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: January 27. Program by David Mangold.

Next Activity: February 25: Pizza Party and Member’s Night

It Was Dark, But I Got My H Unit Leading

January 23, 2017
It took more than four years, but I finally got the Lehigh Valley heritage unit leading a train.

It took more than four years, but I finally got the Lehigh Valley heritage unit leading a train.

It wasn’t the most ideal of conditions to be photographing a train, even with a digital camera. But this wasn’t just any train that was coming.

OK, so a stack train is any train. But on the point was Norfolk Southern No. 8104, the Lehigh Valley heritage locomotive.

I’ve only seen the 8104 once and that was more than four years ago. And it was trailing.

The light was good then, but, you know, trail equals fail.

The Lehigh Valley H unit has not been a frequent visitor to Northeast Ohio. It got stuck in service down in the West Virginia and Virginia and took a long time to escape.

So when word came that the 8104 was leading a westbound 25Z, off to Olmsted Falls I went.

It was almost 5:30 p.m. when the 25Z showed up. It was cloudy and the sun was setting.

There was barely enough light to record anything. I shot at f3.5 at 1/500th of a second at ISO 6400 and at one full f stop over.

That netted a grainy, though usable image. But, hey, I finally got on the lead a heritage unit that had eluded me since June 2012.

As I processed my images in preparation for this post, I also came to appreciate how the conditions enable me to create some mood and effects that don’t exist in broad daylight.

Given a choice, I would rather have had ideal lighting when the 8104 showed up. But sometimes making do with what you have can yield some surprisingly pleasing images.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The 25Z with the Lehigh Valley heritage locomotive on the point was following the 25T and the 21Q as it left town. It is shown passing the depot in Olmsted Falls.

The 25Z with the Lehigh Valley heritage locomotive on the point was following the 25T and the 21Q as it left town. It is shown passing the depot in Olmsted Falls.

Hard on the heels of the 25Z was a westbound manifest freight whose headlight can be seen in the distance on Track No. 2. The 25Z was on Track No 1. In an hour's time, NS sent six westbound trains through Olmsted Falls.

Hard on the heels of the 25Z was a westbound manifest freight whose headlight can be seen in the distance on Track No. 2. The 25Z was on Track No 1. In an hour’s time, NS sent six westbound trains through Olmsted Falls.

The containers of NS train 25Z catch the last rays of daylight as the train heads into the sunset.

The containers of NS train 25Z catch the last rays of daylight as the train heads into the sunset.

Behind the Record CVSR Ridership in 2016

January 23, 2017

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroads made headlines last week when it announced record ridership in 2016 of 214,063, shattering the record of 210,347 set in 2012.

On TransportationThe news made the front page of the Sun News weekly newspapers in Cleveland and merited mention on the Trains magazine website.

The record means a couple of things. First, there were no washouts or other service disruptions in 2016 to depress patronage.

Second, it was an aberration. Ridership over 200,000 has been rare on the CVSR.

If history is any guide, the CVSR will struggle to sustain its success. After carrying more than 200,000 passengers in 2012, ridership in 2013 fell to 186,270 and continued to fall in 2014 (185,912) and 2015 (185,500)

The 2016 uptick is due to a number of factors, including lack of service disruptions caused by weather or track work, the institution of new programs to attract new business, record ridership in the Bike Aboard! program, and good ticket sales for steam in the valley.

Excursions behind Nickel Plate Road 767 (a.k.a. NKP 765) sold out.

Like a fast food franchise, the CVSR must constantly introduce new products and promote those that it has.

It can be difficult to find ridership data for the CVSR before 1990, but a news report following the first year of operation in 1975 said that 7,000 rode 21 weekend trips, most of them pulled by steam locomotive 4070 in 1975.

In 1990, the last year that the 4070 operated, ridership was 9,300 on 32 trips.

The following year, there were 91 trips and ridership of 15,700. In 1992, ridership increased to 24,000.

Patronage took a massive jump in 1995 when 475 trips netted ridership of 61,000 compared to 42,000 over 300 trips in 1994.

Ridership hit triple digits for the first time in 2000 when 100,130 rode. By then the CVSR was operating 1,000 trips a year.

Since breaking the 100,000 mark in 2000, ridership has remained in the triple digits with the exception of 2003 when it plummeted to 93,000.

The drop in ridership that year can be explained in one word: flooding.

It knocked the CVSR out of operation when 14 miles of track suffered severe damage. Service was suspended for nearly three weeks.

Ridership can also be depressed by other factors.

In October 2013 a stalemate over the federal budget that shut down the federal government knocked the CVSR out of service for about a week during the busy fall foliage season.

That played a role in the 24,000 drop in ridership that the CVSR experienced in 2013 when compared to its record-setting year of 2012.

It took three years, but at least, the railroad has recovered from that.

Mangold to Present at January ARRC Meeting

January 23, 2017

David Mangold will present a digital program at the January Akron Railroad Club meeting based on the theme The Past, Present and Future of Railroading.

ARRC logoThere will be images of railroad technology, Amtrak, Great Northern, the Milwaukee Road, modern day short lines, BNSF and Union Pacific.

The Jan. 27 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.

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.

In The January 2017 ARRC eBulletin

January 22, 2017

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Akron Junction doesn’t look the same as it once did. Last year CSX removed most of the rails there, thus severing the connection between its New Castle Subdivision and the former Cleveland-Akron-Canton Valley Line. You can read all about it and view photographs of Akron Junction today in the cover article for the January 2017 Akron Railroad Club eBulletin.

To obtain a copy or to subscribe to the eBulletin, send an email request to csanders429@aol.com. A subscription and single copies are free.

What a Way to Open the CVSR 2017 Season!

January 21, 2017
At Peninsula with a bit of fog lingering in the trees.

At Peninsula with a bit of fog lingering in the trees.

Cruising at Bath Road.

Cruising at Bath Road.

At Akron Northside station.

At Akron Northside station.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad opened up the 2017 season on Saturday by using fresh out of the shop 6777 back to back with 6771. How cool is it to see and hear in 2017 an FPA4 set, with both of them in a clean and sharp paint scheme.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

CVSR Debuts Matching FPA4s on Scenic Train

January 21, 2017

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The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad started its 2017 season on Saturday with matched Montreal Locomotive Works FPA4 diesels on the southbound end of the train. CVSR 6777 just received this paint scheme. Here are CVSR 6777, 6771 at Akron Northside Station. Also shown is ex-Pennsylvania Railroad Paul Revere, which was part of Saturday’s train.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

The Quest for Fallen Flags

January 21, 2017

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The popularity of the heritage locomotives of Norfolk Southern can be explained by a number of factors, but chief among them is that they represent something that can’t be seen anymore and, in some instances, has never been seen by some.

Railroads that no longer exist under their original corporate identity are known as fallen flags because their “flag” has been folded and relegated to history.

Typically, for a few years after a railroad is acquired or loses its identity in a merger, rolling stock bearing the fallen flag’s name, logo and markings can be seen out on the line.

Repainting locomotives and freight cars can get expensive so it’s more economical to let the old look linger a while longer until a car or locomotive is due to go into the shop or is retired from the roster.

In the past couple years, I’ve been on the lookout for freight cars still bearing the long-since vanished identity of a previous owner.

Finding fallen flag cars takes patience and vigilance. Many fans tend to stop watching a train closely once the motive power has passed.

But if you keep observing, you might be rewarded if you have your camera ready and spring into action at a second’s notice.  That is not as easy as it might seem.

I present here a gallery of fallen flags that I found within the past couple of years.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

CSX Responds to Harrison Moves

January 21, 2017

CSX responded to news reports that E. Hunter Harrison may seek to oust current CSX management by issuing a statement that supported the company’s current executive team and its strategies.

CSX logo 3A CSX spokesman said in the statement: “CSX Corp. welcomes the views of all of our shareholders and always considers their thoughts on the company’s business strategy. Likewise, its board and management team remain supportive of the company’s strategic growth strategy, which has started to deliver sustainable value for shareholders.

“The company and its board of directors will actively evaluate Mantle Ridge’s views and look forward to discussing our core strategy to continue driving earnings growth and shareholder value going forward with Mantle Ridge and all our shareholders.”

The statement referred  to reports that Harrison is retiring from Canadian Pacific earlier than planned and has teamed up with venture capital firm Mantle Ridge to seek to oust CSX CEO Michael Ward.

Harrison would, presumably, become the CEO of CSX and install his own management team.

 

 

R.J. Corman Makes Personnel Appointments

January 21, 2017

Nathan Henderson has been named president of R. J. Corman Railroad Services while Noel Rush was appointed senior vice president commercial development.

CormanHenderson joined Corman in January 2011 after 14 years at CSX. He has served in several leadership roles, including holding the post of vice president of material sales, vice president of strategic sales and marketing, and as chief commercial officer.

He will oversee daily operations and development of the railroad services company, which offers railroad construction, emergency response and maintenance-of-way services.

In addition to focusing on customer service, Henderson said he would “emphasize the company’s overall operating efficiency and work toward ongoing expansion, while keeping safety as our priority.”

Rush previously served as president of R. J. Corman Derailment Services, vice president of finance and administration, and vice president of risk management.

He will be responsible for developing the company’s corporate marketing strategies, client services, executive relationships and government affairs.

Both Henderson and Rush will continue to report to R. J. Corman President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Quinn.

Very Old Rails Without a Doubt

January 20, 2017

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You showed new rail. Here is some very old rail. In an old industrial site next to the Erie Railroad Bergen County Line in Fair Lawn, New Jersey lies some 80-pound rail made in 1912. The yard once served a coal company among other things. The tracks are still pretty much intact, complete with switches. The 1960 Erie employee timetable still listed the main line connecting switch as active. The site is being redeveloped. I don’t know the future of these rails, but so far they have survived for 105 years.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

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