Archive for March, 2012

The Original Conrail Heritage Units

March 26, 2012

With all the interest in the new Norfolk Southern Conrail heritage unit, I thought I’d send along a couple of photos showing some of Conrail’s original “heritage” fleet.

In the images above, its the second week of April 1976 and Conrail has already started mixing up the various component railroads power.

A westbound freight has been ordered to set off its middle unit in Akron at the former Erie Lackawanna McCoy Street yard. I arrived just as they set out Penn Central GP-9 No. 7244 and are doubling the other two units back together.

Erie Lackawanna GP-35 No. 2586 and Reading Lines GP-30 No. 3608 will continue west, but a quick press of the shutter catches all three units in the same frame. No blue, no “CR” patches, no new numbers. It’s Conrail heritage in its purest form.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

ARRC Members Ride the CVSR

March 25, 2012

The northbound Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad excursion train pauses at Peninsula during its stop. Four Akron Railroad Club members rode the CVSR on Sunday.

Four Akron Railroad Club members turned out at the Rockside Road depot of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad on Sunday morning, March 25, and spent a day traveling in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Marty Surdyk, Rick Houck, Todd Vander Sluis and Craig Sanders boarded the 10 a.m. departure. We had plenty of company. Hundreds more boarded as part of two special excursions that were also offered on Sunday. The most popular of those was an Easter bunny trip. The other was a maple syrup festival. All of the passengers for the specials rode the same train.

ARRC members rode the scenic train to Botzum, the train’s temporary southern terminus while a bridge is replaced south of Smith Road near Akron. Reportedly, the bridge will be finished by Easter.

After a nearly 30 minute layover in Botzum, we reboarded the train and disembarked in Peninsula where we were met by member Paul Woodring.

After photographing the departure of the train we had just ridden, the ARRC contingent adjourned to the Winking Lizard for lunch and plenty of rail tales.

At 2 p.m., the southbound excursion train arrived and we members boarded to go to Botzum again. Paul did not join us, but instead paced the train for a short distance along Riverview Road. We rode from Botzum back to Rockside Road.

Along the we were treated to a variety of bird activity, even spotting an eagle’s nest and an eagle sitting atop a nearby tree. But there were no deer or beaver to be scene. A park service volunteer, though, did come through the train with pelts from a beaver and coyote.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the story told by the trainman about how Indigo Lake got its name. We can’t give the story away just yet, but it gave us an idea for a new initiation rite for new members. Hint: “In they go.”

Motive power for the train was FPA-4 No. 6771 northbound and RS-18 No. 1822 southbound. Our coach, No. 169, was originally a 12 roomette sleeper built for the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was later rebuilt into a commuter coach and saw service for MARC commuter trains in Maryland before being purchased by Akron Metro.

It formerly operated on the CVSR as the Spirit of Summit. Yes, Marty, it’s true. You rode in a former Pennsy car.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

ARRC member Todd Vander Sluis (left) looks at his photos while relaxing aboard a CVSR excursion train Sunday during a club outing. To the left of Todd is Marty Surdyk and behind him is Rick Houck.

Blooming Spring

March 25, 2012

Winter has been a no show of late in Northeastern Ohio and a streak of recording-breaking high tempetatures has left the region looking like mid May rather than late March.

The calendar turned over last week to the first day of spring and flowers are blooming and trees are flowering.

Shown is a westbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight passing Willis Park in Bedford on Friday (March 23). One tree is in full bloom while the buds on the other are about to pop out.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

NS Conrail Heritage Unit Hits the Road

March 21, 2012

The old and the new are on display at Massilon on the Fort Wayne Line of Norfolk Southern. (Photograph by Roger Durfee)

The first known operation of a Norfolk Southern 30th anniversary heritage locomotive occurred Tuesday afternoon in Northeast Ohio. Akron Railroad Club  member Roger Durfee managed to get off of work and school respectively to travel to Massillon to photograph the maiden operation of Conrail, oops, NS, No. 8098.

For its first revenue service assignment, No. 8098 helped pull a coal train.

In the first two images, the train is shown passing under the position light signals at MP PC 103 on the Fort Wayne Line in Canton. Roger then chased it to Massillon and caught it passing through the ex-Pennsylvania Railroad truss bridge. The super elevation is very evident in that first shot at Massillon.

Photographs by Roger Durfee





Its Curtains for Kodak Ektachrome Slide Film

March 4, 2012

Shown is the last box of Ektachrome that Akron Railroad Club President Craig Sanders will ever likely buy. Indeed, he photographed it with the digital camera he purchased last July.

The dwindling band of railfan photographers who still capture images on slide film got some bad news last week. In a development that probably surprised no one,  Eastman Kodak announced that it will cease making all slide films, including its Ektachrome color reversal film

The move will end 77 years of manufacturing slide film for the iconic film company, which in January sought bankruptcy protection.

