Archive for February, 2012

Yes, This is in Ohio and not Colorado

February 28, 2012

It’s scene that could easily be out west somewhere, say in Colorado. But it is actually in northern Ohio on CSX near Peru Center. Yes, that is a Denver & Rio Grande Western tunnel motor on the head end of the facing train.

The train in the foreground is the “salad bowl express,” a run-through train of perishable produce operated jointly by Union Pacific and CSX. The train typically has UP reefer cars and operates with UP locomotive power.

Such was the case this past Sunday (Feb. 26, 2012) when the eastbound Q090 met a Wheeling & Lake Erie freight at the Peru Center signals. The W&LE train had been cooling its heels for a while, waiting to get into Willard Yard.

The lashup on the Wheeling train included two tunnel motors, both still wearning D&RGW markings and lettering. Spliced between them was a former Canadian National SD40 now painted in W&LE colors, but lacking the Wheeling’s Rio Grande-style insignia on the side.

It was a long trip for the Wheeling crew. First, they had to do some repairs to the lead unit at Butler Road east of New London. Then the Wheeling train had to await a signal at CP 47 at New London. And then this. The delays measured hours.

But a number of CSX westbound freights also had to wait between Greenwich and Willard for permission to come into the yard on this sunny afternoon.

Just another day on the railroad.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders 

Then and Now in Clearwater

February 25, 2012

I’ve been visiting Clearwater, Fla., since 1976 when my parents and sister moved to nearby Largo.

In the early 1970s, Amtrak carded three trains to St. Petersburg. These included the Floridian from Chicago, and the Champion and Silver Meteor from New York. The Floridian and Silver Star also had Miami sections that split off in Jacksonville or Auburndale.

It’s been a downhill slide for passenger train service in this area. The Floridian and Champion were discontinued in a massive October 1979 route restructuring.

Amtrak ceased serving St. Petersburg on Jan. 31, 1984, in favor of trains terminating in Tampa with a bus connection. That’s when I started flying down there instead of taking a train.

Although most of the track through Clearwater remains, it is only used by a CSX local.

The former Seaboard Air Line station was turned into a hot dog shop, but that was driven out due to someone with connections in the Clearwater city government wanting the property for a 7-Eleven store. The hot dog shop was demolished in 2003 and soon after that the 7-Eleven was built. Some call that “progress” I guess.

In the top photo, Amtrak’s northbound Floridian pulls up for the station stop in Clearwater in August 1977. You always knew when it was “train time” when the station personnel put out the traffic cones. On the point is an SDP40F.

The bottom photo shows the same view taken in February 2012. That’s the back wall of the 7-Eleven sitting where the station was. Once again it seems some poles have survived the years along with the rails, but most everything else has changed.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

In this consummate Florida photo, one of my all-time favorite shots I've taken down there, this southbound is just moments away from the station stop in Clearwater as it crosses a wood trestle in the middle of a golf course. SDP40Fs 601 and 607 are dodging a late afternoon storm in July 1978.

SDP40F No. 606 pulls into Clearwater with the southbound "Silver Star" in January 1979. That's the old SAL freight depot off to the left, complete with semaphore style order boards. That freight house will be gone in a couple of years, replaced with new office buildings built on this prime downtown property. While the track is still in and used (by one CSX local a day), Amtrak is long gone from Clearwater.

Here is the "train" at Clearwater on March 27, 1993. Looks like the station got a new coat of brown trim paint with the money saved by not coming around the bay from Tampa.

Removing Part of NE Ohio Industrial History

February 20, 2012

Although Northeast Ohio remains an  stronghold of industrial activity, the region’s industrial base is not what it was in the 1960s. As part of its 2009 bankruptcy reorganization, Chrysler closed its Twinsburg stamping plant in July 2010.

The site was subsequently sold to two developers who are remaking it for other industrial uses. As part of that process, the plant’s heavy machinery is being removed and taken elsewhere.

Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee has recently worked on the Norfolk Southern jobs that have been taking some of the heavy machinery out of the plant.

“I believe all loads you see in these photos are going to Mexico, routing NS to Kansas City, then BNSF to the border,” Durfee wrote. “While interesting, it’s also very sad to be removing what once were jobs — American jobs — from our local economy.”

