Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland’

Trump Budget Would Hit Ohio Public Transit

March 20, 2017

The proposed fiscal year 2018 budget submitted to Congress by the Trump administration would put funding-starved public transportation in Ohio in even more dire straits.

“We’re barely hanging on. It’s just going to make the existing problems even worse,” said Kirt Conrad, president of the Ohio Public Transit Association and CEO of the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority.

President Donald J. Trump wants to cut the U.S. Department of Transportation budget by $2.4 billion, which is 13 percent.

Much of the adverse effect on public transportation could come from cuts to grant programs that benefit public transit systems.

The New Starts program, which was authorized to fund $2.3 billion in new rail or bus-rapid transit lines or to expand existing lines through 2020, was used by Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s HealthLine on Euclid Avenue.

“It [budget cuts] really potentially cuts future transit expansions in the country in general. It’s not just Ohio; in the whole country, public transit is at risk,” Conrad said. “In Ohio, without the federal support, I do not see those expansions.”

Also slated to be cut is the TIGER grant proram, which has also been used to fund transit in Ohio.

TIGER grants have funded rehabilitation of RTA stations, including the Little Italy-University Circle station and the University-Cedar station.

Two TIGER grants awarded in 2016 funded bicycle infrastructure in Cleveland and Akron.

Ohio transportation officials say the state’s transit systems rely on federal funding because Ohio limits the use of gas tax revenue to road projects.

Further squeezing public transit systems is a coming loss of revenue from a Medicaid MCO sale tax, which had been used for transit funding.

Starting in 2019, public transit systems in Ohio will lose $34 annually from that revenue source.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has proposed increasing state funding for public transportation by $10 million to make up part of the slack being left by the loss of the Medicaid MCO sales tax.

“Access to public transit is just getting worse, not better, in Ohio,” Conrad said.

Although the impact of the proposed Trump budget on highway construction and maintenance funding has yet to come into clear focus, transportation officials say that the loss of TIGER grants will have an adverse effect by removing another source of federal funding.

A $125 million TIGER grant helped pay, for example, for the new eastbound span of the George V. Voinovich (Innerbelt Bridge).

The Trump budget would also shift responsibility for air traffic control from the Federal Aviation administration to an independent, non-governmental organization.


Getting 2017 Off to a Good Start

January 26, 2017

Call me in the morning if it looks good,” was the last thing my brother Robert said to me as he departed my house on New Year’s Eve. We had been up to the nursing home to visit our mother and he was optimistic about the weather forecast for New Year’s Day.

He had a right to be; the weather gurus were calling for partly to mostly sunny and highs in the mid to upper 30s.

I knew it would be a good day because as Sunday mass progressed the sun shining through the stain glass windows gave more than the usual heavenly glow. There was something special in the air today. Maybe it was just the optimism that a new year brings.

I was on the phone to the bro’ as soon as I got home from church and we were headed toward downtown Cleveland a few minutes later.

I wanted to check out a new photo vantage point at the east side of CP Drawbridge, the NS lift bridge over the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.

A new parking lot abuts the tracks and the lighting this morning was perfect. As we pulled into the lot, we heard on the scanner, “34N Clear, Drawbridge.” Our first train of 2017 was already upon us.

We shot and got back into the Jeep; it was still a bit chilly this morning. But looking around we noticed that the lot we were in at times could be off limits to railfans unless you wanted to pay a parking fee.

On this Sunday morning there were no bars or restaurants open in the Flats so we had the lot to ourselves.

As the morning progressed we did have a few other cars park in the lot. They looked like workers arriving early to help clean up from the previous night’s revelries.

After 34N passed, 35N, its counterpart, was next about five minutes later.

Following it were two more westbounds, one being an oil train. Our vantage point, between the drawbridge and the RTA Waterfront Line overpass of the Chicago Line, meant that between trains we could watch and photograph RTA cars on the Waterfront Line. We narrowly missed an over/under with oil train 67W.

Traffic was steady for the morning as NS was business as usual. All the normal morning trains were running.

By noon, we were in need of some food. Everything here was closed, so we headed for the near West Side. A Subway on Detroit Road not too far from Battery Park was our choice of eateries.

It didn’t have any seating inside the sandwich shop, so we headed to Battery Park to park and eat lunch.

After lunch and two trains, one each way, we went to explore the West Bank of the Cuyahoga River.

We parked at the Aquarium in the Powerhouse and walked along the docks where the Nautica Queen was docked. From here, you can get some nice across-the-river views of the Waterfront Line, using the newly renovated warehouse buildings as backgrounds.

The old warehouses are now apartments. They start at $1,050 a month. Yikes!

We strolled north along the river to the docks next to Shooters. From here you can get some nice views of the NS lift bridge at CP Drawbridge.

I would later find out that Shooters is usually open on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. So on a normal day these views may not be possible or only available to restaurant patrons. I’m not sure, but for today, we were the only humans enjoying the views. Some Lake Erie gulls and some Canada geese were also taking in the view.

Traffic on NS had slowed a bit, but we were able to capture 24M on film as it made its way across the bridge. We moved on, not wanting to overstay our welcome.

Our next stop was at the Superior Viaduct. This is a remnant of the stone arch bridge that once crossed the Cuyahoga.

We were hoping for an across-the-river view of the Waterfront Line. Parking on the viaduct is perpendicular to the roadway and the roadway is narrow.

I parked next to a full size pick-up truck, only to find that seeing around it trying to back out was next to impossible. Fortunately, the owner showed up and drove off while I sat there trying to back out.

The viaduct has trolley tracks imbedded in the stone pavement, the only thing we found of interest up there. The view across the river is blocked by the roof of an open air pavilion called, “Jacob’s Pavilion.”

From here we were off to an area known as Settler’s Landing. This is where Moses Cleaveland supposedly landed and began the settlement that became Cleveland. Near the log cabin that marks the spot, you can shoot RTA cars on the Waterfront Line across a bend in the river.

The light was nice here, but the local lake gull population was causing problems. They were flying around trying to get some popcorn from a lady who was throwing it to them.

One bird almost flew in the way of one of my photos. I’ll find out when I get it back if it is in or out of the photo.

From here we moved closer to the Waterfront Line tracks in the grassy area between the tracks and the river at the Settler’s Landing station; no one was feeding the birds there, at least when we first arrived.

We shot several RTA cars here. They were running about every 15 minutes. When the southbound car would go past, the northbound none would be coming very soon.

Then you had a short break before the cycle repeated itself.

When we tired of this area, we were again off to Battery Park for the remainder of the day.

NS ran two eastbounds and one westbound before we left. The sun disappears behind a new condo building at about 4:30 p.m. in January.

The condos here start at $345,280 and there is a monthly grounds maintenance fee added on.

Wow! I’m glad I live in Parma Heights.

I exposed 30 frames this day, which is not a bad way to kick off 2017. Let’s hope there’s plenty more where this came from.

Article by Marty Surdyk

When N&W Still Had an AC&Y Look

November 2, 2016



Here is another glimpse of the past in black and white as captured by Akron Railroad Club member Robert Farkas.

In the top image, even though the Akron, Canton & Youngstown was taken over by the Norfolk & Western i 1964, AC&Y diesels were still in service.

It is 1967 or 1968 and AC&Y 506 and 500 could still be found at the Akron engine facility. Both are rare FM H20-44 models with AC&Y 506 in blue and AC&Y 500 in yellow and black.

In the bottom image, Bob is standing on the bridge over Penn Central’s Collingwood Yard in Cleveland, which could provide a great view of the shops and yard.

PC 1788 in fresh paint and New York Central 1840 are at the head of a westbound train in this 1968 or 1969 view. Stored next to the shops are three lines of Alcos and EMD units.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Some Cubs Fans Rode Amtrak to Cleveland

October 28, 2016

Game 2 of Major League Baseball’s World Series drug on for more than four hours on Wednesday night. For a couple dozen fans of the Chicago Cubs that was just fine.

Amtrak logoThey had Amtrak tickets to return to Chicago after watching the Cubs defeat the Cleveland Indians 5-1 at Progressive Field. They had time to kill between the game and boarding their train.

Salvador Cardenas, a 28-year-old dentist from Aurora, Illinois, was one of them.

He paid $746 for a standing room ticket in left field during Game 2 and was at the Cleveland Amtrak station giving high fives to other Cubs fans waiting to return home after the game.

“I had to call all my patients off. I said: ‘Hey, got to do this! I got to go to the World Series!’” Cardenas told a reporter for the Associated Press. “I’m a die-hard Cub fan, so I felt like that came first.”

The AP said about two dozen Cubs fans boarded the westbound Lake Shore Limited, which is scheduled to depart Cleveland at 3:45 a.m.

About an hour earlier, the Capitol Limited had left for Chicago with, presumably, a number of baseball fans on board.

Marvin Thomas, 51, was aboard No. 49 wearing a blue satin Cubs jacket.

“Ernie Banks lived down the street from us when I was a kid,” said Thomas, who paid $800 a ticket to attend Games 1 and 2. “This is the most unbelievable feeling I’ve had outside my children being born. There was no way I wasn’t going to be here.”

The AP story noted that the number of baseball fans on Amtrak fell far short of the number who rode in 2009 in what some dubbed the Acela Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies.

Nor was there the hoopla that occurred aboard a train in 1985 for the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals.

Of course, many Chicago baseball fans probably flew or drove to Cleveland.

A check of found that five chartered United Airlines jets departed Cleveland Hopkins International Airport between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. Thursday morning. They includes two 767 aircraft, two 737 aircraft and one 747.

Two of those were probably carrying the two teams to Chicago where they will play Game 3 on Friday night. But perhaps some of those flights also carried fans.

Traveling by train used to be the primary way that fans and teams once traveled.

When the Cubs won their last World Series in 1908 and last played in the Series in 1945, the train was the standard way to travel.

Using chartered flight didn’t take off until 1946 when the Yankees began to charter flights on a regular basis.

Cardenas said he arrived in Cleveland at 5:45 a.m. on Wednesday, walked to the nearby Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, found a bench in front and fell asleep with his Cubs blanket covering him.

An Indians fan gave him a second blanket and told him to leave it there when he was done napping.

Cardenas saw Cubs owner Tom Ricketts at the Rock Hall later in the day.

“I was like, ‘Hey, Tom!’ like I knew him,” Cardenas said. “He waved to me. He said hello. He smiled.”

Seeing (CN) Red in Downtown Cleveland

September 17, 2016
Norfolk Southern train 145 had a consist of three Canadian National locomotives as it rolled through Cleveland on the Cleveland District of Norfolk Southern.

Norfolk Southern train 145 had a consist of three Canadian National locomotives as it rolled through Cleveland on the Cleveland District of Norfolk Southern.

Yeah, I'd rather that the three CN units be heading toward me rather than going away, but it is still a good image anyway.

Yeah, I’d rather that the three CN units be heading toward me rather than going away, but it is still a good image anyway.

My friend Adam and I were hanging out at Old Broadway in Cleveland when we heard a westbound train calling signals.

That wasn’t what we had wanted to hear. I wanted to get an eastbound with the Cleveland skyline behind it in all of its glory.

But I wasn’t going to pass up any train. It had been more than an hour since we had arrived and I wanted to get something, anything.

The train was the 145, a westbound that originates in Buffalo, New York, and terminates in Kansas City.

I have an interesting history with the 145. In early February 2014 I bagged the 145 crossing the Painesville trestle over the Grand River on one of the best days for winter photography that I’ve ever experienced.

Ed Ribinskas won a photo contest for his image of the 145 that he made that day and received a free enlargement from Dodd Camera that prominently is displayed in his home.

More recently, I caught the 145 in Conneaut with a pair of Union Pacific locomotives and nothing else. Yes, it was running light as two UP units.

The 145 soon came into sight and as it did I could see the nose wasn’t black. We didn’t know of any Norfolk Southern  heritage units on the former Nickel Plate line.

The lead unit turned out to be a Canadian Pacific locomotive. And so was the trailing unit and so was the third unit. It was an all CN motive power consist.

Those are not necessarily rare, but not common in Cleveland, either. Not a bad way to start the day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Railroading as It Once Was: One Has Lost its Identity, the Other Still Clings to it in Cleveland

May 18, 2016

EL old and new

During Conrail’s first two years I watched many former Erie Lackawanna units lose their identity as names were painted out and new numbers applied.

The interim time where you could catch “pure” next to “renumbered” units of the same make and same former railroad was short.

It’s late summer 1976 and these two Alco C-424s are at the former EL East 55th Street facility in Cleveland as they show us a little slice of early Conrail history.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

End of Megabus Cleveland-Cincinnati Service Just Another in Long Line of Service Retrenchements

February 15, 2016

The news that Megabus in early January ended service linking Cleveland with Columbus and Cincinnati was not the first time that the cut-rate bus line has retrenched in the Cleveland market.

