Posts Tagged ‘Berea’

Installing the Dave McKay Memorial

February 1, 2021

After he died in late 2004, the friends of David McKay raised money to buy a bronze memorial to Dave to be installed in Berea.

McKay, who served as president of the Akron Railroad Club for 12 years before stepping down the same month that he passed away, often could be found on weekends in Berea sitting beneath a lone tree with his camera watching and photographing trains of Norfolk Southern and CSX passing at this busy Cleveland area hot spot.

Some of the money for the memorial was raised from sales of Dave’s first book, Trackside Around Cleveland 1965-1979 with Dave McKay, that was published in 2005 by Morning Sun Books.

Dave completed work on the book, including writing the text and selecting the photographs several months before his death but did not live long enough to see the book printed.

Shortly before he died, McKay expressed the desire that his remains be cremated and the ashes spread near BE Tower, where he had spent many an hour watching trains over a 40 year period.

The ARRC held a book release party on April 2, 2005, and that fall gathered in Berea on a Saturday afternoon for a brief dedication ceremony of the McKay memorial.

The three images shown here were made on Sept. 21, 2005, in Berea on the day that the memorial was placed in the ground.

The three men shown are the late William Surdyk, Marty Surdyk and Harold Mickley.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Classic Berea Image

August 26, 2020

The wayback machine has been set to Oct. 1, 2005, which doesn’t sound like it was all that long ago but it’s been almost 15 years.

Norfolk Southern has been the owner of the former Conrail Chicago Line for six years but some motive power in its original CR blue is still there to be seen and photographed.

Such is the case with NS 6741 leading a westbound past Berea Tower in a classic pose that photographers are still able to get.

BE Tower still stands but the signals shown here have been replaced.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Things I Had Forgotten

June 23, 2020

I was scanning some color negatives of Conrail trains that I photographed in Berea in the late 1990s when I ran across this May 1997 image of a Conrail RoadRailer going from the Chicago Line to the Indianapolis Line at the west end of the Berea interlocking.

I had forgotten that Conrail once ran RoadRailers to and from the Indianapolis Line in Berea. I also found another image that is not shown above of a Conrail RoadRailer coming off the Indy Line.

The photo reminded me of some other forgotten things. For starters there is the original home signal for westbounds on Short Line to control movements through the interlocking where the connection from the Chicago Line comes into the Indianapolis Line.

This signal was taken down when Conrail added a second track here in the late 1990s in advance of CSX buying this property.

Notice how the signal has room for two sets of signal heads, a relic of when the former Big Four line here had two tracks.

The other forgotten item is just to the right of the base of the aforementioned signal.

It is the disconnected end of a siding that probably at one time went into the mainline track.

This might be the far west end of the Kunkle siding, but I’m not sure.

In days of yore the New York Central would interchange freight here with a short line railroad that served the sandstone quarries of Berea.

I was told that back in the steam era locomotives would be swapped out in Berea.

Whatever was the purpose of that siding, there was no need for it by the 1990s yet part of it had remained in place for whatever reason.

15 Years of McKay Day Memories

May 2, 2020

Marty Surdyk photographs a westbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight during the 2013 Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day in Berea.

More than likely I first met the late David McKay in Berea. I didn’t know him by name then, only as a guy who would show up on Saturday morning with another fellow who needed assistance in moving.

I don’t know if we ever were formally introduced, but in time we got to know each other and would talk between watching trains go by.

He sometimes would talk about a railroad club to which he belonged in Akron and that got me to thinking it might be fun to join that group.

Little did I know at the time that I would one day succeed Dave as president of the Akron Railroad Club.

Dave died in late 2004 after serving as ARRC president for 12 years, which at the time the the longest tenure of anyone to hold the office since the club evolved into the ARRC in the late 1940s.

Since 2005 ARRC has held an annual outing known as Dave McKay Day in Berea. Until the 2019 event it was held on the first Saturday in April.

