Archive for July, 2010

J. Gary Dillon Named ARRC Life Member

July 26, 2010

Akron Railroad Club President Craig Sanders (left) presents a plaque to J. Gary Dillon naming him a life member of the ARRC. The honor was made during the ARRC's July meeting. (Photographs by Peter Bowler)

J. Gary Dillon, a member of the Akron Railroad Club since 1947, was named a life member of the club during the July 23, 2010, club meeting. The honor was announced during the program and caught Dillon by surprise.

ARRC President Craig Sanders was showing a series of photographs of Akron streetcars and ARRC outings involving traction. Suddenly, the program shifted to a proclamation citing Dillon for his many years of service to the club and ended with naming him as president.

Dillon has served as vice president since 1975 and has held every office in the club except Bulletin Editor. He has served as an ARRC officer in a nearly unbroken line since being elected club treasurer in 1948. Dillon served as ARRC president in 1958, 1959, 1967, 1968 and 1969.

He joined the club on June 26, 1947, at age 17. He credits the late Kenneth Richards as having been instrumental in encouraging him to join the ARRC and in providing him with information about railroad operations.

After being presented a plaque, Dillon took a knife and cut a cake that had been ordered and customized for the occasion. The 40 ARRC members present at the meeting then enjoyed cake and ice cream before the program resumed.

To read a profile of J. Gary Dillon republished from the November 2006 issue of the ARRC Bulletin, click on the link below.

J. Gary Dillon poses with the cake ordered to celebrate his being named a life member of the Akron Railroad Club.

ARRC Honors Clint Ensworth

July 26, 2010

Akron Railroad Club President Craig Sanders presents an award to Clint Ensworth at the club's July 23, 2010, meeting. (Photographs by Peter Bowler)

The Akron Railroad Club honored Clinton Ensworth Jr. by presenting him with a certificate of appreciation during the club’s July 23, 2010, meeting. A proclomation read by ARRC President Craig Sanders cited Ensworth’s long-time service to the club.

Since joining the ARRC in 1968, Ensworth has hosted the club for picnics at his Medina County home and invited club members out to visit and ride on his Pittsburgh, Akron & Western miniature railroad. Most recently, Ensworth invited ARRC members to attend his annual meet at the PA&W, held July 17-18.

Ensworth has also mentored several younger ARRC members, some of whom have gone on to become railroaders.

Clint Ensworth Jr. holds his certificate of appreciation while standing with his son, Clint Ensworth III,, during the July 23, 2010, Akron Railroad Club meeting.

In Memory of Jerome “Jerry” Pennecke

July 26, 2010

Akron Railroad Club member Jerome “Jerry” Pennecke, 73, died on June 29, 2010, at his home. Pennecke has been a member of the ARRC for the past two years. He formerly worked at a train store in Cuyahoga Falls and was particulary interested in the Baltimore & Ohio and the Erie railroads.

An Akron native, Pennecke long had lived on Akron’s North Hill. He worked for Crest Bakery for 35 years before retiring. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army.

Pennecke is survived by a daughter, Dianne Lutz of Akron; a son, John Pennecke of Columbus; and two granddaughters. He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Pennecke.

Bird’s Eye View of Jacobson’s Roundhouse

July 20, 2010

If you were a bird or owned a small plane and could fly over Sugar Creek, Ohio, this is what you would see at Jerry Jacobson's roundhouse that is currently under construction. Soon, steam locomotives and other vintage railroad equipment will sit on the turntable. (Photograph courtesy of John B. Corns)

What’s New at Berea?

July 19, 2010

The Front Street bridge project is getting ahead of schedule. The north portion over the Norfolk Southern mainline has the concrete deck near completion and is coming along nicely.  A worker checking on things Sunday (July 18, 2010) said they are pleased with the timeline and the “nice but hot” weather.  The fence on some portions of the bridge is not as tall or made like the fence directly over the tracks so you can get pictures of the area, but it will be at an angle north or south of the two mainline tracks.

One of my fears of the Bagley Road and Front Street projects was the elimination of the crossings, thus giving CSX a rather long area to stop trains and not cause roadway problems.  Now when there’s work at Parma or congestion due to the tunnel near CP 8 or CP 9 trains are already stopping at the Berea interlocking, blocking the view of other CSX or NS action.  This is similar to the “CSX wall” that appears in Willard.  This morning an eastbound blocked the view for over an hour. Later in the day, another train stopped but, fortunately, was east of the area.

I noted that several people then went to the west end of the interlock and parked at the Baldwin- Wallace College lot. Railfans have been asked not to park there and leave the area. Trash thrown about in the area is not going to help matters, either, so we’ll see what happens.

Article by Dan Davidson

In Memory of Al Chesnik (1946-2010)

July 12, 2010

Long-time Akron Railroad Club member Albin (Al) T. Chesnik died at 1:53 a.m. on Sunday (July 11, 2010) at University Hospitals in Cleveland after a long battle with cancer. Chesnik, 63, who resided in Walton Hills, Ohio, joined the ARRC in 2000. He was also a member of the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts and the Cuyahoga Valley & West Shore Model Railroad Club.

Chesnik worked as supervisor of the records department of the Common Pleas–Appellate division of the Office of the Clerk of the Cuyahoga County Court system. He attended Kent State University.

ARRC secretary Tim Krogg recalled that Chesnik had a fondness for the Erie Railroad (later the Erie Lackawanna) that stemmed from his childhood days when he would observe operations near his home of an Erie iron ore transfer terminal. He also had an interest in the Pennsylvania Railroad and was an avid model railroader.

Chesnik was born on October 14, 1946. He is survived by his mother, Dorothy V. (Blank) Chesnik; two sisters, Lauren T. Diorie and Beth Svec.; and four nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Albin T. Chesnik.

Services will be at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday at Fortuna Funeral Home, 7076 Brecksville Road. The funeral liturgy will be at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Visitation will be 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Memorials may be made to the University Hospitals Ireland Cancer Center or the Cuyahoga Valley & West Shore Model Railroad Club.

NS Eyes Launch of Steam Excursion Program

July 1, 2010

Norfolk Southern is eying the launch of a steam excursion program that could begin as early as this fall. The company announced on Wednesday (June 20, 2010) that it is negotiating with the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum of Chattanooga, Tennessee, on the terms of what NS described as a “limited schedule of steam locomotive event appearances and passenger excursions.” 

NS said the program, to be called  “21st Century Steam,” would highlight milestones in rail history and provide an opportunity for audiences to learn about today’s safe and service-oriented freight railroads.  Three steam locomotives would be used to pull the trains.

  • Southern Railway 4501:  Built in 1911 by Baldwin Locomotive Works, 4501 served Southern Railway in freight service in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana, before being sold to a short line railroad.  No. 4501 was retired from revenue service in 1963 and enjoyed a second career in the excursion program operated by Southern Railway and Norfolk Southern from 1966 until 1994.  This Mikado superheated class locomotive has 63-inch driving wheels.
  •  Southern Railway 630:  Built in 1904 at the Richmond, Virginia., works of American Locomotive Company, this Consolidation-type locomotive has traveled throughout the Southeast, often in the company of 4501 and sister locomotive 722.  An extensive six-year rehabilitation to Federal Railroad Administration standards is being completed at TVRM’s Soule Shops complex in Chattanooga.
  •  Tennessee Valley Railroad 610:  Built in 1952 by Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton for the U.S. Army, 610 has been the mainstay of TVRM steam operations since 1990.  It also appeared on several Norfolk Southern steam excursions from 1990 to 1993.  No. 610, also a Consolidation type, was one of the last steam locomotives built in the U.S.

 “This is the right time for steam to ride the Norfolk Southern rails,” said Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman in a news release.  “We have a fascinating history, and we have a compelling message about how today’s railroads support jobs, competition, and the economy.  It is a forward-looking message that resonates with people everywhere.”  

 “21st Century Steam can help introduce historic and modern railroading to a broad new audience of supporters,” said TVRM President Tim Andrews in the same news release.  “We are pleased to be developing this relationship with Norfolk Southern for the purpose of preserving and interpreting the steam age, and of bringing today’s railroad closer to people young and old, in communities large and small.”

The 21st Century Steam  program would mark a number of anniversaries. 2011 will be the 4501’s 100th birthday and TVRM’s 50 anniversary.  2012 will mark Norfolk Southern’s 30th anniversary.  

The initial appearance of 21st Century Steam’s could take place in the Chattanooga area this fall, with locomotives 610 and 630.  No. 4501 could join the program sometime in 2011, after rehabilitation.  Exhibit dates, ticketing, and other details will be announced later.

Later this year, Norfolk Southern and TVRM plan to launch a web site in support of the program. Correspondence can be addressed to

Many Akron Railroad Club members and northeast Ohio residents remember the NS steam program, which operated numerous excursions in Ohio until being canceled after the 1994 season. Among other excursions, the Norfolk & Western 611 and 1218 operated between Erie, Pennsylvania, and Rocky River, Ohio (Cleveland), Brewster and Bellevue, Columbus and Bellevue, and Bellevue and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Although it is unlikely that 21st Century Steam will replicate exactly what took place years ago in the NS steam program, it does seem likely that if the program goes systemwide in 2011 or 2012 that northeast Ohio will again see steam, smoke and cinders along a mainline railroad.

It’s speculation at to this point as to where the trains might operate in Ohio, but a good bet is that Belleveue will be a destination as well as Cleveland. The NS steam program ended long before the Conrail breakup. Trips might run on the Cleveland Line between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, and from Cleveland westward on the Chicago Line (ex-New York Central). NS has several lines out of Bellevue that could be used for excursions.