Posts Tagged ‘Berea Ohio’

NS Dominates Turkey Bowl 15-7

December 12, 2022

Vehicle traffic was light as I made my way from my apartment in Parma to the railfan parking lot near BE Tower in Berea on Thanksgiving morning.

The last few years I’ve stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast before arrival at Berea, but this year they were CLOSED.

I parked across CSX from the tower and settled in. The scanner was quiet for now. After about 10 minutes some transmissions could be heard on a Norfolk Southern radio channel. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying.

Then a headlight came around the corner at the west end of the interlocking. An eastbound was coming. Its leader was NS 4432. There were five other black units behind the leader, so I wasn’t expecting any mid-train units.

As the last cars of the mixed train passed I noticed that it had a locomotive on the rear. BNSF 7322 was bringing up the markers. This happened at 6:52 a.m.

It took a little over 30 minutes for the next train to pass, this being NS 66X behind Canadian Pacific 9816 and Kansas City Southern 4016. They were instructed to at stop at Rockport Yard and pick up a cab signal-equipped unit, which would be NS 7266.

By now Steve LaConte and Mark Demaline had arrived and were greeted by the passage of NS intermodal train 269 from Buffalo. Most of the cars had snow packed into their recesses, the remnants of the 6 plus feet of lake effect snow that hit western New York a few days prior. The 269 was led by NS 8054 and two other black units.

CSX finally got into the act of running trains at 8:08 a.m. with the passage of an eastbound mixed freight behind CSX 3418 and CSX 9039.

Forty minutes later at 8:48 a.m. NS intermodal train 27P rolled by behind NS 4283 and NS 4409.

CSX was next with back-to-back westbound mixed freights. The M363 went by on Track 2 behind CSX 3263 and CSX 95. As its last cars passed a headlight was seen on Track 1. This was CSX M635 behind CSX 4565 on the lead and CSX 3458 half way back.

NS frac sand train 61X was next at 9:04 a.m. behind NS 4516 and CSX 4553. In the middle was NS 1139 and CP 8804. It looked like this may have been two trains put together because of its excessive length.

Ten minutes later CSX had M634 to run. This mixed freight was led by CSX 531 and three additional units.

While the M634 was going by NS L15 slipped by going east. It was led by NS 4064 and NS 4284. L15 is an intermodal turn job that hauls cars to and from the Maple Heights intermodal facility. It originates in Sandusky.

Next up 12 minutes later was NS mixed freight 148. It had NS 4327 and NS 9486 up front.

The crowd was growing as the attendees who went to breakfast at Bob Evan’s began to arrive. Jerry Jordak and Terry Chicwak had their drones in the air. Yes, both were flying legally having received permission from the FAA to fly in Hopkins Airport air space, something that is done via a phone app.

The last train of the 9 o’clock hour was NS 32N at 9:50 a.m. This eastbound mixed freight was led by NS 9574 and NS 4337.

The 10 o’clock hour began with another NS eastbound, the 66E tanker train led by NS 7659 ahead of BNSF 3990 and BNSF 685. The latter is still in Santa Fe red and silver and is tracked on HeritageUnits.com. Steve LaConte reported its whereabouts to that site.

The crew of the 66E was very short on time. The dispatcher wanted them to make it to the West Park Industrial Track to tie down.

The crew didn’t think they’d make it and have time to tie the train down. They ended up stopping at CP Max and left the train there until later when a yard crew came out and moved it to the West Park.

The train sat there the rest of the day and most of the rest of the weekend, not making it to Conway until sometime Sunday.

CSX auto rack train M205 was next on the scene behind CSX 3447 and CSX 844. Our second two at a time occurred at 10:18 a.m. as CSX I158 and NS 265 passed at the same time. The CSX train had CSX 376 and CSX 3474. Sorry, I did not catch any engine numbers on the NS 265.

After the doubleheader, we had about 20 minutes to catch our breath before CSX got busy again with the passage of M364 behind CSX 3248 going solo.

The last five trains of the day, at least for me, were NS. First up was eastbound intermodal train 28P behind a very clean Union Pacific 8616 and UP 6380. It was recorded at 10:50 a.m.

Just five minutes after 28P went by NS ran intermodal train 265 west behind BNSF 6998 and BNSF 7003.

About 10 minutes passed before another NS eastbound tanker train was heard and then seen. Train 6E4 was led by NS 9570, Canadian National 3859 and CN 2652.

At 11:35a.m. NS ran westbound stack train 23G. It was led by NS 7601, NS 9667 and UP 7206.

My last train, NS eastbound double-stack 268, went by at 11:44 a.m. behind NS 7579 and UP 2627.

I had set a noon deadline to head home and get ready to head out for Thanksgiving dinner at my niece’s house. I actually left at 12:05 p.m. after six-and-a half hours and 22 trains with motive power from all seven Class I North American railroads. Not bad. And add to that sunny skies with unseasonably warm temperatures.

This was the best weather and train count day we’ve had in quite a few years. See you next year.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Not Much to Look at But I Appreciate it Now

November 21, 2022

This CSX SD40-2 leading an auto rack train through Berea won’t win any beauty contests but in its own way it has a certain visual appeal. And that is despite the rust, mismatched number boards, faded paint, and generally battered appearance.

The 8068 was built for the Louisville & Nashville in October 1979 and later served the Seaboard System motive power fleet. It appears to have an earlier CSX livery iteration that is well worn and weathered.

Today such sights would be rare on CSX for the carrier doesn’t have that many standard cab locomotives left in road train service.

The image was made on April 29, 2000, and was scanned from color negative film.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

RRE Sets Annual Turkey Shoot in Berea for Nov. 24

November 21, 2022

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts will conduct its annual turkey shoot outing on Thanksgiving morning in Berea on Nov. 24.

Attendees will meet in the west end of the parking lot of the Berea Depot restaurant and watch and photograph trains until late morning.

The action will include trains of CSX and Norfolk Southern at one of northern Ohio’s busiest hot spots.

An optional breakfast has been set at the Bob Evans at West 130th Street and Brookpark Road at 8 a.m. when the restaurant opens.

In past years some RRE members have eaten at the nearby Bob’s Big Boy but it won’t open on Thanksgiving morning until 9 a.m.

The turkey shoot outing has been an RRE tradition since 1975.

Division Change Point

September 29, 2022

Until the latter years of Conrail, the west edge of the Berea interlocking plant was the boundary of three divisions. The Dearborn Division had the Chicago Line west of CP 194 while the Indianapolis Line west of Berea was in the Indianapolis Division. The interlocking plant itself and everything east of it was in the Pittsburgh Division.

Shown in the top image is the division sign on the Chicago Line reminding crews that they have crossed into the Dearborn Division. As seen in the bottom image, the other side of that sign read “Pittsburgh Div.”

The Dearborn Division would later take over all of Conrail’s tracks in Cleveland and the Pittsburgh Division didn’t begin until near Ravenna. However, until the end of Conrail operations here in 1999, the Indianapolis Division continued to end at the west edge of the Berea interlocking plant.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Off to a New Life

September 7, 2022

Former Conrail SW1500 No. 9566 is off to a new assignment. Its Conrail markings have been painted over and a line drawn through its roster number indicates it has been retired by Conrail. Next to it is SD40-2 No. 6456. The train is passing through Berea on the Chicago Line in May 1997.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

The View From Berea Tower

August 28, 2022

A westbound Conrail stack train rumbles through Berea in a view made from Berea Tower. I had permission to be on the property to gather information for an article for Trains magazine. The date is Oct. 8, 1994.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

What They Won’t See in Berea Today

August 6, 2022

Today is the annual Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day outing in Berea and those who attend will, no doubt, see some interesting sights on CSX and Norfolk Southern.

But here are two things they won’t see. In the top image, a westbound Conrail train led by an SD60M No. 5514 passes Berea Tower in May 1997. Conrail, of course, was split between NS and CSX in 1999. Some former Conrail locomotives on still on the motive power rosters of both companies, but all have been repainted into the liveries of their current owners.

NS ES44AC No. 8098 has been repainted into the Conrail livery as part of the Class 1 railroad’s heritage unit fleet, but whether it will pass through Berea today is uncertain. It was last spotted and reported to the website HeritageUnits.com on Aug. 1 at Hudson, Pennsylvania, leading train 10Z in the Northeast quadrant of the Keystone state.

But at least there is a possibility of seeing a locomotive wearing Conrail paint in Berea. There is no chance of seeing an open auto rack car unless it is being moved to a museum. Yet in 1999 it was possible to see such a car in revenue service even by then it was uncommon.

Shown is a CN car on May 15, 1999, passing through Berea. Note the different between that car and the adjoining enclosed auto rack car.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Distinctive Visitors in Berea

May 14, 2022

Catching and photographing the CSX executive train in its distinctive and attractive Baltimore & Ohio inspired livery has been on my “to do” list ever since the scheme debuted.

But the executive train doesn’t operate all that often and when it does you have to be in the right place at the right time.

That right place and right time for me occurred on May 11. I happened to be in Cleveland on business and had the opportunity to spend time in Berea that morning.

