Archive for June, 2012

Getting Hosed

June 27, 2012

A member of the Cuyahoga Valley and West Shore model railroad club hoses down the former Pennsylvania Railroad caboose that is on display at the club’s home in Olmsted Falls on a recent June afternoon. The club owns the onetime New York Central passenger station here.

The washing was begin done in preparation for painting the roof. The tracks in the foreground are the Norfolk Southern’s Chicago Line.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

CSX Lowering Track 1 in Kent

June 26, 2012

CSX train Q359 is about to pass beneath the Main Street bridge on Track No. 2 on June 22, 2012. Track No. 2 was lowered beneath the bridge earlier this year.

Workers began the process of lowering Track No. 1 in Kent last week. As was the case when the same work was done on Track No. 2, crews from R.J. Corman removed sections of Track No. 1 and placed then aside.

Other crews began digging out the ballast in preparation for chipping away the underlying bedrock and soil structure. The work is part of a larger project to lower the former Baltimore & Ohio mainline through Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland so that it can accomodate double-stacked container trains.

CSX in early 2011 opened a container sorting facility at North Baltimore, Ohio. The clearance projects in Ohio are part of the development of the railroad’s National Gateway project.

Other work to lower the tracks is currently progressing in downtown Akron and in Medina County where the old one-lane bridge carrying River Corners Road over the former B&O will be removed and replaced.

The River Corners Road project involves realigning the intersection of River Corners and Simcox roads, and the removal of the Pawnee Road bridge over the tracks. Pawnee Road will be permanently closed at the railroad tracks. During the construction work, US 224 will be closed and a detour posted from June 25 until mid November.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

The power for D750 passes eastbound through Kent on June 22. Note that Track No. 1 has been temporarily removed as workers lower the roadbed through town.

Longest Day in Fostoria

June 25, 2012

A westbound CSX container train rolls through Fostoria in a view capture from an overpass on the west edge of town. The train will probably work at the intermodal facility west of North Baltimore.

Seven Akron Railroad Club members make the trek to Fostoria on Sunday for the club’s 2012 longest day outing. Club president Craig Sanders was the first to arrive at 9 a.m. Also enjoying the outing were Paul Woodring, Rick Houk, Marty Surdyk, Todd Vander Sluis, Eli Akerib and Bill Kubas.

All seven stuck it out until calling it a day just after 7:30 p.m. Although the train total for the day is still being calculated, we estimated we saw or heard on the radio about 50 trains. There were few lulls and they did not last long.

Foreign power was sparse, limited to two CSX trains with BNSF power and the eastbound salad bowl train with perishable produce that interchanges between Union Pacific and CSX in Chicago and carries UP power.

Perhaps the sighting of the day was a former Santa Fe caboose on the rear of Q383, an eastbound manifest freight that came through at 10:15 a.m. The caboose, now owned by a Massachusetts group, still wore its Santa Fe colors and markings.

Otherwise, the day had the usual array of freight trains that can been seen in the Iron Triangle, including manifest freights, intermodals, auto racks, and coal and grain trains on CSX and Norfolk Southern.

All seven members present enjoyed dinner at the Bob Evans restaurant in Fostoria. Having been out in the heat most of the day, we kept the server busy bringing the water pitcher over to our table for refills.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

Saturday in the Park

June 23, 2012

The last southbound Scenic Train of the day eases into Brecksville on June 23, 2012. The train was operating about 20 minutes late.

Saturday, June 23 was a nice summer day, the kind you hate to waste. But with an all day trip to Fostoria on Sunday, June 24 coming up I also didn’t want to spend the day railfanning. While eating breakfast I had an idea.

I wanted to go for an extended walk and I had yet to visit the Cuyahoga Valley National Park this year. I could get in a good walk on the towpath trail and catch the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Scenic Train a few times.

I arrived in Peninsula just after 1 p.m. and decided to shoot the middle southbound train of the day arriving there on the north end of town. There is a notch in the trees over the tracks that has always interested me.

Many of the passengers getting on and off were bicylists taking advantage of the bikers ride for $2 special. Much of the station dwell time involved getting bikes on and off.

I also was able to do some nature and scenic photography while on the trail. I caught a deer eating in a vavine and experimented with shooting the rushing water in the Cuyahoga River.

After walking for more than an hour, I decided to set up next to the Cuyahoga River bridge south of Peninsula and get the Genset on the point of the northbound train going across the bridge. I’ve photographed here a number of times, but never gotten a Genset on the bridge.

The train was 15 minutes later, about what it had been earlier. There was a reflection in the water that I was able to work into the shot.

My final shot of the day was at Brecksville. With the sun well on the west side of the tracks, I decided to do an angle I  had not tried here before. It worked out well and I was able to incorporate the station and the Ohio Route 82 arched bridge into the image.

Most of those I encountered on the towpath trail were riding bicycles. There were fewer hikers than I expected. I could have not asked for a nicer day weather wise. Days like this are what summer weekends are all about.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The Genset locomotive leads a northbound Scenic Train over the Cuyahoga River south of Peninsula.

Bikers line up to load their bicycles aboard the baggage car of a southbound CVSR Scenic Train at Peninsula.

A family disembarks at Peninsula. The Scenic Train had the Saint Lucie Sound observation-lounge, dome car Emerson, a food service car, gift shop car and numerous coaches. Where else can you find such a streamliner era consist as that?

A southbound CVSR Scenic Train arrives at Brecksville late Saturday afternoon. The crossbucks are for a sidewalk.

Slow Day Until a Radio Call Came

June 19, 2012

My Saturday chasing (June 16, 2012) didn’t start out with much of a plan. The museum at Northeast, Pa., was having a 24-hour railfanning session and with no Norfolk Southern heritage paints in the area we made our way in that direction.

The CSX lakefront line wasn’t very busy and we missed an NS train at Geneva. Continuing to Ashtabula, an EB CSX freight was leaving just as we pulled up. But we got no pictures.

No other trains were talking on the scanner so we checked out the docks. Nothing was happening there, either.

As it was near 11 a.m., we thought the AC&J should be running so we headed over to the tiny burg of Jefferson. Again, nothing was doing. The Alco switcher that they use was broken.

It was missing a rear coupler and a step well, but who knows what else was wrong with it.

The scanner then picked up a NB train on the Youngstown line which we did catch, but the sun angle was so bad I deleted those pictures in the camera.

We continued to Conneaut where we saw a WB NS enter the yard. Again there was bad sun as we were on north side of the train.

CSX was still pretty quiet so we checked out the Bessemer docks, which were also quiet. Leaving town, we missed a CSX double stack and started to head for Northeast because it was  about 2 p.m.

After getting on I-90, we heard a train asking for authority on the Conneaut branch.

Whoa there. We came to a full stop. That would be the Bessemer.

So we got off and detoured to Albion. There was no activity here, either, so we went back to Conneaut and waited.

Within five minutes a three-unit set of B&LE SD40-3s went by heading for the dock. We waited and caught an EB NS on the bridge and after about 40 minutes the Bessemer train went south with 60-70 loads of ore.

Finally, the chase was on and we got many angles including a signal bridge at KO Jct. that I’ve been wanting to get.

We followed him to Kremis where the train changed crews. A new crew took the train south, but it was now 6:30 and the great sun we had was clouding over. So, we headed for home.

On the way we checked out the former EL yard in Sharon Pa where NS had a ballast train parked in great light but behind fences and poles so was difficult to get anything good.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

The Monongahela Lives On

June 17, 2012

A couple of Monongahela Railway cabooses are still used in work train service. Shown is one of them in the street at West Brownsville, Pa., on June 13, 2012.

The Monongahela Railway disappeared into Conrail in 1993, but it has been given a new sliver of life with the painting of a Norfolk Southern 30th anniversary heritage locomotive in Mon colors.

Although Mon locomotives vanished years ago, not so a pair of Mon cabooses that are still used in work train service on former Mon lines. I caught one of them on Tuesday, June 13, 2012, running down the street in West Brownsville, Pa.

I was there in hopes of catching two NS heritage units that were known to leading a coal train loading at Bailey mine on the former Monongahela Manor Branch. The first train that we saw was a southboud work train.

We didn’t know this bay window caboose was on the end, so it was a pleasant surprise, a sort of heritage piece of rolling stock.

And, yes, we caught the heritage units in the street, too. See the post below.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

The Monongahela logo is still visible on the side of this Mon caboose.

The first vehicle “tailgating” the Norfolk Southern work train at West Brownsville is an NS MOW truck.

The Mighty Oval In the Street

June 14, 2012

NS 1066 leads the N22 down the street in West Brownsville, Pa., on Wednesday, June 13. The trailing unit is NS 1065, the heritage unit that pays tribute to the Savannah & Atlanta.

I ventured down to West Brownsville, Pa., on Wednesday with my friend Adam Barr in search of a pair of Norfolk Southern 30th anniversary heritage locomotives. We had information that No. 1066 (New York Central) and 1065 (Savannah & Atlanta) were at Bailey Mine with a coal train that was being loaded.

These same two units had come through Northeast Ohio on Sunday afternoon, but I was tied up with domestic duties and couldn’t get out to see them. But Akron Railroad Club Bulletin editor Marty Surdyk did.

For all Adam and I knew, that Bailey mine train might be there all day or it might have already left. Further complicating things were Internet reports that the Norfolk & Western unit was on a coal train heading west to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh and that the Lehigh Valley unit had been put on the 11A at Altoona and was also going to Conway.

Still another heritage unit, the one devoted to the Pennsylvania Railroad, was leading the 23Z at Harrisburg. So many heritage units and so little time.

We got to West Brownsville just before 10:30 a.m. in time to catch a southbound work train with a caboose on the rear. Maybe that was a good sign.

Our plan was to stick around West Brownsville until about noon and then head up to Leetsdale if we didn’t see the heritage units here.

