Posts Tagged ‘Akron Railroad Club’

Memories of My First CVSR Trip

May 17, 2018

My first photograph of a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train came during a railfan event. It would be another decade before I saw the CVSR again.

Twenty-one years ago today I saw and rode the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for the first time.

I was a passenger on a railfan special that traveled the length of the CVSR.

I don’t remember how I learned about this event. Maybe I read about it in The Plain Dealer.

At the time I didn’t belong to any railroad clubs and the only railfans I knew were a few guys I regularly saw in Berea.

I bought my ticket by phone and during that conversation the ticket agent asked if I also wanted to buy a cab ride. Sure, why not.

Aboard that day were at least three Akron Railroad Club members: Marty Surdyk, Robert Farkas and the late Dave McKay. There may have been others.

Little did I know that photographs made by Marty and Bob on this day would later turn up in book I would publish about the CVSR.

Although I don’t remember it, my rail travel logs indicate the event started at Boston Mill station with the train being pulled to Rockside Road station by RS3 No. 4099.

It would be my first and only time to see that locomotive, which in the CVSR’s early diesel era was one of its workhorses.

At Rockside Road, we got off and did one of many photo ops staged for us by the crew.

This one involved the conductor and two crew members comparing watches and train orders on the platform.

There was also a handing up of train orders at Jaite, a scene of a pickup truck and tractor waiting at a rural road crossing that was located at Szalay’s Farm, and a “farmer” handing up milk cans to a crew member in the baggage section of the combine.

There were photo runbys at various places, including just south of Pleasant Valley Road, along the Cuyahoga River just south of Fitzwater Yard – although it wasn’t a railroad shop at the time – and at Brecksville to get the classic Ohio Route 82 bridge shot.

For the latter, the CVSR got permission from the National Park Service to cut down vegetation growing along the bank of the Cuyahoga River so as to afford a more open view of the train.

There probably were other photo runbys, but I don’t remember where they were. I knew virtually nothing about the CVSR of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in those days.

The train arrived in Akron at the site of today’s Northside Station and we rode buses to the Spaghetti Warehouse to have lunch.

It was one of two times I’ve eaten there. The other time occurred in summer 2013 when fellow ARRC member Paul Woodring and I were scouting for a place to hold the first end of year dinner.

My cab ride came during the last segment of the event. I don’t remember where I got on at, but it probably was at Indigo Lake.

I rode in the cab of FPA-4 No. 14, which today is CVSR No. 6777. The other FPA-4 in the motive power consist was No. 15, which today is CVSR No. 6771.

At the time, CVSR locomotives had a red, black and gold livery that heavily emphasized the gold. It has since been revised to emphasize black on the flanks.

The railfan event was one of just two times that I’ve seen lounge-observation car Saint Lucie Sound operate uncovered.

Most of the time, the observation end of the former Florida East Coast car is covered by a locomotive due to trains operating with motive power on each end.

I don’t recall us being allowed into the Saint Lucie Sound during our trip.

It would be just over a decade before I again rode and saw the CVSR. I’ve been trying to make up lost ground ever since in documenting the CVSR.

There is much I’ve missed that I could have recorded. I arrived in Northeast Ohio three years too late to see former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-2 light Mikado No. 4070 on the then-named Cuyahoga Valley Line.

I missed the Delaware & Hudson look-alike livery era even though it played out during my earlier years here.

The photographs I made of that railfan trip from 1997 are my only ones of CVSR locomotives in that first red, gold and black livery.

Given that the CVSR has moved to nearly all year scheduled operations on weekends, it would be difficult to duplicate this event.

It would have to be done on a weekend in the off-season and that would not encourage ridership.

Like so many railfan events, it was a good things that I did it when I did.

Comparing watches at Rockside Road station.

Creating a farm road scene at Szaly’s Farm.

Coming into Peninsula during my cab ride.

We were able to see Saint Lucie Sound operate as it was designed to operate.

Handing up train orders at Jaite.


ARRC Votes for Bulletin Changes

April 30, 2018

Changes are coming to the Bulletin, the paper newsletter of the Akron Railroad Club, but the date that those changes will begin has yet to be determined.

At the April meeting, the members present voted against discontinuing the club newsletter altogether and also voted against making it purely electronic. However, they voted to approve reducing the publication schedule to bi-monthly.

The discussion about changing the Bulletin was lengthy and no decisions were made on when the reduced publication schedule would be implemented. It might be next year or it might be later this year.

Also left hanging due to lack of time and information was the matter of whether to increase dues and/or charge members who continue to receive a paper newsletter an additional fee to cover the expenses of production and mailing.

The officers will investigate these matters and report back at a future meeting.

Sanders Gives Program in Marion

April 28, 2018

Akron Railroad Club President Craig Sanders recently presented his program on the writing of the song City of New Orleans to the Marion Union Station Association.

Sanders was the featured program presenter at the group’s April 21 meeting. the MUSA holds a slide night on the third Saturday of each month.

The program that Sanders presented was based on research he did about how the late Steve Goodman came to write one of his best-known songs, which was popularized by Arlo Guthrie and been recorded by more than 100 artists.

In the April ARRC eBulletin

April 25, 2018

The April 2018 issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin takes a look back at a couple of recent club events, member’s night and the annual Dave McKay Day outing in Berea.

There is also a review by ARRC Vice President Todd Dillon of Brightline service in Florida. Todd recently traveled to Florida for a railfan vacation and make it a point to ride and photograph Brightline.

There are also capsule summaries of railroad news and a preview of the program for the April 27 ARRC meeting that will be presented by Dennis Sautters.

April ARRC Program to Appeal to the Narrow (Gauge) Minded

April 24, 2018

The program at the April 27 meeting of the Akron Railroad Club will take us west to the narrow gauge railroads of Colorado and New Mexico.

Dennis Sautters will present a digital program featuring the Durango & Silverton and the Cumbres & Toltec lines.

The 3-foot gauge railroads are known for their spectacular scenery and close to authentic operations

The meeting begins at 8 p.m. with a half-hour business meeting followed by the program at 8:30 p.m. The club meets at the New Horizons Christian Church, 290 Darrow Road, in Akron.

Because of a rummage sale being held at the church this weekend, the meeting will be in Room 106 rather than in the basement social hall.

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 ARRC meetings and events.

Ron McElrath Offering NE Ohio Railfan Events

April 14, 2018

Akron Railroad Club member Ron McElrath is sponsoring two days of railfan activities in Northeast Ohio on May 25-26 that includes a dome car ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and a tour of the Age of Steam roundhouse near Surgarcreek.

The dome car excursion will run on May 25, departing Akron Northside Station at 10:55 a.m. and returning at 2:30 p.m.

That will be followed by a visit to the Pennsylvania Railroad Doodlebug Memorial in Cuyahoga Falls and the former Erie Railroad station Kent.

Dinner will be at a rail-themed Mexican restaurant followed by attending the May ARRC meeting.

On Saturday, participants will travel to the Age of Steam roundhouse. Proper footwear is required.

A tribute DVD to Jerry Joe Jacobson, who founded the roundhouse, will be given to tour participants.

Lunch will be on your own in Sugarcreek followed by a visit to the Warthers Carvings Museum.

Ticket for the two-day events are $179 per person. A Saturday-only ticket is also available that includes the AOS roundhouse tour.

Ron  has arranged rooms at the Courtyard Marriott in Akron at a special rate of $119 per night. The hotel is one block from the CVSR station.

To buy tickets or reserve a spot on the tours, contact Ron at 330-630-9817 after April 26. He can also be reached at

Ed’s McKay Day Favorites

April 10, 2018

ARRC member Ed Ribinskas attended the recent Dave McKay Day outing for the first time in several years.

Ed used to not be able to come because he was working on Saturdays, but he retired last November and mow has weekends free.

He said he was very happy with his results and in particular was pleased to get a clean Kansas City Southern ‘Belle” as compared to the dirty one he got on a Super Bowl Sunday outing with Marty Surdyk and Craig Sanders.

Ed had seen the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage locomotive No. 8102 pass by as he drove over the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern on Rockside Road in Maple Heights at 9 a.m.

“On my way in I thought I was doomed. However, luck was with me and I was very happy at 10:43 a.m. at Berea” when the NS 8102 led train 65N westbound past Berea Tower.

He sends along a few of his favorites from the McKay Day, one of which he said he made because he wanted to get a nice lash-up with Dave’s memorial in the foreground.

Photographs by Edward Ribinkas

McKay Day Set for Saturday in Berea

April 5, 2018

The 14th annual Dave McKay Day outing in Berea of the Akron Railroad Club is set for Saturday, April 7.

As always, it begins when the first club member arrives and the last one leaves. Given that the weather forecast for Saturday is for partly cloudy skies with a high of 33 degrees, that might mean the first arrival won’t be too early.

Nonetheless, we’ve had worse weather and, of course, we’ve had better weather, too.

Whatever the case, come out and enjoy a day or a few hours of quality train watching time in honor of our good friend and colleague Dave McKay, who died in late December 2004 after serving as ARRC president between 1993 and 2004.

Since then, the ARRC has set aside the first Saturday in April as a day to honor Dave’s memory at his favorite train watching spot.

