C&O F7 Going to CSX Paint Booth

September 15, 2017

A former Chesapeake & Ohio diesel is headed for the paint booth at a CSX shop in West Virginia, but it is not clear what livery it will have when it emerges. It is now painted in C&O colors.

F7 No. 8016 is being transported from the North Carolina Transportation Museum to the Huntington locomotive shops, Trains magazine reported.

The unit had been at the Spencer, North Carolina, museum since a streamliners festival in 2014.

Built by EMD as F3 No. 800 for the Clinchfield Railroad, the unit was converted to an F7 in the 1950s. It later served C&O and CSX.

The Trains report said it is not clear how extensive the painting will be or where the locomotive might operate after it leaves the shop.

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Jerry Jacobson Tribute Page Created

September 15, 2017

The family of Jerry Jacobson has created a page on the website of the Smith Funeral Homes in Sugarcreek and Bolivar for the public to write tribute to Mr. Jacobson.

The page can be found at http://www.smithfuneral.com/obituaries/Jerry-Jacobson-4/

The family has also said that those wishing to send notes or sympathy cards to the family should send them to the Age of Steam Roundhouse, 213 Smokey Lane Road S.W., Sugarcreek, OH 44681.

In lieu of flowers and other memorials, Mr. Jacobson wanted contributions to be made to the Olive Branch Ministries, 2068 Leetonia Road, Leetonia, OH 44431. Its website can be seen at: www.olivebranchleetonia.com

Mr. Jacobson, who founded the Ohio Central System, built the AOS roundhouse and owned a fleet of steam locomotives and other railroad equipment, died on Wednesday at age 74 after a long illness.

ARRC Picnic a Highball for Sunday

September 15, 2017

With the weather forecast for the weekend showing sunny skies and only a 10 percent chance of precipitation, the Akron Railroad Club will hold its picnic in the valley this Sunday (Sept. 17).

The event will be held at the Valley Picnic area south of Peninsula along Riverview Road on the west side of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad tracks.

Chef Martè (a.k.a. Marty Surdyk) will fire up the grill at approximately noon and serve up burgers and hot dogs.

The club will supply buns, condiments, and a limited supply of snacks and beverages. Members are asked to bring some side dishes and desserts.

The chef will be serving up hot food until the last passage of Nickel Plate Road No. 765, which is expected to be late afternoon.

Depending on what time you arrive, you can expect to see the 2-8-4 and its train pass the picnic site four times, twice going north and twice going south.

The excursion trains are expected to leave Akron at 11:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m., which is 20 and 25 minutes respectively after the scheduled departure of the CVSR National Park Scenic trains.

The Scenic is scheduled to arrive in Peninsula on Sunday southbound at 9:50 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. and northbound at 11:45 a.m. and 3:40 p.m.

Assuming that the NKP 765 and its train have the same running time as the Scenic of about 45 minutes to reach the picnic area, it should pass the picnic area at approximately noon and 4 p.m.

The steam trips are advertised as two-hour excursions and include a photo runby at Boston Mill station.

The southbound trips, which will have NKP 765 leading, should make their return trips between about 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. for the first trip of the day, and between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. for the second excursion.

Please note that parking at the picnic site is limited.

Some Trains Canceled During NKP 765 Visit

September 15, 2017

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad will not offer its third loop trips of the National Park Scenic during the weeks of Sept. 12, 17 and 24.

Departure times of the Scenic during those weeks will be as follows:

Tuesday through Thursday, trains will depart Rockside Road at 9 a.m. and 12:50 p.m.; depart Peninsula at  9:50 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.; and depart Akron at 10:55 a.m.

Friday through Sunday trains will depart Rockside Road at 9 a.m., 12:50 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.; Peninsula at 9:50 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m. and 3:40 p.m.; and Akron at 10:55 a.m. and 2:50 p.m.

In Tribute to Jerry Jacobson

September 15, 2017

Jerry Jacobson was more than a member of the Akron Railroad Club. He was a friend to so many and will truly be missed.

