Archive for April, 2009

New Portage County Trail Ideal for Railfanning

April 12, 2009

Want to walk through the former Erie Railroad yard in Kent? Looking for new vistas to photograph CSX trains on the former Baltimore & Ohio? If so, then you need to check out the newest addition to the Portage County Hike & Bike Trail system.

A new trail has opened between Lake Rockwell Road and Crain Street in Kent. Combined with an existing trail that for several years has linked Towner’s Woods Park with Lake Rockwell Road, this means that railfans can view three railroads while hiking or biking the 1.5 miles from Towner’s Woods Park to Kent.

Much of the trail is parallel with the former Erie mainline, which is now operated by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway and owned by the Portage County Port Authority. The new trail addition continues to parallel the ex-Erie for much of its length and passes through the outer edge of the Erie yard site.

There isn’t much left of the yard today. The ABC switches an industry there that receives quite a few tank cars. But otherwise, all the tracks and buildings are gone. That is not to say that there aren’t some relics remaining. Two light towers that illuminated the yard still stand and the new trail passes both.

Look around and you will see concrete foundations where service buildings stood. Also left behind were the concrete support pillars for what appeared to have been a water tank. Now it is surrounded by trees. A concrete booth that may have held a telephone for contacting the dispatcher lies on its side. And there are plenty of pieces of coal and cinders scattered about.

The trail crosses Breakneck Creek and the CSX tracks on bridges that once carried Erie tracks. Photography of eastbound CSX trains from the bridge would work best in the morning when the lighting is more favorable. The CSX tracks come out of a curve here to head in a southeasterly direction. In the distance you can see the Lake Street/Brady Lake Road bridge over CSX, which has been a longtime favorite place for railfans to photograph trains.

Closer to Kent the trail runs next to the CSX tracks and as the tracks come out of a curve and head southward through town along the banks of the Cuyahoga River. Shortly before the trail reaches Crain Avenue, the ex-Erie is on the immediate left and the ex-B&O on the immediate right and below the trail next to the river.

For part of the route along CSX, the vegetation has been stripped away and the utility poles removed, providing a largely unobstructed view of the CSX tracks. This is ideal for photographing westbound trains. Trees and other plants obscure the view closer toward town, although CSX trains can still be seen.

As part of the trail construction, a new parking lot was built just off Lake Rockwell Road by the grade crossing with the ex-Erie. Parking also continues to be available at Towner’s Woods Park, which is adjacent to Norfolk Southern’s Cleveland Line.

This is not a true rails to trails project because no railroad lines have been abandoned. If anything the downsizing of the former Erie made this trail possible by freeing land once devoted to railroad operations.

Although the trail runs side-by-side with the old Erie, don’t expect to see many trains on those tracks. The ABC runs to Ravenna when needed and that isn’t very often. So you will have to use your imagination to “see” the ghosts of Erie and Erie Lackawanna trains on those rails.

Sun, Wind Greet 14 at McKay Day Outing in Berea

April 7, 2009
ARRC members gathered for a group protrait by the Dave McKay memorial. Kneeling are (from left) Richard Thompson and Marty Surdyk. Standing are (from left) Paul Woodring, Dave Mangold, Alex Bruchac, Craig Sanders, Steve McMullen, Clint Ensworth, Peter Bowler and Dennis Taksar. (Photograph by Tim Krogg)

ARRC members gathered for a group protrait by the Dave McKay memorial. Kneeling are (from left) Richard Thompson and Marty Surdyk. Standing are (from left) Paul Woodring, Dave Mangold, Alex Bruchac, Craig Sanders, Steve McMullen, Clint Ensworth, Peter Bowler and Dennis Taksar. (Photograph by Tim Krogg)


Sunny skies and blustery winds greeted the 14 Akron Railroad Club members who turned out on Saturday, April 4 for the fifth annual Dave McKay Day at Berea. They were treated to a steady parade of trains on Norfolk Southern and CSX with more than 40 trains passing through Berea during the time that club members were on hand.

Rick Houck was the first to arrive at 6:45 a.m. followed by Richard Thompson not long after that. However, most members did not get there until late morning or early afternoon. Skies were a mixture of sun and clouds during the morning, but by noon mostly sunny skies had arrived.

Perhaps the most notable operation of the day was when an eastbound coal train parked in the Berea siding on NS and the power, both BNSF units, cut away from the train and eased down to the former BE tower to take on water in the trailing unit. Because the train was bound for the Cleveland Line, an NS unit came out to be theleader because foreign locomotives are not
equipped with a cab signal apparatus suitable for the line.

The annual outing to Berea, held on the first Saturday in April, is in memory of the late Dave McKay, who served as president of the ARRC for 12 years before stepping down in December 2004. The club raised money in 2005 for a plaque to be placed at Berea to memorialize Dave, who often could be found at Berea year around watching and photographing trains before his death in late December 2004.

The following is a list of trains seen by club members with the locomotive power in parenthesis. In instances of just one unit being shown, that was the lead locomotive.

Listed below is a compilation of trains that passed through Berea on Saturday as compiled by Richard Thompson.

E940 – BNSF 5738 – 7:30 AM
M6N – NS 9168 – 7:40 AM
Q140 – CSXT 4738 – 7:50 AM
20Q – NS 9702 – 8:00 AM
Q380 – CSXT 8018 – 8:15 AM
Q386 – CN 5718/SOO 6027 – 8:25 AM
N859 – BNSF 6049 – 8:40 AM
Q123 – CSXT 7789 – 8:45 AM
20R – NS 9847 – 8:55 AM
Q164 – CSXT 7561 – 9:00 AM
23K – NS N/A – 9:00 AM
Q364 – CSXT 802 – 9:15 AM
20G – NS N/A – 9:15 AM
21T – NS 7512 – 9:45 AM
Q377 – CSXT 7696 – 10:00 AM
16N – NS 9490 – 10:30 AM
20E – NS 7632 – 11:00 AM
262 – NS 2734 – 11:15 AM
205 – NS 2752 – 11:20 AM
206 – NS 9653 – 11:40 AM
Q393 – CSXT 7853 – 11:50 AM
V771 – UP 5892 – 12:20 PM
Q351 – UP 5200 – 12:40 PM
261 – NS 2616 – 12:40 PM
20K – NS 9406 – 12:50 PM
Q365 – CSXT 158 – 1:10 PM
145 – NS 7699 – 1:25 PM
??? – NS 8327 – 1:30 PM
416 (PWR) – BNSF 6231 – 1:40 PM
X416 (PWR) – NS 5825 – 2:00 PM
17E – NS 9342 – 3:00 PM
LGT PWR – NS 9363 – 3:30 PM
Q110 – CSXT 5495 – 3:30 PM
416 – NS 5825 – 3:40 PM
16E – NS 8424 – 3:55 PM
25Z – NS 9205 – 4:15 PM
Q161 – CSXT 553 – 4:45 PM
M8A – NS 9972 – 5:00 PM
Q109 – CSXT 5499 – 5:15 PM
Q263 – CSXT 7916 – 5:40 PM

The following list was compiled by Steve McMullen.

13:14  E/B  NS  20K (TOFC)
NS  9406
NS  2771

13:25  E/B  NS  20E  (TOFC)
NS  9970
NS  2768

13:35  W/B CSXT  Q365  (MIXED FRT)
CSXT  158
CSXT  224

13:52  W/B  NS  145  (MIXED FRT)
NS  7699
NS  2550

13:54  W/B NS  ?SYM?  (MIXED FRT)
NS  8357
NS  5416  (Conrail Blue)

14:00  E/B  NS  416  (COAL LOADS)
BNSF  6231
BNSF  5915 (had low water, cut away from train and watered at BE twr)
(Departed Berea at 15:18 – added leader: NS 5825 (CSS equipped GP38-3!)

14:24  W/B NS  LITE PWR
NS  5825  (New CSS leader GP38-3 for outbound 416)

15:00  W/B  NS  11V
NS  9342
NS  9154

15:07  W/B  NS  LITE PWR
NS  9363
NS  9288

15:09  E/B  CSXT  Q110  (TOFC)
CSXT  5495
CSXT  5425
CSXT       3
CSXT  7922
CSXT  7324

15:30  E/B  CSXT  Q122  (TOFC)
CSXT     26
CSXT  7712

15:46  E/B  NS  16E  (MIXED FRT)
NS   8424
NS   9507

15:52  W/B  NS  ?SYM?  (TOFC)
NS  2757
NS  2638

**Dinner Break!, Front Street Tavern, 15:55 – 17:18**

17:19  W/B  CSXT  Q161  (TOFC)
CSXT  553
CSXT  522

17:23  E/B  NS  M8A (MIXED FRT)
NS  9972
NS  9275
NS  2662

17:47  W/B  CSXT  Q109  (TOFC)
CSXT  5499
CSXT  7682
CSXT  5432

18:00  W/B  CSXT  Q263  (MIXED FRT)
CSXT  7916
CSXT  7691

Some of the symbols may be missing, or wrong,
thank the crews who don’t properly call signals!