Posts Tagged ‘BNSF warbonnets’

ARRC Memorial Day Weekend Memories

May 27, 2019

Although The May meeting of the Akron Railroad Club meeting almost always is on the Friday leading into the Memorial Day weekend, the club has generally avoided having outings near or on holidays.

It made an exception in 2006. Even though I was in my second year as president then, I don’t recall why we chose the holiday weekend that year for an outing.

The plan was to go to Greenwich, but Marty Surdyk said he would spend the first part of the day at the above ground reservoir in nearby New London.

I’d never been there at the time so I and several others followed his lead and met there in the morning.

Most of the group spent a few hours atop the reservoir, which offers a nice panoramic view of CSX trains on what it today is known as the Greenwich Subdivision.

It can be fun and even instructive to look back at images you made during long-ago photo expeditions to see how much things have changed.

Consider the top photograph of an eastbound passing the reservoir. Note how new the BNSF “War Bonnet” looks. Yet, it had been in service for nine years when this image was made.

Your long ago photographs can also show what hasn’t changed in the intervening years, including the basic Norfolk Southern locomotive livery as seen in the trailing unit behind BNSF 757.

If you’ve seen a War Bonnet, you know that the paint has badly faded on many of them and BNSF has shown no inclination to give them a touch up or refreshing.

The middle image shows a surprise sighting of a caboose still wearing Chessie System colors but with CSX markings along with a liberal amount of graffiti. It was also on the rear of a westbound and we weren’t sure where it was going or why it was traveling there.

By mid afternoon the New London contingent had relocated to Greenwich to join the ARRC members who had spent all day there.

We were watching an oncoming westbound on the former Big Four, which had a signal for a straight move onto what is today the Mt. Victory Subdivision.

Marty was looking at the train through a telephoto lens and proclaimed, “that looks like an F40.”

I didn’t believe him at first. What would a passenger unit be doing pulling a train on a holiday weekend?

But he was correct. CSX F40PH 9992 was pulling three passenger cars from the railroad’s executive fleet.

We speculated that the train was bound for Indianapolis to pick up VIPs attending the Indianapolis 500, which was held that day.

The train had a theater car on the rear but the shades were pulled over the windows, suggesting the train did not have any passengers.

It would be the first and thus far only time that I’ve spotted the CSX executive train.

No. 9992 was built by EMD in August 1981 as Amtrak No. 390. A review of my trip logs shows I’ve ridden behind it twice on Amtrak.

It was on the point of the San Francisco Zephyr when I rode it from Chicago to Denver in October 1981, when it was about two months old. It also led the Cardinal in April 1990 on a trip I rode from Chicago to Indianapolis.

Not too long after the passage of the passenger train, the ARRC outing in Greenwich came to a close. I don’t recall us going anywhere to have dinner together as some guys typically have done at the conclusion of a longest day outing.

And that’s the way it was on May 28, 2006, which has turned out to be the last time the ARRC held an outing in New London or Greenwich.

I Do Believe That is a Warbonnet

September 18, 2016

Warbonnet 1

Warbonnet 2

I was hanging out in Olmsted Falls late on a Friday afternoon, checking out the action on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

A eastbound NS manifest freight was approaching so I got out to take a look. Nothing out of the ordinary in the motive power department was likely to come through the Falls as far as I knew.

The train had an NS unit leading and the trailing unit was BNSF orange. But what about that third unit? It looks like neither NS or BNSF.

It turned out it was a BNSF unit wearing the Santa Fe warbonnet livery. It’s tough to get a good image of the third unit in a consist and with a warbonnet you really would like to get the nose.

Warbonnets are becoming scarce as BNSF retires or idles its older locomotives.

I found it interesting that this particular warbonnet had Santa Fe lettering on the nose but BNSF markings on the flanks.

The car following No. 720 was a boxcar, so there was little chance to get much of the nose. I don’t know if this will be the last warbonnet that I see in a moving motive power consist. But in case it is, I have a record of it.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

10 Years Ago Today Was a Most Memorable ARRC Photography Outing to New London, Greenwich

May 28, 2016
"That looks like an F40." And it was, leading the CSX executive train at Greenwich on May 28, 2006.

“That looks like an F40.” And it was, leading the CSX executive train at Greenwich on May 28, 2006.

Ten years ago today several members of the Akron Railroad Club gathered for what was one of my top five outings in the nearly 13 years I’ve been in the club.

It was a trip to New London and Greenwich that was ideal because of its good weather, diverse mixture of trains and a few pleasant surprises.

When the idea was mentioned during a club meeting about holding a Memorial Day Weekend outing, club members initially settled on going to Greenwich.

But Marty Surdyk said he planned to spend the morning in New London at the above-ground reservoir there and would go to Greenwich in the afternoon.

At the time, I had never railfanned in either location so I followed Marty’s lead and began the day at the reservoir.

CSX traffic was steady throughout the morning. Most members who participated in the outing began in New London, although a few spent all day in Greenwich.

At one point a flock of vulture was flying above us, which as you might expect led to some joking. We learned from Peter Bowler that a group of such birds is known as a “kettle.” I’ve yet to hear that term used since that day.

In putting together my program for the ARRC 80th anniversary event I had a chance to review my photos from that day and had forgotten that among other things we saw a caboose on the rear of an eastbound train.

Another train featured a BNSF warbonnet with its motive power running mates consisting of a Norfolk Southern unit and a TFM locomotive.

Most of our group at New London spent their time atop the reservoir or at its base.

Tim Krogg was one of those who spent the morning down below and about 1 p.m. he started getting impatient.

“When are we going to get some (expletive) lunch?” he bellowed up at us.

With that we descended to ground level and headed into town to McDonalds’s, where we could eat and keep an eye on the CSX mainline.

After lunch, we went back to the reservoir but shortly thereafter decided to head for Greenwich.

I didn’t know how to get there so Marty said, “follow me.” I did and the route he took was one dusty road after another.

In Greenwich we continued to have good luck and even caught an eastbound Wheeling & Lake Erie manifest freight with GP35 No. 2662 in the lead, one of the railroad’s two “Kodachrome” or “painted ladies” locomotives.

But the sighting of the day was a westbound train on CSX that went straight through toward Crestline and Galion.

We had seen a headlight and heard a symbol that no one recognized. As Marty eyed the train through his telephoto lens he said, “that looks like an F40.”

I didn’t believe it but as the train got closer it turned out to be a three-car passenger train that was, indeed, led by an F40PH.

It was my first and thus far only sighting of the CSX executive train.

We speculated it was en route to Indianapolis to pick up VIPs who had attended the Indy 500 earlier that day.

I never forgot how much I enjoyed that outing and I wanted to do it again, but it took a few years before I could get it onto the club’s schedule.

The date was set for May 26, 2013. Unlike the 2006 outing, this one was a total bust. I was the only person to show up.

As I wrote this, I thought about what made that 2006 outing so enjoyable. There were a number of reasons, most noticeably the fellowship of being with fellow rail fans. I would have enjoyed seeing and photographing those same trains had I been there by myself, but it is more enjoyable to do it in the company of other like-minded people.

It also was my first time to railfan in New London and Greenwich. Although I’ve been back to both places numerous times in the intervening years, like anything else in life once you do it several times it just doesn’t have the same excitement of discovery feel that it had the first time.

Beyond that, there are some events that seem destined to be special because of the set of circumstances that surround them and what happens during the day.

That decade ago outing in New London and Greenwich was one of those. It cannot be duplicated in quite the same way as it played out, but at least I’ll always have my memories.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A Helm Financial, a.k.a. HLCX SD40 trails on this westbound manifest freight. No. 9039 was built in April 1970 for the Louisville & Nashville.

A Helm Financial, a.k.a. HLCX, SD40 trails on this westbound manifest freight. No. 9039 was built in April 1970 for the Louisville & Nashville.

The typical motive power on a typical CSX stack train.

The typical motive power on a typical CSX stack train.

It was just like old times, but we were still surprised to see a caboose on the rear of this eastbound CSX train.

We were still surprised to see a caboose on the rear of this eastbound CSX train even if it was battered and vandalized.

What a motive power consist this train had.

What a motive power consist this train had. That is Peter Bowler making a photograph at the far left.

It is always a good outing when you can catch a warbonnet leading a train.

It is always a good outing when you can catch a warbonnet leading a train.

Even some of the clouds seemed special.

Even some of the clouds seemed special.

A special W&LE sighting in Greenwich.

A colorful  W&LE sighting in Greenwich.

Many of us spent most of the morning atop the reservoir.

Many of us spent most of the morning atop the reservoir.