Posts Tagged ‘covered hopper cars’

Heritage Covered Hoppers?

July 17, 2017

We’ve all heard about heritage locomotives, particularly those that Norfolk Southern created to celebrate its 30th anniversary back in 2012.

If you pay attention as a train passes you at trackside, you might spot some freight cars in some semblance of their original livery.

It might be an outline of a former herald, e.g., Penn Central or Conrail, or it might be the faded markings of a one-time owner.

And then there is this covered hopper that can be described as heritage, BNSF style. One of its grain cars is shown in Cleveland with an added “Burlington Route” emblem on it.

Photograph by Roger Durfee

Winding Line of Covered Hopper Cars in Ohio

March 10, 2015

Winding hopper cars

It is common to see photographs of trains winding around in mountainous areas, particularly in the Western United States.

But such views in Ohio are unusual because most railroad lines here are pretty much straight due to the flat terrain. So I was struck by the sight that I saw atop the reservoir in Wellington on Sunday.

A grain train with CSX motive power was parked on the connecting track between CSX and the Wheeling & Lake Erie. This track loops around the Lorain County Fairgrounds.

The grain train, which did not have a crew on board, was waiting to get onto CSX. In the image above, the view is looking northwestward.

The motive power is just out of sight to the right and the tail end of the train is visible in the distance.

This is the first time I’ve seen a grain train on this connecting track. I wonder if interchanging grain trains with CSX is a recent development for the W&LE.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Trip Down Memory Lane in Akron

December 18, 2014

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Remember when . .  .

You and a railfan friend could park your car on the site of the removed East Voris Street crossing guard tower in downtown Akron?

Each new train was a surprise because you didn’t own a scanner and perhaps had no knowledge of scanners as well.

Three B&O “blues” were just another B&O lashup?

A C&O covered hopper wasn’t a fallen flag treasure?

There was a pole line on the east side of the tracks here where a Penn Central line, the B&O mainline, and the Erie Lackawanna mainline passed through this spot?

There was an EL Alco switcher switching EL’s McCoy Street Yard?

There was a McCoy Street Yard?

It is September 1972 and I am taking the photo while Akron Railroad Club member Mike Ondecker is writing down the information.

B&O Nos. 3516, 3713, and 6911 lead an eastbound freight through Akron. At the time I was shooting Agfachrome so I’m sorry but I can’t help the grain.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas

 

 

Waiting For The Harvest Season to Begin

October 10, 2014
A caboose and string of covered hopper cars wait at Jones Switch for the call to be pulled down to a nearby elevator to be filled with grain.

A caboose and string of covered hopper cars wait at Jones Switch for the call to be pulled down to a nearby elevator to be filled with grain.

I don’t know who Jones was and why a switch on the old Peoria, Decatur & Evansville was named after him.

I just know that for as long as I can remember there has been a grain elevator southeast of my hometown of Mattoon, Ill., at a place called Jones Switch.

Today Interstate 57 goes practically over the top of Jones Switch. The PD&E, which was acquired by the Illinois Central Railroad early in the 20th century is mostly gone east of Jones switch.

A portion of the PD&E remains in place from the Canadian National yard in Mattoon – what’s left of it anyway – out to the elevator at Jones Switch.

Traffic on this spur probably is sporadic. A week or more might go by without any trains moving over these tracks.

I left in Mattoon since 1983 and don’t get back there much so I don’t know how often that trains operate on this line.

I do know that the last two times that I saw Jones switch there was a string of covered hopper cars parked to the west and an IC caboose wearing the IC “death star” logo was being used as a shoving platform for CN crews backing the hoppers out to the elevator.

As far as I know, the occasional move of covered hoppers is the only traffic still left on this segment of the old PD&E.

There are countless locations such as Jones Switch scattered all over America. A branch line or a portion of a branch line remains in place to serve a particular customer or two that needs rail service.

The distance between the Mattoon yard and Jones Switch is a couple miles or so and the track is not in the best condition.

I have to wonder how much longer that CN will agree to move covered hoppers over this stretch without some track rehabilitation.

Whatever the case, I made it a point to visit Jones Switch last month during a visit back to Mattoon this past August  to do some railfanning of the former IC.

The caboose I had seen two years earlier on these tracks was there along with a string of covered hoppers. The elevator owns or leases a geep painted solid blue that has had its markings and numbers removed.

The diesel was silent and I didn’t observe any activity at the grain elevator.

The only sounds came from traffic rushing by on the interstate and the wind rustling the corn plants next to the tracks. Some of that grain might move over these very tracks in a couple more months.

But the corn was still quite green and would need more than a month to mature and be ready for harvest.

So everything waits for its time. The caboose, the covered hoppers and the blue geep will soon enough have work to do.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Rust is threatening to overcome the IC's gray paint.

Rust is threatening to overcome the IC’s gray paint.

Some of the corn growing next to the tracks may well journey to market over those tracks and maybe even in these cars.

Some of the corn growing next to the tracks may well journey to market over those tracks and maybe even in these cars.

CN train crews are not allowed to go all the way to Jones' switch.

CN train crews are not allowed to go all the way to Jones’ switch.

The heritage of this locomotive is a mystery, what with its markings and numbers having been removed.

The heritage of this locomotive is a mystery, what with its markings and numbers having been removed.

What tales could this geep tell of places its been and worked?

What tales could this geep tell of places its been and worked?

The elevator at Jones Switch looms in the background over Interstate 57. These tracks once went all the way to Evansville, Ind.

The elevator at Jones Switch looms in the background over Interstate 57. These tracks once went all the way to Evansville, Ind.

Need a used tractor? It still has lots of life left in it.

Need a used tractor? It still has lots of life left in it.

Still Rockin’ After All These Years

April 3, 2014
The Rock Island logo is badly fading, but still visible on this covered hopper in Kent. The car now carries WE reporting marks.

The Rock Island logo is badly fading, but still visible on this covered hopper in Kent. The car now carries WE reporting marks.

The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad ceased operations on March 31, 1980, but every once in a while you can still spot RI rolling stock. Such was the case on Sunday when I captured two ex-RI covered hoppers in Kent, Ohio.

The two cars were part of a string of hoppers at the Star of the West grain elevator that sits alongside the former Erie Railroad mainline. The ex-Erie tracks are now operated by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway and the grain facility has a trackmobile to shuffle cars around. The ex-RI cars now carry Wheeling & Lake Erie reporting marks.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

The RI logo on this car has pretty much survived but the blue paint and the "The Rock" slogan are rapidly fading away.

The RI logo on this car has pretty much survived but the blue paint and the “The Rock” slogan are rapidly fading away.

An eastbound CSX manifest freight passes on the ex-Baltimore & Ohio line along the Cuyahoga River with a covered hopper in tow that is of more recent vintage.

An eastbound CSX manifest freight passes on the ex-Baltimore & Ohio line along the Cuyahoga River with a covered hopper in tow that is of more recent vintage.

Penn Central and Conrail Heritage ‘Unit”

January 6, 2013

While at Berea on Saturday afternoon I spotted this covered hopper that sported a dual heritage of Penn Central and Conrail. The PC heritage is obvious given the green paint and the Penn Central logo and name.

But look in the upper left hand corner of this car and you will see that someone has painted out a Conrail logo and markings.

I also noticed that someone painted out what appeared to be lettering above the Penn Central identification and my first thought was that had been the Conrail name. But there are just five letters painted out and Conrail has six letters. So I don’t know what it was that painted out there. Something else was painted out in the upper right hand corner of the car as well.

Photograph by Craig Sanders