Posts Tagged ‘CSX at Sterling Ohio’

Once Upon a Time in Sterling

March 24, 2021

CSX GP40 No. 6638 leads an eastbound n May 1987 past at Sterling Tower. The train is coming off the line that ran to Seville and beyond. To the right of where I am standing and to the left of the tower are the ballast and a few rails where the once mighty Erie Lackawanna crossed the former Baltimore & Ohio line at Sterling Tower.

No. 6638 was built for the B&O in November 1971.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Some Recent CSX New Castle Sub Action

September 4, 2019

Here are a pair of views that were recently made on the CSX New Castle Subdivision. In the top photograph, CSX AC44CW No. 307 leads an eastbound at Sterling on Aug. 10, 2019.

On the same day, ES44AC-H has a westbound in tow as it rumbles through Creston. Note that this consist is the current state of the art for precision scheduled railroading of mixing in a cut of intermodal traffic on a manifest freight.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Searching for Ghosts of the Erie in Sterling

July 31, 2017

A westbound CSX auto rack train with Union Pacific and BNSF motive power rattles the windows as it passes through Sterling on the New Castle Subdivision.

I can’t help but be reminded of the late Richard Jacobs when I am in or think about Sterling.

It was the last place I saw Jake alive and during the final years of his life he often hung out at Sterling and photographed CSX operations on the New Castle Subdivision.

Jake’s last posting to the Akron Railroad Club blog was about an outing to Sterling in March 2015. He died of cancer the following June.

It was an article written by fellow ARRC officer Marty Surdyk, though, that prompted me to visit Sterling on a Saturday afternoon in early July.

He had written about Sterling in the ARRC Bulletin after he and his brother Robert swung past there earlier this year.

Marty made a few observations about railfanning in Sterling these days, including how it has changed from the old days when RU Tower still guarded the crossing of the Erie Lackawanna (nee Erie) and Baltimore & Ohio mainlines.

The tower is long gone and so is the EL. But Wayne County has converted 6.75 miles of the former Erie right of way between Creston and Rittman into an asphalt hiking and biking trail.

Just off Kauffman Avenue in Sterling is a parking lot for the trail and a former B&O freight house that long-range plans call for converting into a museum.

The trail runs parallel with the CSX line and I wanted to check it out.

So I parked at the station and started walking westward with my camera over my shoulder.

Marty’s article had spoken about there being an opening to photograph trains passing beneath the eastbound home signals for the interlocking.

You have to walk off the trail a short distance, but the view is reasonably open.

CSX crosses Chippewa Creek here and the view from the trail is open, but rather tight.

I walked for about a mile and a half west from Sterling and most of the time a wall of trees obscured the view of the CSX tracks.

There are a few open areas, but only at the grade crossings can you get any significant open space to work with in making photographs.

The first of those is at Eby Road, which has crossing gates protecting the CSX tracks. If you know of a train coming you can stand by the side of the road and have fairly open views.

There are three tracks here one of which is a siding used to store cars although this may be a block swapping location.

Likewise, there are open views at Jordan Road, which is about a half-mile to a mile west.

Here the trail jogs slightly and there are remnants of ballast for the EL tracks. The jog is made to avoid an access road leading to private property.

A short distance west of Jordan Road the trail veers away from the CSX New Castle Sub as it nears Creston.

It is in this vicinity that you can see the Wheeling & Lake Erie’s Brewster Subdivision to the south

I came upon a few other remnants of the Erie during my hike, including a milepost, a whistle post and the concrete foundation of what might have been a signal base. There were also discarded cross ties in various places.

The trail is level and easy to walk. I wished, though, that I had a much smaller and lighter point and shoot digital camera rather than my DSLR.

Marty mentioned various places to eat in Creston. There is also Bradley’s in Sterling and a restaurant in Creston in the former Erie depot in Rittman.

I will have to check out the latter. The last time I saw the ex-Erie depot in Rittman there were still tracks in front of it.

The Akron Barberton Cluster Railway serves a customer in Rittman and operates on the ex-Erie between there and Barberton.

Once you’re done hiking or biking, you can always hang out in the trailhead parking lot in Sterling and wait for trains to come to you on CSX.

One thing hasn’t changed. Traffic on the New Castle Sub remains hit and miss. I spotted four trains in Sterling during my time there, three of them westbounds.

But during the last hour and a half that I was there nothing came past or seemed to be imminent.

