Posts Tagged ‘ABC 1502’

1-2-3 on the ABC in Akron

June 16, 2021

This trio of images was in Akron on May 20, 2021. Akron Barberton Cluster SW1500 No. 1502 was backing up in all three photos. Photos one and two were from the first time I saw the switcher and photo three was from the second time. ABC 1502 is backing up a second time.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Remembering the Kent Heritage Festival Trains

July 3, 2020

As the Kent Freedom Festival train boards passengers on the former Erie Railroad tracks above, a westbound CSX train passes on the former Baltimore & Ohio below.

Independence Day brings to mind thoughts of fireworks, picnics and, once upon a time, train rides in Kent.

In the early 2000s short trains rides over former Erie Railroad were a fixture of the annual Heritage Festival held during a weekend close to July 4.

I don’t know when the festival train rides began but I was on hand for five of them between 2003 and 2010.

In 2009 the festival was on the 4th because it fell on a Saturday.

My hazy memory is that I also was there in 2011 when the Heritage Festival excursions ran for the last time, but I couldn’t find any photographs that I made. So maybe my memory is faulty.,

The consist of the excursions usually was two open-window Nickel Plate Road coaches and a caboose, all of it owned by the Midwest Railway Preservation Society of Cleveland.

The motive power typically was Akron Barberton Cluster Railway SW1500 No. 1502.

In 2003 the trains were pulled by Wheeling & Lake GP35 No. 200 in observance of the Ohio Bicentennial that year.

Until 2010, the trains boarded just north of Main Street and ran eastward to a point between Lake Rockwell and Ravenna roads.

In 2010 the route changed to going west a short distance on the ex-Erie and taking the connection to the W&LE Cleveland Subdivision. They went south to Sunnybrook Road.

The boarding location with the route change became the former Erie passenger station.

The trains were popular and always seem to have a good crowd onboard.

They were ideal for “daisy pickers” with the ride being not too long, not too short and not too expensive.

You could walk up, buy a ticket and climb aboard. The festival drew a crowd of thousands so selling tickets wasn’t a problem.

I rode in 2003 and 2010, both times in a coach. Caboose tickets usually sold out right away.

The W&LE ended the excursions by saying track conditions raised safety concerns.

There may have been some truth in that, but I suspect there were other reasons behind the cancellation of the excursions.

The W&LE did allow excursions to operate to Kent from Glenwillow during the 2013 and 2014 festivals.

I never got out to photograph either of those excursions, which used locomotives of the Cleveland Commercial Railroad.

I don’t know why I missed them but now I wished I hadn’t because the Wheeling would later prohibit all excursion train operations on its rails.

I’d probably become complacent about excursion trains on the Wheeling because there were be so many of them.

They would always be there because they always had been.

I created just over 100 slides of the trains I saw, chased and rode. Many of those images are just so-so and I found that I duplicated a lot of the photo angles.

This raises the question of how much photo documentation does any one photographer need of a given rail operation.

Railroads have changed their thinking about public relations and are less likely now to send rolling stock or a locomotive to a community festival for display or to allow short train rides.

Their public relations work is primarily conducted through social media.

The Kent Heritage Festival excursion trains were like so many other things in life. You don’t always appreciate what you have until it’s gone.

Nonetheless, I appreciate what I was able to get when the opportunity was there. I could have done more, but having done something is better than not having done anything or being unable to do anything at all, which is situation today.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Akron Barberton Cluster Railway SW1500 No. 1502 was usually the motive power for the Kent Heritage Festival trains.

The caboose was always a popular place to ride.

As Easy as A-B-C (Railway)

December 17, 2012

The Akron Barberton Cluster Railway train with SW1500 No. 1502 (ex-Conrail, ex-Indianapolis Union) is about to cross Main Street just north (railroad east) of the depot. Just beyond the pilot can be seen the top of the dam on the Cuyahoga River (out of sight below. The CSX New Castle Subdivision (ex-B&O) is below the railing.

The Akron Barberton Cluster Railway train with SW1500 No. 1502 (ex-Conrail, ex-Indianapolis Union) is about to cross Main Street just north (railroad east) of the depot. Just beyond the pilot can be seen the top of the dam on the Cuyahoga River (out of sight below. The CSX New Castle Subdivision (ex-B&O) is below the railing.

On Friday (Dec. 14, 2012) I finally was able to get out trackside for the first time in just over a month. Bad weather and work obligations had kept me home far too long. My day began in Kent where I hoped to catch a CSX train or two and, maybe, the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway (ABC) job that usually works from Akron to Ravenna and back, using the former Erie Railroad mainline between Kent and Ravenna. With luck, I might get the ABC job coming back from Ravenna.

I was sitting in my car on the Main Street bridge. Traffic was slow on CSX and the radio chatter revealed no clues as to what might be coming. I had just missed the headend of a westbound intermodal train as I arrived.

I heard a horn at about 10:30 a.m. That can’t be an eastbound CSX blowing for Summit Street because I would have heard it calling signals on the radio. I heard it again soon thereafter and it was louder. I got out to investigate and saw a headlight coming east on the former Erie. It was the ABC job running later than normal based on what I know about their schedule.

I grabbed my camera and got to the other side of the tracks by the Main Street crossing where I got the two photos shown here.

I watched the ABC job pick up four grain hoppers from Star of the West in Kent. If the train went
back to Akron, I wanted to catch it coming by the former Erie passenger station. If it headed to Ravenna, I was sure I could beat it to the Ravenna Road crossing at Brady Lake.

The train began going east and off I went. I paused at the Lake Rockwell Road crossing. It was possible that it would work the Crowley Tar plant.

I continued to the Towner’s Woods Park where I parked and walked the short distance to the Ravenna Road crossing. I heard the 1502 blowing for the Lake Rockwell crossing. It was not working at Crowley tar today.

I positioned myself by the crossing and waited. I had photographed the ABC going away at this location, but never coming. The track curves here and there are numerous trees.

After photographing the ABC job at Brady Lake, I drove back to Kent and parked on the Main Street bridge. It would be a good hour or more before the ABC job finished its work in Ravenna and came back through Kent. My objective was to get the train passing the former Erie passenger station, which is now a restaurant named the Pufferbelly.

I figured I could catch some CSX trains during the interim. I did get a westbound CSX local, but otherwise CSX was quiet. When a maintainer asked for and received 45 minutes of work time on both mains at CP 120 west of Kent, I knew there was nothing nearby.

The ABC job did not come back until just past 12:30 p.m. It had dropped two boxcars in Ravenna and picked up two while there. It also has the four covered hopper cars that it picked up earlier in Kent. It is common for the ABC job to carry cars from Star of the West and from Crowley tar to Ravenna and back even though it passes both shippers on the return trip. But the track layout is such that picking up cars on the return trip would mean having the locomotive positioned in the middle of the consist.

I easily was able to walk to the south end of the station and get into position.  I got the photographs that I wanted and then it was time to move on to the next location for the day in Alliance. But that is for another story.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The train has two boxcars and has cleared Main Street. It will stop just short of Fairchild Avenue and back into the track seen to the right, which serves the Star of the West grain elevator.

The train has two boxcars and has cleared Main Street. It will stop just short of Fairchild Avenue and back into the track seen to the right, which serves the Star of the West grain elevator.

The ABC job is in the curve approaching Ravenna Road.

The ABC job is in the curve approaching Ravenna Road.

No. 1502 is crossing Ravenna Road.

No. 1502 is crossing Ravenna Road.

In this going away shot, the train is crossing the Norfolk Southern's Cleveland Line (former Pennsylvania Railroad). Until the early 20th century, the PRR tracks were further north than they are now. But then the Pennsy built a new ROW that has no grade crossings between Hudson and Ravenna. The Erie tracks are located on  approximately the ex-PRR ROW.

In this going away shot, the train is crossing the Norfolk Southern’s Cleveland Line (former Pennsylvania Railroad). Until the early 20th century, the PRR tracks were further north than they are now. But then the Pennsy built a new ROW that has no grade crossings between Hudson and Ravenna. The Erie tracks are located on approximately the ex-PRR ROW.

The ABC job is returning to Akron with the No. 1502 running "short end" forward. That is the Star of the West facility in Kent in the background.

The ABC job is returning to Akron with the No. 1502 running “short end” forward. That is the Star of the West facility in Kent in the background.

The ABC job passes the former Erie passenger station.

The ABC job passes the former Erie passenger station.

My last look at the 1502.

My last look at the 1502.