The weather in Northeast Ohio in early April can be quite varied ranging from from summer-like weather with temperatures in the low 80s to January conditions with heavy snow and cold. Sometimes the weather can change rapidly on a single day.

So in 2019 the club changed McKay Day to early May. This year’s event, though, was called off due to the social distancing restricting imposed by the State of Ohio during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was to have been held today although at least one ARRC member plans to still railfan in Berea in an unofficial celebration of McKay Day.

In looking back at 15 years of McKay Day outings, one constant has been that the two railroads lines that pass through Berea have always been owned by Norfolk Southern and CSX and you could count on seeing a high volume of traffic, long lulls notwithstanding.

You also could count on a variety of traffic although in some years the motive power was a steady progression of NS and CSX units.

For this report I drew on my own memories of McKay days supplemented by the reports published in the ARRC Bulletin.

I chose one photograph for each year to represent that year’s event in some manner while collectively providing an overview of what we saw over the past 15 years.

April 2, 2005

The inaugural McKay Day was less a railfan outing than a celebration of the release of Dave’s book, Trackside Around Cleveland 1965-1979 with Dave McKay.

The book had been printed shortly before Dave’s death on Dec. 27, 2004, the same month he retired as president of the ARRC, a post he had held since 1993.

But Dave never saw a copy of his book, which was published by Morning Sun Books and printed shortly before his death.

The event was held in a restored rail car that is part of the restaurant housed in Berea’s former Big Four passenger station.

The 80 to 100 attendees ate hors d’oeuvres and a cake decorated for the occasion.

Those who had ordered Dave’s book or bought it at the event received a copy with a memorial edition sticker affixed to the first page that contained a facsimile of Dave’s signature.

Some of the proceeds from books sales went toward the expense of the McKay bronze memorial plaque that sits near the tree where Dave used to set up a folding chair on weekends to watch and photograph trains in Berea.

Between four to six inches of snow fell during the inaugural McKay event and I didn’t make any photographs that day so my representative image shows the first day sticker in my copy of Dave’s book.

April 4, 2006

The first McKay Day to be billed as a railfanning event drew 17 participants who saw 66 trains over 12 hours. The rule established that day as to the train count was that so long as someone saw a train in Berea it counted. That rule was later expanded to include trains seen outside of Berea provided the train would pass through the Berea interlocking or had already done so.

It was not a good day for photography. Although the temperature was in the low 50s, the skies were cloudy and there was a brisk wind.

My image for that day shows an eastbound coal train on CSX with Union Pacific motive power. Looking for foreign power would be a pursuit of every McKay Day and in the early 2000s coal trains were still a common sight.

April 7, 2007

It snowed again. Those who braved the winter conditions saw 49 trains in 10 hours. My highlight of that day is Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited passing BE tower in an image I made from the Front Street grade crossing of the NS Chicago Line. No. 48’s appearance surprised us but I was ready for it. It would be the only McKay Day in which Amtrak made an appearance while an ARRC member was present.

April 5, 2008

At last we had good weather with the temperature topping out at 58 degrees. The day began with fog but it eventually burned off. Between 6:45 a.m. and 9:05 p.m. we logged 70 trains.

My image for that year is a crowd standing near the McKay memorial watching an eastbound CSX train pulled by a motive power consist that included two NS units. It wasn’t a common sight then or now in Berea to see motive power of the other railroad on “enemy” tracks.

The report in the Bulletin said 17 ARRC members attended with some bringing friends and family members as can be seen here.

April 4, 2009

It was sunny although quite cool when the day began. By the afternoon it had turned pleasant. There were 18 ARRC members on hand and counting their friends and family members total attendance was 35. These were the halcyon days for the McKay event as far as attendance. Shown is a westbound on NS passing BE tower with a BNSF leader. The NS Cleveland terminal banner on the side of the tower has a photograph made by ARRC members and then NS conductor Roger Durfee. The train log showed 45 trains that day.

April 3, 2010

This was a memorable McKay Day for me because it was only the second time I had been able to get out and photograph railroad operations. In January I had had retina surgery on my left eye and the recovery precluded railfaning for a couple months.

The day began sunny and the high temperature reached the low 80s.

Construction of the Front Street bridges over the NS and CSX tracks was underway and those of us who were there in the morning spent our time on the bridge.

However, in late afternoon a front moved through and the temperatures dropped into the low 60s in short order. It was a busy day on the railroad though and we logged 67 trains.

A highlight of the day was ARRC member and then NS locomotive engineer David Mangold getting called to take train 15N west from Rockport yard.

Seven of us gathered in Olmsted Falls to watch Dave go past as he gave us plenty of horn and bell.

My image for the day shows a westbound CSX tank car train that I made from the Front Street bridge because of how much I enjoyed being able to hang out there.

April 2, 2011

It was another busy day with 71 trains logged over 15 hours. Former ARRC member Tony Dannemiller was at the throttle of an eastbound CSX train that came through during the afternoon. Otherwise there weren’t that many highlights that day.

Even my chosen image of a westbound NS train passing beneath the new signals by BE tower is pretty ho hum. Yet it features the new signals that NS had installed to replaced the venerable Type G signal heads that dated to the New York Central days.

I remember enjoying dinner at a Mexican restaurant that used to operate on Front Street with some of the guys, including Alex Bruchac.

April 7, 2012

The weather was pleasant with sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s. The 16 attendees logged 49 trains, which was probably lower than the previous two years because guys were not arriving as early or staying as late. Few of the trains we saw on this day had foreign power leading. It was my first McKay Day after switching to digital photography and my image for the day was made on the Front Street bridge of an eastbound CSX stack train in good morning light passing the Berea station, which would be the site of many an enjoyable dinner during future McKay Days.

April 6, 2013

It was the first McKay Day after NS created its heritage units fleet. We didn’t see any NS heritage locomotives, but we did meet one of the co-founders of the website Heritageunits.com. He was there with a large video camera. The ARRC Bulletin described the trains we saw as work-a-day CSX and NS because we only saw two sets of foreign power all day.

It was a busy day, though, with 62 trains logged between 8 a.m. and midnight.

In looking at my images there wasn’t much that caught my eye and it didn’t help that the weather alternated between cloudy and sunny.

I chose an image of the conductor of a westbound CSX train watching the assembled railfans.

That evening some of us had dinner at the restaurant in the Berea Big Four station, a tradition that continued for a few more years.

April 5, 2014

It would be the first of three McKays days to feature the NS Wabash heritage unit. This year it was a trailing unit on NS train 15N and it would be the only time that anyone photographed it.

It was the first McKay Day at which I was the first to arrive and among the last to leave. The 15 attendees logged 65 trains between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

The image for this year is a Wheeling & Lake Erie train transitioning from CSX to NS in Berea. In the early years of McKay Day the W&LE train to Campbell Road yard on NS was a regular, but by now sightings of it had become scarce.

April 4, 2015

The good news is that the Wabash H unit made an encore performance. Better yet it was the leader on crude oil train 67W.

The bad news is that it was almost dark when it came through and no one got a photograph. We only saw it while having dinner at The Station restaurant.

We logged 69 trains during the day. The Bulletin report said the record was 74, but in going through the newsletter year by year I was unable to verify what year that was. If anything that number appears to be a case of faulty memory.

It was sunny but chilly and it became windy late in the afternoon.

There was a range of foreign power to see, including units of Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, BNSF, Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern.

I chose one of those trains, an eastbound tanker train on CSX led by BNSF power, as the image for that year’s event.

At one point we could see headlights of three westbound trains at the same time split between NS and CSX.

A Loram railgrinder came through on CSX and we saw 13 trains while having dinner.

April 2, 2016

The day’s highlight was the Dave Mangold show on the NS road channel.

Dave was called to recrew a 16G and take it from the Berea siding, where it was tied down, to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

As soon as Dave got into the cab of the lead unit he reported it lacked operating cab signals.

