Posts Tagged ‘Akron Railroad Club activities’

Wonderful Day for a Picnic and Steam

September 18, 2017

The photo line is out as Nickel Plate Road No. 765 passes the Valley Picnic Area en route back to Akron with the first excursion of the day.

It was a perfect day for a picnic. Under sunny skies with temperatures in the upper 70s, 17 Akron Railroad Club members and guests descended on the Valley Picnic Area in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to watch Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 pass by four times as it carried excursionists out of Akron on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

The Berkshire locomotive built in Lima, Ohio, performed flawlessly and cameras were out to record its passage.

At least one ARRC member, Vice President Emeritus J. Gary Dillon, was aboard the train, riding in car 165 on the afternoon trip with his niece Lisa.

As always, Chef Martè fired up the grill and served up hamburgers and hot dogs.

It was the second time the ARRC has held a September picnic in the CVNP in conjunction with a visit by the 765.

Last year we also held a picnic at the same location when the 765 was operating as the 767. Attendance at that picnic was 27 and may have been boosted by the novelty factor of NKP 765 operating with a different number.

We observed that there didn’t seem to be quite as many photographers out chasing the 765 as there had been last year or in some previous years.

To be sure, there were still a lot of people in the park with cameras. But the posse chasing 765 along Riverview Road as the steam train passed by wasn’t as long as in previous years and we didn’t recognize anyone we knew.

However, the steam trains appeared to be well patronized and as in past years the premium seats in the open window and dome cars were sold out.

Between runs of the steam train we also observed the passage of the regular CVSR train, the National Park Scenic, three times.

It had FPA-4 No. 6771 on the north end and Alco C424 No. 4241 on the south end. Most of the CVSR’s feature cars were on the steam train so the Scenic had an abbreviated consist that included a caboose.

For the record the steam train had RS18u No. 1822 on its north end.

If you missed the 765 this past weekend, it will be pulling another slate of trips on Sept. 23 out of Rockside Road station and on Sept. 24 out of Akron.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society is paying tribute to the late Jerry Joe Jacobson, a lifetime ARRC member, by placing his name beneath the cab widows on both sides of the 765 above the number.

Jacobson, who died on Sept. 13, was the developer of the Age of Steam Roundhouse as well as a friend of the steam locomotive preservation community.

The chef has another round of burgers on the grill while hungry members go through the serving table.

When two old railroaders get together they are going to talk a little shop. Paul Woodring (left) and Bob Rohal try to solve the problems of the industry while agreeing it’s not what it used to be.

The engineer of NKP 765 gives us some whistle as the train passes the ARRC picnic. The locomotive paid tribute to Jerry Jacobson on the cab.

A few ARRC members can be seen at right photographing the northbound excursion in mid afternoon.

The sunlight was still barely over the tree line as the last excursion of the day headed for Akron along Riverview Road.

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10 ARRC Members Make Trek to Vermilion, Amherst

August 28, 2017

Don Woods places the first burgers on the grill at the Amherst depot Saturday afternoon as Marty Surdyk watches. (Photograph by Todd Dillon)

Ten Akron Railroad Club members participated in the outing on Saturday to Vermilion and Amherst.

The day began in Vermilion at the South Street boat launch where various birds, boats and even some Norfolk Southern trains occupied our attention.

We had plenty of opportunities to photograph NS trains crossing the Vermilion River on the Chicago Line.

Although the day was sunny throughout, the wind off Lake Erie had a chill to it that was particularly noticeable when you were in the shade.

During our time at the boat launch, NS sent one eastbound through town on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline, a manifest freight on what is now called the Cleveland District.

Around mid afternoon, our host Todd Vander Sluis took a couple ARRC members in his Dodge Ram pickup truck to inspect the new connection being built from the Chicago Line to the Cleveland  District west of Vermilion near the Vermilion Country Club.

The connection will enable eastbound trains on the Chicago Line to eastward on the Cleveland District.

Progress on the project has been slow and the site looked much as it did a year ago.

The path of the connection has been graded and some panel track has been placed along it, but otherwise work seems to have stalled.

The ARRC NS heritage units curse continued. Our hopes had been raised by an online report that the Leigh Valley H unit was leading train 18A eastbound and its progression would have put it through Vermilion in early to mid afternoon.

But it turned out the 18A was headed for Bellevue. Another H unit, the Central of New Jersey, was also reported heading east on the Chicago Line in Indiana, but it was bound for Detroit.

Wouldn’t you know it that if we had been in Vermilion the next day we would have seen the Wabash H unit leading the 21G in mid to late afternoon.

Just one train had foreign power leading. An eastbound grain train was led by a pair of BNSF units.

We did spot two Kansas City Southern “Belles” trailing in the motive power consist of an eastbound manifest freight.

As the afternoon wore on, ARRC members began migrating to the restored former New York Central freight station in Amherst where Chef Martè was manning the grill for the annual summer picnic of the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts.

The RRE had invited the ARRC to attend its picnic and partake of some burgers and hot dogs.

Alas, NS pretty much died during the picnic. By the time things picked up again, it was nearly 9 p.m. and just about everyone had gone home, was about to head home, or was on his way home.

ARRC Vermilion Outing Set for Saturday

August 23, 2017

An eastbound Norfolk Southern train crosses the bridge over the Vermilion River near the boat launchy during a previous Akron Railroad Club outing there.

The Akron Railroad Club will return to Vermilion on Saturday for another day along the Norfolk Southern Chicago Line. But this outing will feature something different.

In late afternoon we’ll travel to nearby Amherst for a picnic at the restored former New York Central depot.

Vermilion features two NS lines, the busiest of which is the ex-NYC route. Also passing through is the former Nickel Plate Road line that is now the NS Cleveland District.

The Cleveland District through Vermilion isn’t much at present as far as railroad traffic, but that is expected to change once NS completes installation of a new connection from the eastbound Chicago Line to the Cleveland District a couple of miles west of Vermilion.

Intermodal trains 205, 206, 22K and 23K are expected to be regular users of the connection.

But all of that is in the future. The Chicago Line hosts 40 to 50 trains with a traffic mix of intermodal, mixed freights, tanker trains, coal trains and even Amtrak.

We will begin our day at the boat launch located on West River Road between the two railroad bridges over the Vermilion River.

Being summer there should be ample boat traffic on the river to watch between trains.

Photographs of an eastbound on the bridge is the prized shot for this location.

Shooting a westbound these days is tough. You will need your wide-angle lens.

But don’t let that deter you from enjoying some time at the boat launch. It is an enjoyable experience.

After lunch, when the light shifts to a more westerly direction, we will move to the railfan pavilion in town.

This spot sets up well for westbounds with the city’s water tank as your backdrop.

Eastbounds can be shot with the Vermilion station that sits just to the east of the pavilion. This is also a wide-angle shot due to some pine trees along the tracks.

Still, it is a nice place to hang out and watch trains. The crossings in town are quiet zones, so there is no horn blowing.

Train crews know that the crossing protection is working if the “X” at the top of the poles at each crossing is flashing.

In late afternoon ARRC members are invited to head to the depot in Amherst, about 10 miles east of Vermilion, for dinner.

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts is having its annual picnic there that evening and Chef Martè, a.k.a. as Marty Surdyk, would love to grill up some burgers and dogs for you.

ARRC President Craig Sanders, who is also an RRE member, will present a program titled When the IC had a G featuring images taken on the Illinois Central Gulf in the 1970s and early 1980s.

A highlight of the program will be a cab ride aboard an ICG intermodal train from Champaign to Centralia, Illinois.

As with most ARRC activities, the event begins when the first person arrives and ends when the last one leaves. Spent a few hours or the entire day, just plan to spend Saturday, Aug. 26, in Vermilion and Amherst.

To get to the boat launch go into Vermilion on Ohio Route 60. As you enter town and after crossing the single-tracked former NKP tracks, Route 60 will make a right turn at a flashing light.

About a block to the east, Route 60 will turn left but continue straight ahead on South Street to the stop sign at West River Road.

The entrance to the boat launch is a little left of straight across from that intersection. Park at the far end of the lot near the picnic table. You will have both railroad bridges over the Vermilion River in sight.

The Railfan pavilion, known as Vermilion Mainline Rail, is on Route 60 where it crosses the NS Chicago Line at the north end of Victory Park.

From the boat launch, go back west on South Street to Route 60 north at Main Street and make a right. The pavilion is on the right just before crossing the tracks.

ARRC Picnic Will be July 30 at Warwick Park

July 26, 2017

The Akron Railroad Club will again visit Warwick Park in Clinton for its annual picnic, which this year is Sunday July 30.

The club will provide hamburgers and hot dogs and the popular condiments. Members are asked to bring their own beverages, snacks, beans, and desserts.

Just remember, we will be outdoors without any refrigeration, so plan your dishes accordingly.

Manning the grill as always will be Master Grill Chef Martè.

In addition to the food and fellowship, we will be right next to the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

They may cooperate and run some trains. Our record for rail traffic at a picnic in Warwick is 21 moves. Our lowest total is nine.

The picnic will be held rain or shine. We do have cover, although in a heavy downpour with a lot of wind, there may not be enough cover.

Come for an hour, come for the day; just make sure you come to Warwick Park for the ARRC picnic.

McKay Day Train Listed Posted

April 8, 2017

The train list for the 13th annual Akron Railroad club Dave McKay Day outing in Berea on April 1, 2017, has been posted. To view the list, click on the link below.

https://akronrrclub.wordpress.com/about/activities/2017-dave-mckay-day/

Wabash H Unit, Citirail Locomotives Highlight 13th ARRC Dave McKay Day Outing in Berea

April 3, 2017

Late day sun illuminates the nose of a westbound CSX auto rack train during the waning hours of the annual Dave McKay Day in Berea.

It took nearly all day and six years but we finally got one. A Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive led a train through Berea during the annual Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day outing last Saturday.

NS No. 1070, the SD70ACe that pays tribute to the Wabash Railroad, was on the point of eastbound intermodal train No. 294 through Berea at 6:19 p.m.

We had known since mid-morning that it was coming and it would be a late afternoon train.

ARRC member Todd Dillon, who did not attend the event, sent some timely texts updating us on the progress of the Wabash unit.

So knew that THE WABASH IS COMING! THE WABASH IS COMING!

But when it finally got here it caught those of us still in Berea unprepared and no one got a photograph of it.

It was but one of the highlights of the 13th McKay Day, the all-day outing in Berea on the first Saturday in April to remember the late David McKay, who served as ARRC president between 1993 and 2004.

Twelve ARRC members and guests attended the event, which featured overcast skies and chilly temperatures for most of the day.

The sun finally broke through at 5:27 p.m. With the clouds having moved out, the temperatures at last reached the 50s. If only it had been that nice in the morning.

We recorded 49 movements between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., but that comes with a couple of asterisks.

The ARRC’s newest member, Jack Norris, watched Amtrak 48, the eastbound Lake Shore Limited, pass through Berea on the Berea webcam from his home in New Jersey.

Two of the trains in the tally were ones I spotted while en route to Berea, an eastbound NS loaded coal train at CP Max and an eastbound CSX train that I could see from Interstate 480 that was waiting for permission to go through the tunnels.

That train, Q260, would cause more than its share of headaches for the first trick IG dispatcher because it went into emergency twice before reaching Collinwood Yard.

That resulted in backed-up trains and a lot of discussion over the radio about the proper procedures for inspecting a train that goes into emergency that has a load of hazardous materials.

At one point the dispatcher read on the air word for word the applicable rule from the rule book. During another conversation he said he had checked with his boss who had checked with his boss.

Some of the discussion involved whether the Q123 could pass the Q260 and if so at what speed.

Also figuring into the situation was a maintainer in a track car who was following the Q260 and doing track inspections in its wake.

Early in the day that same dispatcher had told the maintainer in one of many radio conversations they had in which the latter received track warrant authority that he (dispatcher) was going to go to his favorite brewery in Indianapolis once he finished his shift to help it celebrate its first anniversary.

Given the day he had had that beer must have tasted pretty good once he got to the bar.

In another conversation the IG dispatcher revealed that many operational changes are occurring, including the abolition of some symbol freights.

Road freights are now going to handle switching in some places, e.g., 84 Lumber in the Cleveland suburbs, rather than a local.

The road freights are also going to start handling stone trains. If I understood the dispatcher correctly, the number of classification tracks at Avon Yard west of Indianapolis is being reduced.

Such is life these days in E. Hunter Harrison land where the employees must feel that they are the hunted.

At the same time that the first trick IG dispatcher had his hands full, the first trick NS Toledo East dispatcher had a train that left Cleveland with no re-crew available in Toledo.

He advised the crew of gondola train 60S to take it easy coming toward Toledo.

Later, he said he would be putting the 60S into a siding to kill time. The crew probably would have preferred to have gotten to Toledo in due time and then gone off duty. But it didn’t work out that way.

Among the other interesting occurrences throughout the day was an involved maneuver involving the 20R picking up a new locomotive at Rockport Yard to replace a unit that was experiencing mechanical troubles.

NS sent an eastbound Herzog ballast train through Berea in the afternoon that was the subject of a lot of radio traffic.

It was a moderately good day for foreign power with BNSF locomotives showing up on two trains, Canadian National power leading a westbound CSX ethanol train and a lone Union Pacific unit trailing in the motive power consist of an NS train.

But the sighting of the day was a pair of Citirail (CREX) ES44AC units leading CSX train Q384.

As for the Wabash H unit, the plan was for four of us – Craig Sanders, Marty Surdyk, Paul Woodring and Alan Nagy – who planned to have dinner at the Berea Union Depot Taverne to go there at 5 p.m. We figured that the NS 1070 would be coming along after 6, probably closer to 6:30 p.m.

After eating we could get into position to get photographs of the first H unit to lead a train through Berea on a McKay Day.

We’ve seen heritage units on McKay Day in the past, most notably the Wabash H unit in 2014. But it had been trailing.

The plan might have worked had we gotten to the restaurant at exactly 5. But we decided to wait for the westbound CSX Q009, which didn’t arrive until 5:11. Two other NS trains also passed by and we didn’t get to the depot and seated until about 5:20.

As the Wabash unit was leading No. 294 through Berea we had just gotten up to leave. Not everyone in the party saw it.

Had anyone been really ambitious and gotten to Berea in the early hours of McKay Day he would have seen three other heritage units.

The New York Central H unit led NS train 54K through town during the darkness hours. It was reported at Amherst at 9:38 p.m. on Friday night and at Macedonia at 2:13 a.m., so it is unclear when it was in Berea.

Amtrak No. 184, the Phase IV H unit, was trailing in the motive power consist of the westbound Lake Shore Limited at 4:05 a.m.

The Virginia heritage unit must have been a nocturnal visitor leading the 17N. It was reported at Wauseon at 9:48 a.m. on Saturday and the previous report for it had been in Conway late Friday morning.

CSX intermodal train Q009 passes the marker honoring Dave McKay in Berea.

A westbound ethanol train on CSX had a pair of Canadian National locomotives.

Looking like a giant candy cane, the Herzog ballast train slowly makes it way eastward through Berea on Norfolk Southern tracks.

Annual McKay Day Berea Outing Set for April 1

March 28, 2017

The Akron Railroad Club’s 13th annual Dave McKay Day outing in Berea will held on Saturday, April 1.

Come early and stay late while watching the action on the busy CSX and Norfolk Southern mainlines. Berea is one of Ohio’s premier railroad hot spots and features a wide variety of rail action.

This year we will be able to see if we can detect any changes in CSX operations as a result of its new CEO, E. Hunter Harrison, implementing his scheduled precision railroading operating philosophy.

While at Illinois Central, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, Harrison’s railroads became known for longer and less frequent trains. You might see an intermodal train with a block of boxcars or who knows what attached to it.

