McKay Day Memories

For more than a decade the Akron Railroad Club had a tradition of gathering on the first Saturday in April for a day of train watching in Berea. Known as Dave McKay Day, the event paid tribute to the second longest-serving ARRC president, David A. McKay, who died in December 2004 shortly after stepping down from his 12-year tenure as ARRC president.

The downside to holding a railfanning event in early April in Northeast Ohio is that the weather could be anything from snow and cold to sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s. During the 14 years McKay Day was held on the first Saturday in April, we saw it all.

In 2019 the McKay Day date was shifted to May in hopes of having better weather and better attendance.

The two images shown above were made on April 2, 2016. The day began partly cloudy and there was nice sunlight for the first few trains that I photographed after arriving around 8 a.m.

But those conditions wouldn’t last. The weather went from partly cloudy to cloudy to back to partly cloudy and then to winter when light snow fell in mid afternoon.

Those conditions prompted the handful of us who were still there to call it a day and head to the Berea Union Depot Taverne for dinner. The snow was really coming down by the time I got home that night.

I chose these two images because they are among the few I made that day with nice light. In the top image an eastbound is passing a westbound between the depot and the Front Street overpass.

The bottom image shows that westbound a couple minutes earlier. It has yet to reach Front Street. This is a view that few photographs seem to seek out while photographing trains in Berea.

When McKay Day fell early in April, which was often the case, the national semifinals of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament were played the same day.

In 2016, the Final Four was Villanova, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Syracuse. Games were played in Houston and the tournament was won by Villavnova. This year the Final Four features two of those 2016 teams, Villanova and North Carolina. Others are Duke and Kansas. The semifinal games will be played Saturday night in New Orleans.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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