Archive for the ‘Railfanning News and Features’ Category

As It Once Was in Grand Rapids

March 24, 2017

It is a Saturday morning in June 1995. I am awaiting the arrive of Amtrak’s Pere Marquette to Chicago.

The train originates in Grand Rapids but it lays over elsewhere in the city, making a deadhead move to the station in the morning.

The station is adequate for its purpose and reflective of the type of facilities that Amtrak has been building since 1972 when it built its first station in Cincinnati.

There is no ticket agent in Grand Rapids and I believe there never has been one.

The City of Grand Rapids gave $50,000 toward the cost of building this station and Amtrak service got underway on Aug. 5, 1984.

Amtrak no longer uses this facility, having moved to a new station in October 2014.

Wabash Heritage Unit Makes Appearance

March 23, 2017

The Wabash H-unit made a pass through Cleveland on Tuesday leading the 21Q. I was lucky enough to be able to get off work in time to catch it. As luck would have it, 21Q was held up near where I had set up to photograph it. Both scenes are in Olmsted Falls, the first one at Milepost 196 (Lewis Road) and then near the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Two From My Travels With Mike Ondecker

March 22, 2017

I’m thankful to have had former Akron Railroad Club member Mike Ondecker as a good friend.

To honor him, I’d like to post a few photos from our trips and perhaps tell a story or two.

Mike had been buying locomotive slides from well-known southern railfan Tom Lawson.

When Mike and I flew south on my school’s Easter vacation, he called Tom and set up a day where Tom and a friend of his would take us to some of the better railfan “treasures” in the Birmingham, Alabama area.  One of these was Southern Stone in Margerum, Alabama.

On April 9, 1974, we arrived there only to see Southern Stone’s rare Alco HH was partly covered with a tarp. Tom went in and asked permission to remove the tarp. Permission was granted, and Tom, Tom’s friend, and Mike got up on the Alco and removed the tarp.

After our photos were taken, the three of them climbed back onto the Alco and replaced the tarp. As for me, I stayed on the ground because I hate heights, and after all, someone had to get the photo of them removing the tarp.

In the top image, Mike Ondecker is on the top right of the hood.  As for which one was Tom, after all these years I have forgotten. Also I forgot the other railfan’s name.

The bottom image is the roster shot that I made that day.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas


Catching Up with the Grand River Railroad

March 21, 2017

The Grand River Railroad shuttles cars between Grand River and Painesville, Ohio, connecting with CSX at the latter.

It operates a pair of EMD switchers that have been repainted into a livery similar to that of the Baltimore & Ohio.

It doesn’t go very far, just a few miles and has a bit of street running in Grand River.

Akron Railroad Club member Jeff Troutman caught the GRR last week and send along this photos.

In the top image, the train is coming down the hill and about to enter the street running.

In the bottom image it works the interchange in Painesville.

Photographs by Jeff Troutman

Repainted Chessie Loco Seen by Shop

March 21, 2017

A locomotive pained in Chessie System colors that is thought to be bound for the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania, has emerged from a CSX shop in West Virginia.

Trains magazine reported that B30-7, ex-C&O No. 8272 and ex-CSX No. 5554 was seen outside the Huntington locomotive shop last weekend.

The museum has thus far declined to comment on reports that the repainted unit will be added to its collection.

Given its proximity to the GE Transportation locomotive assembly plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, the museum has sought to preserve several GE-built engines.

Trains said it is the first time that a Chessie locomotive has been painted at the Huntington shops in more than 30 years.

Huntington was once a division headquarters for the C&O.

No. 8272 was built in January 1980 and retired more than six years ago. It was removed from a dead line in Cumberland, Maryland, and transported to Huntington in 2016.

EOT at End of the Day

March 17, 2017

It was already starting to get dark when I arrived in Olmsted Falls. It has been an unusually warm January day and traffic on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern was unusually heavy. Almost all of it was going westbound.

What had brought me there was the promise of seeing the Lehigh Valley heritage unit. I had seen it just once before, back in 2012, in Olmsted Falls. But it had been trailing.

I got the LV H unit and waited for the train to pass. There was some sunset color to the west so I decided to see what I could do with it.

To my surprise and delight, I caught the blinking red light of the EOT just at the right time.

It created a starburst effect that provided a nice contrast with the shadows of the train against the last light of day.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Trains to Sponsor C&O 1309 Charter

March 17, 2017

Trains magazine and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad will offer a photo charter for Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 in late September.

The restored locomotive will pull a freight train with 14 to 18 cars on Sept. 26 to 28, stopping at several locations on the 17-mile railroad.

Among the photo locations will be Helmstetter’s Curve. No. 1309, which was built in 1949, will wear its C&O markings and at times have Western Maryland lettering.

The event will also include a night photo shoot, cab access, and an audio-visual program detailing the restoration of the locomotive.

Tickets are $495 apiece and only 80 will be sold.  Tickets may be purchased at 800-TRAIN-50 or at

Morning in Marion

March 15, 2017

Sometimes it all works out. I had arrived in Marion at 7:35 a.m. and the sun was high enough to be able to illuminate a southbound (railroad eastbound) train on either the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern or the Columbus Subdivision of CSX.

How nice it would be right now to have a heritage unit leading an eastbound on NS. That was too much to wish for, but maybe I could get a train on the Columbus Sub.

That might have been too much to wish for, too, because traffic can be sporadic on the Columbus Sub.

Thirty-three minutes after I arrived NS sent a westbound stack train through town. That was nice but it was going in the wrong direction for the light.

Nineteen minutes later came an NS eastbound, but I knew from monitoring the scanner that there was train coming my way on the Columbus Sub.

The Q711 arrived a minutes after the eastbound NS manifest freight began to bang the diamonds of the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision.

It might have been leading a trash train, but C40-8W No. 7790 looked good in the morning light.

Article and Photorgraph by Craig Sanders

Summerail 2017 Lineup Set, Tickets Available

March 15, 2017

Tickets are now on sale for Summerail 2017 to be held on Saturday, Aug. 12 at the Palace Theater in Marion, Ohio, at 276 West Center Street.

It is the same location as the 2016 event, which was moved from Cincinnati Union Terminal due to a renovation project being undertaken there.

Tickets are $25 apiece and can be ordered from Bill Haines, 305 Lamar Court, Vandalia OH 45377. Make checks payable to Marion Union Station Association.

The main program will feature multimedia programs of images set to music and narration.

The 10 presenters and their programs are: Marshall Beecher (My Metra Life), Mike Biehn  (Bluegrass Boats – TTI), Steve Carter (Autumn Days and Autumn Nights; Night Tracks),

Steve Glischinski (SPUD’s 90th Anniversary), Scooter Hovanec (Hills, Mills and Mines), Barry Lennon (Natural Resources), Garland McKee (L&N in Eastern Kentucky), Eric Miller (My Appalachian Odyssey), Don Toon (Toon’s B&W Scanning Chronicles), and Lance Wales (Nine Inch Rail).

The programs will be presented between 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. with a dinner on your own break between 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The traditional railroadiana show and sale will be conducted in the pavilion of the theater from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A railroad show only ticket is available for $5.

Tickets also will be available at the door on the day of the event.

Free parking will be available to behind the theater and to the northeast behind the Marion County Building.

Marion Union Station and AC Tower will be open all day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 11-13).

Remember PRR’s Philadelphia Day Trips

March 14, 2017

For those people that like to take day trips by train, here are some great outings from Philadelphia that were operated by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1923. I wish those wonderful prices were still around today. Philadelphia to New York by New Jersey Transit and SEPTA today is about $50 round trip. The cheapest Amtrak fare is $56 one way.

Article by Jack Norris