Posts Tagged ‘Akron Union Depot’

One Morning 53 Years Ago in Akron

August 19, 2021

The wayback machine is set for Aug. 18, 1968, in Akron at Union Depot.

In the top image, Baltimore & Ohio E9A No. 1455 has cut off from the westbound Diplomat in order to, most likely, add or remove a mail car.

Across the tracks the Erie Lackawanna’s westbound Lake Cities is sitting at its station.

In the middle image the Lake Cities can be seen pulling away from its station platform. It was not unusual for both passenger trains to be in Akron at the same time.

In the bottom image notice the family standing and watching trains on the EL platform.

Can you imagine joining this family and watching trains? I said “watching” because that is the dark side for morning photography.

Yet if you look carefully, the man appears to have a camera around his neck.

If you decide to use your own wayback machine and join me for taking pictures on this day, tell me seeing my photos 53 ahead in the future inspired you to join me to photograph Akron. I’ll believe you.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

Pennsy in Akron Two for Tuesday

April 27, 2021

I am on the Akron Union Depot station platform in the late 1960s as a Pennsylvania Railroad switcher appears to be backing up with a cut of cars.

In the bottom view, we are looking nearly geographically north. The silos belong to the Quaker Oats plant.

The tracks on the hill by the plant and unseen Railway Express Building were worked by the Erie Lackawanna.

The top image is looking approximately geographically south. The train is passing under the station’s walk way from the station to the Greyhound Bus Depot.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

One Day at Akron Union Depot

April 18, 2021

It is the late 1960s and the wayback machine has landed us on the Akron Union Depot passenger platform looking railroad west.

In the far center is Erie Lackawanna’s McCoy Street Yard and on the right is EL’s passenger station. The siding in front of us was often used for mail cars.

The tracks are from left to right: Penn Central siding to switch industries, PC branch from Hudson, Baltimore & Ohio eastbound main, B&O mail car siding, B&O westbound main, and the EL eastbound main.

On the other side of the EL platform are the EL westbound main and a siding reaching a few places including Quaker Oats.

This image provides a rich amount of detail. Take, for example, the B&O mail siding. Notice the steam line coming out of the ground, a throwback to its former role as a set out track for passenger cars.

At one time this track was used for set off or pick up sleepers to and from trains arriving in Akron in the middle of the night.

Passengers could board the car at a decent hour and go to sleep well-ahead of train time, or remain on one that had arrived and been set out in the middle of the night until daylight. 

In later years it came to be where mail cars were left for pick-up.  There was a similar siding on the other end of the platform for eastbound trains.

At one time these set off sleepers were a common passenger railroading practice.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Steam Saturday: Chasing the CM&StP 261 Ferry Move in June 1996

October 31, 2020
Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 steams out of Orchard Park, New York, on June 16, 1996. The tracks here have since been ripped out.

In 1995 Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul 4-8-4 No. 261 left its home in Minnesota and ventured east to help Steamtown National Historic Site celebrate its grand opening.

The Northern-type locomotive built by Alco in July 1944 had been restored to operating condition in 1993 by a group known as the Friends of the 261.

I was on hand when the 261 participated in the parade of steam locomotives held during the grand opening festivities on July 1.

Later that day, the 261 pulled an excursion train from Scranton to Pocono Summit filled with attendees of that year’s convention of the National Railway Historical Society.

The convention actually was held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and we had ridden chartered buses north that morning to board a diesel-powered excursion to Steamtown.

The 261 remained behind in Steamtown for the next year, participating in excursions and other events.

But by June 1996 it was time for the steamer to head home to Minnesota.

I got a telephone call from my friend Bill Stephens, who at the time was living in a suburb of Buffalo, New York, asking if I’d be interested in riding the 261 ferry move from Orchard Park, another Buffalo suburb, to New Castle, Pennsylvania.

Bill was a correspondent for Trains and may have been covering the locomotive’s ferry move for the magazine.

He also invited some other friends to ride along. All we had to do was make a donation to the Friends of the 261 group.

Arranging this outing was complicated because the ferry move was one-way. This meant having to position our vehicles so that we had transportation to and from the train.

On the Friday before the ferry move, I met up with Bill in New Castle at the CSX yard office.

He parked his vehicle there and I then drove him to a motel in Buffalo where the four of us were staying.

The next morning we drove to the former Baltimore & Ohio station in Orchard Park to board the train.

There was a crowd of people on hand train because, well, steam locomotives attract crowds.

Some local officials were having an event to publicize their efforts to acquire the ex-B&O track through Orchard Park for use as a commuter rail service to be known as the Niagara Line. That concept, though, never panned out.

The train arrived and we swung aboard the tool car to get settled. We would spend much of our time in that car because the doors of the former baggage car were open during the trip and that was the place to be to make photographs and listen to the locomotive work.

We were on Buffalo & Pittsburgh tracks to West Eidenau, Pennsylvania, where the train got onto CSX.

It is hard to believe it today, but the 261 ferry move spent a lot of time on CSX going to and from Scranton, including traveling across Ohio and Indiana.

On the rear of the train was an open platform office car carrying a Missouri-Kansas-Texas drumhead.

My memory is that Trains had written about car 403 not long before the ferry move and featured it on the cover.

I spent part of the trip sitting or standing on the 403’s platform. In theory I wasn’t supposed to be in the 403 because I wasn’t a guest of the owner.

But he tolerated me being there, at least for awhile. After the train made a service stop, he approached me and when he began by saying, “well, friend . . .” I knew I had worn out my welcome.

We had brought with us some food items purchased from a Tops grocery store on Friday night. Yet somewhere in Pennsylvania someone ordered pizza to be delivered to the train. That turned out to be dinner for everyone.

There were not many passengers and I don’t remember talking with many of them although I might have.

Someone in our group said one of the passengers was Tom Nemeth, the editor of Railpace.

It was apparent throughout the day that railfan photographers were out in force following us.

It was sunny and the train didn’t move all that fast so I presume it was easy to chase.

In looking at my photographs, I found an image of some small town where our passage interrupted a parade on a downtown street.

We also made a stop at a town in New York at which there was a large crowd at a former B&O depot.

We knew the ferry move would make for a long day, but it turned out to be much longer than I had expected. Even someone who enjoys riding trains is ready to get off at some point.

Darkness came, the chasing photographers went home and I was sitting in a coach seat trying to catch some sleep.

We spent quite a bit of time in Butler, Pennsylvania, during the night. I believe we were waiting for a CSX pilot crew.

I remember seeing a train pass by overhead in the dark on a bridge as we sat in Butler.

One of Bill’s friends got down from the train, walked up to the locomotive and climbed up into the cab. He sat in the engineer’s seat for a while and, he said, began dozing off.

In retrospect I wished I had taken the time to visit the cab, too.

By the time we reached New Castle it was around 4 a.m. We had reserved motel rooms there and needless to say I was dead tired.

I shared a room with Bill’s friend Edmund who had traveled from Washington, D.C., to ride the ferry move.

Not only were we tired, we were covered in cinders and soot. Edmund stood in the bathtub and shook all of the cinders off. He then washed them down the drain.

It never felt so good to take a shower than it did after this trip.

The ferry move left Sunday morning to travel through Northeast Ohio on the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

But I was heading back to Buffalo to retrieve my car and return to Cleveland.

* * * * *

Over the years I’ve experienced a number of tie backs to that June 1996 day.

About eight years after it occurred I was sitting in Dave McKay’s living room on a Saturday night looking at slides of images that I might use in a book I was working on.

Dave had grabbed various boxes of images he thought I might find interesting.

Onto the screen popped photographs Dave had made of that 261 ferry move.

“I was on that train,” I said out loud. Dave had not known that.

He rattled off the names of other Northeast Ohio railfans who had been chasing the ferry move as well.

It was interesting to see that day’s trip from “the ground.”

Fast forward another 11 years and more photographs of the 261 ferry move surfaced when I was working on my second Akron Railroads book.

These images, though, had not been made in New York or Pennsylvania, but in Akron.

I number of people I had met through the Akron Railroad Club were standing near the tracks by the former Akron Union Depot when the 261 made a service stop.

In early July 2017 I traveled with Marty Surdyk and Ed Ribinskas to Arcade, New York, to photograph the Arcade & Attica steam train.

We stopped in Springville, New York, to photograph a passenger station and the right of way of an abandoned rail line turned into a trail.

This placed looked familiar. Marty said it had once been the B&O line out of Buffalo.

Then it clicked. This was the station at which we had stopped during the June 1996 261 ferry move.

I looked at my slides later and found an image I made of that station from the tool car. I had been there before.

About two weeks ago Ed emailed me some photographs of the 1996 ferry move. He thought he remembered my showing photographs of it during an ARRC program years ago and my having ridden it.

I didn’t remember doing that and a check of my past ARRC programs didn’t turn up any indication that I had.

Maybe Ed remembered a story I had written about that stop in Springview I had made on that trip to the Arcade & Attica.

Whatever the case, it prompted me to write this memory of my time riding the 261 ferry move. It is the last time I’ve ridden behind the 261.

I’ve seen it once since then, a fleeting glimpe through the windows of a Metra commuter train in Chicago.

And that visit to Steamtown in 1995 remains the only time I’ve been there, too.

Article by Craig Sanders, Photographs by Ed Ribinskas

At Beaver Siding, New York. The tracks gone here, too.
At Ellicottville, New York. The next image was made there also.
This and the next image were made at Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania.
At Akron Union Depot on June 16, 1996
Steaming out of Akron.
The chase ended in Willard.

EL Monday: Rainy Day in Akron

September 21, 2020

The photographer is standing on the Akron Union Station platform on a rainy day while Erie Lackawanna E8A Nos. 830 and EL 832 pass by westbound with the Lake Cities one mid-year morning in the late 1960s.

Note that EL 830 has no portholes and EL 832 has three. The Lake Cities used the former Erie passenger depot that was out of view to the left of the photographer.

It would be the last EL passenger train in Akron and made its final trips in January 1970.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

 

Backing Onto the Diplomat

August 21, 2020

Akron was a station where some Baltimore & Ohio passenger trains made set offs and pickups.

It might be a sleeping car or it could be head end cars carrying mail and express.

By the time this image was made the Akron set off sleepers were thing of the past but head end cars carrying mail were still interchanged.

B&O E8A No. 1444 and E8B No. 2415 are backing onto their train after picking up a mail car at Akron Union Depot.

It’s a morning in mid-1968 and this is the Diplomat bound from Washington to Chicago.

Model railroad building Walthers sells HO scale replicas of the 2415 so its memory continues to live on model railroad layouts even if the Diplomat has been gone for 50 years now.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Switching an Office Car in Akron

July 18, 2020

You won’t see a scene like this anymore in Akron. It is Dec. 17, 1967, and a Baltimore & Ohio switcher is moving Chesapeake & Ohio office car No. 2. The photographer didn’t remember if the car was being removed from or being added to the consist of the Diplomat. But shuffling passenger cars and head end cars at Akron Union Depot was once a common practice.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Finding a Lost Penn Central Memory

June 20, 2020

My late friend Mike Ondecker took this photo of a Penn Central train heading north through Akron in the summer of 1968.

The Baltimore & Ohio switcher on the stub track most likely was there to remove a mail car from the westbound B&O Diplomat.

As for the railfan, that’s 21-year old me with my Dad’s (soon to be mine) Mamiya C3 twin lens reflex camera.

It’s amazing what one can find in a glassine envelope that may have last seen light 50 plus years ago.

Photograph by Mike Ondecker, Article by Robert Farkas

Its Nearly All Gone Now

April 28, 2020

Most of what you see in this image of an eastbound Penn Central train ambling through downtown Akron in 1968 is gone.

The Pennsylvania Railroad had just vanished into Penn Central which itself is now 44 years gone for having given way to Conrail.

Conrail ceased operations in Akron long before it was divided by Norfolk Southern and CSX.

The Erie Lackawanna passenger station, which was still in use when this image was made, is gone and a bank now sits on that site.

In the background you can see the former Erie Railroad freight house, which lasted the longest of most things in this scene.

The freight house was razed a few years ago to make way for new apartments catering to University of Akron students.

The three railroads that used these tracks in 1968 are all gone as well, including the Baltimore & Ohio.

Also gone is the B&O style color position signal just to the right of the nose of the Pennsy Alco diesel.

A portion of the boarding platform for Akron Union Depot is visible and it was removed in early 2012. If anything, it is remarkable that it lasted as long as it did given that this section of the platform never served passengers again after May 1, 1971.

There are fewer tracks at this location now. The two that exist are part of the CSX New Castle Subdivision and also used by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway.

You can still stand in this general location and photograph trains even though the nature of this scene has changed quite a bit in the past 52 years.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

B&O’s Diplomat in Akron

March 14, 2020

The westbound Diplomat of the Baltimore & Ohio is making its station stop in Akron in 1968.

Leading No. 7 today is E8A No. 1446. In the background is the passenger station for the Erie Lackawanna.

The Diplomat is on the westbound B&O main line with the Akron Union Depot passenger platform between No. 1446 and the viewer.

The track between No. 7 and the platform was used for storing cars to be put on passenger trains or cars that were taken off passenger trains.

Photograph by Robert Farkas