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.

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

Petition Seeks ITM Board’s Ouster

August 27, 2016

An anonymous online petition is seeking to remove the board of directors of the Indiana Transportation Museum.

Indiana Transportation MuseumThe embattled organization has been unable to run excursion trains this year and reportedly has been or is under investigation by the Indiana attorney general’s office and the Federal Railroad Administration.

The owner of the tracks used by the museum, the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, has refused to allow it to use the 37 miles of former Nickel Plate Road rails, citing alleged safety and maintenance violations.

Already, the museum has been forced to cancel its trips during the Indiana State Fair and the likelihood of excursions being held this summer appear slim.

Trains magazine reported on Friday that the museum and the port authority had appeared to come to an understanding about what needs to be done to resume excursions, but it remains to be seen how that is going to work out.

Catching Up With the Cleveland Commercial

August 26, 2016
Here comes the Cleveland Commercial job bound for Cleveland making its way through Bedford.

Here comes the Cleveland Commercial job bound for Cleveland making its way through Bedford.

If I want to see a train but don’t want to drive a long distance, I go to Bedford. The city created a small children’s park on Palmetto Street, which runs parallel with the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern.

Railfans have been known to park in the small parking lot of the park to watch trains go past.

The “tot lot” as it’s often called, is about a half-hour from my home and if there is something out of the ordinary coming on NS I might buzz down to Bedford to catch it.

Such was the case earlier this week when NS No. 4000, the DC to AC conversion locomotive with the blue nose came through town leading train 11K.

But before the feature train of the day arrived, the Cleveland Commercial Railroad put in an appearance.

The CCR uses the former Conotton Valley, which for much of its life was the Cleveland line of the Wheeling & Lake Erie. Later, it was the Nickel Plate Road and then Norfolk & Western.

It eventually reverted back to the modern W&LE, which has been leasing it north of Glenwillow to various short line operators, the CCR being the latest.

At times before an Akron Railroad Club meeting, Ed Ribinskas and I have hung out at the tot lot, primarily to see NS in action, but we never minded when the CCR came along.

During one of those sightings the CCR train was rocking back and forth so much that I thought it might derail.

That prompted us to dub the CCR “the rock and rollers.” I wish I had a video of it.

It has been quite a while since I last saw the CCR and as I was waiting for the NS 11K to get the OK to head west through a single-track work zone, we heard horns in the distance.

Your best opportunity to catch the CCR is during late afternoon when the train to Cleveland rumbles through.

Apparently, the CCR has done some track work because the train was hardly rocking and rolling at all.

Of course with short lines such as the CCR, track conditions are relative. The track is still slow speed, but better than it was.

All but one of the cars being toted by the two locomotives of the CCR were gondolas. My guess is that most of them will be filled with scrap metal.

You won’t see ethanol, crude oil, grain, automobiles, containers or coal traveling the rails of the CCR. Perhaps it handles some boxcar traffic, but I don’t see its operations enough to know that.

Those gondolas are batter and bruised, having been around a long time in industrial service. Yet those that fill then have a need for rail service and the CCR provides it, presumably well.

Railroads such as the CCR serve a niche in the American railroad scene. They may not get the attention that the Class 1 and large regional roads get, but their work is no less indispensable to shippers and interesting to observe.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The motive power for the CCR is former Union Pacific and former Santa Fe, both in their original colors with the ex-ATSF unit still wearing Santa Fe markings. The unit, though, is owned by LTEX.

The motive power for the CCR is former Union Pacific and former Santa Fe, both in their original colors with the ex-ATSF unit still wearing Santa Fe markings. The unit, though, is owned by LTEX.

I thought this image of the CCR train and its gondolas summed up what this railroad is all about.

I thought this image of the CCR train and its gondolas summed up what this railroad is all about.

As the CCR train was in Bedford, NS train 68D, which had a load of limestone bound for Shelly Materials in Twinsburg. The head end of the CCR job can be seen just beyond the signals on the NS Cleveland Line.

As the CCR train was in Bedford, NS train 68D, which had a load of limestone bound for Shelly Materials in Twinsburg, also passed by. The head end of the CCR job can be seen just beyond the signals on the NS Cleveland Line.

Looking southward toward the head end of the NS stone train and the rear end of the CCR train.

Looking southward toward the head end of the NS stone train and the rear end of the CCR train. It is not common to get a CCR and NS train at the same time.

Woodring Article Published in NRHS News

August 26, 2016

An article written by Akron Railroad Club member Paul Woodring about the last run of Amtrak’s AEM-7 electric locomotives has been re-published in the newsletter of the National Railway Historical Society.

ARRC logo 2Paul rode the farewell to the AEM-7 trip, an Amtrak chartered train that operated on June 18. That trip went from Washington to Philadelphia and return and included a tour of Amtrak’s Wilmington shops.

A member of the Potomac Chapter of NRHS, Paul originally wrote the article for the ARRC blog. NRHS News Editor Charles Williams saw the article on the blog and asked to reprint it.

The article begins on Page 18 of the August 2016 issue of the NRHS News and is accompanied by photographs made by various NRHS members.

KRR Coal Traffic Has Exceeded Expectations

August 26, 2016

An executive with Watco Companies said that it underestimated the demand for Appalachian coal when it launched the Kanawha River Railroad.

Kanawha River RailroadA month after the KRR began using the former West Virginia Secondary and Princeton-Deepwater District of Norfolk Southern, it has been running coal trains almost daily.

“Coal traffic is more than we anticipated — the domestic utility coal is up right now,” Kanawha River Railroad General Manager Derrick Jackson told Trains magazine.

As a result, the KRR has acquired additional locomotives and hired more employees for train and engine service.

The KRR has leased 10 NS SD60s and has its own fleet of three SD40-2s and four GP39-2s that are used to handle freight and local traffic.

In speaking with Trains, Jackson said the KRR is actively seeking to increase the local freight business.

Using trackage rights, KRR trains terminate at Watkins Yard on NS in Columbus.

Kentucky Company Shipping Crude Oil by Rail

August 26, 2016

A Kentucky company has begun shipping crude oil by rail from the Somerset Rail Park in Ferguson, Kentucky.

KentuckyContinental Refining company said in a news release that it began shipping via Norfolk Southern from the 34-acre truck-to-rail trans-loading facility in order to expand its national distribution more efficiently.

“We now have the added advantage in our region of shipping products farther and reducing costs, while utilizing a new resource,” said CRC President and Chief Executive Officer Demetrios Haseotes in a statement.

The Somerset-based Continental began using the rail park on July 27 to bring in gasoline components for gasoline pool blending. It also buys trans-mix fuel and ships it by rail.

It said it hopes to continue procuring additional blending components in the future.

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


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