NS Trains at Cleveland’s Old Broadway

NS train 206 passes Old Broadway as the Cleveland skyline looms behind it.

NS train 206 passes Old Broadway as the Cleveland skyline looms behind it.

Old Broadway is a favorite go-to place of railfan photographers when a Norfolk Southern heritage unit is leading a train eastward on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline through Cleveland.

It features an open view of eastbound traffic with the Cleveland skyline in the background. I’ve seen a number of H units photographed here, but never done it myself.

Old Broadway is also a place where fellow Akron Railroad Club officer Marty Surdyk likes to photograph. His strategy is to hang out in Berea until the 22K or the 206 comes past and then barrel up Interstate 71 toward downtown to get into position.

He has been known to get his shot at Old Broadway and then hot foot it out to Willoughby and get the iconic Willoughby Coal Company building in an image.

Going back even father to the 1950s, photography Herbert Harwood photographed at Old Broadway, catching Nickel Plate steam and various passengers trains headed to Cleveland Union Terminal.

As for myself, I had never photographed at Old Broadway and it has long been on my “to do” list.

With the help of my friend Adam, I finally was able to cross it off the list.

It turns out that the term “Old Broadway” is something of misnomer. It is actually located off the end of Rockefeller Avenue.

The Old Broadway name dates to the time when, or so I am told, Broadway Avenue crossed the tracks here.

There is still a concrete foundation that appears to have once supported a bridge.

You park in a cul-de-sac that looks modern. I can’t tell you how many vehicles came down Rockefeller, saw the cul-de-sac and then turned around and went back toward where they came. Either these folks don’t have a GPS, have a faulty GPS or can’t read a map.

We were banking on the fact that the 22K and the 206 both seem to be reliably late morning trains through Cleveland.

Maybe so on most days, but not on this day. We arrived about 9 a.m. and sat for an hour-and-a-half before getting a train. It was a westbound, the 145.

Just over a half-hour passed before another train showed up. It, too was a westbound, the 205.

It was almost noon and we decided to give it just a little more time. Then we got lucky.

The scanner brought news that we not had one, but two eastbounds coming, the 206 and the 310.

As we expected, the 206 arrived first. The last containers of the 206 were still in sight when the head end of the 310 came around the curve.

By now the sky had turned to sun and clouds so we played dodge ball with the light and shadows, not always winning.

But the images turned out well enough. We might have to give Old Broadway another try some day. Maybe this one of those eastbounds will have a heritage unit on the lead.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Here comes NS train 206 as Terminal Tower looks on.

Here comes NS train 206 as Terminal Tower looks on.

Getting the train and the buildings of downtown Cleveland both in sunlight provided elusive much of the time as the 206 passed by.

Getting the train and the buildings of downtown Cleveland both in sunlight provided elusive much of the time as the 206 passed by.

Here comes NS train 310 as the last containers of train 206 clear.

Here comes NS train 310 as the last containers of train 206 clear.

Train 310 is walking in sunshine, but much of downtown Cleveland is in shadows.

Train 310 is walking in sunshine, but much of downtown Cleveland is in shadows.

Tracks still lead into Cleveland Union Terminal, but they are the rails of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Show is NS train 310 passing beneath Terminal Tower.

Tracks still lead into Cleveland Union Terminal, but they are the rails of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority. Show is NS train 310 passing beneath Terminal Tower, which is partly shrouded in shadows.

Another perspective of NS 310 and Terminal Tower.

Another perspective of NS 310 and Terminal Tower.

Getting a last look at the motive power of NS 310.

Getting a last look at the motive power of NS 310.

By the time that NS train 205 showed up in late morning the light was starting to look favorably on westbound trains.

By the time that NS train 205 showed up in late morning the light was starting to look favorably on westbound trains.

A closer view of the motive power of NS train 205 shows that the number boards for NS 8166 have black backgrounds and white numerals rather than the other way around.

A closer view of the motive power of NS train 205 shows that the number boards for NS 8166 have black backgrounds and white numerals rather than the other way around.

Looks like a white snake slinking its way under the gaze of Terminal Tower.

Looks like a white snake slinking its way under the gaze of Terminal Tower.

The tail end of NS train 205. For once the clouds weren't casting any shadows over downtown Cleveland.

The tail end of NS train 205. For once the clouds weren’t casting any shadows over downtown Cleveland.

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One Response to “NS Trains at Cleveland’s Old Broadway”

  1. John Pyeha Says:

    Hi Craig,
    I was scanning info about Cleveland Union Terminal and found your article. The pictures brought back memories of my early boyhood (circa early 1950s). Broadway did indeed cross over those tracks. I remember riding the Union Street bus into downtown Cleveland and always watching for trains once we came down the hill (now Rockefeller Ave). The USS Steel Blast Furnace (whose lighting was changed during the Christmas Holidays to be multicolored) was on the left side of the road and I understand an old Standard Oil refinery was on the top of the hill on the right side. The highlight of the trip was to see a train or even some parked railroad cars before arriving in downtown. It was also fun to ride the Shaker Rapid on the trip home to see more trains. Finally, riding the CTS Rapid from the Terminal Tower to University Circle is another way to see even more trains.
    Thanks for the article Craig!

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