Posts Tagged ‘ARRC activities’

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.

30 Enjoy ARRC Member’s Night Programs

February 26, 2017

pizza-night

Thirty Akron Railroad Club members and guests munched on pizza and viewed a wide range of railroad photographs during the club’s annual member’s night held Saturday night (Feb. 25).

Eleven attendees presented digital images, slides and video that had a decidedly eastern United States and Northeast Ohio focus.

We put away in short order the eight pizzas delivered by Marcos that arrived shortly before 6 p.m. There were also chips, cookies and several types of soda pop.

Ed Ribinskas led off the member’s night presentations with a self-described hodgepodge of digital images and photographs that had been digitized.

His program showed futuristic trains at Walt Disney World, replica steam locomotive Leviathan, some other assorted steam locomotive power, Norfolk Southern heritage locomotives in Northeast Ohio, Nickel Plate Road No. 765 in Ohio, and some late-running editions of Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited.

Todd Dillon took us along on his recent Florida vacation where he spent most of his time trackside rather than at the beach.

Todd’s program included views of the new SunRail commuter service in Orlando, some Florida East Coast action and Amtrak’s Silver Meteor and Auto Train.

He rounded out his program by showing some of the last runs of the Orange Blossom Cannonball of the Tavares, Eustis & Gulf Railroad.

Club President Craig Sanders had the only images of the night that were made west of the Mississippi River.

Craig’s program focused on railroads and grain elevators. He showed grain elevators in the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba that he made while riding The Canadian of VIA Rail Canada in May 2014.

But the focus of the program was grain elevators in east central Illinois, most notably along the former Illinois Central. This featured trains of Canadian National – which now owns the ex-IC mainline – Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and Amtrak.

Dennis Taksar attended a wedding in Tennessee not long ago and showed us various rail operations that he photographed on his trip there and back,

This included Norfolk Southern operations, the tourist railroad at Dollywood, the kitsch of Pigeon Forge, and vintage locomotives and cars at a repository of old equipment near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Tom Fritsch made a trip to West Virginia to do some tourist railroad fanning, which included riding and photographing the Durbin & Greenbrier, and the Cass Scenic Railroad.

Alex Bruchac had some of the oldest images shown during the evening during his 10-minute video made from movies of two railfan transit excursions in Cleveland.

The movies were made during 1968 and 1970 excursions of vintage streetcars traveling today’s Red, Green and Blue lines of Cleveland RTA.

David Mangold took us to the Illinois Railway Museum for a look at its collection and views of interurban cars, steam trains and a visiting Union Pacific passenger special.

Marty Surdyk led off the slide presenters with images he made on New Year’s Day this year during a railfan outing to downtown Cleveland that he wrote about in the January Bulletin.

We saw NS trains on the Chicago Line and cars of the RTA Waterfront Line.

He fleshed out the program by showing images made last fall on the CSX New Castle Subdivision between Lodi and Sullivan and the Wheeling & Lake Erie west of Spencer on the former Akron, Canton & Youngstown line to Carey.

In part II of a program that he presented to the ARRC last year, Paul Woodring showed us the rest of the Best of the Rest.

These were slides that didn’t make the cut for the original program. The theme for Paul’s member’s night program was things that don’t exist anymore. Nothing was newer than 20 years old.

This included the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad (which is now owned by CSX), Baltimore & Ohio Rail Diesel Cars that were used in Washington, D.C., commuter service, the West Virginia Northern, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company “yellowbird” locomotives, Detroit Edison coal trains, E units painted in the colors of the Pennsylvania Railroad of the Blue Mountain & Reading, long-since retired South Shore equipment, and Amtrak odds and ends.

The latter included E units, E60 electric locomotives used on the Northeast Corridor in the 1970s, the experimental Swedish-built X2000, which tested in the 1990s, and a switcher built in 1939 that was once the passenger carrier’s oldest locomotive.

Paul also dropped in photographs of a Southern Railway steam excursion program trip and railfans who have since died.

Jim Mastromatteo is an aficionado of the Wheeling & Lake Erie and his program featured a gallery of Wheeling locomotives from primarily the 1990s.

Wrapping up the evening was Richard Antibus, who took us back in time in Akron to an era when Conrail was primarily responsible for the maintenance of the line it shared with CSX between AY and Warwick.

Akron was a far outpost for Conrail and it skimped on the track repairs. That led to slow trains and numerous derailments, the latter of which was the focus of Rich’s program.

We’re Having a Pizza Party on Feb. 25

February 20, 2017

The Akron Railroad Club’s February meeting will be the annual member’s night and pizza party. It will be held on Saturday, Feb. 25 in the social hall of the New Horizons Christian Church.

ARRC logoThere will be a $5 cover charge and doors will open at 5:30 p.m. The pizza will be furnished by Marcos with serving to begin at 6 p.m.

Sometime after 6:30 p.m. we’ll start the member presentations. There is no theme other than it should be railroad related.

We will have the club’s equipment to present slides, digital images or video. All of the club’s audio visual equipment will be available for use as needed.

We chose February for the member’s night because of a schedule conflict at the church for Feb. 24, the normal night of our February meeting.

The church wasn’t available that night because of a large youth group program. We could have Feb. 17, but the social hall wasn’t available on that date because it would be set up for a spaghetti supper the next day. We could meet that night but in a Sunday School room that could get crowded.

The third option was Saturday night on Feb. 25, which the officers elected to make the annual member’s night.

ARRC Officers Set 2017 Slate of Activities

January 27, 2017
arrc-officers

The 2017 officers of the Akron Railroad club are (from left) Jim Mastromatteo, secretary; Craig Sanders (seated in front), president; Paul Havasi, treasurer; Marty Surdyk, editor; and J. Gary Dillon, vice president.

I didn’t think that the Akron Railroad Club officer’s meeting held last Sunday would last all that long.

ARRC logoSure, we had a long list of items to discuss, but most them involved merely finalizing the dates for activities that we’ve had before.

We decided on the following activities and dates: Member’s night and pizza party (Feb. 25), Dave McKay Day in Berea (April 1), longest day in Bellevue (June 25), summer picnic at Warwick Park in Clinton (July 30), outing in Vermilion (Aug. 26), and the end of year dinner (Dec. 2).

The member’s night was set for a Saturday in February because of schedule conflicts at the church. The social hall is not available on the fourth Friday night of February due to a church activity.

We could meet on Feb. 17, but the social hall isn’t available on that night, either, because it will have been set up for the annual spaghetti supper that the church is having the next day. We would have to meet in a Sunday School classroom.

But we could have the social hall in the evening on Saturday, Feb. 25 if we wanted it. The officers elected to take that offer.

Last summer the club did well financially in having a silent auction of books from the collection of the late William Surdyk.

At the time, someone suggested we have a similar event for members wishing to unload railroad-related artifacts and memorabilia.

We liked that idea and quickly settled on having it at our July meeting.

However, working out the details proved time-consuming as we discussed rules and issues surrounding an activity the club has never sponsored before.

Those ground rules and guidelines are still being worked out and will be shared with the membership at a later date. But the event has a name: Roundhouse Rubble Auction.

But in essence, you will need to give Marty Surdyk by the May meeting a list of items you wish to sell.

Sellers have the option of setting a minimum bid – known as a reserve price – on their item.

Unless specified otherwise, items placed for sale will become property of the Akron Railroad Club if not sold at the silent auction and be offered for sale at train shows at which the ARRC has a table.

However, sellers have the right to specify that they want to take back their item(s) that do not sell during the auction.

The officers also discussed having a steam-themed event in September.

If the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 back, we will replicate the picnic that we had in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on the last day that the 765 operated in September 2016. It was one of our best-attended events of the year.

But we also discussed two other potential club outings. We’ve learned that a working steam locomotive might enter tourist train service this year on a short line near Buffalo, New York.

If it operates as we suspect it will, out of Eden, New York, we will look into chartering a bus and traveling to see that locomotive as well as the nearby Arcade & Attica steam train.

The other possibility involves reviving the overnight outing with a destination of Cumberland, Maryland, to see Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 in operation.

We expect to wrap up 2017 with the fifth annual end of year dinner at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s restaurant in Stow. Mark Demaline has agreed to do the program.

Mark is the newest member of the ARRC and a retired railroad executive who worked for CSX and the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

He is also an accomplished railroad photographer who presented a program to the ARRC a few years ago about railroads in Montana.

30 Enjoy ARRC End of Year Dinner

December 5, 2016
arrc-dinner-1

Roger Durfee (right) adjusts the slide projector prior to his program as Marty Surdyk looks on during the Akron Railroad Club end of year dinner on Saturday.

Thirty Akron Railroad Club members and guests enjoyed dinner and a program about the evolution of Conrail motive power on Saturday, Dec. 3 at the club’s annual end of year dinner.

Held at Beef ‘O’Brady’s restaurant in Stow, the highlight of the event was a slide show presented by ARRC member Roger Durfee that summarized the locomotives used by Conrail during its existence between April 1, 1976, when it was formed from by consolidating many of the assets of multiple bankrupt railroads, to its being divided on June 1, 1999, by Norfolk Southern and CSX.

Roger had just begun his photography career when Conrail came along and he was able to photograph the railroad’s operations from the beginning to the end.

By the time Conrail was carved up in 1999, Roger had been a employee of the railroad since 1998, working out of the Altoona, Pennsylvania, terminal.

The program was not intended to be a comprehensive review of Conrail motive power or the railroad’s sprawling network.

Over its lifetime, Conrail had several dozen makes, models and types of locomotives, many of which it inherited from its predecessor railroads.

In his program, Roger gave viewers a sense of what how Conrail motive power evolved to become the fleet that it had when it ended, although Conrail still exists in the sense that some of its properties operate under the Conrail shared assets banner or NS and CSX.

Roger focused his program on some of the older models that were frequent sights in Northeast Ohio, which was the location where most of the images he presented were made.

Conrail based in Cleveland many of the F units it operated in its early years. Most, although not all, of them came from Penn Central and served Conrail in a utilitarian black livery with a “CR” stenciled on  the nose and flanks.

However, Conrail found itself short of working power so it brought out of retirement for a time a number of former Erie Lackawanna F units wearing the EL’s  colorful livery.

Aside from Conrail in the Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown regions, Roger also took us to eastern Pennsylvania, including the Northeast Corridor to view Conrail locomotives that seldom if ever ventured westward.

The end of year dinner was the last ARRC activity o f 2016. An issue of eBulletin will be issued this week, but the paper Bulletin will not be published this month.

All Tickets Distributed for End of Year Dinner

November 28, 2016

We can’t call it a sellout because the tickets were free. But all of the 32 tickets available for the Akron Railroad Club’s end of year dinner have been distributed.

ARRC logoThe dinner will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s restaurant in Stow at 3732 Darrow Road.

Roger Durfee will present a slide program titled “One Man’s Journey With Big Blue.” Durfee will show with photographs and discuss how Conrail developed and evolved from its April 1, 1976, inception to its final years before being divided between Norfolk Southern and CSX on June 1, 1999.

Durfee, a conductor for NS, began his railroad career with Conrail.

The end of year dinner is limited to 32 attendees due to the small size of the meeting room in which it is held.

The event will begin with cocktails starting at approximately 5:30 p.m. We will order from the restaurant’s regular menu starting about 6 p.m. The program should get underway around 8 p.m.

The event is held on an individual settlement basis.

It will be the final ARRC activity for 2016. The club’s next event will be the January meeting.

Although the paper Bulletin is not published in December, the eBulletin will be distributed during the week of Dec. 4.

4 Tickets Left for ARRC End of Year Dinner

November 21, 2016

Just four tickets remain for the Dec. 3 Akron Railroad Club end of the year dinner.

ARRC logoTickets are free, but limited due to the small size of the meeting room that we reserved at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s restaurant in Stow.

To obtain a ticket, contact Marty Surdyk at  surdykm@aol.com

The program at the event will be a slide show presented by Roger Durfee titled “One Man’s Journey With Big Blue.” The program will look at Conrail from its beginning in April 1976 through its final days in May 1999.

A cocktail hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. and we’ll be ordering at about 6 p.m. Event attendees will order from the restaurant’s regular menu on an individual settlement basis.