An H of a Day (Heritage, Heritage and Hockey)

As I rolled east into a bright early morning sunrise over Lake County, I didn’t have any inkling as to what kind of day this would be.

Ed Ribiniskas and I were going to spend some time trackside around Painesville and then head to the afternoon’s Mentor Ice Breakers Hockey game.

Ed called me Saturday evening and pushed our rendezvous time back to sometime after 9:15. We originally had an 8:30 call time at his house in Painesville.

I stayed on my original schedule and decided to spend a few minutes at the former New York Central depot in Painesville before heading to Ed’s house.

I wanted to see what, if any, photo angles could be had of the Painesville depot from the south side of the tracks.

Between the fences and vegetation that surround the depot, photo angles were few. A westbound mixed freight running as the Q561 was the first train to pass.

Shortly after its EOT blinked past, an eastbound ethanol train shot past. I managed to shoot the eastbound. It had a single CSX GE up front and a BNSF SD70 on the rear.

It was now about quarter past nine so I was off to Ed’s house. He was ready to go and he had some news on Norfolk Southern heritage units.

The Pennsylvania Railroad H unit was leading NS train 149. It had been reported a few minutes ago at Kingsville waiting for a meet with an eastbound.

Ed only lives a couple of minutes from the new NS Painesville trestle over the Grand River. We were heading there to hang out.

While we waited at the trestle for something to go by, CSX ran an eastbound. We heard him calling signals and heard the horns off in the distance.

NS was quiet for a few more minutes when horns to the west alerted us the arrival of intermodal train 206.

We shot the 206 on the trestle in perfect light. Since we knew that the 149 wouldn’t be coming soon, we headed to Perry to find a better sun angle for a westbound in these morning hours.

Lately out here in Lake County, I have had problems hearing any radio chatter on NS. I wondered if they had changed the radio frequency out here. I hoped to find out. I don’t like running silent.

When we got to Perry another railfan was parked trackside. As we pulled up beside him, his scanner picked up 206 calling a signal. He had the right radio channel so I asked him what it was.

He said that a while back NS had changed the frequency on the former NKP east of Cleveland to 161.085.

I plugged that number into both scanners and PRESTO we could hear what was going on on NS.

I thanked the gentleman for the information and we headed to the Maple Street crossing in Perry to wait for the 149.

CSX wasn’t really busy this morning. They ran only one eastbound double-stack while we staked out the 149.

That eastbound was lead by No. 765. I asked Ed if he wanted to give chase but his focus was on the PRR H unit.

While checking for updates on the website, Ed also noticed that another H unit, the Central of New Jersey, was leading NS train 310.

The 310 also would be coming our way. Since the report was at Amherst it would be along, hopefully, before too long.

The 149 was now heard calling signals as it approached our vantage point.

The PRR is one of the H Units that I had seen but never got a photo of on the lead. It shot by us at track speed heading for a meet with the CNJ on 310 somewhere ahead.

From here it was back to the Painesville trestle to await the arrival of the 310. I have shot the CNJ before.

It made an appearance on train 287 during an Aug. 11, 2013, Akron Railroad Club outing to Vermilion when we got it in Avon Lake.

It was now past 1 p.m. and the sun was starting to shift to the west. The NS trestle over the Grand River is on an east-west alignment so, hopefully, the 310 would get here before too long. We weren’t the only railfans here; two other carloads of fans and one large black dog were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the 310.

Eventually the NS channel came to life. Something was in the neighborhood.

Turns out it was the 310. A few minutes later horns. to the west confirmed show time was at hand.

Unlike the PRR H unit, which was fairly clean, the CNJ H unit was rather filthy. But we shot it anyway. We didn’t come here to be picky.

The 310 had two motors on the lead and two more in the middle. He had a good-sized train. I lost track of his car count (ran out of fingers and toes). I would estimate about 150-180 cars.

With the rail action finished we were off to lunch and the hockey game.

The Mentor Ice Breakers were playing the Delaware Thunder. That’s Delaware as in the state of, not the town near Columbus.

Mentor was outplayed in the first period and was lucky to be down only 2-1.

At the 16:23 mark of the second period three things happened. Right in front of our seats at the blue line a Mentor player was leveled by Delaware player. It took our attention away from the action which featured Mentor scoring the tying goal.

Also at that time the scoreboard went blank. Play was halted as they tried to resolve the issue. A “rain delay” for lack of a better term of over an hour ensued.

After a conference between the officials and the team coaches, it was decided the game would resume at the adjacent east rink. Mentor plays their games in the west rink, which features a much larger seating area.

Everyone moved over to the other rink and play resumed. Mentor’s play after the delay was much more spirited and they skated to a hard fought 6-5 win.

After the game I dropped Ed off at his house and headed back home. I did pause to shoot a sunset shot at the crossing at the east end of the Painesville trestle.

The sky was ablaze with orange and yellow as the sun dropped behind the trees and out of sight. It had been quite a day.

Article by Marty Surdyk, Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

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