My second day of chasing Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 767 began as a case of déjà vu all over again.
It was Saturday, Sept. 24, and the excursions were leaving from Rockside Road station in Independence.
As had been the case the previous Sunday, it was cloudy when I arrived at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad tracks.
I had arranged to meet my friend Adam Barr at Jaite, where he left his car, and we headed to East Pleasant Valley Road.
I’ve photographed there once, in 2012 when Jerry Jacobson’s Canadian Pacific No. 1293 was running in the Valley.
The fields west of the tracks were filled with goldenrod and it would have made a brilliant image had the sun been out. The upside, though, was good going away images of CVSR FPA-4 No. 6771.
Akron Railroad Club members Todd Dillon and Peter Bowler were on the bridge when I arrived.
After getting what we wanted at Pleasant Valley, we headed south on Riverview Road, not really sure where we wanted to go. We decided to get the train crossing Furnace Run by Szalay’s Farm.
Those plans got interrupted when we saw a cluster of railfans by the Ohio Turnpike bridge.
We figured they knew a good photo spot so I pulled out and we ran over join them.
They were a group of young guys from Virginia who didn’t know the CVSR as well as I thought they did.
The photo location here was not that great and I didn’t get anything worth sharing.
The Virginia gang raced back to their car and peeled out like they were chasing a fire truck.
The previous Saturday, the first excursion of the day out of Rockside had gone to Akron and done its photo runbys on the return trip.
But just after we got back in my car, I turned on my scanner and learned that the steam train would meet the CVSR Scenic in Peninsula and follow it back to Boston Mill.
I didn’t plan to photograph the runbys. I wanted to watch and enjoy the 767 at work.
Photographers can get so caught up in getting that perfect image that they forget to enjoy what they are photographing.
I sat in my car and pretended to be at a drive-in movie not unlike that famous O. Winston Link photo of a couple watching a movie at the drive-in as a Norfolk & Western steam train passes by.
I did my “drive-in movie” plan for the first runby, but couldn’t resist making photographs of the second runby.
We scouted Furnace Run, but decided instead to do the open field south of Everett Road.
Afterwards, we went to Peninsula, which was even more crowded than usual because there was a front porch festival going on.
Musicians were playing on the front porches of business and homes. That included the train station.
Our plan was to have lunch at the Winking Lizard and photograph the meet of the steam train and the Scenic.
I was barely able to find a place to park in the overflow lot for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Winking Lizard had a 25 to 30 minute wait for a table.
We put our name on the list but lucked out and got two seats at the bar where we ate and enjoyed a pint of Thirsty Dog Brewing’s Barktoberfest.
My chicken quesadilla had not yet arrived as the meet loomed, so Adam told me to go out and get my photos and he would stay at the bar. The meet occurred about 15 minutes late.
I got my photos, but there were people jumping into my shot.
After finishing my lunch I took Adam back to Jaite. He had to pick up his daughters from a day school they attend on Saturdays.
The clouds had moved out and I wanted to try East Pleasant Valley Road again.
The steam train was supposed to leave Rockside at 3, but didn’t get away until about 3:30.
I got the images I wanted and headed down Riverview with the idea of getting a side view of the locomotive across the goldenrod field north of Boston Mill.
I saw cars parked on the west side of Riverview, but didn’t know if there might be a small ditch in the grass that I couldn’t see.
There is a parking area near a pond just south of the goldenrod field and there was space to park there, but I knew there was a substantial drop off from the pavement of the road to the gravel of the parking area.
That wouldn’t be a problem if I had a big arse pickup truck, but I don’t and I didn’t want to risk potential damage to my small car.
I pulled into a small road a little farther south, but by now the 767 was bearing down on me. There was no time to walk or even run to where I wanted to be. Darn!
I pulled into the ski resort at Boston Mill. A week earlier, the photo runbys for the second excursion from Rockside had been done on the way to Akron.
Given what had happened earlier in the day, I figured the steam train would, again, follow the Scenic back to Boston Mill.
I turned on my scanner and waited. When I heard the 767 announce that it was leaving Peninsula yard limits, I knew I was in trouble.
I had parked near an exit and was able to get out onto Riverview just fine, but the combination of the festival in Peninsula and a dozen guys chasing the steam locomotive resulted in the worst traffic jam I’ve ever experienced leading to the traffic light at Riverview and Ohio Route 303.
I wasn’t hearing the NKP 767 talking on the radio so I didn’t know where it was.
I still didn’t know where the 767 was when I finally got out of Peninsula. The lack of photographers standing along Riverview was not a good sign.
An even more ominous sign was that I was able to get a parking space at Indigo Lake.
I had missed the southbound run, but I waited it out at Indigo Lake, getting a reflection shot of the 767 trailing as the train went north.
It wasn’t as good as what I had made the previous Sunday, but it was still a nice image.
People were making photos northward down the tracks by the Indigo Lake station. I was surprised to see the NKP 767 sitting a short distance away. It was still sitting there when I drove up Riverview.
I parked at Everett and had plenty of time to get into position for a bonus location.
I got my photos and headed north again on Riverview. The steam train was loafing along and I was able to easily get ahead of it.
I parked at the Valley Picnic Area – where the ARRC would be having its 767 picnic the next day – and walked to the tracks.
It took awhile before the train came into view and it stopped just after clearing the Riverview Road diagonal crossing.
I would later learn that the Scenic was running about 45 minutes late due to heavy bicycle traffic.
I was told that at one point the baggage car was full and there were 400 bikes on board.
After getting my second bonus location shot, I went to Boston Mill. The steam train still wasn’t there.
With the sun at a low angle, I was able to get some good images during the runbys.
There was one last chance to get the goldenrod field shot that I had missed earlier in the day.
Alas, the sun was below the trees and hills when I arrived. There was an area south of the pond that still had sunshine so I worked with it, getting what turned out to be a better image than I had expected.
The goldenrod field would have to wait for Sunday. There was still time.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
Tags: 767, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, CVSR 1822, CVSR steam excursions, CVSR trains, Nickel Plate 767, Nickel Plate Road 767, steam excursion program, Steam excursion trains, steam excursions, steam train