Posts Tagged ‘Conrail’

Durfee ‘Pulls the Pin’ on Railroad Career

May 15, 2018

Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee recently announced his retirement from Norfolk Southern, bringing to a close a railroad career that begin in early 1998 on Conrail

Roger Durfee

In a post on his Facebook page, Durfee said he worked his last day last month, but his retirement – or what railroaders call “pulling the pin” – did not become final until earlier this month.

In his post, Durfee said he had tried to get hired by the Erie Lackawanna after graduating from his school in 1972, but his favorite railroad didn’t hire him.

He attended the University of Akron and landed a job with UPS. His railroad career began at a Conrail hiring session in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

He started with Conrail in Altoona, Pennsylvania, but eventually transferred to Cleveland.

When Conrail was divided by CSX and NS, he went with NS, where he worked as a conductor until his retirement.

In his recent years at NS, Durfee had enough seniority to hold a yard job or work as a flagman at construction sites.

“I was skeptical in that trying to turn a ‘hobby’ into an avocation doesn’t always work but in this case it was one of the best things I’ve ever done,” Durfee wrote on his Facebook page. “Was it just like any other job some days? You bet, but through it all I never lost the passion for the steel rails.”

Durfee, who is known for his photography work, said he’ll miss railroad work and the yard office camaraderie, but he won’t be completely away from railroading.

He expects to work someday as a volunteer for a tourist railroad, take a trip or two and unwind.

There has also been talk about his mining his vast photo collection to publish books.


Once Upon a Time in Orrville

May 14, 2018

A westbound Conrail RoadRailer cruises through Orrville on June 12 1995, during the then-named Depot Days of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society. The view is from the steps of Orr Tower.

The last sentence of a news release issued by the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society noted that the upcoming open house to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Orrville Union Depot will not feature train or track car rides.

That was probably placed there because in the past track car rides and a short train ride were a part of a day-long festival that centered on the station that once served the Pennsylvania Railroad.

But all of that began to go away a few years ago when some ORHS passenger cars being ferried back home by the Wheeling & Lake Erie derailed while on Norfolk Southern tracks in Bellevue.

The W&LE subsequently banned excursion trains from its rails and evicted the ORHS from a siding track in Orrville.

I may or may not get down to the depot anniversary event on Saturday, May 19. If I do, it will be to indulge in a little bit of nostalgia.

Back in the 1990s the ORHS used to sponsor what it called Depot Days. Aside from track car and train rides, the depot was open along with the restored Orr Tower.

Conrail usually sent a locomotive that was on static display and visitors were allowed to visit the cab.

In those days Conrail had a fair level of traffic through Orrville, much of it coming off the Indianapolis Line at Crestline and taking the Fort Wayne Line that ran through Orrville.

You could count on seeing a couple of intermodal trains in late morning and manifest freights at intervals throughout the day.

Much of that traffic ended after CSX and NS divided Conrail in 1999. There were no more visiting locomotives and the level of train traffic greatly diminished.

The event itself was renamed Railroad Days and moved to August. But the train rides and track car rides continued and at times the W&LE would have a visiting locomotive to view.

This week’s event will be but a shadow of what used to be. You can sit in Orrville for hours now before a train comes through.

But there will always be memories of what once was.

Penn Central History Program Set for April 8

March 26, 2018

A presentation on the history of the Penn Central will be given on April 8 in Anderson, Indiana.

The program begins at 2 p.m. in the  Bowman Room of the Madison County Historical Society at 7 West 11th Street.

Roger Hensley will give a Power Point presentation that will briefly cover the history of the New York Central and the Pennsylvania Railroads leading up to the merger of the railroads to form Penn Central in 1968.

Most of the program will focus on the Penn Central years with some attention paid to Conrail, CSX and Norfolk Southern.
Penn Central existed from Feb. 1, 1968, to April 1, 1976, when it was supplanted by Conrail.

Parking for the event is available in the lot across the street. After the program, the Train Room will be open for visitors.

Well Weathered

February 17, 2018

Traces of Conrail can easily be found despite the fact that it has been 18 years since it was divided between CSX and Norfolk Southern.

The most likely vestige of Conrail that you can find are freight cars still carrying the carrier’s herald and name. It will be awhile before those vanish.

But if you pay attention, you can find Conrail in other ways, too.

Many railroad signs along the right of way of former Conrail routes continue to wear Conrail colors, even if the paint is peeling and the color has faded from years of exposure to sunlight.

That includes this station sign in Minvera, Ohio, that still stands along a former Pennsylvania Railroad branch line that at one time extended to Marietta, Ohio.

It is hard to believe that this line was once part of Conrail, but it was.

Conrail was created, after all, to get rid of branches such as the line to Marrietta and it did. Much of the route is abandoned west of Minerva.

The short-line railroad Ohi-Rail operates the remaining rails between Minerva and Bayard, where it interchanges with Norfolk Southern.

Another Early Conrail Memory

February 5, 2018

The early years of Conrail were most interesting and colorful as locomotives wearing predecessor railroads were mixed and matched in train consists.

For a time, some units wore continued to wear their former colors with Conrail markings.

Conrail 6074 leads a pair of eastbound helpers through the super-elevated curve in front of the ex-Pennsylvania Railroad passenger station in Massillon, Ohio on Aug. 17, 1981.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Life After Conrail

January 25, 2018

It was interesting to see Conrail 4022 (a.k.a. Erie 833) pulling an Amtrak train in the January Akron Railroad Club eBulletin. As I have shared with you, Erie 833 survives in a happy retirement in Port Jervis, New York, usually displayed on the former Erie Turntable.

Photograph by Jack Norris

An Alco Treat

December 18, 2017

With digital technology, a 35mm slide can have a small portion cropped out and enlarged to make a “second” into an acceptable image.

Three six-axle ALCO Centuries are eastbound through Akron in July 1976. Reading 5305 and her two Lehigh Valley companions certainly made early Conrail more interesting to Akron-area railfans.

Photograph and Article by Robert Farkas

Jack Norris Has a New Railfan Hangout

December 3, 2017


I just moved a few miles northeast of where I used to live and now live within 10 miles of four rail lines.

Three of the four lines are very active. I was in Dumont, New Jersey, along the old New York Central West Shore Line (former New York, West Shore & Buffalo), now the CSX River Line. This was NYC’s main freight line between the New York City area (Weehawken, New Jersey) and Selkirk (Albany) New York.

Many changes have taken place here at Milepost NY13 over the years. Until 1959, commuter trains and some Albany-bound trains (as well as trains of the New York, Ontario & Western until 1957) used this line.

The line here at MP 13 was four tracks wide. Dumont was the end of the four-track main and there was a commuter storage yard in town as well.

The main line continued as double track up to Selkirk. Penn Central did away with the four tracks and Conrail did away with the double track.

Where I am standing is the former Dumont Station site. A nice walkway/park lines the strip between the railroad and West Shore Avenue (I wonder where that name came from.)

There is a gazebo and several eating places across the street. CSX provides about 25 trains a day, although since the line is mostly single track the trains tend to come in sporadic bunches.

A concrete slab was most likely the base of a signal bridge. This will be a nice new spot for me to railfan.

Traces of Conrail

November 15, 2017

Conrail ceased operating as an independent railroad on June 1, 1999, when its assets were acquired by Norfolk Southern and CSX.

There remains the Conrail shared assets in New Jersey and Detroit, but those are operated by the two railroads that carved up Conrail more than 18 years ago.

Traces of Conrail can be found here there with the most notable being rolling stock still wearing Conrail markings.

But Conrail can also be found in other ways as well. This marker is affixed to a grade crossing signal at Joppa Road west of Vermilion on the Chicago Line.

Stack Trains on the Fort Wayne Line

August 25, 2017

In modern railroading double-stack trains have become very common to see. During an afternoon at Berea, for instance, you will see more double-stack trains than all other types combined. This is not always the case. Certain rail lines are devoid of this type of train.

One major route in our area is the former Pennsylvania Railroad west of Alliance. In the late Conrail into the first few years after the Norfolk Southern takeover, double-stack trains routinely used this route. After about 2002 NS rerouted these trains off this line.

This past weekend stack trains returned to the former Pennsy. Ironically, it was another double-stack train that derailed leaving Ft. Wayne, Indiana, which necessitated not one but two stack trains, 20T and 20A, to be rerouted between Ft Wayne and Alliance.

Here’s my take on 20T at Crestline Ohio on Aug. 19.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon