Archive for the ‘Railfanning News and Features’ Category

Street Running

August 17, 2018

It was mid afternoon and those still at the Akron Railroad Club picnic in Warwick Park were sitting around talking and contemplating whether to have another burger or hot dog.

The scanner finally came alive after a long silence with the Q292 calling a signal at Warwick.

That sent me scrambling with my camera to get into position to photograph it.

Of late the Q292 has sometimes had Kansas City Southern motive power and maybe I would get lucky today and bag a Southern Belle.

The auto rack train originates at Rose Lake Yard near East St. Louis, Illinois, and terminates in Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

It is a rather reliable train to catch in the Akron area in mid to late afternoon.

On this day, though, luck was not with me. The Q292 had run of the mill CSX motive power.

It also was moving father than I was. I wasn’t able to get to my preferred spot to photograph and to settle for a bit of street running.

In this case, I was running down the street trying to get into position.


An Unusual Sequence

August 15, 2018

North America’s Class 1 railroads long ago decided to go primarily with wide-cab locomotives for their road trains.

It has resulted in a steady, if not boring, progression of trains with look-alike locomotives.

About the only break in the monotony is whether the unit is a GE or EMD unit. Those who are really into locomotives might add that there is variance in the models of those ubiquitous wide cabs.

Earlier this summer I was in Conneaut hanging out at the railroad museum housed in the former New York Central passenger station.

All three railroads in town were quiet and I waited more than an hour before getting my first train.

It was the eastbound ballast train shown in the top image. All three locomotives had four-axle power.

Not long after another CSX eastbound came along (bottom image) and three of its four units were four-axle power.

Yet a third train followed and it was an intermodal. Of course, it had wide-cab motive power. But it was nice to see four-axle units are still alive and well on a Class 1 railroad.

Amtrak 448 at Bort Road

August 14, 2018

Bort Road is one of those countless rural roads in America that most people will never travel or know about.

It has a timeless quality about it, as though time has forgotten it.

Yet to the engineers in the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bort Road is well known.

It crosses the CSX Erie West Subdivision on a one-lane bridge that was built decades ago when these tracks were owned by the New York Central.

In recent years the bridge has received some repairs and been closed for several weeks at times.

PennDOT would like to replace the bridge, possibly by moving it closer to the town of North East.

Perhaps some day in the not too distant future they’ll do that. But for now passenger trains continue to pass beneath this bridge just as countless NYC and Penn Central trains did in the years before Amtrak.

Shown is Amtrak’s Boston-bound Lake Shore Limited in late May.

The crossing signals in the background are for the Lake Erie District of Norfolk Southern, which Bort Road crosses at grade.

Another Summerail in the Books

August 13, 2018

Steve Barry, editor in chief of Railfan & Railroad magazine, presides at the 2018 Summerail event held at the Palace Theater in Marion.

Thirteen programs highlighted the 2018 Summerail event held last Saturday at the Palace Theater in Marion.

None of the presenters were from Northeast Ohio and as was the case last year images made in NEO were sparse.

Nonetheless, all 13 of the programs were of top quality and it was the strongest program slate I’ve seen at Summerail. OK, so this was just my third time at Summerail.

Throw in some train watching along with socializing and you had an enjoyable day of viewing railroad photographs and video set to music.

My “gold medal” for best program would go to Land of Enchantment by John Ryan and Paul Swanson of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Janesville, Wisconsin, respectively.

It focused on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief on its route between La Junta, Colorado, and Albuquerque.

The program featured video set to a piece of classical music performed by a symphony from London with a vocalist.

The video portrayed the Chief traversing a piece of railroad that has changed little since the days of the Santa Fe and which is now the center of controversy over Amtrak’s proposal to replace the train with buses between Albuquerque and Dodge City, Kansas.

The time frame of the scenes was recent years but the scenery was timeless, filled with wig wag grade crossing signals and semaphore block signals.

Some video was made from a drone, including some footage looking straight down.

Nos. 3 and 4 were shown traveling through high plains, desert canyons, and the stunning beauty of Raton and Glorieta passes. It was enchanting, indeed.

My “silver medal” would go to EL’s West End by Mark Llanuza of Chicago.

Showing scanned slides from his collection and those of four other photographers, Llanuza portrayed the EL primarily in Indiana and the Chicago region during its final years

The closing segment of Mark’s program borrowed an idea from Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee. It featured the Moby song One of These Mornings to show a series of then and now scenes.

Roger created a similar music and images program in spring 2012 about the EL, his favorite railroad. Mark had seen Roger’s program and used the Moby song in a similar format with Roger’s permission.

My “bronze medal” is a tossup between Richard Baldwin’s Richard Baldwin’s Greatest Hits and George Pitary’s A Taste of Maine.

Baldwin, an Indianapolis native and resident, had the only program to go back as far as the 1950s and 1960s, showing various railroads in the Midwest, South and West with music recorded during the period portrayed on the screen.

The program took in the end of steam and the early diesel era, showing many liveries and railroads that no longer exist. Richard was a photojournalist by trade before his retirement.

Pitarys is a retired railroader who covered 45 years of railroad operations in Maine.

A Maine native, George covered the major carriers and modern-day short lines. The program also highlighted the scenery of the state in all four seasons.

Ohio wasn’t left out of the programs. Brian Seller presented a program devoted to short-line railroads of the Cincinnati region as well as passenger specials and excursion trains in the Queen City.

Before the programs began in early afternoon and during the dinner break, CSX and Norfolk Southern provided a fairly steady flow of traffic past Marion Union Station.

However, many photographers, myself included, got hosed on the highlight of the day, the original NS heritage unit leading a westbound auto rack train that came through town as an eastbound auto rack train also was passing through.

You got both trains if you were on the east side of the NS Sandusky District tracks, but I, like most railfans, was on the west side. Specifically, I was standing at the top of the steps of AC Tower, which was open all day.

Our consolidation prize was the Union Pacific unit leading the eastbound auto rack, which carried symbol 288.

Another prize was a Florida East Coast SD70M-2 No. 105 trailing in the motive power consist of westbound stack train 25N, which originates in Columbus and terminates at Corwith Yard in Chicago.

It was my first spotting of one of the FEC units that NS is leasing to cover a motive power shortage. Heck, it is the first FEC unit of any kind that I’ve ever photographed.

Shortly after I arrived at Marion US during the dinner break, CSX sent a sulfur train eastbound on the Columbus Subdivision. It had a Canadian National leader and a UP trailer.

ARRC member Richard Antibus said it was the sixth train he had seen on the former Chesapeake & Ohio line since arriving in Marion about mid morning.

Antibus and ARRC Secretary Jim Mastromatteo spent the day railfanning at the station while Ron McElrath manned his table at the train show at the Palace Theater.

I also spotted ARRC members Steve Heister, Dennis Tharp and Tom Fritsch in the crowd at the Palace Theater.

For the second year there was a catered Skyline Chili dinner in the waiting room of the depot that was arranged by the Marion Union Station Association and White River Productions.

This year’s Summerail was dedicated to Joe Slanser, who died earlier this summer. Mr. Slanser, a well-known Marion railfan, played a key role in preserving Marion Union Station after it sat vacant for more than a decade after closing after the last passenger trains stopped there on April 30, 1971.

Steve Barry, the editor of Railfan & Railroad, magazine served as the emcee for most of the day during the programs.

Summerail 2019 will return to Marion on Aug. 10. I’m already looking forward to it.

For me, at least, this was the highlight of the day while railfanning in Marion during the 2018 Summerail event.

NS train 101 trundles through Marion during the dinner hour.

NS eastbound auto rack train 288 is about to cross the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision. It would block the NS heritage unit on the westbound 27V.

Q008 was the last CSX train that many Summerail attendees saw before heading for the Palace Theater and first session of programs.

This westbound auto rack train must be empty if it only needs a single locomotive to pull it.

An eastbound CSX sulfur train is led by a Canadian nation al unit as it approaches Marion Union Station on the Columbus Subdivision.

CSX manifest freight Q651 heads into the lay day light in Marion.

Jerry Jordak enjoys a dish of Skyline chili while checking out the latest news in the world of railroads and railfanning while eating at Marion Union Station during the dinner break of Summerail.

Photographers get their photographs of a westbound NS light power move passing AC Tower in Marion.

