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.
The trains that passed Warwick Park on Sunday where the Akron Railroad Club had its annual summer picnic seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary.
The day’s final count was 15 trains, which was well above the low of nine but far short of the record of 21.
The trains pretty much mirrored the usual level, distribution and type of traffic that you might expect on a given day on the New Castle Subdivision.
Four of the trains carried general merchandise, four had auto racks, two had empty crude oil tankers, two had double-stacked containers, one had empty stone hoppers, one had coke hoppers and one was a light power move.
The motive power assignments were pretty ordinary, too. Most of it was CSX owned, although six trains had non-CSX power on the lead. This included four trains led by BNSF power, one led by a FURX unit still wearing some Norfolk Southern markings, and an NS unit leading an auto rack train.
Some trains also had foreign units trailing, all of them owned by locomotive leasing companies. Two of the “rent-a-wrecks” wore the colors of former owners Union Pacific and Canadian Pacific, but the lettering and logos of UP and CP had been painted over.
The BNSF units provided a splash of color that contrasted with CSX’s ubiquitous blue, yellow and gray. But BNSF units are not uncommon in Northeast Ohio.
There were no locomotives from a far-away regional, short line or passenger hauler; and no lesser-seen locomotives from such Class I railroads as Kansas City Southern, Canadian Pacific or even Canadian National.
There were no “locomotives of interest” as HeritageUnits.com likes to call locomotives of Class 1 and regional railroads that its members track. This would include heritage locomotives of Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific, among others.
Nor was there anything out of the ordinary behind the motive power. There were no passenger cars, cabooses or exotic freight cars.
There were a few interesting sightings, but nothing that you couldn’t wait to get home to post online that would cause a ripple of excitement in the cyberspace railfan community.
What we saw on Sunday during the ARRC picnic was more of what we’ve seen dozens of time before.
Every time that I set out on a day-long railfan outing, there is always the anticipation of getting something out of the ordinary.
More often than not, I come home at the end of the day with more of the same old, same old.
As I drove home Sunday night my thoughts kept coming back to Richard Jacobs’ program at the ARRC meeting 48 hours earlier.
Much, of what Jake showed can’t be seen anymore unless it is in a museum or serving out its years on some out-of-the-way short line or tourist carrier.
For example, Jake showed GG1s pulling Amtrak trains at Princeton Junction, N.J. Today, you can’t ride behind an operable GG1.
Jake showed locomotives of the Erie Lackawanna, Lehigh Valley, Central of New Jersey and the Reading. Today those fallen flags have been gone for decades.
Yet in 1973, much of what Jake showed us last Friday was “ordinary” or “the usual” for that railroad in that location.
It is hard to imagine that someday those CSX wide cab locomotives that are so ordinary today will be of interest to those watching slide shows, or photographs in books, magazines or websites.
Some who attended Sunday’s picnic in Warwick can remember when the railroads in town were the Baltimore & Ohio and Pennsylvania. Go back 50 years and spend a Sunday in Warwick and you’d see a lot of “ordinary” B&O and Pennsy motive power.
As they ate their burgers and hotdogs, those guys probably lamented that you couldn’t see steam anymore. Go back another 25 years and steam locomotives were just as “ordinary” as wide cab diesels are today.
Even on this past Sunday, I made it a point to make a few images of the ordinary that I know will not be so ordinary much longer. This included the color position light signals still standing guard at the east end of the yard where the double track becomes single track.
There is also more that goes into making a photograph what it is than the equipment being shown. Differences in lighting, composition and technical quality can make an image of an ordinary locomotive or train into something extraordinary. Much of photograph is still about location and what you do with it.
There was much I was hoping that I might see on Sunday that never materialized. But in looking back on what I did see, maybe it wasn’t so ordinary after all.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
Trains Seen at ARRC Picnic 2014
8:55 a.m. K067 CSX 5201 Empty crude oil tankers
9:08 a.m. K919 CSX 86 Empty stone hoppers
9:17 a.m. Q226 CSX 661 Auto racks
19:22 a.m. L137 BNSF 4401 Light power move
10:39 a.m. Q353 CSX 8732 Manifest freight
10:47 a.m. Q216 CSX 7566 Auto racks
11:21 a.m. Q015 CSX 7605 Intermodal (containers)
12:24 p.m. Q363 BNSF 4128 Manifest freight
1:56 p.m. K381 CSX 3064 Coke
2:12 p.m. Q389 CSXZ 908 Manifest freight
3:04 p.m. Q016 BNSF 7145 Intermodal (containers)
3:58 p.m. Q330 FURX 5505 Manifest freight
4:12 p.m. Q296 CSX 4724 Auto racks
5:05 p.m. K065 BNSF 7816 Empty crude oil tankers
6:42 p.m. Q299 NS 9222 Auto racks
A last minute invite found me in Minerva, Ohio, last Friday to join a few friends on a “last run” of sorts. An employee of OhiRail owns former Pennsylvania Railroad cabin car 478033 and needs to have it off the property due to a major increase in business that requires that all track space be made available. Management granted permission to make one last run before this car is taken off its trucks, placed on a flatbed truck, and taken to the guy’s farm off the rail line for good. It was a perfect evening for a train ride with some good friends. I did the first part of the trip in the cab of IBCX 221 then rode the balance in the 478033.
Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee
A fire suspected of being arson destroyed the vacant former Erie Railroad passenger station in Salamanca, N.Y. , on Tuesday.
The station had been vacant since the late 1970s and had no power. Firefighters were called to the scene at about 3 p.m.
The fire, which was brought under control at about 5:30 p.m. is being investigated by the Cattaraugus County Fire Investigation Team and the Salamanca Police Department. Police said that young people might have been in and out of the building in recent days.
The two-story structure at one time housed dispatchers and division offices, as well as the Railway Express Agency office. The building and property are currently owned by the Seneca Nation.
Richard Jacobs showed a photo of an Erie Lackawanna train passing the station during his program last Friday at the July Akron Railroad Club meeting.
Tuesday proved to be a good day for catching Norfolk Southern heritage power. Two NS freights with a total of three heritage paints came through Northeast Ohio within minutes of each other.
One was a 64V oil train for the East Coast, which had the Southern heritage unit leading.
Following right behind was Q47 an extra 747 empty coal train for the mines south of Pittsburgh. This had the Reading and Central of New Jersey units for power.
As if those weren’t interesting enough, I caught a recently painted SD40-2 on another train. This engine, oddly, had a General Electric emissions sticker that is normally seen on Gevos and Dash 9s.
Well, this was not a shop person’s error but a legitimate paint scheme. GE makes parts for the EMD 645 motor and if the engine was overhauled with these parts, it receives the GE compliance sticker.
Further research showed that this engine, No. 3584, was purchased secondhand by NS. It was originally BN No. 7281 built in 1980. Railfanning never gets old. I learn something new every day.
Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon
The 1881 “original” Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway’s Kent depot was moved from its long time location next to the tracks on Sunday July 27.
Stein House Movers had the delicate task of moving this important piece of Kent history across the tracks and onto a vacant field not far from its original location.
In no particular order here are a few photos of the operation. The station was raised up after supports were placed under it, rolled over to the tracks, the wheels spun around, and then rolled north over the right of way and on to its final resting place.
A truck was used to tie onto the support structure (there was no trailer) and slowly pull the load north with some help from a Deere digger.
To those involved in moving this building, thank you, and a big thank you to Ted Klaassen Jr.,
who purchased it. Plans are to restore it to as close to its original appearance as possible.
Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee
Construction of the Detroit streetcar line got underway on Monday just after midnight with workers putting up traffic detour signs and placing fencing around the work zone.
The 3.3-mile line will traverse Woodward Avenue and is known as M-1 Rail. The project is the first U.S. public streetcar being supported by a public-private partnership comprising foundations, corporations, and local, county, state, and federal governments.
“The road to bring a modern streetcar line to Detroit began more than seven years ago and today we’ve reached a major milestone, said M-1 Rail Chairman Roger Penske. “The people who live and work in this city have tenacious spirits. It’s that passion and love for this place that gets projects like this moving.”
The streetcar line will travel in a north-south orientation and have 20 stations at 12 locations. Sixteen of the stations will be curbside while four will feature median running.
The line will is located between Larned Street and West Grand Boulevard. It is expected to open in 2016.
Project supporters estimated that the streetcar line will promote 10,000 new housing units and more than $3 billion in economic development along its route and neighboring side streets over the next decade.
Roger Durfee was on hand this past Sunday for the moving of the former Wheeling & Lake Erie passenger station in Kent to a new location. It turned out that the last train that he photographed passing that depot was, appropriately enough, a passenger extra powered by Cleveland Commercial power headed for the Kent Heritage Festival on July 5. Additional photographs that Roger took of the depot’s moving day will be posted on this blog on Wednesday.
Photographs by Roger Durfee
My chase of the Nickel Plate heritage locomotive up the Crown Secondary of Norfolk Southern on Sunday morning reminded me of past chases and trips on this branch.
My first railfan picture was taken at Twinsburg back in 1985. It was Conrail 7902, a GP38 taken on a 110-mm film camera.
Back then the yard was much busier with crews running several shifts if not around the clock. The now dismantled Chrysler stamping plant (the reason the branch was built) was running full production.
I have visited the yard many times throughout the years and found it to be a microcosm of the Northeast rail industry in general.
Built in the late 1950′ as part of the postwar economic boom, it has fallen victim to economic decline and a resurgence of sorts.
The Crown branch primarily served the aforementioned Chrysler plant and an adjacent industrial park. This plant’s closing severely hurt traffic levels on the branch.
Shelly Materials is another customer located on the line, which keeps it from being abandoned.
Here are a few of my photos from the Conrail era (including my first one) into the early years of the NS takeover when the branch was in full swing. I even got a three-way meet one day.
Article and Photograph by Todd Dillon
The Dennison Railroad Depot Museum will host a program on Saturday, Aug. 2 about the former Pennsylvania Railroad shops and yard.
The program by Ed Swain will begin at 2 p.m. and is part of the depot’s 25th anniversary celebration that will begin at noon on Friday.
The depot will be open for 25 continuous hours during the celebration and offer a range of activities on the platform. A two-day admission of $10 per person or $20 for families will be offered.
Swain has conducted extensive research in the PRR archives and written about Dennison’s role on the railroad for The Keystone, the magazine of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical and Historical Society.
This presentation will be part of the depot’s “bonus hour” and will be free.
For Christmas 1966 my parents got me a 35mm Minoltina rangefinder camera and that was the beginning of my railroad photography career. Here are three local shots from my first two rolls of film.
Without Lightroom and Photoshop Elements, these images would be unviewable. Now they are acceptable because they contain area history not to be repeated.
The top image is a side-lit-from-the-back A&BB No. 28 and another Baldwin switcher sitting on the A&BB engine house tracks in Barberton in December 1966.
The middle image is a grubby-day shot of the cab end of AC&Y No. 503. This is a rare Fairbanks Morse H-20-44 end cab road switcher.
The bottom image shows the AC&Y engine facility in Akron on the same grubby day in December 1966. Shown is AC&Y No. 202 (a Fairbanks Morse H-16-44 roadswitcher) sitting outside the engine house. Other FMs were in both the yellow and black paint scheme, and the blue paint scheme are visible. While I only took a few railroad slides, I thought these might give a taste of Akron’s past.