Steam Saturday: Lot of Memories in This Image

My first encounter with Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 was in August 1993. I had just moved to Cleveland to take a new job and had seen that there would be a steam excursion from Akron to Pittsburgh and return.

I don’t remember how I heard about it but I ordered a ticket for a Sunday trip while I was still living in State College, Pennsylvania.

The locomotive for that trip was the 765 although it was disguised as a Chesapeake & Ohio locomotive. My next encounter with the 765 would occur 17 years later when the Berkshire-type steam made its first visit to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

I missed it during its first weekend of operation but vowed I would not miss it during its last weekend. I bought a ticket for the morning trip out of Akron.

Another first occurred that afternoon when I chased the 765. At that time I didn’t know that much about the CVSR territory and had made relatively few photographs of its operations. But by 2010 that had begun to change.

I surprised myself in being able to catch the 765 in multiple locations including the image above made at Howe Meadow. The photo runbys that year were conducted at Indigo Lake. The 765 would come as far as Howe Meadow before backing up to reboard passengers.

A handful of other fans were on hand here as well. There is something about this image I’ve always liked. Much of it has to do with the pleasant memories associated with that day. But another element is symbolic. The 765 is passing out of the darkness of the shadows and into the late afternoon light. In a way this chase represented my own coming out of the darkness with the 765.

When it returned the next year I was ready and chased and photographed it on multiple occasions.

Fast Forward to September 2018. The 765 was back in the Valley just as it had been in every year previous except 2012. I had a ticket for a trip out of Akron that would be the last one for the 765 on its 2018 visit.

That would turn out to be my last encounter to date with the 765 anywhere. I didn’t plan it that way, but there seems a certain symmetry to how my last experience with the 765 on the CVSR mirrors in many ways my first one.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

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