The tall loads weigh between 250,000 and 300,000 pounds each and NS crews basically had to walk them out.

To view Roger’s gallery of photographs taken on that job, click on the link below.


Not What It Might Seem

February 11, 2012

Your first thought upon seeing this photo might be that the train hit the car, spun it around and it then took out the grade crossing protection signal. But if you look carefully, you’ll note that the train is not yet on the crossing, so it could not have hit the car unless it was off the road.

The location is Waterloo Road south of Mogadore. The date is Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012. The train originated in Brittain Yard in Akron and was traveling to Canton. I was chasing it along with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee.

We had heard on the radio the dispatcher tell the crew to slow for the crossing as a motorist had knocked some of the lights off. How the accident occurred is not clear. What was clear to us is that the car took out the signals well before the arrival of the train.

A W&LE signal maintainer on the scene said it was the second time such an accident had happened at this crossing. The grade crossing signals for the other direction are new because several months ago another car took them out. Soon the motoring public and the railroad will have all new signals at this crossing.

As for the train, it passed through without incident. We got out photographs and resumed the chase, delighted to have an unexpected snowfall to work with.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Wither the Niles Erie Station

February 10, 2012

Niles, Ohio, is one of those Midwest cities that reflects well the moniker of “rust belt.” Situated in the Mahoning Valley between Warren and Youngstown, Niles hosted lines of the Baltimore & Ohio, Erie and Pennsylvania railroads. Today, few trains roll through Niles and a good portion of the tracks have been abandoned or lie in a state of disuse, a victim of a diminishing industrial base.

As part of his back to the Erie Lackawanna tour on Feb. 5, 2012, Roger Durfee paid a visit to the former EL passenger station in Niles. Actually, he visted the location where it once stood.

Roger recalled having photographed the Niles station in the early Conrail era (top photo) in November 1979. This was the second Erie depot to serve Niles. The older of the two had been a wooden structure that was similiar in design to the passenger station in nearby Girard.

In the image immediately below this article is shown a Conrail Alco C425 sitting near the Niles station in November 1979.

The last passenger train to board paying customers here was the Youngstown-Cleveland commuter service. It made its last runs on Jan. 14, 1977. Prior to that, such EL passenger trains as the Lake Cities, Atlantic Express/Pacific Express and the Phoebe Snow called here. The last of those was the Lake Cities, which was discontinued in January 1970.

Just as Conrail had little use for much of the former Erie in Ohio, it also had no use for the Niles depot. The bottom photo shows the site of the station today. Only portions of the concrete foundation and some flooring remain.

Photographs by Roger Durfee


In Memory of Edward Treesh

February 8, 2012

Edward J. Treesh, the oldest living member of the Akron Railroad Club, died on Sunday (Feb. 5, 2012). He was 94.

Mr. Treesh was an avid collector of railroad memorabilia and model railroad equipment, most of which he gave to the club a few years ago. He also gave the club the many photographs that he had taken during his many travels over the years.

The club held a silent auction to sell the Treesh collection while other items were given to various club members. In particular, Mr. Treesh collected American Flyer model trains.

Born in Akron, he was the son of Homer and Nora Treesh. He worked at Goodyear Aerospace for 33 years before retiring in 1971. As a young man, he played baseball for the Pelicans and the Silver Seals, and basketball for the Petit’s.

Mr. Treesh was preceded in death by his wife of 46 years, Erma; a daughter, Betty; a brother, Carson; a granddaughter, Sherry; and a son-in-law, Tom Staubus. He is survived by a son, Roy; a daughter, Sally; and seven grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.

He requested that no services and or burial ceremony take place.

Erie Lackawanna at Leavittsburg: Then and Now

February 6, 2012

The view looking east from the Ohio Route 5 overpass of SN Tower in Leavittsburg in the middle 1970s. The Erie Lackawanna was two years from being folded into Conrail, a move that eventually led to nearly all of the tracks in this scene being abandoned and removed.

It was a beautiful sunny and mild (for February) Sunday in Northeast Ohio, but I didn’t shoot a moving train . . . or any train for that matter. Instead, I did something I’ve wanted to do for a while now.

