Archive for October, 2016

Return to Horseshoe Curve

October 31, 2016
A Norfolk Southern stack train with a Union Pacific unit in the motive power consist makes its way around Horseshoe Curve west of Altoona, Pennsylvania.

A Norfolk Southern stack train with a Union Pacific unit in the motive power consist makes its way around Horseshoe Curve west of Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, Pennsylvania, is one of railroadings’s most notable engineering achievements in the Eastern United States.

Opened on Feb. 15, 1854, the curve has hosted trains of the Pennsylvania, Penn Central, Conrail and now Norfolk Southern. Amtrak’s New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian traverses the curve daily.

Earlier this year NS cleared quite a bit of brush and trees from around the Curve, thus opening some view for photography.

Akron Railroad Club members Ed Ribinksas and Jeff Troutman venture to the Curve in mid October and Ed shares in this post some of his favorite images that he made that day.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas






Akron Railroads is Released Today

October 31, 2016

Today is one of those landmark days in my life that I probably won’t remember, but it is important. My seventh published book, Akron Railroads, is being released today by Arcadia Publishing.

It is the second book of the same title that I’ve published with Arcadia and the identical names aside, they do not have quite the same focus.

book-coverMy first Akron Railroads, published in 2007, focused more on the overall history of railroads serving Akron, Ohio, thus having a broader focus in time. It was part of Arcadia’s Images of Rail series and featured black and white photographs.

The second Akron Railroads has a narrower focus of 1960 to present. Nearly all of the images in that book are in color.

I was able to receive an advance copy of the book about a month ago and was pleased with how it turned out. The quality of the printing is good and it has a glossy cover.

All of the photographs in this edition of Akron Railroads, were contributed by members of the Akron Railroad Club. Some of those members had contributed photographs that appeared in the first edition of Akron Railroads.

Here is the summary of the content of the second edition of Akron Railroads that I wrote that appears on the back cover:

“In the six decades preceding 1960, Akron’s network of railroads had been relatively stable. Then a series of mergers began that year, changing the face of the city’s railroad network. By the early 1970s, the industrial base-particularly the rubber industry-that had sustained the region’s economy was in decline, and the fortunes of the railroad industry fell with it.

“The self-described “rubber capital of the world” was hit hard, and the production of tires for the automotive industry all but disappeared. The 1960s also saw a precipitous decline in rail passenger service, with the last passenger trains discontinued in 1971. A restructuring of the railroad industry that began in the mid-1970s left the Akron region with three railroad companies. Some railroad lines were abandoned, while others saw the scope of their operations changed or reduced. Today’s rail network in Akron may be slimmer, but the railroads are financially healthy and continue to play a major role in meeting the region’s transportation needs.

The book retails for $22.95 and is available from

Buffalo Station Study Gets Funding

October 31, 2016

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has approved awarding $1 million to conduct a study of a new Amtrak station in Buffalo, New York.

Amtrak 4Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown will lead a study committee that will study station sites.

Work on the study is expected to begin in six months.

Buffalo has two Amtrak stations, Exchange Street Station in the city served the Maple Leaf and Empire Service trains. A station in suburban Depew serves all those trains plus the Lake Shore Limited.

A&BB Crossing Wooster Road

October 29, 2016


Today the background in this image is an empty field, but in October 1980, Pittsburgh Plate Glass had a large plant in full operation. Akron & Barberton Belt 4201 crosses Wooster Road West as it leaves the plant. The 4201 was leased from Precision National.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian in Altoona

October 29, 2016




Amtrak’s New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian passes through Altoona, Pennsylvania, in late morning eastbound and late afternoon westbound.

The usual consist of Nos. 42 and 43 is a single P42DC locomotive and six Amfleet cars, one of them a food service car that offers business class service.

The westbound Pennsylvanian is shown on Horseshoe Curve west of Altoona and passing the former Alto Tower in downtown Altoona.

In mid-October the train was running with one of Amtrak’s Phase III livery heritage units.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Thompson Named RTA Rail Manager

October 29, 2016

Sean Thompson has been appointed as director of rail operations for the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.


