Archive for July, 2013

Making Tracks to Capture the ‘Queen Bee’

July 31, 2013
Norfolk Southern's Reading Lines heritage unit sits at Klines in Bellevue between assignments.

Norfolk Southern’s Reading Lines heritage unit sits at Klines in Bellevue between assignments.

I made tracks to Bellevue earlier this week to catch the Reading heritage unit, a.k.a. the “Queen Bee,” earlier this week on a parked 55A empty grain train sitting at Klines along the Toledo District. The clouds were thick, but a few “sucker holes” opened up allowing some photos of the “Queen Bee” with an interesting sky.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

An even darker sky above just after an eastbound freight had cleared.

An even darker sky above just after an eastbound freight had cleared.

Roster view of the clean Reading Lines unit.

Roster view of the clean Reading Lines unit.

NS 1067 had it's own personal sucker hole as both its train and the passing train’s leader were in shadow.

NS 1067 had it’s own personal sucker hole as both its train and the passing train’s leader were in shadows.


A Difference of 40 Years at Ravenna Road

July 31, 2013

img564-copy-copy-copy (1)


What a difference that 40 years makes at the Ravenna Road of the Erie Railroad crossing in Brady Lake.

In the top photograph, a westbound Erie Lackawanna train led by No. 2524, a U25B ordered by the EL between 1964 and 1965, approaches the crossing. It is July 22, 1972, and the EL has less than five years of life left.

But look behind the lead unit. Photographer Robert Farkas writes: “The three F-3B’s were EL’s last of their kind. ARRC member Mike Ondecker tipped me off that this was coming.”

Now move ahead to August 13, 2012. The EL is long gone and the tracks are now owned by the Portage County Port Authority. The Akron Barberton Cluster Railway runs to Ravenna from Brittain Yard in Akron three days a week, if that.

The ABC job is returning from Ravenna with a small cut of cars as it approaches the Ravenna Road crossing.

There is no longer double track here and the ex-Erie east of Ravenna has been pulled up.

ABC 1502, an SW1500 that is one of two on the roster, is blowing its horn as it heads for Kent. Maybe it will be back through here in a couple more days.

The view 40 years later is not quite a duplicate of the 1972 photo because it was taken on the east side of the tracks whereas the 1972 images was made on the west side.

Top Photograph by Robert Farkas. Bottom Photograph by Craig Sanders

Rare Passenger Train on the NS Mon Line

July 30, 2013
The "Coal Goes to War" special navigates the street running in West Brownsville, Pa. When the trip was announced it was supposed to have been pulled by E units painted in Pennsylvania Railroad markings.  But the motive power was changed to an Amtrak heritage unit.

The “Coal Goes to War” special navigates the street running in West Brownsville, Pa. When the trip was announced it was supposed to have been pulled by E units painted in Pennsylvania Railroad markings. But the motive power was changed to an Amtrak heritage unit.

I chased the Amtrak special down the Mon Valley Line in Pennsylvania on Sunday.  We started at the street running in West Brownsville and followed to Blacksburg, .W. Va. 

It seemed that every railfan in southwest Pennsylvania showed up to chase this train.  Seriously, you would have thought Nickel Plate Road No. 765 was in the lead not an Amtrak diesel even if it was a heritage.

I guess a special train is pretty rare down in these parts. NS last ran an OCS about five years ago and before that it was Conrail.  That makes this a very rare mileage trip. 

Anyhow, we followed the train to the end at Blacksburg although many locations I have no idea where we were.

We wanted a nice bridge shot something akin to what is found on the Virginian Railroad.  Unfortunately, although we found several such bridges all were treed in except one behind a high school and even that wasn’t perfect.

The chase continued on back roads. We followed some railfans who seemed to know which way to go. Otherwise we would have been completely lost. 

We then chased the special back to Waynesburg  at which point we gave up and headed home.  The light wasn’t good heading back north and we had had our fill.

 Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon





Making Lemonade in Marion

July 30, 2013


It was a “lemon” kind of day in Marion on Saturday with the dreary weather and the one remaining Norfolk Southern heritage unit that I needed nose into the train. And there were people everywhere as the Conrail Historical Society was holding a day-long Rail-B-Q.

What to do, what to do . . .

How does the saying go? When you are given lemons, make lemonade!

This won’t go down in the Durf Photo Hall of Fame by any stretch, but at least there was an “Erie” unit in Marion on this day, even if it was on the ex-Pennsylvania Railroad.

I’m looking down from the steps of the restored ex-Erie AC tower and over the roof of the preserved Erie Lackawanna caboose, which were fitting photo props for even a mediocre photo such as this one.

In reality, this could complete my photographing of all the H units in the wild, except I don’t count it as a “bag” until I catch them leading.

This is “one that got away”  . . . at least on this day.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

When the N&W Had F Units in Ohio

July 28, 2013


Although the Norfolk & Western never ordered F units of its own, it inherited Fs when it merged with the Wabash. Here are N&W Nos. 3697, 3717 and 3712 sitting in the early afternoon sun outside the Brewster shops. The N&W Fs were at Brewster in the late 1960s, but only for a short time. 

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Diesels on Parade at Illinois Railway Museum

July 28, 2013


The Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Ill., held a diesel days celebration on Saturday, July 20.  The museum had about 20 engines out for a parade including CB&Q Silver Pilot, an ex-AT&SF Alco RSD15 “alligator,” a Milwaukee Road Fairbanks Morse switcher and many others. Also on display but not in the parade was my favorite, the MNS “blue dragon,” a Lima Hamilton Center cab.

Photographs by Todd Dillon











Double Shot of Heritage Units

July 26, 2013



Late last week a couple of Norfolk Southern heritage units – The Penn Central and the Monongahela – were each leading different trains carrying symbol 64R and heading for Ohio. Due to factors beyond the railroad’s control both of these trains were parked for extended periods of time.

The PC train tied down in Elyria yard (west of Cleveland) and the MGA train was tied down at my yard, Motor yard in Macedonia, Ohio (east side of Cleveland).

Both trains were still sitting on Tuesday morning, but the PC train had been called and was doubling its train up for the trip to Conway and beyond.

With the MGA still sitting at the east end of my yard and the PC finally on the move east, the photo I envisioned shouldn’t be hard to figure out. I wanted the PC passing the MGA, a somewhat rare chance to catch two H units side by side.

I almost got blocked by a westbound train running on Track No. 1 (the track closest to the MGA track, but it cleared with only seconds to spare.

I can’t say the same for the clouds, but truth be told that didn’t bother me too much since it would have been noon in June sun anyway.

Here are the two “Conrail Family” Heritage units passing, one with the white train and one with the black train.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Checking Out Amtrak in Chicago

July 25, 2013


Last weekend we went to see diesel days at the Illinois Railway Museum.  On the way we took a quick tour of the Amtrak facility at Roosevelt Road in Chicago.  Here are some of the pictures from that.

Photographs by Todd Dillon







Cincinnati Streetcar Line Construction to Start

July 25, 2013

The City of Cincinnati signed a contract last week to begin construction of the city’s long-awaited streetcar line.

The $71.4 million contract is with a consortium of three local contractors, Messer/Prus/Delta JV.

A 3.6-mile folded loop will connect downtown Cincinnati with the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood to the north, using parts of Elm, Main, Race, and Walnut streets. There will be 18 stops.

The contract calls for completion in March 2015 of a 3,000-foot test track section and maintenance facility. “Substantial completion” of all work is expected by March 2016 with revenue service to begin in September 2016. The project was originally projected to be completed this past April.

Grab and Go Railfanning in Lake County

July 23, 2013
Amtrak No. 48 with a heritage locomotive rushes eastbound on Thursday, July 11.

Amtrak No. 48 with a heritage locomotive rushes eastbound on Thursday, July 11 at the station in Painesville.

A week and a half ago when the flash floods were occurring in western Ohio and Indiana I kept my eye on our Amtrak trains. I saw that No. 30 (eastbound Capitol Limited) had been re-routed but No. 48 (eastbound Lake Shore Limited( was expected its normal route for the July 10 departure from Chicago with Phase II livery P42DC No. 66 on the lead.

However, this train had experienced some delay and I had to work on Thursday, July 11. So, I decided to get up early and check the status.

No. 48 was expected about 1.5 hours late into Cleveland so I took care of Justin (our dog), showered, ate breakfast and got ready for work.

No. 48 departed Cleveland about 7:15 so I got into position at the Painesville station, shot it at 7:52. I then brought my camera home and got to work in plenty of time.    

The rest of my photos are from this past Sunday. I call it four trains in 20 minutes then home for breakfast.

Three days  later, I knew that No. 48 would be late because of a very late No. 49 (westbound Lake Shore Limited) into Chicago the previous day. No. 48 left Cleveland at 8:19 so I decided for something in Perry. I crossed Maple Street and saw a CSX eastbound on Track No. 2 stopped west of the crossing.

I went to the usual spot on Main Street, figuring that No. 48 would run around the eastbound on Track No. 1.

However, the CSX train pulled up to a spot between both crossings and stopped, blocking Maple.

In the meantime a westbound CSX train on Track No. 1 was approaching with BNSF power. After shooting him and because I feared that the eastbound CSX would start up, I moved down to Davis Road. Here I ran into fellow ARRC member Dave Shepherd.

He also was waiting for No. 48. He told me that Norfolk Southern No. 306 was near so we positioned ourselves between the two railroads.

I got the BNSF power with the eastbound CSX train in Perry at 8:45,  NS 306 at 8:54, Amtrak 48 at 8:59 and the CSX eastbound at 9:06. I was back home in less than an hour.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas