Archive for the ‘Railfanning News and Features’ Category

Look Ma, No Wide Cabs

November 21, 2017

Wide cab locomotives are ubiquitous on North America’s Class 1 Railroads. It is not necessarily rare to see a motive power consist with one or more narrow-cab locomotives, but it is not common either.

Hence, I stood up and took notice when NS C80 showed up in Alliance with three narrow cab units. It was a light power move and I’m not sure why this power was in town.

The locomotives came in on Track 2, stopped west of the home signal for CP Alliance, and then moved onto the runner before vanishing off to the east.

After the crew tied the units down, it was picked up by a crew van whose driver had a tough time finding the crew even with the assistance of a GPS.

The individual units have some interesting history behind them. All three were on the Conrail motive power roster with two of them having been built for CR.

RP-E4C No. 712 was rebuilt by NS from a GP38 that was built for Penn Central. SD40E No. 6347 was rebuilt from an SD50 built for Conrail. In the middle of the consist was GP40-2 No. 3014.



Did They Know the Train Was There?

November 20, 2017

CSX westbound stack train Q015 was coming into Kent so I made my way to an overlook on the dam on the Cuyahoga River that has since been transformed into a giant water fountain.

My plan was to get the train passing the former Erie Railroad station located on the bluff above the river.

It would be nothing special, nothing I had not done before. What is different is that since I last made an image here of CSX and the Erie depot the latter has been transformed into an Italian restaurant named Treno.

As I waited for the Q015 I noticed a couple on the observation deck having photographs made.

They must have heard the train passing by. But it was just so much noise in the city. They had other things to do than watch a train pass by.

On second thought, maybe one of them is a rail buff and wanted a photograph made of the couple with a passing train.

Waiting for the Cleveland Night Express

November 18, 2017

Back in the day, railroads would drop off and pick up set-off cars at various intermediate stations. These included sleepers, diners, lounges and head-end cars. Amtrak has all but ended that practice.

During the holiday season, railroads would use every head-end car they had to carry an increase in mail and express business as millions of Christmas cards, parcels and letters rode the rails.

Show above is a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad baggage car on the siding in Peninsula. I’m not sure why it is there, but suspect it has something to do with the Polar Express season.

With a little imagination, though, I can pretend that it is a set off car that will be loaded with  holiday mail and express from the Peninsula post office and sent it out tonight on the Baltimore & Ohio’s Cleveland Night Express.


November 18, 2017

The Northeastern Ohio Railway Historical Society will meet tonight between 6:30 and 10:30 p.m. at the town hall building in Randolph.

Attendees are encouraged to bring summer photographs, whether slides or digital images, to show.

Pizza, snacks and beverages will be available. A donation is requested and those attending  are asked to bring something to eat to share.

For more information Contact David Mangold at 330-947-3685 during the afternoons or evenings.

The Randolph Town Hall is located just north of the intersection of Ohio Route 44 and Waterloo Road.

The next NEORHS meeting will be the Christmas party on Dec. 16 at the Maple Street Gallery in the former Wheeling & Lake Erie depot in Hartville, 120 E Maple Street.

Where the Capitol Limited Once Stopped

November 17, 2017

Photographs that are a mere five years old don’t necessarily qualify as being “oldies,” but this March 2012 image shows the end of something that had been associated with Akron for 62 years.

In early 2012, workers came through Akron to lower the tracks of the CSX New Castle Subdivision as part of a clearance project associated with development of the National Gateway.

This included removing the last section of umbrella shed on the platform to the west of the former station concourse.

It is not clear why a portion of the umbrella shed was left in place. Perhaps it was to serve as a monument to what this building had once been.

The last intercity passenger train to stop at this location was Baltimore & Ohio No. 5, the Capitol Limited, which pulled away at 2:37 a.m. on May 1, 1971.

The next day, Akron no longer had intercity rail passenger service for the first time in more than 100 years.

The December 2017 issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin will have a feature about the final decade of B&O passenger service in Akron.

Some Erie Sights

November 16, 2017

Hunter’s railroad wasn’t being very cooperative. I had set up on the West Main Street bridge in downtown Kent hoping to get a train or two on the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

Westbound intermodal trains Q015 and Q137 have been operating in mid to late afternoon of late. But I got crickets. There wasn’t as much as a peep on the radio.

After about 45 minutes of waiting, I got out and walked around to make photographs of whatever caught my eye, including some Erie Railroad relics.

The most prominent of those is the former passenger station, which has been restored and now houses an Italian restaurant.

Just south of the station is a heavyweight passenger car painted in Erie colors. It apparently is used as a meeting room, although I’ve never seen anyone in it.

There is a signal box by the station that I know I’ve seen dozens of times, but never photographed. Today I saw something there as the late afternoon sunlight cast a warm glow on the rust-covered box. Who knows how many years it has been here and how many trains it has seen?

Finally, I checked out the siding for the Star of the West grain elevator. Just the night before during a program at the Railroad Enthusiasts meeting in Cleveland there was speculation as to what will happen with this property, which closed earlier this year.

The Erie would have served this facility as did the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway. Now the siding sits unused.

At one time, one of the mainline tracks would have been here, but it has been a long time since these rails were a double-track mainline.

Traces of Conrail

November 15, 2017

Conrail ceased operating as an independent railroad on June 1, 1999, when its assets were acquired by Norfolk Southern and CSX.

There remains the Conrail shared assets in New Jersey and Detroit, but those are operated by the two railroads that carved up Conrail more than 18 years ago.

Traces of Conrail can be found here there with the most notable being rolling stock still wearing Conrail markings.

But Conrail can also be found in other ways as well. This marker is affixed to a grade crossing signal at Joppa Road west of Vermilion on the Chicago Line.

Maple Grove Park on the NS Cleveland Line

November 14, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, I had a few minutes to kill before leaving for work. I checked out former Akron Railroad Club member Richard Thompson’s Flickr page. A couple of photos on Rich’s page intrigued me.

The captions said they were in a park between Hudson and Macedonia. I quickly visited Google Maps to see if I could find the spot.

Indeed I did. Railroad west of Hudson on the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern between the Hines Hill and Twinsburg Road crossing is a hiking trail that comes up next to the tracks for about a quarter of a mile. The identifier on the park said “Maple Grove Park.”

I had to leave for work, so when I got home I googled “Maple Grove Park” and found it listed in the Hudson Park District’s site.

It features a hiking trail of just over a mile in a triangular shaped piece of land and not much else.

Since the trail is west of the tracks, I figured afternoon light would be best. On a recent sunny Sunday afternoon, I headed to the park to see what it was all about.

Maple Grove Park is located at the end of a dead end street called Farnham Way. I parked at the cul-de-sac at the end of the street and walked into the park.

The hiking trail is a loop and the shortest distance back to the tracks is to take the trail going to your left. It is about a quarter of a mile from your car to the tracks.

When I got to the tracks, I found the spot to be just as Rich had it in his photos.

A split-rail fence separates the trail from the tracks for a short distance then the trail dips down into a low area and rises back to track level before turning back into the woods.

Within 10 minutes of my arrival, NS ran two trains. The 24M went east and the 21Q went west.

It was now about 2:45 in the afternoon. The lighting was great for these trains, but the tall trees that surround the area combined with the low sun of October meant it wouldn’t last very much longer.

I was right and by 4 p.m. I gave up my vigil at the park because shadows now enveloped the area. Summertime may offer a longer window to shoot here. It didn’t help matters that NS did not have any more trains to run from 21Q’s passage until I left.

If you check out the park, eastbound trains can be heard calling the signal at CP 102. They do not blow for Twinsburg Road crossing; it is a quiet zone. Westbounds blow for Hines Hill Road, so you get some warning that they are coming.

The parking area for the park is on a cul-de-sac, with houses on both sides. Respect the residents’ property and we should be able to railfan at Maple Grove Park for many years to come.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Peninsula is Now the North Pole

November 13, 2017

The southbound National Park Scenic arrives at the North Pole, a.k.a. Peninsula, where a large Christmas trees sits alongside the tracks on West Mill Street.

The annual Polar Express  trains of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad got underway on Saturday night and will continue to operate on most nights through Dec. 21.

All trips of the Polar Express are sold out and have been for a while. The train, which is based on the story of the same name by Chris Van Allsberg, will take a break on the night before and the night of Thanksgiving.

Trains leave at 7 p.m. from Rockside Road Station in Independence or Northside Station in Akron. On Dec. 9 and 16 the Polar Express will feature daytime running, departing at 3 p.m. from its stations.

The destination of the Polar Express is the North Pole, a.k.a. known as Peninsula.

Last Saturday afternoon Peninsula was all decked out in lights and decorations as the southbound National Park Scenic made its regular appearance.

The Scenic is making its last runs of 2017. It will operate through Nov. 26 and then go on hiatus until Jan. 20 when it will return on its winter schedule of running on Saturdays.

The first welcome sign that Polar Express passengers will see upon entering Peninsula on the CVSR if coming from Rockside Road.

The train bulletin board at the Peninsula station is wrapped in a bow for Christmas. The National Park Scenic, though, will last run in 2017 on Nov. 26.

FPA-4 No. 6767 in Better Days

November 12, 2017

Today FPA-4 No. 6767 may sit at Fitzwater Yard stripped of its siding and components, but it hasn’t always been this way. Here is  the 6767 in better times. She is shown in London, Ontario, on March 25, 1981, working for VIA Rail Canada.

Photograph by Robert Farkas