Archive for the ‘Akron Railroad Club News’ Category

Photo Line is in Place

July 31, 2018

Four Akron Railroad Club members watch CSX auto rack train Q276 pass Warwick Park in Clinton during the annual picnic.

The group was train watching next to the tracks before the picnic got underway.

The group is (from left) Tom Reder, Dave Shepherd, Don Woods and Todd Dillon.


Almost Setting a Dubious Record

July 30, 2018

Chef Martè, a.k.a. Marty Surdyk, places the first burger on the grill at the Akron Railroad Club’s 2018 picnic.

It was nearly a record-setting day for the Akron Railroad Club’s annual July picnic on Sunday and that was a good thing and a bad thing.

It was a good thing because the 10 trains we saw kept us from tying a dubious record of least trains seen during an ARRC picnic at Warwick Park in Clinton.

It was a bad thing because it was just one over the record for the lowest train count.

The record for least number of trains seen at Warwick Park during a picnic is nine, posted several years ago on what Bulletin editor Marty Surdyk described as “just one of those days.”

It also was a hot and humid day, Surdyk recalled.

The train count began at 8:45 a.m. when ARRC President Craig Sanders arrived and ended about 8:40 p.m. when he and Surdyk departed for home.

The first train, a westbound auto rack, was logged at 9:08 a.m. and the last one, an eastbound stack train, passing through at 7:52 p.m.

Between those were numerous long lulls, one of which lasted two hours and 22 minutes.

Auto rack traffic dominated the action with five of the 10 trains being predominantly auto racks and one of the two manifest freights that passed through having a cut of auto racks in its consist.

There were two purely intermodal trains, the Q137 and the Q016, but trains Q276, Q292 and Q216 all had blocks of stacked containers.

The pure auto rack trains were the Q299 and Q277. We also spotted manifest freights Q348 and Q369, both of which passed through within 22 minutes of each other.

The detector at Easton to the west counted 690 axles on the Q348. The crew of that train told the IO dispatcher that it would be dropping off its first 49 cars of stone at Ohio Junction and taking the rest of the train to New Castle, Pennsylvania.

Breaking the monotony of stacks and racks was the K182 coke train.

All of the trains featured CSX motive power with the lone except being a Norfolk Southern unit trailing on the Q137.

There have been reports of Southern Belles of Kansas City Southern making regular appearances on New Castle Subdivision trains, most often on the Q292. But there were no Belles for us today.

The local based at Warwick didn’t operate and neither did R.J. Corman. It was from a railroad perspective a rather quiet Sunday.

As for the picnic itself, approximately 30 ARRC members and guests munched on hamburgers and hot dogs along with chips, cookies, pie, brownies, deviled eggs, baked beans and some raw vegetables.

There were a lot of stories told and past good times shared beneath the pavilion of the park.

As always Chef Martè manned the grill and arranged for the burgers, buns, condiments and drinks. Most members had departed by 4 p.m. as things wound down.

The weather was partly sunny, but pleasant. Rain was reported in the Akron area and we saw some dark clouds, but it remained dry in Clinton.

Alethea Rantanes checks out the snacks and desserts during the ARRC picnic on Sunday.

From left to right Bob Farkas, Denny Romain and Bill Kubas sit and wait for the burgers and hot dogs to be grilled during the ARRC picnic, held at Warwick Park.

Tom Ward fills his plate at the buffet tables as Rick Houk (back to camera) dresses his burger.

Todd Dillon (seated) and Paul Woodring review images on Todd’s smart phone during the ARRC picnic.

The engineer of the Q016 gives us a wave as his train passes Warwick Park during the 2018 ARRC picnic. It would be the last train of the day that any ARRC member saw on the day in Clinton.

50 Years of Steam July ARRC Program Topic

July 23, 2018

It was 50 years ago when Robert Todten of Cleveland began photographing steam locomotives.

The age of steam was long over with and the only  operating steam was in excursion service.

Since then, Bob has traveled widely to capture steam locomotives in Ohio and other states. He’s also captured steam working in China.

He photographed former Grand Trunk Western No. 4070 back in the days before it was owned and operated by the Midwest Railway Preservation Society on the Cuyahoga Valley Line, now the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

He also photographed steam in the Norfolk Southern steam programs, including Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

Bob will present a slide show of his work at the July 27 Akron Railroad Club meeting.

The meeting will begin with a short business meeting at 8 p.m. followed by the program at approximately 8:30 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.

Durfee Used as Source in Airship Story

June 29, 2018

Wingfoot Three rolls out of the hangar at Wingfoot Lake for the first time.

Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee was quoted this week in a news story in the Akron Beacon Journal about the first flight of Wingfoot Three.

Durfee was at Goodyear’s Wingfoot Lake base when the semi-rigid air ship lifted off for the first time at 8:55 a.m. last Monday.

He was quoted in the story as saying that seeing the first flight was pretty cool.

Durfee told reporter Jim Mackinnon that his interest in air ships goes back to when his parents would take him to watch blimps and then go get ice cream.

Durfee is a member of the Northeast Ohio Blimp Spotters and has photographed the Goodyear airships multiple times over the years, sometimes even working a train into the image.

The story was picked up by various newspapers in Ohio, including The Plain Dealer and Columbus Dispatch.

Wingfoot Three will a familiar sight in the skies of Northeast Ohio because it will be based at the Goodyear facility in Suffield Township in Portage County.

It is the last of three New Technology that German manufacturer Zeppelin built for Goodyear.

Wingfoot One is based in Florida whereas Wingfoot Two is based in California.

Dodging Clouds During Longest Day Outing

June 27, 2018

A former Burlington Northern “Grinstein” unit looking good aside from some exterior dirt leads train 234 through Fostoria during the Akron Railroad Club’s longest day outing.

Fostoria was as good as advertised last Sunday in terms of rail traffic as a thin crowd of Akron Railroad Club members turned out to watch trains at one of Ohio’s busiest railroad junctions.

Between 8:45 a.m. and 4:35 p.m., 36 trains rumbled past the Iron Triangle Railfan Park while at least one ARRC member was present.

Marty Surdyk and his brother Robert were the first to arrive, pulling in at 8:45 a.m.

One minute later they logged their first train, an eastbound manifest freight on Norfolk Southern.

Rick Houck arrived later as did ARRC President Craig Sanders. That was the extent of ARRC participation.

The day featured good weather that was not too hot, not too cool and not too humid.

But there were quite a few clouds and the often 50-50 sky conditions meant that the Surdyk brothers, both of them confirmed film users, often watched a train pass by with a shrug of WWTF because of the shadows cast by the clouds.

For those who are unfamiliar with the term WWTF it doesn’t incorporate in part the phrase “what the” but instead means “why waste the film.”

Traffic was fairly steady through Fostoria during the time that ARRC members were on hand. The longest lull was about a half-hour.

Not surprisingly, most of the trains belonged to CSX. Fostoria is the crossing of former Baltimore & Ohio and Chesapeake & Ohio mainlines with the ex-B&O handling most CSX traffic between the Midwest and Atlantic Coast.

CSX put 22 trains through Fostoria, using all of the connecting tracks between the ex-B&O and ex-C&O.

The vast majority of traffic on the ex-C&O was going to or coming from the ex-B&O with most of it taking the ex-C&O north of town.

Just one train made a straight move through town on the ex-C&O, a southbound (railroad eastbound) grain train that featured some of the most weathered covered hopper cars you will ever see.

No trains came into Fostoria from the south on the ex-C&O other than the yard job’s motive power, which was turning its locomotive to face a different direction.

It was a good day to see foreign motive power with units from Union Pacific, BNSF, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National leading trains past the railfan park.

An eastbound NS stack train, the 234, came in with a former Burlington Northern “Grinstein” unit, which is now owned by a locomotive leasing company Progress Rail. But no NS heritage units made an appearance.

CSX eastbound intermodal train Q010 had as its second unit a Chessie System sticker unit No. 7765. It looked like an oversized bumper sticker.

Traffic was a mixture of intermodal, manifest freight, auto racks and tank car trains. Noticeably absent were coal trains.

Throughout the day Robert Surdyk was monitoring the progress of the NS executive train, which had left Altoona, Pennsylvania, about 8:30 a.m. en route to Chicago.

About 5 p.m., Robert, Marty and Craig decided to head north to Oak Harbor to intercept and photograph the NS F units.

And with that the longest day shifted for another two hours to a new location.

The Q507 was another one-hit wonder, albeit a colorful one.

I took 18 minutes for auto rack train Q253 to round the curve from the ex-B&O to the ex-C&O.

A mother and her son eye an NS light power move.

NS westbound train 11Q had a load of tank cars.

Grain train E781 was the only move straight through town on the former C&O. It is shown crossing Columbus Street.

NS train 10E comes around the curve with a brace of Union Pacific motive power.

