The FPA-4 locomotives on the roster of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad are hardly new. All were built in early 1959, which makes them 58 years old.
Yet ever since No. 6771 rolled out of the paint booth last year and No. 6777 emerged this year, they have drawn attention from photographers due to their “like new appearance.”
It doesn’t hurt that the new paint job also includes a new look on the nose, a V stripe that has replaced the CVSR winged herald that many wags have likened to the logo for the hamburger chain Steak ‘n Shake.
Put those FPA-4 together as a matching set and you have a must photograph motive power consist.
I caught a glimpse of No. 6777 in sunlight nearly three Saturdays ago. But it turned cloudy and when I returned the following Saturday clouds also were blocking the sun, taking some of the luster away from that new paint.
I finally got my chance to see those beauties in full sunlight last Saturday morning. It was well worth the trip.
I started in Peninsula, catching the first southbound run of the day. Before the train arrived, fellow Akron Railroad Club member Todd Dillon joined me and reported that, indeed, the matching FPA-4 units were on the point.
The train was late arriving in Peninsula due to having made an unscheduled stop at Boston Mill.
I don’t know if this has anything to do with that, but a CVSR trainman later told me there was a group from Pennsylvania on board and they were fascinated to see a ski resort there even if they thought it rather small.
I had parked on Main Street in Peninsula so I was easily able to get to my next photo location.
The plan was to get the train on the bridge over Furnace Run near Szalay’s Market, but after seeing some cars parked alongside Riverview near the curve south of the diagonal grade crossing, I pulled over there.
ARRC member Roger Durfee and two guys I know from Cleveland were already set up.
I then stopped near Smith Road to get the matched set across the frozen pond at the motorcycle club and then made my way into Akron where I spotted yet another ARRC member, Bob Farkas, at Northside Station, making photographs.
After getting the train leaving Northside, I weaved my way out to Ohio Route 8, getting off at Steels Corner Road.
I headed west on Ira Road only to see the northbound train already at the crossing. Even worse, a car stopped at the intersection with Riverview Road kept me from being able to make a right turn.
He wanted to go west on Ira, but vehicles waiting at the crossing were ahead of him. As luck would have it, he pulled up just enough to enable me to get by.
The CVSR wasn’t running all that fast, so I was able to pull into the access road to a field across from Szalay’s and get the Furnace Run bridge image.
From there it was on to Boston Mill to get the train passing the ski resort and then to Brecksville for images of the train and the Route 82 bridge and the Cuyahoga River.
I called ARRC member Peter Bowler to see if he was out today chasing and we agreed to car pool to Pleasant Valley Road and then to the bend of the Cuyahoga River by the tracks alongside Riverview Road near the Columbia Run picnic area.
There was still good sunlight, but clouds were gathering to the west. That didn’t matter at Pleasant Valley, but near Columbia Run the light was slightly filtered.
That wasn’t a problem because the clouds were still thin and the reflection on those shiny FPA-4s still looked great.
It probably is a matter of time before the 6771 and 6777 are broken apart and, in fact, I am surprised it hasn’t happened already.
Perhaps the CVSR takes a lot of pride in the appearance of these units and plans to run them together for a while longer.
Yet in time dirt and grime will build up on both units, and wear and tear will take its toll. The thrill of seeing matching FPA-4 units will fade in time, too.
But for now Nos. 6771 and 6777 have the appeal of a bright red sports car that has just been driven off the dealer’s lot after getting a wash and wax job.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
Tags: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, CVSR FPA-4, CVSR FPA-4 No. 6771, CVSR FPA-4 No. 6777, CVSR in Akron Ohio, CVSR in Peninsula Ohio, CVSR locomotives, CVSR motive power, CVSR trains, FPA-4 locomotives, FPA4, passenger trains, Peninsula Ohio