Archive for the ‘Akron Railroad Club News’ Category

CVSR Oddball Locomotives Featured in April 2017 Issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin

April 25, 2017

The Alco FPA-4 units built by Montreal Locomotive Works may have gotten much of the attention over the years on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, but if you have spent time chasing CVSR trains you would have seen an eclectic variety of motive power, some of which operated only for a short time.

The cover story in the April 2017 Akron Railroad Club eBulletin will focus on locomotives that did time on the CVSR but seemed out of place even if they added some interest.

A photographer would have had to have regularly spent time on the Valley throughout its more than more 40-year history to have captured all of these locomotives.

Also in the April eBulletin is a report from the ARRC’s 13th annual Dave McKay Day at Berea held on April 1. There is also the latest railroad industry news in the monthly Interchange Track feature.

Montana, Steam Focus of April ARRC Program

April 24, 2017

The program at the Akron Railroad Club meeting on April 28 will be a digital presentation by Edward Ribinskas that will feature railroading in Montana and steam locomotives in Pennsylvania.

In July 2016, Ed and his wife, Ursula, celebrated their 25th anniversary by taking Amtrak’s Empire Builder to Glacier National Park, where they stayed at the Izaak Walton Inn.

While there Ed captured BNSF freight operations as well as Amtrak trains against the backdrop of mountains and glaciers.

He and Ursula had made virtually the same trip in 1991 shortly after their wedding.

This segment of the program will also feature a few views made from the train en route.

Rounding out the program will be views of steam locomotives in action on the Everett Railroad and Reading Blue Mountain & Northern. Ed photographed those locomotive during a September 2016 journey to Pennsylvania.

The meeting will begin at 8 p.m. with a half-hour business meeting followed by the program at approximately 8:45 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

Following the meeting, some members gather at the Eat ‘n Park restaurant at Howe and Main streets in Cuyahoga Falls for a late dinner, dessert or an early breakfast.

Visitors are always welcome at Akron Railroad Club meetings.

Wabash H Unit, Citirail Locomotives Highlight 13th ARRC Dave McKay Day Outing in Berea

April 3, 2017

Late day sun illuminates the nose of a westbound CSX auto rack train during the waning hours of the annual Dave McKay Day in Berea.

It took nearly all day and six years but we finally got one. A Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive led a train through Berea during the annual Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day outing last Saturday.

NS No. 1070, the SD70ACe that pays tribute to the Wabash Railroad, was on the point of eastbound intermodal train No. 294 through Berea at 6:19 p.m.

We had known since mid-morning that it was coming and it would be a late afternoon train.

ARRC member Todd Dillon, who did not attend the event, sent some timely texts updating us on the progress of the Wabash unit.

So knew that THE WABASH IS COMING! THE WABASH IS COMING!

But when it finally got here it caught those of us still in Berea unprepared and no one got a photograph of it.

It was but one of the highlights of the 13th McKay Day, the all-day outing in Berea on the first Saturday in April to remember the late David McKay, who served as ARRC president between 1993 and 2004.

Twelve ARRC members and guests attended the event, which featured overcast skies and chilly temperatures for most of the day.

The sun finally broke through at 5:27 p.m. With the clouds having moved out, the temperatures at last reached the 50s. If only it had been that nice in the morning.

We recorded 49 movements between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., but that comes with a couple of asterisks.

The ARRC’s newest member, Jack Norris, watched Amtrak 48, the eastbound Lake Shore Limited, pass through Berea on the Berea webcam from his home in New Jersey.

Two of the trains in the tally were ones I spotted while en route to Berea, an eastbound NS loaded coal train at CP Max and an eastbound CSX train that I could see from Interstate 480 that was waiting for permission to go through the tunnels.

That train, Q260, would cause more than its share of headaches for the first trick IG dispatcher because it went into emergency twice before reaching Collinwood Yard.

That resulted in backed-up trains and a lot of discussion over the radio about the proper procedures for inspecting a train that goes into emergency that has a load of hazardous materials.

At one point the dispatcher read on the air word for word the applicable rule from the rule book. During another conversation he said he had checked with his boss who had checked with his boss.

Some of the discussion involved whether the Q123 could pass the Q260 and if so at what speed.

Also figuring into the situation was a maintainer in a track car who was following the Q260 and doing track inspections in its wake.

Early in the day that same dispatcher had told the maintainer in one of many radio conversations they had in which the latter received track warrant authority that he (dispatcher) was going to go to his favorite brewery in Indianapolis once he finished his shift to help it celebrate its first anniversary.

Given the day he had had that beer must have tasted pretty good once he got to the bar.

In another conversation the IG dispatcher revealed that many operational changes are occurring, including the abolition of some symbol freights.

Road freights are now going to handle switching in some places, e.g., 84 Lumber in the Cleveland suburbs, rather than a local.

The road freights are also going to start handling stone trains. If I understood the dispatcher correctly, the number of classification tracks at Avon Yard west of Indianapolis is being reduced.

Such is life these days in E. Hunter Harrison land where the employees must feel that they are the hunted.

At the same time that the first trick IG dispatcher had his hands full, the first trick NS Toledo East dispatcher had a train that left Cleveland with no re-crew available in Toledo.

He advised the crew of gondola train 60S to take it easy coming toward Toledo.

Later, he said he would be putting the 60S into a siding to kill time. The crew probably would have preferred to have gotten to Toledo in due time and then gone off duty. But it didn’t work out that way.

Among the other interesting occurrences throughout the day was an involved maneuver involving the 20R picking up a new locomotive at Rockport Yard to replace a unit that was experiencing mechanical troubles.

NS sent an eastbound Herzog ballast train through Berea in the afternoon that was the subject of a lot of radio traffic.

It was a moderately good day for foreign power with BNSF locomotives showing up on two trains, Canadian National power leading a westbound CSX ethanol train and a lone Union Pacific unit trailing in the motive power consist of an NS train.

But the sighting of the day was a pair of Citirail (CREX) ES44AC units leading CSX train Q384.

As for the Wabash H unit, the plan was for four of us – Craig Sanders, Marty Surdyk, Paul Woodring and Alan Nagy – who planned to have dinner at the Berea Union Depot Taverne to go there at 5 p.m. We figured that the NS 1070 would be coming along after 6, probably closer to 6:30 p.m.

After eating we could get into position to get photographs of the first H unit to lead a train through Berea on a McKay Day.

We’ve seen heritage units on McKay Day in the past, most notably the Wabash H unit in 2014. But it had been trailing.

The plan might have worked had we gotten to the restaurant at exactly 5. But we decided to wait for the westbound CSX Q009, which didn’t arrive until 5:11. Two other NS trains also passed by and we didn’t get to the depot and seated until about 5:20.

As the Wabash unit was leading No. 294 through Berea we had just gotten up to leave. Not everyone in the party saw it.

Had anyone been really ambitious and gotten to Berea in the early hours of McKay Day he would have seen three other heritage units.

The New York Central H unit led NS train 54K through town during the darkness hours. It was reported at Amherst at 9:38 p.m. on Friday night and at Macedonia at 2:13 a.m., so it is unclear when it was in Berea.

Amtrak No. 184, the Phase IV H unit, was trailing in the motive power consist of the westbound Lake Shore Limited at 4:05 a.m.

The Virginia heritage unit must have been a nocturnal visitor leading the 17N. It was reported at Wauseon at 9:48 a.m. on Saturday and the previous report for it had been in Conway late Friday morning.

CSX intermodal train Q009 passes the marker honoring Dave McKay in Berea.

A westbound ethanol train on CSX had a pair of Canadian National locomotives.

Looking like a giant candy cane, the Herzog ballast train slowly makes it way eastward through Berea on Norfolk Southern tracks.

Annual McKay Day Berea Outing Set for April 1

March 28, 2017

The Akron Railroad Club’s 13th annual Dave McKay Day outing in Berea will held on Saturday, April 1.

Come early and stay late while watching the action on the busy CSX and Norfolk Southern mainlines. Berea is one of Ohio’s premier railroad hot spots and features a wide variety of rail action.

This year we will be able to see if we can detect any changes in CSX operations as a result of its new CEO, E. Hunter Harrison, implementing his scheduled precision railroading operating philosophy.

While at Illinois Central, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, Harrison’s railroads became known for longer and less frequent trains. You might see an intermodal train with a block of boxcars or who knows what attached to it.

Of late NS has accounted for about 60 percent of the rail traffic at Berea with CSX making up the other 40 percent.

Although Amtrak passes through Berea four times a day, those trains operate in the pre-dawn hours unless one or more of them are excessively late.

Our best shot to see Amtrak is the eastbound Lake Shore Limited, which is scheduled into Cleveland at 5:35 a.m., which should put it through Berea shortly after 5 a.m. Yes, that is early.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie has trackage rights on CSX between Wellington and Cleveland, although its trains to the Cleveland steel mills operate on an as-needed basis.

Although most trains feature routine motive power assignments, part of the challenge of spending a day in Berea involves the search for something out of the ordinary.

On NS it could be a heritage unit or one of the former Indiana Rail Road locomotives that NS acquired that are still running around in their original red and white INDR livery.

We’ve seen a few NS heritage units trailing during the McKay Day, but have yet to have one leading. We are more than due for that bad luck to change.

Foreign power can lead trains on either railroad, so we might catch units of BNSF, Union Pacific and, if we are really lucky, Kansas City Southern.

CP has a run-through train that uses CSX tracks between Chicago and Buffalo, New York, and we’ve often seen that train during our time in Berea. It almost always has CP motive power.

The two railroads can be expected to offer an array of manifest freights, intermodal trains, auto racks consists, and unit trains of coal, ethanol, grain and crude oil.

As late afternoon begins to transition to early evening, those still on hand will go to the Berea Union Depot Taverne for dinner and more training watching from out table along the windows that are adjacent to the CSX tracks.

The McKay Day will be held rain, shine or snow. We’ve seen just about every form of weather you can imagine over the years. It might be cold and you’ll need your winter coat or it might be short-sleeves shirt weather.

The event is named for the late Dave McKay, who served as ARRC president between 1993 and 2004. He died in late December 2004 and and plaque in his memory lies in the ground at Berea.

Durand Cover Story in March eBulletin

March 20, 2017

It is Michigan week for the Akron Railroad Club. No, we’re not going to that state of up north as some fans of The Ohio State University like to call it and it has nothing to do with the annual games between the Buckeyes and Wolverines.

No, it has to do with the program at the March ARRC meeting, which is titled The Railroads of Bluewater Michigan.

And the cover story in this month’s ARRC eBulletin is about railfanning in Durand, Michigan.

The home of the Wolverine and the Spartans of that other OSU nemesis, Michigan State University, can be an interesting place to photograph railroad operations if you are patient.

Durand doesn’t have the volume of traffic of Berea, Fostoria or Marion, but it does have two Canadian National routes, Amtrak and two short-line railroads.

The city in mid-Michigan also has much railroad history and a museum.

Also in the March eBulletin is the latest railroad industry news, a review of the 2017 ARRC member’s night and a preview of Dave McKay Day in Berea this year.

If you would like a copy of this month’s eBulletin or wish to subscribe, send an email to csanders429@aol.com.

Individual copies and a subscription are free.

Sanders to Present Program on Railroads of Michigan at ARRC Meeting on March 24

March 20, 2017

The program at the Akron Railroad Club meeting on March 24 will be a digital presentation by club President Craig Sanders titled The Railroads of Bluewater Michigan.

Known to many Ohioans as “that state up north,” Michigan is more than a yearly football game between two college rivals.

Bounded by four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan has abundant natural beauty, which Craig will touch upon during his program.

As for railroad operations, Michigan is home to a lot of railroads, although most of them have light to moderate traffic density.

Craig’s program will examine Amtrak operations, the hot spot of Durand, some ships and boats, steam locomotive excursions and more.

The program will include a visit to the Little River Railroad, the home of the nation’s smallest standard gauge Pacific steam locomotive. You’ll also catch a few glimpses of the 2009 steam festival held in Owosso and see Pere Marquette No. 1225 in action.

Rounding out the program will be views of some Michigan short lines and mainline action on Norfolk Southern, CSX and Canadian National.

The meeting will begin at 8 p.m. with a half-hour business meeting followed by the program at approximately 8:45 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

Following the meeting, some members gather at the Eat ‘n Park restaurant at Howe and Main streets in Cuyahoga Falls for a late dinner, dessert or an early breakfast.

Visitors are always welcome at Akron Railroad Club meetings.

ARRC to Have Table at Lakeland Train Show

March 16, 2017

The Akron Railroad Club will have a tale selling railroad memorabilia at Railfest 2017 this Saturday and Sunday at Lakeland College in Kirtland, Ohio.

Sponsored by the MCR 5 of the National Model Railroad Association, the event is billed as the large two-day show of its kind in Ohio.

Admission to the show is $7 with a two-day pass available for $12. A family admission is $12 and includes children under age 18.

Show hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days.

Dealers will be selling a range of items, including model railroad equipment, railroad memorabilia, books, magazines and videos.

There will be operating layouts in the N, HO, S, American Flyer, O and G gauges. The Lake Shore Live Steam group plans to have a live steam display.

Lakeland College is located along Ohio Route 306 and is just beyond exit 193 of Interstate 90.

There is free parking with a shuttle bus also running. Food will be available for purchase.

In Memory of Michael Andrew Ondecker

March 13, 2017

Former Akron Railroad Club member Michael A. Ondecker, 69, died of a heart attack on Jan. 30.

Services were held at the Tallmadge Cemetery on March 3 with the Rev. Michael A. Matusz officiating. Donovan Funeral Home handled the arrangements.

Mr. Ondecker was born on Dec. 21, 1947, the son of Andrew and Isabelle Ondecker. He is survived by a brother, Thomas, who resides in Florida.

A graduate of Kent State University, he was a retired railroader, having worked for the Erie Lackawanna on its power desk and in its intermodal traffic department.

At the time of creation of Conrail, his former EL boss hired him to work at the Grand Trunk Western. Mr. Ondecker later moved to a position in the intermodal traffic department of the Soo Line.

A resident of Tallmadge for the past 15 years, Mr. Ondecker was a volunteer with the Ohio Museum of Transportation, which collects transit buses that were used throughout Ohio.

He was a friend of ARRC member Robert Farkas, who said that Mr. Ondecker introduced him to railfanning in 1965.

They traveled together on nearly a decade of trips to such places as Birmingham, Alabama; Huron, South Dakota; and New Haven, Connecticut.

“Before his aunt loaned him her 120 roll film camera (decent lens but slow top shutter speed) in 1968, he took a few Instamatic photos,” Bob write in an email message. “The quality of the Instamatic photos was poor because of the camera. On the other hand, what he saw was incredible!”

Three of those photographs made by Mr. Ondecker accompany this post.

“Instead of purchasing a better camera with a high shutter speed, he basically stopped taking photos,” Bob said. “Instead he drove and I took the photos for both of us.”

In the top image, made with the Instamatic camera, EL No. 7354 (an Alco FA), an F3B, and other units are shown at an unidentified location. The image was probably created in the middle 1960s.

The middle image also was made with an Instamatic camera.  EL No. 858 (an Alco PA), an Alco FB, and an EMD F3B were captured in the same time period at an unidentified location.

In the bottom image, made with his aunt’s camera, Baltimore & Ohio No. 9131 (an Alco S-2) is in shown in downtown Akron in the summer of 1968.

30 Enjoy ARRC Member’s Night Programs

February 26, 2017

pizza-night

Thirty Akron Railroad Club members and guests munched on pizza and viewed a wide range of railroad photographs during the club’s annual member’s night held Saturday night (Feb. 25).

Eleven attendees presented digital images, slides and video that had a decidedly eastern United States and Northeast Ohio focus.

We put away in short order the eight pizzas delivered by Marcos that arrived shortly before 6 p.m. There were also chips, cookies and several types of soda pop.

Ed Ribinskas led off the member’s night presentations with a self-described hodgepodge of digital images and photographs that had been digitized.

His program showed futuristic trains at Walt Disney World, replica steam locomotive Leviathan, some other assorted steam locomotive power, Norfolk Southern heritage locomotives in Northeast Ohio, Nickel Plate Road No. 765 in Ohio, and some late-running editions of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited.

Todd Dillon took us along on his recent Florida vacation where he spent most of his time trackside rather than at the beach.

Todd’s program included views of the new SunRail commuter service in Orlando, some Florida East Coast action and Amtrak’s Silver Meteor and Auto Train.

