Archive for December, 2015

Listing of 2016 Train Shows Posted

December 31, 2015

The newest addition to the Akron Railroad Club blog is a listing of train shows scheduled in Ohio and nearby states during 2016. You can find that page at the top of the listing of Pages on the right side of the your screen or by going to

https://akronrrclub.wordpress.com/2016-train-shows-in-ohio-nearby-states/

The listings are as accurate as we can make them. If you have a listing to contribute, send it to csanders429@aol.com

Additional listings will be added as they become available.

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AOS Roundhouse Has Run Out of Space

December 31, 2015

Jerry Jacobson’s roundhouse is full. The Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugar Creek recently announced on its website sit that with the arrival of a 2-10-0 purchased earlier this year that all stalls in the roundhouse are taken.

The 18th locomotive to be housed in the roundhouse arrived on Dec. 29. It is Alabama, Tennessee & Northern as No.401, which was later owned by the Woodward Iron Company where it has roster number 41.

Jerry purchased it at an auction conducted by the Mid-Continent Railroad Museum in North Freedom, Wisconsin. No. 401 was built in 1928 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works.

More information about No. 41 and photographs of it being unloaded are available at:

http://ageofsteamroundhouse.com/2-10-0%20No%2041.html

Dodging and Using Clouds in Ashtabula

December 31, 2015
There wasn't much going on in the harbor yard of Norfolk Southern in Ashtabula on this Sunday in November.

There wasn’t much going on in the harbor yard of Norfolk Southern in Ashtabula on this Sunday in November.

What is it with clouds whenever I visit Ashtabula? The past two times that I’ve been there the clouds played a significant role in my photography.

I don’t get to Ashtabula often and it it just happened that I made two visit there less than a month apart this past fall.

The first visit wasn’t quite planned. Fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and I had ventured out to Lake County hoping to photograph the Baltimore & Ohio inspired livery on the switcher of the Grand River Railway.

But it was a Sunday and the switcher was locked behind a fence with no chance of getting a clear view.

So we started making our way toward Ashtabula. On this day, though, at least there was some sun.

Our first destination was the harbor yard of Norfolk Southern. There wasn’t anything going on there, but we walked out on the bridge over the yard anyway to photograph what we could find.

The nice thing about a slumbering yard is that we could afford to wait for the sun to find a hole in the clouds and then get our photographs without missing anything.

Then it was on to the bridge carrying the NS Cleveland-Buffalo line over the Ashtabula River, which Peter had never photographed.

There is a closed wooden street bridge on Topper Avenue that offers a view of the NS Ashtabula River trestle. I had not been there in a few years and wondered if the wood bridge was still there.

It took some trial and error to find it, but we were pleased to see that the wood bridge still exists and continues to be used as a walkway.

Alas, there were no NS trains near Ashtabula on the former Nickel Plate Road during our stay. There was an eastbound in Conneaut, but that train was already through Ashtabula.

We made a mental note to come back to Ashtabula and stake out the bridge during the morning hours when the lighting would be better and, presumably, rail traffic more plentiful.

That opportunity came on the day of the ARRC end of the year dinner. The weather forecast was promising. There would be mostly sunny skies.

But that had changed by Friday night when I watched a weather report on a Cleveland TV station. The good news was that a high pressure system would be over Ohio on Saturday. The bad new was that it had stalled, thus allowing low-lying clouds to fill in until the system began moving eastward.

As we drove to Ashtabula on Saturday morning, the clouds dutifully filled the sky just as the forecaster had predicted that they would. By the time we got to the bridge, the skies were overcast.

As it turned out, that didn’t matter. Once again, I heard on the radio a pair of eastbound trains at Conneaut, which wasn’t doing us any good.

The dispatcher talked about a westbound, the 205, that was somewhere in Pennsylvania. But we needed eastbounds.

We checked out a grade crossing in Ashtabula at which to photograph the 205. The photos that I made there are so mediocre that I didn’t bother posting them.

Somewhere behind the 205 was the 145, so we drove to Conneaut to intercept it. I also hoped to catch the outbound train on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie. But the B&LE road channel was quiet so maybe that train wasn’t running today.

My photos of the westbound in Conneaut were OK because the clouds there were not as thick as they had been in Ashtabula.

With the B&LE quiet we elected to return to Ashtabula and give the bridge one more chance.