If you are out on the trail you might not have much advance warning of an approaching train and will have to hustle to find an opening in the trees to watch and/or photograph it.

Plans are to make into former freight station into a museum.

Joggers and bikers are 225 miles from Salamanca, New York.

Something the railroad left behind when pulling up the tracks.

A remnant of CSX stands outside the former B&O freight station in Sterling.

A trio of silos between a pair of tank cars.

If a CSX train comes as you’re out on the trail you might have to hustle to get to an open area to watch it.

Looking west at Eby Road.

An eastbound manifest freight passes a cut of cars in the siding as it approaches Eby Road.

Changes in Railfanning in Sterling

May 25, 2017

Many moons ago, I wrote a hot spot report for the Akron Railroad Club Bulletin on Sterling.  Much has changed since then and I thought an update was in order.

Sterling for the newcomers is a spot on the former Baltimore & Ohio, now the CSX New Castle Subdivision, where the CL&W Sub turns off and heads to Cleveland and Lorain via Lester.

CSX is trying to stop using the CL&W from Sterling to Lester, servicing Lorain and the yard at West Third Street in Cleveland via their ex-Conrail trackage in Cleveland.

Sterling has lost a couple of trains due to this change, but that is nothing new for fans of the New Castle Sub.

CSX has been adding and subtracting trains on this line for many years. It always seems to be in a state of flux. What has changed the most since I wrote the last article is where you hang out to watch trains at Sterling and what photo spots have come and gone.

Sterling is at MP 155.5 of the New Castle Sub. Besides the junction with the CL&W, the B&O used to cross the Erie at a sharp-angled diamond that was guarded by RU tower. The tower sat between the mains west of the diamonds.

Visiting railfans used to gather in the dirt/gravel area across the B&O from where the tower used to be. The driveway into the gravel area looped around and headed back out to the street.

This led the Sterling railfan group to call themselves the “Sterling Loop.”

Today, the visiting railfan will find a paved parking lot for the hiking and biking trail that is on the former right-of-way of the Erie on the southwest side of the Kauffman Avenue crossing with CSX.

This spot allows for good side views of passing CSX trains. No signals are visible at this spot, so to get advance warning of a train, you will have to monitor the scanner.

CSX still uses 160.230 (road channel) and 160.320 (dispatcher channel) for communications on the New Castle Sub.

The signals that are facing away from you at the parking lot can be shot with a westbound by walking a short ways west on the former Erie and looking for the clearing just after the bridge over Chippewa Creek.

I haven’t actually done a photo here yet, but a normal to wide-angle lens should work.

If you like to hike/bike, the trail continues west to Creston, where the tracks of the Wheeling & Lake Erie come up next to CSX.

To the east, the trail stays close to CSX as far as the outskirts of Rittman.

While Sterling is not as busy as Greenwich or other CSX hot spots, it can provide some quality time trackside. Plus you could use it as a starting point for a W&LE chase if you get wind of an imminent move on that railroad.

On weekends, for food it may be best to head for Creston, which is a short drive or bike ride from Sterling.

Creston has a Subway sandwich shop in the Circle K convenience store and gas station just south on Ohio Route 3 from the downtown area.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Too Late for Jake, but At Last a Train in Sterling

July 1, 2015

Richard Jacobs pauses just before returning to the nursing home after the last railfan outing of his life. He would die nearly two weeks later.

Richard Jacobs pauses just before returning to the nursing home after the last railfan outing of his life. He would die nearly two weeks later.

A westbound manifest freight cruises through Sterling on a late Sunday afternoon on the day of Richard Jacob's funeral.

A westbound manifest freight cruises through Sterling on a late Sunday afternoon on the day of Richard Jacobs’ funeral.

Richard Jacobs wanted one last outing in Sterling. It would not be an easy one to arrange.

Cancer was eating away at his body and he could not move on his own. Nonetheless, he arranged for a specially-fitted van to take him to Sterling on a Wednesday for one more outing with the Loopers, as the group that gathers there weekly calls themselves.

He made sure that I knew about his planned outing and I said I would be there.

Given Jake’s condition, it wasn’t a sure thing that he would be able to make it. The date was set for Wednesday, June 10.

As that date approached, Jake wasn’t sure that things were going to go off as planned. He had grand plans. He would show his Colorado program — the same one he had planned to show to the Akron Railroad Club at its June 26 meeting — on the patio at Bradley’s restaurant.

Jake and the Loopers always went to Bradley’s for dinner on Wednesday nights.

On the day of the event I called Jake to make sure that everything was still on. It was, but his arrival time had been moved back.

We sat or stood around for what seemed an awfully long time. Where was Jake? It was getting to be 4 p.m.

Then word came that Jake was over at Bradley’s, but he had gotten sick right after he arrived. It was unclear if he would be coming over to visit the Loopers or going back to the nursing home.

Finally, around 4:30, the word got out that Jake’s grandson Rob, would roll him over from Bradley’s. About 10 minutes later I could see Jake being wheeled through the parking lot for the hike and bike trail that is located on the former Erie Railroad right of way.

Jake came over and the visiting began. I was planning to make a photograph of him with a CSX train passing in the background.

But there was a problem. CSX traffic had been halted for hours due to a maintenance of way window. It was ending, but the workers still had odds and ends to clean up.

I could hear trains nearby talking on the radio, but nothing came through Sterling.

At 6 p.m. the van arrived to take Jake back to the nursing home. There would be no slide show and Jake probably wasn’t physically able to do that anyway.

But, worse, there would be no last train for Jake to photograph and watch. I look one last photo of Jake with the CSX tracks in the background. Jake joked with me that I could use Photoshop to add a train to make it look like one came by. But I didn’t.

The next day Jake called to say that shortly after we both left that the trains began running almost non-stop.

Thirteen days later, Jake died. His funeral was this past Sunday and I stopped in Sterling on my way back home. I wanted to get that train that had eluded Jake and I both during his last outing.

Jake saw and photographed countless trains during his lifetime, starting at the age of 9 and continuing until two months before he died at age 83.

Therein lies an important lesson. Never stop watching or photographing trains if it gives you pleasure in life. Someday the trains may not come anymore for you and there won’t be a tomorrow to see another one.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

CSX Traffic Was Sparse in Sterling

March 24, 2015

CSX double stack hotshot Q016 is eastbound at Sterling.

CSX double stack hotshot Q016 is eastbound at Sterling.

CSX westbound coal train T410 for Duke Power is westbound at Kauffman Avenue in Sterling.

CSX westbound coal train T410 for Duke Power is westbound at Kauffman Avenue in Sterling.

CSX empty oil train K059 is westbound at Sterling.

CSX empty oil train K059 is westbound at Sterling.

On Wednesday, March 18, several of the Loop railfans gathered trackside at Sterling. CSX train activity was sparse.

Eastbound Q016 entered the interlocking at 4:07 p.m. That train is an eastbound double stack intermodal pulled by CSX 5479 and 5455.

The next two trains were westbounds. CSX coal train T410 for Duke Power went over Kauffman Avenue at 6:39 p.m. It was followed by CSX empty oil train K059 at 6:55 pm.

I had to boost the ISO for the last two photos. All got quiet again, so I headed for home.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

Beating Winter Blues at Sterling with Sun, CSX

March 14, 2015

Lot's of power! CSX westbound Q355 crosses Kauffman Avenue in Sterling.

Lot’s of power! CSX westbound Q355 crosses Kauffman Avenue in Sterling.

It has been a long hard winter for me. I’ve had bronchitis for three months, since Thanksgiving, and extreme shortness of breath. With the snow and cold weather, I mostly have been hibernating like an old bear.

On Wednesday, March 11 we had a special gathering of Loop railfans at Sterling. It was a rare opportunity to get all nine members there.

Luckily, at 3 p.m. the sun was out and the temperature was close to 50. CSX cooperated by running a number of trains in the sunshine.

There were several westbounds running into the sun. The first was Q355, a manifest freight with seven engines on the head end. The westbounds also included intermodals Q015 and Q137, and auto rack train Q299.

Q641, the Buffalo, N.Y. , to Cumberland, Md., train, came down the CL&W Sub and went east on the New Castle Sub, the mainline, at 6:07 p.m. after we had chowed down at Bradley’s.

That train carries trash cars from the Buffalo area for LaFarge, Ohio, near Lordstown. The setout of trash cars there is the reason that Q640/641 uses the CL&W.

The last train of the day was Q296 eastbound out of the setting sun. It was led by Canadian Pacific No. 9655 at 6:17p.m.

We then left for home as the train activity had quieted down. It was a welcome cabin fever reliever on a sunny afternoon.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

CSX/UP units lead intermodal hotshot Q015 westbound at Sterling.

CSX/UP units lead intermodal hotshot Q015 westbound at Sterling.

Westbound CSX Q137 passes over Kauffman Avenue in Sterling.

Westbound CSX Q137 passes over Kauffman Avenue in Sterling.

CSX eastbound Q647 enters Sterling.

CSX eastbound Q647 enters Sterling.

CSX auto rack Q299 is westbound at Sterling.

CSX auto rack Q299 is westbound at Sterling.

CSX 833/8785 lead Q641 off the CL&W Sub.

CSX 833/8785 lead Q641 off the CL&W Sub.

CSX Q641, Buffalo to Cumberland, is eastbound off the CL&W Sub.

CSX Q641, Buffalo to Cumberland, is eastbound off the CL&W Sub.

Trash cars on CSX Q641.

Trash cars on CSX Q641.

Lumber cars on CSX Q641.

Lumber cars on CSX Q641.

CP power leads an eastbound auto rack train into Sterling at sunset.

CP power leads an eastbound auto rack train into Sterling at sunset.

CP power led by 9655 is hauling a CSX auto rack train Q296 eastbound at Sterling.

CP power led by 9655 is hauling a CSX auto rack train Q296 eastbound at Sterling.

 

 

Work Continues on Sterling Crossover Switch

August 7, 2013

CSX track machine is busy tamping the ballast and checking track alignment of the new switch on Track No. 1 at Sterling on Aug. 4, 2013.

CSX track machine is busy tamping the ballast and checking track alignment of the new switch on Track No. 1 at Sterling on Aug. 4, 2013.

I visited Sterling on Sunday, Aug. 4, to watch and photograph the installation of the new CSX crossover switch on Track No. 1.

My initial report of the new crossover switches planned by CSX and the initial work was posted on the Akron Railroad Club blog on June 13, 2013. This past Sunday, work was underway in earnest.

When I arrived shortly before noon there was much activity taking place. The Kauffman Avenue crossing was closed and also the County Line Trail parking lot.

Bikers and hikers were relegated to parking their vehicles at Bradley’s, which is closed on Sunday. CSX trucks were everywhere. Large machines dominated the trackside of Track 1.

There was a large crew of both CSX and R. J Corman workers on hand. Corman handled the lifting and placing the switch panels onto the right of way. That had already been done.

CSX completes the mating to the existing track, welding the rail, and finish grinding it. That was followed by the wiring for remote control of the new switch and connections to the signal circuits.

Following that, a CSX track machine tamped the ballast in place and checked the final track alignment. A ballast regulator followed to form the ballast.

Meanwhile, CSX trains were run through the work site using track No. 2. Track 2 is the usual eastbound track but today it served trains in both directions.

The trains ran through at 25 mph when allowed by the CSX maintainer foreman in charge of the work site. My scanner reported the CSX IO dispatcher telling the train crews that today the line was single track from Lambert, south of Akron, to the Lodi crossovers.

The first train I saw was Q296, an eastbound auto rack train at 12:02 p.m. The next train was Q137, a westbound intermodal train at 1:14 p.m. It ran just as I was about to leave. I hurried to the crossing to get a passing shot.

Large front end loaders were busy transferring ballast from the pile adjacent to the CL&W west wye to trackside of Track 2. It would then be ready for use on Monday when the Track 2 switch would be installed.

I then left for home with a bunch of photos on my Sony camera’s SD card. It had been an interesting two hours watching a large CSX maintainer crew and their machines at work.

On Wednesday, I had watched the new Summit Street crossing installation in Kent. That operation paled in size to the Sunday work at Sterling.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

Moving the ballast to trackside for Monday's work on switch No. 2, while the ballast regulator waits at Kauffman Avenue in Sterling.

Moving the ballast to trackside for Monday’s work on switch No. 2, while the ballast regulator waits at Kauffman Avenue in Sterling.

Regulating the new ballast on track one!

Regulating the new ballast on track one!

CSX intermodal train Q137 is westbound at the Sterling work site.

CSX intermodal train Q137 is westbound at the Sterling work site.

CSX auto rack train Q296 is eastbound through the Sterling work site.

CSX auto rack train Q296 is eastbound through the Sterling work site.

Lunch break in the County Line Trail's parking lot next to the Sterling work site.

Lunch break in the County Line Trail’s parking lot next to the Sterling work site.

Working on the new Track No. 1 switch at Sterling.

Working on the new Track No. 1 switch at Sterling.

Grinding the new rail weld.

Grinding the new rail weld.