Posts Tagged ‘ARRC railfan outings’

ARRC to Meet Aug. 23, Railfan in Vermilion Aug. 24

August 19, 2019

The Akron Railroad Club will hold its August meeting on Friday, Aug. 23 at 8 p.m. at the New Horizons Christian Church at 290 Darrow Road in Akron.

Three presenters will team up to give the program.

Long-time ARRC member Richard Antibus will show slides made in and around Orrville, Ohio, in the 1980s

The program will feature events that were sponsored in part by the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society and are no longer held.

Those include Orrville Depot Days, the Medina Loop excursion train, the Santa train and the Spirit of Charleston. Rich will also show many personalities of the day.

ARRC member Tom Goughnour will show photographs he made during a visit to the Whitewater Valley Railroad tourist railroad in Indiana.

Tom made a trip on the railroad from Metamora to Connersville that followed the Whitewater Canal.

He also visited a car museum in Connersville where manufactured Aburns, Duesenbergs and Cords were once built. He got a ride in one of the cars from Richmond to Cambridge City.

Brian Szemon will round out the programs with images of the Union Pacific 4-8-8-4 Big Boy steam locomotive during its trip last May from Evanston, Wyoming, to Ogden, Utah.

The program will offer images made at Promontory Point, Utah, after the official celebration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.

Brian may also have images shots of the UP Big Boy’s trip from Chicago to Iowa in July.

The ARRC also will be holding its annual railfan outing to Vermilion on Aug. 24 to watch and photograph Norfolk Southern operations.

The NS Chicago Line and Cleveland District pass through Vermilion.

The outing will begin at the city’s boat launch on the Vermilion River, which features a view of the Chicago Line crossing the river.

Later in the day participants will hang out at the railfan platform in downtown Vermilion next to the Chicago Line.

Those still there in the evening will have dinner at the Quaker Steak and Lube restaurant on Liberty Street east of downtown Vermilion.

ARRC Memorial Day Weekend Memories

May 27, 2019

Although The May meeting of the Akron Railroad Club meeting almost always is on the Friday leading into the Memorial Day weekend, the club has generally avoided having outings near or on holidays.

It made an exception in 2006. Even though I was in my second year as president then, I don’t recall why we chose the holiday weekend that year for an outing.

The plan was to go to Greenwich, but Marty Surdyk said he would spend the first part of the day at the above ground reservoir in nearby New London.

I’d never been there at the time so I and several others followed his lead and met there in the morning.

Most of the group spent a few hours atop the reservoir, which offers a nice panoramic view of CSX trains on what it today is known as the Greenwich Subdivision.

It can be fun and even instructive to look back at images you made during long-ago photo expeditions to see how much things have changed.

Consider the top photograph of an eastbound passing the reservoir. Note how new the BNSF “War Bonnet” looks. Yet, it had been in service for nine years when this image was made.

Your long ago photographs can also show what hasn’t changed in the intervening years, including the basic Norfolk Southern locomotive livery as seen in the trailing unit behind BNSF 757.

If you’ve seen a War Bonnet, you know that the paint has badly faded on many of them and BNSF has shown no inclination to give them a touch up or refreshing.

The middle image shows a surprise sighting of a caboose still wearing Chessie System colors but with CSX markings along with a liberal amount of graffiti. It was also on the rear of a westbound and we weren’t sure where it was going or why it was traveling there.

By mid afternoon the New London contingent had relocated to Greenwich to join the ARRC members who had spent all day there.

We were watching an oncoming westbound on the former Big Four, which had a signal for a straight move onto what is today the Mt. Victory Subdivision.

Marty was looking at the train through a telephoto lens and proclaimed, “that looks like an F40.”

I didn’t believe him at first. What would a passenger unit be doing pulling a train on a holiday weekend?

But he was correct. CSX F40PH 9992 was pulling three passenger cars from the railroad’s executive fleet.

We speculated that the train was bound for Indianapolis to pick up VIPs attending the Indianapolis 500, which was held that day.

The train had a theater car on the rear but the shades were pulled over the windows, suggesting the train did not have any passengers.

It would be the first and thus far only time that I’ve spotted the CSX executive train.

No. 9992 was built by EMD in August 1981 as Amtrak No. 390. A review of my trip logs shows I’ve ridden behind it twice on Amtrak.

It was on the point of the San Francisco Zephyr when I rode it from Chicago to Denver in October 1981, when it was about two months old. It also led the Cardinal in April 1990 on a trip I rode from Chicago to Indianapolis.

Not too long after the passage of the passenger train, the ARRC outing in Greenwich came to a close. I don’t recall us going anywhere to have dinner together as some guys typically have done at the conclusion of a longest day outing.

And that’s the way it was on May 28, 2006, which has turned out to be the last time the ARRC held an outing in New London or Greenwich.

McKay Day 2019

May 5, 2019

There was still some fog hanging in the air as CSX intermodal train Q020 passed through Berea during the 2019 Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day.

A variety of atmospheric conditions have greeted those participating in the annual Dave McKay Day outing to Berea since the first one began in a snowstorm in 2005.

Add rain and fog to the list.

Traditionally, the McKay Day outing was held on the first Saturday of April. But this year the officers decided to make it the first Saturday in May.

That’s wasn’t a bad idea, but this year it didn’t work. The first Saturday in April had much better weather.

Fog gripped Berea just after sunrise on May 4, 2019. I arrived around 7:20 a.m. and figured that maybe I could get some special effects images due to the fog.

However, there wasn’t enough fog to create any special effects and by the time the first train came through — CSX eastbound stack train Q020 — the fog had begun lifting.

For about two hours I was the only ARRC member on hand. Then I was joined by Bill Kubas, Rick Houck and Paul Woodring. Former members Alex Bruchac and Dennis Taksar joined just later in the day.

The train action was fairly stead with no hour-long lulls. There were a few trains with the usual suspects of foreign power, including BNSF, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National.

A fair number of Union Pacific units came through, but all were trailing.

No special interest locomotives made an appearance unless you count the Erie heritage unit that came through on the lead of 21M in the middle of the night when no one was around.

For the most part it was just the usual assortment of traffic you can expect to see in Berea during daylight hours on any given day.

CSX is making greater use of distributed power, which we saw on crude oil, intermodal and manifest freights.

The weather never improved much during the day. It was cloudy and cool, not ideal conditions for making photographs. For the most part, my camera stayed in its bag during the day.

It was a nice day, though, to have conversation. Socializing is, of course, one of the main purposes of these events.

Although the event is named after the late David McKay, we never talked about him during our conversations. Maybe that’s to be expected given that he’s been gone for 14 years.

I did think about Dave as I drifted westward on the grassy strip next to the CSX tracks.

I noticed that some shine on the lettering on the memorial plaque commemorating Dave is starting to wear off.

I also wondered what happened to that simple folding chair he used to sit on while awaiting the next train. He’d place that chair under a tree that still stands near his memorial.

Presumably, the McKay Day outing will continue in 2020. With attendance being very light in recent years it’s not what it used to be.

McKay Day was traditionally first ARRC outing of the year. Whatever happens to the McKay Day down the road, one thing will remain the same. There will still be lot of trains passing Dave’s memorial in Berea.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A few flats cars of vehicles was in the consist of Norfolk Southern train 14N. Are these military vehicles?

An eastbound CSX manifest freight with a cut of grain hoppers behind the motive power.

A pair of Canadian National locomotives headed a westbound CSX auto rack train.

Trying to Stay Dry on Vermilion Day

August 29, 2018

An eastbound coal train crosses the Vermilion River on the Chicago Line at about 4:30 p.m. during the Akron Railroad Club outing in Vermilion. Where was a boat on the river when we needed it?

It started with rain and ended with rain. In between we managed to see some Norfolk Southern action interspersed with long periods of waiting.

And that in a nutshell summarizes the 2018 Akron Railroad Club day in Vermilion that was attended by eight members.

As we expected, most of the action was on the Chicago Line, which boasted its usual assortment of manifests, intermodals and single commodity trains.

But the iffy weather meant that few boats were plying the Vermilion River by the boat launch that was our base of operations for much of the day.

No NS heritage units came through but the 9-1-1 unit made an appearance late in the afternoon trailing in the motive power consist of a coal train.

Two ARRC members saw it from the rail platform in downtown Vermilion, but three of us missed it because we were in Huron seeking photographs of trains passing beneath the old signal bridge with its Type G signal heads that NS is about to replace.

It took a long wait before an eastbound and westbound came through Huron.

In the meantime, we heard the Toledo East dispatcher talking to trains east of us and multiple trains coming onto the Chicago Line and turning west in Sandusky from the Sandusky District.

Those of us in Huron missed the 9-1-1 unit because its train diverged from the Chicago Line west of Vermilion and went to the Cleveland District en route to Bellevue.

The Cleveland District, which is the former Nickel Plate Road mainline, was largely quiet during the day.

As I arrived in the Vermilion area I spotted an eastbound stack train east of town on the Cleveland District.

Presumably it was either the 206 or the 22K and had taken the new connection west of Vermilion that allows eastbound trains on the Chicago Line to move onto the Cleveland District.

Otherwise, the only other train on the Cleveland District was eastbound manifest freight 210, which had one locomotive on each end, something we’d never seen on this train.

One eastbound coal train came past with BNSF motive power and a few trains had former CSX units still wearing their CSX colors.

The rain stopped around mid day and gradually the clouds moved out to afford us alternating sunny skies and conditions of sun and clouds.

But as the five of us who had dinner at Quaker Steak and Lube came out of the restaurant about 9:45 p.m. light rain was falling and continued to fall throughout my drive home. Maybe that was a fitting way to end our day.

ARRC member Todd Vander Sluis (blue shirt) watches the L13 as it passes the former passenger station in Vermilion.

ARRC member Alan Nagy gets video of westbound NS stack train 25V as it races through Vermilion. It was the last train we saw before going to dinner and then calling it a day.

ARRC Longest Day is Sunday in Bellevue

June 21, 2017

The Akron Railroad Club will use the Kemper Railfan Park in Bellevue for its base of operations for the 2017 longest day outing.

Although it has been less than two years since the Akron Railroad Club held an outing in Bellevue, the club’s last longest day outing there occurred on June 27, 2010.

The outing was memorable for being cut short in late afternoon by a major thunderstorm.

We retreated to the Bob Evans restaurant in Norwalk for dinner and were greeted with a rainbow upon leaving. By then the storm had moved on.

Much has changed since the last ARRC longest day in Bellevue. The NS motive power fleet has grown more colorful with the addition of 20 heritage locomotives paying tribute to NS predecessor railroad.

The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum has added a railfan park on Monroe Street inside the NS mini plant, and the yard has been enlarged and named after former NS President and CEO Charles “Wick” Moorman.

With any luck we will be able to bag an NS heritage locomotive and maybe a train or two on the Wheeling & Lake Erie, which also comes into Bellevue.

Foreign power from Union Pacific, BNSF and Canadian National makes regular appearances in Bellevue.

It’s a given that there will be a lot of trains throughout the day. But we won’t be seeing the RoadRailer trains that we saw in 2010 and high-hood diesels, once a common sight in Bellevue, are pretty much gone.

Also gone are the Nickel Plate Road-style block signals on the Fostoria District, the Pennsylvania Railroad position light signals on the Sandusky District and the searchlight signals on the Toledo District. They’ve all been replaced by Safetrans signals.

The traffic mix will be mostly merchandise freight and auto rack trains. Some intermodal trains run on the Sandusky District, many of which take a connection between the Sandusky and Fostoria districts near Slaughterhouse Road on the south side of town.

As with other ARRC longest day events, it begins when the first person arrives and ends when the last person leaves.

The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum will be open between noon and 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors (age 60 and older) and $5 for children (ages 5 to 12).

A portion of the museum’s collection, though, can be seen for free. This includes some locomotives and rolling stock.

Those still around at the end of the day will likely gather somewhere for dinner before heading home.

Maybe it will be the Bob Evans in Norwalk or somewhere else. It remains to be seen.

The focal point of the day will be the Kemper Railfan Park. It features a pavilion with tables and is strategically located to see most rail traffic in and out of Bellevue.

Parking along Monroe Street at the park is limited, so you might have to park across the tracks in a large gravel lot.

Also be advised that there are no restroom facilities at the railfan park.

As for food, there is a pizza shop (Pizza House West) within walking distance that is said by some railfans to be good. Subway has a shop at 301 East Main Street and there are a variety of restaurants in town including the standard fast food joints of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, East of Chicago Pizza, Marco’s Pizza, Burger King and Taco Bell.

Local establishments include Bone Boy’s BBQ The Smokehouse, Pizza Wheel, Twin Lakes Restaurant, Jenny’s Amsden House Restaurant, Happy Garden, Fontana’s Italian Eatery, Casa Mexicana, Little Italy Pizza, and Long Way Home Family Restaurant.

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.

11th Annual Dave McKay Day is Saturday in Berea

March 30, 2015

Akron Railroad Club members will gather this Saturday in Berea to take in the action on Norfolk Southern and CSX during the 11th annual Dave McKay Day.

The all-day outing is named after the longest-serving ARRC president. Berea, a suburb of Cleveland, was one of Dave’s favorite locations to watch and photograph trains.

About 80 trains a day pass through Berea on a given day with a mixture of intermodal, manifest, coal, tanker and auto rack trains.

With any luck at all, we might see the Wheeling & Lake Erie train that uses CSX trackage rights from Wellington and continues on Norfolk Southern to Campbell Road Yard.

If we are really lucky, we might get a Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive or two. Last year’s McKay netted the Wabash heritage unit, although it was trailing.

Early birds might even catch one of the four Amtrak trains that pass through. All are scheduled to reach Berea during the darkness hours, but if one is running late it might bet to BE around sunrise.

Given that this is late April, the weather can be unpredictable. We had everything from snow and cold to a warm sunny day.

A tradition of the McKay Day outing is the taking of a group portrait during the afternoon next to the plaque honoring Dave.

Some members plan to have dinner at the nearby Berea Union Depot Taverne, which is housed in the former Big Four passenger station. We expect to have dinner at about 6 p.m.

As always, the outing begins when the first person arrives and ends when the last person leaves in the evening. Come early and stay late while enjoying railroad action at Northeast Ohio’s No. 1 hotspot.