Posts Tagged ‘Conrail’

‘Grab Shot’ Helped Bring Back Fond Memories

March 16, 2015

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Sometimes I tell people that a certain image was a “grab shot,” but this image certainly backs up that statement.

First, my 1976 Pinto is in the photo instead of being moved out of scene. Second, the Pinto’s door is open showing my hasty departure.

Third, there were better angles than this. Still, I like this image.

It brings back memories I would not have had the Pinto not been in it. Only the year before my Pinto had faithfully taken three 6-footers to Maine and back and here it was being photographed in all its beauty.

It is June 29, 1978, and Conrail No. 6146 leads Amtrak “pumpkins” east through Massillon, Ohio.

Story and Photograph by Robert Farkas 

One Day in May the Railroad Went Away

February 28, 2015
A former Pennsylvania Railroad cabin car bears witness to the removal of a former New York Central route. West of Terre Haute at least, the Pennsy won one. It was a different story east of there where the Central survived.

A former Pennsylvania Railroad cabin car bears witness to the removal of a former New York Central route. West of Terre Haute at least, the Pennsy won one. It was a different story east of there where the Central survived.

It was a mostly sunny spring day. My recollection is that it was late afternoon when I drove out on Illinois Route 16 west of Mattoon, Ill., to look for a Conrail rail train.

The line had been abandoned more than a year earlier, but by law Conrail had to wait at least 120 days in case someone wanted to buy it. There had been talk of that, but nothing materialized.

On this day the rails were being removed to be sent somewhere to be refurbished and, eventually, reused.

My mission was to make a few photographs to document the rail removal.

This day had been years in the making. It began when Penn Central decided it didn’t need two routes between Terre Haute and St. Louis.

PC had expected to abandon or dramatically downgrade the former New York Central route, but that didn’t happen.

Even with a mandate to rationalize the rail network that it inherited from PC, it took Conrail seven years to finish the job.

I didn’t spend much time at the site where the workers were pulling up the rails.

I didn’t have the documentary mindset that I have now. Back then, making photographs was a sometime thing.

How I wish today that I had done more to document the abandonment of a rail line that had played a significant role in my life.

It was over these rails that I made my first railroad journey in the 1950s aboard an NYC passenger train to St. Louis.

I saw these rails often as I went about my life activities while growing up and later working in Mattoon.

As a reporter for the Mattoon Journal Gazette I had written about the process that led to the ex-NYC being abandoned between Paris and Pana, Ill.

But when the rail train came through Mattoon to pick up the rail, I was at home. I made no effort to go see, let alone photograph, the rail removal operation in my hometown.

I must have figured that the photographs that I made the day before west of town were a good enough record.

Today you would hardly know there had been a railroad here. Farmers have claimed the right of way and extended their fields.

The only traces of the railroad are a few small concrete bridges left behind and linear empty space in the towns where the rails had been.

Shown are a few of the better images that I made on that 1983 day. They were scanned from the original color print film negatives.

For the most part, I consider these images to be nothing special. Most of them are not composed well.

And yet they are very special because they show something that happened once and won’t happen again. They have historical significance.

Regardless of the quality of these images, I’m very pleased that I made them.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The lead locomotive of the last train to travel over the rails of the former New York Central mainline west of my hometown of Mattoon, Ill. For the record, the direction of travel was east.

The lead locomotive of the last train to travel over the rails of the former New York Central mainline west of my hometown of Mattoon, Ill. For the record, the direction of travel was east.

After getting fixed up, these rails will be put down again elsewhere on the  Conrail system.

After getting fixed up, these rails will be put down again elsewhere on the Conrail system.

Just another day of picking up rail on just another Conrail abandonment. A lot of those occurred during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Just another day of picking up rail on just another Conrail abandonment. A lot of those occurred during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

A side portrait of No. 1921, the trailing unit in the rail train.

A side portrait of No. 1921, the trailing unit in the rail train.

It would have been appropriate had the lead locomotive been 1855, the year that these rails reached Mattoon from the east.

It would have been appropriate had the lead locomotive been 1855, the year that these rails reached Mattoon from the east.

All that was left behind was some ballast, ties and tie plates. Crews will be back later to pick that up. Today the ex-NYC right of way is part of a farm field and you might not know that a railroad once ran here that hosted the Central's finest passenger trains between New York and St. Louis.

All that was left behind was some ballast, ties and tie plates. Crews will be back later to pick that up. Today the ex-NYC right of way is part of a farm field and you might not know that a railroad once ran here that hosted the Central’s finest passenger trains between New York and St. Louis.

What Were They Thinking About?

February 21, 2015

Conrail MTO loco

Conrail MTO caboose

It’s early April 1982 in my hometown of Mattoon, Ill. I have just finished my work shift at the Journal Gazette.

I was a reporter there, but on this day I filled in as wire editor for a guy who had the day off. That meant having to start early, very early. It was around 5 a.m. or so when I walked in.

For reasons I no longer remember, after work I drove downtown. An unusual spring snow squall had descended upon east central Illinois as I left the office.

There had been a going away party for a guy in the advertising department who I had gotten to know.

We shared an interest in photography and had spent hours talking about making photographs.

I had taken my personal camera to work to make some color photographs of his last day at the newspaper. My work camera would have had black and white film loaded in it.

I don’t remember how I learned of this approaching train. I might have gotten out of my car to walk somewhere or maybe I saw the crossing gates go down.

But I heard a train horn blowing on the former New York Central mainline to St. Louis, which was owned by Conrail at the time.

At the time, seeing any train on this line was a rarity. The overhead traffic had been removed in summer 1980. A local worked on the line for a while.

Less than a month earlier, Conrail had received permission to abandon the ex-NYC between Paris and Pana, Ill.

Within a year, these rails would be ripped up. But for the next 120 days the rails must remain in place in the event that someone wanted to buy the line and operate it as a railroad.

I scrambled to get into position to get off the top photo, which is the best of the three frames I made of this train approaching the crossing at North 16th Street.

To the left is what is left of the passenger platform for the NYC station, which is out of sight to the left.

In the bottom photo the train is about to cross North 15th Street. I’ve often wondered why this train was out here.

Perhaps the crane had been out picking up things to be removed in preparation for removing the rails.

Or maybe the crane had been stored elsewhere and needed to be moved off the line now that it was no longer being used to haul freight and Conrail was in the process of walking away from it.

I also often have wondered what was going through the minds of the two railroaders on the back of the caboose.

Were they making the last trip they would ever make over these rails? If not, it was likely one of their last trips.

What are they thinking? Are they reflecting on their railroad careers?

It is a mystery for which I will never know the answer. More than three decades later, I’m glad that I was in the right place at the right time and had a camera with me.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

 

 

Black and Blue at Brady Lake 36 Years Apart

January 26, 2015

 

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Once I got word that the Conrail/Penn Central heritage duo would be through my area in daylight (thanks to all for updates), the choice of location was a no brainer for me.

I have been photographing from this location since the 1970s, all through Conrail’s existence.

It’s been said “you can’t go home again,” but the Norfolk Southern heritage program provides a close stand-in for how the past might look like today.

The top photo is, of course, the 24M from Sunday and the second photo is from January 1979 of a Conrail eastbound with an earlier blue/black duo. Who’d a thunk it?

Overgrowth has hidden the former Lake Erie & Pittsburgh (New York Central) northern flyover track and the trough truss bridge came out in the clearance project of the mid 1990s.

The south connection is still in as the Hugo lead for about two miles but is currently out of service.

Also included in the sequence are two more earlier Conrail photos from Brady Lake that were created in February 1979.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Memories of Winter Railfanning at Berea

January 3, 2015
Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited is westbound at Berea behind a pair of burly SDP40F locomotives.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited is westbound at Berea behind a pair of burly SDP40F locomotives.

Remember when Conrail ran through Berea? When Amtrak ran SDP40Fs and new F40PHs? When Front Street was at grade level? When you could drive into the Berea interlocking and visit the tower without being arrested?

I’ve been visiting Berea for many years and I lived there while working at the nearby NASA facility by Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

I not only shot photos from Front Street grade crossing, but also in the middle of the interlocking. I used to drive by the tower from Front Street travelling west toward the western signal bridge.

