Archive for June, 2014

Akron Man Killed After Being Struck by Train

June 30, 2014

An Akron man was killed after being struck early Sunday morning by a CSX train at a grade crossing in Akron. Authorities said Bennie L. Jarvis, 52, was riding in a motorized wheelchair when the accident occurred at  6:50 a.m. at the crossing on East South Street.

Witnesses told police that Jarvis traveled around the gates, which were down, before he was hit, the Summit County medical examiner’s office said.

The incident remains under investigation and an autopsy was scheduled for Monday. The train involved was the eastbound Q226. The train was later moved to near Arlington Street and tied down.

CVSR Tracks Almost Ready For Service

June 30, 2014
Track equipment is idle on Sunday afternoon just north of the Bath Road crossing of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad tracks.

Track equipment is idle on Sunday afternoon just north of the Bath Road crossing of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad tracks.

The washout near Bath Road on the tracks used by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is just about repaired. I ventured over to the site on Sunday afternoon to take a look after seeing a news release on the CVSR website saying that service to Akron will resume this Wednesday (July 2).

The damage occurred on May 12 during a heavy thunderstorm that caused flash flooding. Initially, CVSR trains operated only between Rockside Road station and Peninsula. That was later extended to Indigo Lake.

The tracks used by the CVSR pass through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and are owned by the National Park Service. Flooding has washed out the tracks at this location before.

You would not know that there had been a washout here. The rails have been replaced or straightened and the ballast has been replaced. Ballast that had been washed over to the nearby towpath trail through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park has been scooped up and removed. Here are some before and after photographs.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

The flooding left the tracks looking like a roller coaster ride.

The flooding left the tracks looking like a roller coaster ride.

The roller coaster profile is gone with the straight now straight and properly ballasted.

The roller coaster profile is gone with the mainline now straight and properly ballasted.

Washout-d

This switch leads to a stub end siding just north of Bath Road. After the May 12 storm, it looked like this, but now . . .

 . . . now looks like this.

. . . it looks like this, which is how it should be.

Dead Railroads Walking: The Silent Stately Depot

June 30, 2014
The former Milwaukee Road passenger station in Bedford, Ind., reposes in the morning sunlight. Both the structure and the tracks are currently unused.

The former Milwaukee Road passenger station in Bedford, Ind., reposes in the morning sunlight. Both the structure and the tracks are currently unused.

Second of Three Articles

One major objective of my May trip to Southern Indiana was to determine what was left of the railroads in Bedford. In particular, I wanted to see if the former Milwaukee Road passenger station was still standing. I had seen and photographed this structure in August 2001, yet much can change in more than a decade.

The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul was the only western railroad to own trackage east of Chicago. How the Milwaukee wound up in Indiana is an interesting story that has its roots in the World War I years when the railroad had to depend on other railroads to deliver coal for the Milwaukee’s locomotives.

Railroad officials never forgot that so on July 21, 1921, the Milwaukee leased the Chicago, Terre Haute & Southeastern for 999 years. The CTH&SE served rich coal fields near and southeast of Terre Haute, Ind. The acquisition served its purpose of providing fuel for Milwaukee Road and providing a profitable source of traffic. Until the 1940s, the Milwaukee was Indiana’s dominant coal hauling railroad.

But the expense of fixing the tracks of the CTH&SE, combined with some rather generous lease terms, also played a role in driving the Milwaukee Road into bankruptcy. In 1948, the lease of the CTH&SE was canceled and the Milwaukee acquired the property by deed.

The Milwaukee Road terminated at Westport, Ind., where it connected with a New York Central secondary line that extended between Louisville and Benton Harbor, Mich., which at 303 miles was the longest NYC route in Indiana.

In Bedford, the Milwaukee Road crossed the Monon at grade just north of the latter’s passenger station. In front of the Milwaukee station is a switch that leads to the Bedford industrial loop track.

This route diverges toward the northeast and once served such industries as a General Motor foundry. The loop then connected with the Monon on the north side of the city.

Both the Milwaukee and the Monon had branches in Bedford that served limestone quarries. It must have been an interesting railroad town at one time.

By the 1950s, the coal and limestone business had begun to dry up and the Milwaukee branch in Indiana began depending on interchange traffic and whatever local business it could haul, which wasn’t much. The condition of the tracks deteriorated.

In 1961, the Milwaukee ceased operating between Westport and Seymour. In 1977, the line was abandoned between Seymour and Bedford. During that era, another chapter in the saga of the Milwaukee Road in Indiana had begun to unfold and will be the subject of the third article in this series.

The Milwaukee was merged into the Soo Line in 1986 and the Soo eventually became part of Canadian Pacific.

Bucolic branches that had seemingly outlived their usefulness, not to mention revenue producing ability, had no future to the CP, so the Indiana trackage was sold to the Indian Rail Road which heretofore had operated a former Illinois Central branch between Indianapolis and Newton, Ill.

The INRD found very little business to be had in Bedford. An announced expansion of the GM foundry failed to happen and the INRD’s only customer was a scrap dealer.

For awhile, the INRD used the CSX Hoosier Subdivision to reach Louisville from Bedford. But when CSX won regulatory approval in early 2009 to cease offering freight service on most of the Hoosier Sub, the INRD decided to give up on the former Milwaukee Road trackage in Bedford.

At midnight on May 9, 2010, the INRD took out of service the 21 miles of The Latta Sub, as the ex-Milwaukee Road line was known, from Bedford to the Crane U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center. The INRD reused that rail elsewhere on its system. What is left of the former Milwaukee Road in Bedford has been idle ever since.

The Indiana passenger operations of the Milwaukee Road have been little noted, perhaps because they failed to connect with the remainder of the railroad’s system.

The last Milwaukee Road passenger train in Indiana was a Terre Haute-Bedford turn that operated with a gas-electric car. It made its last trips on July 15, 1950. No Milwaukee Road passenger train in Indiana ever carried the fabled “Hiawatha” name.

The Milwaukee Road station in Bedford is still standing and looks much as it did when I last saw it nearly 14 years ago. When passenger trains still ran, the east end of the station housed the ticket window and offices. The center contained the waiting room and the west end had facilities to handle express traffic. Even after the Milwaukee ceased passenger service, the depot continued to house Railway Express operations. An REA truck would drive to the nearby Monon depot to load and unload express from that railroad’s trains.

Now, as then, the Milwaukee Road station, reportedly built in 1899, is boarded up and the doors show signs of years of weather wear. Amazingly, the structure is relatively free of graffiti and the roof and upper windows appear to be in good condition. I found an online report that the roof was rehabilitated a few years ago.

It is no surprise that the depot is built of limestone and perhaps I should not have been surprised to have found elaborate limestone carvings over the dormer windows.

There are signs that the depot will be saved. In 1999, it was listed on the Indiana Register of Historic Places. Last year Bedford won a state grant that will be used, in part, to restore the station and move it to a new location on J Street that was previously the site of a liquor store. The depot is now owned by the city of Bedford.

As for the former Milwaukee Road and Monon tracks in Bedford, they await the return of rail service or scrapping. Dormant rail lines have been revived in other places and perhaps it will happen here. But that will take money, will and a lot of work.

Next: The Litigious History Behind a Switch

A view of the station from the parking lot side.

A view of the station from the parking lot side.

MKE04x

MKE05

MKE06

MKE07

MKE08

MKE09

MKE10

MKE11

Thousands of pairs of feet have walked over the bricks on the platform, although none of them have boarded a scheduled passenger train since 1950.

Thousands of pairs of feet have walked over the bricks on the platform, although none of them have boarded a scheduled passenger train since 1950.

Looking east from in front of the passenger station. Note the former freight house in the background to the right. The Bedford industrial loop diverges to the left.

Looking east from in front of the passenger station. Note the former freight house in the background to the right. The Bedford industrial loop diverges to the left.

Looking west over the grade crossing at J Street. The diamond with the Monon used to be in what is now a grove of trees straight ahead.

Looking west over the grade crossing at J Street. The diamond with the Monon used to be in what is now a grove of trees straight ahead.

Will this switch ever turn again. It seems highly unlikely that it will.

Will this switch ever turn again. It seems highly unlikely that it will.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

J.J. Young Photos Being Posted Online

June 30, 2014

The railroad photographs of the late s images from the area in and around Binghamton, N.Y.

Young was born in 1929 in Wheeling, W.Va., and worked for the Wheeling & Lake Erie before moving in 1959 to Binghamton, N.Y., to teach photography. His widow Liz has agreed to allow access to his collection.

Photographer Sam Botts and Young’s son, J.J. Young III, will review and scan the thousands of the negatives in the collection, a project that Botts said will take several years to complete.

The 800 Binghamton area now up on the site took two years to process.

After he retired, Young relocated to Charleston, W.Va., where he continued to photograph trains until his death. Young never had a driver’s license, yet visited all 48 states in the continental in pursuit of train images. His collection includes more than 10,000 images. U.S. chasing trains.

Young amassed a collection of more than 10,000 images before he died in 2004. To view some of Young’s steam era images, visit www.flickr.com/photos/jjyoungjr.

Dead Railroads Walking: All Quiet in Beford

June 29, 2014
The CSX Hoosier Sub doesn't extend much further than this station identification sign and pair of mileposts. The milepost at the far left is the original Monon milepost.

The CSX Hoosier Sub doesn’t extend much further than this station identification sign and pair of mileposts. The milepost at the far left is the original Monon milepost.

First of Three Articles

Drive around Bedford, Ind., a city of 13,000 in Southern Indiana and you’ll see a lot of railroad tracks. One of them even runs right down J Street on the west side of the town square that holds the Lawrence County Courthouse.

But you won’t hear any locomotive horns. Take a closer look at those tracks and you’ll see plenty of rust.

The last train to Bedford ran on May 9, 2010, but it was a special hosted by the Indiana Rail Road to make a last run over track it was about to abandon and rip up. It had been several months since the INRD or CSX had run a train to Bedford to haul freight.

Bedford is home to two dead railroads walking, the remains of the Monon and Milwaukee Road lines that passed through town.

There has been talk about a local government entity purchasing the ex-Monon between Bedford and Mitchell to preserve a rail link to CSX at the latter city. The Bedford industrial loop track served by both the Monon and Milwaukee remains in place.

But little, if any, tangible progress has been made toward that end. Weeds and trees grow through the ties as Bedford appears destined to join a growing list of cities where the railroad has left town.

In mid-May, I visited Bedford on a sunny Saturday morning to see what was left of its railroads. Actually, there is quite a bit to see.

At one time, Bedford was a thriving railroad community with tracks extending in every direction to serve the many limestone quarries located here.

Aside from the Monon and Milwaukee Road, Bedford had a branch of the Baltimore & Ohio that came off the Cincinnati-St. Louis line at Rivervale.

The limestone in the Oolitic limestone belt between Bedford and Bloomington is used for building construction. Many great structures, including the Empire State Building and Pentagon, were built with limestone quarried in this region. Many of the buildings on the campus of nearby Indiana University were built with this limestone.

But the limestone business isn’t want it used to be and the stone is now shipped by truck. As the limestone quarries closed, the tracks that served them were abandoned.

The decline of the former Monon route through Bedford, which linked Chicago and Louisville, can be traced to its July 31, 1971, merger with the Louisville & Nashville.

Yes, the L&N wanted the Monon’s access to Chicago but it especially coveted the Monon’s ownership share of the Chicago & Western Indiana and the Belt Railway of Chicago. Those would enable L&N to reap lower user fees in Chicago.

The L&N already had a route to Chicago having acquired the Chicago & Eastern Illinois line north of Evansville, Ind. That route was straighter and had fewer grades than the Monon and the L&N gradually moved the through Chicago-Louisville traffic away from the ex-Monon and onto the ex-C&EI route.

By the middle 1980s when I moved to Bloomington, Ind., to attend graduate school at IU, the former Monon was down to a pair of manifest freights that operated between Chicago and Louisville, some locals and, for a time, a pair of Chicago-Jacksonville, Fla., intermodal train. On occasion, the Milwaukee Road’s Louisville trains would detour through Bloomington and CSX would run the occasional extra.

The intermodal trains were moved to the ex-C&EI route via Terre Haute, Ind., and most of the locals ended aside from a switch job that worked industries in Bloomington, primarily a General Electric plant on the west side of town that made refrigerators.

That left R590 and R591 as the last through freights on the south end of the ex-Monon. CSX didn’t want to use the ex-Monon as a through route and those trains made their last runs on the south end through Bedford on May 31, 1992.

CSX abandoned 23 miles of the ex-Monon between Bedford and the south side of Bloomington on March 19, 1993, and rail removal began later that year.

After R590 and R91 stopped operating on the south end, CSX operations shrunk to periodic local service. Only the now Soo Line trains to and from Louisville regularly traveled the south end of the ex-Monon, which CSX in 1994 would rename the Hoosier Subdivision. The track was in poor condition with much of the line covered by 10 mph slow orders.

But in the latter half of 1993 traffic began rising on CSX and Howell Yard in Evansville on the ex-C&EI route began suffering congestion. To alleviate that, CSX began rerouting Louisville-East St. Louis, Ill., traffic on the ex-Monon to Mitchell and thence west on the ex-B&O St. Louis line. CSX rebuilt the line between Mitchell and New Albany.

CSX still ran a local to Bedford on occasion, but most of the action occurred from Mitchell southward. In time, CSX shifted its New Albany-Mitchell trains to another routing and the Hoosier Sub began to languish.

CSX still serves at least one customer in New Albany, but in early 2009 CSX won Surface Transportation Board approval to cease offering service on most of the Hoosier Sub. Whatever freight business that the ex-Monon route had was either gone or the shippers had ceased to ship by rail.

Today, the rails of the Hoosier Sub end abruptly just north of the switch to the connection to the former Milwaukee Road in Bedford.

The limestone Monon passenger station has been recycled for another use – literally. The station is the home of a recycling operation and on the Saturday morning that I was there a steady stream of area residents pulled up to drop off items they were discarding.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the building may still resemble a railroad station, but barely. Wooden siding has been placed over the some of the limestone façade and the facility has a “trashed” appearance. Perhaps that is to be expected at a recycling facility.

Vestiges of the platform remain in place, including a faded yellow line, although a scheduled passenger train hasn’t stopped in Bedford since Sept. 30, 1967, when the northbound Thoroughbred made its last trek from Louisville to Chicago’s Dearborn Station.

Amtrak’s Floridian used the former Monon between Chicago and Louisville between March 1975 and October 1979, but Amtrak never established a station stop in Bedford.

The rails are still in place on J Street, one of three places where the Monon had street running between Chicago and Louisville. The others were in Lafayette and New Albany.

The Hoosier Sub is still in place all the way to New Albany and the iconic semaphore signals used on the line still stand. But much of the Hoosier Sub is rusting rails. It is a wonder that CSX hasn’t pulled up the rails yet.

Next: The Former Milwaukee Road in Bedford.

 

The south end of the former Monon passenger station. The tracks used to be to the left of the building. The photograph was taken from the driveway leading to the structure.

The south end of the former Monon passenger station. The tracks used to be to the left of the building. The photograph was taken from the driveway leading to the structure.

The north end of the ex-Monon station.

The north end of the ex-Monon station.

The former Monon station in a view on the platform looking toward downtown Bedford.

The former Monon station in a view on the platform looking toward downtown Bedford.

The Hoosier Sub still runs down J Street in Bedford. A farmers market was in progress when this image was made.

The Hoosier Sub still runs down J Street in Bedford. A farmers market was in progress when this image was made.

The Hoosier Sub ends here. The track to the left is the former connecting track to the Milwaukee Road.

The Hoosier Sub ends here. The track to the left is the former connecting track to the Milwaukee Road.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

CVSR to Return to Akron on July 2.

June 28, 2014

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad will resume service to Akron on July 2 and is offering half price coach tickets to mark the resumption of service.