The newest addition to the railfan park is a former B&O caboose.

The Chessie System sticket on the nose of CSX No. 7765.


Amtrak Dining Car Memories in June eBulletin

June 21, 2018

The June 2018 eBulletin of the Akron  Railroad Club features a series of stories about dining car service on Amtrak.

The carrier earlier this month removed full-service dining from its two trains serving Northeast Ohio, the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited, in favor of what it has termed “fresh and contemporary” dining.

That amounts to cold meals served in plastic boxes that sleeping car passengers can eat in their rooms or in a diner turned sleeping car lounge.

ARRC members Jack Norris and Craig Sanders provide some memories of meals and dining companions while the Clear Block column takes a historical view of railroads and their dining service.

The June issue also has the latest railroad industry news and a previous of the ARRC longest day outing to Fostoria on June 24,

ARRC Longest Day Outing is Sunday in Fostoria

June 21, 2018

A CSX train takes the connection from the former B&O to the former C&O in Fostoria during the ARRC’s 2015 longest day outing. F Tower stands in the background.

The Akron Railroad Club’s annual longest day outing this year will take us to a very well known railfan hot spot, Fostoria.

Three major mainlines converge on Fostoria and all cross each other at grade creating an “iron triangle.”

Two of the three lines are owned by CSX. The busiest of the two is the east-west former Baltimore & Ohio from Willard to Chicago.

The other CSX line is the former Chesapeake & Ohio line from Toledo to Columbus.

Connections on all sides of the B&O/C&O diamonds allow trains to go all possible directions.

If you stay long enough, you should see one on each connecting track during the day.

Norfolk Southern gets into the act at Fostoria with the former Nickel Plate Road mainline from Bellevue to Chicago.

It crosses, first, the former C&O, then the former B&O on its way to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and Chicago.

The Iron Triangle Railfan Park in Fostoria sits near the NKP/C&O diamonds.

You can easily see the B&O/C&O diamonds from the park. The B&O/NKP diamonds are about two blocks to the west.

Fostoria is not short on trains. Even with the recent CSX downsizing there will be plenty of action to keep the rails shiny. However, the trains will be much longer than you have been used to seeing.

The C&O north of Fostoria at times resembles an automotive pipeline as many of the trains that ply these rails carry newly-made automobiles from Detroit area assembly plants to all parts of the country.

The other commodity of note on the former C&O line is coal. Coal from mines in West Virginia and Kentucky move to Lake Erie via this line.

Between the auto rack trains and the coal trains, the mixed freights can have a tough time finding track to run on.

The former B&O looks like an intermodal corridor with multiple double stack and single stack trains passing each day.

Mixed freights are more common on this line moving to and from the CSX yard at Willard.

NS also has a nice variety of trains. The intermodals mostly run before daybreak, but there will be plenty of mixed freights along with seasonal grain trains.

As with all ARRC longest day outings, the day begins when the first person arrives and ends when the last person leaves.

Members will most likely be there from just after sun up to sun down. So come for the day, or a morning, or just an hour, but plan on spending some time in Fostoria on Sunday June 24.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Rowlands to Present at June ARRC Meeting

June 18, 2018

Rick Rowlands will present the program at the June 22 meeting of the Akron Railroad Club.

Rick is heavily involved with preservation work and that will be the focus of his program.

Besides his own Mahoning Valley Industrial Heritage museum he does a lot of traveling to help move various engines.

Most recently he has been involved in prepping Nickel Plate Road No. 757 for its move to the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum in Bellevue, from its current home in Pennsylvania.

Rick also hopes to be able to make a big announcement at the June ARRC meeting.

The meeting will begin with a short business meeting at 8 p.m. followed by the program at approximately 8:30 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.

Surdyk To Retire as ARRC Bulletin Editor

June 16, 2018

At this time, I am going to make it official. At the end of my term in November I will be stepping down as Bulletin editor.

I’ve been doing this for 26 years and have run out of steam, so to speak.

So, in November the Akron Railroad Club will need to fill the president’s position and the editor’s position.

Paul Havasi has also indicated that he may step down as treasurer at that time also.

Big changes are ahead. Who will take up the challenge?

By bringing this to light now, I hope we can fill the vacancies well before the November elections to help ease the new officers into their respective jobs.

I know that editor is the hardest position to fill; it involves the most time and effort.

But the good news is the members voted [in April] to reduce the work load of the editor to a newsletter every other month.

Not to scare any possible candidates for editor, but you have to be resourceful, either in gathering information to publish or in writing your own material.

But you have the freedom to make the Bulletin yours. When I took over from Denny Romain, I did not feel any pressure to duplicate anything he was doing. I did it my way. That was the only way I would take the job.

Whoever the new editor is, I hope the membership will give him/her their total support.

There is nothing more demoralizing than doing your best and thinking no one cares.

Article by Marty Surdyk

If You Think You Want to be a Newsletter Editor You Better Have a Passion for It

June 16, 2018

As you probably read above, Akron Railroad Club Bulletin Editor Marty Surdyk has decided to step down when his term expires in November.

He announced his “retirement” once before in the Bulletin but then started hemming and hawing about it not long after.

Marty is correct in saying that major changes could lie in store for the ARRC. I can envision a scenario whereby the club ends the year with less than a full complement of officers.

It is not difficult to imagine how that could happen. The membership of the ARRC is older and older men tend not to want to commit to being an officer of an organization.

There also is a dynamic involved in many, if not most, groups whereby most members would rather be followers than leaders.

It remains to be seen if enough ARRC members will step up and agree to fill the soon to be vacant officer positions.

It may be that the club will have to improvise and spread the officer duties among whatever core of people agree to serve as officers.

The ARRC could be run with as few as two officers. One person could preside at meetings and serve as program director. The other could serve as secretary-treasurer.

In the meantime, there remains some unfinished business left over from the April meeting pertaining to the newsletter.

That includes when to start publishing the Bulletin every other month and how to address the subscription cost issue.

It would not surprise me if these issues end up resolving themselves. If no one agrees serve as Bulletin editor there won’t be a newsletter anymore.

Of perhaps someone will take on the job, find out it is more work than he imagined and decide he doesn’t want to do it anymore.

Earlier this year, I received an email message from a man who belongs to a railfan club in Atlanta.

He had been reading on the ARRC blog about our newsletter issues and shared with me what happened in his club.

The Atlanta club’s newsletter fell by the wayside several years ago. The club also began having fewer outside activities until they dwindled to a Christmas season dinner at a member’s home.

What remains are the monthly meetings and program.

Sometimes the members exchange email messages if they have news to share.

I can see this being the future of the ARRC starting as early as next year. But I learned a long time ago that I can’t predict the future, only discern trends based on what I am seeing now.

Marty’s message also made a pertinent point in the last sentence that I’ve experienced many times since taking over as ARRC president in 2005, but most often after starting the ARRC blog and, later, the eBulletin.

He wrote that it can be demoralizing to think you are doing your best but no one cares. I know where Marty is coming from on this.

I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve wondered as I’m gathering and writing information for the blog or the eBulletin why I’m doing it.

I’m not getting paid to do it. I’m getting precious little recognition for it. It probably will do nothing to advance my professional writing career.

People write articles and edit publications for them to be read. It is not that you expect droves of people to comment about your articles or your publication, but it would be nice to be appreciated every once in a while and for the audience to engage with you.

Otherwise, you wonder if anyone is even reading your newsletter. Is it important to them?

They might say that it is, but is it really? Are they just being polite?

During the April meeting I purposely posed the question of eliminating the newsletter altogether.

That was voted down, but I wonder if that is more because the members think the club ought to have a newsletter rather than any strong affinity for it or, more importantly, wanting to be engaged with it.

If someone does agree to continue serving as editor of the Bulletin, he will need to take that on because he has a passion for writing and editing. He will need to derive a great deal of personal satisfaction from gathering and presenting information.

You must take that leap of faith that your work matters even in the face of lack of or skimpy evidence that it does.

You also must have a lot of pride in what you are doing and believe it to be essential to your own sense of worth. When you finish that article or publication you must feel that sense of pride in having done something that you can feel good about.

Having spent nearly all of my adult life involved with professional journalism, information gathering and presenting is in my DNA.

But that is not the case with most people, particularly when it comes to writing.

Most people love to present information orally. It comes as naturally to them as breathing.

But sitting down at a keyboard to write that information, well that is work and most people consider it to be hard work.

And a lot of people lack confidence in their writing skills.

In his retirement announcement, Marty said he’s been editor for 26 years, which is about twice as long as I’ve been ARRC president.

I will repeat a comment I made once before about Marty. Where would the ARRC be without him?

Marty’s value to the ARRC has transcended his official duties as Bulletin editor.

Once he retires as an office, that value is going to become to be apparent because it won’t be easily replaced if it is replaced at all.

Commentary by Craig Sanders