Posts Tagged ‘B&LE motive power’

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

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

Recalling the B&LE-NS Interchange at Wallace Junction

November 1, 2020

 Back in the 1990s interchange traffic between the Bessemer & Lake Erie and Norfolk Southern was a regular happening at Wallace Junction in Pennsylvania.

Loaded coke off the Bessemer was delivered to NS at Wallace to be delivered westward.

On days off from work I would venture to Pennsylvania with the hopes of catching activity.

On days that Marty was off, he and his brother Robert would pick me up and we also had good luck on the Bessemer.

Shown are some highlights I was able to get on Thursday April 17, 1997.

The top image shows a B&LE train departing with a few cars of freight and empty hoppers at Girard

In sequence below we see NS eastbound empties arriving at Wallace, the B&LE leaving Girard, a B&LE train passed through the yard in Albion and an NS westbound at Ashtabula that had picked up coke loads at Wallace.

At the time, the B&LE still used the yard in Albion, but today most of the yard is gone and there is no activity there.

Article and 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

Still Some Bessemer Orange to be Found

November 6, 2017

Since early 2015, Bessemer & Lake Erie motive power has been scarce on the former B&LE. Owner Canadian National sent a fleet of former Illinois Central SD70s to the property that extends between Conneaut and the northern Pittsburgh suburbs.

I was sitting in Conneaut waiting for Norfolk Southern traffic when a car came up and a guy about 12 years old got out with his cameras and started walking briskly toward the tracks.

His mother explained that there was a train with an orange engine coming.

I knew what that meant. A few minutes later I heard horns to the south. A train would be arriving on the B&LE in Conneaut soon.

It turned out to have a dog’s breakfast of motive power, B&LE 867, IC 1018, IC 1034 and CN 5422.

For whatever reason, this same motive power set would leave town minus the B&LE 867. Maybe it was being ferried to Conneaut for yard duty.

Ex-B&LE F7A to be Repaired, Preserved

March 1, 2016

A former Bessemer & Lake Erie F7A locomotive now at a Massachusetts short line railroad will be preserved.

Officials with the Grafton & Upton told Trains magazine that contrary to recent reports, there are no plans to scrap B&LE F7 No. 720A or a GP9 once owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

B&LE logo 1Now numbered G&U 1501, the former B&LE F7A developed mechanical problems last year and is out of service.

A similar fate has befallen PRR No. 7205, which is now B&U No. 1750

“The F7 1501 is not being scrapped, and furthermore, scrapping it was never a consideration for us,” G&U spokesman Doug Pizzi said.

Built in 1952, the ex-B&LE F7 will be moved to the Seaview Transportation Company shop in at Davisville, Rhode Island, for repairs.

“Once it is repaired, we will decide what role it can play in our operations,” Pizzi said.

Getting Lucky, Really Lucky, on the Bessemer

October 22, 2015

For years I've been looking for the opportunity to make an image like this one in Conneaut. Last Saturday, that opportunity presented itself.

For years I’ve been looking for the opportunity to make an image like this one in Conneaut. Last Saturday, that opportunity presented itself.

One of my long-standing goals in railfanning the former Bessemer & Lake Erie has been to get an over and under shot with Norfolk Southern and Canadian National trains.

I’ve actually done that a few times, but in each case the CN train was going into the Conneaut yard and was passing beneath the middle of the NS train, not its head end.

What I really wanted was a train coming out of the yard with motive power beneath the motive power of an NS train.

It’s a tough image to get due to the paucity of traffic on the former B&LE, which is now operated by CN.

CN has, maybe, two trains per day max. NS has more traffic, but not that much more traffic. You can go for hours and not see a train on the former Nickel Plate Road route between Cleveland and Buffalo, New York.

Like so many items on my railfan “wish list,” this would be one of those that would just have to happen. You have to be in the right place at the right time.

As it turned out, last Saturday would be one of those times. When it was over I would have bagged not just the motive power over and under shot, but a B&LE train below two other NS trains.

Now that is what I call getting lucky, really lucky.

As my friend Adam Barr and I arrived in Conneaut we suspected something was about to happen on the former Bessemer because a CN truck was sitting next to the tracks just south of the Old Main Road crossing.

Shortly after 8 a.m., the gates started going down and we sprang out of the car and ran toward the crossing.

Into town came a train with CN 5422 on the lead, IC 1034 trailing it and B&LE 905 trailing that.

The train stopped, the conductor got off and then the train pulled down a bit further before stopping again.

As all of this was unfolding, NS train 205 was headed west and I got the first over and under shot, although neither train truly was over or under the other. It was more like above and below but you could still see both trains at the same time.

The conductor cut the B&LE train and it took a cut of loaded coal hoppers to the upper yard.

The truck took the conductor to the yard and the rest of the train sat on the mainline.

I had a hunch that proved to be right that the road power would be back to pick up the rest of the cars after completing its work in the upper yard.

I suggested that we wait by the crossing because the B&LE 905 would be leading when the motive power came back out to pick up the rest of the train.

We heard someone on the radio say “B&LE 905 radio check.” It was almost showtime.

A few minutes later, NS train 145 called the signal at Woodard Road east of the trestle over the B&LE and Conneaut Creek.

About the same time I saw through the trees the headlight of B&LE 905. To quote the late famed baseball announcer Harry Caray, “it may be, it could be, it is . . .”

Of course, Caray was calling a home run, not an over and under meet between two trains.

I would have liked for the B&LE 905 to have been closer to my position and for there to have been sunny rather than cloudy skies.

But this was the opportunity I’d waited a long time to get and I wasn’t going to pass it up.

The CN crew picked up the rest of its train and took it into the yard. After taking a break, they went about making up another train to haul south.

The B&LE 905 would be on the point so there would be another chance to photograph a train on the former Bessemer with a B&LE locomotive leading. It has been well more than a year since I’ve seen that happen.

Yet another NS westbound, the 287, rumbled into Conneaut. Not long after its head end cleared the trestle, the 905 came out from the yard.

The sun popped out through a sucker hole in the clouds, providing nice illumination. Yeah, it was auto rack cars above the 905, but they still looked nice.

Eventually, it was time for the 905 and its train to leave town.

We got shots of the 905 along Conneaut Creek, stopped near the Old Main Road crossing, from the U.S. 20 overpass, and then at Pond Road.

We couldn’t chase the train farther south because we both needed to be back home by early afternoon.

We returned to Conneaut hoping to see NS train 23K, which had the Conrail heritage unit in its motive power consist.

We never saw the 23K, but we did catch something else unexpected on the ex-Bessemer. But that is a story for another day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The day began as it usually does in Conneaut on the Bessemer with the inbound train arriving from the south.

The day began as it usually does in Conneaut on the Bessemer with the inbound train arriving from the south.

The first of three "meets" between a CN train and an NS train. The last cars of westbound NS 205 are passing above the ex-B&LE tracks.

The first of three “meets” between a CN train and an NS train. The last cars of westbound NS 205 are passing above the ex-B&LE tracks.

A cut of tank cars on NS 145 rolls over Conneaut Creek as the 905 continues toward the rest of its train. The fishing must have been good on this morning because a lot of anglers were casting lines in the creek.

A cut of tank cars on NS 145 rolls over Conneaut Creek as the 905 continues toward the rest of its train. The fishing must have been good on this morning because a lot of anglers were casting lines in the creek.

Passing below auto rack cars on NS train 287 as the sun makes a short appearance. The autumn foliage here was not as advanced as I had hoped that it would be.

Passing beneath auto rack cars on NS train 287 as the sun makes a short appearance. The autumn foliage here was not as advanced as I had hoped that it would be.

Zooming in on the 905 and its train as it works the yard in Conneaut.

Zooming in on the 905 and its train as it works the yard in Conneaut.

Another chance to get a B&LE locomotive alongside Conneaut Creek.

Another chance to get a B&LE locomotive alongside Conneaut Creek.

Waiting for the conductor to arrive just north of Old Main Road.

Waiting for the conductor to arrive just north of Old Main Road.

As we got into place on the U.S. 20 bridge, hail started to fall. It was the first time I've ever photographed in a hail storm.

As we got into place on the U.S. 20 bridge, hail started to fall. It was the first time I’ve ever photographed in a hail storm.

The view from the U.S. 20 bridge as B&LE and its train begin the trek out of town.

The view from the U.S. 20 bridge as B&LE and its train begin the trek out of town.

The conductor waves at Adam and I. Considering how high up we were, he must have been looking for us.

The conductor waves at Adam and I. Considering how high up we were, he must have been looking for us.

In the rain at Pond Road, our last look on this day of B&LE 905 and its train.

In the rain at Pond Road, our last look on this day of B&LE 905 and its train.

Bessemer Orange Fading to IC Black

April 8, 2015

My first glimpse of an Illinois Central SD70 on the Bessemer & Lake Erie came in Albion on a northbound train.

My first glimpse of an Illinois Central SD70 on the Bessemer & Lake Erie came in Albion, Pa., on a northbound train.

I photographed my first Bessemer & Lake Erie locomotive on Nov. 12, 2005. It was a beautiful late fall day with warm weather and blue skies.

Ed Ribinskas and I had ventured to Conneaut to photograph Norfolk Southern trains on the trestle over Conneaut Creek.

Getting a B&LE train that day was a bonus. It wasn’t much, just a yard job coming out of the yard for head room.

B&LE No. 868 had its nose against a cut of hopper cars, but I didn’t care. That orange and black unit looked sharp in the autumn sun.

Over the next nine years I made occasional forays to the Bessemer, sometimes with Ed, sometimes with Marty and sometimes with others.

It always amazed me that the orange and black motive power on the B&LE remained for as long as it did.

There always seemed to be rumors about replacement locomotives being sent to the Bessemer, but those never seemed to show up.

Reportedly, locomotives painted in parent Canadian National colors worked on the B&LE, but I never saw one nor did they last for long.

Fast forward nine years. I’m again in Conneaut with Ed. There is a yard job working and doing a lot of talking on the yard channel.

At one point someone says there is an inbound train that is expected to arrive around lunch time.

We head for Albion, Pa., where the signal that you can see from East Pearl Street displays an approach indication.

We also hear the detector south of town announce that a northbound train has passed through.

We parked and walked to the east side of the crossing. A fresh coating of snow covered the ground and some of it clings to the rails. At least the sun is out.

In recent weeks, the railfan cyber world has been talking about six Illinois Central SD70 locomotives being assigned to the Bessemer Subdivision. Being that the IC is my favorite railroad, I consider this to be fantastic news.

The opportunity to see an IC unit is what prompted me to call Ed and suggest that we go to the B&LE on Saturday morning.

The gates go down at Main Street and a locomotive nose comes around the curve. It has the famed IC “deathstar” on the nose. I’m quite elated.

I see orange behind the two IC SD70s, Nos. 1032 and 1034. Then I see red. That is not so good news. It means that a CN unit will be leading when the train leaves Conneaut.

At least it is bright red and looks good, unlike the other two CN units on the B&LE that all but scream to be repainted.

Ed and I chased the train back to Conneaut, getting it from the U.S. 20 overpass as it comes into town off the horseshoe curve.

As the train makes its way into the yard, I hear a locomotive horn on Norfolk Southern and a longtime dream of mine of getting an NS train over a Bessemer train finally comes true.

Later, Ed and I are sitting in my car by the Old Main Street crossing waiting for the road crew to finish its work in the yard and head out of town.

We talk about past outings that we’ve had on the Bessemer. Ed tells of the time that he and Robert Surdyk, walked along the tracks toward the yard to photograph two F units sitting there.