Kodak blamed “a steady decrease in sales and customer usage, combined with highly complex product formulation and manufacturing processes.” Kodak offers three types of Ektachrome: E100VS, E100G and Elite Chrome Extra Color 100.

In 2009 Kodak discontinued its popular Kodachrome slide film, which arguably was the most popular slide film among railroad photographers before the digital era began.

Kodak said the end of slide film production would not affect any other films that it makes, including color negative and black and white films.

Presumably, slide shooters will continue to be able to purchase Fuji slide film.

A Matter of Decades, a Matter of a Week

March 4, 2012

One of the last trackside remnants of Akron Union Depot fell last week. The last platform and section of an umbrella shed that stood between the main tracks of the CSX New Castle Subdivision were removed as part of a project to increase clearances through downtown Akron. CSX is undertaking a multi-million dollar project to increase clearances on the former Baltimore & Ohio route in Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland to enable double stack intermodal trains to travel the route.

In some instances, new bridges are being built. In downtown Akron, the tracks will be undercut to lower then. This is necessary to provide additional clearance beneath what was once the concourse of the Union Depot. The former concourse is now a walkway connecting the former Union Depot with another building that are both used by the University of Akron.

Roger Durfee went down to the Union Depot site on Saturday afternoon to record the progress — if that is the right word — of the platform and umbrella shed removal work. The shed was long gone and much of the platform had been ripped out.

Later that day, Roger dipped into his considerable slide collection and found a series of historic photos to complement his most recent images.

The top photo shows C&O SD35 No. 7428 westbound in December 1975. All tracks are still in, even the stub track for a setout sleeper. The bottom photo shows the same view today.

Here is a Penn Central Motor Yard (Macedonia) to Akron local in September 1975. It’s on the 103 track, which is the siding into the ex PRR South Akron yards. In the Same view today, the 103 track is long gone.

An eastbound Erie Lackawanna eastbound starts up after a pause at JO interlocking in January 1976. In the same view today, the EL tracks are all gone.

During Conrail’s first week in April 1976 a trio of Lehigh Valley U23Bs are on the point of OM-8 as it passes through downtown Akron. In the same view today, the old passenger platform is being removed so the track can be undercut to increase the clearances through downtown Akron.

Now for a difference of days. CSX westbound Q137 passes workers setting up to remove the platform and umbrella shed at the old Akron Union Depot on Feb. 24, 2012. Eight days  later the platform is mostly gone and the shed is history as CSX K311 passes by.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

More EL Now and Then at Leavittsburg

March 2, 2012

This was August 1976 and the Cleveland to Youngstown commuter train is passing the tower at Leavittsburg, Ohio. This was where the Cleveland line of the EL joined the mainline from Chicago.

This is February 2012. Not only are the commuter trains a distant memory, but most of the former EL tracks here are gone along with the tower. The sole track still in place hasn't been used for a long time.

In the process of doing some scanning recently, I dug out another Leavittsburg slide. Shown above is train No. 28 in August 1976.

Erie Lackawanna No. 825 is running eastbound, but the sun was right above the tower, so I actually went for an “artsy” effect in the slide due to having to point directly into my light source.

I’ve tried to bring out the detail of the interlocking by tinkering with the image in Photoshop, but its not the best and I can’t go back and shoot it again.

I guessed pretty close, though, when I took the “now” shot earlier in February when I was there on a railroad archeology trip. The new Route 5 bridge over the tracks in today’s photo is close to the one in the old photo.

Anyway, what a change and how sad it is.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

CVSR News Items

March 2, 2012

A CVSR excursion train passes hikers on the Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on Sept. 17, 2011, near Deep Lock Quarry south of Peninsula. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad will receive $3.2 million in  Federal Transit Administration funds to pay for five projects in 2012. The projects include the following:

  • $1.4 million to construct a bridge across the Cuyahoga River linking Rockside Station with the Lock 39 trailhead. This will improve access between the Towpath Trail and CVSR.
  • $575,000 to replace a 58-year-old power generation car.
  • $994,000 to rebuild locomotive No. 365 into a hybrid engine that will reduce exhaust transmissions by 90 percent and fuel consumption by 60 percent or more.
  • $145,000 to rebuild an older ADA car.
  • $137,000 to rebuild a baggage car serving the Bike Aboard! program.

In other CVSR news, Denny Varian, formerly of the Ohio Central, has  been hired as CVSR director of operations. While at the OC, Varian oversaw many excursions with its steam program.

Varian is familiar with and understands railfans and might be more amenable to better organized special railfan-oriented events.   

Some information for this report was provided by Peter Bowler.