Posts Tagged ‘Akron Railroad Club railfan outings’

McKay Day 2019

May 5, 2019

There was still some fog hanging in the air as CSX intermodal train Q020 passed through Berea during the 2019 Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day.

A variety of atmospheric conditions have greeted those participating in the annual Dave McKay Day outing to Berea since the first one began in a snowstorm in 2005.

Add rain and fog to the list.

Traditionally, the McKay Day outing was held on the first Saturday of April. But this year the officers decided to make it the first Saturday in May.

That’s wasn’t a bad idea, but this year it didn’t work. The first Saturday in April had much better weather.

Fog gripped Berea just after sunrise on May 4, 2019. I arrived around 7:20 a.m. and figured that maybe I could get some special effects images due to the fog.

However, there wasn’t enough fog to create any special effects and by the time the first train came through — CSX eastbound stack train Q020 — the fog had begun lifting.

For about two hours I was the only ARRC member on hand. Then I was joined by Bill Kubas, Rick Houck and Paul Woodring. Former members Alex Bruchac and Dennis Taksar joined just later in the day.

The train action was fairly stead with no hour-long lulls. There were a few trains with the usual suspects of foreign power, including BNSF, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National.

A fair number of Union Pacific units came through, but all were trailing.

No special interest locomotives made an appearance unless you count the Erie heritage unit that came through on the lead of 21M in the middle of the night when no one was around.

For the most part it was just the usual assortment of traffic you can expect to see in Berea during daylight hours on any given day.

CSX is making greater use of distributed power, which we saw on crude oil, intermodal and manifest freights.

The weather never improved much during the day. It was cloudy and cool, not ideal conditions for making photographs. For the most part, my camera stayed in its bag during the day.

It was a nice day, though, to have conversation. Socializing is, of course, one of the main purposes of these events.

Although the event is named after the late David McKay, we never talked about him during our conversations. Maybe that’s to be expected given that he’s been gone for 14 years.

I did think about Dave as I drifted westward on the grassy strip next to the CSX tracks.

I noticed that some shine on the lettering on the memorial plaque commemorating Dave is starting to wear off.

I also wondered what happened to that simple folding chair he used to sit on while awaiting the next train. He’d place that chair under a tree that still stands near his memorial.

Presumably, the McKay Day outing will continue in 2020. With attendance being very light in recent years it’s not what it used to be.

McKay Day was traditionally first ARRC outing of the year. Whatever happens to the McKay Day down the road, one thing will remain the same. There will still be lot of trains passing Dave’s memorial in Berea.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A few flats cars of vehicles was in the consist of Norfolk Southern train 14N. Are these military vehicles?

An eastbound CSX manifest freight with a cut of grain hoppers behind the motive power.

A pair of Canadian National locomotives headed a westbound CSX auto rack train.

Trying to Stay Dry on Vermilion Day

August 29, 2018

An eastbound coal train crosses the Vermilion River on the Chicago Line at about 4:30 p.m. during the Akron Railroad Club outing in Vermilion. Where was a boat on the river when we needed it?

It started with rain and ended with rain. In between we managed to see some Norfolk Southern action interspersed with long periods of waiting.

And that in a nutshell summarizes the 2018 Akron Railroad Club day in Vermilion that was attended by eight members.

As we expected, most of the action was on the Chicago Line, which boasted its usual assortment of manifests, intermodals and single commodity trains.

But the iffy weather meant that few boats were plying the Vermilion River by the boat launch that was our base of operations for much of the day.

No NS heritage units came through but the 9-1-1 unit made an appearance late in the afternoon trailing in the motive power consist of a coal train.

Two ARRC members saw it from the rail platform in downtown Vermilion, but three of us missed it because we were in Huron seeking photographs of trains passing beneath the old signal bridge with its Type G signal heads that NS is about to replace.

It took a long wait before an eastbound and westbound came through Huron.

In the meantime, we heard the Toledo East dispatcher talking to trains east of us and multiple trains coming onto the Chicago Line and turning west in Sandusky from the Sandusky District.

Those of us in Huron missed the 9-1-1 unit because its train diverged from the Chicago Line west of Vermilion and went to the Cleveland District en route to Bellevue.

The Cleveland District, which is the former Nickel Plate Road mainline, was largely quiet during the day.

As I arrived in the Vermilion area I spotted an eastbound stack train east of town on the Cleveland District.

Presumably it was either the 206 or the 22K and had taken the new connection west of Vermilion that allows eastbound trains on the Chicago Line to move onto the Cleveland District.

Otherwise, the only other train on the Cleveland District was eastbound manifest freight 210, which had one locomotive on each end, something we’d never seen on this train.

One eastbound coal train came past with BNSF motive power and a few trains had former CSX units still wearing their CSX colors.

The rain stopped around mid day and gradually the clouds moved out to afford us alternating sunny skies and conditions of sun and clouds.

But as the five of us who had dinner at Quaker Steak and Lube came out of the restaurant about 9:45 p.m. light rain was falling and continued to fall throughout my drive home. Maybe that was a fitting way to end our day.

ARRC member Todd Vander Sluis (blue shirt) watches the L13 as it passes the former passenger station in Vermilion.

ARRC member Alan Nagy gets video of westbound NS stack train 25V as it races through Vermilion. It was the last train we saw before going to dinner and then calling it a day.

ARRC Longest Day is Sunday in Bellevue

June 21, 2017

The Akron Railroad Club will use the Kemper Railfan Park in Bellevue for its base of operations for the 2017 longest day outing.

Although it has been less than two years since the Akron Railroad Club held an outing in Bellevue, the club’s last longest day outing there occurred on June 27, 2010.

The outing was memorable for being cut short in late afternoon by a major thunderstorm.

We retreated to the Bob Evans restaurant in Norwalk for dinner and were greeted with a rainbow upon leaving. By then the storm had moved on.

Much has changed since the last ARRC longest day in Bellevue. The NS motive power fleet has grown more colorful with the addition of 20 heritage locomotives paying tribute to NS predecessor railroad.

The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum has added a railfan park on Monroe Street inside the NS mini plant, and the yard has been enlarged and named after former NS President and CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman.

With any luck we will be able to bag an NS heritage locomotive and maybe a train or two on the Wheeling & Lake Erie, which also comes into Bellevue.

Foreign power from Union Pacific, BNSF and Canadian National makes regular appearances in Bellevue.

It’s a given that there will be a lot of trains throughout the day. But we won’t be seeing the RoadRailer trains that we saw in 2010 and high-hood diesels, once a common sight in Bellevue, are pretty much gone.

Also gone are the Nickel Plate Road-style block signals on the Fostoria District, the Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals on the Sandusky District and the searchlight signals on the Toledo District. They’ve all been replaced by Safetrans signals.

The traffic mix will be mostly merchandise freight and auto rack trains. Some intermodal trains run on the Sandusky District, many of which take a connection between the Sandusky and Fostoria districts near Slaughterhouse Road on the south side of town.

As with other ARRC longest day events, it begins when the first person arrives and ends when the last person leaves.

The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum will be open between noon and 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (age 60 and older) and $5 for children (ages 5 to 12).

A portion of the museum’s collection, though, can be seen for free. This includes some locomotives and rolling stock.

Those still around at the end of the day will likely gather somewhere for dinner before heading home.

Maybe it will be the Bob Evans in Norwalk or somewhere else. It remains to be seen.

The focal point of the day will be the Kemper Railfan Park. It features a pavilion with tables and is strategically located to see most rail traffic in and out of Bellevue.

Parking along Monroe Street at the park is limited, so you might have to park across the tracks in a large gravel lot.

Also be advised that there are no restroom facilities at the railfan park.

As for food, there is a pizza shop (Pizza House West) within walking distance that is said by some railfans to be good. Subway has a shop at 301 East Main Street and there are a variety of restaurants in town including the standard fast food joints of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, East of Chicago Pizza, Marco’s Pizza, Burger King and Taco Bell.

Local establishments include Bone Boy’s BBQ The Smokehouse, Pizza Wheel, Twin Lakes Restaurant, Jenny’s Amsden House Restaurant, Happy Garden, Fontana’s Italian Eatery, Casa Mexicana, Little Italy Pizza, and Long Way Home Family Restaurant.