Posts Tagged ‘Akron Railroad Club’

In the May ARRC eBulletin

May 23, 2017

In November 1990 Akron Railroad Club member Paul Woodring was working for Amtrak and managed to wrangle an assignment covering the carrier’s publicity special that operated from Chicago to Pittsburgh and back to promote a pending reroute of the Capitol Limited and Broadway Limited.

At the time, both trains operated via the Fort Wayne Line between Chicago and Pittsburgh but had to find other routes due to Conrail downgrading the line.

The Broadway Limited began serving Akron while the Capitol Limited was routed via Cleveland.

In the cover story of the May 2017 ARRC eBulletin, Paul tells the story of how he got the assignment and what it was like to be on board the publicity special.

Paul took numerous photographs on and off the train, which are used to illustrate the feature.

Also in the May eBulletin is a preview of the program at the May 26 ARRC meeting and the latest railroad news.

To subscribe to the eBulletin or to receive a copy, send an email to csanders429@aol

A subscription or a single copy is free.

May ARRC Program to Highlight CSX Locomotives

May 22, 2017

The program at the Akron Railroad Club meeting on May 26 will be a slide show by Jim Mastromatteo focusing on CSX locomotives of the early 1990s.

At the time, CSX was less than a decade removed from the merger of the Chessie System and Seaboard Systems and a lot of “heritage” motive power was still moving around the systems.

CSX also had some liveries in that era that have fallen by the wayside. Remember the “gray ghosts?”

The meeting will begin with a short business meeting followed by the program at approximately 8:30 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.

The Things You Do to Get a Photograph

May 18, 2017

There are tales floating around railfan circles about guys who carry saws and other equipment that they use to remove unwanted vegetation from their photographs.

Guys I know have been known to cut down small trees that were in the way. Most of the time, though, it is weeds that are being whacked or at least bent to the ground.

Last summer Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and I spent some time on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern west of Port Clinton.

We were awaiting an eastbound train at a crossing. Peter decided to wade into the weeds and clear them out.

He didn’t remove all of these plants, but got enough of them out of the way to give us a more open view.

CVSR Oddball Locomotives Featured in April 2017 Issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin

April 25, 2017

The Alco FPA-4 units built by Montreal Locomotive Works may have gotten much of the attention over the years on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, but if you have spent time chasing CVSR trains you would have seen an eclectic variety of motive power, some of which operated only for a short time.

The cover story in the April 2017 Akron Railroad Club eBulletin will focus on locomotives that did time on the CVSR but seemed out of place even if they added some interest.

A photographer would have had to have regularly spent time on the Valley throughout its more than more 40-year history to have captured all of these locomotives.

Also in the April eBulletin is a report from the ARRC’s 13th annual Dave McKay Day at Berea held on April 1. There is also the latest railroad industry news in the monthly Interchange Track feature.

Montana, Steam Focus of April ARRC Program

April 24, 2017

The program at the Akron Railroad Club meeting on April 28 will be a digital presentation by Edward Ribinskas that will feature railroading in Montana and steam locomotives in Pennsylvania.

In July 2016, Ed and his wife, Ursula, celebrated their 25th anniversary by taking Amtrak’s Empire Builder to Glacier National Park, where they stayed at the Izaak Walton Inn.

While there Ed captured BNSF freight operations as well as Amtrak trains against the backdrop of mountains and glaciers.

He and Ursula had made virtually the same trip in 1991 shortly after their wedding.

This segment of the program will also feature a few views made from the train en route.

Rounding out the program will be views of steam locomotives in action on the Everett Railroad and Reading Blue Mountain & Northern. Ed photographed those locomotive during a September 2016 journey to Pennsylvania.

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.

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/

Fellowship Outweighed ‘if Onlys’ of McKay Day

April 4, 2017

Berea is not the only home to a memorial to the late Dave McKay. Jack Norris arranged for this tribute to Dave at Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, Pennsylvania. (Photograph by Jack Norris)

When I look back on the Akron Railroad Club’s 2017 Dave McKay Day I’ll remember the “if onlys” that surrounded the event.

If only we had had the weather of Sunday, April 2 on Saturday April 1 when the McKay Day was held.

If only I had had my camera ready when two Citirail ES44ACs that were leading CSX train Q384 showed up.

If only we had gone to dinner at 5 as we had planned I could have photographed the Wabash heritage locomotive leading Norfolk Southern train No. 294.

If only the fog that shrouded the east side of Cleveland early Saturday morning also had been in Berea when I arrived I might have gotten a dramatic image.

All of those missed opportunities have their own story behind them, starting with the fog.

As I drove south on Warrensville Road I saw how the fog created an interesting effect with the lights illuminating the RTA Green Line station platform.

I thought about turning around to go get the image, but kept going. I hoped to reach Berea before the fog lifted but by the time I arrived, it was gone. Of course I’m assuming it was as foggy in Berea as it had been on the east side of town. Maybe it wasn’t.

Photographers generally hate overcast skies because they produce flat light and little contrast. So I left my camera in its bag, which I placed on the back seat.

I didn’t regret that until I spotted the headlight of an eastbound CSX train. As it got closer something about the lead unit looked different.

The train was closing in as I struggled to get out of the car, open the locked back door, reach across the seat for my camera bag, open it, get the camera out and remove the lens cap.

By the time I did all of that the photo opportunity was gone.

I’ve only once photographed a train led by a Citirail unit, which features a pleasing gray, yellow and blue livery.

This missed opportunities annoyed me because it was of my own making due to lack of preparation.

I was prepared, though, for the Wabash unit. I had my camera with me at dinner at the Berea Union Depot Taverne. The plan was to eat and then go trackside to catch the Wabash unit.

But making photographs of other trains delayed us by 20 minutes.  Even if I still had been sitting at our table when the Wabash H unit came through I doubt I would have made the image.

I would have had to move some wood slats of a venetian blinds and the image would have had heavy back lighting.

Of the 46 train movements that I saw in Berea on this day, I made two or three images that might rise to the level of being somewhat interesting. The rest are routine images similar to ones I’ve made before in better light.

CSX is leasing about 20 of those Citirail units so maybe there will be another opportunity to get one leading a train.

I’ve photographed the Wabash heritage unit more than once and even if my plan had worked out it would have yielded nothing more than a side light image.

I can always go to Berea on days when the weather is better.

But opportunities to socialize with my fellow ARRC members are less frequent. With my plans to move out of the area within the next two years they may be quite limited.

The bigger picture is that the ARRC’s McKay Day is less about photography than it is socializing. The fellowship of the event meant more than getting some so-so photographs on a less than ideal day for photography.

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.

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.