He rounded out his program by showing some of the last runs of the Orange Blossom Cannonball of the Tavares, Eustis & Gulf Railroad.

Club President Craig Sanders had the only images of the night that were made west of the Mississippi River.

Craig’s program focused on railroads and grain elevators. He showed grain elevators in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba that he made while riding The Canadian of VIA Rail Canada in May 2014.

But the focus of the program was grain elevators in east central Illinois, most notably along the former Illinois Central. This featured trains of Canadian National – which now owns the ex-IC mainline – Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and Amtrak.

Dennis Taksar attended a wedding in Tennessee not long ago and showed us various rail operations that he photographed on his trip there and back,

This included Norfolk Southern operations, the tourist railroad at Dollywood, the kitsch of Pigeon Forge, and vintage locomotives and cars at a repository of old equipment near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Tom Fritsch made a trip to West Virginia to do some tourist railroad fanning, which included riding and photographing the Durbin & Greenbrier, and the Cass Scenic Railroad.

Alex Bruchac had some of the oldest images shown during the evening during his 10-minute video made from movies of two railfan transit excursions in Cleveland.

The movies were made during 1968 and 1970 excursions of vintage streetcars traveling today’s Red, Green and Blue lines of Cleveland RTA.

David Mangold took us to the Illinois Railway Museum for a look at its collection and views of interurban cars, steam trains and a visiting Union Pacific passenger special.

Marty Surdyk led off the slide presenters with images he made on New Year’s Day this year during a railfan outing to downtown Cleveland that he wrote about in the January Bulletin.

We saw NS trains on the Chicago Line and cars of the RTA Waterfront Line.

He fleshed out the program by showing images made last fall on the CSX New Castle Subdivision between Lodi and Sullivan and the Wheeling & Lake Erie west of Spencer on the former Akron, Canton & Youngstown line to Carey.

In part II of a program that he presented to the ARRC last year, Paul Woodring showed us the rest of the Best of the Rest.

These were slides that didn’t make the cut for the original program. The theme for Paul’s member’s night program was things that don’t exist anymore. Nothing was newer than 20 years old.

This included the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad (which is now owned by CSX), Baltimore & Ohio Rail Diesel Cars that were used in Washington, D.C., commuter service, the West Virginia Northern, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company “yellowbird” locomotives, Detroit Edison coal trains, E units painted in the colors of the Pennsylvania Railroad of the Blue Mountain & Reading, long-since retired South Shore equipment, and Amtrak odds and ends.

The latter included E units, E60 electric locomotives used on the Northeast Corridor in the 1970s, the experimental Swedish-built X2000, which tested in the 1990s, and a switcher built in 1939 that was once the passenger carrier’s oldest locomotive.

Paul also dropped in photographs of a Southern Railway steam excursion program trip and railfans who have since died.

Jim Mastromatteo is an aficionado of the Wheeling & Lake Erie and his program featured a gallery of Wheeling locomotives from primarily the 1990s.

Wrapping up the evening was Richard Antibus, who took us back in time in Akron to an era when Conrail was primarily responsible for the maintenance of the line it shared with CSX between AY and Warwick.

Akron was a far outpost for Conrail and it skimped on the track repairs. That led to slow trains and numerous derailments, the latter of which was the focus of Rich’s program.

We’re Having a Pizza Party on Feb. 25

February 20, 2017

The Akron Railroad Club’s February meeting will be the annual member’s night and pizza party. It will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25 in the social hall of the New Horizons Christian Church.

ARRC logoThere will be a $5 cover charge and doors will open at 5:30 p.m. The pizza will be furnished by Marcos with serving to begin at 6 p.m.

Sometime after 6:30 p.m. we’ll start the member presentations. There is no theme other than it should be railroad related.

We will have the club’s equipment to present slides, digital images or video. All of the club’s audio visual equipment will be available for use as needed.

We chose February for the member’s night because of a schedule conflict at the church for Feb. 24, the normal night of our February meeting.

The church wasn’t available that night because of a large youth group program. We could have Feb. 17, but the social hall wasn’t available on that date because it would be set up for a spaghetti supper the next day. We could meet that night but in a Sunday School room that could get crowded.

The third option was Saturday night on Feb. 25, which the officers elected to make the annual member’s night.