1984 Highlights: More Steam and Finding Friends

Former Grand Trunk Western 4070 smokes it up at Akron Junction.

Much of my railfanning in the 1970s and early 1980s had been either by myself or with a family member.

For the longest time I thought I was the only one or a group of very few that “chased” or stood trackside taking pictures or making movies of trains.

In fall 1983 I was chasing and making movies of former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-4 No. 4070 down the valley when it was heading to New York to take part in its role in the filming of The Natural with Robert Redford.

When the train got to Akron Junction I told Richard Sherwood, a Cleveland Amtrak agent, that I was unfamiliar with the former Baltimore & Ohio mainline eastward.

He introduced me to Marty Surdyk and said to follow the tan Cordova. I did that until darkness fell in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

We all had dinner at a Pizza Hut, a group that included from what I remember Marty’s brother Robert and, I’m pretty sure, his brother John and their Dad, Bill.

Anyway, from what I remember, when I made most of the photos shown in this post I was with Marty, Robert, and Dan Pluta, who was a volunteer with the 4070 that previous fall.

Those outings were my introduction to true railfanning.

I also went on an outing with Dan that was initially planned as a weekend trip to the Hocking Hills of Ohio.

We ended up in Arcade, New York, and to this day I’m pretty sure we took a wrong turn someplace or had a misprinted road map.

During 1984, Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 ran from Erie, Pennsylvania, to Buffalo, New York, and I chased it with Marty, Robert and a guy named Ray.

This was when Dan hooked up with the NS steam program and as the years went by he played a big part in steam preservation.

Starting with ex-GTW 4070, he was involved with N&W 611, with Steamtown, served as chief mechanic of Western Maryland No. 734, and, more recently, helped with the restoration of Everett Railroad No. 13.

Dan also helped prepare Nickel Plate Road No. 757 to travel from Strasburg, Pennsylvania, to Bellevue.

Marty and I got out to chase a passenger excursion between Akron and Pittsburgh that was advertised as a trip behind GM50. It was. However, the locomotive had been repainted into a Chessie System livery.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

A Pittsburgh & Lake Erie commuter train to Pittsburgh awaits passengers.

A Chessie diesel pretends to be a steam locomotive in the Detroit River Tunnel.

A VIA Rail Canada train in the station at Windsor, Ontario.

Steam at Greenfield Village in Michigan.

Robert, Marty and Dan chat with the Greenfield Village steam locomotive crew.

A memorable night photo shoot on the Arcade & Attica even if I don’t remember planning to go there.

Chasing Norfolk & Western 611 at Irving.

N&W 611 creates a smoke plume in Buffalo.

Checking out the 611 during a stop.

An Akron-Pittsburgh excursion train on the Baltimore & Ohio mainline in Ravenna.

The Akron-Pittsburgh excursion train passes the steels mills at Center Street in Youngstown.

One Response to “1984 Highlights: More Steam and Finding Friends”

  1. pwwoodring Says:

    Yes, Chessie had repainted GM50 right before that excursion out of Akron, but it’s regular road number was B&O 4163, so that was not the former GM50 leading the excursion. Supposedly the unit still exists as CSX 6093, and supposedly will go to the B&O Museum as GM50 when it is retired.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: