Posts Tagged ‘Akron Railroad Club’

Railroad Archeology in Monroeville

March 25, 2017
The most visible reminder of the railroads past in Monroeville, Ohio, is this passenger station, which served the New York Central and its predecessor railroads. It has since been restored, but the tracks are long gone.

The most visible reminder of the railroads past in Monroeville, Ohio, is this passenger station, which served the New York Central and its predecessor railroads. It has since been restored, but the tracks are long gone.

In the past few years I’ve found myself in Monroeville, Ohio, while chasing trains on the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

At one time, Monroeville was served by three railroads plus an interurban railway.

The railroads of Monroville included the Toledo-Brewster line of the original Wheeling & Lake Erie. This line still exists with the modern W&LE owning it between Brewster and Bellevue.

Monroeville was also served by a Willard-Sandusky branch of the Baltimore & Ohio, the Norwalk Branch of the New York Central and the Cleveland-Toledo Lake Shore Electric.

The Norwalk Branch began life as the Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland Railroad, which built between its namesake cities in the 1860s. It was later absorbed by the Lake Shore & Michigan  Southern, which in turn became part of the NYC.

The Norwalk branch was the main route of the LS&MS until it built a cutoff via Sandusky along Lake Erie, which today is the Chicago Line of NS. The Norwalk branch diverged at Elyria and rejoined at Milbury.

Penn Central continued to offer freight service on the Norwalk branch through 1976. The line was not conveyed to Conrail and was subsequently abandoned. Passenger service on the line ended in 1949.

I don’t know when the B&O branch was abandoned, but it likely continued in operation through the 1970s and possibly into the 1980s.  A portion of it still exists in Monroeville for the W&LE to serve a grain elevator.

The Lake Shore Electric last operated on May 15, 1938. Not long before then, the Eastern Ohio Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society — a forerunner of the Akron Railroad Club — ran a trip over the line.

During the 1960s, the ARRC chartered a B&O Rail Diesel Car and ran excursions between Akron and Sandusky to visit the Cedar Point amusement park.

I’ve long been fascinated by what railroads leave behind after they leave town. If you know where to look and what to look for,  you can find reminders of what used to be.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The North Coast Inland Tail uses the former NYC Norwalk Branch. The view is from the bridge over the West Branch Huron River looking westward toward the NYC passenger station.

The North Coast Inland Tail uses the former NYC Norwalk Branch. The view is from the bridge over the West Branch Huron River looking westward toward the NYC passenger station, which was built in 1863.

A train order board at the Monroeville station.

A train order board at the Monroeville station.

I don't know if this train bulletin at the former NYC station is accurate.

I don’t know if this train bulletin at the former NYC station is accurate.

The former freight NYC freight station still stands a short distance west of the passenger depot.

The former freight NYC freight station still stands a short distance west of the passenger depot.

Looking westward on the Lake Shore Electric right of way with the passenger station on the left.

Looking westward on the Lake Shore Electric right of way with the passenger station on the left.

Looking northward toward the Lake Shore Electric (foreground) and NYC stations. The B&O tracks would have been to the right of both stations.

Looking northward toward the Lake Shore Electric (foreground) and NYC stations. The B&O tracks would have been to the right of both stations.

Looking southward on the former B&O right of way.

Looking southward on the former B&O right of way.

A relic from the days when these tracks operated as the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern.

A relic from the days when these tracks operated as the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern.

A restored property boundary marker.

A restored property boundary marker.

A bridge pier that once held the Lake Shore Electric bridge over the West Branch Huron River.

A bridge pier that once held the Lake Shore Electric bridge over the West Branch Huron River.

The concrete base of what was once the northbound home signal for the B&O crossing of the NYC.

The concrete base of what was once the northbound home signal for the B&O crossing of the NYC.

This signal cover is along the W&LE and may be still used.

This signal cover is along the W&LE and may be still used.

Railroad ties once used to hold B&O rails remain embedded in the ground, slowly deteriorating as the forces of nature take their toll.

These railroad ties are on the former Lake Shore Electric right of way. The LSE was abandoned in the 1930s, they probably were used as a connecting track between the B&O and the NYC.

The B&O and W&LE used to cross here. At one time there was a passenger station here that was used by both railroads. Next to the depot was a hotel and freight station. On the other side of that pile of ballast is the only remnant of track once used by the B&O.

The B&O and W&LE used to cross here. At one time there was a passenger station here that was used by both railroads. Next to the depot was a hotel and freight station. On the other side of that pile of ballast is the only remnant of track once used by the B&O.

A short stretch of the former B&O remains in place for the W&LE to serve a grain elevator. But this segment of the B&O is used only as a tail track that ends at a pile of ballast north of where the B&O and W&LE used to cross on a diamond.

A short stretch of the former B&O remains in place for the W&LE to serve a grain elevator. But this segment of the B&O is used only as a tail track that ends at a pile of ballast north of where the B&O and W&LE used to cross on a diamond.

 

Durand Cover Story in March eBulletin

March 20, 2017

It is Michigan week for the Akron Railroad Club. No, we’re not going to that state of up north as some fans of The Ohio State University like to call it and it has nothing to do with the annual games between the Buckeyes and Wolverines.

No, it has to do with the program at the March ARRC meeting, which is titled The Railroads of Bluewater Michigan.

And the cover story in this month’s ARRC eBulletin is about railfanning in Durand, Michigan.

The home of the Wolverine and the Spartans of that other OSU nemesis, Michigan State University, can be an interesting place to photograph railroad operations if you are patient.

Durand doesn’t have the volume of traffic of Berea, Fostoria or Marion, but it does have two Canadian National routes, Amtrak and two short-line railroads.

The city in mid-Michigan also has much railroad history and a museum.

Also in the March eBulletin is the latest railroad industry news, a review of the 2017 ARRC member’s night and a preview of Dave McKay Day in Berea this year.

If you would like a copy of this month’s eBulletin or wish to subscribe, send an email to csanders429@aol.com.

Individual copies and a subscription are free.

Sanders to Present Program on Railroads of Michigan at ARRC Meeting on March 24

March 20, 2017

The program at the Akron Railroad Club meeting on March 24 will be a digital presentation by club President Craig Sanders titled The Railroads of Bluewater Michigan.

Known to many Ohioans as “that state up north,” Michigan is more than a yearly football game between two college rivals.

Bounded by four of the five Great Lakes, Michigan has abundant natural beauty, which Craig will touch upon during his program.

As for railroad operations, Michigan is home to a lot of railroads, although most of them have light to moderate traffic density.

Craig’s program will examine Amtrak operations, the hot spot of Durand, some ships and boats, steam locomotive excursions and more.

The program will include a visit to the Little River Railroad, the home of the nation’s smallest standard gauge Pacific steam locomotive. You’ll also catch a few glimpses of the 2009 steam festival held in Owosso and see Pere Marquette No. 1225 in action.

Rounding out the program will be views of some Michigan short lines and mainline action on Norfolk Southern, CSX and Canadian National.

The meeting will begin at 8 p.m. with a half-hour business meeting followed by the program at approximately 8:45 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

Following the meeting, some members gather at the Eat ‘n Park restaurant at Howe and Main streets in Cuyahoga Falls for a late dinner, dessert or an early breakfast.

Visitors are always welcome at Akron Railroad Club meetings.

In Memory of Michael Andrew Ondecker

March 13, 2017

Former Akron Railroad Club member Michael A. Ondecker, 69, died of a heart attack on Jan. 30.

Services were held at the Tallmadge Cemetery on March 3 with the Rev. Michael A. Matusz officiating. Donovan Funeral Home handled the arrangements.

Mr. Ondecker was born on Dec. 21, 1947, the son of Andrew and Isabelle Ondecker. He is survived by a brother, Thomas, who resides in Florida.

A graduate of Kent State University, he was a retired railroader, having worked for the Erie Lackawanna on its power desk and in its intermodal traffic department.

At the time of creation of Conrail, his former EL boss hired him to work at the Grand Trunk Western. Mr. Ondecker later moved to a position in the intermodal traffic department of the Soo Line.

A resident of Tallmadge for the past 15 years, Mr. Ondecker was a volunteer with the Ohio Museum of Transportation, which collects transit buses that were used throughout Ohio.

He was a friend of ARRC member Robert Farkas, who said that Mr. Ondecker introduced him to railfanning in 1965.

They traveled together on nearly a decade of trips to such places as Birmingham, Alabama; Huron, South Dakota; and New Haven, Connecticut.

“Before his aunt loaned him her 120 roll film camera (decent lens but slow top shutter speed) in 1968, he took a few Instamatic photos,” Bob write in an email message. “The quality of the Instamatic photos was poor because of the camera. On the other hand, what he saw was incredible!”

Three of those photographs made by Mr. Ondecker accompany this post.

“Instead of purchasing a better camera with a high shutter speed, he basically stopped taking photos,” Bob said. “Instead he drove and I took the photos for both of us.”