Back in March 2013 Cleveland was one of 10 Megabus hubs with service to 15 cities. You could have traveled to Atlanta; Pittsburgh; Akron; Buffalo, New York; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Detroit; Toledo; Chicago; New York; Columbus, Cincinnati; Lexington, Kentucky; Knoxville, Tennessee; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and State College, Pennsylvania.

MegabusBut now most of that service is gone. The only Megabus route left in Cleveland travels east to New York with an intermediate stop in State College and west to Chicago with an intermediate stop in Toledo.

Unlike Greyhound, which makes frequent stops on its routes, including in small towns, Megabus operates much like an airline with limited intermediate stops and relatively few cities served.

In Ohio, it serves Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo, linking all of those cities with Chicago.

The route from Columbus makes intermediate stops in Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

Launched on April 10, 1996, as a brand of Coach USA/Coach Canada, Megabus offered low fares and curbside pickup rather than using brick and mortar bus stations. In some cities, Megabus stops outside railroad stations, transit centers or shopping centers.

The initial route network fanned out from Chicago and included service to Cleveland.

Four years later, the Megabus business model began making a transition from a hub and spoke orientation to a point-to-point model.

Also like airlines, Megabus uses yield management to set fares. Although it has attracted much attention with its $1 tickets, Megabus imposes a $1.50 per transaction fee for tickets purchased online. Tickets can also be purchased by phone, but cannot be bought from bus drivers.

Shortly after it began serving Cleveland, Megabus added a stop in Toledo on Sept. 11, 2006, to its route M3 between Chicago and Cleveland.

Megabus extended the route to Pittsburgh on April 2, 2007, but ended the Pittsburgh service that September due to low ridership.

Cleveland-Pittsburgh service resumed on May 2011 with a stop in Akron. Service was six roundtrips with connections in Pittsburgh to such eastern points as Washington, New York and Philadelphia. The Pittsburgh-Cleveland route continued west to Detroit via Toledo.

The Akron stop was dropped on March 13, 2012. However, the next day, Megabus began a route linking Cleveland with Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The high water mark of Megabus service in Cleveland came in August 2013 when it launched a route to Atlanta that included stops in Columbus, Cincinnati, Lexington, Knoxville and Chattanooga.

It took 15.5 hours to get to Atlanta and one of the two buses making the trip left Cleveland at 2:30 a.m.

At the same time, Megabus also launched service to Erie, Pennsylvania, and Buffalo, New York.

The Cleveland Megabus stop was initially behind Tower City at West Third and Frankfort.  It also picked up passengers on the north side of Prospect Avenue.

On August 1, 2013, it began using the Cleveland RTA Stephanie Tubbs Jones Transit Center, at 2115 East 22nd St. That enabled passengers access to public transportation and to have a sheltered place to wait for the bus.

Megabus said it was handling 13,000 passengers a month in Cleveland. Some buses used in the service were operated by Cleveland-based Lakefront Lines.

Service to Ann Arbor, Detroit and Pittsburgh ended in May 2014. “Unfortunately due to insufficient ridership service, the Pittsburgh-Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit-Ann Arbor route was discontinued on May 6,” said Sean Hughes, associate director of corporate affairs for Coach USA/ North America, in an interview at the time with The Plain Dealer.

By then, service had also ended to Buffalo and Erie.

A check of the Megabus website revealed that the company favors large cities and large colleges.

In West Virginia, for example, the only city served by Megabus is Morgantown, the home of West Virginia University.

In Pennsylvania, Megabus serves Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and State College. The latter is the home of Penn State University.

In Michigan, you can catch Megabus out of Ann Arbor (home of the University of Michigan), East Lansing (home of Michigan State University) as well as Detroit and Grand Rapids.

Nonetheless, Megabus serves just one city in Indiana (Indianapolis) and one in Kentucky (Louisville).

Indiana is a curious situation given that the bus from Indy to Chicago goes up Interstate 65 right past Lafayette and West Lafayette, the latter the home of Purdue University.

The Plain Dealer article reporting Megabus was ending service from Cleveland to Columbus and Cincinnati said lower gasoline prices was a contributing factor because many of the company’s passengers are affluent enough to own a car.

High gasoline prices and air travel hassles had just a few years earlier fueled a rise in intercity bus ridership.

A study by the Chaddick Institute of Metropolitan Development at DePaul University in Chicago said the rise of discount city-to-city bus carriers had accounted for much of the increased ridership.

The head of the Chaddick Institute, Joseph Schwieterman, told The Plain Dealer in 2014 that for Megabus to leave the Cleveland-Pittsburgh market meant “Demand must have been intolerably weak.”

“Megabus doesn’t pull out of many markets,” said Schwieterman, a professor of public service management.

The Chaddick study found that the emergence of Megabus and other low-cost carriers had prompted Greyhound to upgrade its buses and emulate their business models.

GreyhoundYet there remain many key differences between passengers who ride Greyhound versus those who ride the so-called curbside bus lines.

Greyhound passengers are 39.8 percent female versus 52.3 percent female on the curbside carriers.

On Greyhound, 36.1 percent of the passengers are ages 18 to 25 compared with 47.8 percent on curbside carriers. Business is the purpose of 23.5 percent of those on Greyhound compared with 16.4 percent of those on curbside carriers.

An overwhelming percent of passengers on both types of carriers said they planned to use computers or mobile devices during their trip, 84.9 percent on Greyhound and 91.3 percent on curbside carriers.

Megabus has been in and out of markets before and every time it pulls out, it says it might come back.

In an interview with The Plain Dealder, Mike Alvich, vice president of marketing and public relations for Megabus said the company continually assesses its routes.

“There are no guarantees,” he said. “We are a private business. We live or die based on ticket sales. We start routes based on our best research. Sales have to support operational costs. That’s one of the city pairs that did not work for us. But that doesn’t meant we won’t come back.”

Megabus dropped California service in 2008 and returned in 2013.

Schwieterman said Megabus has done best in heavily urbanized areas, between cities that are between three and six hours apart, and in places where parking is scarce and expensive.

“The Cleveland to Pittsburgh route might have been a little short to lure people out of their cars,” he said. And both cities are automobile-oriented towns.

Greyhound in 2010 launched its “Greyhound Express,” offering nonstop service between urban centers, guaranteed seating and such on-bus amenities as wireless Internet access and electrical outlets.

A visit to the Greyhound website leaves the unmistakable impression that this isn’t your grandfather’s bus company.

Nonetheless, Greyhound continues to have the image of being the transportation choice of last resort for travelers who cannot afford alternatives even if the number of small towns served by Greyhound has greatly diminished over the past three decades.

Megabus has a younger, more affluent clientele than Greyhound but Schwieterman said the differences between the two companies “are becoming more blurred all the time.”

Although Schwieterman said in that 2014 interview that the growth years of bus travel were behind the industry, “plenty of travelers are still discovering the bus. And millions of travelers have yet to discover the bus.”

Lake Shore Limited Began 40 Years Ago Today

October 31, 2015
Ad advertisement for Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited that was placed in newspapers in Massachusetts in early November 1975.

Ad advertisement for Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited that was placed in newspapers in Massachusetts in early November 1975.

Forty years ago today Cleveland, Toledo and Elyria returned to the Amtrak map with the inauguration of the Lake Shore Limited between Chicago and New York/Boston.

All three cities had been left out of the Amtrak network when the rail passenger carrier began service on May 1, 1971.

The only city in Northeast Ohio at which Amtrak stopped was Canton on the route of the Chicago-New York Broadway Limited.

A short-lived Chicago-New York train named the Lake Shore served Toledo and Cleveland slightly less than seven months.

That service, which began in mid May 1971, was premised on the promises of the states served by the train to underwrite its losses. But none of them put up any money and Amtrak canceled the train in early January.

The Amtrak Improvement Act of 1973 required Amtrak to launch one experimental route a year.

Ohio officials lobbied Amtrak hard for service to be reinstated to Cleveland and Toledo via the former Water Level Route of the New York Central, which by the time Amtrak arrived had become Penn Central.

At the time that Amtrak began in 1971, Cleveland was the largest city in the county not served by Amtrak.

Secretary of Transportation Claude S. Brinegar announced on June 27, 1974, that Chicago-Boston would be Amtrak’s experimental route for 1974. A week later, Amtrak said the train would have a New York section.

Service was expected to begin within six months but was delayed for more than a year due to an equipment shortage, particularly of sleeping cars.

A public relations special operated eastbound over the route on Oct. 28-29, 1975.

Amtrak President Paul Reistrup was aboard the special and he spoke at the Cleveland stop along with Ohio Senator Robert Taft Jr., who had pushed Amtrak hard for restoration of service via Cleveland.

Taft noted that it had been a long and hard fight to get intercity passenger service restored via the former New York Central route through northern Ohio.

Reistrup had favored the route all along, saying he was amazed that it had not been part of the Amtrak network.

“This was an unwanted child, no secret about it,” Resitrup said in Cleveland. “They (Amtrak) didn’t want to run this train.”

The publicity special arrived in Cleveland at 5:30 p.m. to a crowd of about 500. The train was pulled by a pair of SDP40F locomotives, the newest equipment in the consist.

The Cleveland station was a pair of trailers, the current station having not yet been built.

“This probably will be the most important inaugural I take part in,” Reistrup told the crowd. “It’s up to you out there in this crowd to keep this train running.”

When Nos. 48/448 and 49/449 began service on Friday, Oct. 31, 1975, the Chicago-New York running time was 21 hours, which was two-and-a-half hours slower than the Lake Shore of 1971.

The Chicago-Boston running time was 25 hours, which included a backup move the train had to make at Castleton Junction, New York, because the connection that Boston-bound New York Central trains had made for decades east of Rensselaer had been removed by Penn Central.

Amtrak officials emphasized at every stop of the publicity trip that the Lake Shore Limited was experimental and if ridership was poor it would be discontinued after a two-year trial.

On the day that scheduled service began, a crowd of 300 showed up at the Cleveland Amtrak station. Most of them were bus company employees who protested federal funding of the train. They said that made rail cheaper than the bus, which threatened their jobs.

But the public embraced the train and two years after it began the Lake Shore Limited was averaging 272 passengers per trip, a figure that eclipsed the Chicago-New York Broadway Limited.

The U.S. Department of Transportation lifted the experimental status for the Lake Shore Limited on May 9, 1978.

The Lake Shore Limited was the first direct Chicago-Boston train since the Dec. 3, 1967, discontinuance by the New York Central of the New England States.

However, the NYC and later Penn Central ran through cars between the two cities that were interchanged at Buffalo, New York.

News accounts published in October 1975, noted the longer travel time for Amtrak compared to what the New York Central once offered.

Amtrak officials blamed that on poor track conditions. Conrail would not take over the route until the following spring and it would take years to rebuild the track.

When it began, the Lake Shore Limited was scheduled to arrive and depart Chicago in mid afternoon.

The westbound train was scheduled out of Cleveland at 7:30 a.m. The eastbound train was scheduled at 11:20 p.m.

At that time, not all of the western long-distance trains departed Chicago as they do today by mid afternoon.

Georgian and Steeler in Cleveland Browns Land

March 13, 2015

Georgia 1a

Georgia 2b

Steelers 2c

Everything just fell into place for me to photograph my 20th Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive on Thursday.

I had some time off, the weather was great and NS 8101, the Central of Georgia unit, was in Northeast Ohio.

I’ve had more than a couple of near misses with this rascal and I had even seen it twice, but wasn’t in a position to photograph it.

But on Thursday morning I saw that it was leading a 20Q through western Ohio and I went out to Olmsted Falls after lunch.

This was the first place where I had missed the NS 8101. That was the Sunday before Labor Day in 2012. I missed it by about five or 10 minutes. That didn’t happen this time.

Some of the H units that I’ve photographed were trailing, such as the Pennsylvania Railroad unit behind Nickel Plate Road steamer No. 765. So there is still work to do to get a few H units on the lead.

Shortly after the passage of the 20Q, I stuck around to make some aircraft photos as planes were landing on runways 6R and 6L at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and coming over the Olmsted Falls depot where I was hanging out.

A US Airways flight from Charlotte arrived with a livery honoring the nemesis of the Cleveland Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The air traffic controller made note of the black and gold livery on this plane after it landed and as he was giving it taxi instructions.

I have recently become aware that American Airlines is painting some planes in heritage liveries to honor the memory of some of the predecessors of US Airways, with which it is in the process of merging.

I don’t know how many of these special liveries that there are, but there are probably guys who seek to photograph all of them just as there are guys who seek to photograph all railroad heritage locomotives.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders


Exploring Vestiges of Conrail in Cleveland

October 3, 2010

The night photo session of the Conrail Historical Society featured a former Conrail locomotive and crane. The event was held at the Norfolk Southern Macedonia car shops.

The Conrail Historical Society held its annual convention September 24, 25, and 26 in Cleveland this year. Conrail has been gone now well over 10 years, so many vestiges of “Big Blue” are fast fading from today’s railroad scene.

 Even though a small cluster of lines remain “Conrail” in the east, they are considered shared assets and power is provided by CSX and NS.

The CRHS is dedicated to preserving Conrail’s legacy because in the end Conrail proved to be a success. Our group attends and hosts many shows and gatherings throughout the year, one of which is our yearly convention held in a former Conrail city.

Past conventions have been held in places like Altoona and Philadelphia. Cleveland was picked for the 2010’s convention due to it being in the middle of the “X” on the modern Conrail map, a “Conrail Crossroad” city for sure.

As the convention coordinator I knew there was a lot of Conrail history in the Cleveland area and went about setting up some tours. Norfolk Southern was very cooperative and allowed us to tour several active former Conrail facilities.

 Friday started with everyone checking in to register and enjoy some time to “catch up” with old friends and make new ones. After a member’s meeting, we had pizza and then car pooled to the first event, a night photo shoot of former Conrail equipment at the Macedonia car shop.

I had staged an SD50 still in Conrail blue, a Conral boxcar, and the Dearborn Division/Cleveland terminal caboose on one track and a former Conrail American crane on another. CRHS member Brian Alesin provided the lighting for the event.

Earlier in the day several members had “unpatched” the NS 5405 back to CR 6710, which had been its delivery number under Conrail ownership.

The crane also had one of its earlier CR numbers applied to complete this Conrail scene. A car repair scene was also recreated using two CR boxcars, a laser light and fog machine, and a member posing as the welder.

A bonus was a transfer coming in while we were doing the night shoot with a former CR SD40-2 in its consist. The crew was kind enough to stop for a moment while we shot the 3405 with a one day past full moon and Jupiter above it.

On Saturday, a bus took us to the Macedonia shops for a tour. The Macedonia Car Shop was built by Conrail in 1977. Most of the equipment the carmen use was on display and there was a boxcar up on jacks with a truck set removed so we could see the inner workings of a wheel set.

We took daylight photos of the outdoor equipment lineup that we had photographed the night before and toured the cab of the 6710 and the caboose. After a few hours at the shop it was off to Larry’s Truck and Electric (LTEX), in McDonald, Ohio, (near Youngstown) for a self-guided tour of this very interesting used locomotive facility.

We were able to roam the grounds and take photos, gather frame numbers, or just revel in the railroad history that surrounded us. We spent the balance of the afternoon at LTEX and we all were pretty tired after all that walking.

Once back to the hotel it was social time then our banquet. Guest presenters after the dinner gave a well-received series of slide shows on Conrail in the Cleveland area. Noted rail author and photographer Dave Ori showed many of his Conrail slides and provided a wealth of train information. Dennis Nerhenz entertained us with a show of stellar Conrail photos and Joe Polefko rounded out the night with a show on all the places he has worked on the railroad. He is currently first trick operator at Bridge 1. We also heard a history of Cleveland Terminal Tower.

On Sunday, it was back on the bus for a morning at Berea. This former Conrail hot spot sees even more trains these days since the Conrail split. The owner of the long-closed The Station restaurant located in the former Big Four station was there and stated he will reopen. He was kind enough to let many of us up in the tower for photos.

From Berea it was off to the former Conrail drawbridge in downtown Cleveland where we were allowed to go up and observe the operations.

Ship fans were treated to the Buffalo passing through as it made its way down river and out to Lake Erie. We were treated to several operations of the bridge for river traffic and, of course, trains were plenty. After the Bridge 1 stop, it was back to the hotel where many folks, having a long drive home, departed. Some elected to carpool to the model railroad museum in Mentor where they viewed the operating layouts in all scales. That would be our last event in the convention, a full weekend to be sure.

To view additional photographs taken during the convention, click on the link below.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Conrail Historical Society members explore the Macedonia car shops built by Conrail and now used by Norfolk Southern.

Former Conrail locomotives are part of the "collection" of used locomotives sitting at Larry's Truck and Electric near Youngstown.

The view from the window at Drawbridge tower. CRHS members were allowed to visit the tower during the group's convention in Cleveland.

It wasn't all about trains. The Great Lakes freighter "Buffalo" makes its way along the Cuyahoga River during the visit to Drawbridge tower.