In memory of Jerry, perhaps the members could post a favorite photo from an ARRC special or a public excursion.

Here is OHCR 6325 heading west over Ohio route 151 as she approaches Dennison, Ohio on August 13, 2004.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas

C&O 1309 Restoration Half a Million Short

September 15, 2017

The effort to restore former Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 has fallen more than a half-million dollars short.

John Garner, CEO of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, send an email message this week pleading for donations.

The email said WMSR needed $530,000 to finish the restoration. Garner has warned in the past that the cost of restoring the 1309 was threatening the financial health of the WMSR and suggested that taking on the restoration project might have been a mistake.

The operating debut of the ex-C&O locomotive has been delayed more than once this year.

However, he has pledged that the railroad will see the restoration to completion.

No. 1309 would be the only functioning articulated locomotive in the United States.

Amtrak Launches New Marketing Campaign

September 15, 2017

Amtrak has launched a new marketing campaign focused on the experience of riding a train.

The campaign’s theme is “Break the Travel Quo”

In a news release, Amtrak said its approach is to take “a lighthearted approach to push against the realities of air and car travel that have become par for the course, juxtaposing commonplace scenarios against the comfort and convenience of Amtrak.

“Not only does Amtrak boast one of the most generous baggage policies in the travel industry – allowing passengers to bring up to four pieces of luggage for free – but the rail company also offers free Wi-Fi, the freedom to use phones and electronic devices at all times, the ability to travel with small pets on many trains, large spacious seats with ample leg room, and no middle seat.”

The marketing campaign is being produced by Amtrak’s ad agency, FCB New York, and began on Thursday.

The campaign is oriented toward local and long distance travel and generally aimed at adults 35 years and older.

However, the campaign also has demographic oriented messages targeting Hispanic, African American, LGBTQ, and Chinese audiences.

The advertising will occur on multiple media platforms and vary regionally, with different messages for certain regions.

Some of the advertisements will be placed in social media and on websites rather than on network or local TV.

Above all Amtrak is seeking to get travelers to think of rail travel as an alternative.

Amtrak has established a website in support of the campaign: www.breakthetravelquo.com.

NS Resumes Service in Southeast

September 15, 2017

Norfolk Southern said on Thursday that it has restored service on mainline track throughout Georgia and Florida.

However,  the railroad said that in the wake of damage inflicted by Hurricane Irma last weekend it continues to “meter in traffic” to Savannah and Brunswick, George.; Jacksonville, Florida.; and the surrounding areas.

In a service update, NS said it is working with customers in area affected by the hurricane to identify switching needs and communicate service plans.

“Customers should continue to expect delays of 48 to 72 hours for traffic moving through and to impacted areas as NS works through congestion caused from the storm’s service interruptions,” railroad officials said.

In related news, Florida East Coast Railway has resumed full rail service across its network between Jacksonville and Miami, although it said that for safety reasons trains are operating at slower speeds than normal.

In Memory of Jerry Joe Jacobson

September 14, 2017

Jerry Joe Jacobson, who had a lifelong passion for steam locomotives that he generously shared with others and who was a champion of short-line railroads, has died.

Mr. Jacobson, 74, died on Wednesday at 9:15 p.m. (Sept. 13, 2017) surrounded by family members after a long illness. He had been in hospice care.

Mr. Jacobson

A life member of the Akron Railroad Club, he was the founder and chief executive officer of the Ohio Central System where he was able to indulge his steam dreams by purchasing a fleet of 10 steam locomotives, many of which were restored to working order.

Mr. Jacobson’s steam locomotives pulled excursion trains on the Ohio Central and a few pulled revenue service freight trains.

Between 1988 and 2004 the Ohio Central ran scores of steam-powered excursions ranging from the Sugarcreek-Baltic tourist trains to photo freights to side-by-side steam double and triple headers to ARRC excursions.

Thousands of passengers and trackside observers made countless memories of those trips that have been preserved in written accounts, photographs, movies and video tape.

About the time that he sold the Ohio Central on Sept. 30, 2008, to Genesee & Wyoming Industries, Mr. Jacobson began developing the Age of Steam Roundhouse on a 34-acre tract near Sugarcreek to serve as the home of his 10 steam locomotives, 22 diesel locomotives and 24 passenger cars.

Although not envisioned as a museum, the roundhouse has hosted visits by large groups and is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of another era of American railroading.

Mr. Jacobson’s passion for steam motive power began as a boy growing up in Cuyahoga Falls where he would walk or ride his bike to the Akron Division tracks of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and watch steam-powered trains pass by during the twilight of steam in Northeast Ohio.

When he was 13, a friendly crew invited him to climb into the cab of a locomotive and to take the throttle as they set off a car on June 20, 1957. He even remembered that it was B&O Mountain-type 4-8-2 No. 710.

“It was exciting,” he said years later. He vowed some day to own a steam engine and maybe even a railroad.

Mr. Jacobson wrote that what once seemed like a “never-ending steam world had, by my teenage years, become only a fond memory, recalled through photographs, film and the all-too-rare steam excursion.”

Upon graduation from high school, Mr. Jacobson was unable to land a job working for a railroad.

He joined the U.S. Army as his father had once done, serving in the 82nd Airborne Division.

“Of the many words used to describe Jerry Joe Jacobson perhaps his most favorite was ‘paratrooper;’ more specifically, Sergeant Jacobson, parachute rigger, Company B, 407 PIR, 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army. He continued his military service with the U.S. Army Reserve, eventually rising to the rank of Captain,” said a statement posted today on the Age of Steam Roundhouse website.

Mr. Jacobson went on to a career as a nurse-anesthetist. He studied at Kent State University for two years and later received a degree in anesthesia from a teaching hospital in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he spent weekends at the steam‐powered Strasburg tourist railroad.

The AOS obit said that Mr. Jacobson came to appreciate the simple, quiet life of the surrounding Amish community in Pennsylvania.

He moved back to Ohio and began his anesthesia career in maternity suites and operating rooms at hospitals in Northeast Ohio.

He would later make his mark as the “doctor of sick railroads.”

He finally got into railroading after the State of Ohio acquired from Conrail in 1982 a 35-mile former New York Central branch line between Minerva and Hopedale.

For two years Mr. Jacobson was involved with Ohi-Rail, which operated the line. On May 1, 1984, he purchased a controlling interest in the short line, which had two diesel locomotives, two full-time employees and a roster of as-needed part-timers.

At Ohi-Rail, Mr. Jacobson honed his philosophy of short-line railroading that would later become the motto of the Ohio Central, “big enough to serve you, small enough to care.”

A year later the State of Ohio selected Mr. Jacobson to operate another cast-off short line, a former Pennsylvania Railroad branch between New Lexington and Zanesville known as the Ohio Southern.

In 1986, the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corporation asked Mr. Jacobson to operate a 4-mile former Erie Lackawanna industrial branch that would become the Youngstown & Austintown.

That brought Mr. Jacobson’s railroad portfolio to 73 miles and five full-time employees.

It was during this era that Mr. Jacobson bought his first steam locomotive, a Baldwin 0-6-0 from Jackson Iron & Steel in Jackson, Ohio.

By the late 1980s, Norfolk Southern was divesting its former Nickel Plate Road branches in southern Ohio, some of which had been part of the original Wheeling & Lake Erie.

Mr. Jacobson negotiated with NS for two years before he was able to buy the 71-mile Zanesville line (Zanesville-Harmon) on April 16, 1988.

He named it the Ohio Central Railroad and it would become the centerpiece of the Ohio Central System.

The line had several freight customers who required daily switching that NS was not willing to provide, but Mr. Jacobson was.