In the top image, made with the Instamatic camera, EL No. 7354 (an Alco FA), an F3B, and other units are shown at an unidentified location. The image was probably created in the middle 1960s.

The middle image also was made with an Instamatic camera.  EL No. 858 (an Alco PA), an Alco FB, and an EMD F3B were captured in the same time period at an unidentified location.

In the bottom image, made with his aunt’s camera, Baltimore & Ohio No. 9131 (an Alco S-2) is in shown in downtown Akron in the summer of 1968.

It Wasn’t Just a ‘Slide’ Show. So What was it?

February 27, 2017

I first noticed the “s” word as I wheeled a cart loaded with digital technology toward the social hall where the Akron Railroad Club was having its annual pizza party and member’s night programs.

on-photography-newA sign pointed in the direction of the ARRC “slide show.” The next day I noticed that “slides” had been used on the front page of the February ARRC Bulletin to promote the event.

Slides were shown at the event, but it was not a slide show. Digital presenters outnumbered slide presenters 6-4.

“Slide” is used by some as a generic description meaning photographic images projected by light onto a screen.

It is not unlike “Kleenex,” a trademark name that many people use interchangeably to describe any brand of facial tissue.

Kimberly-Clark, the holder of the Kleenex trademark, used to buy advertisements in Editor & Publisher to implore journalists not to use “Kleenex” as a generic term.

Slide is not a trademark, but has a specific meaning as a single frame of film mounted in cardboard or plastic.

For many years slides were the predominant medium for projecting photographs at ARRC meetings.

In the club’s early years movies were common, but they gave way to slides and, at times, video tape.

It is possible that a slide could be a photograph of a photograph, but that doesn’t happen often.

But digital is a more flexible medium that can be used to show images scanned from slides, film negatives or printed photographs. It can also be used to project movies, video and, of course, images made with a digital camera or smart phone.

One digital presenters at last Saturday’s ARRC member’s showed images scanned from prints. Another showed movies that had been digitized.

About 40 percent of the images I plan to present in my digital program next month will have been scanned from slides.

“Slide” also has taken on another meaning. I’ve come to associate it with old photographs.

Only one of the four presenters at the ARRC’s member’s night showed slides that were made within the past six months. Most of the slides shown were at least 20 years old.

I’m reminded of the trademark of another company that used to advertise in Editor & Publisher.

Xerox Corporation used to plead with journalists not to use the name of their company as a generic term for a photo copy.

But it wasn’t just journalists. I heard quite often people talk about making a “Xerox copy” of a paper document.

It is a term, though, that seems to have fallen by the wayside in favor of “copy.”

The novelty of copy machines has long since worn off and there are so many brands of them that most people probably aren’t aware of which one they’re using.

And so use of the word “slide” probably will fade away as the generations that grew up making images on film pass on and slide become a novelty.

30 Enjoy ARRC Member’s Night Programs

February 26, 2017

pizza-night

Thirty Akron Railroad Club members and guests munched on pizza and viewed a wide range of railroad photographs during the club’s annual member’s night held Saturday night (Feb. 25).

Eleven attendees presented digital images, slides and video that had a decidedly eastern United States and Northeast Ohio focus.

We put away in short order the eight pizzas delivered by Marcos that arrived shortly before 6 p.m. There were also chips, cookies and several types of soda pop.

Ed Ribinskas led off the member’s night presentations with a self-described hodgepodge of digital images and photographs that had been digitized.

His program showed futuristic trains at Walt Disney World, replica steam locomotive Leviathan, some other assorted steam locomotive power, Norfolk Southern heritage locomotives in Northeast Ohio, Nickel Plate Road No. 765 in Ohio, and some late-running editions of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited.

Todd Dillon took us along on his recent Florida vacation where he spent most of his time trackside rather than at the beach.

Todd’s program included views of the new SunRail commuter service in Orlando, some Florida East Coast action and Amtrak’s Silver Meteor and Auto Train.

He rounded out his program by showing some of the last runs of the Orange Blossom Cannonball of the Tavares, Eustis & Gulf Railroad.

Club President Craig Sanders had the only images of the night that were made west of the Mississippi River.

Craig’s program focused on railroads and grain elevators. He showed grain elevators in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba that he made while riding The Canadian of VIA Rail Canada in May 2014.

But the focus of the program was grain elevators in east central Illinois, most notably along the former Illinois Central. This featured trains of Canadian National – which now owns the ex-IC mainline – Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and Amtrak.

