Likewise for Jewell Grain Co in nearby Jewell. But there is also a Johns Manville fiberglass insulation plant in Defiance, Ohio that still gets service.
The western end of the line appears to have little traffic and is mostly used for car storage. A LaFarge North America cement plant and Systech (inbound waste oil to fuel LaFarge’s kilns) but the spur diverging from the mainline at Cecil, Ohio to serve them is in deplorable condition. A grain elevator at Antwerp has rail access, but again may not be an active rail user at this time. A fertilizer place in Woodburn may still get service as well.
Check some additional photos of Maumee & Western in action here.
Pioneer’s newest acquisition has a lot of potential, and getting the line in decent condition will go a long way in bringing back traffic. Among the opportunities, is that the 51-mile line isn’t captive to one Class I railroad. Connections are available with CSXT and Norfolk Southern at Defiance and Woodburn, respectively.
Genesee & Wyoming’s Indiana & Ohio Railway (IORY) crosses ND&W at grade just west of Liberty Center. This section of MAW track was used for car storage, but constructing an IORY connection could open up even more traffic opportunities (IORY connects with Canadian National at Flat Rock, Michigan and has Ohio River port access).
Yet another opportunity is Gerald Grain Center at Liberty Center. The company’s website shows railcars at this facility, but it currently does not get service. That’s likely because Gerald Grain has a facility on a CSXT mainline at nearby Hamler capable of loading up to 90-car unit trains.
Why am I blogging about an Ohio shortline? Besides the fact that it was recently purchased by a Peoria-based company, efforts put into rehabilitating this stretch of railroad should erase any doubt over what can be accomplished closer to home, like soon-to-be abandoned (or purchased) trackage in the Canton area.
- David P. Jordan