Passengers boarding at Akron Northside Station July 2 through July 6 will receive half price coach tickets of $9 for adults and $6.50 for children).

Akron service was suspended after severe thunderstorms on May 12 brought flooding that washed out the tracks near Bath Road. Initially, trains only operated as far south as Peninsula, but that was soon extended to Indigo Lake.

The National Park Service, which owns the tracks, has recently undertaken track repairs.

“We greatly appreciate our partnership with the National Park Service, which allowed the necessary resources to come together and repair the tracks in a timely manner,” said CVSR President & CEO Craig Tallman. “We are looking forward to a very busy summer aboard CVSR and in the National Park.”

CVSR operates regular excursions through Cuyahoga Valley National Park Wednesdays through Sundays.

The summer schedule runs through October and includes southbound departures from Rockside Station in Independence at 9 a.m., 12:45 p.m., and 4:25 p.m.; departures from Peninsula at 9:40 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:40 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 5:10 p.m. and northbound departures from Akron at 10:45 a.m., 2:40 p.m. and 6:10 p.m.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors (Wednesdays through Fridays), and $13 for children ages 3-12.  Free coach tickets are offered to active military, veterans, and first responders on regularly-scheduled trains on Thursdays through September; up to three family members/guests may receive half-price coach tickets on the same train.

Tickets for may be purchased in advance at CVSR.com, by calling 1-800-468-4070, or at Rockside Station, Peninsula Depot, or Akron Northside Station 45 minutes before departure. Senior and military discount are only available at the station.

New Amtrak Baggage Cars to Have Bike Racks

June 28, 2014

Amtrak’s new baggage cars will come with bicycle racks on all of its long-distance trains.

“This is a service and amenity that we want to make sure we can offer,” said Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz.

Amtrak plans to place into service 55 new baggage cars on all 15 long-distance routes, including the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited, which operate through Northeast Ohio.

Amtrak offers roll-on service on a few trains, but for now, those who want to travel with bicycles on trains with baggage cars must box them as checked baggage.

The policies for bicycles at stations with checked baggage service are still are being worked out,. Schulz said.

Last October, Amtrak allowed 20 bicyclists to take their bikes onto a Capitol Limited train in Pittsburgh in a one-day trial of roll-on service that participants said was successful.

Amtrak said it has begun field-testing the baggage cars in Chicago, New Orleans, Miami and the Northeast Corridor. Testing will continue into October.

Groundbreaking Set for Detroit Streetcar Project

June 28, 2014

Ground will be broken for the M1 Rail Detroit streetcar project on July 28. The ground breaking ceremonies had been planned for last spring but had been delayed until more arrangements, including approval by the Detroit City Council, could be worked out.

M1 said it would work with the Michigan Department of Transportation and DTE Energy as the latter two parties “start complementary work around mid-July before M-1 Rail begins its work on Monday, July 28.

The MDOT and DTE work on Woodward Avenue will not prohibit vehicular traffic but will require limited lane closures.”

“Over the next 30 days our team will be pounding the pavement to make everyone who lives, works and visits the Woodward [Avenue] corridor aware of what they should expect from track construction and how to navigate around it once we begin on July 28th,” said M1 Rail Chief Operating Officer Paul Childs. “We are moving quickly to provide information and resources to businesses and residents along the corridor. There will be a business support program that we will introduce in the coming weeks along with more details about construction activities and timelines as they are finalized.”

Alameda, Calif.-based Stacy and Witbeck, Inc. is the construction  manager and general contractor for the 3.3-mile, $137 million project.

 

Firm Named to Build Rochester Amtrak Station

June 28, 2014

The Pike Co. Inc. has been chosen to oversee the design and construction of a new intermodal transportation center to be used by Amtrak in Rochester, N.Y.

Based in Rochester, Pike will work with LaBella Associates, Kisan Engineering, Moffat & Nichol Engineering, Foundation Design, Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect and Atlantic Testing Laboratories.

Amtrak currently uses a station built in the 1970s. The new facility will cost an estimated $29.8 million. Amtrak will own and operate the station.