Sean Thompson

Thompson, who will assume his post on Oct. 31, most recently worked for the Federal Transit Administration overseeing rail safety for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

He has 20 years of experience in rail, including a stint with Cleveland RTA in 2010-11 as the agency’s rail training manager.

He left Cleveland RTA to work for the Federal Railroad Administration as an operating practices inspector and later served as a deputy regional administrator in Sacramento, California.

Thompson also has worked on light- and commuter-rail operations in Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; and Salt Lake City.

“[GCRTA] is privileged to have someone of his caliber on board,” said Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Joe Calabrese in a statement. “With Sean’s expertise, we can sharpen our focus on safety, while we advance state of good repair initiatives.”

Flight Cuts Hurt Youngstown Airport

October 29, 2016

The commercial airline woes continue for the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, which is losing flights and revenue.

Youngstown AirportAirport officials expect the yearly passenger count at the airport this year to be 110,000, which would be 20,000 less than in 2015.

The latest flight cutbacks were the cancellation of flights by Allegiant Air between Youngstown and Punta Gorda, Florida, near Fort Myers.

Aviation Director Dan Dickten said there is no clear date for when the Punta Gorda flights might be reinstated.

In late August the airport lost service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport by Great Lakes Jet Express.

Dickten said the lost flights have resulted in falling parking revenue. In 2015, the airport made $400,000 in parking revenue, but expects that to fall to about $315,000 this year.

Allegiant this year has expanded service to Akron-Canton Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport, which Dickten said has reduced the customer base for the Youngstown airport.

Allegiant announced earlier that it will move its flights from Akron-Canton to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and it is not clear what effect, if any, this would have on Allegiant operations in Youngstown.

BNSF, Amtrak in Montana

October 28, 2016




Last July, Ursula and I traveled on Amtrak to Glacier National Park in Montana to celebrate our 25th anniversary.  Here are a few photographs that highlight our trip.

The top photo shows an eastbound at the Izaak Walton Inn, where we stayed for a week.

In the middle photo is the eastbound Empire Builder at the Two Medicine Bridge at East Glacier. The bottom photo shows  a westbound at the summit of Marias Pass.

I’ll be showing more image of Montana trip next April during my program at the Akron Railroad Club meeting.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

NY Tourist RR Shutting Down a Line

October 28, 2016


Nothing is more painful than saying goodbye to a tourist railroad, especially one that has been successful for 33 years.

The Catskill Mountain Railroad operates two separate segments of the New York Central’s  Catskill Mountain Branch through beautiful rural New York State.

The segment that runs between Cold Brook, Mount Tremper and Phoenicia has reached the end of the line.

The railroad has endured much hardship through its existence from storms thrown at it by Mother Nature to a three-year legal battle with Ulster County, which owns the tracks.

Without going into a long-winded history about the legal battle, the railroad has lost its lease over the segment and will be shutting down this weekend.

After 150 years of trains through the Catskills, the time has finally run out. I had to take one last rides behind an ex-Long Island Railroad/ex-Staten Island Railroad S-1.

There is nothing better than a open car behind an Alco through the mountains in the fall.

The 1880s U&D station at Phoenicia houses the Empire State Railway Museum, which will remain.

It is off the beaten path, so without the train in the area there is no telling what will happen to the museum.

The other part of the CMRR will continue to operate out of Kingston, New York. Goodbye old friend. Thank you for 33 years of happiness.

 Article and Photographs by Jack Norris




Railroading as it Once Was: One Day in Hudson

October 27, 2016


A UCI train (Cleveland Electric Illuminating) has outlawed at Hudson on a cold February 1979 afternoon.

The caboose of a Conrail eastbound is just clearing the CEI units. Hudson station still had an operator at this point who controlled this busy location.

The Cleveland & Pittsburgh mains, the crossovers, the wye to the Akron Branch (several trains a day), and the westward and eastward siding switches were handled by the operator as well as the Servo machine.

Today this former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline is as busy as ever, but the wye is only used to spin power. The branch is out of service 400 feet south of the point switch.

The eastward siding is gone and the westward siding is stub-ended and little used.

The station has been leveled and the “Yellowbirds” are no longer Cleveland Electric units.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee