Posts Tagged ‘ARRC activities’

Back When We Still Were Wearing Shorts

December 23, 2017

Remember last July? Remember the day of the Akron Railroad Club picnic? It was warm that day and most of us had shorts on with t-shirts or short sleeve shirts.

CSX cooperated and ran some trains. Nothing out of the ordinary came past that day. Unlike at the 2016 picnic, a report of a heritage unit on the Fort Wayne Line of Norfolk Southern didn’t send several of us scurrying to intercept it at Massillon or some other point.

As is typical of the CSX New Castle Subdivision, there were some long lulls between trains.

The action picked up some late in the day. Those of us still there even walked down the street and stood next to the easternmost building in “downtown” Warwick to catch the K182 as it rolled into the nice early evening light.

About 15 minutes earlier, the photo line had captured local D750 returning to its home base after working in Akron and Barberton.

It remains to be determined if the ARRC will return to Warwick in 2018 for its annual picnic or go elsewhere. The officers will hash that out in January.

In the meantime, here are a few memories of this year’s picnic.

The K182 had a hopper car still wearing the Family Lines markings.

After a long day, the D750 returns to its home base in Warwick.

The rear of the U700 lumbering eastbound.

Westbound train Q375 makes an appearance.

The westbound Q299 had a road slug in its motive power consist.

Here comes the Q299 making some smoke as it accelerates.

The Q235 rolls around the curve and into Warwick. It was one of two auto rack trains that came through town during the late morning hours.

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ARRC Members Go South at End of Year Dinner

December 4, 2017

Mark Demaline (left) and Marty Surdyk adjust the projector before Mark began his program at the Akron Railroad Club’s annual end of year dinner held last Saturday.

On with the show, we’re ready.

Twenty-five Akron Railroad Club members and guests took a trip down South at the annual end of year dinner held Saturday in Stow at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s restaurant.

ARRC member Mark Demaline gave a slide show titled Southern Served the South that showcased Southern Railway operations from Virginia to Florida, and Atlanta to New Orleans.

Mark’s hour-long program had something for everyone, including passenger trains, steam-powered excursion trains and workaday freight trains that ranged from hot shots to locals.

Most of the images were made in the 1970s and early 1980s when Mark worked in management positions for the Chessie System in Richmond, Virginia, and Jacksonville, Florida.

He would spend weekends traveling the territory in search of photographs. On occasion he was able to make images traveling to or from work.

Among the stars of Mark’s program was the Southern Crescent, which the Southern operated through Jan. 31, 1979, between Washington and New Orleans. The Southern did not join Amtrak when it began operations on May 1, 1971.

Amtrak took over the Crescent on Feb. 1, 1979. Amtrak had operated the Southern Crescent between Washington and New York, just as Penn Central and the Pennsylvania Railroad had done before the coming of Amtrak.

The Southern was a pioneer in mainline steam excursions and Mark caught a few of those in his program. But most of the presentation was an overview of Southern freight operations.

The end of year dinner is the final activity of 2017 for the ARRC.

ARRC End of Year Dinner is Saturday

November 27, 2017

The annual Akron Railroad Club end of the year dinner will be this Saturday (Dec. 2) at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s restaurant in Stow, 3732 Darrow Road.

Due to the small size of the banquet room, attendance is limited to 32. There are still four tickets left for the dinner.

The tickets are free and available from ARRC officer Marty Surdyk.

The restaurant is located in a shopping center at the southwest corner of Graham and Darrow Roads about a mile and a half east of Ohio Route 8.

The cocktail hour will begin at approximately 5:30 p.m. We’ll order dinner off the menu between 6 and 6:30 p.m. Terms are individual settlement.

The program will be a slide show by Mark Demaline titled Southern Served the South.

The program will feature Southern Railway freight, passenger and steam excursion action between the late 1970s and late 1980s from the Washington D.C., area, through Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and Northern Florida.

 

Bowler to Give Wide-Ranging Program

October 23, 2017

Peter Bowler will present a digital program at the October Akron Railroad Club meeting on Friday (Oct. 27) that will take us far and wide.

The show will be done in segments with the first those titled “Southern Swing” and covering a trip to Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia chasing steam, plus a visit to the North Carolina Transportation Museum at Spencer.

There will be a couple video clips of Norfolk & Western steam locomotive 611 inserted for fun and sound.

The second show will be a series of the best of Peter’s China trip steam videos that he ran out of time to show at the December 2015 end of year dinner.

The meeting will begin with a short business session at 8 p.m. 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.

Wonderful Day for a Picnic and Steam

September 18, 2017

The photo line is out as Nickel Plate Road No. 765 passes the Valley Picnic Area en route back to Akron with the first excursion of the day.

It was a perfect day for a picnic. Under sunny skies with temperatures in the upper 70s, 17 Akron Railroad Club members and guests descended on the Valley Picnic Area in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to watch Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 pass by four times as it carried excursionists out of Akron on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

The Berkshire locomotive built in Lima, Ohio, performed flawlessly and cameras were out to record its passage.

At least one ARRC member, Vice President Emeritus J. Gary Dillon, was aboard the train, riding in car 165 on the afternoon trip with his niece Lisa.

As always, Chef Martè fired up the grill and served up hamburgers and hot dogs.

It was the second time the ARRC has held a September picnic in the CVNP in conjunction with a visit by the 765.

Last year we also held a picnic at the same location when the 765 was operating as the 767. Attendance at that picnic was 27 and may have been boosted by the novelty factor of NKP 765 operating with a different number.

We observed that there didn’t seem to be quite as many photographers out chasing the 765 as there had been last year or in some previous years.

To be sure, there were still a lot of people in the park with cameras. But the posse chasing 765 along Riverview Road as the steam train passed by wasn’t as long as in previous years and we didn’t recognize anyone we knew.

However, the steam trains appeared to be well patronized and as in past years the premium seats in the open window and dome cars were sold out.

Between runs of the steam train we also observed the passage of the regular CVSR train, the National Park Scenic, three times.

It had FPA-4 No. 6771 on the north end and Alco C424 No. 4241 on the south end. Most of the CVSR’s feature cars were on the steam train so the Scenic had an abbreviated consist that included a caboose.

For the record the steam train had RS18u No. 1822 on its north end.

If you missed the 765 this past weekend, it will be pulling another slate of trips on Sept. 23 out of Rockside Road station and on Sept. 24 out of Akron.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society is paying tribute to the late Jerry Joe Jacobson, a lifetime ARRC member, by placing his name beneath the cab widows on both sides of the 765 above the number.

Jacobson, who died on Sept. 13, was the developer of the Age of Steam Roundhouse as well as a friend of the steam locomotive preservation community.

The chef has another round of burgers on the grill while hungry members go through the serving table.

When two old railroaders get together they are going to talk a little shop. Paul Woodring (left) and Bob Rohal try to solve the problems of the industry while agreeing it’s not what it used to be.

The engineer of NKP 765 gives us some whistle as the train passes the ARRC picnic. The locomotive paid tribute to Jerry Jacobson on the cab.

A few ARRC members can be seen at right photographing the northbound excursion in mid afternoon.

The sunlight was still barely over the tree line as the last excursion of the day headed for Akron along Riverview Road.

ARRC Picnic a Highball for Sunday

September 15, 2017

With the weather forecast for the weekend showing sunny skies and only a 10 percent chance of precipitation, the Akron Railroad Club will hold its picnic in the valley this Sunday (Sept. 17).

The event will be held at the Valley Picnic area south of Peninsula along Riverview Road on the west side of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad tracks.

Chef Martè (a.k.a. Marty Surdyk) will fire up the grill at approximately noon and serve up burgers and hot dogs.

The club will supply buns, condiments, and a limited supply of snacks and beverages. Members are asked to bring some side dishes and desserts.

The chef will be serving up hot food until the last passage of Nickel Plate Road No. 765, which is expected to be late afternoon.

Depending on what time you arrive, you can expect to see the 2-8-4 and its train pass the picnic site four times, twice going north and twice going south.

The excursion trains are expected to leave Akron at 11:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m., which is 20 and 25 minutes respectively after the scheduled departure of the CVSR National Park Scenic trains.

The Scenic is scheduled to arrive in Peninsula on Sunday southbound at 9:50 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. and northbound at 11:45 a.m. and 3:40 p.m.

Assuming that the NKP 765 and its train have the same running time as the Scenic of about 45 minutes to reach the picnic area, it should pass the picnic area at approximately noon and 4 p.m.

The steam trips are advertised as two-hour excursions and include a photo runby at Boston Mill station.

The southbound trips, which will have NKP 765 leading, should make their return trips between about 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m. for the first trip of the day, and between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. for the second excursion.

Please note that parking at the picnic site is limited.

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.