Back in the early 1970s I was a young man who had always liked the railroad and had developed a particular liking for the Erie Lackawanna. All my forays to see EL trains had been in my home town of Akron and a couple of other close-by locations.

Youngstown and Marion were faraway places, or so they seemed at the time. One weekend day the girlfriend and I were looking for something to do besides go to the mall or go out to eat. I suggested a road trip to, of all places, Leavittsburg, a small town near Youngstown.

She knew all too well of my “interest” in the railroad and was always up for a little road trip. So off we went. I had done a little homework and knew this area was an important junction for the EL. Getting this information back then required more than the click of a mouse.

I don’t remember the details of that afternoon other than thinking I should take a few photos of the railroad scene. Little did I realize how that little brain storm would shape my future, but I digress.

After some ground level photos I went up on the Ohio Route 5 bridge and snapped the overall scene shown in the top photograph.

I was using an Instamatic camera, a cheap plastic machine, including the lens. The small prints that the local Fotomat booth gave you from these negatives hid the overall horrid quality of photos that these cameras produced.

I’m sure that at the time I wasn’t too worried about the historical nature of the railroad in front of me or that I would be digging these photos out of a shoebox nearly 40 years later.

In the topt photo, an EL freight is eastbound on the double track First Sub Division heading for Niles, Girard and Brier Hill Yard. The First Sub extended between Cleveland and Pymatuning (near Sharpsville, Pa.). Also visible to the far left is the Second Subdivision, which extended between Brady Lake and Pymatuning. Shown at the far left is a section of it that was known as the Youngstown bypass.

Hot 100 and 99 symbol trains and other through trains with no Youngstown work used the bypass through Warren. The tower is SN, a somewhat basic brick building that controlled this junction. Note the utility pole in the driveway just to the left of SN Tower.

 Fast forward now to Feb. 5, 2012. I have wanted to revisit Leavittsburg for a long time and finally decided to just do it.

One of the first photos I wanted to get was, of course up, on the (rebuilt) Route 5 bridge. No plastic lens today, but no film either. And, of course no trains, let alone no EL.

Note that the utility pole is the only common thread between decades that seems to have stood its ground.

One track remains, now long unused, that was pieced together along a First to Second Sub alignment as you look east.

In the first ground level photo, we are looking west toward SN Tower and the Route 5 bridge. The view is from the main crossing in town (South Leavitt Road). From left to right are the Baltimore & Ohio line that ran between Newton Falls and DeForest Jct. via Warren. Also visible is the EL First Sub to Brier Hill. Behind the buildings and sand tower is the Second Sub.

The second ground level shot was taken from a vantage point just west of South Leavitt Road. The milepost in this photo – 50 miles from Cleveland – can barely be seen in the 1970s photograph next to a MOW building. The milepost is one of the few things left from the EL days in Leavittsburg that is still intact.

In the last photo, we are looking east down the Second Sub toward Warren from about the location of SN Tower. Note the local motive power that is tied up for the day.

So there you have it, a look at a crummy old photo that started a rail enthusiast down a path that hasn’t ended. The changes between 1974 and 2012 are more than any of us can list.

The Volkswagon 411 that got me there then, the Jeep Liberty that got me there last Sunday. The plastic lens camera and cheap color negative film developed by someone else has given way to a professional grade Canon digital camera that records images that I process on a computer.

That kid in college is now a railroader with Norfolk Southern, which operates portions of the former EL. I have no idea where the girl who was with me is these days. And I can share all of this instantly with thousands of like-minded people with a few clicks of a mouse instead of waiting months for a magazine to come out.

Life is good now, but I still miss the EL.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

The utility pole in the center of the photo is the only thing left standing of SN tower. This view was recorded from the Ohio Route 5 bridge on Feb. 5, 2012.

A view looking west from South Leavitt Street. The former B&O train to the far left is still here, but the EL tracks crossing the street here are now gone.

A milpost is all that is left of the former EL First Subdivision in Leavittsburg.

The Youngstown bypass of the EL was part of the Second Sub Division that extended from Brady Lake (near Kent) to Pymatuning (near Sharpsville, Pa.). The view is looking eastward on the Youngstown bypass just east of SN Tower.