Posts Tagged ‘Bessemer & Lake Erie locomotives’

Last Stand for Solid Bessemer Power: Part 2

June 9, 2021

Continuing the story of the June 2014 outing on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie, after getting a southbound in Albion, we set up at Springboro, Pennsylvania.

After getting the train there we headed south on Pennsylvania Route 18 and eventually heard talk on the scanner of a Conneaut-bound train.

We hoped for a meet at KO north of Osgood. We got there in time for the southbound but the northbound had gotten by us.

After photographing the southbound we worked our way back to Albion and waited.

I got some good photographs across the street from our earlier stop. We then set up in Conneaut on the hogback at Welton Road to catch the train dropping toward the harbor.

Thus ended a great day of documenting a true Bessemer motive power consist with some CSX and Amtrak mixed in.

In the top photograph the southbound passes through Springboro. That same train is seen again at KO north of Osgood.The northbound is shown at Albion and then at Conneaut at Welton Road.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Last Stand for Solid Bessemer Power

June 8, 2021

Our June 18, 2014 outing had a game plan in place. Craig Sanders and I set out to start with eastbound Amtrak No. 48 and then focus on the Bessemer & Lake Erie knowing that solid Bessemer motive power was nearing the end.

We were fortunate with our catches on this day, and our predictions were correct because the following year the majority of Bessemer motive power was transferred elsewhere on the Canadian National system.

We began early in Conneaut to set up for the Lake Shore Limited if it was on time which would be about 6:50 a.m. Soon we found out it was running close to three hours behind schedule.

We saw a CSX and a Norfolk Southern train and then put Plan B into place.

We kept a sharp ear on the scanner for the Bessemer since that was our main objective, but worked our way to Lake City, Pennsylvania, knowing we could get back to intercept the Bessemer once we heard radio chatter on its frequency.

At Lake City we photographed five trains on CSX, including Amtrak. Once we heard the Bessemer squawking we worked our way to intercept a train coming out of the Conneaut harbor.

The top image is an eastbound CSX stack train led by BNSF motive power at 10:17 a.m. in Lake City.

Next up is the Lake Shore Limited at 11:02 a.m. Note that it still had Heritage Fleet baggage cars.

Our first shot of the Bessemer after its Conneaut departure was at Pond Road in Pennsylvania at 11:55 a.m. The same train is seen at 12:38 p.m. passing the site of the location of the B&LE passenger station in Albion, Pennsylvania. I’ll continue describing our good fortune in Part 2.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

IC 1038 Looked Familiar

February 11, 2021

With another Super Bowl game in the books, I was looking through photographs I made during railfan outings on past Super Bowl Sundays with Marty Surdyk and Craig Sanders.

On Feb. 4, 2018, the day the Philadelphia Eagles upended the New England Patriots 41-33, we caught an inbound Canadian National train at Conneaut with Bessemer & Lake Erie SD40-3 No. 905 on the lead and Illinois Central SD70 No. 1038 trailing.

That meant the 1038 would lead coming out of the lakefront at Conneaut. We were surprised, but happy that B&LE SD38AC No. 867 was put on for the outbound move.

We chased the southbound as far as Hartstown, Pennsylvania, with intermediate photo stops in Albion (shown below) and Conneautville, Pennsylvania.

For some reason, the IC 1038 looked familiar to me. 

In my search for upcoming stories I found where I had seen it. In August 2007 Ursula and I were vacationing in the Galena, Illinois-Dubuque, Iowa area.

We visited the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, which is adjacent to the CN (former IC Iowa Division) mainline.

After we toured the aquarium, I heard activity outside on the railroad.

Mystery solved; that is where I had seen and photographed IC No. 1038. That date was Aug. 7, 2007

In the top image, the CN train in Conneaut is passing under U.S. Route 20.

In the second Dubuque photo, look at the road sign at the far right edge of the image.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Some Early 2000s Bessemer Favorites

February 7, 2021

Even though Canadian National acquired the Bessemer & Lake Erie in 2004, the following 10 years Bessemer power appeared on trains. Shown are a few of my favorites of Bessemer orange in the first decade of the 2000s.

In the top image a northbound is ready to duck underneath U.S. Route 20 on July 6, 2007.

Next up is a southbound in Conneaut on June 16, 2010, followed by a southbound in Conneaut crossing Conneaut Creek and winding around the hogback on June 9, 2006.

