Archive for July, 2012

Sunday Afternoon With NS

July 31, 2012

The nose of the lead locomotive of an eastbound stone train peeks through the vegetation.

These days a primary reason to hang out next to a busy Norfolk Southern mainline for several hopes is the hope of seeing one of the railroad’s 20 heritage locomotives.

That wasn’t the primary reason why the Akron Railroad Club held its summer picnic at the Willis Picnic area of the Bedford Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks system on Sunday. Yeah, we chose this site because it is next to the NS Cleveland Line, which is a very busy route.

Our hopes of seeing a heritage unit, though, were dashed early. Although three such units had been in Conway Yard in Pittsburgh earlier, none of them were going to be assigned to trains likely to pass by our location during the picnic.

But NS sent 28 trains by during our 11 hours in the park. Shown here is a sampling of the action from Sunday.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

A short stack train rushed past headed west.The view is looking west into the park.

The head end of another westbound intermodal train passes over the bridge of the street leading into the park.

The other side of the bridge from the park side. An eastbound RoadRailer approaches.

Getting up close and personal with the RoadRailer.

The trees made nice framing devices for the trains.

Another in the parade of late day westbounds.

Headed eastbound in the dying light of the day. It was the second to last train that we would see.

2012 Picnic Nets 25 Trains

July 30, 2012

Chef Marte (a.k.a. Marty Surdyk) tosses the ceremonial opening burger onto the grill. The first burger occurred at 12:03 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. (Photograph by Craig Sanders)

The Akron Railroad Club held its annual summer picnic on Sunday at the Willis Picnic Area of the Bedford Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks. Approximately 45 to 50 members and guests attended throughout the day. They were treated to 25 passing Norfolk Southern trains on the adjacent Cleveland Line during the 11-hour period when club members were present.

To view a full gallery of photographs from the picnic, click on the link below.

Getting a closer view of a passing westbound NS train. (Photograph by Todd Dillon)

NS 416, a Powder River coal train, provided the only foreign power of the day. No NS 30th anniversary heritage locomotives passed our location during the picnic. (Photograph by Todd Dillon)

Sunday With the NKP 765

July 23, 2012

Akron Railroad Club members Ed Ribinskas and Jeff Troutman were among several ARRC members who turned out on Saturday or Sunday or both to chase and photograph the Norfolk Southern employee appreciation trips behind Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

In the photograph above, the train is arriving in Bucyrus on the Sandusky District. It is about to cross the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline between Chicago and Pittsburgh, once the home of the Broadway Limited. The crossing is still known as Colsan.

In the bottom photo, the train is just getting underway out of Bellevue.

Photographs by Jeff Troutman

Smart Phone App Helped in 765 Chases

July 23, 2012

The southbound (railroad east) NS employee appreciation trip behind Nickel Plate Road No. 765 is about to duck beneath the U.S. 30 overpass north of Bucyrus on Saturday, July 21, 2012.

In chasing the Norfolk Southern employee appreciation trips, we had a new tool in the railfan arsenal: a smart phone with the 765 app.

This is very useful—at least when it’s working. It gives accurate GPS maps as to where the train is and even its speed.

Unfortunately, the GPS wasn’t keeping up the entire day so had to use old school methods of tracking the train.

We chased all three trips. The middle trip was in high noon sun so those pictures weren’t very good. However, the morning and afternoon trips were stellar.

Every self-respecting foamer within 500 miles was chasing these trips or so it seemed. We talked to one guy who lives in Oklahoma and was going to New York to visit family and another from St. Louis.

Bellevue,  Attica Junction and Bucyrus were all foamer fests but good photos could still be had if you worked it.

Of course, I got the obligatory grain elevator shot for Marty and had some fun including other foamers in my photos.

BNSFBEN from Michigan read one license plate. It was a pretty fun day of chasing and a lot of Akron Railroad Club members were out as well.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

This one is for you Marty Surdyk. The 765 and the grain elevator on the north side of Bucyrus.

The 765 Smart Phone app was handy tool–when it worked.

Railfans from near and far lined the NS Sandusky District to photograph the NKP 765. It was a rare crossing that didn’t have at least one fan with a camera to record the train as it rolled past.

A southbound trip finds the 765 putting out a plume of smoke as it passes Honey Creek Park on the far south edge of Attica.

Passing over Honey Creek and headed for Bucyrus.

The last trip of the day approaches the reservoir at Attica.

Putting the Track Back

July 18, 2012

A westbound grain train passes through downtown Kent on Track No. 2 on the CSX New Castle Subdivision. Track No. 1 (at left) has been reinstalled after workers finished undercutting the roadbed to allow for greater clearance beneath the Main Street bridge.

Work could be wrapping up by the end of this week in undercutting the roadbed of the CSX New Castle Subvision in Kent. Since April, workers have been creating greater clearances beneath the Main Street and Wheeling & Lake Erie overpasses.

This past Sunday, crews were working overtime to get Track No. 1 back into service. The track has been put back into place and welders were connecting the panel sections of track.

As can be seen from this series of photographs, workers will need to place ballast on the track.

The work is part of a project to increase clearances on the former Baltimore & Ohio route in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Double stack container trains will be able to begin using the route once the work is completed.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

A welding crew works to connnect the panel track sections in downtown Kent. The location is just below the former Erie Railroad passenger station along the Cuyahoga River.

An eastbound auto rack train passes the work site in Kent on Sunday evening.

A back hoe straightens the ties on Track No. 1.

Akron Railroad Club member Richard Antibus photographs westbound intermodal train Q135 as it passes through Kent.

The rear of a slab train passes the work site.

NKP Heritage Unit at Ashtabula

July 16, 2012

In early April the Norfolk Southern Nickel Plate Road heritage locomotive worked in Astabula at the docks. Club members Jeff Troutman and Ed Rinbinskas got over there to take a few photographs.

The NKP tribute locomotive will be back in Ohio later this week riding behind the NKP 765 steam locomotives. The 765 will pull a series of NS employee appreciation specials between Bellevue and Bucyrus on Saturday and Sunday.

Photographs by Jeff Troutman

Some Good Luck in Friday the 13th

July 15, 2012

On Friday, July the 13th, I heard that the Reading and Lehigh Valley heritage locomotives of Norfolk Southern had tied up at Bellevue early that morning with a coal train of 865 empties that had come in from Detroit.

I got off work early and headed there to try and catch them. I didn’t have my computer and nobody that I called seemed to know anything so took a chance. Of course they weren’t there when I arrived.

I drove south to Marion hoping that I wasn’t too far behind the train with the heritage units. I got a couple northbound (railroad westbound) NS freights but saw no sign of a coal train.

Upon reaching Marion I was told by some railfans from Indiana (also searching for heritage power) that the 865 went west to Ft Wayne and then Muncie. I learned later that I had missed them by about an hour and that they went to Chicago where they headed a train bound for the Power River basin.

Bummed out, I headed east and followed the old Big Four/Erie line. After crossing U.S. 23, I caught a light Kansas City Southern power move. It was picking up a stack train at the Marion Industrial Center.

After getting this and some plant switchers, I continued east.

I didn’t get any activity at Galion but I did get pictures of the Erie bridge over Rt 309 at Ontario. This served a now closed GM plant. Look closely there is a small Erie diamond logo still showing.

My last photographs were of the only freight car painted for the ill fated Southern Pacific-CSX merger. SPSX 30034 was sitting outside a plant at Mansfield.

OK, there was no SP-CSX merger but I made you look).

All in all it was not a bad Friday the 13th.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Mr. Erie, Meet Mr. Lackawanna

July 11, 2012

The Norfolk Southern 30th anniversary heritage locomotives didn’t just sit around the roundhouse during the railroad festival at the North Carolina Transportation Museum last week. The locomotives were moved out in a parade.

In some instances, they were paired with locomotives with which they shared historical significance. NS doesn’t have an Erie Lackawanna heritage locomotive, but it does have engines that honor the Erie and the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railroads.

Here is a selection of some of the pairings.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

The Virginian heritage unit, an original Norfolk Southern Baldwin, and the Lackawanna unit.

About the only thing that the Illinois Terminal and DL&W had in common was that both wound up becoming part of railroads that would eventually become Norfolk Southern.

The heritage unit honoring the first railroad named Norfolk Southern poses with the NCTM’s “original” Norfolk Southern Baldwin AS616.

Track Lowering Continues in Kent

July 11, 2012

The lead engine of westbound Q137 passes a rolling machine as workers take a break to allow the intermodal train to pass.

Work is well underway in Kent to lower Track No. 1 of the CSX New Castle Subdivision. On Tuesday, July 10, workers were putting down the base for the roadbed after having chipped away the underlying bedrock to lower the track.

The work is part of a range of projects being done to lower the clearances on the former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad route between Chicago and Washington. D.C. The greater clearances will enable CSX to run double stack container trains to and from the East Coast over the route.

Most of those trains are expected to serve a container sorting facility that CSX opened in early 2011 west of North Baltimore, Ohio. It is all part of the development of the CSX National Gateway network.

Much of the work in Kent has involved removing the tracks and undercutting the roadbed beneath the Main Street and Wheeling & Lake Erie bridges. Track 1 has been temporarily removed and all trains are using Track No. 2. Earlier, Track No. 2 was lowered.

Similiar work is also being done in Akron and Ravennna. Two old one-lane bridges in Medina County are being removed and replaced with one bridge.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

A new concrete retaining wall has been poured between the CSX tracks and the Cuyahoga River. Shown is westbound Q015.

Track No. 1 has been cut and removed while work is done to lower the roadbed beneath the Main Street bridge. The track was stacked atop track that has remained in place. Westbound manifest freight Q389 passes the work site.

Fireworks and Trains

July 11, 2012

Fireworks burst over the Orrville switch tower and N5C Cabin car on Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 9:24 p.m.

Saturday, July 7 was a noisy night in Orrville, Ohio. The grand fireworks display concluded a week of fun celebrating our nation’s Independence Day. The festivities kicked off on Tuesday with the July 4th parade. There were flags, bands, floats and of course fire trucks. The Orrville Firefighters are the chief sponsor of the celebration.

The Orrville Railroad Heritage Society set up its popcorn tent along the parade route, offering popcorn, cold soda and water for the onlookers. A carnival was set up Tuesday – Saturday near the town center with the usual rides, games and fair-type food. The week of fun came to a conclusion on Saturday night with a spectacular fireworks display. Many folks came to Orrville from out of town for the fireworks.

Several members of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society and their families gathered trackside at the 1868 Orrville Union Depot, a former Pennsylvania Railroad station, to view the fireworks aerial display. Barbara and I joined the group and set up our lawn chairs to await the fireworks show start. I walked down the NS Pittsburgh – Bucyrus mainline and set up my tripod and camera to capture the action.

Just as the first fireworks burst over Orrville, a Norfolk Southern westbound manifest charged through with much horn blaring. Two Amtrak coaches were on the tail end. They were probably being ferried since they were dark.

After getting some of the bursts over the ORHS Orrville tower and former PRR N5C cabin car, I then moved to capture more fireworks over the depot. I finished off my photo night with bursts behind the PRR signals on the Orrville secondary.

As the fireworks ended, NS ran an eastbound manifest by the depot. After that, things quieted down.

For those interested, I set my Sony A330 DSLR on aperture priority of 7.1 and 3200 ISO speed setting. I tried a 2 second delay on the shutter for steadiness, but ended up missing the fireworks bursts. I then used the camera’s continuous capture mode recording several photos with each shutter release. That worked much better.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs