Archive for June, 2010

Jacobs Photo Published in Railpace

June 29, 2010

The eastbound Orrville Railroad Heritage Society "Museum Flyer" behind Wheeling & Lake Erie No. 102 and ORHS No. 471 arrives at Monroeville to load passengers for the return trip to Orrville on May 8, 2010.

Akron Railroad Club Richard Jacobs had a photography published in the July 2010 issue of Railpace magazine of an Orrville Railroad Heritage Society excursion train. The photo, which was published on Page 21 in the Lake Shore News section, shows the Museum Flyer excursion train at Monroeville.

The Flyer operated from Orrville to Monroeville with passengers then taken by bus to Bellevue to visit the Mad River & Nickel Plate Road Museum.

Railpace is a  monthly magazine is devoted to news and features of railroads in the northeastern United States.

On a related note, Jacobs also had an article that he wrote published in The Headlight, the newsletter of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway. That article, published in the June issue, a shippers special that the then fledgling W&LE operated in October 1990. The W&LE was less than six months old after been spun off by Norfolk Southern and wanted to showcase the re-opening of the Cleveland line of the railroad that NS had allowed to lie dormant for years.  The Wheeling borrows a steam locomotive from Jerry Jacobson and hauled the passengers in style.

NS Expects Sandusky District Traffic Growth

June 28, 2010

Details are starting to emerge about Norfolk Southern’s plans for improvements to be made to the Sandusky District in Ohio. Plans to build a connection at Bucyrus in the southwest connection of the crossing of the NS line with the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern remain on hold due to the down economy. However, the railroad has acquired the land needed for the connection.

Other plans include construction this year of three new tracks at the Rickenbacker Intermodal Terminal near Columbus. Located adjacent to the Rickenbacker International Airport, NS transfers shipping contains between trucks and trains here.

The Sandusky District, which extends between Sandusky and Columbus, is part of the NS’s Heartland Corridor between Chicago and the port of Hampton Roads in the Virginia Tidewater region. NS expects to shave 200 miles and a day’s transit time for intermodal shipments between Chicago and the East Coast by using the Heartland Corridor.

Once the corridor opens, NS is expected to shift to the corridor some intermodal freight that now moves via Cleveland and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, over former Conrail routes. New traffic is also expected to use the Sandusky District, including double-stack intermodal trains to and from Cincinnati.

NS said last week that it expects to spend $6.1 million to raise clearances at five locations between Columbus and Sharonville, Ohio, and to add tracks at the Rickenbacker terminal in Columbus. The project is being funded in part with $3.6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, along with money from NS and the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments.

Bellevue is already a key hub for NS in Ohio and is expected to take on even more significance with additional manifest freight trains making their way through the city. NS plans to expand its Bellevue Yard by building a double hump, more departure and receiving tracks, and a loop track for eastbound trains.

H. Roger Grant’s Latest Book Released

June 19, 2010

H. Roger Grant’s latest book, Twilight Rails: The Final Era of Railroad Building in the Midwest, has been released by the University of Minnesota Press. The book provides case studies of eight railroads that built in the Midwest early in the 20th century as the nation’s railroad building era was coming to a close.

Grant, who is a life member of the Akron Railroad Club, writes in Twilight Rails that although a vast network of rails covered the nation by 1900, some still believed that the nation’s railroad network was far from complete.

This was particularly the case in small towns in the Midwest that lacked rail service. Civic leaders lobbied hard to attract steam or electric railways to their community. Twilight Rails notes that the success of these late-building railroads was mixed. Some enjoyed a degree of success, but others were financial failures even before the coming of dependable highway transportation made them obsolete.

Among the successes that Grant writes about was the Akron, Canton & Youngstown, which became a viable short-line road that lasted until its 1964 merger with the Norfolk & Western Railway. Much of the former AC&Y, which was headquartered in Akron, still remains in service today as the modern Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway.

Grant notes in the introduction to Twilight Rails that many historians have considered railroads built in the early 20th century to be examples of unwise business ventures. However, Grant finds that these railroads provided much-needed transportation to the communities that they served and they were much celebrated when they opened for business.

Aside from providing transportation, these railroads pumped money into local economies during their construction phase and provided better access to markets for farmers and manufacturers. Land values increased and having a railroad inspired local businesses to expand. Grant argues that even the least successful railroads managed to significantly improve their local economies.

Grant is the Kathryn and Calhoun Lemon Professor of History at Clemson University. He is the author of numerous books on railroad history, including Erie Lackawanna: The Death of an American Railroad. Grant is also an avid collector of railroad public timetables.

The book is available in hardback and retails for $39.95. The ISBN is 978-0-8166-6562-4. For further information or to order the book from the publisher, click on the link below.

Unit Coal Trains in Northeast Ohio

June 12, 2010

A CSX westbbound loaded coal train of DKPX hoppers enters the Sterling, Ohio, interlocking at 2013 hours on June 2, 2010. Ties are piled ready for installation on the CL&W subdivision. (Photographs by Richard Jacobs)

As I have been out railfanning lately, I’ve photographed two separate unit coal trains passing through our area of Northeastern Ohio.

One was on the W&LE. I first heard it called on the scanner. I knew it was not the usual W&LE train due to the BNSF locomotive numbers. On Sunday, May 14, 2010, I caught it eastbound at the Ohio Route 57 crossing just south of Orrville. It was a 12,000- to 16,000-ton train of 125 cars.

I later caught the returning empties on a different train westbound at Creston on Wednesday, May 26.

I found out from the Wheeling that it is a Powder River Coal train handed off from NS at Bellevue to the Wheeling. It travels on the W&LE to Rayland on the Ohio River. There is a train to barge transload facility there. The coal is taken by barge to power plants on the river.

The second unit coal train I saw and photographed was on CSX at Sterling. It was a westbound led by CSX No. 533 on Wednesday, June 2. The T388-31 train was loaded, with a mix of DKPX (Duke Power) and CSX hoppers, mostly DKPX.

I found out from Tony Dannemiller that it started in Newell, Pennsylvania, and ended in Terrell, North Carolina, at the Duke Power plant. This is a roundabout routing for sure. It goes westbound through Sterling to Greenwich and then travels via Columbus and Russell, Kentucky, over the former C&O east to the CSX route that serves North Carolina south of Richmond, Virginia.

Not all unit coal trains in our area are Powder River ones. The CSX loaded coal train that I caught at Sterling had coal that had been mined in Pennsylvania.

There is something about a long train of matched loaded hoppers of coal that inspires my railfan photography. I don’t have to go to Wyoming either!

 Richard Jacobs

A W&LE unit coal train is led eastbound by BNSF No. 8947 at MP 123 (Route 57) on the Brewster Subdivision on May 4, 2010. The train of Powder River coal is received from NS at Bellevue for delivery to the rail-barge facility at Rayland on the Ohio River.

BNSF SD75MAC No. 8878 leads a westbound empty Powder River coal train into Creston on May 26, 2010. The train is coming from the rail-barge transload facility at Rayland, Ohion, on the Ohio River. It will deliver the cars to NS at Bellevue for westward return.