We had not been there long when I heard an eastbound calling signals on the radio. It turned out to be the 206.

The images I made are all right, yet not what I had hoped to get. We need to make a return trip to Ashtabula on a day when a high pressure system is moving the clouds out, not enticing them to form.

We photographed the 206 and began making out way back west, swinging past the Grand River Railway. Once again, the switcher was locked behind closed gates.

At last the high pressure system was starting to move on and the clouds were breaking up.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Those gale-force winds blowing in off Lake Erie were downright cold.

Those gale-force winds blowing in off Lake Erie were downright cold.

A pair of Union Pacific locomotive await their next assignment.

A pair of Union Pacific locomotive await their next assignment.

Yeah, the clouds blocked the sun a lot, but they also helped to add some visual interest to the scene.

Yeah, the clouds blocked the sun a lot, but they also helped to add some visual interest to the scene.

The 206 crosses the trestle over the Ashtabula River. I like the image I made, but it only whetted my appetite to get another train on a day with better light.

The 206 crosses the trestle over the Ashtabula River. I like the image I made, but it only whetted my appetite to get another train on a day with better light.

The time to make this shot is in the late fall, winter or early spring when there aren't many, if any, leaves on the trees.

The time to make this shot is in the late fall, winter or early spring when there aren’t many, if any, leaves on the trees.

The fence on the bridge in Ashtabula isn't that high, but watch out for the vines growing on the top of it.

The fence on the bridge in Ashtabula isn’t that high, but watch out for the vines growing on the top of it.

Rounding the curve in Ashtabula on the way east with UPS trailers on NS train 206.

Rounding the curve in Ashtabula on the way east with UPS trailers on NS train 206.

Although the clouds were starting to move out, there were still plenty of them as NS train 145 slowly ambles into Conneaut for a crew change.

Although the clouds were starting to move out, there were still plenty of them as NS train 145 slowly ambles into Conneaut for a crew change.

 

Cleveland RTA Opens New Blue Line Station

December 31, 2015

Cleveland RTA has completed the opening of a new station on the Blue Line in Shaker Heights at the intersection of Lee Road and Van Aken Boulevard.

Transit officials hailed the $5.4 million facility for its potential to spur economic development.

“This new station and the redevelopment of this entire neighborhood speak to the success of transit-oriented development and what it means to a region,” RTA Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese. “Public transit is connecting the dots once again and spurring economic development that would not be realized otherwise.”

The station opened in phases, beginning in early October. RTA said about 80 percent of the project cost was paid for with federal funding.

The station is one of the most heavily-patronized on the Blue Line and complies with regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Among the station’s features are new passenger loading platforms and access, weather-protected vestibules and greater security.

Passenger Bypass Track Completed in Detroit

December 31, 2015

A segment of track intended to be used only by passenger trains in Detroit is now being used by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains.

The track will enable passenger trains to bypass West Detroit Junction and is located about three miles south of the Detroit station on Woodward Avenue where Amtrak trains make a connection between a Canadian National (former Grand Trunk Western) route and a former Norfolk Southern route now owned by the state of Michigan.

A $7.9 million Federal Railroad Administration grant awarded in 2012 helped finance the $15.8 million project.

The grant was part of a larger effort to alleviate freight and passenger train congestion in greater Detroit. It is also expected that the bypass track will be used for commuter trains that are planned to be launched several years from now.

Chasing the Everett Railroad No. 11

December 30, 2015
Passengers mill about the depot in Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania, as Everett No. 11 waits for its departure time. Both trips on this day were sold out.

Passengers mill about the depot in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, as Everett No. 11 waits for its departure time. Both trips on this day were sold out.

During the past year I’ve written a handful of posting for the Akron Railroad Club blog about the restoration of Everett Railroad steam locomotive No.11.

But at the time it was just another story about a faraway piece of equipment.

Then my friend Adam Barr called and suggested we travel to Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, and chase No. 11 as it pulled one of the holiday season trains.

The only date that worked for both of us was a Sunday in mid December. No. 11 would pull two trips that day and we wanted to get both of them.

Adam had some familiarity with the Everett because he had operated a speeder over the line several years ago.

The locomotive and its train were sitting in the station when we arrived.

Our first series of photographs would be made from the nearby Pennsylvania Route 36 bridge over the tracks.

When we planned this trip, we thought we might get the locomotive operating with snow on the ground.

How nice it would have been to have made an image with a waiting steam locomotive sitting at a depot with the word “holiday” in its name.

But the unseasonably warm temperatures this month put the kibosh on that. Maybe next year.

If you’ve followed the No. 11 story, you know that it is a 2-6-0 built by American Locomotive Company in 1923.

It was expected to be sold for use in the sugar cane fields of Cuba, but that didn’t pan out.

Instead, No. 11 was sold to the Narragansett Pier Railroad in Rhode Island where it worked until 1938 when it was acquired by the Bath & Hammondsport in New York state.

Then it moved on to the Middletown & New Jersey in 1982. That company in turn sold No. 11 to the Everett in 2006.

It would be a nearly a decade before No. 11 was restored to operating condition and returned to revenue service.

The train had a combine and two coaches. It was an impressive-looking consist and you could easily believe that you’d been transported back to the 1930s when branch line passenger trains looked like this.

Chasing No. 11 was not overly difficult. The train didn’t travel all that fast and much of the time the tracks ran parallel with Reservoir Road.

The train ran as far as East Freedom, which is just beyond where the junction at Brookes Mill where the Everett separates into branches for Sproul and Curry. It is, of course, all former Pennsylvania Railroad territory.

At East Freedom, No. 11 ran around its train and ran tender forward back to Hollidaysburg.

We chased the second trip as far as East Freedom and decided to call it a day.

We drove to Altoona and had dinner at The Knickerbocker Tavern to which we were attracted because of it large selection of beers.

I was mildly amused that a tavern in Altoona in the heart of PRR country would have the same name as a former New York Central passenger train.

But the beer and atmosphere were great. The tavern is housed in a Philadelphia-style row house built in 1903 to provide housing for workers at the PRR’s nearby South Altoona shops.

The name came from the construction company that built the structure, not the NYC passenger train.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

No. 11 had a nice looking train. Ignore the modern vehicles in the foreground and the building in the background and you might think it was the 1930s.

No. 11 had a nice looking train. Ignore the modern vehicles in the foreground and the building in the background and you might think it was the 1930s.

Getting up a head of steam after the conductor gave the highball command.

Getting up a head of steam after the conductor gave the highball command.

Getting underway with the first trip of the day out of Hollidaysburg. That's the Blair County Courthouse in the background.

Getting underway with the first trip of the day out of Hollidaysburg. That’s the Blair County Courthouse in the background.

Putting on a steam and smoke show, the best we would see all day.

Putting on a steam and smoke show, the best we would see all day.

We found enough of an opening in the trees to get a decent shot from along Reservoir Road.

We found enough of an opening in the trees to get a decent shot from along Reservoir Road.

Rounding the curve as the train comes into Kladder and a crossing with Monastery Road.

Rounding the curve as the train comes into Kladder and a crossing with Monastery Road.

Passing a Christmas tree farm, which was doing a brisk business today.

Passing a Christmas tree farm, which was doing a brisk business today.

Passing through Kladder, which is the home of a monastery run by the Franciscan Friars.

Passing through Kladder, which is the home of a monastery run by the Franciscan Friars.

The second run has just gotten underway and is about a mile from the Holidaysburg depot as it crosses Beaverdam Branch just before River Road.

The second run has just gotten underway and is about a mile from the Holidaysburg depot as it crosses Beaverdam Branch just before River Road.

Look what we found in the woods today.

Look what we found in the woods today.

 

The horses were in the barn lot rather than the field during the second run of Everett No. 11 and its holiday train.

The horses were in the barn lot rather than the field during the second run of Everett No. 11 and its holiday train.

Striking a profile pose while passing a pond alongside Reservoir Road.

Striking a profile pose while passing a pond alongside Reservoir Road.

Approaching the crossing Brooks Boulevard, which is nearly the end of the journey from Holidaysburg.

Approaching the crossing Brooks Boulevard, which is nearly the end of the journey from Holidaysburg.

Everett 15

STB Seeking Comment on Passenger OT Rule

December 30, 2015

The Surface Transportation Board has issued a proposed rule regarding passenger train on-time performance and is seeking public comment on it.

