Taking the Farkas Challenge: EL Akron Memories

EL image

If he was still here, the late Richard Jacobs might have been the first Akron Railroad Club to step up and take the Farkas challenge of providing a best or most memorable image made while railfanning in Akron.

But Jake died nearly a year ago so I am going to select my favorite photo of his that he made in Akron.

It is March 1976 and a westbound Erie Lackawanna train sits beneath the Thornton Street overpass near the Erie yard in downtown Akron. The EL has less than a month to live before it is folded into Conrail.

Once that happens, much of the EL in Ohio and Indiana is going to be doomed as the planners who created Conrail saw no use for it except, perhaps, if purchased by another railroad(s).

But on this day the EL is still the EL and looking quite sharp.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the brightly-painted EL locomotives provided a splash of color compared with the dark tones and Spartan liveries of Penn Central and the Baltimore & Ohio.

EL No. 3652 is an SDP45 that was designed for passenger service, but the EL acquired 34 of them and assigned them to freight service.

The SDP45 was a stretched version of the SD45 and its longer frame enabled the installation of larger fuel tanks. That meant a train could run between Chicago and the East Coast without having to refuel.

This image was published in my book Akron Railroads. Had Jake still been around when I was working on the color version of Akron Railroads I’m sure he would have allowed me to use it.

This image not only portrayed the EL well, but it also is good reflection of the Akron railroad scene before the great transformation began in the late 1970s that has wiped out much of the railroad infrastructure in downtown Akron.

Whenever I look at this image, I will always remember Jake. I can see him sitting next to the EL tracks somewhere west of Akron on a Sunday afternoon taking in the action of one of his favorite railroads.

Article by Craig Sanders, Photograph by Richard Jacobs

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One Response to “Taking the Farkas Challenge: EL Akron Memories”

  1. Bob Says:

    This is one of the top twenty EL photos I have seen.Everything comes together including the background bridge. Absolutely beautiful.
    Jake may be gone, but photos such as this keep him from being forgotten.

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