Archive for the ‘Railfanning News and Features’ Category

Finally Seeing the 4070 in Person

May 21, 2018

Former Grand Trunk Western No. 4070 is in a state of disassembly at the Midwest Railway Preservation Society roundhouse.

The tender for the 4070 has been separated from the engine and sits on an adjacent track.

The cab of the 4070 awaits some restoration.

Sometimes you hear and read so much about something that you think you’ve experienced it when you actually haven’t.

Such is the case with me and former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-2 No. 4070.

I’ve seen numerous photographs and videos of the light Mikado, which is best known in Northeast Ohio for having operated on the Cuyahoga Valley Line (now known as the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad) between 1975 and 1990.

It has figured prominently in many stories I’ve heard told by railfans. Some members of the Akron Railroad Club worked aboard the 4070 during its CVL days.

But I had never seen the 4070 in the flesh until last Friday.

Since breaking down in September 1990, the 4070 has been at the former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse in Cleveland that is the home of the locomotive’s owner, the Midwest Railway Preservation Society.

MRPS has been working toward restoring the 4070 to operating condition, but it has been a long, slow slog that is far from complete. Lack of money has been a primary culprit.

Although the MRPS holds regular open houses at its roundhouse during the summer, I’d never been there, only driven past it once on a city street.

But the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts held its May meeting there last Friday and that gave me the opportunity to see something I had heard much about.

The 4070 these days is in a state of disassembly. Its cab is in one location, one set of driver wheels in another place and the the bulk of engine is sitting just beyond the turntable.

I had pictured the 4070 being inside a dark roundhouse stall, but that wasn’t the case.

It doesn’t look much like a steam locomotive except for its boiler and wheels.

No one during the RRE meeting provided a status report on the 4070s’s restoration.

But a thermometer-like graphic on the MRPS website tells the story. The society’s goal is to raise $1.2 million for restoration of the 4070. The graphic shows that $5,545 has been raised.

And what if the society was to meet that goal and finish the restoration work?

Who knows what would be the next step. Perhaps the 4070 could do an encore appearance on the CVSR.

But nothing is certain. So the hulk of the 4070 sits outside, perhaps bits of pieces of restoration being done here and there.

To borrow a line from a song by the roots music group The Steel Wheels, “I’ve got a long ways to go. And a long road behind.”

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Very Late Amtrak No. 49

May 18, 2018

On Wednesday Amtrak No. 49 was over 10 hours late due to severe storms in the New York area. I got it passing Berea tower around 2:30 in the afternoon. This train would later terminate at Toledo and passengers would be taken by bus to Chicago from there.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

Memories of My First CVSR Trip

May 17, 2018

My first photograph of a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train came during a railfan event. It would be another decade before I saw the CVSR again.

Twenty-one years ago today I saw and rode the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for the first time.

I was a passenger on a railfan special that traveled the length of the CVSR.

I don’t remember how I learned about this event. Maybe I read about it in The Plain Dealer.

At the time I didn’t belong to any railroad clubs and the only railfans I knew were a few guys I regularly saw in Berea.

I bought my ticket by phone and during that conversation the ticket agent asked if I also wanted to buy a cab ride. Sure, why not.

Aboard that day were at least three Akron Railroad Club members: Marty Surdyk, Robert Farkas and the late Dave McKay. There may have been others.

Little did I know that photographs made by Marty and Bob on this day would later turn up in book I would publish about the CVSR.

Although I don’t remember it, my rail travel logs indicate the event started at Boston Mill station with the train being pulled to Rockside Road station by RS3 No. 4099.

It would be my first and only time to see that locomotive, which in the CVSR’s early diesel era was one of its workhorses.

At Rockside Road, we got off and did one of many photo ops staged for us by the crew.

This one involved the conductor and two crew members comparing watches and train orders on the platform.

There was also a handing up of train orders at Jaite, a scene of a pickup truck and tractor waiting at a rural road crossing that was located at Szalay’s Farm, and a “farmer” handing up milk cans to a crew member in the baggage section of the combine.

There were photo runbys at various places, including just south of Pleasant Valley Road, along the Cuyahoga River just south of Fitzwater Yard – although it wasn’t a railroad shop at the time – and at Brecksville to get the classic Ohio Route 82 bridge shot.

For the latter, the CVSR got permission from the National Park Service to cut down vegetation growing along the bank of the Cuyahoga River so as to afford a more open view of the train.

There probably were other photo runbys, but I don’t remember where they were. I knew virtually nothing about the CVSR of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in those days.

The train arrived in Akron at the site of today’s Northside Station and we rode buses to the Spaghetti Warehouse to have lunch.

It was one of two times I’ve eaten there. The other time occurred in summer 2013 when fellow ARRC member Paul Woodring and I were scouting for a place to hold the first end of year dinner.

My cab ride came during the last segment of the event. I don’t remember where I got on at, but it probably was at Indigo Lake.

I rode in the cab of FPA-4 No. 14, which today is CVSR No. 6777. The other FPA-4 in the motive power consist was No. 15, which today is CVSR No. 6771.

At the time, CVSR locomotives had a red, black and gold livery that heavily emphasized the gold. It has since been revised to emphasize black on the flanks.

The railfan event was one of just two times that I’ve seen lounge-observation car Saint Lucie Sound operate uncovered.

Most of the time, the observation end of the former Florida East Coast car is covered by a locomotive due to trains operating with motive power on each end.

I don’t recall us being allowed into the Saint Lucie Sound during our trip.

It would be just over a decade before I again rode and saw the CVSR. I’ve been trying to make up lost ground ever since in documenting the CVSR.

There is much I’ve missed that I could have recorded. I arrived in Northeast Ohio three years too late to see former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-2 light Mikado No. 4070 on the then-named Cuyahoga Valley Line.

I missed the Delaware & Hudson look-alike livery era even though it played out during my earlier years here.

The photographs I made of that railfan trip from 1997 are my only ones of CVSR locomotives in that first red, gold and black livery.

Given that the CVSR has moved to nearly all year scheduled operations on weekends, it would be difficult to duplicate this event.

It would have to be done on a weekend in the off-season and that would not encourage ridership.

Like so many railfan events, it was a good things that I did it when I did.

Comparing watches at Rockside Road station.

Creating a farm road scene at Szaly’s Farm.

Coming into Peninsula during my cab ride.

We were able to see Saint Lucie Sound operate as it was designed to operate.

Handing up train orders at Jaite.

One Moving, One Waiting

May 16, 2018

An eastbound CSX ethanol train moves right on through Berea while in the distance a Norfolk Southern trains waits for a favorable signal.

The image was made last January and although it was late in the month the ground was bereft of snow.

Near Miss in the H Unit Lottery

May 15, 2018

National Train Day wasn’t too bad depending on where you were.

Railfans in Rochelle, Illinois, got treated to two of Union Pacific’s heritage units on the same train.

Closer to home something unusual started to unfold. The Lehigh Valley heritage unit was leading an eastbound intermodal spotted at Chesterton, Indiana, early that morning.

That’s isn’t so unusual. We typically get more than our share of heritage engines in Northeast Ohio on Norfolk Southern.

Also that morning the NS Honoring First Responders unit was leading an eastbound CSX freight. This turned out to be the S370 which takes the New Castle Sub through Akron.

As both were still hours away I settled in at Rootstown to railfan Norfolk Southern yet still be close enough to jump over to CSX if need be.

As the day progressed I relocated to Ravenna where the two lines cross on a bridge.

Checking on the progress of both trains, it was going to be close. I began hoping for an over and under meet which is difficult enough but with two special painted engines that’s like hitting the lottery.

Well, the Lehigh Valley arrived first and the 9-1-1 engine came within 10 minutes. I didn’t get an over and under but I did get the two engines at the same location. Not a bad day at all.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Once Upon a Time in Orrville

May 14, 2018

A westbound Conrail RoadRailer cruises through Orrville on June 12 1995, during the then-named Depot Days of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society. The view is from the steps of Orr Tower.

The last sentence of a news release issued by the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society noted that the upcoming open house to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Orrville Union Depot will not feature train or track car rides.

That was probably placed there because in the past track car rides and a short train ride were a part of a day-long festival that centered on the station that once served the Pennsylvania Railroad.

But all of that began to go away a few years ago when some ORHS passenger cars being ferried back home by the Wheeling & Lake Erie derailed while on Norfolk Southern tracks in Bellevue.

The W&LE subsequently banned excursion trains from its rails and evicted the ORHS from a siding track in Orrville.

I may or may not get down to the depot anniversary event on Saturday, May 19. If I do, it will be to indulge in a little bit of nostalgia.

Back in the 1990s the ORHS used to sponsor what it called Depot Days. Aside from track car and train rides, the depot was open along with the restored Orr Tower.

Conrail usually sent a locomotive that was on static display and visitors were allowed to visit the cab.

In those days Conrail had a fair level of traffic through Orrville, much of it coming off the Indianapolis Line at Crestline and taking the Fort Wayne Line that ran through Orrville.

You could count on seeing a couple of intermodal trains in late morning and manifest freights at intervals throughout the day.

Much of that traffic ended after CSX and NS divided Conrail in 1999. There were no more visiting locomotives and the level of train traffic greatly diminished.

The event itself was renamed Railroad Days and moved to August. But the train rides and track car rides continued and at times the W&LE would have a visiting locomotive to view.

This week’s event will be but a shadow of what used to be. You can sit in Orrville for hours now before a train comes through.

But there will always be memories of what once was.

That Western Look

May 12, 2018

I caught Norfolk Southern intermodal train 234 three times this spring in Bellevue or on the Sandusky District and all three times it had western railroad motive power.

Two of those times it had Union Pacific locomotives in the lead. The third time the train had BNSF motive power upfront.

Train 234 is an easy one to catch. It originates at Landers Yard in Chicago and follows the former Nickel Plate Road mainline to Bellevue where it turns south onto the Sandusky District.

It’s ultimate destination is Norfolk, Virginia. It tends to reach the Bellevue area in late morning to early afternoon.

In the top photograph, the 234 is on the move off the Fostoria District after getting a new crew. It is making its way through a set of crossovers to get to the connection to the Sandusky District, which can be seen in the lower left-hand corner.

In the middle image, the head end is about to cross Slaughterhouse Road. In the bottom image it is skirting a farm as it rounds the connection to head toward Bucyrus, Marion and Columbus.

Relic of the Toledo & Ohio Central

May 11, 2018

The Toledo & Ohio Central route through Bucyrus at Colsan has been gone for several years, but traces of it remain.

The view is looking down what would have been the T&OC tracks back in the day.

The rails would have crossed the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline and then crossed the PRR’s Sandusky-Columbus line.

The bridge in the background carried the T&OC over a street below.

Other reminders of the T&OC in Bucyrus include the former passenger station, which has been saved and is undergoing restoration.

Also still in place is a short section of track on the northwest side of town.

The Norfolk Southern train shown here is heading railroad eastward toward Columbus. NS now owns all of the tracks visible here except, perhaps, that orphan section in the foreground.

A Solo CN Act on NS

May 10, 2018

Norfolk Southern train 28N saunters into Bellevue off the Fostoria District with a load of auto rack cars earlier this year.

Leading the way is Canadian National 2342, an ES44DC which carries on its flanks the expected amount of road dirt and grime.

The train is making its way past Wheeling Tower, through the mini plant and into Moorman Yard.

Out of the Ordinary Sighting in Alliance

May 9, 2018

It was about time to leave after spending a few hours on a Friday afternoon in Alliance.

But the 12V was coming and I decided to stay around for it because it was coming east on the Fort Wayne Line.

I had heard some chatter on the radio from the Cleveland Line dispatcher about a helper set tying on to the head end of the 12V and then going to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

The helper set was on the Alliance runner and I figured the 12V could cross the Cleveland Line at the diamond and continue east on the Fort Wayne Line.

Instead, the 12V made the turn and went from the Fort Wayne Line to the Cleveland Line and would be going to Conway by way of Bayard.

Leading the 12V were a pair of Union Pacific locomotives. It is not unheard of for foreign power to lead a train into Alliance.

If the train goes from the Fort Wayne Line to the Cleveland Line and out of town toward Bayard, there is no need for a lead unit with cab signals.

I can only recall seeing a train go around the connection from the Cleveland Line to the Fort Wayne Line and that was during an Akron Railroad Club outing in August 2005 when a work train did it.