Busy Morning at Berea During RRE Turkey Shoot

As I pulled into the parking lot at Berea on Thanksgiving morning across from BE Tower the clock in my Jeep read 6:33 a.m.

Why was I up so early on a holiday morning? Some traditions must go on no matter what is trying to impede them. 

Since the 1970s members of the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts group in Cleveland have been meeting in Berea on Thanksgiving morning for the annual turkey shoot.

In past years they would meet for breakfast at Bob’s Big Boy restaurant and spend the morning photographing trains in Berea.

I came directly to Berea from home due to some scratching on the CSX radio channel. They might have a train to run.

Turns out they didn’t. It must have been the train working at Parma Yard that I heard as I headed out to the car from my apartment.

Today was one of those days; it was heavily overcast with a light mist coming down.

There would be no daybreak, no dawning of a new day. Days like this just happen.

The scanner was quiet, almost too quiet. Hunger drove me over to a nearby Dunkin Donuts for a trip through the drive through.

A bacon, egg and cheese bagel, and two frosted donuts would have to suffice until our turkey day feast at 1 p.m.

The quiet was briefly broken by the passing of a hi-rail truck on NS Track No. 1.

Then the NS Toledo East channel began to scratch. This could be a train coming.

As the radio signal got stronger, it sounded like “2014, clear, 200, two east.”

Something was coming, but I just was not sure what.

After the eastbound called “clear, 195, two east,” the Cleveland East Dispatcher cleared up things.

The train was 24Z and was going to be held for a couple of minutes at CP Max for the hi-railer to clear up at CP Drawbridge in downtown Cleveland.

The 24Z would go over to No. 1 track at CP Max. The dispatcher also mentioned that 11N and 414 were at the drawbridge patiently waiting for 24Z to pass.

Also about now 15N radioed in for permission into Rockport Yard. The yardmaster gave them yarding instructions. There would be action today.

The 24Z behind NS 4352 plus four other units glided past at 7:39 a.m.

The 11N, a solid auto rack train was next at 8:13 a.m. behind NS 2766 doing it solo.

A few minutes behind 11N was loaded coke train 414 behind NS 1207 plus one. They were OSed at 8:37 a.m.

CSX finally came to life with the passing of a K Train. This solid train of tankers carrying 1267 placards, which is crude oil if I’m not mistaken, passed by westbound at 8:58 a.m. behind CSX 35 plus one.

The 9 o’clock hour was led off by a CSX eastbound at 9:14 a.m. Q158 with double stacks was led by CSX 3185 plus one.

Fifteen minutes behind the stacker was CSX auto rack train Q204, which was lead by CSX 5359 plus one.

The latter minutes of the 9 o’clock hour saw a flurry of action on both lines.

 It began with Q634, a manifest freight eastbound. As it lumbered by, seemingly forever, CSX ran Q517 west on the other track.

While this was happening NS 15N was heading west with a huge consist.

On the other side of the 15N a westbound NS intermodel train went by. It was not quite four at a time, but close.

For those keeping score, Q634 had CSX 3224 plus one. Q517 had what sounded like CSX 809 as its leader. I didn’t catch the engine number as it went by or catch the engine numbers for 15N or the intermodal.

All this happened in a seven-minute stretch from 9:43 to 9:50 a.m. It would take until 10:13 a.m for the next train to go by, another CSX K train with 1267 on the tanks.

This one was lead by BNSF 5846 solo on the lead and Canadian Pacifuc 8145 solo on the rear.

Ten minutes later NS 21Z passed behind 4263 plus one. The 15N was being held at CP 197 for 21Z and the earlier intermodal that passed it as it came past BE Tower.

The 15N crew radioed in for a “how long we going to be here? We’ve got Olmsted Falls completely blocked.”

I’m not sure where their head end was, but the last few cars were still in the interlocking at BE.

“”You’ll go west after 21Z. Recrew at Fairlane.”

A very short and inefficient 26E was next at 10:31 a.m. with 8085 plus one. Ten minutes behind them was I2K, a second section of 22K, which rolled by behind NS 4111 plus one.

I had 11 a.m. pegged as my departure time, but scratching on the CSX radio channel as the bells at St. Adelbert’s Church sounded the hour kept me there for a few more minutes.

CSX has another K Train, tankers with 1267 placards, the third one of the day. This one was led by CSX 5378 plus one. It was OSed at 11:08 a.m.

There was more action in the pipeline with NS 309 working Rockport. Akron Railroad Club president Todd Dillon texted me that NS had an oil train coming west at Hudson where he was hanging out.

But it was now time for me to leave. Attendance at this year’s turkey shoot was down from previous years, which is not surprising due to the virus concerns.

Yet it was still an enjoyable morning of train watching at a busy location. Let’s hope for better times next year.

Article by Marty Surdyk

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