Of late NS has accounted for about 60 percent of the rail traffic at Berea with CSX making up the other 40 percent.

Although Amtrak passes through Berea four times a day, those trains operate in the pre-dawn hours unless one or more of them are excessively late.

Our best shot to see Amtrak is the eastbound Lake Shore Limited, which is scheduled into Cleveland at 5:35 a.m., which should put it through Berea shortly after 5 a.m. Yes, that is early.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie has trackage rights on CSX between Wellington and Cleveland, although its trains to the Cleveland steel mills operate on an as-needed basis.

Although most trains feature routine motive power assignments, part of the challenge of spending a day in Berea involves the search for something out of the ordinary.

On NS it could be a heritage unit or one of the former Indiana Rail Road locomotives that NS acquired that are still running around in their original red and white INDR livery.

We’ve seen a few NS heritage units trailing during the McKay Day, but have yet to have one leading. We are more than due for that bad luck to change.

Foreign power can lead trains on either railroad, so we might catch units of BNSF, Union Pacific and, if we are really lucky, Kansas City Southern.

CP has a run-through train that uses CSX tracks between Chicago and Buffalo, New York, and we’ve often seen that train during our time in Berea. It almost always has CP motive power.

The two railroads can be expected to offer an array of manifest freights, intermodal trains, auto racks consists, and unit trains of coal, ethanol, grain and crude oil.

As late afternoon begins to transition to early evening, those still on hand will go to the Berea Union Depot Taverne for dinner and more training watching from out table along the windows that are adjacent to the CSX tracks.

The McKay Day will be held rain, shine or snow. We’ve seen just about every form of weather you can imagine over the years. It might be cold and you’ll need your winter coat or it might be short-sleeves shirt weather.

The event is named for the late Dave McKay, who served as ARRC president between 1993 and 2004. He died in late December 2004 and and plaque in his memory lies in the ground at Berea.

We’re Having a Pizza Party on Feb. 25

February 20, 2017

The Akron Railroad Club’s February meeting will be the annual member’s night and pizza party. It will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25 in the social hall of the New Horizons Christian Church.

ARRC logoThere will be a $5 cover charge and doors will open at 5:30 p.m. The pizza will be furnished by Marcos with serving to begin at 6 p.m.

Sometime after 6:30 p.m. we’ll start the member presentations. There is no theme other than it should be railroad related.

We will have the club’s equipment to present slides, digital images or video. All of the club’s audio visual equipment will be available for use as needed.

We chose February for the member’s night because of a schedule conflict at the church for Feb. 24, the normal night of our February meeting.

The church wasn’t available that night because of a large youth group program. We could have Feb. 17, but the social hall wasn’t available on that date because it would be set up for a spaghetti supper the next day. We could meet that night but in a Sunday School room that could get crowded.

The third option was Saturday night on Feb. 25, which the officers elected to make the annual member’s night.

ARRC Officers Set 2017 Slate of Activities

January 27, 2017
arrc-officers

The 2017 officers of the Akron Railroad club are (from left) Jim Mastromatteo, secretary; Craig Sanders (seated in front), president; Paul Havasi, treasurer; Marty Surdyk, editor; and J. Gary Dillon, vice president.

I didn’t think that the Akron Railroad Club officer’s meeting held last Sunday would last all that long.

ARRC logoSure, we had a long list of items to discuss, but most them involved merely finalizing the dates for activities that we’ve had before.

We decided on the following activities and dates: Member’s night and pizza party (Feb. 25), Dave McKay Day in Berea (April 1), longest day in Bellevue (June 25), summer picnic at Warwick Park in Clinton (July 30), outing in Vermilion (Aug. 26), and the end of year dinner (Dec. 2).

The member’s night was set for a Saturday in February because of schedule conflicts at the church. The social hall is not available on the fourth Friday night of February due to a church activity.

We could meet on Feb. 17, but the social hall isn’t available on that night, either, because it will have been set up for the annual spaghetti supper that the church is having the next day. We would have to meet in a Sunday School classroom.

But we could have the social hall in the evening on Saturday, Feb. 25 if we wanted it. The officers elected to take that offer.

Last summer the club did well financially in having a silent auction of books from the collection of the late William Surdyk.

At the time, someone suggested we have a similar event for members wishing to unload railroad-related artifacts and memorabilia.

We liked that idea and quickly settled on having it at our July meeting.

However, working out the details proved time-consuming as we discussed rules and issues surrounding an activity the club has never sponsored before.

Those ground rules and guidelines are still being worked out and will be shared with the membership at a later date. But the event has a name: Roundhouse Rubble Auction.

But in essence, you will need to give Marty Surdyk by the May meeting a list of items you wish to sell.

Sellers have the option of setting a minimum bid – known as a reserve price – on their item.

Unless specified otherwise, items placed for sale will become property of the Akron Railroad Club if not sold at the silent auction and be offered for sale at train shows at which the ARRC has a table.

However, sellers have the right to specify that they want to take back their item(s) that do not sell during the auction.

The officers also discussed having a steam-themed event in September.

If the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 back, we will replicate the picnic that we had in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on the last day that the 765 operated in September 2016. It was one of our best-attended events of the year.

But we also discussed two other potential club outings. We’ve learned that a working steam locomotive might enter tourist train service this year on a short line near Buffalo, New York.

If it operates as we suspect it will, out of Eden, New York, we will look into chartering a bus and traveling to see that locomotive as well as the nearby Arcade & Attica steam train.

The other possibility involves reviving the overnight outing with a destination of Cumberland, Maryland, to see Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 in operation.

We expect to wrap up 2017 with the fifth annual end of year dinner at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s restaurant in Stow. Mark Demaline has agreed to do the program.

Mark is the newest member of the ARRC and a retired railroad executive who worked for CSX and the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

He is also an accomplished railroad photographer who presented a program to the ARRC a few years ago about railroads in Montana.

30 Enjoy ARRC End of Year Dinner

December 5, 2016
arrc-dinner-1

Roger Durfee (right) adjusts the slide projector prior to his program as Marty Surdyk looks on during the Akron Railroad Club end of year dinner on Saturday.

Thirty Akron Railroad Club members and guests enjoyed dinner and a program about the evolution of Conrail motive power on Saturday, Dec. 3 at the club’s annual end of year dinner.

Held at Beef ‘O’Brady’s restaurant in Stow, the highlight of the event was a slide show presented by ARRC member Roger Durfee that summarized the locomotives used by Conrail during its existence between April 1, 1976, when it was formed from by consolidating many of the assets of multiple bankrupt railroads, to its being divided on June 1, 1999, by Norfolk Southern and CSX.

Roger had just begun his photography career when Conrail came along and he was able to photograph the railroad’s operations from the beginning to the end.

By the time Conrail was carved up in 1999, Roger had been a employee of the railroad since 1998, working out of the Altoona, Pennsylvania, terminal.

The program was not intended to be a comprehensive review of Conrail motive power or the railroad’s sprawling network.

Over its lifetime, Conrail had several dozen makes, models and types of locomotives, many of which it inherited from its predecessor railroads.

In his program, Roger gave viewers a sense of what how Conrail motive power evolved to become the fleet that it had when it ended, although Conrail still exists in the sense that some of its properties operate under the Conrail shared assets banner or NS and CSX.

Roger focused his program on some of the older models that were frequent sights in Northeast Ohio, which was the location where most of the images he presented were made.

Conrail based in Cleveland many of the F units it operated in its early years. Most, although not all, of them came from Penn Central and served Conrail in a utilitarian black livery with a “CR” stenciled on  the nose and flanks.

However, Conrail found itself short of working power so it brought out of retirement for a time a number of former Erie Lackawanna F units wearing the EL’s  colorful livery.

Aside from Conrail in the Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown regions, Roger also took us to eastern Pennsylvania, including the Northeast Corridor to view Conrail locomotives that seldom if ever ventured westward.

The end of year dinner was the last ARRC activity o f 2016. An issue of eBulletin will be issued this week, but the paper Bulletin will not be published this month.