I saw on Heritage Units.com that the three CSX F40PH-2 units were on the road, having left Buffalo, New York, around 6:15 a.m. en route to Chicago.

I figured that would put them through Berea around mid to late morning depending on traffic and dispatching preference.

Sure enough, there were some railfans on hand waiting for train P001, including Akron Railroad Club President Todd Dillon. He had information that P001 blew through Collinwood Yard on Cleveland’s east side and would soon be bearing down on us. That would put it through Berea not long after 9 a.m.

I stood near the tree by the Dave McKay memorial with a cluster of other railfans and waited. It wasn’t long before I could hear P001 calling signal indications over the radio.

Then a headlight came into view. I looked through my camera lens and waited. At that point it seemed as though the train had stopped.

In fact, it had. Just east of Berea a broken air hose sent the train into emergency.

Although CSX dispatched a maintenance truck to the scene, it wasn’t needed. The crew resolved the problem and P001 was on the move, albeit at restricted speed.

Among the onlookers watching the train come through were Rita and Rich Volosyn of Brunswick. Their son Paul was the locomotive engineer assigned to P001 and was working from Buffalo to Willard.

Also on hand was a CSX special agent to ensure that no one got too close to the tracks.

The 12-car train was led by CSX1, CSX2 and CSX3. The trio of F40s are former Amtrak units. They were lined up elephant style and made for an impressive sight.

CSX1 was built in April 1978 and given Amtrak roster number 280. After being retired by Amtrak, it was picked up by the Ohio Central System, where it continued to carry roster number 280.

After CSX acquired the unit, it renumbered it 9998. Upon being repainted into the B&O scheme, it was renumbered CSX1.

On the rear of the train was theater car W. Thomas Rice. But its shades were drawn, which suggested no one was aboard. The train also featured dome car Moonlight Dome. Built in 1947 for the Chesapeake & Ohio for its planned but never launched Chessie streamliner.

The B&O acquired the car in December 1950 where it operated on the Shenandoah and, after October 1963, the Capitol Limited. It later ran on the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Coast Line before ending up on the Amtrak roster. After being sold by Amtrak Moonlight Dome had a series of owners, including The Cincinnati Railway Company, which sold it to CSX in 2020.

Last Day of Conrail in Berea

April 21, 2022

It is May 31, 1999, the last day of Conrail operation. Come Monday Norfolk Southern and CSX will take over operating their respective segments of Conrail.

The last day of Conrail fell on a Sunday and I spent much of the day in Berea watching Conrail trains for the final time.

My recollection is traffic on that day was less than normal. Much of what what ran were intermodal and auto rack trains.

Show above is a three-image sequence of a westbound auto rack train. In the top image the train is about to cross Front Street. In the bottom image the rear of the train is passing the former Big Four passenger depot.

You may notice in the middle image that the motive power consist includes units of CSX and NS. The Conrail lead unit has already been patched for the railroad that will take it over.

The next time I would visit Berea the tracks shown here would be CSX property.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

McKay Day Memories

April 2, 2022

For more than a decade the Akron Railroad Club had a tradition of gathering on the first Saturday in April for a day of train watching in Berea. Known as Dave McKay Day, the event paid tribute to the second longest-serving ARRC president, David A. McKay, who died in December 2004 shortly after stepping down from his 12-year tenure as ARRC president.

The downside to holding a railfanning event in early April in Northeast Ohio is that the weather could be anything from snow and cold to sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s. During the 14 years McKay Day was held on the first Saturday in April, we saw it all.

In 2019 the McKay Day date was shifted to May in hopes of having better weather and better attendance.

The two images shown above were made on April 2, 2016. The day began partly cloudy and there was nice sunlight for the first few trains that I photographed after arriving around 8 a.m.

But those conditions wouldn’t last. The weather went from partly cloudy to cloudy to back to partly cloudy and then to winter when light snow fell in mid afternoon.

Those conditions prompted the handful of us who were still there to call it a day and head to the Berea Union Depot Taverne for dinner. The snow was really coming down by the time I got home that night.

I chose these two images because they are among the few I made that day with nice light. In the top image an eastbound is passing a westbound between the depot and the Front Street overpass.

The bottom image shows that westbound a couple minutes earlier. It has yet to reach Front Street. This is a view that few photographs seem to seek out while photographing trains in Berea.

When McKay Day fell early in April, which was often the case, the national semifinals of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament were played the same day.

In 2016, the Final Four was Villanova, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Syracuse. Games were played in Houston and the tournament was won by Villavnova. This year the Final Four features two of those 2016 teams, Villanova and North Carolina. Others are Duke and Kansas. The semifinal games will be played Saturday night in New Orleans.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders