Welcome to Akron Railroads

March 2, 2009

Welcome to Akron Railroads, formerly known as the Akron Railroad Club Blog, a site once connected with the Akron Railroad Club. The ARRC meets every month but December in Akron, Ohio, at the New Horizons Christian Church.

This site is not formally connected with the ARRC but instead serves as an archive of past postings about ARRC meetings and activities as well as railfanning adventures and photographs posted by some members.

Also included in the site are historical overviews of the railroads of Akron and Northeast Ohio as well as some news and information about current railroad operations in that region.

For more up to date information about the ARRC, visit the club’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AkronRailroadClub/

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CVSR Summer Schedule to Resume June 1

May 24, 2019

Operations of the National Park Scenic of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad will resume on June 1.

The Scenic will operate two round trips between Rockside Road station in Indepence and Northside station in Akron on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and three round trips between those points on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays.

The train will not operate on Monday and Tuesday, which is a reversion to the schedule pattern of previous summers. Last year the CVSR featured Tuesday service.

Currently the Scenic is operating to round trips between Rockside and Akron on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays that stop at all intermediate stations except Boston Mill.

The Boston Mill station is temporarily closed through October due to construction of a nearby visitor’s center for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The Scenic will operate this Monday (May 27) on Memorial Day. Bike Aboard service has also resumed for the season.

Fundraiser to Benefit Reading 2100 Restoration

May 24, 2019

Reading 2100 sits inside the former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse in Cleveland on May 10, 2019, as it undergoes restoration to operating condition.

Steam impresario Ross Rowland will headline a fundraising dinner on Sept. 21 in Cleveland to raise money for the restoration of Reading Company T-1 No. 2100.

Rowland will give a presentation at the event about his career in railroad preservation ranging from his work on the American Freedom Train, the Chessie Steam Specials and his involvement in an earlier restoration of the 2100.

The event, which begins at 4:30 p.m., will be held at the former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse that is now the home of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society.

Aside from a dinner catered by Ohio City BBQ, attendees will be invited to view the MRPS’s collection of equipment and take a short ride on a Pullman car that stared in the movie The Natural. The 2100 will also be on display.

Tickets are $99 per person and seating is limited. Members of the American Steam Railroad, Midwest Railway Preservation Society, and Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society will be offered a discounted ticket price of $89.

For ticket information contact brian.smith@americansteamrailroad.org for the discount link.

All proceeds from the event will help with the restoration of Reading 2100, which is being undertaken by American Steam Railroad.

Something Special From CSX in NEO

May 23, 2019

CSX recently repainted two of its ES44AH locomotives to honor veterans and first responders.

The first responders unit is numbered 911 and named Spirit of Our First Responders. Spirit of Our Veterans is number 1776.

Since being released the two units have traveled as a pair. They recently passed through Northeast Ohio, going east on Q020 in the early morning hours and returning west on Wednesday on the Q017.

It was while pulling the latter train that most NEO photographer captured the pair.

Among the many Akron Railroad Club members who went trackside to get the 911 and the 1776 was Edward Ribinskas, who captured the Q017 at Perry in mid afternoon.

As this was posted about 7 p.m. on Thursday, the 1776 and 911 were leading eastbound stack train Q015, which should pass through Akron in around sunset or later.

New Perspective in Berea

May 19, 2019

Thousands of photographs of trains have been made in Berea over the years.

Most were probably made from or near the parking lot of the former Big Four depot, which is now a restaurant.

The photographer has stood just south of the CSX tracks to capture trains on those rails or the nearby Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

I know all about that because I’ve made countless such images.

Recently, though, I found a new angle I hadn’t considered before. I was walking on the bridge carrying Front Street over both railroads.

An eastbound CSX intermodal train came along and the idea came to me in a flash to get the train going past the depot.

Although I had a clear line of sight, there was a row of tall vegetation along the tracks. That hinders the image somewhat, but there was enough of an opening in it to get a reasonably open view of the lead locomotive’s nose.

This is, I believe, train Q020 and it has a distributed power unit toward the middle of the consist.

Rounding the Bend in Berea

May 10, 2019

Amtrak Train No. 48 was late, two and a half hours late. That might not have been good news for the passengers, but it was great news for me.

It meant an uncommon opportunity to photograph Amtrak in daylight in Cleveland.

The Lake Shore Limited lost its time departing Chicago, where it didn’t get out of Union Station until 12:26 a.m., which is 2 hours and 56 minutes off schedule.

I don’t know why there was such a late departure, but there was.

By the time No. 48 got to Berea it had made up some of the last time, but not much. It would arrive in New York City at 9:21 p.m., 2 hours and 46 minutes down.

The train had its usual summer consist. The Boston section had a sleeper, cafe car and two coaches. The New York section had four coaches, Viewliner dining car Dover, two sleepers and a baggage car. Viewliner dining car Springfield was dead heading on the rear of the train.

Up front were the customary two P42DC locomotives.

McKay Day 2019

May 5, 2019

There was still some fog hanging in the air as CSX intermodal train Q020 passed through Berea during the 2019 Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day.

A variety of atmospheric conditions have greeted those participating in the annual Dave McKay Day outing to Berea since the first one began in a snowstorm in 2005.

Add rain and fog to the list.

Traditionally, the McKay Day outing was held on the first Saturday of April. But this year the officers decided to make it the first Saturday in May.

That’s wasn’t a bad idea, but this year it didn’t work. The first Saturday in April had much better weather.

Fog gripped Berea just after sunrise on May 4, 2019. I arrived around 7:20 a.m. and figured that maybe I could get some special effects images due to the fog.

However, there wasn’t enough fog to create any special effects and by the time the first train came through — CSX eastbound stack train Q020 — the fog had begun lifting.

For about two hours I was the only ARRC member on hand. Then I was joined by Bill Kubas, Rick Houck and Paul Woodring. Former members Alex Bruchac and Dennis Taksar joined just later in the day.

The train action was fairly stead with no hour-long lulls. There were a few trains with the usual suspects of foreign power, including BNSF, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National.

A fair number of Union Pacific units came through, but all were trailing.

No special interest locomotives made an appearance unless you count the Erie heritage unit that came through on the lead of 21M in the middle of the night when no one was around.

For the most part it was just the usual assortment of traffic you can expect to see in Berea during daylight hours on any given day.

CSX is making greater use of distributed power, which we saw on crude oil, intermodal and manifest freights.

The weather never improved much during the day. It was cloudy and cool, not ideal conditions for making photographs. For the most part, my camera stayed in its bag during the day.

It was a nice day, though, to have conversation. Socializing is, of course, one of the main purposes of these events.

Although the event is named after the late David McKay, we never talked about him during our conversations. Maybe that’s to be expected given that he’s been gone for 14 years.

I did think about Dave as I drifted westward on the grassy strip next to the CSX tracks.

I noticed that some shine on the lettering on the memorial plaque commemorating Dave is starting to wear off.

I also wondered what happened to that simple folding chair he used to sit on while awaiting the next train. He’d place that chair under a tree that still stands near his memorial.

Presumably, the McKay Day outing will continue in 2020. With attendance being very light in recent years it’s not what it used to be.

McKay Day was traditionally first ARRC outing of the year. Whatever happens to the McKay Day down the road, one thing will remain the same. There will still be lot of trains passing Dave’s memorial in Berea.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A few flats cars of vehicles was in the consist of Norfolk Southern train 14N. Are these military vehicles?

An eastbound CSX manifest freight with a cut of grain hoppers behind the motive power.

A pair of Canadian National locomotives headed a westbound CSX auto rack train.

Dave No Doubt Approved

April 5, 2019

In my mind’s eye it was just a couple of years ago when I would drive to Berea on Saturday mornings and spot a man sitting in a folding chair beneath a tree watching for trains of Norfolk Southern or CSX.

That man was Dave McKay and when he wasn’t traveling to chase trains elsewhere you often could find him on weekends sitting in that chair in Berea.

Dave died in late December 2004. That’s 14 years ago so it only seems like it was just yesterday.

In 2005, Dave’s many friends in the Cleveland railfanning community arranged to create a memorial to Dave near the spot where he often set up his chair.

The Akron Railroad Club, which Dave served as president of for 12 years, started a tradition of railfanning in Berea on the first Saturday in April in memory of Dave.

Much has changed since Dave’s death, although the ownership of the tracks through Berea is not among those changes.

Dave didn’t live long enough to see the 2012 roll out by Norfolk Southern of its fleet of heritage locomotives but if he had I’m sure he would have made images of all of them rolling through Berea.

Knowing how much Dave used to travel in his younger years he probably photographed all or nearly all of the heritage liveries when they were used by the NS predecessor railroads that they commemorate.

I can’t even guess how many thousands of images that Dave made of Conrail trains at Berea and elsewhere.

On a nice early spring afternoon I ventured to Berea to photograph the NS Conrail heritage unit.

It was the sole motive power pulling train 14N, which was parked in the Berea siding awaiting a new crew.

It had arrived about 9:20 a.m. and didn’t move until 4 p.m. I wasn’t in Berea all that time, but I did spend three hours waiting.

By the time the 14N got moving the lighting conditions were adverse.

Would Dave have made the image anyway? Probably. And so did I.

I walked down to the McKay Memorial and incorporated it into the image that appears above.

The ARRC will conduct its annual Dave McKay Dave this year on May 4. The current leadership decided to move to event to May in hopes of having better weather.

I’ve attended all 14 McKay Days held thus far and I know how the weather can range from feeling like summer to feeling like mid January.

But traditions die hard and tomorrow I plan to be in Berea out of nostalgia. I should be at the “official” McKay Day next month, but going to Berea on the first Saturday of April has become a tradition I’d like to keep while I can.

Back by Popular Demand NOT!

April 5, 2019

Back in late November 2018 I wrote what I expected to be the last post for this blog.

I had conducted my last meeting as president of the Akron Railroad Club and a new president has been elected to replace me.

The blog I had created in 2009 to promote the ARRC would remain live but I wouldn’t create any new content. Besides, I would be moving out of state within a few months and would no longer be active in the ARRC.

I expected that traffic would quickly dry up. But that hasn’t quite been the case.

Because the site continues to get a fair amount of spam comments, I visit it every few days to clean out the spam.

In doing that I’ve been amazed that the site continue to have a fairly high level of visits despite there no being any new material posted here four months.

My thinking was to allow the site to remain live as an archive of ARRC activities and other historic information about the railroads of Northeast Ohio.

But no news would be posted about the ARRC or the region’s railroads.

I’ve since rethought that somewhat. I am not going to resume posting news about railroads or the ARRC.

The current leadership of the ARRC has a Facebook page and I see communicating with members as the responsibility of leadership, not former leaders and rank and file members.

But if people are still going to come to the site then I will on occasion give them something new to read.

That will be a mix of memories of ARRC events and activities and a few of my own memories of railfanning in Northeast Ohio whether connected to the ARRC or not.

I won’t necessarily post every week. There may be some long gaps between postings.

But I look forward to walking down memory lane with you and remembering what used to be.

End of the Line for This ARRC Blog

November 26, 2018

Back in early 2009 I recognized that the Akron Railroad Club needed a better presence online.

A member had put up a website devoted to the ARRC, but technical difficulties and other issues prevented that site from being effective or up to date.

I learned from a former colleague of my wife about WordPress.com. That ex-colleague helped me set up what became akronrrclub.wordpress.com.

That ex-colleague also offered me a useful piece of advice as we set up the blog. Treat it a publication that comes out on a regular schedule.

That meant providing content on a regular basis just as newspapers, magazines, newsletters and broadcasters do.

At the time I saw this site as doing nothing more than providing news about the Akron Railroad Club and its members.

I quickly learned that the ARRC doesn’t make much news or make it very often.

What news is did make was supplemented by some members providing photographs and stories about their railfanning adventures.

But those contributions could be hit and miss and I sensed that more content was needed if the site was to fulfill my vision for it.

That led me to begin posting news about the railroad industry, most often about railroads serving Ohio and the immediate surrounding states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan.

At times I also ventured into other transportation news. I have a particular interest in airline service so I often wrote about that, too.

It became part of my daily routine to check my usual sources of news about the railroad industry and write the posts. It was a good way to stay current on what was happening in the industry.

But now that has come to an end. No, the railroad industry is not going anywhere but I am.

As those who know me already know, I’ll be moving away from Northeast Ohio sometime next year and I have chosen to retire as president of the Akron Railroad Club.

I’ve said for some time that when I retired, this blog would also be retired.

A new crop of ARRC officers was elected on Nov. 16. The ARRC constitution and bylaws are silent on exactly when their terms of office begin.

As a practical matter, that date is Jan. 1 because they are elected to serve during a specified calendar year.

As I see it, though, my last duties as ARRC president came to a close when the November meeting adjourned. There remain some administrative matters to address as part of the transition to new leadership but otherwise the ARRC will be dormant until January, the upcoming end of year dinner this Saturday notwithstanding.

I am no longer posting railroad industry news to this blog. I maintain another blog titled Amtrak in the Heartland that is devoted to intercity rail passenger service in the United States.

Some of the news that I once posted at akronrrclub.wordpress.com can now be found at csanders429.wordpress.com.

I once said that I would eventually be removing this site and that may happen in time. For now I’m going to let it remain live as an archive of the years that I was an officer of the ARRC.

There is also some historical information on this site about the ARRC and the railroads that serve or once served Akron.

But no longer will this site be used to support the Akron Railroad Club. I believe that communication with members and the public is the responsibility of an organization’s leadership.

It will be up to the next class of officers to decide how best to communicate about club affairs.

I’ve had a blast overseeing this site. Some ARRC members were regular contributors and I appreciate the photographs and stories that Roger Durfee, Ed Ribinskas, Jeff Troutman, Todd Dillon, Bob Farkas, Richard Thompson, the late Richard Jacobs and others contributed over the years.

Although WordPress provides blog administrators with certain statistics about how many visitors and views a site receives each day those don’t show the identity of those readers.

It has long been my impression that many, if not most, of those who were regular visitors to this site are not ARRC members. Many are simply railfans who found the information presented interesting enough to view.

Others probably found the blog while doing a search on Google. On occasion, others have linked to this blog specific content that caught their eye.

I’ve heard from some of the regulars at times and it always felt good to know that they appreciated what I was doing.

Akronrrclub.wordpress.com has always been and always was destined to be a tiny goldfish in the railfan world pond.

The number of hits that content on this site received is minuscule compared to such sites as Trainsmag.com, Railpictures.net and Trainorders.com.

And then there is Facebook, which is the 100 pound gorilla overshadowing everyone who posts content online at sites such as this one.

The higher visibility of those sites probably goes a long way in explaining why contributions from ARRC members and others have been relatively few and far between, particularly in recent years.

Aside from csanders429.wordpress.com, I maintain another blog known as Seeing Things, Saying Things at craigsanders.wordpress.com.

That blog was created as a way to promote my railroad history books, but has received virtually no attention. Of late I’ve used it to post photographs of things other than railroads.

I hope to spend more time in the coming year developing that website as well as my site Amtrak in the Heartland. Hence that is another reason for my moving away from maintaining akronrrclub.wordpress.com.

Of course I’ll miss my routine of maintaining this site, but it is time to move on. Likewise, I’m going to miss interacting with the members of the ARRC and attending its meetings and events.

I’ll always have my memories of what great times those were. I might even visit this site down the road when I’m feeling nostalgic.

It Was as Good as I Expected

November 26, 2018

Last July during a visit to the Big Bend station of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, we talked about how the area next to the trail in the Sand Creek Metropark in Akron would make a nice location to photograph Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.

I filed that thought away and decided to check it out about two months later.

Until this past July, I had never photographed CVSR operations in this part of Akron. There is much to recommend it.

The layout of the area makes it more ideal for morning rather than after photography.

The trail is right next to tracks and has a wood railing providing separation.

There is an S curve here, which if you compose your image just right adds some interest to your photograph.

I ended up photographing the 765 here on two different days. Shown is the ferry move to Akron on Sept. 30.