Posts Tagged ‘ARRC eBulletin’

Amtrak Dining Car Memories in June eBulletin

June 21, 2018

The June 2018 eBulletin of the Akron  Railroad Club features a series of stories about dining car service on Amtrak.

The carrier earlier this month removed full-service dining from its two trains serving Northeast Ohio, the Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited, in favor of what it has termed “fresh and contemporary” dining.

That amounts to cold meals served in plastic boxes that sleeping car passengers can eat in their rooms or in a diner turned sleeping car lounge.

ARRC members Jack Norris and Craig Sanders provide some memories of meals and dining companions while the Clear Block column takes a historical view of railroads and their dining service.

The June issue also has the latest railroad industry news and a previous of the ARRC longest day outing to Fostoria on June 24,

If You Think You Want to be a Newsletter Editor You Better Have a Passion for It

June 16, 2018

As you probably read above, Akron Railroad Club Bulletin Editor Marty Surdyk has decided to step down when his term expires in November.

He announced his “retirement” once before in the Bulletin but then started hemming and hawing about it not long after.

Marty is correct in saying that major changes could lie in store for the ARRC. I can envision a scenario whereby the club ends the year with less than a full complement of officers.

It is not difficult to imagine how that could happen. The membership of the ARRC is older and older men tend not to want to commit to being an officer of an organization.

There also is a dynamic involved in many, if not most, groups whereby most members would rather be followers than leaders.

It remains to be seen if enough ARRC members will step up and agree to fill the soon to be vacant officer positions.

It may be that the club will have to improvise and spread the officer duties among whatever core of people agree to serve as officers.

The ARRC could be run with as few as two officers. One person could preside at meetings and serve as program director. The other could serve as secretary-treasurer.

In the meantime, there remains some unfinished business left over from the April meeting pertaining to the newsletter.

That includes when to start publishing the Bulletin every other month and how to address the subscription cost issue.

It would not surprise me if these issues end up resolving themselves. If no one agrees serve as Bulletin editor there won’t be a newsletter anymore.

Of perhaps someone will take on the job, find out it is more work than he imagined and decide he doesn’t want to do it anymore.

Earlier this year, I received an email message from a man who belongs to a railfan club in Atlanta.

He had been reading on the ARRC blog about our newsletter issues and shared with me what happened in his club.

The Atlanta club’s newsletter fell by the wayside several years ago. The club also began having fewer outside activities until they dwindled to a Christmas season dinner at a member’s home.

What remains are the monthly meetings and program.

Sometimes the members exchange email messages if they have news to share.

I can see this being the future of the ARRC starting as early as next year. But I learned a long time ago that I can’t predict the future, only discern trends based on what I am seeing now.

Marty’s message also made a pertinent point in the last sentence that I’ve experienced many times since taking over as ARRC president in 2005, but most often after starting the ARRC blog and, later, the eBulletin.

He wrote that it can be demoralizing to think you are doing your best but no one cares. I know where Marty is coming from on this.

I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve wondered as I’m gathering and writing information for the blog or the eBulletin why I’m doing it.

I’m not getting paid to do it. I’m getting precious little recognition for it. It probably will do nothing to advance my professional writing career.

People write articles and edit publications for them to be read. It is not that you expect droves of people to comment about your articles or your publication, but it would be nice to be appreciated every once in a while and for the audience to engage with you.

Otherwise, you wonder if anyone is even reading your newsletter. Is it important to them?

They might say that it is, but is it really? Are they just being polite?

During the April meeting I purposely posed the question of eliminating the newsletter altogether.

That was voted down, but I wonder if that is more because the members think the club ought to have a newsletter rather than any strong affinity for it or, more importantly, wanting to be engaged with it.

If someone does agree to continue serving as editor of the Bulletin, he will need to take that on because he has a passion for writing and editing. He will need to derive a great deal of personal satisfaction from gathering and presenting information.

You must take that leap of faith that your work matters even in the face of lack of or skimpy evidence that it does.

You also must have a lot of pride in what you are doing and believe it to be essential to your own sense of worth. When you finish that article or publication you must feel that sense of pride in having done something that you can feel good about.

Having spent nearly all of my adult life involved with professional journalism, information gathering and presenting is in my DNA.

But that is not the case with most people, particularly when it comes to writing.

Most people love to present information orally. It comes as naturally to them as breathing.

But sitting down at a keyboard to write that information, well that is work and most people consider it to be hard work.

And a lot of people lack confidence in their writing skills.

In his retirement announcement, Marty said he’s been editor for 26 years, which is about twice as long as I’ve been ARRC president.

I will repeat a comment I made once before about Marty. Where would the ARRC be without him?

Marty’s value to the ARRC has transcended his official duties as Bulletin editor.

Once he retires as an office, that value is going to become to be apparent because it won’t be easily replaced if it is replaced at all.

Commentary by Craig Sanders

May eBulletin Features Visit to LTEX Rail

May 22, 2018

The cover story of the May 2018 eBulletin features a visit to LTEX Rail in McDonald, Ohio. LTEX is a locomotive sales, leasing and repair business that primarily serves the short-line railroad industry.

Also appearing in the eBulletin is a story written by ARRC member Ed Ribinksas about his trip with Jeff Troutman to central Pennsylvania in late April to chase Everett Railroad steam locomotive No. 11 as well as hang out by the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern.