It would be the first of many lengthy discussions Dave would have with the dispatcher and the NS trouble desk in Atlanta.

Among other things Dave discussed his problems logging into the computer on the second unit, which did have functioning cab signals, and oil seeping out onto the walkway of another unit.

There was also a lot of discussion about how Dave would take cut the motive power away from the train, take it down to the Knob and spin it on the wye there before returning to Berea and tying back onto his train.

All of this started in late afternoon and by the time we left that evening Dave still had not left town.

Only three people showed up, perhaps because of the unpleasant weather which was as varied as any McKay Day.

The morning was sun and clouds conditions but by afternoon intermittent snow showers had moved in followed by partial clearing and then overcast skies.

During dinner with Todd Dillon and Paul Woodring at the Berea station restaurant we saw 10 of the 54 trains that I logged for the day.

There were no heritage units sighted, but we did see the NS GoRail unit.

My image from this day shows a westbound CSX train with a clear signal while up ahead the skies look ominous in a bit of foreshadowing of what was to come.

Another memorable event from the day involved a guy who was not part of our group. He had set up his camera on a tripod next to his vehicle.

As he sat in the vehicle gust of wind blew the tripod over and it landed on the ground camera first, breaking the camera into two pieces. He left shortly after that happened.

April 1, 2017.

Once again the NS Wabash heritage unit showed up and once again no one got a photograph of it.

It was leading NS Train 394 and we knew it was coming but when it got to us it caught us by surprise.

We might have gotten photographs of NS 1070 had we gone to dinner at the Berea station restaurant when we had planned and not tarried to get a photograph of a westbound CSX train.

By the time NS 294 arrived at 6:19 p.m. we were getting up from the dinner table and not everyone even saw it.

Attendance was 12 and we logged 49 trains between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The day was overcast and chilly until the sun broke through about 5:30 p.m.

This was the first McKay Day after E. Hunter Harrison had taken over CSX and implemented the precision scheduled railroading model.

That was the subject of some conversation between a CSX dispatcher and trains crew during the morning.

That same dispatcher also read a pertinent passage over the radio word for word from the CSX rule book regarding inspecting a train carrying hazardous materials after said train went into emergency twice while en route to Collinwood Yard on the Short Line.

Part of the discussion involved whether an eastbound intermodal train on another track could pass the train at restricted speed or even at all.

The dispatcher said he had checked with his boss who in turn had checked with his boss.

The image of that day’s event shows a westbound CSX auto rack train after dinner. Where was that good weather earlier when we needed it.

April 7, 2018

From the perspective of diversity of traffic, this was easily my favorite McKay Day.

During a day that was sunny but cool, we logged more than 40 trains – I didn’t get a firm count – and saw the NS GoRail unit leading the 17N, the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit leading the 65N and a Southern Belle of Kansas City Southern leading CSX Q272.

I also saw the W&LE train and a Pan Am Railways SD40-2 in the motive power consist of NS Train 309.

Any of those would have made a good image for the day, but I chose an image of three NS eastbounds at the west end of the CP194 interlocking plant. They are, left to right, the 16T, 294 and M6G.

Getting the Pennsy H unit was not without some drama. As it approached on the Lake Front line we could see a westbound headlight on CSX.

The PRR H unit and its train beat the CSX train into Berea by just two minutes.

We got hosed from photographing a BNSF warbonnet on an NS train when it was blocked by another NS train coming through Berea as the same time.

The tradition of eating dinner at the Berea station restaurant ended this year, in part because the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts was having its annual banquet on this night at Tony K’s restaurant in Berea.

Before I headed for Tony K’s I saw two former Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus train cars pass through on a westbound NS manifest freight. It was that kind of day where there was much to see.

There were 10 attendees, some of them members of both ARRC and the RRE.

May 4, 2019

Thinking the weather in early May would be more favorable then early April, the ARRC officers moved McKay day to the first Saturday in May.

As it turned out the weather on the first Saturday in April was better than the foggy and overcast conditions of the first Saturday in May.

There were six in attendance and no one stayed beyond mid afternoon. Also ending was the tradition of keeping a train log.

I only made a handful of photographs and spent more time watching than photographing trains.

My image for the day is CSX train Q020 coming out of the fog shortly before 8 a.m.

Summary

As I was compiling information for this report I was reminded of how many ARRC members are now deceased, those who have since left the club and those who attended McKay Day in some years but have since stopped coming.

It used to be standard operating procedure to take a group photograph at the McKay memorial in the afternoon, but we last did that in 2015 and even then there were just four people in the photograph, two of whom were former members.

Although the event is described as way to remember Dave, in truth we seldom talked about him during the the day named for him.

I wonder how many current active ARRC members knew Dave, who conducted his last ARRC meeting in November 2004 and died about a month later.

Looking at my photographs over a 15-year span also reminded me that although the railroads are the same their operations have changed.

There are fewer trains now and both railroads are mingling traffic that used to operate in single-commodity trains.

Some commodities are seen far less often now, coal most notably but even crude oil shipments aren’t what they used to be due to market changes.

It wasn’t just the trains we saw that I remember from McKay days, though. It was the people we met and the conversations and camaraderie that we shared between trains.

McKay Day was typically the ARRC’s first railfan event of the year and it felt good to get out regardless of the weather.

It was not unlike opening day in baseball, a day of optimism that anything this year is possible even if it’s not always likely.

At one time or another McKay Day featured everything on rails you could expect to see in Berea.

Had he been able to join us I’m sure Dave would have enjoyed it.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Coming Saturday: 15 Years of McKay Day Memories

May 1, 2020

This year’s annual Akron Railroad Club David McKay Day in Berea has been wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’re got 15 years of memories to enjoy.

On Saturday the feature post will highlight one photograph from each of the 15 McKay Days along with summaries of what attendees saw that year and other highlights.

The event got its start in April 2005 as a way to celebrate the release of the book Trackside Around Cleveland 1965-1979 with Dave McKay.

The next year the event became an all-day railfan outing.

The weather wasn’t always pleasant but we could also count on a mixture of freight traffic passing through on the busy parallel lines of Norfolk Southern and CSX.

Traditions associated with McKay Day came and went, including the group portrait made in the afternoon by the McKay memorial in Berea.

Had it not been for the pandemic, the 2020 McKay Day would have been Saturday, May 2.

Shown on April 6, 2013, above are (left to right) are Eli Akerib, Dennis Taksar, (unidentifiable), Marty Surdyk, Rick Houk, Craig Sanders, Alex Bruchac, Paul Woodring, Ron McElrath, J. Gary Dillon (seated), Jim Mastromatteo and Richard Thompson.

Way, Way Back in Time in Berea

March 12, 2020

Many, if not most, railfans who spend time in Berea watching trains are unaware or only vaguely aware that there used to be another railroad line there.

The sandstone quarries in town were served by a railroad that interchanged with the Big Four (New York Central) near where railfans gather today to watch Norfolk Southern and CSX trains.

Stephen Titchenal, who lives in the Cleveland area, said he was reviewing some Interstate Commerce Commission valuation information that he collected at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

He noticed that Berea had an Engine house between 1875 and 1918 that was located at the start of the quarry spur so it probably served engines assigned to that.

The property for the quarry branch was purchased in 1868 and its tracks retired in sections between 1938 and 1950.

Titchenal said the building information came from the ICC Form 561 Final Engineering Report that includes information on bridges, passenger and freight stations and other buildings, signals and interlocking.

The accompanying map above shows the location of the quarry branch as well as the engine house.

The branch crossed Rock River Drive just south of where it today intersects with Depot Street.

The branch crossed the latter just east of the intersection.

Aside from bridge abutments next to the East Branch of the Rocky River there are few remnants of the quarry branch left in Berea and you have to know what you are looking for to find them.

Woman Reports Assault Aboard Amtrak in Berea

March 6, 2020

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s office is investigating a complaint by a Toledo woman that she was assaulted while riding aboard Amtrak’s Capitol Limited in Berea.

