The Akron Railroad Club has about 75 members who meet monthly in Akron, Ohio, to share their passion for railroad operations and history. On our blog you will find information about our meetings, activities, how to join us, and news about railroads and railroad oriented organizations. On 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 special reports about railroad operations and railfan events. 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.
A couple of years ago a friend sent me a link to a gallery of photographs that documented Amtrak operations in the middle 1970s.
The photographer had received a grant that he used to pay to travel aboard Amtrak to show life on board and to charter a helicopter to make aerial images of Amtrak trains cruising on the Santa Fe through small towns in Kansas and Oklahoma.
The latter were accompanied with a short commentary that explained why he made the images in the manner that he did.
He acknowledged that his approach differed from how a typical railfan would approached photographing the trains. Railfans tend to hone in on the train, particularly, the locomotive.
But in these images of Amtrak SDP40F locomotives on the point of the Chicago-Houston Lone Star and the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Limited, the photographer pulled back to show a wider perspective.
It was a tactic he said is frequently practiced by photographers working for National Geographic. The objective is to lace the subject of the image in an environment by showing the context in which something was captured.
In this case, the photographer wanted to show Amtrak trains traveling through rural Kansas, a state known for its Great Plains topography and small towns.
I was impressed with the photographer’s compositions and unsuccessfully did a Google search to find out more about the National Geographic approach to photography.
The magazine is world renowned for its photography and articles. If you can get your work published in National Geographic, you are among the elite.
The National Geographic approach was on my mind as I stood atop the Ohio Route 82 bridge over the Cuyahoga River valley in Brecksville recently as I captured the passage of Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 765.
It is not common to be able to get enough elevation in Northeast Ohio to provide a wide perspective. It doesn’t help that our region’s numerous trees tend to reduce the available vistas.
So in photographing the 765 at Brecksville, I made sure to zoom out and get some images such as the ones that you see here.
The top one is my favorite because of the clouds that seem to hover just over the tops of the trees on the horizon.
Both images convey a sense of the railroad and the train being located in a broad valley. We often use the word “valley” when talking about the Cuyahoga. The railroad and the national park even incorporate “valley” in their respective names.
There are many places to make photographs that convey a sense of place in the Cuyahoga Valley.
Yet most of the time the photographs we make of CVSR trains or even of the features of the CVNP fail to convey a sense of this being a wide river valley.
There are a few vistas in the CVNP that enable photographers to get enough elevation combined with enough openness to convey a sense in their images of this being a “valley.”
One of those I need to visit this fall when the foliage is at its peak. But the only place I know of in which you can photograph the CVSR and show that it is in the Cuyahoga Valley is on the Route 82 bridge.
There is nothing wrong with zeroing in on a train or its locomotive to capture its detail. Steam locomotives in particular have much to study and linger over.
Yet there are times when stepping back, even if it feels like you are moving out of the scene, can yield a rich image that helps to tell the story you are seeking to convey.
Commentary and Photographs by Craig Sanders
The Office of Public-Private Partnerships (P3) of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is accepting proposals for transportation projects through Oct. 31.
PennDOT said in a news release that proposals should offer innovative ways to address projects involving roads, bridges, rail, aviation and ports.
Proposals can also include more efficient models to manage existing transportation-related services and programs.
The P3 board is also interested in proposals for non-PennDOT-owned assets. Transportation entities outside the governor’s jurisdiction, such as transit authorities, may set up their own timeline or accept proposals year round.
Instructions on how to submit a proposal can be found on the state’s P3 website.
Amtrak’s Chicago Gateway Blue Ribbon Panel is calling for bringing together rail traffic control dispatchers that are now scattered across the country, improving operating practices by Amtrak and other railroads, and funding for priority projects in northern Illinois and Indiana.
The panel also released a study that concluded that rail congestion in Chicago poses the greatest potential economic vulnerability to the economy of all the major U.S. rail hubs.
Chicago has been dubbed America’s “rail traffic speed bump,” creating an economic vulnerability of up to $799 billion every year.
“The panel interviewed experts with the freight-rail industry, Metra commuter rail, the states of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan and others and the verdict was unanimous: the implications of failing to act are dire for the economy of the nation in general and the Chicago area in particular,” said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman.
The panel said its recommended fixes are expensive but without actions rail gridlock will only get worse.
The panel recommended:
• Coordinate in real time operations among Chicago’s railroads, including coordinated dispatching.
• Continue efforts to improve operational performance in the Chicago terminal.
• Obtain adequate and sustained public funding for vital projects.
• Give priority to the CREATE 75th Street Corridor and Grand Crossing projects.
• Make additional investments in Chicago-Porter, Indiana, corridor.
• Seek innovative financing through the federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan program.
• Provide consistent environmental review requirements among all transportation modes with priorities given to projects of national importance.
The report can be found atAmtrak.com/ChicagoGateway.
A diesel locomotive to be used in locomotives being built for Midwest, California, Florida and Washington state passenger service has been shipped to the factory assembling the locomotives.
Cummns Inc. said the first production 95-liter, 16-cylinder QSK95 engine built to a rail specification has been received at the Siemens plant in Sacramento, California, that is assembling the Charger locomotives.
The engine is rated at 4,400 hp (3,281 kW). Siemens is building the locomotives as part of a 35-unit order placed by the departments of transportation of Illinois, California, Michigan, Missouri and Washington.
The Charger locomotives will also power the trainsets for All Aboard Florida.
Cummins said that the QSK95 can support a top locomotive speed of 125 mph, which achieves the highest output of any 16-cylinder high-speed diesel
The company said that the combination of its Modular Common Rail Fuel System with quad-turbocharging allows the engine to deliver reduced noise and good response in a smaller footprint than medium-speed diesels traditionally used in locomotives.
The engine is compliant with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Tier 4 emission standards.
The Akron Railroad Club will have a table at this weekend’s Great Berea Train Show at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds.
Show hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $7.50 per person with a $10 two day pass available. Those under age 16 will be admitted for free.
The show, sponsored by Division 4 of the North Central Region of the National Model Railroad Association will feature more than 300 tables and five model railroad club layouts.
Eight-eight dealers have signed up for tables along with eight railroad clubs and historical societies. The show is spread over four buildings and food vendors will be available.
The fairgrounds is located at 164 Eastland Road in Berea. The show is in its 42nd year.
Those who have been down to see the Nickel Plate Road No. 765 have seen the latest locomotive in the roundhouse of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.
It is a GP10-1 leased from Horizon Rail, a locomotive leasing and sale company based in Euclid.
HZRZ No. 8420 has a long history and resembles somewhat the unit that it replaced, LTEX 1420.
The 8420 was built in February 1952 as a GP7 for the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco). It was later rebuilt by the Paducah (Kentucky) shops of the former Illinois Central and carried Illinois Central Gulf roster No. 7720.
The 8420 has had a couple of other owners, Nash County Railroad Corporation and Knoxville and Holston River Railroad. It carried its ICG roster number when on the latter and its current number when on the former.
The 8420 has been working on the CVSR since at least early August. Horizon Rail posted a photo of the locomotive to its Facebook Page on June 24 proclaiming the 8420 to be “released, carded and ready for service.”
Like the LTEX 1420, the 8420 is painted all black. It has white handrails and a broad white stripe running the length of its lower flanks. A CVSR logo has been affixed to the nose of the short hood.
West Virginia-based Appalachian Rail Services the railcar repair and maintenance services operations of FreightCar America.
The transaction includes 125 employees, five service facilities, 22 rail miles and 5 short line operations. ARS will have direct interchange access to both Union Pacific and BNSF Railway.
“The acquisition of FreightCar America’s railcar repair and maintenance services business is a great moment in our company’s history,” said ARS President and Chief Executive Kurt Higginbotham. “By bringing these operations into our portfolio, we will greatly expand our customer base and open up tremendous opportunities for the future.”
FreightCar America has railcar repair and maintenance shop locations in Grand Island and Hasting, Nebraska; and shops and mobile repair facilities in Indiana.
ARS began as a coal hauling short-line railroad in 2000 based southeast of Charleston, West Virginia.
In Ohio, ARS has facilities in Warren and Cincinnati.
Here is one way to get some elevation into your photographs. You climb onto the trunk of your car and then onto the roof.
It will work, but might result in dents or scratches to the vehicle. The image was made in Westfield, New York, as this fan made a few test shots before the arrival of Nickel Plate Road No. 765.
We later heard this guy telling a friend over his cell phone that he hoped he would come so the guy in this photo could use the roof of his friend’s van.
Nickel Plate Road No. 765 will make its final trips this weekend on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, bringing to an end an extended run on the road that began in July.
On Saturday, the 765 will pull two-hour excursions that will depart from Akron at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. On Sunday, the excursions will leave Brecksville at 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.
To purchase tickets, go to the CVSR website at http://www.cvsr.com/steam-in-the-valley
Akron Railroad Club Treasurer Ed Ribinskas sent along these photographs that he made last Sunday while chasing the NKP 765 and the CVSR Scenic train.
Photographs by Edward Ribinskas
There is an Erie heritage locomotive and a Lackawanna heritage locomotive, but no Erie Lackawanna heritage unit.
That has changed now that Norfolk Southern has repainted SD45-2 No. 1700 into its original EL colors.
An NS news release said No. 1700 recently received cab upgrades at the East End Shops in Roanoke, Virginia, and was then restored to its original yellow, red, and grey Erie Lackawanna colors in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
No. 1700 is being assigned to the fleet of five other 1700-series locomotives in the Conrail Share Assets region in Oak Island, New Jersey.
The locomotive was the first of 13 ordered by the EL, which began in October 1960 when the Erie and Delaware, Lackawanna & Western merged.
The EL declared bankruptcy in 1972 and was folded into Conrail on April 1, 1976.