Posts Tagged ‘4-8-4 steam locomotives’

Steam Saturday: An ARRC Excursion at Pearl

October 2, 2021

Remember when the Akron Railroad Club used to have steam excursions on the Ohio Central? Yeah, it’s been several years since one of those ran. Shown is 4-8-4 No. 6325, a former Grand Trunk Western locomotive, pulling a southbound ARRC trip at Pearl in October 2001.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Steam Saturday: Ohio Central Memories

June 12, 2021

Former Grand Trunk Western 4-8-4 No. 6325 was the pride of the steam locomotive fleet back in the day when the Ohio Central had a steam excursion program. It is shown above in Baltic in October 2001. Today the 6325 sits at the Age of Steam Museum in Sugarcreek, its excursion days seemingly behind it.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Arrival of N&W 611 at Strasburg Delayed

May 18, 2021

The arrival of Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 at the Strasburg Rail Road has been delayed by mechanical problems.

Consequently, all events involving the 611 that had been scheduled for the Pennsylvania-based tourist railroad the weekend of May 21-23 have been cancelled.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation, which owns the Class J locomotive, said an inspection found a malfunction with the locomotive’s stoker that prevented the stoker from moving coal into the firebox.

Workers are seeking to repair the problem, the museum said in a news release.

The museum also cited security and safety reasons for declining to announce the timing and route of the ferry move to the Strasburg.

Earlier, the Strasburg had announced that the 611 would participate in a series of events there through October.

Steam Saturday: N&W 611 in Orrville

December 2, 2020

Norfolk & Western J Class No. 611 is arguably best known today for its excursion service for Norfolk Southern than it was for revenue service for the N&W.

It pulled many a steam excursion through Ohio and other states during its prime.

In the photograph above, the 4-8-4 Northern type is westbound on the former Wheeling & Lake Erie at Orrville on May 13, 1989.

It was making a one way move from Kenovah, West Virginia, to Bellevue.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Steam Saturday: Chasing the CM&StP 261 Ferry Move in June 1996

October 31, 2020
Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 steams out of Orchard Park, New York, on June 16, 1996. The tracks here have since been ripped out.

In 1995 Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul 4-8-4 No. 261 left its home in Minnesota and ventured east to help Steamtown National Historic Site celebrate its grand opening.

The Northern-type locomotive built by Alco in July 1944 had been restored to operating condition in 1993 by a group known as the Friends of the 261.

I was on hand when the 261 participated in the parade of steam locomotives held during the grand opening festivities on July 1.

Later that day, the 261 pulled an excursion train from Scranton to Pocono Summit filled with attendees of that year’s convention of the National Railway Historical Society.

The convention actually was held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and we had ridden chartered buses north that morning to board a diesel-powered excursion to Steamtown.

The 261 remained behind in Steamtown for the next year, participating in excursions and other events.

But by June 1996 it was time for the steamer to head home to Minnesota.

I got a telephone call from my friend Bill Stephens, who at the time was living in a suburb of Buffalo, New York, asking if I’d be interested in riding the 261 ferry move from Orchard Park, another Buffalo suburb, to New Castle, Pennsylvania.

Bill was a correspondent for Trains and may have been covering the locomotive’s ferry move for the magazine.

He also invited some other friends to ride along. All we had to do was make a donation to the Friends of the 261 group.

Arranging this outing was complicated because the ferry move was one-way. This meant having to position our vehicles so that we had transportation to and from the train.

On the Friday before the ferry move, I met up with Bill in New Castle at the CSX yard office.

He parked his vehicle there and I then drove him to a motel in Buffalo where the four of us were staying.

The next morning we drove to the former Baltimore & Ohio station in Orchard Park to board the train.

There was a crowd of people on hand train because, well, steam locomotives attract crowds.

Some local officials were having an event to publicize their efforts to acquire the ex-B&O track through Orchard Park for use as a commuter rail service to be known as the Niagara Line. That concept, though, never panned out.

The train arrived and we swung aboard the tool car to get settled. We would spend much of our time in that car because the doors of the former baggage car were open during the trip and that was the place to be to make photographs and listen to the locomotive work.

We were on Buffalo & Pittsburgh tracks to West Eidenau, Pennsylvania, where the train got onto CSX.

It is hard to believe it today, but the 261 ferry move spent a lot of time on CSX going to and from Scranton, including traveling across Ohio and Indiana.

On the rear of the train was an open platform office car carrying a Missouri-Kansas-Texas drumhead.

My memory is that Trains had written about car 403 not long before the ferry move and featured it on the cover.

I spent part of the trip sitting or standing on the 403’s platform. In theory I wasn’t supposed to be in the 403 because I wasn’t a guest of the owner.

But he tolerated me being there, at least for awhile. After the train made a service stop, he approached me and when he began by saying, “well, friend . . .” I knew I had worn out my welcome.

We had brought with us some food items purchased from a Tops grocery store on Friday night. Yet somewhere in Pennsylvania someone ordered pizza to be delivered to the train. That turned out to be dinner for everyone.

There were not many passengers and I don’t remember talking with many of them although I might have.

Someone in our group said one of the passengers was Tom Nemeth, the editor of Railpace.

It was apparent throughout the day that railfan photographers were out in force following us.

It was sunny and the train didn’t move all that fast so I presume it was easy to chase.

In looking at my photographs, I found an image of some small town where our passage interrupted a parade on a downtown street.

We also made a stop at a town in New York at which there was a large crowd at a former B&O depot.

We knew the ferry move would make for a long day, but it turned out to be much longer than I had expected. Even someone who enjoys riding trains is ready to get off at some point.

Darkness came, the chasing photographers went home and I was sitting in a coach seat trying to catch some sleep.

We spent quite a bit of time in Butler, Pennsylvania, during the night. I believe we were waiting for a CSX pilot crew.

I remember seeing a train pass by overhead in the dark on a bridge as we sat in Butler.

One of Bill’s friends got down from the train, walked up to the locomotive and climbed up into the cab. He sat in the engineer’s seat for a while and, he said, began dozing off.

In retrospect I wished I had taken the time to visit the cab, too.

By the time we reached New Castle it was around 4 a.m. We had reserved motel rooms there and needless to say I was dead tired.

I shared a room with Bill’s friend Edmund who had traveled from Washington, D.C., to ride the ferry move.

Not only were we tired, we were covered in cinders and soot. Edmund stood in the bathtub and shook all of the cinders off. He then washed them down the drain.

It never felt so good to take a shower than it did after this trip.

The ferry move left Sunday morning to travel through Northeast Ohio on the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

But I was heading back to Buffalo to retrieve my car and return to Cleveland.

* * * * *

Over the years I’ve experienced a number of tie backs to that June 1996 day.

About eight years after it occurred I was sitting in Dave McKay’s living room on a Saturday night looking at slides of images that I might use in a book I was working on.

Dave had grabbed various boxes of images he thought I might find interesting.

Onto the screen popped photographs Dave had made of that 261 ferry move.

“I was on that train,” I said out loud. Dave had not known that.

He rattled off the names of other Northeast Ohio railfans who had been chasing the ferry move as well.

It was interesting to see that day’s trip from “the ground.”

Fast forward another 11 years and more photographs of the 261 ferry move surfaced when I was working on my second Akron Railroads book.

These images, though, had not been made in New York or Pennsylvania, but in Akron.

I number of people I had met through the Akron Railroad Club were standing near the tracks by the former Akron Union Depot when the 261 made a service stop.

In early July 2017 I traveled with Marty Surdyk and Ed Ribinskas to Arcade, New York, to photograph the Arcade & Attica steam train.

We stopped in Springville, New York, to photograph a passenger station and the right of way of an abandoned rail line turned into a trail.

This placed looked familiar. Marty said it had once been the B&O line out of Buffalo.

Then it clicked. This was the station at which we had stopped during the June 1996 261 ferry move.

I looked at my slides later and found an image I made of that station from the tool car. I had been there before.

About two weeks ago Ed emailed me some photographs of the 1996 ferry move. He thought he remembered my showing photographs of it during an ARRC program years ago and my having ridden it.

I didn’t remember doing that and a check of my past ARRC programs didn’t turn up any indication that I had.

Maybe Ed remembered a story I had written about that stop in Springview I had made on that trip to the Arcade & Attica.

Whatever the case, it prompted me to write this memory of my time riding the 261 ferry move. It is the last time I’ve ridden behind the 261.

I’ve seen it once since then, a fleeting glimpe through the windows of a Metra commuter train in Chicago.

And that visit to Steamtown in 1995 remains the only time I’ve been there, too.

Article by Craig Sanders, Photographs by Ed Ribinskas

At Beaver Siding, New York. The tracks gone here, too.
At Ellicottville, New York. The next image was made there also.
This and the next image were made at Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania.
At Akron Union Depot on June 16, 1996
Steaming out of Akron.
The chase ended in Willard.

Everything on This Trip Was a Highlight

August 12, 2020

Sierra No. 3, which was the Hooterville Cannonball from Petticoat Junction and my second favorite TV show of all time, Green Acres.

Keddie Wye on the former Western Pacific is just a unique location.

Southern Pacific 4-8-4 No. 4449 is my western favorite as Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 is my eastern favorite.

During my 1991 trip to California and Railfair it was difficult if not impossible to narrow down the highlights because there were so many steam locomotives, including Union Pacific Nos. 844 and 3985 and Southern Pacific 4449.

There also were the vintage F units, the Napa Valley Wine Train, the Feather River Canyon and the collection at the California State Railroad Museum.

But here are the three I chose as my favorite memories from this trip.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Catching the Daylight and a Special Memory

August 11, 2020

During April 1991 I rode Amtrak’s California Zephyr to Sacramento to meet up with friends Craig Darasko and Kenny Vendlinger, who are also from Lake County.

Our plan was to drive all night to Klamath Falls, Oregon, to intercept Southern Pacific Daylight 4449 on its way to the Sacramento Railfair at the California State Railroad Museum.

I had a hotel room reserved for after my arrival and slept that afternoon and evening.

I would do the driving north since Craig and Kenny had spent all day chasing the inbound Union Pacific 844 and UP 3985 doubleheader from Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Here are a few of my favorites of the Daylight starting with the top image, which was made at Grass Lake, California on April 28.

The next image (below) was made at Dunsmuir, California, while the final photograph was made at Hooker Creek Road at Hooker, California.

The last location will always be remembered because after getting photographs at Redding, California, while driving on Interstate 5 I spotted Dave McKay’s Spectrum.

I suggested to Craig and Kenny that we should follow Dave, knowing he would be headed to a good to great location.

We did and it was. The lighting was perfect.

It also turned out to be a Northeast Ohio reunion thousands of miles from home.

From what I remember the photo line consisted of Craig, Kenny, myself, Dave, Al Clum, Dave Shepard, Don Woods and others I can’t remember.

Years later every time I saw Al Clum at meetings, train shows, train chases the first thing he said to me was Hooker Creek Road.

That’s how special it was.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Steam Sunday: Chessie 614 in Akron

August 9, 2020

Chessie System 614 is in Akron on June 23, 1981. The 4-8-4 locomotive pulled two Chessie Safety Express excursions that the photographer recalls as having operated to Pittsburgh.

The Greenbrier-type locomotive was built in Lima, Ohio, in June 1948 for the Chesapeake & Ohio.

It is shown on the connecting track from the Valley Line to the Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Steam Saturday: Heading Back to Minnesota

August 1, 2020

Back in the middle 1990s Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 spent an extended visit to the East.

It participated in the grand opening ceremony at Steamtown National Historic Site in July 1995 and then stuck around for another year before heading back home to Minnesota.

The return trip covered the CSX New Castle Subdivision and included a service stop in Akron.

No. 261 is shown on June 16, 1996 in Warwick. The locomotive is owned by the Minneapolis-based Friends of the 261.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Amtraking East in Search of a Reading T-1

June 30, 2020

The excursion train crosses the Reading’s concrete viaduct across the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, on May 21, 1988.

My spring vacation in 1988 began with a drive to Canton in the wee hours of the morning to catch Amtrak’s eastbound Broadway Limited to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

My sister and brother in law were living in Gettysburg and they picked me up in early afternoon.

My focus was an excursion trip sponsored by the Blue Mountain & Reading from Temple to Gettysburg with Reading 4-8-4 No. 2102 running all the way on ex-Reading rails, recreating one of the early 1960s Reading Rambles.

At Belt Line Junction, No. 2102 took the Conrail mainline to Harrisburg then to Mt Holly Springs, where it switched to the Gettysburg Railroad, which was the ex-Reading branch, the rest of the trip to Gettysburg.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

At Belt Line Junction in Reading.

A wider angle view of the Reading T-1 crossing the river in downtown Harrisburg.

Now on the Gettysburg Railroad at Hunters Run.

No. 2102 stalled shortly after I made this shot at Goodyear. Gettysburg motive power had to be brought down to assist the 2102 and train to Gettysburg.

Since I was on a “T-1 high ,” I drove to Baltimore the next day to the B&O Museum. Reading 2101 is shown as it appeared when it was the power in the East of the American Freedom Train.