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.
Services for former Akron Railroad Club member Allister C. Phillimore Jr., 72, of Smithville, will be held on Friday (Sept. 24) at 11 a.m. at Oak Grove Mennonite Church in Smithville, with the Rev. Douglas J. Zehr officiating.
Burial will be in Oak Grove Cemetery. Visitation is 4-7 p.m. on Thursday and 10-10:45 a.m. on Friday, at the church.
Mr. Phillimore died on Monday at Wooster Community Hospital following a long battle with cancer.
He was a friend of ARRC member Richard Jacobs who recalled the two of them taking a nine-day railfanning trip in 2003 to Illinois, stopping to railfan in Joliet, Galesburg, Naperville, West Chicago, East Peoria and Chenoa.
Mr. Phillimore, who went by the nicknames of “Big Al” and “Butch,” enjoyed watching trains and was a member of the Sterling Loopers. He also enjoyed restoring old cars and was an avid Sprint and NASCAR race fan.
He worked as a boiler operator, electrician, and maintenance man for Apple Creek Developmental Center for 16 years and previously worked for Columbia Gas as a boiler operator/stationary engineer. He graduated from Canton McKinley High School in 1961.
Mr. Phillimore was born Sept. 24, 1942, in Canton, to Allister C. and Charlotte (Betz) Phillimore Sr. He married Carol J. Hartzler on July 21, 1963, in Oak Grove Mennonite Church. She survives.
Other survivors include a daughter, Sandy (Robert Gilmore) Phillimore of Canton; a son, Daniel J. (Shelley) Phillimore of Old Fort; three brothers, James Phillimore of Massillon, Charles (Donna) Phillimore of Magnolia and Michael (Jean) Phillimore of Canton; two sisters, Marcia (Michael) Vahilia of Canton and Debbie (Mike) Murphy of Navarre; and five grandchildren. He was preceded in death by an infant daughter.
Memorials may be made to Oak Grove Mennonite Church or LifeCare Hospice in Wooster.
Auble Funeral Home of Orrville is handling the arrangements. Online registry and expressions of condolence may be made at the funeral home’s website at www.aublefuneralhome.com.
Passengers wave farewell to the Pumpkin Express, a special train that operated last weekend on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
Participants boarded at the Brecksville station for the trip to Szalay’s Market. There they could visit the corn maze, shop at the market and receive a free mini pumpkin.
In the photo above, passengers have just returned from the market and the train is continuing to the Fitzwater shops to clear the main for the mid-day southbound Scenic. The special had six cars, one of which was a Rail Diesel Car.
The Pumpkin Express will continue in operation this weekend with two trips a day on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $28 for adults and $21 for children ages 3-12. The train departs from Brecksville at 9:35 a.m. and 1:25 p.m.
Photograph by Craig Sanders
The Colebrookdale Railroad became Pennsylvania’s newest tourist railroad last weekend with a trip over its 9-mile line from Boyertown to Pottstown.
The railroad characterized the first trips as a soft opening with a grand opening planned for 2015.
The railroad plans to continue operating on Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Nov. 9 The route used was once owned by the Reading Lines, which ceased using it in 1976.
After a series of owners, the track was purchased for $1.35 million by Berks County in 2009 to
keep it from being abandoned.
Calling itself the Secret Valley Line, the Colebrookdale Railroad runs along Manatawny Creek, climbing a long grade from Pine Forge to Boyertown. Along the way it crosses three wood trestles.
The tourist operation is overseen by the the Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust. For more information, go to www.colebrookdalerailroad.com.
Sunday was a nice afternoon so I decided to take a drive and try to catch some trains with the fall colors.
My first stop was Vermilion where I got three westbounds but no eastbound trains. A BNSF unit in the Warbonnet livery made a nice catch.
Next stop was Wakeman. No trains here but there is an old stone bridge of the original New York Central line to Toledo.
This became a branch after the Sandusky Bay bridge/causeway was built and eventually was abandoned.
The bridge remains as a reminder of past eras. Normally this is a difficult shot because of all the trees but recently some of these have been cut down, opening some new angles.
I then went to Wellington and caught a pair of CSX trains and found a Wheeling & Lake Erie train waiting to go west. I chased this train back to Hartland yard where it tied down.
Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon
If the Capitol Limited looks a little shorter these days, it is. Through Nov. 18 on Train No. 30 and through No. 20 on Train No. 29, the Capitol will have just one food service car, a combined diner-lounge.
Previously, the standard consist of Nos. 29 and 30 included a dining car and Sightseer lounge.
But Amtrak recently scraped together an extra equipment set for the Capitol as a hedge against late arrivals in Chicago by No. 29 that resulted in No. 30 departing late as well.
That was because the equipment that terminated in Chicago on No. 29 made a same day turn there to become that day’s departing No. 30.
Amtrak said that half of the diner-lounge will be devoted to full-service dining while the other half will be used as a lounge.
An Amtrak news release suggested that the meals available in the full-service dining section of the car will be the same as those available in a regular diner.
The news release cited “extreme freight train interference on the Norfolk Southern Railway in Ohio and Indiana” as prompting the equipment shuffling.
“Delays caused by freight train congestion leaves insufficient time to service trains at the end points for their return trip,” Amtrak said in the news release.
Amtrak’s string of record-breaking ridership records was snapped last month. For fiscal year 2014, which ended on Sept. 30, Amtrak’s system ridership fell from 31.56 million in 2013 to 30.92 million in 2014.
Excessive tardiness caused by host railroad freight congestion led to declines in patronage of key long-distance trains, which depressed the overall patronage number despite a 10 percent surge in ridership in the Northeast Corridor.
Patronage of the Chicago-Seattle/Portland Empire Builder was down by 17 percent in September, with Nos. 7 and 8 carrying 450,932 in FY 2014.
The Empire Builder had Amtrak’s highest ridership among long-distance trains in FY 2013, but in FY 2014, it was eclipsed by the Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight, which carried 459,450.
The Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited saw its ridership decline by 11.6 percent in September. Long-distance train ridership fell by about 200,000 during FY 2014.
Another factor in the diminished system ridership was a technological advance. Previously, Amtrak estimated multi-ride ticketholder numbers, but now it can record precise ridership numbers because each passenger’s ticket is scanned aboard the train.
This affected ridership numbers for such commuter-heavy routes as California’s Capitol, Pennsylvania’s Keystone, and Maine’s Downeaster corridors where the patronage was down by 589,000.
Ticket sales for the long-distance fleet fell by more than $15 million in FY 2014, but that was offset by sales on other trains that enabled Amtrak to post another revenue record. In FY 2014, Amtrak ticket sales were up 4 percent to $2.189 million compared with $2.105 million in FY 2013.
Much of the increase came from an 8.2 percent boost in the Northeast Corridor, which accounts for 54.5 percent of the Amtrak’s system ticket sales. Long-distance trains generate 23.3 percent of ticket sales while state-supported routes provide 22.2 percent.
The Medina Model Railroad and Toy Show will be held Sunday, Oct. 26 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 735 Lafayette Road. Admission is $6 and under 12 is free. Vendors will have food for sale and parking is free. Sellers will have toys, trains, model railroad parts and railroad memorabilia for sale.
October is the month that the leaves change color in a brilliant display of red, orange and gold. But autumn also means more than that.
At the October meeting of the Akron Railroad Club the tag team of Marty Surdyk, Roger Durfe and Craig Sanders will present a program titled “October: Nature’s Most Colorful Month.”
If you’re expecting a show of nothing but fall foliage, you’ll be disappointed. The trio will look at October in a different way.
Marty will lead off with a lesson or two on the colors of October, what they are and where you can find them on the railroad.
Roger will take us back to the autumn of three railroads whose color schemes were reminiscent of the month of October. These include the Erie Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley and Chessie.
Craig will have what you would expect from a show about October, the foliage that makes it a favorite time of the year for many photographers.
The Friday, Oct. 24 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.
On Saturday, Sept. 27, we were off to Cripple Creek to ride the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad.
The railroad was built in 1967 on the roadbed of the former Midland Terminal wye and extended south toward Victor from Cripple Creek to the deserted mining camp of Anaconda.
The three locomotives used are 0-4-0 coal-fired 2-foot narrow gauge coal-fired steam engines.
Two were formerly used in the Climax Molybdenum mine. Two are German manufactured machines; the third is a Porter.
The railroad also has a GE 1951 diesel-electric locomotive used by the track crew. It was battery powered for underground use in the Idarado mine near Telluride.
The yard and station in Cripple Creek are next to the large 1895 Midland Terminal railroad depot, which is now a museum.
The Midland Terminal Railway was a short line terminal railroad running from the Colorado Midland Railway near Divide to Cripple Creek.
The station housing the ticket office was built in 1894 as the Anaconda depot and moved to its present location in 1968. It was one of the few buildings left after fire swept through that mining town in 1904.
We purchased tickets for the 2 p.m. train and I busied about the yard taking photographs and talking with railroad employees.
Leaving Cripple Creek behind locomotive No. 2, we waited on the wye for the returning train behind locomotive No. 3 to clear.
We then proceeded toward the old gold mining sites. The aspens contributed their gold to the afternoon scene.
After returning to Cripple Creek, Barbara went downtown to look around while I stayed at the museum.
Leaving Cripple Creek, we drove past the Molly Kathleen gold mine that offers tourist tours. The tours descend 1,000 feet down the mine shaft to the workings below.
We also saw the portal of an abandoned Midland Terminal railroad tunnel along highway 67 while driving to Divide.
We returned to Colorado Springs at suppertime to get ready for our last day’s Colorado tour on Sunday.
We visited the Air Force Academy, toured the visitor’s center and took several photographs. We then entered I-25 north for our return to Denver.
We stopped at Castle Rock for lunch and drove along the former Santa Fe line to catch a Joint Line train.
The former Rio Grande line was on the other side of town. Soon a southbound (uphill) grain train came by with BNSF power leading.
After a short wait with no more trains, we got back on I-25 and drove to our Hampton Inn in Aurora.
That evening we got our things packed for the next day’s flight to Cleveland. It was a great 11-day Colorado vacation.
We rode five tourist railroads and the Denver RTD light rail, and visited several historic sites and museums. All of them were nestled amid the magnificent scenery of autumn in Colorado.
Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs
Completion of the Englewood Flyover in Chicago will be celebrated with an Oct. 23 ceremony.
The $133 million project included construction of a triple-track bridge to carry three of Metra’s Rock Island District Line tracks over four Norfolk Southern Chicago Line tracks on Chicago’s south side. The flyover opened earlier this month.
The NS line in question hosts Amtrak’s Capitol Limited, Lake Shore Limited, Blue Water, Pere Marquette, and Wolverine Service.
The dedication ceremony will include officials from Norfolk Southern, Metra and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.