Sometime between between 11 and 11:30, we heard the Mon Line dispatcher mention the NS 1066. That did it. We were staying put because the NYC heritage unit was on the move. It would be a long wait, though.

We were encouraged when the Mon Line dispatcher told a maintainer over the radio that the N22 with the NS 1066 was behind the CSX train.

Our hope was that we could catch the NYC heritage unit and still have time to get to Leetsdale to catch the N&W and LV locomotives. The Internet reports as to the progress of the PRR unit did not sound promising. That train wouldn’t get to Pittsburgh until after dark. Also, we both had to be back home by around 6 p.m.

About 11:45 a.m. we spotted a train approach the signal at Street. We thought it was the CSX train, but it had NS power and NS hoppers.

Not long after that we saw a CSX train on the tracks across the river. We had heard it receive a track warrant to Brown and we thought it might be the CSX train the disaptcher had mentioned earlier. Adam wondered if the NS train we wanted was behind this train. But a quick check of the map made that seem unlikely because Bailey mine is on the line that runs through West Brownsville.

We eventually figured out that the Mon Line dispatcher controlled two routes in the area, including the one on the other side of the river.

It would turn out that there were two CSX trains in the area. The second of them arrived at Street about 12:20 and stopped. We thought it was waiting for a signal. By now we had figured out that the train we wanted was behind this train.

The CSX train sat and sat and sat. After about a half-hour, the Mon Line disaptcher called the CSX train to see what was going on. It turned out that the CSX train, the N65, was unable to reach the Newall train director for instructions as to what to do with the train once reaching that yard.

The NS dispatcher was no more successful in reaching Newall, either. Finally, the NS dispatcher asked a crew that was en route to Newall to ask the train director to contact him.

About 1 p.m., the NS dispatcher relayed the yarding instructions to the N65 and it finally began moving.

It would be another half-hour or so before the N22 arrived at Street. where it stopped for a recrew. By the time N22 got underway, it was 2:15.

We got our photographs and had ideas about catching the train north of California, Pa. We drove up there, but the train was nowhere in sight nor did we hear anything on the radio.

We needed to begin heading back to Cleveland, which was a good three hours away. We drove past Conway but could not see either the N&W or LV heritage units. We heard the train with the N&W unit on the radio, but the conversation didn’t sound like it would be leaving town. An Internet report had it going to leave and go out the Fort Wayne Line.

We needed to get back home so we left Conway empty handed. Still, we had seen two heritage units in the street at West Brownsville. That alone made the trip a success.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Waiting for a recrew in West Brownsville.

10 a.m., Straight Up, at Olmsted Falls

June 12, 2012

The Norfolk Southern office car special passed through Northeast Ohio Tuesday morning (June 12) , reportedly en route to Chicago. The train came through Olmsted Falls at exactly 10 a.m., according to the clock in my camera.

The top photo shows the train approaching Brookside Drive after crossing Columbia Road. F unit No. 4270 is in the lead. In the middle photograph, the four units have passed Brookside Drive and are passing the restored passenger station in Olmsted Falls used by the Cuyahoga Valley & West Shore Model Railroad Club.

The bottom photo shows that the rear seats of the theater car were a popular place to be. The man in the front row to the left appears to be NS Chairman, President and CEO Wick Moorman.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

Pair of Heritage Units

June 11, 2012

Two Norfolk Southern heritage locomotives passed through Northeast Ohio on Sunday afternoon  on a coal train. On the point was the New York Central unit and trailing was the Savannah & Atlanta unit.

Here is my take on them. I had other commitments, but managed to break away and run down to the Alliance area to grab a photo.

Light angles were less than ideal by afternoon down there, so I elected to go with the “in your face” type of photo to highlight the lightning stripes and oval emblem. This photo was taken at Limaville, which is just west (compass north) of Alliance.

Photograph by Roger Durfee

Late June Afternoon in Harpers Ferry

June 10, 2012

Amtrak’s westbound Capitol Limited rolls into the station at Harpers Ferry, W.Va., on June 7, 2012. The train is named after a B&O train of the same name that used these tracks for decades before being discontinued in 1971.

Harpers Ferry, W.Va., is a scenic and historic small town that also happens to be a good place to photograh trains. Craig Sanders spent more than three hours in Harpers Ferry on June 7 and offers a report on the trains that he saw and photographed.

This is CSX territory and many of the trains that pass through Akron also pass through Harpers Ferry, although some are reclassified in Cumberland to the west.

Harpers Ferry features Amtrak, MARC commuter trains and a good mix of CSX freight. This is all former Baltimore & Ohio. The tunnel under Maryland Heights that the B&O drilled through the rock long ago is still in use as is the bridge over the Potomac River. But the B&O color position lights are long gone.

To reach Craig’s report and view more photographs, click on the link below.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

MARC No. 12 is MP36PH-3. MARC Brunswick line trains serving Harpers Ferry terminate to the west at Martinsburg, W.Va.

A westbound CSX auto rack train exits the tunnel under Maryland Heights and crossed the bridge over the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry.