Welcome to the Akron Railroad Club Blog

March 2, 2009
The photo line is ready to capture an eastbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight with BNSF motive power during the July 2012 Akron Railroad Club picnic.

The photo line is ready to capture an eastbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight with BNSF motive power during the July 2012 Akron Railroad Club picnic in Bedford.

The Akron Railroad Club has about 80 members who meet monthly in Akron, Ohio, to share their passion for railroad operations and history.  On this blog you will find information about our meetings, activities, how to join us, and news about railroads and railroad oriented organizations.

ARRC logoOn the feature pages you will find information about popular Ohio railfan hotspots within a few hours drive from Akron, stories about railfan outings, trip reports and information about railroad operations and radio frequencies.

Many 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 and joining us. Dues are $16 yearly and include a subscription to the monthly newsletter, the Bulletin. We meet on the fourth Friday of the month at New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road in Akron. Visitors are always welcome at our meetings.

Next Meeting: August 26. Program by Paul Woodring.

Next Activity: August 27. Outing in Vermilion.

Like Turning Back the Clock

August 25, 2016

_DSC6318 CROPPED Conrail Olm Falls with sig RES (1)

It was a Wednesday. Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler noticed online that Norfolk Southern heritage unit 8098 was leading a westbound intermodal train.

He had enough lead time so he headed for Olmsted Falls to intercept the ES44AC paying tribute to Conrail as it led train 21Q.

According to HeritageUnits.com, the 21Q was reported through Olmsted Falls at 3:05 p.m.

It would continue to Chicago where it apparently flipped and came back east the next day when was reported to be leading the 20Q.

The 8098 spent a few days out east before coming back through Northeast Ohio and then making another return trip shortly thereafter.

It can be interesting to track the travels of a heritage unit. In the case of the 8098, since Peter photographed it the unit has been in 10 states, assuming that all of those reports on HU are accurate.

During much of its travels in the past month the Conrail H unit has burnished former Conrail  routes — such as the one shown here — and had its photograph taken who knows how many times.

The fascination with NS heritage units is still going strong more than four years after No. 8098 because the first of those locomotives to be released from the shop for duty.

Photograph by Peter Bowler

Historic Florida Railroad Still Rolling ’em

August 25, 2016

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Here are some photographs from Fernandina Beach, Florida, and the First Coast Railroad, a Genesee & Wyoming property.

The 1810 is former AD&N. The 437 with that picture window front is former Chattahoochee and is lettered for the Golden Isles Terminal Railroad, another G&W property.

First Coast serves the port of Fernandina Beach. There is lots of paper off loaded into ships there. All of the track was originally Seaboard Air Line and branched off the main at Yulee, north of Jacksonville. The Fernandina Beach rail line was part of the first cross-state Atlantic to the Gulf railroad operation.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

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Ohio Short Line Railroad Finds New Business

August 25, 2016

The Mahoning Valley Railway Company has landed a new business line hauling diesel exhaust fluid from a new terminal in Struthers, Ohio.

G&WThe MVR will serve a terminal owned by Pilot/Flying J that will produce diesel exhaust fluid at the terminal and transload it to trucks for area distribution.

Owned by Genesee & Wyoming, the MVR operates six miles of track between Youngstown and Lowellville.

It interchanges with CSX, Norfolk Southern, and two short line and industrial railroads.

R.J. Corman Appoints Interim President

August 25, 2016

Fred Mudge has been appointed as the interim president and chairman of R.J. Corman.

CormanNow chairman of the board of trustees, Mudge has worked at Corman for 17 years. Before then he worked in the aluminum business and served as secretary of transportation for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Corman said in a news release that Mudge’s experience with internal company operations and external customer relationships make him well qualified to serve in the president’s role during the transition.

The Corman board of trustees said it hopes to be able to appoint a permanent president and CEO within the next 60 to 90 days. At that time Mudge will return to his seat as board chairman.

Class I RR Employment Fell in July 2016

August 25, 2016

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board said that Class I railroads employed 152,718 people as of mid-July, which was down 10.71 percent from 2015. However, it is a 0.19 percent increase over June 2016.

STBTransportation (train and engine) was the only employment category out of six to show an increase when compared with mid-June’s employment figures. The workforce in that category rose 1.30 percent to 58,934.

Categories declining compared with mid-June were executives, officials and staff assistants, down 0.11 percent to 9,276 employees; professional and administrative, down 0.8 percent to 13,695; maintenance of way and structures, down 0.22 percent to 36,201; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 0.82 percent to 28,496; and transportation (other than train and engine), down 0.44 percent to 6,116.

In comparing 2016 figures with those of July 2015, all categories reflected decreases.

These included executives, officials and staff assistants, down 6.4 percent; professional and administrative, down 6.06 percent; maintenance of way and structures, down 5.86 percent; maintenance of equipment and stores, down 8.56 percent; transportation (other than train and engine), down 8.95 percent; and transportation (train and engine), down 16.07 percent.

Railroading as it Once Was: Former E Units of the EL Kept A Clean Face Until the End of Service

August 24, 2016

EL locos washing

Even towards the end of its corporate existence the Erie Lackawanna tried to keep up a good image.

Case in point is this set of tired E units getting pushed through the wash rack at Marion in 1975. Of particular interest is that 817, the last E unit on the roster to still carry its porthole windows. The 809 was the lowest numbered E on the EL roster, renumbered from the highest numbered E unit on the DL&W (820) with the Erie/DL&W merger.

Neither unit had too many showers left in their future anyway as by late 1976 Conrail had pretty much taken all but the two passenger geared ones (825 and 833) out of service.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

4th Vermilion Outing Set for Aug. 27

August 23, 2016

The Akron Railroad Club’s fourth annual outing to Vermilion to watch Norfolk Southern trains on the Chicago Line has been set for Saturday, Aug. 27.

The host for the day is ARRC member and Vermilion resident Todd Vander Sluis. As at past gatherings, we’ll initially assemble by the public boat launch on the Vermilion River just south of the Chicago Line.

ARRC logo 2The boat launch is located just off West River Road. There is ample parking in the lot above the launch site, although there are usually spaces available along the river to the east of the boat launch ramp.

We might get lucky and get a train or two on the NS Cleveland District, which is the former Nickel Plate Road mainline located south of the boat launch.

Sometime during the afternoon, we’ll move over to the Vermilion Mainline Rail viewing platform in downtown Vermilion in Victory Park between Main and Exchange streets.

As the shadows get long in early evening we’ll then go have dinner at Quaker Steak and Lube on Liberty Avenue (U.S. Route 6) just east of the river.

We can expect to see a wide range of traffic on the Chicago Line, including intermodal trains, manifest freights and unit trains.

With any luck at all, we might even catch an NS heritage locomotive during the day. During the 2013 outing, we spotted the Central of New Jersey heritage unit, but had to go to Avon Lake to photograph it during daylight.

After having dinner that night, we saw Miss Liberty going west on the Chicago Line in darkness.

In 2014, the NS GoRail unit came through in late morning.

In the event of inclement weather, the Vermilion outing will be rescheduled to a later date as occurred last year when it wound up being held in October.

How B&O Passengers Reached New York City

August 23, 2016

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At one time you could take trains of nine different railroads to reach New York City.

Most stopped at the shores of the Hudson River, while four actually went into Manhattan itself.

The New York Central had Grand Central Terminal, which was also used by the New Haven Railroad, and the Pennsylvania had Penn Station, also used (eventually) by the Lehigh Valley.

All of the rest terminated on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River and access to Manhattan was by ferry or the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad (subway).

So which railroad offered more direct service to New York tourist points than any other railroad?  The Baltimore & Ohio of course.

But didn’t the B&O terminate at the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal in Jersey City? The answer is yes. So was the B&O lying? No. The B&O had very creative marketing.

When its trains reached Jersey City, passengers would step off the train and onto B&O buses. The buses would drive onto a CNJ ferry and sail over to Manhattan. Upon reaching Manhattan the buses would disperse to all the major tourist points.

Attached are photos of the CNJ Terminal as it stands today.

You will notice that where tracks 2 & 3 would be is a concrete slab. The slab was the driveway for the B&O buses. They would meet B&O trains, which used tracks 1 & 4.

Now a popular question is how could buses maneuver in such a tight area?

The answer would have been right where I am standing at the end of the canopy. Where I am standing once contained a turntable for buses.

The buses would unload, drive onto the turntable and a worker would push the turntable around, just like a railroad Armstrong turntable.

The buses would then load up and drive across the concourse and through a passageway directly onto the waiting ferry.

The CNJ Terminal today is now a visitors center in Liberty State Park. All the tracks and trains are gone. But the terminal stands as a memorial of railroading’s glory days.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

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KRR Now Operating in Ohio

August 23, 2016

The entire former West Virginia Secondary of Norfolk Southern is now back in operation.

Kanawha River RailroadThe Kanawha River Railroad is now operating loaded coal trains between West Virginia and Columbus, where they are handed off to Norfolk Southern for forwarding to Sandusky.

The first of those trains operated on Monday and was the first time that most of the West Virginia Secondary had seen a train since NS mothballed it last February.

Trains magazine reported that the first unit coal train had two NS locomotives and two SD60s leased by NS to the KRR, which is a property of Watco Companies.

KRR plans to restore shipping chemicals by rail within the next few weeks.

Cincinnati Bell Gets Streetcar Naming Rights

August 23, 2016

The Cincinnati streetcar has a new name as it gears up to begin revenue service on Sept. 9.

The 3.6-mile line will be known as the Cincinnati Bell Connector.

CVG streetcarCincinnati Bell is paying $340,000 annually for 10 years for the naming rights. Money generated from naming rights will be used to fund streetcar operations

The telephone company’s logo will appear on the front, back, top and inside of each streetcar. The existing logo and colors will no longer be used.

The cars had been painted yellow and white, but will be repainted into the colors used by Cincinnati Bell in its marketing materials.

Advertising from other entities will continue to be sold and displayed inside and outside the cars.

With 18 stops, the streetcar, which is managed by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority and operated by Transdev will feature 18 stops on a loop extending from downtown to the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.

It will come within a block of the Great American Ball Park on Second Street where the Cincinnati Reds play.

The five streetcars to be used were built by CAF USA in Elmira, New York, and feature low floors.

Funding of the $148-million streetcar project came from public-private partnerships, which included grants from the Federal Transit Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation.

The numbers of the streetcars begin with 1175 because the last car to be used in Cincinnati was number 1174.

Streetcar service in Cincinnati ended in the early 1950s.


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