Maumee & Western Railroad Company (reporting mark MAW) was a Class III shortline railroad, located between Woodburn, Indiana and Liberty Center, Ohio. The MAW operated on a former Wabash Railroad mainline ("The Fifth District"), which ran Westward out of Toledo to Fort Wayne. After the merger between the Wabash and Norfolk & Western Railroads, the line became a neglected branch under the auspices of the Norfolk & Western, and was partly torn up between Toledo and Liberty Center, with that part of the right of way now acting as a rail-trail. However, Norfolk Southern Railway (formed after the merging of Southern Railway and Norfolk & Western Railroad in 1982) sold the rest of the remaining railroad tracks between Woodburn and Liberty Center to the Indiana Hi-Rail Company in 1990. Indiana Hi-Rail operated the line for several years with Alco locomotives until the company was liquidated in 1997. By that time, this once prosperous line seemed to be facing a possible abandonment. But, the Maumee & Western Railroad, with help from the State of Ohio's, "Rail Development Commission," purchased the line between Woodburn and Liberty Center, with their headquarters being located in Defiance, Ohio. The Maumee & Western operated a daily train between Defiance and Napoleon, except for Saturdays and Sundays.
Since circa 1964 (after the Wabash/N&W merger), the line hasn't received any major repair work, and also runs through Ohio's Great Black Swamp for the majority of it's length. Combined with those two problematic factors, the MAW was bound to creepily slow speeds. In this video, ex-Santa Fe GP7U #5 struggles along the horrible tracks in the small town of Napoleon. As you can see, this portion of track through the small town is absolutely horrible. This line, as you can see, was and still is in dire need for repair. However, at the time, the costs were estimated in the millions, and way too costly for the MAW to maintain. As one can see, it's very hard to imagine that this line was once a mainline on the Wabash Railroad. Despite the poor conditions, the MAW had made some minor improvements with ballast, but as mentioned before, without the sufficient funds, the line still deteriorated. But, in December 2012, hope was yet again revived for this line.
Pioneer Rail Corp. acquired the 51-mile trackage of the Maumee & Western Company in late December of 2012, between Woodburn and Liberty Center. The new subsidiary line is now being called the Napoleon, Defiance & Western Railroad Company. With the purchase and first operations being in January, the new railroad has began their ownership of the line with a great start, and is currently making heavy track repairs between Defiance and Napoleon (as of February 2013). The company plans on continuing track repairs and revamping the line for years to come, and are even preparing for new and former customers of the MAW to join in shipping with the new railroad. Public reception of the railroad is very warm, with the Crescent News in Defiance releasing a headline feature story in their newspaper in January 2013, over viewing the company's bright prospects. Pioneer currently is using three of their own locomotives for operation on the railroad, and plans to add another unit (a GP9 High Hood) very soon.
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*If you're interested in photographing this line, NDW's radio frequency is 160.695 (AAR Channel 39).
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