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: September 22. Program by Todd Dillon.

Next Activity:December 2. End of Year Dinner.

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A Railfan Photographer Was Here

September 20, 2017

Earlier this year I was out with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler on a Sunday photo outing.

He had not been to the New London area for several years so we headed down that way.

One of our stops was the Biglow Parkway bride over the CSX Greenwich Subdivision tracks.

Although I’ve been in New London a few times in recent years, it has been more than a two since I’ve been on Biglow Parkway bridge.

There are high fences on both sides of the bridge, each with small chain link fencing.

On the north side of the bridge, though, someone had cut three holes to create portholes.

I presume it was a railfan photographer who did this and I don’t know how long these holes have been there.

But I took advantage of them to photograph three CSX trains.

House OKs $1.4B for Amtrak

September 20, 2017

The U.S. House of Representatives has appropriated money to Amtrak, but not to TIGER grant funding.

The House last week approved a $2.1-trillion budget federal budget for fiscal year 2018.

The bill now goes to the Senate, which can accept it as is or pass its own budget with the differences being worked out in a House-Senate conference committee.

Amtrak funding in the bill is $1.4 billion, of which $1.1 billion is for the national network and $328 million for Northeast Corridor grants.

Lawmakers also approved $500 million for federal-state partnership for state of good repair grants.

Another $25 million was earmarked for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Grants, which is down from $68 million in 2017.

The Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grant program would receive $1.75 billion, including $1 billion for funding grant agreement projects, and $145 million for core capacity projects. FTA’s “Small Starts” program would receive $182 million.

CVSR Imposes $1 Fee on Tickets

September 20, 2017

If you’ve noticed a $1 fee applied to your ticket on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, it is being used to help build a preservation fund for the railroad.

The fee began on July 1 and applies to all tickets except Bike Aboard!, whether they are bought at a station, online, by phone or aboard the train.

In a posting on its website the CVSR said the fund will be used “to help support the safety and integrity of our heritage rail equipment” and will be available for expected and unexpected capital expenses.

CVSR said the preservation fees will not be used to pay for general operating expenses, which are reliant upon ticket sales, fundraising and other revenue streams.

I’m Gonna Be Like Him, Yeah

September 19, 2017

When I made this image my purpose was to catch a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad volunteer trainman in a candid moment.

He was standing by the entrance gate to the platform at the CVSR station in Independence, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. I’m not sure if he knew I had photographed him.

He seems preoccupied thinking about the work facing him in the boarding of his passengers.

He was assigned to a steam excursion train that I and hundreds of others were ticketed to ride.

But first the regular CVSR passenger train, which can be seen in the background, had to finish its work in the station before the steam train could board its passengers.

It was after I downloaded this image that I noticed the boy to the left who appears to be looking at the trainman.

Maybe he isn’t, and maybe it’s just my imagination. But the expression on the boy’s face caught my attention. He seems to have a look of admiration as through he is impressed with the trainmen and their uniforms.

If so, he belongs to a long line of children who were awe struck in seeing railroad conductors and trainmen in their passenger uniforms while at work on their trains.

Presumably, over the decades of passenger train travel, boys have looked up to conductors and wanted to follow in their footsteps. Many might have done so, although that is more likely to have occurred in another time than today.

Although it was written for a different context, the words to the Harry Chapin song Cat’s in the Cradle came to my mind. “I’m gonna be like him, yeah. You know I’m gonna be like him.”

Maybe this boy will some day become a CVSR volunteer so that he, too, can wear a passenger uniform.

That dream might have started here while he waited to board a train.

Fuller Park Favored for New Ann Arbor Station

September 19, 2017

A draft environmental assessment favors placing the new Amtrak station in Ann Arbor in Fuller Park.

The long-awaited 212-page report was released on Monday after the Federal Railroad Administration gave the go ahead to do so.

Public comments are being accepted through Nov. 2 and opposition is expected given that many in Ann Arbor have already spoken against using a city park for a new train station.

The city also considered sites along Depot Street, where the existing Amtrak station is located.

Ann Arbor officials have long favored the Fuller Park site in front of the University of Michigan Hospital.

The new station would be elevated over the tracks in order to connect with a city-owned parking lot leased to the University of Michigan.

Development of the station is projected to occur in two stages. Phase I includes:

  • Construct station above the tracks
  • Construct five-level intermodal operations and parking structure to accommodate transit operations, 435 long-term parking spaces, 50 short-term parking spaces, 150 parks user parking spaces and motorcycle parking, bicycle parking, shared bicycle service and bicycle room in parking structure
  • Construct vertical circulation element on north side of the tracks
  • Construct platform on the north side of the tracks with two warming shelters and 650 feet of canopy
  • Construct new 250-foot, eastbound, right-turn lane at the Fuller Road/West Site driveway intersection
  • Construct new 250-foot, eastbound, right-turn lane at the Fuller Road/East Site driveway intersection
  • Relocate and reconstruct the Fuller Road crossovers, including 250 foot, left-turn bays at each crossover
  • Construct four bus bays

Phase II includes:

  • Construct additional parking structure levels to accommodate 870 total long-term parking spaces, 50 short-term spaces, 150 parks user parking spaces
  • Construct five additional bus bays to equal nine bus bays

If a commuter rail service between Ann Arbor and Detroit is implemented, the station project would also include:

  • Construct second 800-foot platform on south side of the tracks with two warming shelters and 650 feet of canopy
  • Construct vertical circulation elements (elevators and stairs for pedestrians) on south side of the tracks
  • Construct an additional 250 spaces (1,320 total)

The environmental assessment noted that the Fuller Road site can be developed on property owned by the city and the Michigan Department of Transportation, thereby eliminating the need to acquire additional property.

However, the station will require the use of 3.2 acres of Fuller Park, which in turn must be approved by Ann Arbor’s Park Advisory Commission and City Council approval.

Another factor weighing in favor of the Fuller Park site was lower costs, which were estimated at $81 million. Development of a station along Depot Street would cost between $94 million to $98 million.

Steamtown Announces Fall Foliage Trips

September 19, 2017

Steamtown National Historic Site has announced its slate of eight fall foliage excursions that will operate next month. Ticket sales begin on Sept. 24. The schedule includes the following trips:

Moscow, Pennsylvania, excursions on Oct. 14 and 21 will depart Steamtown at 12:30 p.m. and return about 3 p.m. Light refreshments served on board will benefit the park’s Boston & Maine No. 3713 project.

An East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, trip to the borough’s fall foliage festival on Oct. 7 will depart Steamtown at 9:30 a.m. and return about 4:30 p.m.

A Tobyhanna Station, Pennsylvania,  excursion on Oct. 7 will depart Steamtown at 11 a.m. and return about 3 p.m.

A Carbondale, Pennsylvania,  special excursion with Baldwin 0-6-0 No. 26 on Columbus Day (Monday, Oct. 9) will travel through the Lackawanna Valley. Train leaves Steamtown at 10 a.m. and returns at 4 p.m.

A Delaware Water Gap Station trip on Oct. 15 departs Steamtown at 9 a.m. and returns about 5 p.m.

A Cresco, Pennsylvania,  trip on Oct. 22 will feature an excursion through the Pocono Mountains. The train departs Steamtown at 11:30 a.m. and returns about 4 p.m.

A Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania,  Halloween-themed trip on Sunday, Oct. 29, leaves Steamtown at 11 a.m. and returns about 3 p.m.

The 30-minute Scranton Limited excursions will operate inside park boundaries on Fridays and Saturdays through Nov 11.

Ticket Agent Hours Cut in Jackson

September 19, 2017

Amtrak has reduced ticket agent service in Jackson, Michigan.

The changes, which became effective on Aug. 29, means the ticket office will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Amtrak has hired a caretaker to open and close the station on those days. Ticket office hours on other days of the week will be 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said that Tuesday and Wednesday are typically the lowest travel days in the Midwest.

He also said that many Amtrak passengers are printing their tickets at home or having them scanned on their smart phones aboard the train.

“Overwhelmingly, our passengers choose electronic ticketing,” Magliari said. “Most people are using the eTicketing and a lot of people are doing it without talking to a human.”

Magliari also quipped that “the days of people pushing coins and folded dollars across the counter to a ticket agent with a big stamping machine are pretty well gone. It’s all through automated systems.”

Jackson lacks any Quik-Trak Self-Service Ticketing Kiosks and Magliari said those are being phased out anyway.

At the present time, Amtrak has no plans to remove its ticket agent from Jackson, Magliari said.

Jackson is served by six Wolverine Service trains a day between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

In the September ARRC eBulletin

September 18, 2017

The September 2017 issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin features a tribute to the late Jerry Joe Jacobson.

Jacobson, 74, died on Sept. 13 after a long illness and was a lifetime member of the Akron Railroad Club. He was the best friend the club ever had and we would not be the organization we are today without his generosity in allowing us to sell tickets for various steam excursions in order to raise money.

The tribute to Jerry includes an overview of his life, a personal tribute written by ARRC member Paul Woodring, and a story Jerry and the ARRC.

This month’s issue also has report from our picnic in the Valley held this past Sunday and a wrapup of our day in Vermilion held last month.

To obtain a copy of the eBulletin or to subscribe, send an email message to csanders429@aol.com. Single copies and subscriptions are free.

Dillon to Present at Next ARRC Meeting

September 18, 2017

Todd Dillon will present a digital program at the September Akron Railroad Club meeting on Friday (Sept. 22).

Dillon, who was appointed vice president earlier this year, will feature images made on the Fort Wayne Line of Norfolk Southern.

It’s a former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline so we can expect to see the NS Pennsy heritage locomotive on the ex-PRR rails.

Todd’s program will also feature images that play on the theme of water.

The meeting will begin with a short business meeting at 8 p.m. followed by the program at approximately 8:30 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

Following the meeting, some members gather 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.

Wonderful Day for a Picnic and Steam

September 18, 2017

The photo line is out as Nickel Plate Road No. 765 passes the Valley Picnic Area en route back to Akron with the first excursion of the day.

It was a perfect day for a picnic. Under sunny skies with temperatures in the upper 70s, 17 Akron Railroad Club members and guests descended on the Valley Picnic Area in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to watch Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 pass by four times as it carried excursionists out of Akron on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

The Berkshire locomotive built in Lima, Ohio, performed flawlessly and cameras were out to record its passage.

At least one ARRC member, Vice President Emeritus J. Gary Dillon, was aboard the train, riding in car 165 on the afternoon trip with his niece Lisa.

As always, Chef Martè fired up the grill and served up hamburgers and hot dogs.

It was the second time the ARRC has held a September picnic in the CVNP in conjunction with a visit by the 765.

Last year we also held a picnic at the same location when the 765 was operating as the 767. Attendance at that picnic was 27 and may have been boosted by the novelty factor of NKP 765 operating with a different number.

We observed that there didn’t seem to be quite as many photographers out chasing the 765 as there had been last year or in some previous years.

To be sure, there were still a lot of people in the park with cameras. But the posse chasing 765 along Riverview Road as the steam train passed by wasn’t as long as in previous years and we didn’t recognize anyone we knew.

However, the steam trains appeared to be well patronized and as in past years the premium seats in the open window and dome cars were sold out.

Between runs of the steam train we also observed the passage of the regular CVSR train, the National Park Scenic, three times.

It had FPA-4 No. 6771 on the north end and Alco C424 No. 4241 on the south end. Most of the CVSR’s feature cars were on the steam train so the Scenic had an abbreviated consist that included a caboose.

For the record the steam train had RS18u No. 1822 on its north end.

If you missed the 765 this past weekend, it will be pulling another slate of trips on Sept. 23 out of Rockside Road station and on Sept. 24 out of Akron.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society is paying tribute to the late Jerry Joe Jacobson, a lifetime ARRC member, by placing his name beneath the cab widows on both sides of the 765 above the number.

Jacobson, who died on Sept. 13, was the developer of the Age of Steam Roundhouse as well as a friend of the steam locomotive preservation community.

The chef has another round of burgers on the grill while hungry members go through the serving table.

When two old railroaders get together they are going to talk a little shop. Paul Woodring (left) and Bob Rohal try to solve the problems of the industry while agreeing it’s not what it used to be.

The engineer of NKP 765 gives us some whistle as the train passes the ARRC picnic. The locomotive paid tribute to Jerry Jacobson on the cab.

A few ARRC members can be seen at right photographing the northbound excursion in mid afternoon.

The sunlight was still barely over the tree line as the last excursion of the day headed for Akron along Riverview Road.