Mr. Jacobson sold his interest in Ohi-Rail and focused on rebuilding the OC. He acquired 22 miles of trackage rights over the CL&W Subdivision of CSX – now owned by R.J. Corman – between North Beach City and Warwick.

The OC expanded in 1990 when Mr. Jacobson became the operator of the former Pennsy Panhandle mainline between Columbus and Mingo Junction.

OC formed a subsidiary, the Columbus & Ohio River Railroad, to operate this property.

Mr. Jacobson continued to acquire short-line railroads and at its peak the OC system included 486 miles operated by 10 railroads in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The OC was based in Coshocton, Ohio, where Mr. Jacobson built an office building on Paper Mill Road and a locomotive shop at Morgan Run east of town.

As Mr. Jacobson’s railroad empire grew, so did his steam locomotive fleet. He traded his 0-6-0 Baldwin to Steamtown USA in 1986 for ex-Canadian National 4-6-0 No. 1551.

In October 1988, No. 1551 was steamed up and soon began pulling OC excursion trains.

No. 1551 was the primary motive power on the 7-mile Sugarcreek-Baltic tourist trains that began in summer 1989.

It was a family affair with Mr. Jacobson’s wife, Laura, selling tickets and running the gift shop while his son, Joe, worked as a trainman and manned a snack bar at the Sugarcreek station.

The Sugarcreek-Baltic train operated four times a day, but not on Sunday in deference to the beliefs of the large Amish population in the region that Sunday was the Lord’s Day.

Other locomotives that Mr. Jacobson acquired included Alco 2-8-0 No 13 (former Buffalo Creek & Gauley); 4-6-2 No. 1293, a Pacific-type built for Canadian Pacific by Canadian Locomotive Company; 4-8-4 No. 6325, an Alco Northern type that was built for the Grand Trunk Western; 2-8-0 No. 33, a Consolidation type that once ran on the Lake Superior & Ishpeming in Michigan’s upper peninsula; and 0-4-OT No. 3, another Alco that once worked on the W&LE.

Nos. 6325 and 1293 became mainstays in OC excursion service.

Mr. Jacobson and the OC sponsored a 1997 rail festival in Dennison that drew photographers and steam fans from as far as Germany, Japan and South America. It featured four locomotives in steam.

The Dennison steam festival was reprised in 2004 with Nos. 1293 and 6325 playing a starring role.

During the years that Mr. Jacobson owned the Ohio Central, its employees offered special instruction so that hundreds of Boy Scouts could earn their railroad merit badge

The railroad hosted excursions for railroad groups and historical societies; campaign trains for candidates for public office; special sightseeing and grade crossing safety excursions for government agencies; and even wedding trains so that couples could get married aboard the train.

Not long after selling the Ohio Central, Mr. Jacobson made a $10 million donation to the Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia where a barracks has been named Jacobson Hall. Two of his sons attended the academy.

He also established the Jerry & Laura Jacobson Foundation.

Work on the Age of Steam Roundhouse began in 2008 and was completed in 2012.

Designed with the appearance of a 1920s locomotive terminal, it was the first large roundhouse built in America since the Nickel Plate Road completed a facility in Calumet, Illinois, in 1951.

Mr. Jacobson had a long affiliation with the ARRC. Initially joining on March 22, 1961, Mr. Jacobson dropped out while serving in the military. He rejoined the club in October 1965.

On June 21, 1991, he offered the club a complimentary trip on his Sugarcreek tourist train. Club members later dined at the Swiss Hat restaurant in Sugarcreek and two traditions had been born.

In 1992, the ARRC Ohio Central steam excursions moved to October and the club began selling train and dinner tickets.

Proceeds from those trips helped replenish the club’s depleted treasury, which had dipped below $100 in the early 1990s. Pulling those ARRC excursions were Nos. 1551, 1293, 13 and 6325.

Nos. 1551 and 13 combined during an Oct. 15, 1994, excursion to tackle Baltic hill and nearly 700 witnessed Ohio Central’s first steam doubleheader.

Many of the ARRC trips operated between Sugarcreek and Morgan Run. A diesel might pull the train in one direction while steam pulled it in the other.

During the Morgan Run lay over, passengers explored the shops complex and viewed the array of equipment on a storage track awaiting restoration or sale.

Some trips featured Ohio Central’s “new” F9As 6307 and 6313, which Mr. Jacobson purchased from VIA Rail Canada and had repainted in a striking Tuscan red pinstripe livery that mirrored the livery of PRR passenger diesels.

The Oct. 2, 2004, trip would be the final Ohio Central steam excursion for which the ARRC could sell tickets to the public.

The Sugarcreek excursion trains had ended in 2003 and the railroad offered no public excursions in 2005. However, it operated an excursion free of charge for ARRC members and their families on Oct. 22, 2005.

On Oct. 7, 2006, Ohio Central again offered ARRC members a complimentary excursion.

An RS-18 pulled the train to Carmen and No. 1293 took the train up the Apex branch. The club’s first excursion east of Dennison featured a record seven photo runbys at five sites. It was Ohio Central’s first steam operation on the Apex branch.

Mr. Jacobson also arranged for the ARRC to have a car on Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad excursions pulled by No. 1293 in 2007 and 2008.

The club was able to sell tickets for those trips and the proceeds from the 2008 trip boosted the treasury to a record balance.

During dinner at the Swiss Hat following the 2003 excursion, the officers of the ARRC awarded Mr. Jacobson a life membership in the club.

Mr. Jacobson would occasionally attend ARRC meetings and he usually attended the December banquet.

He knew many ARRC members by name and never forgot his roots as a railfan. He was easily approachable and enjoyed sharing stories about his railroad and its steam program.

On June 1, 2013, at Mr. Jacobson’s invitation, ARRC members toured the Age of Steam Roundhouse.

Mr. Jacobson had been scheduled to present a program at the March 2016 ARRC meeting, but was unable to attend.

Instead, club members Craig Sanders and Paul Woodring gave a salute to Ohio Central steam program with still images and video.

The last ARRC event that Mr. Jacobson attended was the 2016 end of year dinner.

Mr. Jacobson was born June 27, 1943, in Jacksonville, Illinois, the son of Douglas L. and Helen R. Jacobson.

The family later moved to Cuyahoga Falls where Mr. Jacobson graduated from Cuyahoga Falls High School in 1961.

They lived on Chestnut Boulevard and Mr. Jacobson in high school was a wrestler and drummer in the band.

After his Army service, Mr. Jacobs became an anesthesiologist, working at Brentwood Hospital in Warrensville Heights and St. Thomas Hospital in Akron.

He is survived by his wife, Laura L. Jacobson and his children; sons Joe, Jesse and Jay, and daughters Julie Jenifer and Jana. Details about services are pending.

More Potatoes Coming to ‘Salad Shooter’

September 14, 2017

The westbound Cold Connect train passes through Conneaut on CSX rails.

One of CSX’s most distinct trains may be adding some more business.

Dubbed by some railroad crew members and railfans as the “salad shooter,” the dedicated train of perishables from the West Coast has been seeing its business grow.

Union Pacific and the East Idaho Railroad (owned by Watco Companies) are upgrading facilities used to move Idaho potatoes to eastern markets.

The East Idaho has seen an 18 percent growth in potato shipments this year and is leasing 20 refrigerated cars that will be outfitted with special racks and rollers to help move the produce.

Officially known as Cold Connect – a name change from the Food Train – the service begins on UP in Wallaula, Washington, with refrigerated cars of produce.

The train picks up the potatoes from the East Idaho in Pocatello, Idaho. UP interchanges the train to CSX at Chicago where the cars are transported to Syracuse, New York, and Rotterdam, New York.

The planned improvements in Idaho are designed to make Cold Connect more competitive with trucking and enable the service to increase in operations to four or five trains per week.

Some cars are being interchanged to Norfolk Southern in Chicago and routed to other destinations.