Another feature is a story and photographs of the days when the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society used to hold its Depot Days in June in the Conrail era.

The June issue of the eBulletin is expected to feature memories of dining in Amtrak dining cars.

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.

In the February ARRC eBulletin

February 21, 2018

The cover story in the February issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin is a look at operations of Canadian National in Conneaut.

Many don’t think of CN as being a Northeast Ohio railroad, but it is, albeit with limited operations.

As was the case when the ancestor of the former Bessemer & Lake Erie was founded in the late 19th century, the CN’s Bessemer Subdivision makes its living hauling iron ore mined in Minnesota and used to make steel in the Pittsburgh area.

The Bessemer Sub is an orphan operation that does not connect directly with the rest of the CN network. Yet it is an interesting one for those willing to take the time to get to know it.

The March issue of the eBulletin will be distributed the week of March 25 and feature an article titled Searching for the Erie Lackawanna.

In the January 2018 ARRC eBulletin

January 23, 2018

When Mark Demaline sent images last month of Amtrak trains in winter in Northeast Ohio to use in the January 2018 Akron Railroad Club eBulletin, I got quite excited. Many railfans have a favorite locomotive and mine is the Amtrak SDP40F in the Phase I livery.

They were the passenger carrier’s first new diesel motive power and had a rather short life in revenue service, with some operating for a mere four years.

The locomotives first showed up in June 1973, although not in Ohio, and another order went into service the following year. Most long-distance trains were pulled by the big cowl units.

The SDP40F was implicated in a series of derailments that began not long after the second batch of them entered service. Some railroads blamed the locomotive and banned them from their rails. Amtrak eventually decided to replace them with F40PHs.

The Lake Shore Limited was one of the last long-distance trains hosted by Conrail to regularly be pulled by SDP40F units. In Mark’s feature, you’ll see not just SDP40Fs but also a few E units that pulled Nos. 48 and 49 for a time. Mark’s piece is a look at an era that was rather short in duration.

Also in the January 2018 eBulletin is a rundown of the ARRC activities planned for this year and I take a look at the track ahead for the club. Changes lie on the horizon, but we won’t be seeing any of them until late this year. Of course there are two pages of the latest railroad news.

Speaking of looking ahead, the February eBulletin will have a feature on railfanning Canadian National in Conneaut. CN now operates the former Bessemer & Lake Erie there. It is an operation that is orphaned from the rest of the CN network.

December ARRC eBulletin Examines Last Decade of Baltimore & Ohio Passenger Service in Akron

December 5, 2017

One Friday morning in January 1964, Baltimore & Ohio President Jervis Langdon called a young up-and-coming executive and directed him to jot down his ideas as to how to “straighten out our passenger problem.”

Paul Reistrup would create over the weekend a blueprint that would form the basis for a bootstrap campaign to bring B&O passenger operations to the point of covering its direct costs.

Reistrup’s plan got a lot of attention, but ultimately fell short. That led the B&O to engage in an orderly retreat from the intercity rail passenger business that culminated with the coming of Amtrak on May 1, 1971.

The cover story of the December 2017 issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin will examine the last decade of B&O passenger service through Akron with a focus on the campaign that Reistrup designed.

To receive a copy of the electronic magazine or to subscribe (it’s free!), send an email message to

In the October 2017 ARRC eBulletin

October 24, 2017

The October 2017 issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin is now out and the cover story features a look at the New Castle Subdivision of CSX.

Akron’s mainline railroad features a moderate level of traffic and can be notorious for being feast or famine, and sometimes both, for those who venture trackside to observe and photograph its operations.

Originally the primary route to Chicago of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the New Castle Sub today is part of a Chicago-Middle Atlantic route for CSX.

The eBulletin also has railroad industry news and the thoughts of editor Craig Sanders about what he learned as the author of eight books on railroad history.

To receive a free copy of the October eBulletin send an email message to

In the September ARRC eBulletin

September 18, 2017

The September 2017 issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin features a tribute to the late Jerry Joe Jacobson.

Jacobson, 74, died on Sept. 13 after a long illness and was a lifetime member of the Akron Railroad Club. He was the best friend the club ever had and we would not be the organization we are today without his generosity in allowing us to sell tickets for various steam excursions in order to raise money.

The tribute to Jerry includes an overview of his life, a personal tribute written by ARRC member Paul Woodring, and a story Jerry and the ARRC.

This month’s issue also has report from our picnic in the Valley held this past Sunday and a wrapup of our day in Vermilion held last month.

To obtain a copy of the eBulletin or to subscribe, send an email message to Single copies and subscriptions are free.

Conrail in Berea Cover Story of August eBulletin

August 22, 2017

When I moved to Ohio in August 1993 I set out to find a railfan spot that I had heard about while living in Pennsylvania. Berea was the epicenter of the Conrail “X” and I would quickly discover that it was as good as advertised.

But it was more than trains that made Berea a special place to be. There was a core of regulars who spent weekends in Berea and in time I got know those guys.

I’ve written about my Berea weekends in Conrail days in the cover story of the August issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin.

Also in this month’s issue is a story about the July ARRC picnic at Warwick Park and information about two upcoming ARRC activities.

To request a copy of the August eBulletin or to become a subscriber, send an email to There is no charge for back issues and the subscription is free.