About 7 p.m., Marty Surdyk was getting worried. He had guaranteed that this year’s Akron Railroad Club picnic would break the record for most trains seen. But it had been a good two hours since a train had passed by the picnic site at the former New York Central station in Olmsted Falls, Ohio. The radio had been quiet.
Since 8:30 a.m. that morning 21 trains had passed by, which tied the record set a few years ago at Warwick Park in Clinton next to the CSX Chicago-Pittsburgh line. But Marty had boasted that this year’s event would break the record.
The 22nd train finally passed by about a half-hour later. For good measure, the 23rd and 24th trains also made an appearance before the picnic closed shop for the day around 9 p.m.
Twenty-nine ARRC members and their guests attended this year’s picnic for a total of 44 attendees. They feasted on 73 hamburgers and 64 hot dogs and untold numbers of chips, cookies and other picnic fare. By the time Marty, a.k.a. Chef Marte, dropped the fires from the grill, he had burned through a bag and a half of charcoal.
NS traffic was somewhat atypical during the picnic, held on Sunday, July 26., 2009. There were no coal trains and no coke trains. The eastbound RoadRailer sauntered past, but not its westbound counterpart.
As for locomotive power, it was almost exclusively of NS vintage. The only foreign unit seen was a BNSF locomotive that was a trailing unit on an ethanol train, the Z9Q, at 12:14 p.m. That same train had an NS unit in the lead and a CSX locomotive trailing.
Another CSX unit made an appearance on another ethanol train, which was the first train of the day spotted by an ARRC member. That was recorded by Rick Houck who OSed the 69Q at 8:42 a.m.
There were a number of former Conrail units still dressed in blue that came by, but none of them were lead units on this day.
A third ethanol train, the 68Q, slipped past at 1:22 p.m. Otherwise, the traffic was a steady diet of intermodal and manifest freights. Traffic was split dead even with 12 eastbounds and 12 westbounds. Interestingly, the eastbounds dominated in the morning and the westbounds late in the day.
The Olmsted Falls depot is owned by the Cuyahoga Valley and West Shore Model Railroad club. Todd Vander Sluis did double duty, opening the station as a CV&WS member but also attending as an ARRC member.
ARRC members had the opportunity to watch the CW&WS’s model railroad in action during the day. A Wheeling & Lake Erie model SD40 with sound spent the afternoon idling at the club’s engine terminal.