I sometimes parked in the access road near the MOW shanty that still existed there. The road was plowed by the Conrail crews so getting in and out was without problems.

Here are a few of the photos taken that I have scanned. I hope that you enjoy them.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited sends the snow flying as it rushes westbound at Berea behind F40PH No. 275 and an E-unit that helped to provide steam heat.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited sends the snow flying as it rushes westbound at Berea behind F40PH No. 275 and an E-unit that helped to provide steam heat.

 

Conrail power everywhere! SD50 No. CR 6798 leads a westbound by BE tower on Track 1, while SD50 No. 6790 leads a light power move on the former Big Four.

Conrail power everywhere! SD50 No. CR 6798 leads a westbound by BE tower on Track 1, while SD50 No. 6790 leads a light power move on the former Big Four.

Conrail BUEL train passes BE tower behind BN, NS and SF power. BUEL was a Buffalo Frontier Yard  to Elkhart, Ind., train.

Conrail BUEL train passes BE tower behind BN, NS and SF power. BUEL was a Buffalo Frontier Yard to Elkhart, Ind., train.

Conrail westbound freight is about to cross Front Street while passing Berea Hardware behind SD50 No. 6782.

Conrail westbound freight is about to cross Front Street while passing Berea Hardware behind SD50 No. 6782.

A Conrail westbound passes BE tower and MP 194 behind GP40 No. 3165.

 

Conrail westbound fright behind U33B No. 2922 as it travels through Berea interlocking on a cold winter day. Note the signal box and MOW structure.

Conrail westbound fright behind U33B No. 2922 as it travels through Berea interlocking on a cold winter day. Note the signal box and MOW structure.

 

UP Heritage Day in Berea on Conrail

December 20, 2014

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Fans flock to Berea to see trains and “foreign power.” You never know what you might see on a Norfolk Southern or CSX train in the way of motive power.

That was also the case in the Conrail era. Shown is an eastbound manifest freight on the Chicago Line crossing the East Branch of Rocky River with a Union Pacific “heritage” consist.

On the point is Chicago & North Western No. 8526, one of 30 GE C40-8A units built in June, July and August 1998 for the C&NW.

Trailing are a pair of Southern Pacific locomotives, each wearing a different livery. The middle unit is letter for SP subsidiary Cotton Belt while the third unit wears the SP speed lettering that came into vogue after SP and Denver & Rio Grande Western hooked up.

Union Pacific acquired both the SP and C&NW and at the time that this image was made on April 11, 1998, these units were UP owned.

I don’t recall which train this was, but it may have been the NPSE, which originated in North Platte, Neb., on the UP and terminated at Selkirk Yard near Albany, N.Y.

It was not uncommon for the NPSE to have Union Pacific motive power that ran through Chicago with the train.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

 

A Long Time Ago at Berea

December 4, 2014

Dave on April11-98

I was recently going through some of my film negatives from the late 1990s looking for halfway decent photographs that I made of Conrail operations in its final two years.

I came across a negative of a guy posing in the engineer’s seat of a locomotive at Berea. The face looked familiar and after I scanned the negative I realized it was Dave Mangold.

The image was made on April 11, 1998, and Dave had just gotten aboard a train parked in the Berea siding.

In those days I often would walk with Dan Davidson from the railfan parking area to the west end of the Berea interlocking. We would stand on an abandoned bridge and photograph trains on the Chicago Line crossing the east branch of Rocky River.

One day we were standing closer to the tracks near the signal bridge when a familiar looking figure got out of a crew van. It was Dave and his conductor coming to assume their next assignment.

I wasn’t in the Akron Railroad Club then and in fact I’m not sure that I knew that it existed. But Dave gets around and I had met him at a regional meeting of the National Association of Railroad passengers in Detroit. Our paths had crossed during rail excursions in Northeast Ohio.

We chatted a bit and Dave and his conductor got to work. He apparently agreed to pose for this photo.

A lot has changed since the day this image was made. Conrail was split by Norfolk Southern and CSX just over a year after I made this photo.

I would not even think about walking to the spot where I made this image. Railroads have tightened security, particularly since 9-11. The days of being able to walk around unfettered on or near railroad property to make photographs so long as you weren’t on the tracks or doing something stupid are long past.

Dave went with NS and he still is at the controls of trains passing through Berea. I can think of at least four other occasions when I photographed him behind the throttle of an NS train with two of those occurring this year.

But Conrail 6167 went with CSX or should I say CSX chose it. The unit was repainted and renumbered to 7349.

I’ve long since given up making photographs on color negative film and, in fact, have long since given up shooting on slide film, too, in favor of digital photography.

So here is to old times even if those times were not that long ago, and to old friends.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Remember When Berea Meant Conrail?

November 2, 2014

Conrail on bridge-a

Last week I dug out some of my old color negatives and scanned them. In particular, I was scanning some of my photographs of Conrail operations in Berea that I made in the late 1990s when the railroad was in the final years of life as an independent entity.

By the time that this image of a westbound intermodal train on the Chicago Line crossing the Rocky River was made on Oct. 10, 1998, Norfolk Southern and CSX had already agreed to divide Conrail.

It also was a pre-9/11 world when you could walk around just about anywhere at Berea to take photographs and no one would say anything.

I believe that I was standing on the Big Four bridge when I made this image. At that time, it was known to Conrail as the Indianapolis Line and traffic on that route was not nearly as heavy as it is today.

But that would soon change. CSX would make the former Big Four between Greenwich and Cleveland a major link in its route between Chicago and the upper Atlantic Seaboard.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Durfee to Present at Conrail Group Meeting

October 8, 2014

Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee will be among the headliner presenters at the fall 2014 quarterly membership meeting of the Conrail Historical Society on Nov. 1 at the Berea Union Depot Taverne.

Durfee will show slides of Conrail operations. Also showing image of Conrail in action will be Jerry Jordak of Macedonia, Ohio.

Attendees are invited to gather before the meeting for an afternoon of railfanning in Berea.

The combination dinner/membership meeting will begin at 5 p.m. inside the restaurant’s historic Pullman passenger car.

This membership meeting is free for all CRHS members to attend. For those wishing to dine, a special buffet has been arranged at $20 per person.

The capacity of the Pullman car is limited to 24 adults, so would-be attendees should RSVP soon.

If more than 24 members wish to attend the event, dinner and the meeting will be held inside the station.

For further information or to RSVP, send an email to coordinator Brenda Long at koala5082002@yahoo.com.

For more information visit the CRHS website at:
http://thecrhs.org/events/Fall-2014-Quarterly-Membership-Meeting-Mini-Banquet

 

 

BO Tower Interlocking Machine Shut Down

September 12, 2014

 

Operators are still lining signals and switches at BO Tower in Kalamzoo, Mich., but not for much longer.

This past Tuesday the 44-level Saxby & Farmer interlocking machine inside of the tower was taken out of service. The tower remains open 24 hours a day with operators using a control panel to authorize movements.

But in the not too distant future an Amtrak train director in Chicago will be handed the responsibility to control the junction of Amtrak’s Michigan Line (former Michigan Central) and the Grand Elk Railroad.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is acquired the former MC line east of Kalamazoo from Norfolk Southern. NS will eventually relinquish to Amtrak the dispatching of the route.

The Michigan Railroad Commission approved the now decommissioned interlocking by New York Central affiliate MC in January 1915

BO tower once controlled lines affiliated with the Grand Trunk Western, NYC and Pennsylvania, along with interurban Michigan Railway

The ex-MC was divided between Amtrak and Conrail in 1976. Conrail also acquired the ex-PRR line.

Norfolk Southern got the two Conrail routes in 1999 and sold the ex-PRR line to the Grand Elk in 2009. The ex-MC east of Kalamazoo was sold to the Michigan Department of Transportation in 2013 with NS retaining freight rights.

Amtrak and the state of Michigan are rebuilding the Kalamazoo-Dearborn corridor for 110 mph speeds, which includes major track upgrades along with a complete replacement of the signal system to modern hardware that provides positive train control.

The route is used by the Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service and the Chicago-Port Huron, Mich., Blue Water.

 

 


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