Dennis Taksar attended a wedding in Tennessee not long ago and showed us various rail operations that he photographed on his trip there and back,

This included Norfolk Southern operations, the tourist railroad at Dollywood, the kitsch of Pigeon Forge, and vintage locomotives and cars at a repository of old equipment near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Tom Fritsch made a trip to West Virginia to do some tourist railroad fanning, which included riding and photographing the Durbin & Greenbrier, and the Cass Scenic Railroad.

Alex Bruchac had some of the oldest images shown during the evening during his 10-minute video made from movies of two railfan transit excursions in Cleveland.

The movies were made during 1968 and 1970 excursions of vintage streetcars traveling today’s Red, Green and Blue lines of Cleveland RTA.

David Mangold took us to the Illinois Railway Museum for a look at its collection and views of interurban cars, steam trains and a visiting Union Pacific passenger special.

Marty Surdyk led off the slide presenters with images he made on New Year’s Day this year during a railfan outing to downtown Cleveland that he wrote about in the January Bulletin.

We saw NS trains on the Chicago Line and cars of the RTA Waterfront Line.

He fleshed out the program by showing images made last fall on the CSX New Castle Subdivision between Lodi and Sullivan and the Wheeling & Lake Erie west of Spencer on the former Akron, Canton & Youngstown line to Carey.

In part II of a program that he presented to the ARRC last year, Paul Woodring showed us the rest of the Best of the Rest.

These were slides that didn’t make the cut for the original program. The theme for Paul’s member’s night program was things that don’t exist anymore. Nothing was newer than 20 years old.

This included the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad (which is now owned by CSX), Baltimore & Ohio Rail Diesel Cars that were used in Washington, D.C., commuter service, the West Virginia Northern, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company “yellowbird” locomotives, Detroit Edison coal trains, E units painted in the colors of the Pennsylvania Railroad of the Blue Mountain & Reading, long-since retired South Shore equipment, and Amtrak odds and ends.

The latter included E units, E60 electric locomotives used on the Northeast Corridor in the 1970s, the experimental Swedish-built X2000, which tested in the 1990s, and a switcher built in 1939 that was once the passenger carrier’s oldest locomotive.

Paul also dropped in photographs of a Southern Railway steam excursion program trip and railfans who have since died.

Jim Mastromatteo is an aficionado of the Wheeling & Lake Erie and his program featured a gallery of Wheeling locomotives from primarily the 1990s.

Wrapping up the evening was Richard Antibus, who took us back in time in Akron to an era when Conrail was primarily responsible for the maintenance of the line it shared with CSX between AY and Warwick.

Akron was a far outpost for Conrail and it skimped on the track repairs. That led to slow trains and numerous derailments, the latter of which was the focus of Rich’s program.

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.

In the February eBulletin: Super Memories of a Super Bowl Sunday Winter Outing in Lake County

February 20, 2017

february-2017

It was one of those railfan outings that we are still talking about years later

On the day of the 2014 Super Bowl, Ed Ribinsksas, Marty Surdyk and I ventured out to railfan in Lake County in what turned out to be some of the most spectacular winter conditions we’ve ever encountered. Rain had changed to snow and covered everything in a blanket of white that lasted throughout the day.

A story about that outing and a gallery of photographs is the cover story in the February 2017 issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin that is being distributed this week.

To obtain a copy of the issue or to subscribe, send an email to csanders429@aol.com

Individual copies and a subscription to the eBulletin are free. The February issue also has the latest news from the railroad industry over the past month.

Dillon Named as ARRC VP Emeritus

January 30, 2017

J. Gary Dillon was named vice president emeritus by the Akron Railroad Club at its Feb. 27 meeting.

ARRC logoDillon had indicated to the officers during a recent board meeting that he no longer wished to serve as the club’s vice president.

Since joining the ARRC on June 26, 1947, Dillon has held all officer positions except for Bulletin editor.

He was elected treasurer in November 1948 and has since served as president in 1958, 1959, 1967, 1968 and 1969. Dillon was elected vice president in 1975, a post he had held since then.

Dillon was named a lifetime ARRC member in July 2010. The Akron native is the last ARRC member left who joined the club in its early years.

The ARRC traces its history to the 1936 formation of a committee to sponsor railway excursions. That committee a year later became the Eastern Ohio Chapter of the National Railway Society.

The Eastern Ohio chapter surrendered its charter in December 1945.

Some members elected to form a new group known as the Northeastern Ohio Railfans, which organized on Feb. 9, 1946.

That group reorganized again a year later as the Akron Railroad Club, which came into existence on March 27, 1947.

The club is currently seeking a volunteer to agree to serve as its vice president.

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.