Posts Tagged ‘Akron’

Forgotten Railroad of Akron

November 17, 2018

I just ran across these photographs a few days ago, and thought you might like to see photos of a long-gone Akron railroad.

Now I wish I had taken more slides of the PPG industrial railroad that ran in Norton, but here are two taken west of Cleveland-Massillon Road looking east.

I believe the road being crossed is now called Limestone Drive. Until today I thought the “End E-L Operation” sign in the bottom photo was the end of the electrified part of the railroad, but now I believe it is the far end of the Erie Lackawanna trackage through the (cement?) plant.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

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CA&C Program Set for End of Year Dinner

November 17, 2018

Dennis Fravel of Westerville, Ohio, will present a program at the Akron Railroad Club’s end of year dinner that will discuss the history of the former Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railway.

The dinner will be held on Dec. 1 at the New Era restaurant in Akron at 10 Massillon Road.

The event will begin with drinks at 5 p.m. and ordering of dinner at 5:30 p.m. As at past end of year dinners, attendees will order from the menu on an individual settlement basis.

The CA&C began life as the Akron Branch of the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad.

State Senator Simon Perkins Jr. of Akron had led a delegation to Columbus to lobby the Ohio legislature to amend the C&P’s charter in February 1851 to direct the railroad to build a branch to Akron from Hudson where it was to connect with the C&P mainline.

The charter amendment also mandated that the rail line continue to a connection with the Ohio & Pennsylvania Railroad at either Wooster or Massillon.

The Akron Branch followed the former Pennsylvania & Ohio Canal to Old Forge, a point located northeast of the city. From there the branch moved in a southerly direction toward Summit Street and Akron’s southern boundary.

The Akron Branch opened amid much fanfare on July 4, 1852.

It would later be extended to the O&P connection at Orrville and opened to Columbus in September 1873.

As was typical of railroad companies in the 19th century, the Akron Branch had a series of name changes as the various companies operating it either sold the line or went into receivership due to financial difficulties.

The route emerged from receivership on Dec. 31, 1885, as the Cleveland, Akron & Columbus Railway.

The CA&C moniker would stick long after it ceased to formally be used. The Pennsylvania Railroad gained control of the CA&C’s capital stock in 1899 and for much of its history the route was part of the PRR network.

The merger of the PRR and New York Central in February 1968 diminished the importance of the ex-CA&C as Penn Central rerouted through freight to a former NYC line between Cleveland and Columbus via Galion.

On July 4, 1969, flooding from a severe storm severed the CA&C north of Holmesville and the line was never re-established as a through route.

The track between Clinton (Warwick) and Orrville was abandoned by Conrail in 1986.

The track between Hudson and Akron was abandoned in the early 1990s, but Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority has railbanked most of it, ostensibly for a rail commuter service that has yet to materialize.

Train Time at Northside Station

October 20, 2018

Few Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad passengers probably know that the site of the Akron station once hosted a Baltimore & Ohio passenger station.

The original depot was created by the Valley Railway in the 19th century.

B&O passenger trains using what are today’s CVSR tracks continued to stop at the station at Ridge and North Howard streets until B&O passenger service on the line ended in January 1962.

The station was razed a few years later, but when the Cuyahoga Valley Line began serving Akron in the late 1970s, the station site again saw passengers, albeit without a station. The current CVSR Northside station opened in 2001.

Shown is FPA-4 No. 6777 on the north end of a steam excursion pulled by Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.

It is moving east of the station to get out of the way of the National Park Scenic.

What’s Roger Seen Lately?

July 18, 2018

Wheeling 7005 on Z642 in Akron on July 17.

Some out of the ordinary motive power has operated through Northeast Ohio lately and if you missed it, Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee has you covered.

Roger caught up with those moves and sends along some images of them along with a few routine operations that he captured.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

NS 20E (detour move) meets two tied down stack trains at Bellevue on July 8.

Clean shot of NS No. 34 at Bellevue on July 8.

KCS 3909 at Akron with Q292 on July 11.

FEC 104 at Sandusky on July 8.

BNSF 759 on Q277 at Cuyahoga Falls on June 15.

 

Your Ticket From Akron Has Been Punched

June 19, 2018

I purchased some unused Erie-Lackawanna tickets and decided to have a little fun in honor of the Akron Railroad Club.

Using an EL punch (purchased from an old EL employee), I produced a one way ticket from Akron to Hoboken, New Jersey.

The one way fare of $26.02 is correct for the date punched of Oct. 30, 1966. I will see you folks when you come to visit me in NJ.

Article and Photograph by Jack Norris

Akron From the Akron Subdivision

June 14, 2018

The Wheeling & Lake Erie has designated the former tracks of the Akron, Canton & Youngstown as its Akron Subdivision.

The route extends in a roundabout manner from Brittain Yard in the southeast corner of Akron around the east side and then through the north side of downtown before heading westward toward Medina via Copley.

Traffic on the sub is not heavy, but you can find trains on the Akron Sub during daylight hours.

In my experience, I’ve found trains on the Akron Sub when I was doing something else, such as chasing trains on the nearby Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

That was the case when I came across this train backing up onto the connection with the CSX New Castle Subdivision. It would proceed westward on CSX to Barberton before getting onto the former Akron & Barberton Belt.

I had been chasing Nickel Plate Road No. 765 on the CVSR and had time between trains. There was this train on the Wheeling so we photographed it and later got it again at Voris Street.

CPLs Have Fallen in Akron

February 26, 2018

Another vestige of the Baltimore & Ohio in Akron is gone. CSX has taken down the last stretch of B&O color position light signals on its New Castle Subdivision and turned on the new replacement signals.

Replacement of the CPLs has been underway for the past few years with the signals between Akron and Clinton (Warwick) the last ones on the New Castle Sub.

For decades, CPLs stood in Akron at BD (near Evans Avenue), AY (Arlington Avenue), Exchange Street, and Lambert (on the Akron-Barberton border). All have now been removed.

There was a dwarf CPL at the interchange track switch between CSX and the Akron Barberton  Cluster Railway in Barberton.

As part of the change, CSX has eliminated the signals at AY. The new block extends between BD and Exchange Street.

At the same time, CSX also cut in bi-directional running on both tracks between Akron and Kent.

The New Castle Sub is slated to get positive train control and some relatively new Safetran signals will reportedly be replaced.

Traffic levels on the New Castle Sub these days are reported to be 14 trains every 24 hours, not counting extra trains.

CSX May Sell or Lease New Castle Sub

January 23, 2018

CSX may seek to sell or lease its New Castle Subdivision that operates through Akron, Youngstown and Kent.

Trains magazine reported on Monday that the line is among 8,000 miles that CSX is reviewing, although not all of the route miles are expected to be sold or leased.

In its report, Trains said CSX is eyeing sale or lease of the former Baltimore & Ohio mainline between Baltimore and Greenwich, Ohio. If that is the case, CSX would no longer be serving Pittsburgh.

Also reported to be under scrutiny are the Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal and unidentified branch lines in Ohio.

One of the latter could be the former Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling subdivision that operates between Cleveland and Lorain, and the New Castle Sub at Sterling.

The intermodal terminal at North Baltimore became an underused facility last year when CSX closed it. It might be attractive to a western railroad.

Trains said that the review encompasses more than a third of the railroad’s 21,000-mile network and is being motivated for a desire to cut costs to boost profitability.

CSX would be able to reduce labor and maintenance costs by shedding thousands of miles of track.

The railroad had signaled last year that it was going to review all of its assets.

“Everything we’ve got out there is going to go through some scrutiny. If it creates shareholder value to sell it, we’re going to sell it,” the late E. Hunter Harrison said at a conference last November. “If it creates shareholder value to keep it, we’re going to keep it.”

Other CSX routes that Trains reported as being under review are:

  • The former Boston & Albany main and associated branch lines in Massachusetts.
  • The former Louisville & Nashville between Cincinnati and Atlanta.
  • Most of the former B&O between Cincinnati and East St. Louis, Illinois.
  • Former Pere Marquette trackage in Michigan.
  • CSX routes to Canada and related U.S. trackage.
  • The Appalachian coal network, including portions of the former Clinchfield.
  • Large sections of the Florence Division in the Carolinas.
  • The Dothan sub in Alabama and Georgia.
  • The Auburndale sub in Florida.
  • Branches and redundant trackage in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and New York.

The first four subdivisions were put out to bid last week. They included the Decatur and Danville subdivisions in Illinois, and the Tallahassee and PA Subdivisions in Florida.

Trains said CSX is expected to put a handful of subdivisions up for sale or lease every few weeks.

CSX acknowledged in a statement that it was reviewing its network and operations, but gave few details about which routes are under scrutiny.

The review process has attracted the attention of short line and regional railroads as well as private equity investment firms.

Among those reported to be expressing interest have been Genesee & Wyoming, Watco, OmniTRAX, and RJ Corman.

Before Harrison arrived at CSX last spring, the carrier had announced a program known as CSX of Tomorrow that concentrated capital spending on a triangle of routes extending from Chicago to Florida to New Jersey and back to Chicago.

Also given priority were routes to New England, St. Louis and Baltimore with the latter including the former B&O mainline via Cumberland, Maryland.

That 9,200-mile network handles 84 percent of CSX train miles and produces two-thirds of its originating and terminating traffic.

However, CSX at the time said that other routes would continue to be maintained, albeit at a lower level of maintenance and speed.

Those routes originated a third of CSX traffic and then-CSX CEO Michael Ward was reluctant to give them up through sale, lease or abandonment.

Under the latest management review, CSX appears to believe that it will continue to handle most of the traffic originating or terminating on the lines it is seeking to dispose of, only without having to pay for them.

CSX Will, First and Foremost, Protect Its Own Financial Interests in Line Sales or Leases

January 23, 2018

Many years ago when I was a college student intern at the Illinois Department of Transportation, one of my co-workers in the Bureau of Planning schooled me on what CSX is seeking to do today.

The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad was slimming down its route network much as CSX is doing today.

ICG was seeking to abandon a web of former Illinois Central Railroad branch lines in Illinois whose primary commodity handled was grain.

My fellow planner quoted officials of the ICG as saying “we’re going to get that grain one way or another.”

Even if the grain was taken away from those scores of small town grain elevators that dotted the Illinois prairie like rural skyscrapers by truck rather than in covered hopper rail cars, it had a long way to go to reach its final destination.

Those trucks leaving the elevators were not bound for a port on the Gulf of Mexico or the Mississippi or Ohio rivers.

The grain traveled by truck a relatively short distance to a regional grain facility such as the one operated by Cargil in Tuscola, Illinois, where unit trains were made up to move the grain onward toward its final destination, whether for export or domestic use.

ICG would continue to make good money hauling grain while getting rid of the expense of maintaining hundreds of miles of branch lines and paying union scales wages and benefits to the railroaders whose trains ran once a day or less on those branches.

The routes that CSX is seeking to lease or sell are not necessarily 25-mph or 10-mph branch lines in need of millions of dollars of rebuilding as was the case with many of the lines the ICG abandoned in the 1970s. Some of them, like the New Castle Sub, are significant mainlines handling much overhead traffic.

But they do cost a sizable amount of money to maintain and the CSX employees who operate the trains on those routes make Class 1 union scale wages and benefits. CSX would rather see that money wind up in the pockets of its shareholders or used for other purposes, such as buying back its stock.

Like the ICG in the 1970s, CSX will do all that it can to keep most of the business generated by its “surplus” routes while not having to pay to maintain or operate them.

CSX doesn’t do much business in Akron. What business there is could be handled by the Wheeling & Lake Erie, which already has a considerable presence in town.

But the Wheeling won’t be hauling most of that freight to its final destination. How that freight reaches its destination will come down to how those sale or lease contracts are written.

The ICG also spun off most of the former Gulf, Mobile & Ohio mainline between Chicago and St. Louis to an upstart known as the Chicago, Missouri & Western.

ICG was careful to keep for itself the more financially attractive elements of the route, including ownership and operation of the track between Chicago and Joliet, Illinois.

CM&W quickly found the traffic it received from the ICG was not what it thought it had been promised.

CM&W had overpaid for the ex-GM&O and couldn’t earn enough to pay its debts and get back its investment.

There are, of course, numerous success stories in which a short line or regional leased or purchased a route from a Class 1 and was able to make a go of it due to lower labor costs and more attentive customer relations policies.

Such was the case when the late Jerry Jacobson leased some track from CSX for his Ohio Central System.

It remains to be seen how much, if any, of the New Castle Sub that CSX will be willing to part with.

Aside from whatever business there is to be had in Akron, there is considerable auto rack business at Lordstown and some business in the Youngstown area.

CSX is not going to put itself in a position where it is likely to lose most of that business to Norfolk Southern for the long haul.

We’ve seen this game played before. Route rationalization has been the modus operandi of Class 1 railroads for years. That is how the modern W&LE got started. We’re about to see it play out again.

Merry Christmas From Bob Farkas

December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas to all the Akron Railroad Club members. Here is Baltimore & Ohio No. 1455 at the Akron Union Station. It is the fall of 1968 and the Diplomat will soon head west.

Photograph by Robert Farkas