The station will include two additional passenger tracks and a new two-sided high-level passenger platform. Greyhound and Trailways buses are expected to use the facility.

CSX will perform preliminary site work this summer in advance of the design build team’s work, which is expected to begin in the fall. Project funding includes a $15 million grant from the Federal Railroad Administration through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program.

NYSDOT and FRA will provide $3.5 million in funding for preliminary engineering. The City of Rochester will provide $500,000 while New York State Rail funds will make up the remainder of project costs. The contractors and the New York State Department of Transportation will negotiate a final contract this summer. The contract will then need to be approved by the state attorney general and comptroller.

Rochester is served by eight daily Amtrak trains, including the Chicago-New York Lake Shore Limited, the New York-Toronto Maple Leaf and two pairs of Empire Service trains between New York and Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Heading East in Search of Amtrak

June 27, 2014
Our day out chasing Amtrak began with this image of a westbound CSX manifest freight passing the station at Conneaut. It would be the last sunlight we would see for a few hours.

Our day out chasing Amtrak began with this image of a westbound CSX manifest freight passing the station at Conneaut. It would be the last sunlight we would see for a few hours.

In an earlier post, I recounted how fellow Akron Railroad Club member Ed Ribinskas and I set out last week in search of a photo opportunity of Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited. We  had talked for some time about going out during the longest days of daylight in search of No. 48.

If No. 48 is on time, it departs Cleveland just before 6 a.m. During much of the year that means there isn’t enough daylight to get a good image. But during June it’s a different story.

It turned out that No. 48 was not on time on the day we picked to chase it. When I left my home in the eastern Cleveland suburbs, No. 48 had just arrived in Bryan, Ohio. It was just over three and a half hours off the time card.

We would have plenty of time to get into position. We also had not counted on it raining that morning. We waited out the rain by having breakfast at the All Aboard Dinor in Lake City, Pa. We had a table in the agent’s alcove, which afford us a good view of the tracks in both directions.

After breakfast, we waited for No. 48 by a grade crossing with Pennsylvania Route 18. There was on-street parking nearby.

CSX put a small fleet of freight trains through town before No. 48 arrived. We kept tabs on it by calling Amtrak Julie and she kept adjusting backwards the arrival time in Erie each time that we called.

All of the eastbound freights were on Track No. 2. I wanted to be on the south side of the tracks when No. 48 came through. But what if No. 48 was on Track 1 as a slow freight lumbered through on Track 2?

Fortunately, a garbage train came to the rescue. I don’t recall the symbol, but a westbound whose consist was all garbage containers rolled on through on Track 1. The nearest crossovers were by Conneaut and it seemed unlikely that the westbound would get there before Amtrak.

The rear of the garbage train, which we could continue to smell for a short time after its last car had cleared, passed by at 10:57 a.m. Julie estimated No. 48 would arrive in Erie at 11:15 a.m.

Ten minutes later No. 48 peaked out from around a curve on Track 2. Shortly before that, the sun broke through. Talk about good timing.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A pair of P42 locomotives running elephant style leads the tardy eastbound Lake Shore Limited through Lake City, Pa.

A pair of P42 locomotives running elephant style leads the tardy eastbound Lake Shore Limited through Lake City, Pa.

Amtrak's heritage fleet diners just keep rolling. They are assigned to the Lake Shore Limited, Crescent, Silver Star and Silver Meteor.

Amtrak’s heritage fleet diners just keep rolling. They are assigned to the Lake Shore Limited, Crescent, Silver Star and Silver Meteor.

The baggage car of the New York section was in its customary place. The two-story brick structure to the left is part of a grain elevator and feed mill complex.

The baggage car of the New York section was in its customary place. The two-story brick structure to the left is part of a grain elevator and feed mill complex.

Every car in this westbound was carrying trash. The station to the right is the home of the All Aboard Dinor in Lake City, Pa.

Every car in this westbound was carrying trash. The station to the right is the home of the All Aboard Dinor in Lake City, Pa.

A BNSF motive power consist added a splash of bright colors on a dreary morning.

A BNSF motive power consist added a splash of bright colors on a dreary morning.