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 30. Program by Don Woods.

Next Activity: November 26. End of Year Dinner. Program by Roger Durfee.

Railfanning NKP 767 With a Cop

September 30, 2016
The Peninsula police officer was able to get his photo during the second runby of NKP 767 at Boston Mill on Saturday evening.

The Peninsula police officer was able to get his photo during the second runby of NKP 767 at Boston Mill on Saturday evening.

The Peninsula officer was unable to photograph the first runby because he had to shoo a motorcyclist away as the train ran past.

The Peninsula officer was unable to photograph the first runby because he had to shoo a motorcyclist away as the train ran past.

Does getting our shadows qualify this photograph as a selfie? That is my shadow on the left.

Does getting our shadows qualify this photograph as a selfie? That is my shadow on the left.

Security at the photo runby location at Boston Mill on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad this year was the tightest I had ever seen.

Three and sometimes four police vehicles were stationed along Riverview Road to keep those without a ticket from venturing into the fenced off area to watch Nickel Plate Road No. 767 do its runbys.

Police also kept bystanders on the west side of Riverview, although this practice was not uniformly enforced.

I can’t speak for the runbys held on Saturday, Sept. 17, but on Sunday, Sept. 18, just one Peninsula police cruiser was on hand and that officer was primarily occupied with maintaining traffic on Boston Mills Road.

No one objected when bystanders stood or sat along the guard rail on Riverview closest to the tracks beyond the end of the fenced off area.

But the weekend of Sept. 24-25 was a different story. That was when police were out in force and traffic cones with signs proclaiming “no parking, temporary police order,” were placed along Riverview well north and south of Boston Mill.

CVSR officials seemed determined to ensure that those without tickets were confined to either Boston Park or the parking lot of the Boston Mills ski resort on the west side of Riverview.

During the first runbys of the day, I had noticed fellow Akron Railroad Club member Robert Farkas photographing the runbys while standing by a Peninsula PD cruiser.

The last photo runbys on Saturday ended up taking place much later than expected due to the CVSR Scenic train running upwards of 45 minutes late.

By the time the passengers were unloaded at Boston Mill, it was well past 6 p.m. The good news, though, is that there was really sweet light bathing the train.

I parked in the ski resort lot at the north end and walked up to the guard rail where I and a railfan from Pennsylvania struck up a conversation with a Peninsula police officer.

He was friendly and we had a nice talk, much of which focused on the appeal of a steam locomotive.

The officer said that in his three years on the force he had never been assigned to steam train at Boston Mill duty, so he was looking forward to seeing the 767 put on a show.

We explained to him how the runbys worked and he seemed to appreciate us telling him that.

As the NKP 767 began its charge southward for the first runby, the officer reached into his pocket, pulled out a smart phone and prepared to photograph it.

He saw me put my camera up and started backing up a bit to get out of my photo. Actually, my plan was to photograph a portion of the runby with the officer in the scene getting his photos.

While I appreciated his courtesy, I had wanted him to stay where he had been.

About the time the 767 reached our position, a guy pulled up on a motorcycle and stopped along the guard rail nearest the tracks.

The officer walked over to the motorcyclist and advised him to either move on or park in the ski resort lot.

By the time the officer got back to his position the train was past. We assured him he would get another crack at it.

Interesting, the officer said he was upset that his photo op had been interrupted. But he had been professional about it. He did, after all, have a job to do.

The officer was able to get his photos of the second runby and I was able to get my photo of the officer and NKP 767.

I showed it to him, got his email address and sent him a copy of the photo on Monday. He thanked me in a return email.

You’ve probably seen those programs called breakfast with a cop or even shopping with a cop. I can now say I’ve been railfanning with a cop.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Amtrak Offering Fall Foliage Specials

September 30, 2016

Amtrak has announced that it will offer another fall foliage excursion in the East this year with tickets going on sale on Oct. 3.

Amtrak logoThe train will depart at 8 a.m. from Penn Station in New York and 8:30 a.m. from Penn Station in Newark, New Jersey, on  Oct. 29 and 30.

Tickets are $149 per person and includes a boxed lunch, souvenir tote bag, and a commemorative pin. The child fare will be $74.50 and include the same amenities.

After stopping in Newark, the train will head west along the former Lehigh Valley Railroad and pass through the Musconetcong Tunnel, which opened in 1875.

After crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, the train will run along the Lehigh River to Allentown, passing the scenic farm country of Pennsylvania on the former route of the Queen of the Valley passenger train to Harrisburg. This line has been freight only since 1963.

From Harrisburg, the train will go east on Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor and have a photo stop at Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The route to New York will use regular Amtrak rails, passing through the New York and Pittsburgh Subway at Zoo Tower in Philadelphia.

Arrival back in Newark is expected to be 6:10 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. in New York.

Food and beverages will be available for purchase onboard the train.

AAR, Unions Spar Over Brake Inspection Waiver

September 30, 2016

The railroad industry is pushing the Federal Railroad Administration to allow unit freight trains to travel up to 2,600 miles between air brake inspections.

FRABut the proposal being pushed by the Association of American Railroads is being resisted by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

The AAR wants the FRA grant a waiver so railroads can check if wheel temperature detectors can replace a mandatory visual inspection.

The pilot program would be undertaken on the Union Pacific on coal trains operating between the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and an unloading terminal in White Bluff, Arkansas.

Under current federal law, the air brakes on a unit train must be inspected every 1,500 miles.

Wheel detectors measure temperature of the entire wheel and railroad industry officials argue that an abnormal wheel temperature reading is a more accurate measurement of whether the braking system is working.

They note that a visual inspection does not take temperature into consideration. Railroad hot box detectors measure the temperature of the wheel’s journal.

AAR contends that relying on wheel temperature detectors will increase employee safety.

The BLET, though, counters that using wheel temperature detectors to replace visual brake
inspections is a poor use of the technology.

“BLET believes [temperature detectors] should be deployed in the field and utilized for their intended use of examining wheel temperature in between terminals. [Detectors] should not, however, be used as a pretext for dodging regulatory safety standards,” said Vincent G. Verna, BLET’s regulatory affairs director.

The Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Union, Transportation Division officials are also asking the FRA to deny the AAR’s request.

The FRA will be taking comments on the AAR proposal through Oct. 13. A decision is not expected for several months after that.

NY Lawmaker Wants Buffalo Station Study

September 30, 2016

A New York congressman is calling on the New York State Transportation Commissioner to review the prospects for a new Amtrak station for Buffalo, New York.

Amtrak logoCalling the Buffalo station among the worst in the nation, Congressman Brian Higgins said the study would cost between $1 million and $2 million and could be paid for from a $25 million pot of money in the New York State Fiscal Year 2015-2020 Transportation Capital Program.

Higgins said the station study would be advantageous in seeking federal transportation funding for a new depot.

In his letter, Higgins said the new Amtrak station could be located at Canalside or Buffalo’s Central Terminal.

Buffalo’s Exchange Street station was closed last week after its ceiling collapsed following heavy rains.

“It is an insufficient facility for the volume that we could be getting in riders and it’s insufficient for all the progress we’re seeing in downtown,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown who supports building a new station at Canalside.

Exchange Street Station was built in 1952 and last year served more than 116,000 passengers.

All Amtrak trains in Buffalo stop there except the Lake Shore Limited. Another Buffalo station is located in suburban Depew, New York.

Melvin Retires as NKP 765 Engineer

September 29, 2016

Rich Melvin at the controls of Nickel Plate Road 765 on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in September 2010.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society announced on its Facebook page this week that Richard Melvin has retired as an engineer of Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.

Melvin made his last run at the throttle of the Berkshire-type locomotive on Sunday, Sept. 25 when the steamer pulled its last excursions on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to close out two-weekend appearance.

The FtWRHS, which owns and operates the 765, said that for his final trip, Melvin was joined in the cab by his grandsons.

He has been an engineer of the 765 for 30 years and the Fort Wayne group said that he “was involved in nearly every movement the 765 made in the last three decades and has helped establish an operating department and qualify new engineers in the process.”

Melvin spoke about his experiences in operating the NKP 765 at the 2006 Christmas banquet of the Akron Railroad Club.

Aside from operating the NKP 765, Melvin also was the founder of Hopewell Productions, which sold railroad-related videos.

He has also been a road foreman for the Youngstown operations of the Ohio Central System.

B&O Action in Kent in the 1960s

September 29, 2016

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Here are the first of a series of black and white images from Northeast Ohio taken during the late 1960s to early 1970s. Often ex-Akron Railroad Club member Mike Ondecker was with me when these images were taken.

In the top image, Chesapeake & Ohio No. 4011 is stopping at the Kent B&O passenger station in the late 1960s.

She is pulling the westbound Diplomat more than likely around Christmas because of the three E-units needed to power the train. After leaving Kent, her next stop is B&O’s Akron Union Station.

In the second image, eastbound B&O 6411 heads toward Kent on a winter day. This was taken from east of the B&O passenger station.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

ARRC to Have Table at Berea Train Show

September 29, 2016

The Akron Railroad Club will have a table at the Great Berea Train Show to be held Saturday and Sunday at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds on Bagley Road.

ARRC logoShow hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday (Oct. 1) and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday (Oct. 2).

Admission is $7.50 for adults with children 16 and under admitted free when accompanied by an adult. A two-day pass is available for $10.

The show will feature four buildings with more than 300 tables and operating model railroad layouts.

The show sponsor is the Mid Central Region Division 4 of The National Model Railroad Association. More information is available at http://www.thegreatbereatrainshow.org/about.html

Brady Lake Tower to be Open Oct. 8

September 29, 2016

The Portage Parks Council will hold an open house on Oct. 8 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Pennsylvania Railroad’s former Brady Lake Tower, which now sits in Towner’s Woods Park

PRRBruce Dzeda, author of Railroad Town: Kent the Erie Railroad, will speak during the event on the railroads that served the Brady Lake region.

The tower is not normally open to the public.

Built in 1928 and known until 1957 as Brady’s Lake Tower, the structure was a block and interlocking facility at the eastern terminus of the Lake Erie & Pittsburgh, which was used by the New York Central.

The LE&P diverged from the PRR at Brady Lake and ran westward to Marcy in Cleveland. NYC trains used trackage rights on the PRR and Baltimore & Ohio to access Youngstown.

Declining traffic on the LE&P led to Brady Lake Tower being closed in 1966, but it was kept as an emergency block station through 1970.

Sanders Photo Published in Rails to Trails Mag

September 29, 2016

A photograph made by Akron Railroad Club President Craig Sanders has been published in the Fall 2016 issue of Rails to Trails magazine.

ARRC logoThe image of the Portage Hike and Bike trail is used to illustrate a story about the Industrial Heartland Trails Network, a collection of nearly three dozen pathways featuring scenic wilderness, dramatic railroad tunnels and trestles, and trail towns and historical sites from the birthplace of America’s Industrial Revolution.

The system has 1,450 miles of trails in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York.

The article has been posted online at:

http://www.railstotrails.org/trailblog/2016/september/13/a-view-from-the-industrial-heartland-trails-network/

P42DC Named for ex-Amtrak Head Boardman

September 29, 2016

Amtrak has named P42DC No. 42 after its former president, Joseph Boardman.

Amtrak logoPainted in a livery honoring the nation’s veterans, No. 42 will carry an inscription below its cab reading: “Amtrak Honors: Joseph H. Boardman, President and CEO 2008-2016, US Air Force Vietnam Veteran.”

The locomotive was officially named for Boardman earlier this week during a ceremony held at Washington Union Station that was attended by more than 100 invited guests, including Union Pacific CEO Lance Fritz; BNSF Railway Executive Chairman Matt Rose; Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Sarah Feinberg; former FRA boss Joe Szabo; union officials; and dozens of Amtrak employees and managers.

Also attending and speaking were U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Amtrak Board of Directors Chairman Tony Coscia and board member Tom Carper, U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham, and Association of American Railroads President and CEO Ed Hamberger.

Current Amtrak President and CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman was absent because he was on a previously-planned family vacation.