As Easy as A-B-C (Railway)

The Akron Barberton Cluster Railway train with SW1500 No. 1502 (ex-Conrail, ex-Indianapolis Union) is about to cross Main Street just north (railroad east) of the depot. Just beyond the pilot can be seen the top of the dam on the Cuyahoga River (out of sight below. The CSX New Castle Subdivision (ex-B&O) is below the railing.

The Akron Barberton Cluster Railway train with SW1500 No. 1502 (ex-Conrail, ex-Indianapolis Union) is about to cross Main Street just north (railroad east) of the depot. Just beyond the pilot can be seen the top of the dam on the Cuyahoga River (out of sight below. The CSX New Castle Subdivision (ex-B&O) is below the railing.

On Friday (Dec. 14, 2012) I finally was able to get out trackside for the first time in just over a month. Bad weather and work obligations had kept me home far too long. My day began in Kent where I hoped to catch a CSX train or two and, maybe, the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway (ABC) job that usually works from Akron to Ravenna and back, using the former Erie Railroad mainline between Kent and Ravenna. With luck, I might get the ABC job coming back from Ravenna.

I was sitting in my car on the Main Street bridge. Traffic was slow on CSX and the radio chatter revealed no clues as to what might be coming. I had just missed the headend of a westbound intermodal train as I arrived.

I heard a horn at about 10:30 a.m. That can’t be an eastbound CSX blowing for Summit Street because I would have heard it calling signals on the radio. I heard it again soon thereafter and it was louder. I got out to investigate and saw a headlight coming east on the former Erie. It was the ABC job running later than normal based on what I know about their schedule.

I grabbed my camera and got to the other side of the tracks by the Main Street crossing where I got the two photos shown here.

I watched the ABC job pick up four grain hoppers from Star of the West in Kent. If the train went
back to Akron, I wanted to catch it coming by the former Erie passenger station. If it headed to Ravenna, I was sure I could beat it to the Ravenna Road crossing at Brady Lake.

The train began going east and off I went. I paused at the Lake Rockwell Road crossing. It was possible that it would work the Crowley Tar plant.

I continued to the Towner’s Woods Park where I parked and walked the short distance to the Ravenna Road crossing. I heard the 1502 blowing for the Lake Rockwell crossing. It was not working at Crowley tar today.

I positioned myself by the crossing and waited. I had photographed the ABC going away at this location, but never coming. The track curves here and there are numerous trees.

After photographing the ABC job at Brady Lake, I drove back to Kent and parked on the Main Street bridge. It would be a good hour or more before the ABC job finished its work in Ravenna and came back through Kent. My objective was to get the train passing the former Erie passenger station, which is now a restaurant named the Pufferbelly.

I figured I could catch some CSX trains during the interim. I did get a westbound CSX local, but otherwise CSX was quiet. When a maintainer asked for and received 45 minutes of work time on both mains at CP 120 west of Kent, I knew there was nothing nearby.

The ABC job did not come back until just past 12:30 p.m. It had dropped two boxcars in Ravenna and picked up two while there. It also has the four covered hopper cars that it picked up earlier in Kent. It is common for the ABC job to carry cars from Star of the West and from Crowley tar to Ravenna and back even though it passes both shippers on the return trip. But the track layout is such that picking up cars on the return trip would mean having the locomotive positioned in the middle of the consist.

I easily was able to walk to the south end of the station and get into position.  I got the photographs that I wanted and then it was time to move on to the next location for the day in Alliance. But that is for another story.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The train has two boxcars and has cleared Main Street. It will stop just short of Fairchild Avenue and back into the track seen to the right, which serves the Star of the West grain elevator.

The train has two boxcars and has cleared Main Street. It will stop just short of Fairchild Avenue and back into the track seen to the right, which serves the Star of the West grain elevator.

The ABC job is in the curve approaching Ravenna Road.

The ABC job is in the curve approaching Ravenna Road.

No. 1502 is crossing Ravenna Road.

No. 1502 is crossing Ravenna Road.

In this going away shot, the train is crossing the Norfolk Southern's Cleveland Line (former Pennsylvania Railroad). Until the early 20th century, the PRR tracks were further north than they are now. But then the Pennsy built a new ROW that has no grade crossings between Hudson and Ravenna. The Erie tracks are located on  approximately the ex-PRR ROW.

In this going away shot, the train is crossing the Norfolk Southern’s Cleveland Line (former Pennsylvania Railroad). Until the early 20th century, the PRR tracks were further north than they are now. But then the Pennsy built a new ROW that has no grade crossings between Hudson and Ravenna. The Erie tracks are located on approximately the ex-PRR ROW.

The ABC job is returning to Akron with the No. 1502 running "short end" forward. That is the Star of the West facility in Kent in the background.

The ABC job is returning to Akron with the No. 1502 running “short end” forward. That is the Star of the West facility in Kent in the background.

The ABC job passes the former Erie passenger station.

The ABC job passes the former Erie passenger station.

My last look at the 1502.

My last look at the 1502.

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2 Responses to “As Easy as A-B-C (Railway)”

  1. That_Guy Says:

    Could you possibly give me some details on what days and times the ABC heads to Ravenna? My sons love the ABC and it would be a great trip, but with it going out that way only a few times a week it is hard to predict. Thanks.

  2. Jonathan Caswell Says:

    Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    SHORT LIINE RAILROADING IS MY FAVORITE KIND!

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