The Akron Railroad Club has more than 100 members who meet monthly in Akron, Ohio, to share their passion for railroad operations and history. On our blog you will find information about our meetings, activities, how to join us, and news about railroads and railroad oriented organizations. On the feature pages you will find information about popular Ohio railfan hotspots within a couple of hours drive from Akron, stories about railfan outings, trip reports and special reports about railroad operations and railfan events. Most features are amply illustrated with photographs. Take a look around and enjoy yourself. There is always something new to read so come back often. Better yet, come to one of our monthly meetings or join us at one of our many events. We look forward to meeting you.
Saturday morning July 12 was bright and sunny in North East, Pa. I left my motel and picked up oatmeal at a nearby McDonalds before heading for the Remington Road grade crossing nearby.
I watched and photographed six trains on CSX in the hour. My son Gary came by to get me at noon. He had finished his Saturday morning errands and was ready to leave on our planned New York State tour.
On Saturday, Gary and I toured western New York State to check out things in the area. We visited the New York & Lake Erie Railroad in South Dayton and Gowanda, and the fairgrounds in Dunkirk where a locomotive is displayed.
After the tour, I would return to Remington Road for more railfanning. It was a great location for train watching!
I left from North East on Sunday for home, stopping at Jefferson, Ohio, on the way. It was a fun railfanning weekend shared with my son, Gary. We have spent many such weekends together over the years.
Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs
The Akron Railroad Club picnic in 2014 will return to its roots as we journey to Warwick Park after a two-year hiatus. Warwick Park has hosted many ARRC picnics and this year we can hope to have the best picnic ever. This year’s picnic is Sunday, July 27.
Warwick Park is located in Clinton in the extreme southwest corner of Summit County. Warwick was the name of the community that sat adjacent to the tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore & Ohio as they made their way southwest out of Akron.
One PRR route headed to Columbus via Orrville while another connected Warwick and Massillon, where it connected with the Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline at the latter city.
The B&O’s mainline to Chicago intersected with the Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling at Warwick. The CL&W south of Warwick shared a track with the PRR to Massillon. From there it went its own way to Holloway along the Ohio River via Uhrichsville.
Today, the only tracks that remain are the B&O’s Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline and the CL&W track south to Massillon. This latter is owned by RJ Corman and is used as far south as Uhrichsville.
The Ohio Central Division of the Gennessee & Wyoming has trackage rights over the Corman from Beach City to Warwick. At one time the OC train to Warwick was a popular railfan chase due to its daylight schedule.
Alas, times have changed and the G&W and CSX are in the process of moving their interchange to Parsons Yard in Columbus. RJ Corman and CSX are working to make their interchange via the W&LE through Brewster.
This puts the tracks south of Warwick on the endangered species list. With no interchange being done in Warwick, there is no reason for either short line to maintain a track to there.
Even though we probably won’t see any short line action at Warwick, picnic goers can expect to see CSX action on the moderately busy New Castle Subdivision. We have seen as many as 21 CSX trains at a picnic or as few as nine. Our usual number falls somewhere in between.
Between trains, attendees can feast on the delicacies masterfully prepared by Master Grill Chef Marte`. The Club will provide the hamburgers, hot dogs, condiments and tableware.
Attendees are asked to bring a favorite snack, dessert or covered dish to share. Remember there is no refrigeration available, so plan accordingly. You should also bring along your favorite beverage, non alcoholic of course. The picnic starts at noon and goes until dusk.
There are some activities for the kids, including swings and a gym set. There also is a ball diamond and a basketball court. Some may want to take a hike on the Canal Towpath trail that skirts the south end of the park.
There is plenty to see and do at Warwick Park, so make plans to be with us. All are welcome.
To reach Warwick Park from the Akron area, take Ohio Route 21 South and watch for Clinton Road. It is a cross road and not an exit. Make a left on Clinton Road and take it until you reach the bottom of a long hill. Make right at the bottom of the hill.
Then make another right just before the road crosses the CSX tracks at the hardware store in the former grain elevator. This is Hickory Street.
Take Hickory to the first Left, Chippewa St., make a left at Chippewa and go across the CSX tracks. The Warwick Park parking lot is straight ahead. We will be under the large pavilion closest to the tracks and across the road from basketball court.
On Tuesday evening we had rare visitor passed through downtown Cleveland on the former Nickle Plate around 7:30 p.m, one of the two original Chicago & North Western engines. I’ve been told that this was the first time that this engine has been east of Chicago. Also, Union Pacific has a standing order not to mess up the paint job.
Article and Photograph by Alex Bruchac
The Conrail Historical Society will be having its annual BBQ on July 26, 2014 at the Marion Union Station in Marion Ohio.
The grill will be fired up fired around 11 a.m. The society invites everyone to join them for a day of watching trains, good food.
That evening Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee will be showing slides. Also showing photographs will be Jerry Jordak.
Anyone else who cares is invited to bring a slide presentation. The society provide lunch for everyone attending and that evening will have drinks and snacks.
I visited my son Gary and his wife Andrea in the town of North East, Pa., over the weekend of July 11-13. On Friday and parts of Saturday and Sunday, I was trackside to photograph the railroad scene in the area. CSX now operates the former New York Central lines and Norfolk Southern now operates the former Nickel Plate Road.
On Friday, I travelled west on U.S. Route 20 from the Red Carpet Inn where I stayed in Wesleyville. I drove north on Wesley Avenue to trackside at McCormick Construction Co’s stone plant.
There I found two brand new GE locomotives on a siding next to the NS (NKP) line waiting for pickup and delivery to UP.
I tried to photograph the CSX (NYC) line but the vegetation between the two railroads was too dense for good photos. It was a shame, too, because there was a four track signal bridge in view. It reminded me of the Central’s four-track mainline of years past.
I was about to leave, when I noticed a high green signal to the west on the Nickel Plate. Since a westbound train was lined in, I waited to get a photo of it passing the new GEs. The NS auto rack train came by at 3:25 p.m.
After that, I left to visit the Lake Shore Railroad Museum in North East, but that’s another story.
After my museum visit, I left for Gary’s place, a few miles east of the town center. We took off for supper at Papa’s in Ripley, N.Y.
I stopped several times during the weekend at Remington Road and Loomis Street east of North East where both CSX and NS railroads cross at grade.
Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs
On Sunday, I photographed a private rail car that was on the back of a very late westbound Lake Shore Limited. I couldn’t tell much about the car at the time.
It was all silver and didn’t have a railroad name in the letter board. There was a car name below the windows, but the angle of my images made it impossible to read.
Fellow ARRC member Marty Surdyk sent me a text saying it was the Mount Vernon.
That might have been the end of it, but in looking at my images I noticed that one of them showed two men waving from the rear vestibule.
I posted that image to the ARRC blog and to Trainorders.com. It turned out that the man sitting in the photo is a TO member and saw the photo.
He asked for a copy, which I agreed to send, and he also sent me a website address with information about the Mount Vernon.
It turns out that Mount Vernon is the third rail car to carry that name. The two previous cars were operated by the Chesapeake & Ohio.
The first of them was a heavyweight car that contained eight sections, one drawing room and two compartments. It was rebuilt in about 1932 for use on the George Washington.
The second Mount Vernon was built by Pullman Standard in 1950. That car had 11 double bedrooms and served the C&O until March 1970 when the Seaboard Coast Line acquired it. Amtrak picked it up in 1971 and retired it in the mid 1970s.
The whereabouts of the second Mount Vernon are unknown and the car may have been scrapped.
The Mount Vernon that Marty and I spotted on Sunday began life as Union Pacific 10-6 sleeper Pacific Island. It was one of 50 Pacific series sleepers built by the Budd Company between December 1949 and June 1950.
Acquired by Amtrak in 1971, it saw service on such trains as the Broadway Limited, Silver Star, Coast Starlight, San Francisco Zephyr and Floridian. It went into the shops in July 1974 in Chula Vista, Calif., to be rebuilt by Rohr. It was numbered Amtrak 2617 and retained its Pacific Island name.
It ran on the Sunset Limited, Southern Crescent, Empire Builder and San Francisco Zephyr. In 1977 it was converted to head end power and assigned to the Night Owl between Boston and Washington, D.C., operating as Amtrak No. 2917.
After more than a decade of service, Amtrak retired the car and stored it in Miami. Amtrak sold the car in the mid 1990s and it was acquired by its current owner, Dominion Rail Voyages, in 1999.
Dominion spent about 40 months rebuilding the car with Delaware Car Company doing much of the mechanical and electrical work. The interior refurbishment and some mechanical work was done by the Lancaster & Chester Railway in South Carolina. This included reconfiguring the car to a layout of six double bedrooms and a lounge. The car can accommodate 25 for daytime trips and 12 on overnight trips.
The owners renamed it Mount Vernon in honor of the estate of George and Martha Washington in Virginia.
The Mount Vernon is available for charter service on Amtrak or VIA Rail Canada. When not on the road, it is stored in New Jersey on the Morristown & Erie Railway.
In looking at the website of the Dominion Rail Voyages (http://www.dominionrailvoyages.com/) I found out that when I saw the car it was on the first leg of a journey that will take it to the Twin Cities and then back to New York via Chicago, Cincinnati and Washington.
During that time the Mount Vernon will be attached to the Empire Builder, Cardinal and Crescent. It will return to New York on Monday, July 28.
Due to the extreme lateness of Sunday’s Lake Shore Limited, Amtrak terminated No. 49 in Toledo. The Mount Vernon was detached and placed on the rear of the Capitol Limited, arriving in Chicago a day later than planned.
The trip, known as the “Twin Cities Explorer,” had various packages available. Riding the entire route from New York to New York was priced at $2,900 per person based on double occupancy of a bedroom.
Day segments could be had for as little as $100 from New York to Albany, and for $125 to ride from Washington to New York.
The Mount Vernon will be making at least two more trips through Cleveland this year.
It will be coming back through on No. 49 on Sept. 16 en route to Chicago.
In the Windy City, the Mount Vernon will be attached to a private car special operated by the American Association of Private Car owners that will travel to Portland, Maine, for the annual AAPROCO convention.
That special will depart Chicago on Thursday, Sept. 18 and park overnight in Cleveland before leaving the next day for Binghamton, N.Y. After the AAPROCO convention ends, the Mount Vernon will make its way back to New York.
The complete trip via the Mount Vernon will be 13 days and 12 nights and cost $6,000 per person based on double occupancy. You must be an AAPROCO member to ride from Chicago to Portland.
My photo of the Mount Vernon speeding through Olmsted Falls has already been posted on the Dominion Rail Voyages website on a page devoted to images made of the car during its many travels.
But the kicker to my intersecting the travels of the Mount Vernon is that three days before I photographed the car, I visited Mount Vernon in Virginia with my wife during a vacation trip out east.
Article by Craig Sanders
The company that will take over management of the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State is talking about making major improvements in the route, including the addition of Wi-Fi and a faster schedule. However, food service is not necessarily among the plans.
Fritz Plous, the director of communications for Corridor Capital, spoke of his company’s plans to improve the Hoosier State during a town hall discussion in Crawfordsville, Ind.
In the short term, Corridor Capital needs to boost ridership, which is now about 85 passengers a day aboard the quad-weekly train.
“We need to see it at double that,” said Plous said, adding that such amenities Wi-Fi and information screens could draw more passengers.
“That’s the first step towards legitimacy: Get people a nice, new train,” Plous said. But, “the funding has to be there.”
Another priority will be reducing the current running time of 5 hours and 10 minutes from Indianapolis to Chicago to about two hours less. Plous did not provide any details as to how that could be accomplished on the train’s circuitous route.
“We won the beauty contest,” Plous said. “We don’t know what mojo made INDOT choose us.”
The Indiana Department of Transportation chose Corridor Capital from among four bidders to improve manage the Hoosier State.
Tim Maloney of the Hoosier Environmental Council said that Indiana has $2 billion in reserves and can afford to fund the train.
“We have the money,” he said. “But it depends on what our priorities are.”
Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton urged community members to lobby elected officials to boost the train.
“At the end of the day, you have to have some quality of life that attracts residents to your community,” Barton said. “We all recognize that. Once a line is gone, it’s going to be difficult to get it back.”
It’s too bad that the Ohio Lottery doesn’t allow players to choose letters with the numbers that they pick. If so, I would have bought tickets on Sunday with the number 20 and the letter W.
On Norfolk Southern, 20W is the symbol for an eastbound intermodal train with UPS and FedEx trailers, among other cargo. Two weeks ago the 20W enabled me to break a heritage unit drought that extended back to last October.
It was in October 2013 that I photographed my last heritage unit leading a train. Technically, the Reading unit that I photographed wasn’t even leading the train. It was the DPU on the rear of an eastbound crude oil train with its nose facing westward.
So if y0u want to pick nits, my previous H unit sighting leading a train that I photographed was the Norfolk & Western unit leading an intermodal train a week earlier.
In the intervening eight months, I saw an H unit on occasion, but it either was trailing — the Wabash twice — or I wasn’t able to get a photograph. OK, so I saw the New York Central heritage unit at the National Train Day event in Toledo, but it was a sitting duck and not pulling a train. Ditto for the Reading H unit that I saw in Avon Lake on the wye by the power plant.
My drought finally ended two weeks ago when I bagged the original Norfolk Southern H unit leading the 20W.
Yesterday, I saw a report that the 20W had the Nickel Plate Road heritage unit on the lead. I was headed for Olmsted Falls anyway to get a very late running Amtrak No. 49, so I hoped that I could get the NKP unit, too.
The 20W came through again, passing through the Falls at 12:27 p.m., about a half hour after I arrived. Maybe my heritage unit luck is changing for the better.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
For some reason I awakened Sunday morning just after 2 a.m. Rather than toss and turn, I thought I’d work on my laptop for to update the Akron Railroad Club blog and then go back to sleep after a while.
For the heck of it I checked the Amtrak status maps at the NARP website and saw that Amtrak No. 49 was running nearly 10 hours late out of Rhinecliff, N.Y., at 2:42 a.m. Rhinecliff is the third stop after leaving New York City.
The train had left New York Penn Station six hours late after a Saturday afternoon rock slide near Peerskill, N.Y., blocked the tracks. Not only was Amtrak affected, but so were Metro North commuter trains.
Hmmmmm. If this keeps up, No. 49 will be through Cleveland in late morning or early afternoon. No. 49 is scheduled to arrive into Cleveland at 3:27 a.m. and although it is frequently late, it seldom is late enough to be seen in daylight.
I kept an eye on No. 49 and decided to capture it at Olmsted Falls. Amtrak Julie predicted a 1:44 p.m. arrival before I left my house just after 11 a.m.
At some point, the Amtrak website put No. 49 into “service disruption” mode and the last report was departing Buffalo Depew station at 10:44 a.m., 10 hours and 45 minutes late.
I would later learn that No. 49 had arrived in Cleveland at 2:06 p.m., 10 hours and 33 minutes late.
With Julie of no help, I had to rely on radio reports on the NS road channel. The NS dispatchers had their hands full, particularly the Toledo East dispatcher who had to contend with 18 miles of single track west of CP 216 near Vermilion.
At one point, trains 21Z, 21G, 27J, 15N and 417 were backed up waiting for track as a small fleet of eastbounds was allowed to move on the single track.
On the Cleveland Terminal side, westbound 19A tripped the detector southeast of Cleveland. Trains 65R and 65K were re-crewed in the Cleveland area and from the sound of things on the radio more westbounds were coming.
I called Akron Railroad Club Bulletin editor Marty Surdyk to give him a heads up about the late Amtrak No. 49. Marty and his brother Robert often go west on Sundays in pursuit of trains. They had planned to go to Bellevue, but after hearing about No. 49 they changed their destination to Vermilion.
Marty would later report that it had been many years since he had shot the “Late Shore Limited” in daylight.
The first report I heard of No. 49 was about 2:10 p.m. when the Cleveland Terminal dispatcher reported that Amtrak had just left the station. Shortly thereafter, the terminal dispatcher called Amtrak 49.
“Hey, do you guys have any passengers on that train?”
“Oh yeah, we’re packed.”
Presumably, the dispatcher took this information into account in deciding what trains to move and when. His immediate interest was the 65K, which had re-crewed at CP Max and was ready to leave. At first the dispatcher told the 65K that it would follow Amtrak out of CP Max.
Then the 65K was told to take ‘em down to Eastland Road. Ultimately, the 65K was told to watch for signal indication at CP 194. No sooner had that information been conveyed but the Toledo East dispatcher came on to tell the 65K not to go past Lewis Road (MP 195) until instructed to do so.
Amtrak typically leaves the Cleveland station on Track No. 1 but must cross over to Track No. 2 to work the platform at Elyria. I am not sure if No. 49 crossed over at CP Max or at Berea. Whatever the case, the engineer called a clear signal for Track No. 2 at 195.
Shortly after Amtrak had passed Olmsted Falls at 2:35 p.m., I heard the Toledo East dispatcher tell the foreman at the single tracking site that five eastbounds would the next movements.
The dispatcher told Amtrak that it would go two to one at CP 210, I think it was, and would pull in behind a freight at CP 216. If I understood this correctly, it meant that No. 49 would be waiting for the five eastbounds plus the westbound in front of him to get out of the way.
I would find out later that I had heard correctly. Marty reported that No. 49 went through Vermilion at 5 p.m. it had taken an hour and a half for No. 49 to travel about 20 miles.
Here is what Marty reported:
“It [No. 49] ended up sitting for six eastbounds and the 15N went ahead of it through the single lining. We never did see the 417; it was the low man on the pole and then some. They ran the 65R oil train around it, as well.
“The 65K was still being held as were the 145, 11V and at least two others. The 18N was coming out of Bellevue and wondering why he was going into the siding at Avery with the trains it was meeting no where in sight. ‘No where for you to go once you get to Vermillon,’ came the explanation from the dispatcher.
“The dispatcher shifted the traffic direction to eastbound for the 20E, just as we were leaving about 6:15 p.m.
“There were some good chuckles from listening to the radio conversations. The 65R and the foreman were having a tough time hearing each other, but everyone else on the railroad could hear both of them just fine.”
An online report indicated that No. 49 terminated at Toledo and the passengers were taken by bus to Chicago. Passengers for No. 48 on Sunday night were to travel by bus to Toledo.
At about 6 a.m. on Monday morning, the Amtrak universe in Northeast Ohio had returned to normal. No. 48 was doing 79 mph east of Sandusky and appeared to be operating about an hour late on the Track a Train feature. The status mechanism said information on arrival and departure times at Cleveland were unavailable due to a service disruption.
As for No. 49 today, it was running an hour and 16 minutes late. I’m sure some passengers grumbled about that. If they only knew what they missed had they been scheduled to board their train a day earlier.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
Richard Jacobs and his son Gary took an eight-day trip in the early 1970s through New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to photograph the eastern railroad scene, both mainline and tourist railroads.
Many of the lines that they photographed had already fallen on hard times and the U.S. government was soon to act to create Conrail in order to save the commercial railroad infrastructure of the Northeast.
Jake will show during his program this week at the Akron Railroad Club meeting some of the images that he made of the eight mainline railroads that he visited. Six of those would be merged into Conrail on April 1, 1976.
He also photographed four shortline/tourist railroads and one tourist railroad, some of which he rode. Jake and his son observed Amtrak operations at Princeton Junction on the Northeast Corridor during their outing.
Most of the railroads that will be shown in this program no longer exist as a corporate identity and/or operation.
The eastern railroad scene has changed drastically in the 41 years since Jake’s eastern safari. The tracks may still be there, but the names on the trains are not the same, and operations are quite different in many of the regions that he visited.
The Friday, July 25 ARRC meeting will begin at 8 p.m. with a half-hour business meeting followed by the program at approximately 8:45 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.
Some members gather at about 6 p.m. for dinner at Duffy’s Grill, 231 Darrow Road. Following the meeting, members meet at the Eat ‘n Park restaurant at Howe and Main streets in Cuyahoga Falls for a late dinner, dessert or an early breakfast.
Visitors are always welcome at Akron Railroad Club meetings.