Posts Tagged ‘Conrail’

Like Turning Back the Clock

August 25, 2016

_DSC6318 CROPPED Conrail Olm Falls with sig RES (1)

It was a Wednesday. Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler noticed online that Norfolk Southern heritage unit 8098 was leading a westbound intermodal train.

He had enough lead time so he headed for Olmsted Falls to intercept the ES44AC paying tribute to Conrail as it led train 21Q.

According to, the 21Q was reported through Olmsted Falls at 3:05 p.m.

It would continue to Chicago where it apparently flipped and came back east the next day when was reported to be leading the 20Q.

The 8098 spent a few days out east before coming back through Northeast Ohio and then making another return trip shortly thereafter.

It can be interesting to track the travels of a heritage unit. In the case of the 8098, since Peter photographed it the unit has been in 10 states, assuming that all of those reports on HU are accurate.

During much of its travels in the past month the Conrail H unit has burnished former Conrail  routes — such as the one shown here — and had its photograph taken who knows how many times.

The fascination with NS heritage units is still going strong more than four years after No. 8098 because the first of those locomotives to be released from the shop for duty.

Photograph by Peter Bowler

Conrail H Unit Passes through N.E. Ohio

August 8, 2016




The past several weeks the Conrail heritage unit of Norfolk Southern has been leading trains through Northeast Ohio.

Two weeks ago I caught it going by Berea tower (top photograph). This is a significant location both locally but also for the Conrail system.

Conrail’s route structure was basically an X with the lines crossing at Cleveland and, specifically, at Berea tower.

On Saturday, I caught the Conrail H unit leading again, this time at East Conway (middle and bottom photographs). Conway Yard was an important point on the former Pennsylvania Railroad ever since it opened in 1957. This continued through Penn Central and Conrail and remains so with Norfolk Southern.

Many photos have been taken throughout the years at this iconic spot and I thought this would be a worthy inclusion with those.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Railroading as It Once Was: When Power Companies Had Their Own Locomotive Fleets

July 30, 2016

Detroit Edison

Five pretty clean Detroit Edison units hustle the empties back to the mines along Conrail’s Cleveland Line a few miles west of Alliance in April 1988.

The empty moves were good for catching all the power up front as the loaded trains would have two “slave” units cut in back in the train.

The lead U30C has the newer colors applied where a light gray replaced the metallic silver.

Photograph by Roger Durfee

Railroading as it Once Was: Early Conrail Colors on the Former Erie Lackawanna Mainline in Akron

July 21, 2016

With U25B bookends, this colorful set of power heads east on the former Erie in Akron in July 1978. Most of the old buildings behind the train are gone now and all will be gone soon to make way for a highway project. The tracks the train is on are, of course, long gone.

Photograph by Roger Durfee

How Things Have Changed at MACE Tower

July 7, 2016


It is June 3, 1977, in Massillon. Conrail No. 7878 and PNC No. 1506 are westbound helpers on Conrail’s Fort Wayne line.

They are at MACE Tower on the diamonds and are crossing the Chessie System (ex-Baltimore & Ohio) line that goes to Holloway and then to the Ohio River.

MACE Tower is still an active tower. The tracks closest to the viewer are part of the Conrail yard tracks and the line that goes north to Warwick.

If you closely look around the curve, you can see the ex-Pennsylvania Railroad signal bridge and to its right a now-removed factory.

How things have changed. Trees now cover the hillside. MACE Tower, the diamonds for the crossing, one of the two lines that made up the Fort Wayne line at that time, and some of the yard tracks are gone.

The Conrail line is now Norfolk Southern while the ex-B&O line is the single track R.J. Corman line that only goes as far south as Urichsville.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas

Railroading as it Once Was: Outlawed in Hudson

June 30, 2016


A trio of Alco C-628s on an ore empty have “outlawed” at Hudson in November 1976. While the leader has had the “CR” (Conrail) treatment applied, the two Lehigh Valley units are unpatched. Along with the Alcos the Hudson station and platform are gone, too.

Photograph  by Roger Durfee

Railroading as it Once Was: Conrail Wreck Train in Akron. These Trains Were Always Interesting

June 16, 2016

Conrail wreck train in Akron

A common sight during those first few years on Conrail was the relief train or wreck train as it was often called.

I’m not sure what had happened or where, but the entire train with crane and some cripples was eastbound at Akron in August 1978.

This train is on the former Erie and the blue GP9 is a former Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive. The trains were always interesting with gondolas full of track panels and wheel sets, and old converted passenger equipment.

The hook is in Conrail blue and I’m guessing it was the former Erie Lackawanna Brier Hill (Youngstown) hook.

To those who know Akron, this was before they turned those old Quaker Oats silos into a hotel . . . and before the EL was ripped out at this location.

The train has entered JO interlocking. Note the signal bridge.

The tracks to the left of the train were the joint Penn Central/Baltimore & Ohio mains, which was CR/Chessie System by this date.

Also note the elevated side track up in the weeds along that white building on the right, which at one time provided access to the oats yard up above.

It branched off the EL in the distance and reconnected with the B&O on the other side of JO.

I remember watching an eastbound detour train come off the EL main and up this siding to get to the B&O, but the grade and probably some slippery weeds stalled the train.

All that remains here today is the two former B&O/PC mains, which are now the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

When Massilon Was Still a Busy Place

June 11, 2016


If you go to Massillon today, the yard tracks are nearly always empty, and the trains seem to be few and far between.

Yes, you have Norfolk Southern, foreign power, and R.J. Corman, but often it is a two hour wait between trains.

The steel mills are gone and most local industries are no longer served by rail.

Massillon on June 6, 1979, was different. While there could also be dead periods, on this day Conrail 2431 (Alco C425) and 7033 (EMD GP9) were switching the yard.

Perhaps they were making up a local for Massillon industries or they could have been making up the Massillon-Warwick-Akron train.

In the far left background is a road unit, or perhaps it is a helper. Hidden from view is Mace Tower. There was a busy feeling to all this activity. All seemed to be well in Massillon on that day.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas

Railroading as it Once Was: The Only Day I Got Paid to Take a Ride on a Reading Locomotive

June 9, 2016
No. 2187 as it looked in Conrail paint with my work train.

No. 2187 as it looked in Conrail paint with my work train.

No. 2187 as it looked when it still wore some of its original Reading Livery. By now it had been patched as it sat in Rutherford, Pennsylvania in September 1978.

No. 2187 as it looked when it still wore some of its original Reading Livery. By now it had been patched as it sat in Rutherford, Pennsylvania in September 1978.

In April 2001 I was called for a work train. I took a taxi from Cleveland to Alliance and worked as needed.

Normally, work trains rated older units, often ex-Conrail GP38-2s. This day was no exception to the older unit rule, but imagine my surprise to see this motive power when I arrived in Alliance. It was an Ohio Central GP30, former Conrail and originally Reading Lines. I sure didn’t expect to be working on a Reading GP30 in 2001.

The train was a cable plow train, a machine that dug a trench and dropped fiber optics tubing into the hole.

Note the large spools of plastic conduit both on our train and off to the side. It was certainly a different assignment from the normal road jobs I was working at the time.

The day went smoothly, although it was long, with a taxi ride back to Cleveland once we were done.

It has been the only time I’ve been paid to work with a former RDG GP30.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

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


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