Attendees should assemble in the parking lot at the west end of the Berea Depot Restaurant parking lot along Depot Street.

We may try to do a group photo if weather and time permit sometime during the day. Most likely that will be in the early afternoon.

As in past years we can expect to see a lot of trains on Norfolk Southern and CSX although with the latter having switched to the precision scheduled railroading model since our last McKay Day traffic on that railroad may not be what it has been in the past.

Still, we can expect to see on both railroads a several intermodal trains with a fair number of auto rack, manifest and bulk commodities thrown into the mix.

It is common to see foreign power, particularly on CSX, and if we’re lucky we’ll catch the Canadian Pacific run-through trains that use CSX between Chicago and Buffalo complete with CP motive power.

If we’re really lucky, we’ll catch an NS heritage unit leading a train.

Amtrak puts four trains through Berea daily, but they are scheduled between midnight and dawn. The Wheeling & Lake Erie also has a train through Berea, but it tends to operate at night.

In past years those still in Berea in late afternoon have had dinner at the restaurant in the former Big Four passenger station in Berea.

However, word is that the menu there has changed along with the name. Now known as the Berea Depot Bar and Restaurant, it advertises itself as offering upscale pub fare.

That means a more limited number of entrees ranging in price from $15 to $21. There are also a range of sandwiches on the menu, most of which are priced at $11. The menu also includes salads, appetizers and flatbreads.

Some ARRC members are members of the Forest City Division – Railroad Enthusiasts, which is holding its annual banquet in Berea that night at Tony K’s restaurant.

Tickets for that banquet are available at the door for $34 per person. The program that night is being given by Don Wetzel, who will discuss the development of the jet-powered rail diesel car that the New York Central tested in the 1960s west of Toledo.

34 Attend ARRC Member’s Night

April 2, 2018

Paul Woodring grabs a handful of pizza as Tom Goughnour checks out another pie during the Akron Railroad Club’s member’s night event held on March 31.

Thirty-four Akron Railroad Club members and guests munched on pizza and snacks, and watched 13 slide and digital programs last Saturday during the annual member’s night event.

They put away five pizzas from Marcos and two from Hungry Howie’s

The event was held in the social hall at the New Horizon’s Christian Church and attracted a few members who we have not seen in a long while.

ARRC President Craig Sanders led off the presentations with a digital program titled Off the Mainline. It was a tribute to regional and short-line railroads in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Among the roads featured were the Decatur Junction, Vandalia, Eastern Illinois, Indiana Northeastern, Great Lakes Central, Lake States, Adrian & Blissfield, Mid-Michigan Railroad, Elkhart & Western, Cleveland Commercial, Connotton Valley, Ohi-Rail, Ashland Railway, Buffalo Southern, Grand River Railroad, and the Western New York & Pennsylvania among others.

Edward Ribinskas highlighted 40 years of railfanning and photography with a presentation that was heavily focused on steam locomotives. Among the steamers he showed were Norfolk & Western 611 and 1218, Nickel Plate Road 765, Western Maryland 734, Milwaukee Road 261, Southern Pacific 4449, Pere Marquette 1225, Gettysburg 76, and locomotives at Steamtown, Cass, East Broad Top, and the Owosso train festival among others.

Interspersed in Ed’s program were images of Amtrak, the Bessemer & Lake Erie, Denver & Rio Grande Western, and VIA Rail Canada.

Todd Dillon’s program had a strong Norfolk Southern flavor, featuring trains that he has photographed in recent months at such places as Alliance, Leetonia, Altoona, Mingo Junction and various locations in Pennsylvania.

We saw the Meadville Line (former Erie Lackawanna), the GoRail unit, and the Penn Central and Reading heritage locomotives.

Todd also threw in some Amtrak and Bessemer & Lake Erie action.

Bob Rohal introduced his program by saying it was a little of everything. It included CSX, Norfolk Southern, the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway and Ohio Central, all of it in Northeast Ohio.

Bob took us inside LTEX at McDonald, gave us an anatomy of a derailment with photos, and showed images made when he worked at Shelly Materials in Kent.

Blaine Hays has authored books on traction and it was a focal point of his program with vintage and modern images of what today are the rail lines of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

He also threw in some photographs of the Erie Lackawanna’s Cleveland-Youngstown commuter train, New York Central passenger trains in the 1960s, and the Conrail executive train.

But Blaine also had some steam locomotives, including former Grand Trunk Western 4070 when it was operating on the Cuyahoga Valley Line, now the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

He told a story of how in 1969 a touring steam locomotive visited Cleveland Union Terminal.

Blaine asked his supervisor at Higbee’s Department Store if he would use his lunch hour to photograph the locomotive.

The supervisor said no but Blaine got his photographs anyway. Two weeks later he received a letter saying he had been fired by Higbee’s.

Dennis Taksar made a trip to the mid South to photograph the Paducah & Louisville Railroad in Kentucky. During that trip, he also stopped by the former Illinois Central Railroad shops in Paducah, which are still in operation under different ownership.

Dennis also showed us some action on Canadian National in Kentucky and Memphis on the former IC mainline between Chicago and New Orleans.

Among the Memphis attractions that Dennis showed were the “Pink House” in Memphis, which was once the home of Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain founder Clarence Saunders; the Beale Street nightclub b district, and boats on the Mississippi River.

There also was some BNSF action around Memphis and a few short line railroads in Kentucky and Tennessee to. Dennis even worked in the Casey Jones motel in Mississippi.

Tom Fritsch wrapped up the digital presentations by showing a variety of special Amtrak trains that have passed through Northeast Ohio over the years.

This included the publicity special that stopped in Akron in 1990 to promote the reroute of the Broadway Limited via Akron and Youngstown, the X2000 train, a Talgo train, and a turboliner train that ran a charter trip to Cleveland in 1995 from Columbus to coincide with the first playoff game in several years for the for the Cleveland Indians.

Tom also showed a commuter train demonstration project that operated in Cleveland several years ago using an Amtrak F40PH locomotive and Caltrans bi-level commuter cars.

Paul Woodring opened the slide presenters programs by showing a program titled Over, Under, Around and Through.

It was a potpourri of images made over the years in various locations of trains going, as the title suggested, over, under around or through something. That meant a lot of bridges and tunnels.

Among the sites we saw were CSX in Baltimore; a tunnel in Bellows Falls, Vermont; Nickel Plate Road 765 and Pere Marquette 1225; street running Dresden, Ohio; the Greenbrier Limited; the Atlantic City line used by New Jersey Transit and, at one time, Amtrak; Amtrak’s Capitol Limited, and Amtrak trains on the Northeast Corridor.

Paul showed a few images from ARRC longest day outings in Marion and Deshler and one image of a steam locomotive in China.

Bill Kubas took us to Sand Patch where we saw Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and various CSX trains. We also saw fellow ARRC member Don Woods.

Marty Surdyk showed slides from a program he had intended to give last year titled Things I Haven’t Seen for a While. It was a selection of images made at least decade or two ago.

This included Conrail in the Cleveland area, a diesel excursion train from Toledo to Bellevue on the NS Toledo District, a CSX RoadRailer train out of Cincinnati pulled by F units, and the RTA Waterfront line in Cleveland.

Marty said he recently calculated that since he began photographing trains in 1981 he has exposed 925 rolls of slide film making 33,300 slides.

Jim Mastromatteo’s program also had a “what I’ve done lately” theme. He kicked if off with a visit to the Detroit streetcar system known as the QLine.

He then returned to Northeast Ohio to show action on CSX, Norfolk Southern and the Wheeling & Lake Erie, most of it in Akron or Alliance.

Jim’s program wrapped with some NKP 765 action on the CVSR.

Mark Demaline opened his program with slides of airlines that don’t exist anymore. This included Braniff, Wright, and Western Pacific among others.

Many of the planes we saw are no longer in scheduled commercial service in the United States, including the supersonic Concorde.

Mark then switched to railroads, showing us some old Maryland Rail Commuter trains around Point of Rocks, Maryland. Related to that, he showed Chessie System freights passing the landmark Point of Rocks station where the former Baltimore & Ohio split into line going to Washington and Baltimore.

Also in Mark’s program was some action on B&O branch lines in Ohio, including the now abandoned line to Fairport Harbor via Painesville.

David Mangold, as is his “style,” assembled his program during the event. The good news is that none of the images were upside down or sideways. But to Dave’s chagrin he managed to get a couple of images backwards.

The program highlighted places where Dave has worked over the years, including Chicago, Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio.

Most of his Conrail images were made when he was working as a conductor for that carrier.

In the Latest ARRC eBulletin

April 2, 2018

The March 2018 issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin features a story about ARRC President Craig Sanders’ quest to “find” the Erie Lackawanna.

It is a fallen flag railroad that he never saw in person during its 1960-1976 lifetime because he never lived in an areas served by the EL.

But fallen flag railroads live behind a lot of history and former right of way that Craig has been able to explore over the years, particularly after he joined the ARRC in 2003.

To receive a copy of the March 2018 eBulletin send an email message to It’s free.

The April eBulletin will feature a photo essay of the former Baltimore & Ohio in and around Akron.

There will also be coverage of the ARRC member’s night and the annual Dave McKay Day in Berea.