I reminisce about an April 2007 outing I made with Marty Surdyk in which I chased a B&LE train out of Conneaut for the first time.

As Ed and I traded stories, it dawned on me that today represents the end of an era for railfanning on the Bessemer.

The B&LE that I had come to be quite fond of was going away. No, the railroad itself will still be there and I’m still excited about the prospect of seeing motive power consists of all IC black and white.

As much as I like the IC, those locomotives will always seem a little out of place on the Bessemer.

The B&LE was a boutique operation that hauled iron ore pellets and limestone for the steel miles of Pittsburgh.

If the Bessemer hauled any other freight, I never saw it. There is a siding at Conneautville, Pa., that could, presumably, be used to deliver agriculture products.

But I never saw a boxcar or a manifest freight on the Bessemer, only hopper cars.

Last year the B&LE started handling coal and that was the commodity that Ed and I saw being pulled on Saturday out of Albion.

With centralized traffic control, well maintained rail and searchlight signals, the B&LE had the look and feel of a big time railroad even if, relatively speaking, it wasn’t that large and had a low level of daily traffic.

The B&LE will continue to have those things and it will continue to cater to the needs of the steel industry.

It was, after all, once owned by U.S. Steel and its reason for existence has not changed. We won’t be seeing intermodal traffic on the B&LE anytime soon and probably never.

A lot of B&LE fans are upset that the orange and black SD40Ts are being taken away and that motive power with Bessemer orange will become rare if not nonexistent.

I’m thankful that I took the time to photograph the Bessemer when it still had its B&LE character.

But now a new chapter is about to be written and I’m going to make sure that I get over there to document it.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

IC 02b

The nose of IC 1032 is battered and bruised and the unit looks like it could use a shower to wash away the road dirt and grime.

 

The full consist is on display as the train leans into the curve on the north side of Albion, Pa.

The full consist is on display as the train leans into the curve on the north side of Albion, Pa.

One benefit of winter is that the trains are easier to see when coming through a forest.

One benefit of winter is that the trains are easier to see when coming through a forest.

A wide perspective of the B&LE train grinding and twisting its way through the valley of Conneaut Creek.

A wide perspective of the B&LE train grinding and twisting its way through the valley of Conneaut Creek.

Think of all of the history that has been seen out of the windows of that house on the hillside overlooking the B&LE tracks in Conneaut.

Think of all of the history that has been seen out of the windows of that house on the hillside overlooking the B&LE tracks in Conneaut.

Heading into the yard where there is plenty of work to do.

Heading into the yard where there is plenty of work to do.

Bonus! Norfolk Southern train 145 crosses over the top of the inbound B&LE train. It is the first time I've gotten an over and under image of these two railroads.

Bonus! Norfolk Southern train 145 crosses over the top of the inbound B&LE train. It is the first time I’ve gotten an over and under image of these two railroads.

Words that are quite pleasing to me, even if they seem out of place.

Words that are quite pleasing to me, even if they seem out of place.

The classic image of a B&LE train along Conneaut Creek. In this case, though, the train is backing into the yard.

The classic image of a B&LE train along Conneaut Creek. In this case, though, the train is backing into the yard.

CN 5422 leads the train out of the yard for good. Conneaut Creek is to the right and few people are fishing in it today.

CN 5422 leads the train out of the yard for good. Conneaut Creek is to the right and few people are fishing in it today.

It might be the last B&LE SD40T that I ever photograph in action. It is trailing CN 5422 at Pond Road.

It might be the last B&LE SD40T that I ever photograph in action. It is trailing CN 5422 at Pond Road.

 

Recording History on the Bessemer & Lake Erie

April 1, 2015

Batter and bruised IC SD70 No. 1032 leads the train to Conneaut through the snow in Albion, Pa.

Batter and bruised IC SD70 No. 1032 leads the train to Conneaut through the snow in Albion, Pa.

History was being made as I and fellow Akron Railroad Club member Edward Ribinskas visited the Bessemer & Lake Erie on Saturday, March 28. A lot had been going on before we got there.

On March 17, the first two of six former Illinois Central SD70s locomotives arrived at the B&LE shops in Greenville, Pa.

B&LE fans went trackside to record what would turn out to be a rapid replacement of B&LE’s distinctive orange and black SD40T-3s with the black and white IC SD70s and a few other oddball Canadian National locomotives.

The change in motive power began in earnest last year when CN, which owns the B&LE line, sent three locomotives to Greenville wearing CN colors and markings.

Then came word that IC 1017, 1018, 1019, 1032 and 1034 were earmarked to be sent to the Bessmer Subdivision.

As it was, pure Bessemer orange motive power sets had become harder to find in 2014 as the CN units were mixed in.

The B&LE SD40T units were not built for the Bessemer, a fact that led some to not consider them to be true Bessemer locomotives.

But they were painted B&LE orange and black and they continued in service for a decade after CN acquired the Bessemer in 2004.

By early March, the only SD40T units still on the property were Nos. 901, 905, 908, 907 and 910. Nos. 867 and 868 (both SD38ACs) in B&LE markings were also was reported to be on hand, too.

Sunday, March 22 was the last weekend day in which the train to Conneaut had B&LE power on both ends of the motive power consist.

Two days later, the first IC SD70, No. 1034, led a mixed consist that included a CN 5422, B&LE 907 and Missabe Road 862. By the day that we got there another IC unit, No. 1032, had replaced the 862.

Both IC units faced north and CN 5422, an SD60, would lead coming out of Conneaut.

We got our photos and then chased after the Savannah & Atlanta heritage unit of Norfolk Southern.

The next day, an all IC consist of three SD70s pulled the train to Conneaut and returned to Greenville running light.

Information posted on a B&LE chat list indicated that No. 901 and 908 were dead and drained in preparation for being moved off the property. Nos. 905, 907 and 910 are rumored to be the next to be shipped out but it is not clear when that will be.

It also is not known if the B&LE SD40Ts will be reassigned, rebuilt, sold or scrapped.

What does seem clear is that the days of motive power consists of B&LE orange and black have ended even if a stray unit in those colors might still be seen for a while.

Article by Craig Sanders, Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Canadian National has owned the Bessemer & Lake Erie for more than a decade, but the no trespassing signs have not changed. More than likely they will not unless they are replaced.

Canadian National has owned the Bessemer & Lake Erie for more than a decade, but the no trespassing signs have not changed. More than likely they will not unless they are replaced.

Rounding the curve in Albion. On this day at least, the B&LE train had some B&LE heritage.

Rounding the curve in Albion. On this day at least, the B&LE train had some B&LE heritage.

Rolling past the East Pearl Street crossing in Albion.

Rolling past the East Pearl Street crossing in Albion.

About to duck beneath the U.S. 20 bridge.

About to duck beneath the U.S. 20 bridge.

The B&LE started handling coal loads last year.

The B&LE started handling coal loads last year.

NS train 145 crosses over the top of the B&LE coal train.

NS train 145 crosses over the top of the B&LE coal train.

Its red rather than orange. Soon, it might be red or black and not orange at all.

Its red rather than orange. Soon, it might be red or black and not orange at all.

Where is a Norfolk Southern train when you really want to have one? Coming out of the yard and along Conneaut Creek.

Where is a Norfolk Southern train when you really want to have one? Coming out of the yard and along Conneaut Creek.

This could be the last photograph that Ed makes of a B&LE SD40T.

This could be one of the last photograph that Ed ever makes of a B&LE SD40T.

Cruisin' along Conneaut Creek as trains always have. That will not change even if the locomotives colors do.

Cruisin’ along Conneaut Creek as trains always have. That will not change even if the locomotives colors do.

Another side view of the motive power consist.

Another side view of the motive power consist.

Last glimpse of the train as it approaches Pond Road.

Last glimpse of the train as it approaches Pond Road.