The rule would consider a train to be on time if it arrives at its final terminus no more than five minutes after its scheduled arrival time for each 100 miles that the train operated or 30 minutes after its scheduled arrival time, whichever is less.

The board said it is acting under Section 213 of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008.

That law states that if the on-time performance of an intercity passenger train averages less than 80 percent for any two consecutive calendar quarters, the STB may launch an investigation or Amtrak and others may file a complaint with the board requesting that it initiate an investigation.

The Board also issued a proposed policy statement that interprets the statutory preference accorded to Amtrak trains over freight trains, and the phrase “attributable to a . . . failure to provide preference.”

The statement also provides guidance regarding the evidence that may be most useful in proceedings.

D&GV Carried Nearly 90,000 in 2015

December 30, 2015

In a year-end report the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad reported that it dispatched 950 excursion trains and carried nearly 90,000 passengers.

The D&GV began operating the Cass Scenic Railroad this year in addition to other operations.

Trains departed from three locations in West Virginia, Elkins, Cass and Durbin.

Ridership on the Cass Scenic was 40,400 passengers with more than 3,000 riding the peak fall foliage trips in October.

Those trains traveled to Whittaker Station or Bald Knob and a few extra trains ran to Whittaker to accommodate overflow crowds.

“The first year operating the Cass Scenic Railroad was both challenging and rewarding,” said D&GV President John Smith. “We set out with a very ambitious schedule.”

During 2015 the D&GV put into service an online reservation system. Smith said the system was particularly useful in showing when to schedule additional trains or add cars to handle peak ridership in October.

For the time being, the D&GV is busy performing scheduled maintenance and repairs.

Cass Shop crews are installing flues on Cass Shay No. 2, which is expected to return to service in 2016.

Workers are removing the flues and getting Heisler No. 6 ready for a Federal Railroad Administration inspection.

Cass expects to have five steam locomotives in operation in 2016, including Shays Nos. 2, 4, 5, Western Maryland No. 6, and Heisler No. 6.

Moore & Keppel Climax No. 3, currently in Durbin, will be moved by truck to the Cass shops for an FRA inspection.

No. 3 is expected to resume service in 2016, but a GE 44-ton switcher will pull the Durbin Rocket during the first half of the excursion season.

D&GV forces will also be working to maintain track.

“Work is ongoing to repair the track from Cass to Durbin for the 2018 season,” Smith said. “In the meantime, a four-mile section will be open in 2016 to allow holiday trains to depart from the depot at Cass.”

Track crews worked north from Cass and south from Durbin during 2015 to repair two washouts and restore about two miles of track.

A connection that is expected to be finished by 2018 will will allow trains access to Cass, Spruce, and Elkins from Durbin. Currently, the 5.5-mile Durbin line is landlocked.

Capitol Limited Delayed 6 Hours After Hitting Car that Ran Out of Gas on Crossing in Cleveland

December 29, 2015

Passengers aboard the eastbound Capitol Limited were delayed for about six hours on Monday morning after their train struck an unoccupied car at a grade crossing in Cleveland.

Cleveland Police said the car was sitting on the Norfolk Southern tracks in the 8200 block of Bessemer Avenue because it had run out of gasoline.

No. 30 struck the vehicle just after 2 a.m. The driver was able to get out of the car before it was struck by Amtrak P42DC No. 142.

A police report indicated that the driver told them t hat he was crossing the tracks when his vehicle stopped. He was able to get out the car before the train struck the car.

There were no injuries reported among the 262 aboard the train.

The lead Amtrak locomotive suffered unspecified damage and the train was moved away from the scene by an NS No. 9349, which continued to be the lead engine on the train east of Pittsburgh.

Some passengers took to Twitter to voice frustration about the lack of information provided them by Amtrak during the ordeal.

No. 30 finally left town about 8 a.m. for Alliance and Pittsburgh, its next scheduled station stops.

 

Changes. There Have Been So Many in Warwick

December 29, 2015

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Changes. There are SO many of them here.

I am standing south of South First Street in Clinton in July 1983.

Looking north on the left is the connecting track to the now-removed ex-Pennsylvania line to Orrville. The Orrville line is in the background in front of the tower.

The Chessie System local with its blue caboose is gone and so is one of the two tracks heading south to Massillon.

Of course I don’t miss the pole lines. As for other changes, they are coming to Warwick.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas