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: June 22. Program by Rick Rowlands.

Next Activity: June 24. Longest day in Fostoria.

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Your Ticket From Akron Has Been Punched

June 19, 2018

I purchased some unused Erie-Lackawanna tickets and decided to have a little fun in honor of the Akron Railroad Club.

Using an EL punch (purchased from an old EL employee), I produced a one way ticket from Akron to Hoboken, New Jersey.

The one way fare of $26.02 is correct for the date punched of Oct. 30, 1966. I will see you folks when you come to visit me in NJ.

Article and Photograph by Jack Norris

Memorial Day Weekend in Indiana: Part 2

June 19, 2018

Memorial Day would be a day of passenger trains during our holiday weekend trek to northern Indiana, at least for the morning and early afternoon hours.

It dawned much like Sunday had, sunny and warm.

Temperatures today would again top 90 degrees, but without a great deal of humidity. The sky was blue and not glazed over like you get on many a hot summer day.

After our free breakfast we were heading north on U.S. 421 toward Lake Michigan.

The Chicago South Shore & South Bend runs down the middle of 11th Street in downtown Michigan City. Its downtown station is about a half block east of U.S. 421 on 11th Street

As we approached, the first morning westbound went past on its way to Chicago. There will be plenty more.

The next train on our list was the morning Wolverine (Amtrak No. 350) to Detroit. We set up at the road crossing to the east of the turn bridge over Trail Creek and waited for it to show.

It was a couple of minutes behind schedule, which was not a problem because we had a little time before the next South Shore train.

We parked on 11th Street at the S curve by the church and waited. A few minutes later our quarry was heard approaching.

The S curve is a nice shot because of the uniqueness of the shot. Street running on a curve is not too common.

South Shore trains today were carrying seven to nine cars. They must have expected some large crowds this holiday.

The next move was another South Shore, this time westbound. It and a westbound Amtrak Wolverine were due about the same time. Would we get lucky and get both?

The South Shore showed up on time and made its station stop on 11th Street in front of the old passenger station.

As they departed, we quickly headed west hoping to catch Amtrak near the diamonds where the Amtrak Michigan Line crosses the South Shore.

We were too late. Amtrak was on time and rolled past. But, this meant the South Shore train had to stop for just long enough that we were able to get ahead on the other side of the diamond.

On the west side of the diamonds, they run down the center of 10th Street. This neighborhood is a lot rougher than on 11th Street, although not by much.

We set up a shot with only a few seconds to spare; the train was in my rear view mirror.

With that flurry out of the way, it was back to the Amtrak station to kill some time before the next Amtrak was due.

We passed the time watching boats leaving the small harbor that is located where Trail Creek hits the lake. A good number of sail boats were going out on the water today. It was a bit windy, so they should have good sailing.

The siren sounded on the swing bridge over Trail Creek that takes the Amtrak Line over that waterway. The bridge was closing; a train was getting close.

This move was for the Blue Water from Port Huron, Michigan. It doesn’t stop here, so it blasted past at track speed, about 40 mph I would say, not the 110 mph that Detroit-bound trains do once they get into Michigan.

I was surprised to see a locomotive on both ends of the train. They must not wye the train at Port. Huron anymore.

It was now approaching noon, so it was off to lunch at Jimmy John’s right across the street from the Super 8 where we stayed.

Back to trackside after lunch, we were again staking out the South Shore for one each way.

When we left the shot at the east end of the swing bridge earlier in the day, I thought it might be possible to shoot from the adjacent U.S. 12 bridge and get a broadside of an Amtrak on the swing bridge.

We parked near the road bridge and walked up on the sidewalk. From directly above the creek, you can get the entire Amtrak train in the photo.

An interesting scene, it would have been more interesting if we would have had some boats or kayaks in the water at train time.

Plenty of them were around before the Amtraker got there.

The Wolverine rolled by a few minutes later than we expected. The South Shore had an eastbound due in just a few minutes.

We headed south after shooting Amtrak and the South Shore train was pulling into the station. We turned down 9th Street and went down a couple of blocks and then swung down to 11th Street.

They whistled off just as I parked the Jeep. We had only seconds to get our shot lined up, but we got it.

We now had a decision to make. It would be several hours before any more passenger trains were due. So do we stay or start heading back, stopping somewhere along the way to catch more action?

Robert had been monitoring the progress, or lack thereof, of the Penn Central heritage unit all weekend.

It came through Cleveland about the time we left for Indiana, but seemed to disappear somewhere near Toledo.

It was on a loaded coal train heading from the former Monongahela to Wisconsin Electric Power.

It was finally on the move west again and had been spotted in South Bend just a few minutes ago.

If we headed south to Norfolk Southern’s Chicago Line, we might get it. So we were off to see the train, using U.S. 35 to U.S. 20 out of Michigan City.

We were in Rolling Prairie in just a few minutes. We had our sights on the new elevator at New Carlisle. This elevator sets up well for photos of afternoon westbounds.

Just after passing over the tracks in Rolling Prairie, we heard the PC, on train 552, call the signal at MP 452.

We didn’t understand what indication he said he had, but the train was close. Rolling Prairie is at about MP 455.

I turned down the first road back to the tracks after hearing the radio transmission. We came up on a crossing that we had visited last Labor Day weekend.

The tracks are elevated about the rolling farmland, which is where the town of Rolling Prairie got its name.

The signal we could see to the west at MP 453 was all red. Something may have just gone by. Something did; it was westbound mixed freight 35E. The 552 with the PC had caught up to it and was stopped at MP 452.

As we stood and waited, we could hear locomotives rumbling to the east. The 552 was moving west at restricted speed.

We watched as the signal at MP 453 went from restricting to approach, to advance approach to clear by the time the 552 got to us.

Not bad; the PC was in perfect light at a neat location. But we’re greedy, so we went for two.

Back to U.S. 20 we went, retracing our steps to the overpass at Rolling Prairie. We lensed the train again, which by this time was back up to track speed.

Not to be out done, the 552 with the PC passed the 16G between MP 453 and Rolling Prairie; the 16G was lead by the Virginian H unit.

After our brief but successful chase, we finally made it to New Carlisle. Much to our chagrin, nothing else was moving west at this time.

We finally threw in the towel and began the long trek back home to Cleveland.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Amtrak Among Top Employers for Veterans

June 19, 2018

Military Times has named Amtrak one of the county’s top 100 employers for veterans.

In a news release, Amtrak said the annual ranking highlight a corporate culture and policies that best leverage the traits and skills embodied by veterans and servicemen and women to enable them to be successful in civilian roles.

The publication invited companies to complete a 100-question survey and it then checked the accuracy of the results.

Amtrak said about one in five of its employees is a veteran or active members of the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserves.

The rail passenger carrier also offers an Amtrak for Veterans employee affinity group that supports current and former military members through fellowship, mentoring and community outreach.

N&W 611 Won’t Offer Excursions in 2018

June 18, 2018

In an announcement that was not really much of a surprise, the Virginia Museum of Transportation said over the weekend that there will be no mainline excursions this year for Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611.

However, the 4-8-4 built in Roanoke, Virginia, will be steamed up at a later date and available for public view.

“We are very pleased to announce that we are engaged in substantive conversations about exciting potential 2019 excursions and special appearances for 611,” said Trey Davis, chairman of the Forward 611 Committee. “We will continue to seek opportunities for the public to experience a pivotal piece of American history firsthand, under steam.”

Museum officials cited Amtrak’s new policies restricting excursions and specials for grounding No. 611.

Amtrak has expressed a willingness to meet with museum officials later this year to discuss future excursion opportunities.

No. 611 is currently at the North Carolina Transportation Museum having mechanical work done at the Spencer shops.

The locomotive is expected to return to Roanoke later this summer amid some public events. Details about those events have yet to be announced.

“We’re working hard to ensure the public continues to have opportunities to engage with 611 and are planning unique events to provide opportunities to experience 611 under steam in 2018,” said Will Harris, president of the VTM board of directors. “The Virginia Museum of Transportation and NCTM are both planning special events with the locomotive in Roanoke and Spencer, respectively.”

One event at which the 611 is expected to appear is the Sept. 29 annual Big Lick Train Tug at which teams of six and 12 people will try to pull the locomotive by hand.

VTM is also raising money to equip the 611 with a positive train control apparatus and to build a permanent home for the locomotive in Roanoke that will also serve as an education center.

Amtrak’s policy changes have also led to the cancellation of planned trips this year by Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 and Southern Pacific 4-8-4 No. 4449.

No Injuries in Southern Indiana CSX Derailment

June 18, 2018

Some residents of Princeton, Indiana, were evacuated after a CSX train derailed Sunday night and caught fire. Officials said no one was injured as a result of the derailment.

CSX officials said 23 cars derailed, including five cars carrying propane. Two of the burning cars were reported to be hauling frozen food.

Those evacuated live in a mile radius of the derailment in the city located 25 miles north of Evansville on the former Chicago & Eastern Illinois mainline that once hosted crack streamliners headed to Florida and the Gulf Coast.

Police also closed U.S. Route 41. The train had two locomotives, 89 loaded cars and nine empty cars and derailed at about 8:10 p.m.

The Gibson County Sheriff’s office said it received several calls about a derailment and explosion near Old U.S. 41 and Caniff Trailer Court.

Rowlands to Present at June ARRC Meeting

June 18, 2018

Rick Rowlands will present the program at the June 22 meeting of the Akron Railroad Club.

Rick is heavily involved with preservation work and that will be the focus of his program.

Besides his own Mahoning Valley Industrial Heritage museum he does a lot of traveling to help move various engines.

Most recently he has been involved in prepping Nickel Plate Road No. 757 for its move to the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum in Bellevue, from its current home in Pennsylvania.

Rick also hopes to be able to make a big announcement at the June ARRC meeting.

The meeting will begin with a short business meeting at 8 p.m. followed by the program at approximately 8:30 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.

Rush Hour at WC Tower

June 18, 2018

We hosted a “Rush Hour in the Tower” event in the old Erie Railroad’s “WC” Tower in Waldwick. New Jersey, on June 15. For a $20 donation, our guests had access to the tower and surrounding area from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A half dozen photographers were treated to about 40 trains during that period, featuring six types of motive power and two commuter agencies.

Norfolk Southern even rushed the local back right before the flood gates opened. It was a nice event and everyone went away happy.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

Track Work to Disrupt Lake Shore Limited

June 18, 2018

Track work being performed by Keolis/Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority will affect operation of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited between Albany, New York, and Boston between June 16 and Aug. 5.

Passengers traveling to Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester and Boston (South Station) on Train No. 448 will get off the train at Albany during the periods of June 15-16, July 27-28, Aug. 3-4 and ride a bus to their destination.

No alternate transportation is being provided to Framingham. Passengers traveling to Boston Back Bay station will disembark from the bus at South Station and be directed to an MBTA or Amtrak commuter train to Back Bay.

On June 16-17, July 28-29 and Aug. 4-5, Train No. 449 will not operate from Boston (South Station) to Albany.

Passengers slated to board at Boston (South Station), Worcester, Springfield and Pittsfield will be provided bus service to Albany.

No alternate transportation is being provided from Boston Back Bay and Framingham. Passengers traveling from Back Bay should board at South Station or travel on alternate dates.

Passengers boarding at South Station and Worcester should go to the Amtrak Information Desk for instructions on boarding the buses.

Worcester passengers will board at the main entrance in front of the station and not at the bus terminal.

Amtrak Launches New Cafe Car Menu in NEC

June 18, 2018

In what could be a preview of what is coming system wide, Amtrak launched new café car fare on June 13 on its Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains.

The new menu includes products from Boar’s Head Brand as well as a variety of other snacks, drinks and sundries.

This included drinks such as Makers Mark®, Cutwater™ Spirits, and LaCroix® sparkling water, and other such food items as Sahale Snacks® and Sweet Street® desserts.

“We are pleased to introduce this new menu featuring Boar’s Head premium products for our customers to enjoy as they travel with us along the Northeast Corridor,” said Amtrak Vice President of Product Development & Customer Experience Peter Wilander in a statement.

“The updated menu features premium sandwiches, salads and snacks, along with some gluten-free and vegan choices to enhance the overall Amtrak travel experience.”

Memorial Day Weekend in Indiana: Part 1

June 18, 2018

First of two parts

As Memorial Day weekend approached the brother and I exchanged ideas for how we would spend the weekend. Several good ideas came to light, but as always the weather forecast would dictate where we would wind up.

By Thursday before the holiday, it was obvious that Northern Indiana was going to be the best way to head.

We agreed that Sunday would be a freight train day and Monday would be a day of passenger trains.

Our weekend began with a late Saturday afternoon departure. We were bound for the Super 8 motel in Goshen, Indiana.

After our free breakfast on Sunday morning we were trackside at the cemetery on the west side of town before 7:30 a.m. We were there a good two minutes when 19K called a medium clear at CP412.

The 19K is a Marion Branch train, one that we chased last Labor Day weekend as part of our “chasing air” adventure.

This normally afternoon train was either really early today or this was yesterday’s train. It didn’t matter; it was a train headed in the right direction at the right time of day. We shot it from the cemetery and the chase was on.

Marion Branch trains don’t run real fast, so getting ahead was not a problem.

We had to let the entire train go by at the road crossing at the cemetery and were still ahead by the time we reached the outskirts of town.

Indiana Route 15 is the chase road south out of Goshen. Our next shot was at MP8. This is right at the New Paris elevator.

You can see from here the distant signal for the CSX diamonds at Milford Junction. The 19K was only looking at an approach.

Milford Junction is much like Attica Junction for Norfolk Southern trains on the Sandusky District in Ohio. If CSX has a train within a hundred miles, you’re not getting across.

We again had to let the entire train go by before we could resume the chase, but not to worry, it was slowing down as the last cars passed by us.

After Milford, we looked for the first county road to the left after leaving town to access Old Route 15 Road. Old 15 Road runs right next to the tracks on the west side from Milford to Leesburg.

We were easily ahead and set up for a shot that features a nice white farm house and red barn.

Again, the whole train had to pass, but they were only making 25 mph and the speed limit on the road is 50 mph.

Even without speeding we should make the grade crossing at the north end of Leesburg. Just in case, I did bend the speed limit a little and we made the crossing easily.

This is important if you want to get the Leesburg elevator shot. The road crosses over to the east side of the tracks for a couple of miles.

We got the Leesburg shot and, again, got across the tracks at the south end of Leesburg siding where the road runs out.

Our next shot would be at the street running in Warsaw. This is the earliest in the day that we’ve gotten a train in Warsaw.

The light was fabulous on this morning as the 19K tiptoed down the street and across the diamonds with the CF&E.

We decided to keep going with the 19K rather than sit on our laurels at Warsaw. Route 15 stays with the tracks to Silver Lake, then the tracks cut across to the southeast to North Manchester, where we picked up Indiana Route 13.

We found a nice spot at Rose Hill, a thriving community of four houses and not much else for our next shot.

We were off from here to North Manchester for a shot at the elevator there. The elevator is at the southern edge of town just after the tracks cross the Eel River.

Last Labor Day weekend, Route 13 had a bridge out and we had to detour around it to continue the chase. There were no detours today and we were again in hot pursuit down Route 13.

We got another shot at the fertilizer plant in Urbana and another at the grain elevator in Speicherville (pronounced Spikerville).

The town of Wabash was next. We found the over/under between the Marion Branch and the former Wabash last year, but it was shadowed in and the train never showed. I followed the same route to the over/under that we did before.

Follow Route 13 into town and after crossing the Wabash take the first street to the left and just keep going straight.

The city street turns into Lagro Road. This time we found the over/under bathed in sunshine and we had the right radio channel for the former Wabash (160.380).

The 19K was coming through the connection to the Wabash, known as the NS Huntington District.

As we set up for the shot, horns to the south got our attention. Train 368 was approaching. They stopped just short of Lagro Road where we were.

When the 19K went by overhead the two crews exchanged some chatter. It seems that 369 was coming south behind the 19K and the 368 was getting re-crewed here.

Armed with that information, we gave up on the 19K and returned to the Marion Branch between Wabash and Speicherville.

Finding a spot that could be shot in either direction depended on which train showed up first. We waited and waited . . and waited . . . and waited.

All of a sudden our eventful morning had come to a screeching halt. Lunch time was now upon us and the Subway just down the road was calling me. The sun was getting high in the sky, so we went for vittles.

After lunch we began trolling north, not sure if either train had passed; the radio was suddenly rather quiet. As we got back near North Manchester we began to pick up 368 on the radio.

It was ahead of us. We kept moving north and eventually caught up to the 368 in the siding at Claypool.

The 369 was sitting there as well and had to have been there the better part of four hours waiting for this meet.

More chatter on the radio indicated that a westbound on the former Nickel Plate Road that crosses the Marion Branch at Claypool was approaching.

Train 365 turned north on the Marion Branch. It had a single former Burlington Northern Grinstein green SD70 for its power.

We made a beeline for Warsaw and the street running. While we were on the road the Marion Branch Dispatcher indicated to the 365 that it would be holding at Leesburg for the 200 to run around them.

This made for an easy decision; we just waited at Warsaw for Train 200 and then we would head north and intercept both trains again north of Leesburg.

The 200 is a double-stack train; today it was also a one-unit wonder and not very long. That is inefficient by CSX standards, but NS plays by different rules.

After shooting the 200 in the street we were off for Leesburg, to find that the 365 was gone. Somewhere along the way the plans got changed and the run around was called off.

The 200 was now going into the siding at Leesburg for a meet with something else. Since there are no sidings between Leesburg and Goshen, it would be a while before something would come south.

About now the CSX detector at MP 155 announced a train passing it. The diamonds at Miford Junction are at about MP 166 on CSX. The train was a westbound, the Q137.

According to the detector it had over 15,000 feet of train. That’s almost three miles . . . holy cow!

We set up for its passage at the old grain elevator just west of Milford Junction. While we waited we decided that after Q137 passes we were going to head west along the former Baltimore & Ohio.

We started to do this about 10 years ago, but a line of severe thunderstorms cut our trip short as we headed through the storms to drier areas.

We left off at Nappanee, which just happens to be the next town west of Milford.

The Q137 lumbered by doing about 35 mph. We had to wait awhile for the train to clear the crossing that we were at because my Jeep was on the north side of the tracks and we had shot on the south side.

We did not see any other trains as we headed west through Nappanee. We caught up to the Q137 at Bremen.

They were stopped at a red signal looking into the headlight of an eastbound mixed freight at the Bremen crossovers.

An eastbound double stack was coming past the two trains; Q137 would cross over to Main 2 after the double stack cleared.

Before the eastbound could clear up, the dispatcher changed his mind and let another eastbound intermodal come past before turning the Q137 loose.

He also radioed a westbound that they were crossing over at Nappanee to Main 2 and they were going to follow the Q137 west.

Armed with this information, we continued scouting ahead for decent photo spots. They were few and far between in this part of Indiana.

I had heard from others that the former B&O is not very photogenic in spots, and this certainly was one of those spots.

We found the thriving metropolis of Teegarden to be about the size of Rose Hill.

The CSX right-of-way was heavily treed-in and there was no elevator or anything else worth shooting here.

We headed into Walkerton. Here the former B&O crosses the Michigan City branch of the Nickel Plate at a brick tower.

The tower is still standing and it looks surprisingly good considering it is no longer used.

The lighting for photography was right down the nose, made even worse by the westbounds being on Main 2, the south track. Had they been on Main 1 I think the shots could have turned out a little better.

We shot both westbounds here and then continued west across the Indiana countryside.

The former Grant Trunk Western diamonds at Wellsboro  were the next thing we encountered. An eastbound Canadian National train belonging to the current owner of the ex-GTW was  sitting east of town. They were working the elevator at Kingsbury.

Since it was now late afternoon and almost into evening, we decided to hang here for a while until heading north to Michigan City for the night.

We were rewarded with a CSX train each way and a westbound CN. Wellsboro is not very photogenic but we did the best we could.

As the sun began to set, we were heading north on U.S. 421 bound for a hotel in Michigan City. There is a cluster of hotels just north of the interchange of I-94 and U.S. 421.

We chose the Super 8. They had plenty of rooms and we were at the Texas Roadhouse across the parking lot having dinner a few minutes later.

Article by Marty Surdyk