Archive for the ‘Railfanning News and Features’ Category

There Will Be a Brief Delay

February 24, 2018

The new crew was on board and ready to head west out of the Berea siding in Olmsted Falls.

They called the Toledo West Dispatcher and got the OK to take ’em west.

There would, though, be a slight delay at CP 197. The dispatcher had given higher priority to a westbound stack train that is shown catching up to the rear of the departing manifest on the Berea siding.

The delay would be brief and the manifest would follow the stack train on Track No. 1.


NEORHS Meeting Site Set

February 24, 2018
The meeting today of the Northeastern Ohio Railway Historical Society will be held at the Barrel Run Crossing, 3272 Industry Road in Edinburg (Rootstown) for appetizers and/or dinner and conversation. Attendees will be able to watch trains on the former Cleveland & Pittsburgh mainline. The gathering will be held between 6:30 p.m.  until the establishment closes at 10 p.m.

Survivors From Penn Central and PRR

February 20, 2018

I went railfanning in Trenton, New Jersey, recently and in keeping with the Penn Central birth/Pennsylvania Railroad demise theme, I would like to present some reminders of those railroads that are still in service today.

These include position light signals (now colorized) and former Metroliner cars serving as cab cars on Keystone Service (New York-Harrisburg) trains.

My New Jersey Transit trains clicked away the miles at a steady 105 mph between Trenton and New Brunswick under the heavy catenary of the former PRR mainline.

Photographs by Jack Norris

NEORHS to Meet on Feb. 24

February 20, 2018

The next meeting of the Northeastern Ohio Railway Historical Society will be held on Feb. 24 at the Town Hall Building in Randolph, Ohio.

The meeting will be held between 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. and feature slide shows, pizza, snacks and beverages.

Attendees are asked to make a donation to defray the cost of the munchies and to bring their favorite snacks and drinks.

For more information contact  David Mangold at 330-947-3685 or at

Future NEORHS meetings are scheduled for March 24 and April 21 at a location to be determined.

Well Weathered

February 17, 2018

Traces of Conrail can easily be found despite the fact that it has been 18 years since it was divided between CSX and Norfolk Southern.

The most likely vestige of Conrail that you can find are freight cars still carrying the carrier’s herald and name. It will be awhile before those vanish.

But if you pay attention, you can find Conrail in other ways, too.

Many railroad signs along the right of way of former Conrail routes continue to wear Conrail colors, even if the paint is peeling and the color has faded from years of exposure to sunlight.

That includes this station sign in Minvera, Ohio, that still stands along a former Pennsylvania Railroad branch line that at one time extended to Marietta, Ohio.

It is hard to believe that this line was once part of Conrail, but it was.

Conrail was created, after all, to get rid of branches such as the line to Marrietta and it did. Much of the route is abandoned west of Minerva.

The short-line railroad Ohi-Rail operates the remaining rails between Minerva and Bayard, where it interchanges with Norfolk Southern.

The Wheels on the Car go Round and Round

February 16, 2018

Shown is a set of wheels on an empty well car in the consist of an eastbound Norfolk Southern stack train in Gallitzin, Pennsylvania. The car and train are going through the tunnel that can be seen from the railfan park in town.

Maintaining the Tracks in Marion

February 15, 2018

I was in Marion last summer when a train calling symbol W053 on the radio approached from the north on the Columbus Subdivision.

It turned out to be a work train that was spraying weeds along the right of way.

The machine was turned off as the train passed Marion Union Station.

Uncle Pete Down the Street

February 14, 2018

I was visiting the museum in the former New York Central depot last summer in Conneaut when Norfolk Southern intermodal train 206 came through town. I heard it but was not in a position to get close to it. So I did the next best thing, which was photograph it down Sandusky Street. On this day, the 206 had Union Pacific 4877 on the point.

Train Time at Rockside Road

February 10, 2018

The National Park Scenic departs from Rockside Road station in Independence.

The Rockside Road station in Independence is the northernmost outpost on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

National Park Service ownership of the tracks ends shortly north of the Rockside Road bridge.

In theory, Rockside Road is the closest station to my home. But I seldom photograph the CVSR there because it is not much of a photogenic place and I can’t as easily set out to chase trains from there as I can from other locations on the CVSR.

Last September, though, I ventured to Rockside Road to board a steam excursion train pulled by Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765. Before the steam train left, the first National Park Scenic of the day arrived in the station on a deadhead move, boarded passengers and left for Akron.

The Scenic ferry move from Fitzwater Yard arrives at Rockside Road.

Boarding bikers and their bicycles as a car passes overhead on Rockside Road.

Passengers look for their car to board.

A CVSR trainman walks to his post.

Belle of a Day (Part 2)

February 8, 2018

Two of the four former Bessemer & Lake Erie locomotives assigned to the Bessemer Subdivision of Canadian National team up to help assemble an iron ore train in Conneaut.

We were sitting in Marty Surdy’s Jeep waiting for Norfolk Southern train 888 to finish its work in the yard at Conneaut and resume its trek to Buffalo, New York.

From the back seat Ed Ribinskas said he thought he heard locomotive horns behind us. We were facing northward.

I stepped out of the vehicle and heard what sounded like the faint sound of a horn similar to those used by Bessemer & Lake Erie and Illinois Central locomotives. It didn’t sound like anything I’ve heard on NS or CSX.

I got back in the Jeep, feeling hopeful that a Canadian National train was headed our way on the former B&LE.

Several minutes later Ed said, “we’ve got something on the Bessemer.” He had heard the crossing gates for the Old Main Street crossing activate.

We scrambled to get into position to get a photograph. As the train rounded a curve south of the crossing I noticed the lead locomotive had an orange face.

Four former B&LE locomotives still wearing their original colors and markings are assigned to CN’s ex-B&LE property.

Leading the way into town was SD40T-3 No. 905 with a pair of ex-Illinois Central SD70s trailing, Nos. 1034 and 1038.

I always get excited at seeing IC motive power, but I had even more reason to want to photograph this train.

About three weeks earlier I had been in Conneaut with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler when a CN train with IC 1038 on the point came out of the yard.

However, I missed an opportunity to photograph it across frozen Conneaut Creek. Today I was going to get a second chance at that.

We spent much of our time while the CN train was working in the yard chasing NS 888, which had a Kansas City Southern “Belle” on the lead. Once we returned to Conneaut after getting our last image of the 888, it didn’t take long for the CN train to come out.

After spotting its headlight, we made a mad scramble for the highway bridge over Conneaut Creek.

However, IC 1038 was not on the lead. The crew had added SD38AC No. 867 to the motive power consist and it was leading. I’ve seen the 867 and the 905 on the former Bessemer property over the past few years, but never in the same locomotive consist.

What we had was a Bessmer “sandwich” and there would be no IC SD70 leading the train out of town. But getting an ex-B&LE on the lead coming and going in Conneaut is an oddity these days.

The train came out far enough to block the grade crossing for a short time before backing up to clear. The radio silence indicated that the crew was done assembling its train and the conductor was making his way to the head end.

We talked about where to photograph the departing train and settled on getting it near Welton Road in the middle of a horseshoe-shaped curve.

After getting the train there Marty suggested trying again at Pond Road in Pennsylvania. That plan was complicated when we wound up on a dead end street trying to find our way back to U.S. 20.

That wasted time would cost us the photo op at Pond Road. The locomotives were going across the road as we approached from a half mile away.

Plan B was to get it along Old Albion Road just east of U.S. 6N. The good news was that we got there with time to spare. The bad news was that Marty took one look at the site and decided there was too much brush along the right of way.

We fell back on Plan C, which was to look on the fly for a road that would lead to the tracks. The first one we tried ended instead at someone’s home.

