Posts Tagged ‘Berea Ohio’

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

One Long Ago Day in Berea

April 1, 2022

It was a typical Sunday day of railfanning in Berea. An eastbound CSX manifest freight stopped to wait for traffic ahead to clear. The date was Feb. 27, 2000, more than two decades ago. Could it have been that long ago? Well, it was.

The lead unit, former Conrail C40-8W No. 7395 still wearing its Conrail livery, halted a short distance past the former Big Four depot in Berea, which at the time was a restaurant named the Pufferbelly.

The engineer saw me trackside with my camera and invited me to come up to the cab. That was not something that happened often.

So I did and made a few images, including this one looking eastward from the engineer’s side.

Much has changed since this image was made. The bar next to the tracks on Front Street, once known as Fat Pat’s, has been razed. Front Street itself now crosses over the tracks on a bridge. The Pufferbelly would undergo at least one ownership change and is now known as the Berea Depot Bar and Restaurant, one of many names it has had over the years

But the concrete structures plant is still there along with the brown industrial building along Front Street. CSX still owns these tracks and railfans still gather here on Sundays to watch trains while hoping to see something just a little out of the ordinary.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

The 6 O’Clock Alarm Was Most Welcome

December 5, 2021

There’s a song by The Monkees titled Daydream Believer that has a line that goes “the 6 o’clock  alarm would never ring.”

On most mornings that I don’t have to work that would be a good thing, but on Thanksgiving morning, the 6 a.m. alarm had better ring; I’ve got trains to watch.

Up and out the door ASAP, I could hear a train rumble off in the distance as I headed to my Jeep in the parking lot of my apartment complex.

I turned on the scanner to hear “eye oh 20, Clear 14, two east”

“Take it easy approaching the tunnels eye oh 20; eye 157 is coming west and he’ll go first,” the
CSX dispatcher announced.

I decided to head straight to Berea, with a stop at the drive-thru at Dunkin’ Donuts for some
breakfast along the way.

I took one bite of my croissant sandwich when a headlight appeared to the east on CSX. I 157 was
approaching. At 6:54 a.m. the first train of the day was logged. CSX 4551 and CSX 5389 were
heading a train of stacks and racks.

I had breakfast finished by the time the time the next move came by. It was NS 13Q. This mixed
freight was lead by a trio of NS 1189, NS 1184 and CSX 490.

As the last cars of 13Q were going by a headlight on CSX heralded an eastbound. This was Q560 with CSX 5346 and . . . “hey, what’s that last unit,” I thought to myself.

I caught the number as 4006. It was painted like an American Flag on the front and camouflage on the rear. “Have to look that up when I get home.”

About 10 minutes later NS had a hi-rail truck patrolling No. 1 track from Berea down to
CP Drawbridge. NS would be single tracking for the near future.

The scanner was quiet, and I was getting tired of sitting, so I walked down Depot Street to
Rocky River Drive and looked over the bridge replacement that NS is doing where Rocky River
Drive goes under their tracks.

A couple of hundred feet short of my Jeep, a light rain started to fall. This would be with us
most of the day.

The brief lull was broken by back-to-back CSX ethanol trains. The first was led by Union Pacific 2660 and NS 4027. The second had Canadian National 8963 up front and CN 3048 on the rear.

Just before the 9 o’clock hour was to begin, an NS westbound mixed freight made an appearance. They weren’t calling signals, so I didn’t get the symbol, but it had NS 7592, UP 5302 and
NS 7553 up front.

Next up at 9:47 an NS 16G made an appearance. This mixed freight was lead by NS 9546 and UP 8611. By now some of the attendees who had gone to breakfast at Bob Evans were arriving.

“Did you see the KCS Veteran’s Unit go by?” one of them asked. “So that’s what that was.”

NS had double stacks to run next at 10:13 a.m. as 20T rumbled past behind NS 7575/ NS 7577
and NS 1178.

Before 20T could clear, a fast charging I 166 slammed past behind CP 8502 up front and CP 8777 about half way back.

At 10:32 a.m. we watched NS 26E go by behind NS 4268, NS 8006 and NS 9956. The 26E
is a doublestack train.

I had to think about leaving soon, so I was off, but I did catch two additional CSX trains on the way home. These included a westbound mixed freight went that went under Front Street as I was going over, and I got stopped at Holland Road crossing by an eastbound stack train that turned out to be I 158. It had CSX 9045 leading one other CSX unit.

So if you’re keeping score, it was CSX 7, NS 6. Not a bad four hours of railfanning, with motive power from six of the seven Class 1 railroads. No BNSF this year.

I just wish the weather would cooperate and we could have a sunny Turkey Day. Maybe next year.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Scenes From RRE 2021 Turkey Shoot

December 5, 2021

RRE members watch I 166 pass through Berea. That is Marty Surdyk’s silver jeep behind them.
Bob Todten takes shelter from the rain in his vehicle.
Here comes the I 166 as NS train 20T passes nearby.
An eastbound NS manifest freight with Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific motive power passes through Berea.

Despite the cool temperatures and steady rain, a few brave Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts members still made it to Berea for the 46th Annual Turkey Shoot on Thanksgiving Day, Nov 25, 2021.

Marty Surdyk and Bob Todten arrived first, followed by another five members.

Both CSX and Norfolk Southern ran a few trains, including the I 166, the Canadian Pacific run through train on CSX with a 1+1 pair of CP GE’s which looked like they had previously been in coal train service, given their coating of what looked like coal dust on their car bodies.

In the photographs above, that is Marty’s  silver Jeep behind the group and Bob Todten, sitting in his SUV, avoiding the then-steady downpour. 

Back in 1975, Bob and I started what has become this annual tradition.

Article and Photographs by Mark Demaline