Getting Lucky En Route to an ARRC Meeting

What a treat. The New York Central heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern on former Pennsylvania Railroad rails in Bedford.

What a treat. The New York Central heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern on former Pennsylvania Railroad rails in Bedford.

Last Friday afternoon I checked the Heritage Units.com site more out of curiosity than anything else.

The New York Central heritage unit was shown as having been spotted at Leetonia, Ohio, at 3:25 p.m. leading westbound Norfolk Southern train 15K.

Hmmmm, I thought. We might be able to catch it on our way to the Akron Railroad Club meeting.

The plan was for Ed Ribinskas and Jeff Troutman to arrive at my house between 4:30 and 5 p.m. Depending on how the train was doing we might be able to get it.

At 4:28 p.m. the 1066 was reported by Alliance. Figuring that it would take an hour to get to Bedford and a half-hour to get there from my house if we left by 5 p.m. there was still a chance.

Ed and Jeff arrived shortly before 5 and we got underway immediately. Jeff checked HU which reported that the NYC H unit was by Earlville at 5:03 p.m. That is west of Brady Lake, if I remembered correctly. It was going to be tight.

It might take only a half-hour in most circumstances to reach Bedford from my house but Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. is not most circumstances. Traffic was heavy and we kept getting dinged by stop lights and traffic back-ups.

We finally made it to Rockside Road only to find out the 15K has been seen at Macedonia at 5:18 p.m. My heart sank. That was nearly 15 minutes ago. We’re not going to make it.

I reached the intersection of Rockside and Broadway where a short distance to the west Rockside goes over the NS Cleveland Line. Could the 15K be passing beneath Rockside at that moment?

Jeff suggested that maybe a circuit would be down and the 15k would be delayed. He was grasping at straws.

As we turned onto West Glendale Street, I asked Ed and Jeff to look for the signal indication just west of there.

Jeff said he saw the top head of the signal for Track No. 2 go from amber to green. That was potentially good news because it meant a westbound was lined up.

It might also mean the westbound was running closely behind the 15K, which had just cleared the block ahead.

I pulled into the tot lot parking lot, got out, opened my trunk and picked my camera out of the bag. I also fumbled to get my scanner set up.

I feared hearing the 15K call a signal at CP 114 or some other spot west of our location at milepost 110.

Jeff reminded us that trains are going upgrade coming from Macdonia and they might have to slow while passing Motor Yard.

I wasn’t hearing anything calling signals west of us. Then the gates for West Grace Street went down. Maybe this was it. But as soon as the gate came down they went back up. False alarm.

There was a faint transmission that Jeff said sounded like the 15K talking. But where was it? East of us? West of us?

We didn’t have long to find out. The gates for Grace Street went down again. Seconds later we heard the rumbling of diesels and Jeff, who was the closest to the tracks  said, “that’s it.”

Indeed it was. That NYC mighty oval never looked so good.

We got our photographs, congratulated each other on our good fortune and left for Akron.

The 15K was a long train and was not moving very fast when it arrived in Bedford. It had taken it 24 minutes to go from Macedonia to Bedford.

Had we been able to stick around another hour, we could have seen the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage locomotive pass by on its namesake rails. But it was trailing and we had places to go.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

I thought we had missed it, but luck was with us in landing the NYC heritage unit.

I thought we had missed it, but luck was with us in landing the NYC heritage unit.

The going away view shows a better view of the lightning stripes on the body of No. 1066.

The going away view shows a better view of the lightning stripes on the body of No. 1066.

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