The woman, 22, said she boarded Train 30 in Toledo and sat down next to a male passenger, tilted her seat back and tried to go to sleep.

About 2:15 a.m. she awoke to find the man staring at her and having his hand against her thigh.

A police report indicated the woman thought the man’s hand placement might have been accidental so she turned away from him and went back to sleep.

A half hour later she awoke to find the man rubbing her thigh. She then reported the incident to the conductor and the male passenger was removed during the Cleveland station stop.

A report on Cleveland.com said Amtrak police determined the assault occurred as No. 30 was passing through Berea.

They made that determination based on the time that the woman who was not identified in the news story, texted her brother about the incident and records of the train’s passage over the Chicago Line of host railroad Norfolk Southern.

The story did not name the man being investigated in the case, which occurred on Feb. 7.

The Toledo woman was traveling to Washington.

Last Photograph in Berea of 2019

December 31, 2019

For nearly 26 years, Berea was my go-to place to watch trains, particularly when I felt more like watching than photographing.

With around 100 trains every 24 hours that includes a diverse mix of Norfolk Southern, CSX, Amtrak and the Wheeling & Lake Erie, there is much to see there.

Over the course of a quarter century I made countless photographs in Berea.

You soon reach a point, though, when you think you’ve photographed from every angle there to photograph. Now what?

Well, there are still trains to watch, still people to socialize with and still the chance that the next train might have something a little out of the ordinary.

But most of the trains are pretty routine, including this westbound CSX intermodal.

I’ve photographed from this angle many times and recorded numerous westbound CSX intermodal trains.

There is nothing different about this image from a dozen or more other images I’ve made here.

But this one is different in one not so obvious way. It is the last photograph I made in Berea of 2019.

This photograph was made on a late Friday afternoon in late August. It was the only train I photographed during my two or so hours trackside.

I’ll be back to Berea some day in 2020, I just don’t know when. When I do get back I’ll probably make yet another image from this angle.

F40s Were Still the Motive Power of Choice

November 27, 2019

Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited saunters through Berea on March 30, 1996.

No. 48 was running late that day although I no longer remember how far behind scheduled it was.

At the time, F40PH locomotives were the motive power of choice on the Lake Shore.

But not for much longer. Already P40 units were on the property and Amtrak would begin taking delivery of P42DC locomotives starting in August 1996.

For those who like to pay attention to consists, Nos. 48 and 49 in this era was a mixture of three equipment types. Heritage fleet baggage cars, sleepers and dining cars co-mingled with Viewliner sleepers and Amfleet coaches and cafe cars.

The Lake Shore also had a healthy load of material handling cars tacked on the rear carrying mail and express shipments.

That is a Conrail auto rack train passing No. 48 on Track No. 1.

Rocky River and Its Railroad Bridges

October 18, 2019

It was only in recent years that I discovered there is a part of Berea and its railroads that few railfans either know about or have sought to photograph.

Many railfans know that CSX and Norfolk Southern span the East Branch of the Rocky River on bridges that were built in the early 20th century.

But there are some nice images to be had involving those bridges if you take the time to explore the Rocky River Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks.

This image was made from a  trail that leads to Berea Falls, which is just north of the NS Chicago Line bridge.

The CSX bridge is the farthest and the NS bridge the closest.

In the middle is the abandoned Lake Shore & Michigan Southern bridge.

The bridges are an interesting study in design. I can’t image a railroad today creating a bridge that uses stones as the LS&MS bridge does or even concrete arches as the does the CSX and NS bridges.

Presumably, these bridges are structurally sound enough to bear the heavy rail traffic they see every day.

It probably is a matter of time before the bridge departments of these two railroads will begin discussing replacing them.

Perhaps those discussions have occurred already. Bridges don’t last forever.

Yet they are expensive to replace and given the high volume of traffic on these routes would also entail extensive planning.

Their replacement will likely be put off until absolutely necessary.