History of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Company
Began in order to fulfill the need for a railroad connection between the Wheeling, West Virginia coal fields and Lake Erie port cities and facilities. Initial enthusiasm was offset by capital constraints.
Interest intensifies in transporting Ohio coal to Lake Erie and iron ore from the Lake to steel plants in southeast Ohio.
Main offices were moved to Brewster, Ohio, where they remain today.
W&LE changes hands several times after World War II, leased by Nickel Plate, then controlled by Norfolk & Western, which later merged to become Norfolk Southern.
Norfolk Southern sold W&LE to a group of investors, who renewed the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway corporate name. The new rail system was now made up of a combination of the former W&LE, the Pittsburgh & West Virginia (PWV) and the Akron, Canton & Youngstown (ACY) lines. The 576 miles of track, combined with trackage rights encompassed 840 miles.
W&LE acquired the former Akron and Barberton Belt Railroad and part of the local Conrail “Cluster” railroad in the greater Akron, Ohio area. A wholly owned subsidiary of The Wheeling Corporation, the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway handles in excess of 10,000 carloads per year for our 25 customers, primarily consisting of traffic in aggregates, chemicals, grain, plastic products, and scrap iron.
W&LE now handles over 140,000 carloads per year and operates in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. The company is private, 100% internally owned, and currently has approximately 425 employees.