Archive for March, 2021

Early in the Penn Central Era

March 31, 2021

It is in the fourth week of the Penn Central era (Feb. 24/25, 1968) at the Collinwood engine facility in Cleveland. Former New York Central 1111, an Alco FA-2 is framed near the center of the frame. Two other NYC units can also be seen in part.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Hamilton Gets Another Year to Save Depot

March 31, 2021

Officials in Hamilton will have a little more time to save the city’s former Baltimore & Ohio passenger station.

CSX has agreed to give Hamilton a year to raise money to move the depot to another location.

Officials have discussed moving it two blocks away to a site near the CSX Indianapolis Subdivision.

CSX had indicated that it will raze the historic structure if local officials do not move it off site.

Estimates are moving the station will cost $300,000 and restoration will cost another $300,000.

Watco to buy CN Branch Lines

March 31, 2021

Short line operator Watco will buy 650 miles of branch line track in Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario from Canadian National.

Watco will also begin operating the Agawa Canyon Train, which will use 250 miles of track the short line company is buying between Sault Ste. Marie and Oba, Ontario.

It has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Missanabie Cree First Nation regarding forming a partnership to operate the Algoma Central Railway.

The Agawa Canyon Train offers one-day excursions over 114 miles north of Sault St. Marie.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. CN had been offering the affected line for sale since last July.

In the United States Watco is purchasing lines now operated by CN affiliate Wisconsin Central.

The acquisitions in the U.S. must be approved by the Surface Transportation Board approval.

Western Maryland Two for Tuesday

March 30, 2021

Here are two Western Maryland geeps although neither is an original WM Geep but was transferred to tthe WM by the Chessie System.

In the top image No. 5972 and caboose C-2851 are in front of the freight house in Massillon on July 1, 1981. The bottom image shows No. 5971 in New Castle, Pennsylvania, on April 16, 1977.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Pa. Tourist Railroad Acquires Steam Locomotive

March 30, 2021

The Colebrooke Railroad has acquired former Rio Grande Scenic Railroad 2-8-0 No. 18.

The locomotive was built by Alco in 1910 in Pittsburgh for the Lake Superior & Ishpeming in Upper Michigan.

The acquisition comes after the railroad had said it was seeking funding to launch a steam program this year.

Some funding to buy No. 18 came from the Maguire Family Foundation.

Ozark Mountain Railcar helped to handle the transaction of the locomotive, which came via a liquidation of locomotives and rolling stock from the bankrupt Iowa Pacific Holdings.

It will be shipped on a flatcar from Alamosa, Colorado, to Boyertown, Pennsylvania on a flat car.

No. 18 has a year to go before its boiler requires a 1,472-day inspection and will join Grand Trunk Western 4-6-2 No. 5030, purchased in February from the City of Jackson, Michigan.

The latter locomotive needs extensive restoration work before it came become operable.

The Colebrooke operates a tourist line between Pottstown and Boyertown.

L&N Society to Move to Tennessee

March 30, 2021

The Louisville & Nashville Historical Society is moving its headquarters, archive, and store from Bowling Green, Kentucky, to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The archives will be housed in an archive building at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum that is also the home of the Southern Railway Historical Association.

The L&N collection will take up 2,500 square feet of the building and is expected to be moved as soon as the space in the Chattanooga facility can be prepared.

The society cited space limitations at the current facility, an L&N Depot and Railroad Museum, for making the move.

“Completing this project will allow L&NHS to achieve its mission,” said society president Lee Gordon said in a statement.

Pandemic Aid Available for Public Transit

March 30, 2021

The $30.5 billion in COVID-19 relief to public transit systems that was earmarked in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is now available, the Federal Transit Administration said on Monday.

The funding includes $26.6 billion to be distributed by statutory formulas to urban and rural areas, to tribal governments, and for the enhanced mobility of seniors and individuals with disabilities.

Another $2.2 billion is available for FTA grant recipients in communities that demonstrate additional pandemic-associated needs.

FTA said the funding is available at the 100 percent federal share and primarily directed to operations and payroll.

The program makes $1.7 billion available for projects in the Capital Investment Grants Program and $25 million for competitive planning grants.

The transit agency will hold a webinar on April 2 to provide more information about the grants.

3 Seek Positions on CN Board of Directors

March 30, 2021

Canadian National has nominated two new members of its board of directors that it said in a news release would enable it to achieve gender parity among its independent directors.

Nominated were Denise Gray, president, LG Energy Solution Michigan Tech Center, and Justin Howell, senior investment manager at BMGI, which manages the assets of CN’s largest shareholder, Cascade Investment

Margaret McKenize, who was appointed to the board in October 2020, will stand for election for the first time.

Shareholders will consider the nominations at a meeting on April 27.

Historian Ralph Pfingsten Dies

March 29, 2021

Historian and author Ralph A. Pfingsten, 81, died on March 25 (2021).

Mr. Pfingsten was the author of The History of the Ravenna Arsenal, which was published in 2009 by the Northern Ohio Railway Museum.

He gave a program about the railroad operations at the arsenal during the June 2011 meeting of the Akron Railroad Club.

During his program, Mr. Pfingsten noted that the site of the arsenal was chosen because it was between mainlines of the Erie and Baltimore & Ohio railroads.

The arsenal itself had 130 miles of railroad track within its borders and some workers rode commuter trains to their jobs there.

A longtime member of NORM, Mr. Pfingsten served on its board of directors from 1990 to 2015 and received a lifetime achievement award from the museum in 2011.

Mr. Pfingsten also served on the board of directors of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society between 2000 and 2005 and on the board of the West Park Historical Society between 2005 and 2015.

Aside from rail operations Mr. Pfingsten had an interest in salamanders and had searched for them all over Ohio.

Much of this work occurred between 1965 and 2015 when he was a field biologist/herpetologist who collected 15,000 amphibian and reptile records from 84 of 88 Ohio counties and over two-thirds of Ohio’s 1,362 townships.

In 1988 he served as senior editor of Salamanders of Ohio and in 2013 as senior editor of Amphibians of Ohio.

He received the Ohio Naturalist Award from the Ohio Biological Survey in 2013.

Much of his work on amphibians and reptiles was performed for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and various park districts.

Between 1985 and 2015, Mr. Pfingsten was a research associate at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

He was co-author of the 2003 work Ohio Salamander Atlas.

His other published works included From Rockport to Westpark, a history of early Rockport Township and the community of West Park.

Its publication led to the formation of the West Park Historical Society of which he was president between 2014 and 2015.

He was a co-author of Cleveland’s West Side, Then and Now (2013); Rails Through West Park (2014); and One Minute to Puritas Springs Park (2011).

After graduating from Cleveland’s John Marshall High School, Mr. Pfingsten earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1962 from Wittenberg University and a Master of Arts degree from Kent State University in 1966.

He worked as a high school science teacher in Cleveland between 1962 and 1990.

He is survived by his wife Joan (nee Myers) Pfingsten; a daughter, Laura J. Weber; a son Erik A. Pfingsten;  a brother, Earle Pfingsten; and a sister, Joanne Germuska. He was preceded in death by a brother, Harry Pfingsten.

A celebration of life will be held at a later time. Arrangements are being made by A. Ripepi and Sons Funeral Home, in Middleburg Heights.

Memorials made be made to the Northern Ohio Railway Museum or the Nature Conservancy at

Conrail Monday: Two Bygone Relics in Ravenna

March 29, 2021

Conrail SD60 No. 6812 leads an eastbound manifest freight in Ravenna in June 1986. It is passing the since removed former Pennsylvania Railroad passenger station.

Photograph by Robert Farkas