Archive for April, 2017

Chasing the N&W 611

April 29, 2017

Last Sunday morning I chased the Norfolk & Western No. 611 trip from Greensboro, North Carolina, to Roanoke Virginia.

The first two photos are from Reidsville, North Carolina. Strangely enough, I had this overpass all to myself not another railfan in sight.

Next is a rural overpass east of Chatham, North Carolina. Picture four is at Danville, Virginia.

The last one is near Hurt, Virginia, where the trip gets off the Southern mainline and takes the old Virginian route to get to Roanoke. From there I was unable to chase due to not being familiar with the roads.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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Hickory Creek to run on NKP 765 Excursions

April 29, 2017

Former New York Central observation car Hickory Creek will be part of the consist of the Joliet Rocket, the excursion train to be pulled by Nickel Plate Road No. 765  on June 17 and 18 between Joliet and Chicago.

Tickets to ride in the Hickory Creek are limited and are priced at $219.

The Hickory Creek once operated on the Chicago-New York 20th Century Limited.

The car is being made available through a special charter by Headwaters Junction, Inc.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society said some tickets remain in economy coach, deluxe coach and first class on select dates and times for the excursions.

Harris Tower Gets Additions, Makeover

April 29, 2017

The Harris Tower Railroad Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, will have a slightly new look when it reopens on May 27.

The structure has been rehabilitated and expanded displays created.

The Harrisburg Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, which owns the tower, has restored 40 windows, power-washed the interior, upgraded one bathroom with period-appropriate fixtures, re-painted the second floor, and installed replica lighting fixtures. The tower’s electro-pneumatic switching machine is to have its covers sand blasted and re-painted.

On the tower’s ground floor are three new display cases showing recently-acquired memorabilia pertinent to the structure’s history.

The museum is open on Saturdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. There is no admission charge.

Neither Flipping nor Flopping in Bellevue

April 28, 2017

Of course the highlight of the day, or any day for that matter, for me is catching an Illinois Central unit. It is leading train W08 on the Toledo District into the mini plant.

OK, so what did my trip to Bellevue in early April have in common with Marty Surdyk’s venture there last winter that he wrote about this week in the Akron Railroad Club Bulletin and the ARRC blog?

Actually, very little. The soles on both of my shoes stayed firmed in place and I did not do any flipping or flopping while waiting for trains. I’m still laughing about that story.

I didn’t get any NS heritage units as Marty did in catching the Lehigh Valley H unit on northbound train No. 174.

But I did chase No. 194 southward (railroad eastbound) and my catch of the day was a former Illinois Central SD70 leading a train into town on the Toledo District.

I posted a photograph earlier of the IC unit along with a few other highlights of my day, so here are a few more images from my day in Belleveue, which also involved a chase down the Sandusky District.

The first train that I saw was a monster Wheeling & Lake Erie manifest freight sitting outside of town.

A railfan who goes by the screen name of Camcorder Sam on Trainorders.com, said that the W&LE didn’t come into Bellevue on Saturday so the Sunday train was extra long.

I would get it creeping around the Brewster Connection at Center Street.

If it wasn’t such a great day for heritage locomotives, it was a good day for western foreign power. Two trains had Union Pacific power sets leading them. BNSF power led the 44G, a grain train that came in on the Fostoria District and west south on the Sandusky District.

The crew putting together the 12V had the mini plant tied up for a good half-hour to 45 minutes, causing three trains to have to sit and wait before they could leave town or come into town.

The dispatcher used a term to describe this that I’ve never heard before. It sound like “shopping” but it could have been “chopping.” Whatever work it was had an “op” sound to it.

The crew of L14 toured the mini plant as they spun their motive power set because the original lead unit had some type of issue.

ARRC members will be going to Bellevue in June for our annual longest day outing and Bellevue will be the subject of the cover story in the June ARRC eBulletin.

Just remember to wear a good pair of shoes that day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Union Pacific No. 4012 leads train into town as another one leaves town. They are passing at Southwest Street.

A trio of UP units leads a train out of town.

The W&LE always seems to have to wait before it gets into the NS yard in Bellevue. An inbound train is shown on the Brewster Connection.

It’s all about steel wheels on steel rails. Shown are the wheels of a car on the W&LE train.

The L14 maneuvers around the Mad River Connection in the background as seen between two auto rack cars on an inbound train coming off the Fostoria District.

After spinning its power the L14 finally got underway. It is passing the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum on the Mad River Connection.

As the 12V was being assembled and had the mini plant tied up, it operated as symbol L07.

Train 194 had to wait for the 12V to finish its assembly work before it could leave town. The 12V picked up a Mansfield Crew near Flat Rock and the 194 went around and out ahead of it. The 194 is leaving Bellevue with a CSX unit tucked behind lead locomotive 2661.

The 194 had to wait for a CSX intermodal train at Attica Junction before it could resume its journey. It is shown on the south edge of Siam (Attica Junction)

The 12V saunters through Attica in a view made from the cemetery along the tracks.

Tank cars bring up the rear of NS train 188 as it crosses the Fort Wayne Line at Colson in Bucyrus. The 44G was waiting for it to clear.

 

1309 Restoration Work Halted for Lack of Funds

April 28, 2017

Financial issues are preventing the completion of restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 to operating conditions.

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad had said No. 1309 would make its maiden journey after restoration on July 1.

But slow reimbursements from the State of Maryland have jeopardized that. John Garner, superintendent of the WMSR, said all restoration work was halted in early March due to lack of funding.

Last year the Maryland governor’s office earmarked $400,000 in a matching grant to help with the restoration of No. 1309.

Garner says that the WMSR must spend its own capital dollars before reimbursement can be processed by the state.

Seeking to raise the railroad’s matching share of $400,000 while trying to continue regular operations has proven difficult for the WMSR.

Garner said state officials are working to give railroad vendors the status of approved state contractors and to also approve vendors’ invoices.

“It’s all up to the state now; if [the state] cuts a check loose tomorrow, we go back to work,” he said, adding that he can’t predict when the 1309 restoration will be completed and when the locomotive will operate.

He did say that another eight weeks of work is needed to get No. 1309 operational.

Among the remaining work to be completed is a hydrostatic test for the boiler and reassembly work if the test shows the locomotive will safely hold steam and water under pressure.

Those who have purchased tickets for the planned July 1 runs are being given refunds or re-booked on a July 4 weekend excursion. The WMSR is offering $10 vouchers good for train rides, gift shop purchases or on-board services.

Flordia East Coast Family Days

April 27, 2017

Last week I flew to Florida to help a friend drive back to Ohio. The first stop Saturday morning was the FEC family days train at St Augustine Florida.

Power was the two engines painted in the Susan G Komen find the cure for breast cancer scheme. The recently repainted St Augustine, an unnamed Observervation car and a generator car rounded out the consist.

Unfortunately due to time constraints I was only able to get some roster photos and not the train running.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon 

ODOT Budget Gives Ohio Public Transportation Slight Increase in Funding for FY 2018, 2019

April 27, 2017

The two-year budget for the Ohio Department of Transportation includes an increase in spending for public transportation, but no funding for intercity passenger rail.

The Ohio General Assembly approved an increase of $5 million for public transportation, boosting state spending in that area to $33 million a year.

The budget covers the fiscal years of 2018 and 2019.

The legislature turned down a proposal to allocate $15 million for the purchase of new transit vehicles from the fund created by the Volkswagon settlement that stemmed from that company’s fraudulent altering of pollution emission equipment on its vehicles.

All Aboard Ohio, a rail passenger advocacy group, said the bid to appropriate money for transit vehicles could be revived in the general revenue budget that the legislature must approve by late June.

The ODOT budget includes $3.9 billion for highway spending.

AAO said that the budget could have included flexible funds and pass-through federal funds for intercity passenger rail, but it did not.

In the past five years, Ohio has allotted $1.4 million in such funding for intercity passenger rail projects.

June Rail Excursion Set in Pennsylvania

April 27, 2017

The Lehigh & New England Railroad Preservation Society is hosting a June train ride, lunch, and slide show at the Pennsylvania-based Allentown & Auburn Railroad.

The society will show off its L&NE Alco S2 No. 611 during the event, which will begin at 9 a.m. with a train ride from Kutztown to Topton.

The train will stop en route for a picnic lunch. After the train ride there will be several slideshows about the L&NE with memorabilia also on display.

Tickets are $35 with the proceeds going toward restoration of No. 611.

The Paint Was Barely Dry on NS 7328

April 26, 2017

Norfolk Southern 7328 used to be Union Pacific 8263.

There was something that looked different about the Norfolk Southern train of hoppers as it approached Olmsted Falls.

The lead unit of train 547 was gleaming in the mid-morning sunlight and there was a couple of specs of orange behind it.

It turned out that NS 7328 had just been repainted. That was good news and bad news.

The good news is that a freshly-painted locomotive, even one that is black, makes for a nice image. The bad news is that this is one of the former Union Pacific SD9043MACs that NS purchased used a while back.

These units ran around in UP Armour yellow for a while, sans their UP markings, and added a spot of color to the otherwise all black NS world.

Sure, NS has heritage locomotives and special tribute locomotives to break up the black monotony, but it is still good to get some color every now and then.

In the case of this train the two trailing BNSF “pumpkins” helped to provide just enough of that to enhance the interest of this motive power set.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Flip-da-Flop, Flip-da-Flop. Chase of the ‘Valley Girl’ on the Sandusky District Had Plenty of Sole

April 26, 2017

This particular Sunday dawned sunny with unseasonably warm temperatures. The sunlight through the stained glass windows at church had a special glint to it today. It was going to be a memorable day. Little did I know in what way.

My plans for the day were set, at least for the early hours. I was to attend the birthday party for my great nephew Griffen in the morning. Yes, in the morning, actually, 11 a.m.

The Grif had a hockey game later in the afternoon. Yes, beside trains, cars and trucks, the Grif is a hockey puck. (Hard to believe he’s 6 already)

I thought I might head out trackside in the afternoon, depending on what the weather was doing and/or if any Norfolk Southern heritage units were around.

I was the first from nephew Henry’s side of the family to arrive. We went to the basement to inspect the work he’s done on his new HO scale train layout.

The bro and his clan arrived shortly after I did. The first thing Robert said wasn’t, “Hi,” it was, “Lehigh Valley at Columbus coming north on No. 174.”

“Wonderful.” I thought to myself. “One of the units I’ve never seen close by and a nice weather day . . . figures.”

As lunch was served and the party progressed, the progress, or lack thereof, as it turned out, of the Valley Girl was tracked via the Heritage Unit app.

“Lewis Center at Noon.”

Didn’t look good; we still had cake to cut and presents to open. I was hoping for a miracle, maybe, just maybe, it would get delayed somewhere.

As the gathering broke up about 1:30 p.m, the Valley Girl was still shown at Lewis Center at noon. Could this be our miracle or just no one reporting it today?

Robert was game for heading to Bellevue to see if we might catch it. Henry got sprung from parenting duties to join us. Grif, unfortunately, had to get ready for his hockey game.

We were off to Bellevue shortly after 2 p.m. We used the Ohio Turnpike to make the best time. You can make Bellevue via the Turnpike from my house in less than one hour.

Upon arrival in Bellevue, we found no railfans in position to catch an imminent move of a heritage unit. Either it was already by or still a long way off.

We stopped for a leg stretch at the south wye to watch two westbounds go by on the Fostoria District.

To my surprise, while driving out to Bellevue the sole of my right shoe came about two-thirds of the way off. When I walked it made a flip-da-flop noise.

I tried to attach it, but it didn’t hold. The noise didn’t bother me, but Robert and Henry didn’t care for it.

So I walked around as much as I could . . . flip-da-flop . . . flip-da-flop.

Since it looked like it hadn’t arrived yet in Bellevue, we continued south in search of the Valley Girl.

We would occasionally pick up a train calling signals as we rolled south. We were behind train No. 194, but gaining on it.

No. 194 was routed into the Benson siding north of Bucyrus. No. 194 would sit here for several hours before continuing on.

The Sandusky District dispatcher finally cleared up the situation as he explained to No. 194 what his plans were.

He had five northbounds between Columbus and Marion. The last one was an 11,000 foot monster. No. 194 would be held at Benson for all five to pass. One of them had to be No. 174 with the LV.

Henry found a post about the No. 174 and the Valley Girl that said that it was leading a long train with mid-train DPUs. “That must be the 11,000 foot monster the dispatcher was talking about.”

We stopped south of Bucyrus to shoot the second of the five northbound trains. The first one got by us as we tangled with traffic in Bucyrus.

This was a grain train, the lighting was not very good, but we did the best we could. The search was on now for a suitable photo spot for the 174/Valley Girl.

Late afternoon, in the dead of winter, with a northbound train? Not a good set up, but it was all we had to work with.

The third northbound, we shot closer to Monnet. Again, not great light. We continued on.

The spot we settled on was at Tobias. There are some spots here that you can get back enough to get some side lighting on a northbound.

The fourth northbound was fast approaching. Tobias is north of the U.S. Route 23 overpass on the northern outskirts of Marion. The coaling tower at Harvey can be seen in the distance.

We had a chance to get a “test shot” of the 195 as it passed. This should work for the Valley Girl, as its headlight was right on the block of the 195.

As we waited, I made sure to walk around as much as I could. Flip-da-flop . . . flip-da-flop . . . flip-da-flop.

As train time approached, two more cars full of railfans showed up. This was more like it. Show time was now upon us.

The gates went down at the crossing we were at. The Valley Girl was leading a Canadian Pacific GE. About three-quarters of the way back, there were two NS black DPUs.

The chase was on. I had Robert drive due to my shoe malfunction. I didn’t want the flap of my shoe to get caught under the brake or gas pedal and cause a serious safety issue, especially in the heat of the chase.

No. 174 and the Valley Girl weren’t setting any speed records; the trains ahead kept their pace in check.

We got through Bucyrus and headed for the north end of the Benson siding.

The rear end of No. 194 was clear of the crossing when we went by earlier. This would be the best lighted shot we would get. The tracks turn a little to the northwest here.

We had a couple of minutes to wait. I passed the time flip-da-flopping . . . flip-da-flopping.

Finally the train showed up. Film and pixels were exposed and we were off again.

“Let’s go for the Attica Reservoir,” Robert said. Since he was driving, he calls the shots.

We arrived to see the last cars of No. 195 passing by. The 174 better hurry, the sun was getting very low. Thankfully this is flat country and the sun stays up a lot longer than in the mountains.

We also had to hope that they didn’t get stabbed by CSX at Attica Junction. If 174 has to stop our day was over.

All things worked out and the 174 passed by us while the sun was still up.

If we were to get another shot, we would have to beat it to the Ohio Route 4 crossing north of Attica Junction. Otherwise, we would have to wait for all 11,000 feet of train to pass.

Just enough traffic and a red light in Attica cost us any chance of getting one more shot. I was able to count 48 cars behind the DPUs, as we waited for the train to cross Route 4.

By now both Robert’s and Henry’s wives were on the phone, wondering if we’d be home for dinner. The chase was called off at this point and we headed for home, satisfied with our results.

What do the Grif and the Valley Girl have in common? They were both the star of the show on the same day.

Article by Marty Surdyk