Reversing course, we made our way back to Old Albion Road and continued eastward.

Although we didn’t stop to inspect it, we noted where the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s Erie & Pittsburgh branch crossed the road. Just to the south is a through-truss bridge over the West Branch of Conneaut Creek.

I made a mental note to come back here someday on a railroad archaeology expedition.

We rolled into Albion and after Marty got his bearings we set up at a popular railfan photography location at the Albion Mill.

The tracks come around a curve here become single track. There still stands a pair of searchlight signals.

Four other fans were already there, including former ARRC junior members John Puda and Cody Zamostny.

It was from them that we learned of the head-on collision earlier that day between Amtrak’s Silver Star and a parked CSX auto rack train in South Carolina that killed two Amtrak crew members.

Having gone this far into Pennsylvania, we were pretty much committed to chasing the CN train further south. It was getting to be late afternoon and there wasn’t enough time to go back to Conneaut to seek trains on NS or CSX.

It had been several years since Marty had chased a train south of Albion on the former Bessemer, but he was able to navigate the territory just fine.

We set up at the feed mill in Conneautville for our next photo op and then headed for Hartstown.

Marty wasn’t sure if he remembered his short cut to avoid the traffic in Conneaut Lake, but it came back to him once he got there.

We drove past the shuttered for the winter Conneaut Lake amusement park, which triggered some reminiscing about the days when Grand Trunk Western 2-8-2 No. 4070 pulled excursion trains for a short distance on a B&LE branch that ended at the park.

That branch came off another branch that once went to Meadville, Pennsylvania. Both branches are long gone.

Ed and Marty had seen the Conneaut Lake steam operation, which ran in 1973 and 1974, but I knew little about it until I started doing research for my Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad book.

The 4070 would go on to run for several years on the CVSR back when it was known as the Cuyahoga Valley Line.

Marty said that photographs of the 4070 in action on the B&LE branch to Conneaut Lake will be part of the July ARRC program to be presented by Bob Todten.

We arrived at the U.S. 322 bridge over the CN tracks at Hartstown and it would be our last photo op of the day.

It took a little longer than I expected for the southbound iron ore train to come into sight.

We got our photos and headed west for Ohio on U.S. 322, taking it to Ohio Route 11 and then back to Lake County on Interstate 90.

Along the way we observed the remains of a former railroad right of way that turned out to be a New York Central branch that once ran from Andover, Ohio, to Oil City, Pennsylvania.

Somewhere in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, we again crossed the former PRR’s E&P right of way.

Back in Ohio we crossed a former NYC line that ran between Carson and Latimer.

Through the late 1950s this line had a nightly passenger train conveying through sleepers between Pittsburgh and Buffalo, Toronto and Albany, New York.

Seeing the remnants of these abandoned lines, even if briefly, just whetted my appetite further for a railroad archaeology trip in early spring before the trees leaf out.

We watched the Horseshoe Curve website camera while eating pizza at Ed’s dining room table.

Then we ran some trains on Ed’s HO layout in the basement before heading home and catching the second half of the Super Bowl.

SD40T-3 No. 905 leads a Canadian National train into Conneaut.

A wider perspective of the iron ore train along the ice-covered waters of Conneaut Creek.

The crew has finished assembling its train and the engineer is waiting for the conductor to come up to head end before leaving town. First of a two-shot sequence made at the Old Main Street grade crossing.

Crossing Conneaut Creek as the CN iron ore train approaches the apex of a horseshoe-shaped curve.

The traditional rounding the curve image in Albion in a two-shot sequence. It has been a few years since I’ve caught a locomotive with an orange face coming at me here.

Coming into Conneautville at a location we’ve photographed at many time before.

At the end of the siding in Conneautville.

The CN iron ore train comes into Hartstown. At last I got photographs that say “it’s winter.”

The last photograph of most enjoyable day and chase.