The fourth image is a southbound at Hartstown, Pennsylvania, on July 6, 2007; while the last image was made at KO Road just north of Greenville, Pennsylvania, on July 2, 2008.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Checking Out the B&LE in Conneaut in 1968

March 23, 2020

Bessemer &Lake Erie 406, a Baldwin DRS6-6-1500, is working the yard in Conneaut in 1968.

It is Sept. 8, 1968, in Conneaut. Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 Berkshire type No. 759 has just left on its first trip after being restored and John Woodworth and I have gone to photograph the Bessemer & Lake Erie.

Here is some of what we saw and photographs that day.

B&LE 830 is outside the engine house.

B&LE 830 as seen from the other side.

We were given permission to get in the cab. I’m looking down the long hood at the engine house.

I’m on the walkway of the short hood looking the opposite way from the photo above.

B&LE 406, a Baldwin DRS6-6-1500, is working a string of hoppers.

B&LE 881 and 883 are working on a coal train.

Working beneath the Nickel Plate Road trestle over Conneaut Creek in a timeless scene.

B&LE 405, a Baldwin DRS6-6-1500,) is in the engine house.

A Penn Central freight is on the ex-New York Central bridge over the B&LE. Note the mixed motive consist of the PC train. The view is looking southward.

2 Iron Ore Trains in One Day on the ex-B&LE

January 9, 2020

On Christmas Eve 2019 Canadian National ran two iron ore trains on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie. The second ore train of the day was pulled by a pair of SD38s still wearing a B&LE livery. The images are of that train at Albion (top), Conneautville (middle), and Kremis (bottom) in Pennsylvania.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

Belle of a Day (Part 2)

February 8, 2018

Two of the four former Bessemer & Lake Erie locomotives assigned to the Bessemer Subdivision of Canadian National team up to help assemble an iron ore train in Conneaut.

We were sitting in Marty Surdy’s Jeep waiting for Norfolk Southern train 888 to finish its work in the yard at Conneaut and resume its trek to Buffalo, New York.

From the back seat Ed Ribinskas said he thought he heard locomotive horns behind us. We were facing northward.

I stepped out of the vehicle and heard what sounded like the faint sound of a horn similar to those used by Bessemer & Lake Erie and Illinois Central locomotives. It didn’t sound like anything I’ve heard on NS or CSX.

I got back in the Jeep, feeling hopeful that a Canadian National train was headed our way on the former B&LE.

Several minutes later Ed said, “we’ve got something on the Bessemer.” He had heard the crossing gates for the Old Main Street crossing activate.

We scrambled to get into position to get a photograph. As the train rounded a curve south of the crossing I noticed the lead locomotive had an orange face.

Four former B&LE locomotives still wearing their original colors and markings are assigned to CN’s ex-B&LE property.

Leading the way into town was SD40T-3 No. 905 with a pair of ex-Illinois Central SD70s trailing, Nos. 1034 and 1038.

I always get excited at seeing IC motive power, but I had even more reason to want to photograph this train.

About three weeks earlier I had been in Conneaut with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler when a CN train with IC 1038 on the point came out of the yard.

However, I missed an opportunity to photograph it across frozen Conneaut Creek. Today I was going to get a second chance at that.

We spent much of our time while the CN train was working in the yard chasing NS 888, which had a Kansas City Southern “Belle” on the lead. Once we returned to Conneaut after getting our last image of the 888, it didn’t take long for the CN train to come out.

After spotting its headlight, we made a mad scramble for the highway bridge over Conneaut Creek.

However, IC 1038 was not on the lead. The crew had added SD38AC No. 867 to the motive power consist and it was leading. I’ve seen the 867 and the 905 on the former Bessemer property over the past few years, but never in the same locomotive consist.

What we had was a Bessmer “sandwich” and there would be no IC SD70 leading the train out of town. But getting an ex-B&LE on the lead coming and going in Conneaut is an oddity these days.

The train came out far enough to block the grade crossing for a short time before backing up to clear. The radio silence indicated that the crew was done assembling its train and the conductor was making his way to the head end.

We talked about where to photograph the departing train and settled on getting it near Welton Road in the middle of a horseshoe-shaped curve.

After getting the train there Marty suggested trying again at Pond Road in Pennsylvania. That plan was complicated when we wound up on a dead end street trying to find our way back to U.S. 20.

That wasted time would cost us the photo op at Pond Road. The locomotives were going across the road as we approached from a half mile away.

Plan B was to get it along Old Albion Road just east of U.S. 6N. The good news was that we got there with time to spare. The bad news was that Marty took one look at the site and decided there was too much brush along the right of way.

We fell back on Plan C, which was to look on the fly for a road that would lead to the tracks. The first one we tried ended instead at someone’s home.

Reversing course, we made our way back to Old Albion Road and continued eastward.

Although we didn’t stop to inspect it, we noted where the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s Erie & Pittsburgh branch crossed the road. Just to the south is a through-truss bridge over the West Branch of Conneaut Creek.

I made a mental note to come back here someday on a railroad archaeology expedition.

We rolled into Albion and after Marty got his bearings we set up at a popular railfan photography location at the Albion Mill.

The tracks come around a curve here become single track. There still stands a pair of searchlight signals.

Four other fans were already there, including former ARRC junior members John Puda and Cody Zamostny.

It was from them that we learned of the head-on collision earlier that day between Amtrak’s Silver Star and a parked CSX auto rack train in South Carolina that killed two Amtrak crew members.

Having gone this far into Pennsylvania, we were pretty much committed to chasing the CN train further south. It was getting to be late afternoon and there wasn’t enough time to go back to Conneaut to seek trains on NS or CSX.

It had been several years since Marty had chased a train south of Albion on the former Bessemer, but he was able to navigate the territory just fine.

We set up at the feed mill in Conneautville for our next photo op and then headed for Hartstown.

Marty wasn’t sure if he remembered his short cut to avoid the traffic in Conneaut Lake, but it came back to him once he got there.

We drove past the shuttered for the winter Conneaut Lake amusement park, which triggered some reminiscing about the days when Grand Trunk Western 2-8-2 No. 4070 pulled excursion trains for a short distance on a B&LE branch that ended at the park.

That branch came off another branch that once went to Meadville, Pennsylvania. Both branches are long gone.

Ed and Marty had seen the Conneaut Lake steam operation, which ran in 1973 and 1974, but I knew little about it until I started doing research for my Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad book.

The 4070 would go on to run for several years on the CVSR back when it was known as the Cuyahoga Valley Line.

Marty said that photographs of the 4070 in action on the B&LE branch to Conneaut Lake will be part of the July ARRC program to be presented by Bob Todten.

We arrived at the U.S. 322 bridge over the CN tracks at Hartstown and it would be our last photo op of the day.

It took a little longer than I expected for the southbound iron ore train to come into sight.

We got our photos and headed west for Ohio on U.S. 322, taking it to Ohio Route 11 and then back to Lake County on Interstate 90.

Along the way we observed the remains of a former railroad right of way that turned out to be a New York Central branch that once ran from Andover, Ohio, to Oil City, Pennsylvania.

Somewhere in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, we again crossed the former PRR’s E&P right of way.

Back in Ohio we crossed a former NYC line that ran between Carson and Latimer.

Through the late 1950s this line had a nightly passenger train conveying through sleepers between Pittsburgh and Buffalo, Toronto and Albany, New York.

Seeing the remnants of these abandoned lines, even if briefly, just whetted my appetite further for a railroad archaeology trip in early spring before the trees leaf out.

We watched the Horseshoe Curve website camera while eating pizza at Ed’s dining room table.

Then we ran some trains on Ed’s HO layout in the basement before heading home and catching the second half of the Super Bowl.

SD40T-3 No. 905 leads a Canadian National train into Conneaut.

A wider perspective of the iron ore train along the ice-covered waters of Conneaut Creek.

The crew has finished assembling its train and the engineer is waiting for the conductor to come up to head end before leaving town. First of a two-shot sequence made at the Old Main Street grade crossing.

Crossing Conneaut Creek as the CN iron ore train approaches the apex of a horseshoe-shaped curve.

The traditional rounding the curve image in Albion in a two-shot sequence. It has been a few years since I’ve caught a locomotive with an orange face coming at me here.

Coming into Conneautville at a location we’ve photographed at many time before.

At the end of the siding in Conneautville.

The CN iron ore train comes into Hartstown. At last I got photographs that say “it’s winter.”

The last photograph of most enjoyable day and chase.



Pa. Railroad Acquires ex-B&LE F7A

February 19, 2016

A former Bessemer & Lake Erie EMD F7A has been acquired by the Stourbridge Line tourist railroad in Pennsylvania.

B&LE logo 1No. 725 last operated on the Coe Rail dinner train in Michigan and is currently stored in Lansing, Michigan.

It currently wears a paint scheme similar to that used by the Erie Lackawanna.

Built in February 1953 as B&LE 725A, it was one of 28 F7As that were delivered to the Bessemer between 1950 and 1953. Some of the units are still operating on short line and tourist railroads.

The Stourbridge Line is operated by the Delaware, Lackawaxen & Stourbridge Railroad.

Owner Tom Myles said on his company’s Facebook page that he is soliciting suggestions for a livery for No. 725.

Still Some Bessemer Identity Left (For Now)

August 11, 2015

B&LE 905 1-x


B&LE 905 2-x


B&LE 905 3-x

Since March every trip that I’ve made to Conneaut to railfan the Bessemer Subdivision of Canadian National has been with the understanding that little remains of Bessemer & Lake Erie motive power.

During my most recent venture to check out the ex-B&LE, I found SD40T-3 No. 905 in the motive power consist of a southbound train being made up in Conneaut.

The train pulled out of the yard, crossed Old Main Street and stopped. I took advantage of that to make a few close-up views of the 905. Who knows how much longer it will be assigned to the Bessemer Sub and even if it sticks around a while longer I may not see it next time.

You know the adage, “get your pictures now.” That never seemed so apt when it comes to B&LE tunnel motors.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Keeping My B&LE Motive Power Streak Intact

May 29, 2015

Illinois Central 1034 leads a coal train into Conneaut in a view looking west on Old Main Street.

Illinois Central 1034 leads a coal train into Conneaut in a view looking west on Old Main Street.

Since March the number of former Bessemer & Lake Erie locomotives clad in orange and carrying B&LE markings has dwindled. Owner Canadian National sent former Illinois Central SD70 units to its Bessemer Subdivision to replace the former B&LE SD40T units.

Being a fan of the IC, I’ve made three trips over to the Bessemer since March to photograph the “new” IC units. They actually are not new at all, having been built years ago before CN swallowed the IC.

One B&LE tunnel motor continues to provide road service on the ex-Bessemer. The 905 has soldiered on, usually as a trailing unit among two or three IC SD70s.

The scuttlebutt among B&LE fans is that the 905 won’t last much longer on its home rails. Presumably, it, too, will be sent west for rehab and re-assignment. The fans doubt that the tunnels motors will be sent back to the ex-B&LE.

Whatever the case, a recent visit to Conneaut, netted me a sighting of the 905 along with three IC SD70s. That keeps my streak of seeing at least one B&LE unit in a motive power consist on the Bessemer Sub alive, even if that streak, like the tunnel motors, appears to be living on borrowed time.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A spot of orange reflects in Conneaut Creek. For now, there is still Bessemer orange to be seen.

A spot of orange reflects in Conneaut Creek. For now, there is still Bessemer orange to be seen.

En route to the upper yard, I get a glimpse for the first time of a train on the lead over Conneaut Creek. The water was calm enough to make a reflection.

En route to the upper yard, I get a glimpse for the first time of a train on the lead over Conneaut Creek. The water was calm enough to make a reflection.

It's work in the upper yard complete, the power set returns light to the lower yard, crossing Conneaut Creek in front of the boat launch site.

It’s work in the upper yard complete, the power set returns light to the lower yard, crossing Conneaut Creek in front of the boat launch site.

Pulling out of the yard for head room as the road job goes about making up its train.

Pulling out of the yard for head room as the road job goes about making up its train.

My favorite image of the day was made when the train sauntered out of town along Conneaut Creek with the ex-Nickel Plate trestle in the background.

My favorite image of the day was made when the train sauntered out of town along Conneaut Creek with the ex-Nickel Plate trestle in the background.

We only had time to chase the train to Pond Road just inside of Pennsylvania. Alas, the light was against us.

We only had time to chase the train to Pond Road just inside of Pennsylvania. Alas, the light was against us.

A wide-angled perspective at Pond Road.

A wide-angled perspective at Pond Road.

Gaining speed as the train heads into a wide tunnel of trees.

Gaining speed as the train heads into a wide tunnel of trees.

Kicking up a little dust in a parting shot.

Kicking up a little dust in a parting shot.