An Obscure West Virginia Short Line

August 10, 2018

Here are two Ed Treesh photos and their closer crops. They were taken on a Cherry River Boom and Lumber fan trip at Richwood, West Virginia in June 1958. The top two photos show CRB&L No. 3, a GE 70 ton switcher.

The next two photographs feature bay window caboose No. 9.

Photographs Courtesy of Robert Farkas

3 More Vintage Pennsylvania Views

August 9, 2018

Craig identified Akron’s “unknown railfan” as Ed Treesh. Here are three more of his photos.

The top photograph is the approach to Johnstown’s Inclined Plane in September 1966.

In the middle is another September 1966 photo that Ed took of one of the two inclined plane cars and the base station.

In the bottom image is East Broad Top 15 is steamed up in October 1961 in Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvania.

Photographs Courtesy of Robert Farkas

The Tradition Continues

August 8, 2018

Uncle Pete lends a hand to NS train 209 on the Chicago Line in Amherst.

I have a tradition during the annual picnic of the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts in Amherst of walking to the Jackson Street bridge over the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

The picnic is always held on a Saturday and doesn’t get underway until mid afternoon, so I’m always going up to the bridge in late afternoon.

Usually, I’m joined by RRE member Jerry Jordak. This year was no exception.

We took our places on the bridge around 5 p.m. and staked it out for the next hour and a half.

The light at that time of day clearly favors westbound traffic, which is good because there is a fence on the west side of the bridge where the sidewalk is located.

Fortunately, Jackson Street is not overly busy so we are able to walk to the east edge, get our images and scurry back to the sidewalk.

NS cooperated nicely this year by sending four westbounds our way. This included a pair of stack trains, manifest freight No. 309 and auto rack train No. 287.

The 309 had a Union Pacific leader, which marked the first time I’ve landed foreign power leading a train through Amherst.

The 287 took the siding at CP 213 located just east of Jackson Street en route to Fairlane Yard.

In all the years I’ve photographed from Jackson Street I’ve never caught an NS heritage or special tribute locomotive.

The most interesting sighting we’ve made was the NS executive train in 2014.

There is still bit of heritage left in Amherst. The eastbound home signals for CP 313 still have Type G signal heads even though they now are mounted on a modern support stand.

We also spotted a former Santa Fe cover hopper car that still carried its original markings and reporting numbers.

That was an appropriate find given that the program presented later that evening by Marty Surdyk prominently featured images of Santa Fe trains in in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, California and other points.


Looking Up, Down Johnstown Incline

August 7, 2018

Here are three more photos from the free slides that the widow of a former Akron Railroad Club member gave to ARRC members. These were taken in September 1966 and are of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania inclined plane.

The views are looking up the incline, looking down, and feature a panoramic view of Johnstown as seen from the incline.

Photographs Courtesy of Robert Farkas

Where Did that Tree Come From?

August 1, 2018

As I looked through the viewfinder of my camera, I had a clear view of the approaching CSX stack train Q016.

Or so I thought. When I looked at the image on the screen on the back of my camera I saw that a tree limb was blocking the nose of the locomotive.

The train is rolling through Clinton and about to pass Warwick Park.

GTW 4070 has Moved Slightly

July 27, 2018

Two months ago I presented a report about former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-2 No. 4070, which now lies in a state of disassembly at the former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse in Cleveland.

The light Mikado is owned by the Midwest Railway Preservation Society and is best known for having pulled trains between 1975 and 1990 on the Cuyahoga Valley Line, now known as the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

The engine broke down in September 1990 and hasn’t operated since.

I saw the 4070 at the roundhouse earlier this month while attending a meeting there of the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts.

The body of the 4070 had been moved onto the turntable and the tender had been moved into a roundhouse stall.

A MRPS member said restoration work had recently resumed with replacing staybolts.

That is a start, but the 4070 has a long way to go before it can be fired up again, let alone run on the road.

Members of the Akron Railroad Club who attend tonight’s meeting will see the 4070 in better days during Bob Todten’s slide program.

He’ll be showing the 4070 back when it pulled excursion trains in Chicago, when it worked out of Conneaut Lake Park in Pennsylvania and, of course, when it ran on the Cuyahoga Valley Line.