Archive for November, 2014

Skeletons Guarding Rust

November 29, 2014

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A skeleton guarding rust is about all you can say in regards to this former Pennsylvania Railroad signal in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

Known as Payne on the railroad, its head was turned away from the rails in the early ‘90s by Conrail, never to shine again.

This ex-PRR line from Hudson to Akron will likely never see a train again anyway. Heavily overgrown, the business next to the tracks here does see fit to keep the brush down and the grass mowed for this small stretch in front of their building.

About a quarter-mile south of this location was the site of the tragic doodlebug wreck in 1931. I have to wonder if this signal played a part in that sad story.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

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Pleasant Memories of Watching N&W 611

November 28, 2014

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As I was going through some slides, I came across an image that brings back great memories. Former Akron Railroad Club member Jim Bacon, Paul Woodring, and I had gone to Roanoke, Va., for some of N&W 611’s first trips.

We really didn’t know the area, so on the morning of Sept. 4, 1982, when the 611 left Roanoke we followed our maps and found this location a few miles out of Roanoke.

Although this was an uphill run, the 611 and her train accelerated past us and left us awestruck at her power and beauty.

Thankfully she is being restored and should give many others memories as wonderful as this. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Article and Photograph by Bob Farkas

When Anna Mae Was a Cook on the B&O

November 26, 2014

Anna Mae Ramatanes (1908-2000) was the stepmother of the late Akron Railroad Club member Eli Rantanes. This article is reprinted from the November ARRC Bulletin.

When you are sitting at a crossing, impatient to be on your way, the railroad holds little romance or appeal. You just wish this mass of dirty, noisy metal would pass a lot more quickly.

There were days when the rails were a popular mode of travel and the transport of materials and products, but the invention of airplanes and automobiles have taken their toll.

Anna Mae Ramatanes shared some of her experiences as a young woman, wife and mother, while working on the Baltimore & Ohio, more recently known as the Chessie System and CSX.

In some circles, live steam is an engine that’s actually powered by steam. This is thought of as an oddity in the day of diesel.

Live steam in Anna Mae’s time meant steam locomotives on a 1-to-1scale.

At an age when some girls were finishing high school, she married, had a small son, and started working on the railroad as a cook.

Her husband was a foreman of a railroad construction crew that built bridges and water tanks.

He was wise enough to know that these crews would travel and work best with good food. So what better way to feed them well and have his little family with him, than to hire his wife as camp cook.

Early each Monday from their home in Lodi, the train would take them to various construction sites along the pike.

Warren was the first camp where Anna Mae worked. There was a lot going on in the steel mills in Youngstown. The railroads were hitting their peak years.

With the absence of prepackaged foods, a typical day for the cook meant a 4 a.m. rising and firing up the stove to feed 18 to 20 hungry men.

Lunch and supper were repeats of the breakfast scene. Eggs, mush, oatmeal, biscuits and cups of hot coffee passed through Anna Mae’s pots and pans in countless numbers.

The “boys” were helpful in any way they could to make her hard work a little easier. They would help put in wood or coal for heat and cooking.

It wasn’t the greatest place for a toddler to play in. They lived in a box car during the week and it wasn’t filled with the luxuries of home. Toys were few.

In the summer heat, the temptation of ice cream hid the danger of crossing tracks close to some heavy construction equipment.

Shortly after Anna Mae and her small son had passed by, some of the construction fell. None of the workers were seriously injured.

For three years this cheerful, strong, smart and lovely young woman continued as a cook on the B&O.

The approach of her second child meant retirement for her although her husband thought that she should have stayed on. But she had more important tasks to complete.

Anna Mae later made her home in Clinton (Warwick), a railroad town that in its peak years saw 120 trains pass though its area.

I was taught by my daddy that it is rude to ask or tell a lady’s age. However, I must say that Anna Mae Ramatanes wore hers very well.

Article by Alethea Rantanes

ARRC End of Year Dinner is Saturday in Stow

November 25, 2014

The Akron Railroad Club will bring 2014 to a close this Saturday (Nov. 29) with its second annual end of year dinner.

Bulletin Editor Marty Surdyk will again be doing the program, which is titled Back to the Fifties, Part 2. Marty will be showing slides taken by his father, the late William J. Surdyk, during his travels to visit various railroad operations in the 1950s.

Marty showed a similar program of his dad’s photographs at last year’s end of year dinner and it proved to be quite a hit with those present. The 45-minute program went by all too fast. That should be the case again this year as we view vintage railroading operations and equipment, most of which aren’t around anymore.

The event will be held at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s restaurant at 3732 Darrow Road in Stow. As was the case last year, those attending will order dinner and drinks from the menu and pay the restaurant directly. The ARRC is not collecting any money for this event.

We have a meeting room set aside for us and it can comfortably hold 32 people. The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with drinks. Dinner is expected to be served at approximately 6:30 p.m.

The end of year dinner has replaced the annual December banquet that was held for many years at various sites in Akron, most recently the Martin Center of the University of Akron.

Taking a Trip in the Wayback Machine to 1949

November 25, 2014

ARRC Pittsburgh Trip

The photograph above was taken by the father of Rich Krisak, a friend of Akron Railroad Club member Alex Bruchac. Rich’s father was a motorman on the Shaker Rapid in Cleveland. The elder Krisak was also a noted photographer of trolleys and interurbans.

Rich was recently looking through his dad’s collection and found this 1949 image of an ARRC outing in Pittsburgh.

As best as can be determined, the photo was made on June 19, 1949. On that day the ARRC sponsored a fan trip on the Pittsburgh Railway, operating Pittsburgh to Washington, and Pittsburgh to Charleroi.

It would not be the last ARRC traction outing nor would it be the last time that ARRC members rode the Pittsburgh Railway. But at the time of this trip, streetcar operations had greatly diminished in number and, hence, so did opportunities to conduct traction outings.

From the looks of this car, it doesn’t appear that this trip was heavily patronized. But then again, maybe this was a photo runby and most of those aboard disembarked to make photographs.

Full Consists Restored to Capitol Limited

November 25, 2014

Amtrak restored full consists to the Capitol Limited on schedule last week. The train is now operating with its regular consist of two locomotives, a baggage car, transition sleeper, two sleepers, dining car, Sightseer lounge and three coaches.

The consist was reduced in size several weeks ago in an effort to create a fourth train set that would remain overnight in Chicago.

At the time, the train was being plagued by excessive late arrivals in Chicago that had a cascading effect of leading to late departures due to the time needed to service the train and the crew to obtain its mandated rest.

The fourth trainset enabled No. 30 to depart on time or nearly on time even if No. 29 was extremely late that day in reaching Chicago. However, creating the fourth trainset also meant that Nos. 29.30 were operating with fewer sleepers and coaches, without the Sightseer lounge and without a baggage car.

Our Persistence was Rewarded in the End

November 24, 2014

 

My last photograph of the day was one of the best, if not my favorite. The sun has set but the afterglow lights up the western sky as a snow-coated CSX stack train heads for Cleveland.

My last photograph of the day was one of the best, if not my favorite. The sun has set but the afterglow lights up the western sky as a snow-coated CSX stack train heads for Cleveland.

My fellow Akron Railroad Club officer Edward Ribinskas and I went to Conneaut on Sept. 19 to catch the Pine Tree Limited on its way to the convention of the American Association of Private Car Owners.

A couple days later, Ed checked himself into the Cleveland Clinic hospital where he ultimately wound up having open heart surgery.

It’s been a long recovery period and Ed is doing well, but he had not been trackside since that September outing.

Last Friday afternoon I had an opening in my schedule and the weather forecast looked promising so I traveled to Ed’s home to pick him up and take him to Perry to get in a little train watching.

At least that was the idea. Perry is home to the busy CSX Erie West Subdivision and the Norfolk Southern Cleveland District, both of which go to Buffalo, N.Y., from Cleveland.

I thought by Friday traffic would be moving again on both railroads and it would be heavy as they sought to get caught up.

I could not have been more wrong. We sat for a good two hours and nothing moved. The road channels of both railroads were eerily silent.

About 4:15 p.m., I heard a scratching noise on the CSX road channel. It was followed by another scratching noise a couple minutes later. Another minute passed and I heard a voice calling a signal on Track No. 1 westbound.

We were not going to be shut out. Until then, we had both become rather discouraged.

By the time the train got to Perry it was just past 4:30. Weather conditions were good. It was cold, but not bitterly cold.

The clouds had broken up and it was mostly sunny. The ground was still snow covered and there was a fair amount of the white stuff on the tracks.

With rain and warmer temperatures in the offing for Saturday and Sunday, Friday would be the best day to photograph trains even as it turned out not to be the best day for rail traffic.

The challenge was that the sun would be setting in less than a half-hour. The low sun angle was fine, but the trees blocking it created the effect of sunlight and shadows.

Still, I rather liked the way that that played out. Our first train of the day was a garbage train that stinks to high heaven even in the winter.

We got out shots and I managed to work the setting sun into a going way image.

After getting back in my car, we joked about how we waited for more than two hours and all we got was garbage.

It was good for a laugh, but we weren’t done just yet. About 15 minutes later CSX sent a pair of stack trains past us, one in each direction.

The light was slipping away fast, but there was just enough to make good images.

We both were pleased with how our photos of the Union Pacific unit on the lead of the westbound worked out.

As we got ready to leave, we agreed that we had, again, learned that you need to be persistent when chasing trains.

It doesn’t always work out this way, but on this day our seeing it through was rewarded with some good late day light photographs.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

After waiting more than two hours we finally landed a train. Fortunately for us, it coming westbound into the late day light.

After waiting more than two hours we finally landed a train. Fortunately for us, it coming westbound into the late day light.

A closer view of the motive power of the garbage train stepping out in the sunlight again.

A closer view of the motive power of the garbage train stepping out in the sunlight again. Note the tall shadows that Ed and I cast in the snow.

I just liked the contrast of dark and light on the endless string of garbage containers.

I just liked the contrast of dark and light on the endless string of garbage containers.

The sun is about to set over Perry as the rear of the snow-covered garbage containers catches the dying rays of light.

The sun is about to set over Perry as the rear of the snow-covered garbage containers catches the dying rays of light.

I managed to catch a piece of the setting sun in the notch in the trees in front of the nose of this eastbound stack train. If only the train had been here a few minutes earlier.

I managed to catch a piece of the setting sun in the notch in the trees in front of the nose of this eastbound stack train. If only the train had been here a few minutes earlier.

Passing stack trains beneath the old signal bridge at Perry.

Passing stack trains beneath the old signal bridge at Perry.

A good look at the Union Pacific leader on the westbound stack train.

A good look at the Union Pacific leader on the westbound stack train.

The snow caked on the pilot and trucks of Union Pacific No. 8178 show that it's been traveling through snow for a while.

The snow caked on the pilot and trucks of Union Pacific No. 8178 show that it’s been traveling through snow for a while.

The last rays of sunlight of the day reflect off the sides of the containers of a westbound CSX stack train at Perry.

The last rays of sunlight of the day reflect off the sides of the containers of a westbound CSX stack train at Perry.

 

Not Just Another Pretty CP Locomotive

November 23, 2014

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Despite the somewhat gloomy morning, I heard a westbound light engine move coming so I set up for a photo “just in case.”

I’ve seen just about anything on some of these power moves, but this one contained a treat, at least for me.

It’s very rare that I get to see former Lehigh Valley power, but Canadian Pacific No. 7306 (ex LV 319) was the trailing unit on this move.

I don’t know what’s up with that “do not couple” on the plow, but having this engine with the nose uncoupled was nice regardless of the weather.

Sporting its still clean late 2013 CP paint job that covered up an older StL&H scheme, it looked good. But paint only hides history, it doesn’t erase it.

This locomotive was built the same year that I got into train watching full time, 1972. It’s had at least six paint jobs and I’m sure a million plus miles on her and she’s still going strong.

I have no idea how many miles I’ve got on me train watching since 1972. I saw these on the Delaware & Hudson after it acquired them in the patched-out LV scheme and later in the Avon blue and yellow, and in Guilford gray.

Anyway, I spent some time contemplating all the places that this unit might have been since coming out of LaGrange.

Up and down the D&H thousands of times, running in a motive power pool to places like Bellevue, Ohio, and all over the Guilford and CPR Systems.

And, yes, last week over former Pennsylvania and New York Central rails now owned by Norfolk Southern, in this case the old NYC in Cleveland or, more precisely, the shoo fly around a bridge construction site on the former NYC.

To some, the passing of this unit might be just another pretty CP engine going by. To me it was a surprising and pleasant link to the past.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

Remembering a 2008 Sandusky District Outing

November 22, 2014
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My favorite photograph made on a day on the NS Sandusky District in July 2008. The train appears to be coming out of the corn field.

If you saw Marty Surdyk’s program Friday night in which he reviewed his railroad photography work of 2014, you might have guesses that he has a fondness for traveling to north central Ohio to photograph trains.

In particular, he likes to patrol the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern between Bellevue and Bucyrus. Seeing his images taken there from the past summer brought back some memories or a 2008 journey I made with Marty and his brother Robert to the Sandusky District.

Until I joined the Akron Railroad Club in summer 2003 most of my railfanning had been confined to Berea.

I made periodic trips to Marion and got in some railfanning in Orrville during that town’s annual railroad days celebration. But more often than not I went to Berea on Saturday or Sunday and sat there all day.

Some of the guys I met would talk about places like Willard, Bellevue and Fostoria, but I had never seen them.

That began to change after I joined the ARRC and got to know Marty. He volunteered to take me out and show me places I had heard other railfans talk about.

Most of our travels involved going out on the CSX mainlines leading west of Cleveland and Akron as well as the NS Chicago Line.

Of all the places I visited with Marty the one that intrigued me the most was the NS Sandusky District.

I had seen Sandusky District trains in Marion, but never pursued them beyond there.

Unlike the other railroad routes we visited, the Sandusky District had a north-south orientation.

I was struck by how much of a rolling profile that this piece of railroad had. No, it wasn’t hills or rugged terrain. But it was enough up and down to make for some interesting photographs.

I also liked how the Sandusky District cut through farmlands that reminded me a lot of where I grew up in east central Illinois.

One Sunday visit to the Sandusky District that I made with Marty was particularly memorable.

It was July 13, 2008, on a sunny day with just enough white puffy clouds to make the sky interesting. We spent all afternoon and part of the evening chasing trains between Frank and Ridgeton.

I was a committed slide film shooter then, usually using Kodak Ektachrome 200 or Fuji Provia film. Sometimes I’d stick a roll of Fuji Velvia into my Canon Rebel G.

I had just begun having Dodd Camera copy my images onto a CD when they were processed which I thought gave me the best of both worlds of film and digital.

All images that you see with this article came from that CD and they are not of the same quality as digital images made with a digital camera. But they are adequate.

Marty was familiar with the Sandusky District having been on it many times. So he knew the best places to photograph.

Much of what we did and talked about that day has been lost in the fog of time.

We probably found a Subway, which is Marty’s go-to place for lunch. Much of our day likely was spent on the highways and rural roads looking for NS trains.

My favorite image of the day is the one that leads off this photo essay. It shows a southbound (railroad eastbound) train appearing to rise out of a corn field. In fact it is one of my all-time favorite Sandusky District images.

My second favorite images were made of the last train that we photographed on NS. Back then there was a late afternoon manifest freight out of Bellevue that usually had Canadian National motive power.

Today’s train was no exception. We intercepted it just south of Attica Junction and may have chased it a short distance.

By now we had late day light and those red and black CN locomotives looked great.

Although NS had been our primary objective, we went to Scipio to bag a pair of CSX trains, one in each direction, as the sun was setting.

I pushed the limits of what my camera could do to capture the second of those trains. The resulting image won’t win any photography awards, but reminds me of one of my most pleasant outings.

Marty, Robert and I made one more foray to the Sandusky District during which we focused on the territory between Bucyrus and Marion in an effort to photograph some of the surviving Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals.

I haven’t been back to the Sandusky District with Marty since then. I know Marty still has an affinity for the Sandusky District and gets there now and then.

I’ve since explored the territory on my own and with others, particularly in 2012 when the Nickel Plate Road 765 pulled a series of employee appreciation specials between Bellevue and Bucyrus.

I recently ran across that CD with the images that I made on that July 2008 day with Marty on the Sandusky District. Seeing them brought a smile to my face and a lot of warm memories to mind.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

There are plenty of farm fields lining the tracks of the Sandusky District. That helps keep the growth of trees in check.

There are plenty of farm fields lining the tracks of the Sandusky District. That helps keep the growth of trees in check.

The gentle roller coast profile of the Sandusky District helped endear me to this stretch of railroad.

The gentle roller coast profile of the Sandusky District helped endear me to this stretch of railroad.

Splitting the signals at, I think, a location south of Attica.

Splitting the signals at, I think, a location south of Attica.

Coal dust is flying off this northbound coal train. Note the ex-Conrail unit trailing.

Coal dust is flying off this northbound coal train. Note the ex-Conrail unit trailing.

A day our with Marty isn't complete unless you get a train next to a grain elevator. This one is at Ridgeton and the sunlight was vanishing fast.

A day our with Marty isn’t complete unless you get a train next to a grain elevator. This one is at Ridgeton and the sunlight was vanishing fast.

The train with CN power at Attica Junction (Siam).

The train with CN power at Attica Junction (Siam).

Those CN locomotives were looking sharp as they passed a recently harvested wheat field in late day light.

Those CN locomotives were looking sharp as they passed a recently harvested wheat field in late day light.

This was one of my earliest efforts to try glint photography with a sunset. I liked how it turned out. The view is of an eastbound CSX train at Scipio.

This was one of my earliest efforts to try glint photography with a sunset. I liked how it turned out. The view is of an eastbound CSX train at Scipio.

I pushed the limits of what my camera could do to get this westbound on CSX near Scipio.

I pushed the limits of what my camera could do to get this westbound on CSX near Scipio.

Sunset on the former Baltimore & Ohio at Scipo.

Sunset on the former Baltimore & Ohio at Scipo.

 

 

Lake Shore Limited Rolling Again

November 22, 2014

As expected, Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited resumed operation on Friday after being suspended for three days due to heavy snowfall in Buffalo, N.Y., that resulted in tracks being blocked by snow.

Amtrak had warned that the train would be subject to delays due to freight congestion in the wake of the weather-related issues, but westbound No. 49 made it through Buffalo without any major delays.

No. 49 arrived in Cleveland at 5:10 a.m., which was 1 hours, 36 minutes off the timecard. Eastbound No. 48 arrived in Cleveland at 6:44 a.m., which was 1 hours, 4 minutes late.

The other Amtrak trains serving Northeast Ohio today were also behind schedule with the eastbound Capitol Limited 13 minutes late into Cleveland and its westbound counterpart 1 hours, 36 minutes late there.