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 23. Program by Don Woods.

Next Activity: November 26. End of Year Dinner.

Getting Lucky En Route to an ARRC Meeting

August 30, 2016
What a treat. The New York Central heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern on former Pennsylvania Railroad rails in Bedford.

What a treat. The New York Central heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern on former Pennsylvania Railroad rails in Bedford.

Last Friday afternoon I checked the Heritage Units.com site more out of curiosity than anything else.

The New York Central heritage unit was shown as having been spotted at Leetonia, Ohio, at 3:25 p.m. leading westbound Norfolk Southern train 15K.

Hmmmm, I thought. We might be able to catch it on our way to the Akron Railroad Club meeting.

The plan was for Ed Ribinskas and Jeff Troutman to arrive at my house between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Depending on how the train was doing we might be able to get it.

At 4:28 p.m. the 1066 was reported by Alliance. Figuring that it would take an hour to get to Bedford and a half-hour to get there from my house if we left by 5 p.m. there was still a chance.

Ed and Jeff arrived shortly before 5 and we got underway immediately. Jeff checked HU which reported that the NYC H unit was by Earlville at 5:03 p.m. That is west of Brady Lake, if I remembered correctly. It was going to be tight.

It might take only a half-hour in most circumstances to reach Bedford from my house but Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. is not most circumstances. Traffic was heavy and we kept getting dinged by stop lights and traffic back-ups.

We finally made it to Rockside Road only to find out the 15K has been seen at Macedonia at 5:18 p.m. My heart sank. That was nearly 15 minutes ago. We’re not going to make it.

I reached the intersection of Rockside and Broadway where a short distance to the west Rockside goes over the NS Cleveland Line. Could the 15K be passing beneath Rockside at that moment?

Jeff suggested that maybe a circuit would be down and the 15k would be delayed. He was grasping at straws.

As we turned onto West Glendale Street, I asked Ed and Jeff to look for the signal indication just west of there.

Jeff said he saw the top head of the signal for Track No. 2 go from amber to green. That was potentially good news because it meant a westbound was lined up.

It might also mean the westbound was running closely behind the 15K, which had just cleared the block ahead.

I pulled into the tot lot parking lot, got out, opened my trunk and picked my camera out of the bag. I also fumbled to get my scanner set up.

I feared hearing the 15K call a signal at CP 114 or some other spot west of our location at milepost 110.

Jeff reminded us that trains are going upgrade coming from Macdonia and they might have to slow while passing Motor Yard.

I wasn’t hearing anything calling signals west of us. Then the gates for West Grace Street went down. Maybe this was it. But as soon as the gate came down they went back up. False alarm.

There was a faint transmission that Jeff said sounded like the 15K talking. But where was it? East of us? West of us?

We didn’t have long to find out. The gates for Grace Street went down again. Seconds later we heard the rumbling of diesels and Jeff, who was the closest to the tracks  said, “that’s it.”

Indeed it was. That NYC mighty oval never looked so good.

We got our photographs, congratulated each other on our good fortune and left for Akron.

The 15K was a long train and was not moving very fast when it arrived in Bedford. It had taken it 24 minutes to go from Macedonia to Bedford.

Had we been able to stick around another hour, we could have seen the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage locomotive pass by on its namesake rails. But it was trailing and we had places to go.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

I thought we had missed it, but luck was with us in landing the NYC heritage unit.

I thought we had missed it, but luck was with us in landing the NYC heritage unit.

The going away view shows a better view of the lightning stripes on the body of No. 1066.

The going away view shows a better view of the lightning stripes on the body of No. 1066.

Detroit Streetcar Route Testing Begins

August 30, 2016

Track testing of the Detroit QLINE streetcar route because last week using a motorized inspection car.

M-1 Rail logoDetroit M-1 Rail, which will operate the 3.3-mile line along Woodward Avenue, said the speeder checked for obstructions and reviewed the physical dimensions of infrastructure to ensure proper maintenance of traffic.

M-1 Rail said installation of the overhead catenary system is 60 percent complete and that 85 percent of the poles have been installed.

Track installation is 83 percent complete. Revenue service is expected to begin in early 2017.

Pa. Lawmaker Optimistic About Added Service

August 30, 2016

A Pennsylvania lawmaker is predicting that additional Amtrak service could begin in western Pennsylvania within a year.

Amtrak logoUsing a football anology, Bryan Barbin, a Johnstown Democrat, said that additional trains are not at the first and goal position yet, but are five yards or less away from the goal line.

Barbin serves on the House Transportation Committee and spoke with Pennsylvania news media after a meeting of that committee.

He said Norfolk Southern will soon tell the state how much it would cost to increase passenger service.

Currently, the route between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg is served only by the daily New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian. The region has been lobbying for years for increased service.

Although expanded service has support on both sides of the political aisle, lawmakers say that the price and technical details must still be negotiated.

“This won’t come to a matter of if, but how much it costs,” Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia, said.

Lawmakers might gulp if NS demands costly new switches and track improvements.

“You’ve got to take one step at a time,” Barbin said. “But what do you need to make the western corridor more like the eastern corridor? You’d have to make improvements on both sides of the Allegheny Mountain.”

He said federal grants could help cover the costs for track improvements.

“Any time you have a tight budget like we have, it’s never small potatoes. But it’s possible to do it,” Barbin said.

Expanded rail passenger service to Pittsburgh has the support of Pittsburgh city government, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.

Barbin said some in western Pennsylvania have been contrasting the paltry level of rail service in their end of the state with the scale of commuter rail operations in eastern Pennsylvania, particularly the Keystone Service trains from Harrisburg to Philadelphia and New York.


No Serious Injuries After Tank Car Leak

August 30, 2016

No serious injuries were reported but a chlorine leak from a tank car leak forced some residents in northwestern West Virginia and southeastern Ohio to evacuate their home last weekend.

CSX logo 3The evacuations occurred after a loaded tank car developed a small liquid chlorine leak inside a chemical facility in Proctor at Axiall Corporation’s Natrium chemical facility.

Axiall said in a statement that the plant was shut down while hazmat crews evacuated the railcar and the area of the leak.

One employee and a contract worker were treated at a nearby hospital, the company said.

The plant is located along the CSX Ohio River Subdivision between Parkersburg and Benwood, West Virginia.

Ousted Volunteers Behind ITM Recall Drive

August 30, 2016

Trains magazine reported Monday that a group of former volunteers at the Indiana Transportation Museum is behind a online petition drive seeking to remove the current directors of the museum.

The seven former volunteers have said they were dismissed last March after they complained to the Federal Railroad Administration and the Indiana attorney general’s office about alleged operating and financial improprieties at ITM.

Indiana Transportation MuseumJason Hardister, a spokesman for the volunteers, told Trains that he group began the recall drive.

He noted the ITM bylaws provide for the ouster of members of the board by a vote by members in good standing.

“We’re trying to save the place,” Hardister told Trains. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do all along, and we’ve been open and transparent about it. We don’t want to run the museum into the ground.”

The ITM has been unable to operate any excursions this year because the owner of the track that it uses, the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, has not allowed it.

The Port Authority said an inspection found the track was not in good operating condition. The authority has also sought records pertaining to the ITM’s operating crews.

Trains said it was unable to reach ITM Chairman Jeffrey Kehler for comment about the recall effort.

Bort Road Bridge Might be Razed

August 30, 2016

CSX and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation may close and remove the single-lane bridge carrying Bort Road over its tracks near North East, Pennsylvania.

A public hearing will be held todPennDotay (Aug. 30) at the North East Township Building by PennDOT and its consultants to review alternative transportation options connected with razing the bridge and not replacing it.

The meeting, which begins at 6 p.m., will feature a presentation followed by a question and answer session.

A report on TrainOrders.com, indicated that some North East area residents are seeking to save the bridge and have posted flyers on it seeking to get people to attend the hearing.

The flyers are accompanied by a color photograph of an eastbound CSX stack train passing beneath the bridge that was made by Akron Railroad Club President Craig Sanders and posted on the ARRC blog.

Bort Road crosses over the double-track CSX Erie West Subdivision at that location, but crosses the single-track Norfolk Southern Lake Erie District at grade.

Presumably, the NS crossing would be closed if the bridge is removed and not replaced.

With a Little Help From My Friends

August 29, 2016

BF 12 and stone train-x

NS train 68D is a heavy train of stone hoppers that delivers its loads to Shelly Materials at the Chrysler Yard in Twinsburg.

On the day that this image was made, the 68D stopped on Track No. 1 of the Cleveland Line in the vicinity of MP 114 in Cleveland to get a pair of pusher units, which came from the BF12.

The helpers were to give the 68D a hand as it worked its way uphill on the Crown Industrial Track, which diverges from the Cleveland Line at CP 102.

The helpers are shown going away at Bedford at MP 110. Ordinarily, I am not thrilled about shooting the tail end of motive power, but in this case there was something about it that I liked.

Maybe that is because having the BF12’s locomotives pushing elephant style helps convey that these are helper units.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

This View Will Always Be Here, Right?

August 28, 2016

MI _NKN0376 Resize

I suppose, in retrospect, we should have checked the road construction in Toledo before driving two hours for a photo outing.

But fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and I never thought we had reason to think that the photo location we planned to visit wouldn’t be there.

Miami Street on the east side of Toledo passes over the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern just east of the street bridge over the railroad’s bridge over the Maumee River.

The plan was to get there by mid to late morning, shoot an eastbound or two and then head east on the Chicago Line in search of other locations.

We had no trouble finding Miami Street, but we had no sooner turned on it when we saw “road closed” signs.

The detour began a couple blocks before the bridge, so we found a place to park and walked down the adjacent sidewalk.

The bridge was gone and construction workers were in the process of building a new one.

We presume that as is the case these days that the new bridge will come with fences that hinder photography.

I’ve only been to Miami Street once. Once the new bridge is open, there is nothing to say I can’t go back there. But  the open view that existed for decades probably will be gone.

This image of an eastbound NS train was made in April 2007 and is now a reminder of what we were unable to get.

Article by Craig Sanders, Photograph by Peter Bowler

Seeing Blue in Northeast Ohio

August 27, 2016

Blue Brother 01-x

On Monday, Aug. 22, Norfolk Southern DC to AC conversion locomotive No. 4000 made what is believed to have been its first visit to Northeast Ohio.

DC to AC conversion No. 4001 was in Ohio back in April leading a train to Bellevue on the Sandusky District on a day that featured heavy snow.

Nos. 4000 and 4001 have been paired at times, but of late seem to be working independently. They are the only conversion locomotives to thus far receive the blue nose treatment.

Railfans and their cameras were out in force as No. 4000 led manifest freight 11K on its journey from Allentown, Pennsylvania, to Elkhart, Indiana.

Although numerous images of the 11K have been posted in various places online, here is what I was able to get in Bedford.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

Blue Brother 02-x

Blue Brother 03-x

Blue Brother 04-x


NKP H Unit on the Original Nickel Plate

August 27, 2016

The Nickel Plate Road heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern crosses the trestle in Painesville over the Grand River on Aug. 19.

In a modest way this has been my summer to chase Norfolk Southern heritage units.

In the past month, I’ve photographed the Conrail and Nickel Plate Road H units, both on the original rails of the railroad that they celebrate.

Shown above is NS 8100, the NKP heritage unit on original Nickel Plate rails as it crosses the Grand River in Painesville.

I still am searching for many more, including the Erie, New York Central and original Norfolk Southern. So I have a long ways to go to reach all 20.

Photograph by Peter Bowler


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