Posts Tagged ‘CSX in Berea’

NS Dominates Turkey Bowl 15-7

December 12, 2022

Vehicle traffic was light as I made my way from my apartment in Parma to the railfan parking lot near BE Tower in Berea on Thanksgiving morning.

The last few years I’ve stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast before arrival at Berea, but this year they were CLOSED.

I parked across CSX from the tower and settled in. The scanner was quiet for now. After about 10 minutes some transmissions could be heard on a Norfolk Southern radio channel. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying.

Then a headlight came around the corner at the west end of the interlocking. An eastbound was coming. Its leader was NS 4432. There were five other black units behind the leader, so I wasn’t expecting any mid-train units.

As the last cars of the mixed train passed I noticed that it had a locomotive on the rear. BNSF 7322 was bringing up the markers. This happened at 6:52 a.m.

It took a little over 30 minutes for the next train to pass, this being NS 66X behind Canadian Pacific 9816 and Kansas City Southern 4016. They were instructed to at stop at Rockport Yard and pick up a cab signal-equipped unit, which would be NS 7266.

By now Steve LaConte and Mark Demaline had arrived and were greeted by the passage of NS intermodal train 269 from Buffalo. Most of the cars had snow packed into their recesses, the remnants of the 6 plus feet of lake effect snow that hit western New York a few days prior. The 269 was led by NS 8054 and two other black units.

CSX finally got into the act of running trains at 8:08 a.m. with the passage of an eastbound mixed freight behind CSX 3418 and CSX 9039.

Forty minutes later at 8:48 a.m. NS intermodal train 27P rolled by behind NS 4283 and NS 4409.

CSX was next with back-to-back westbound mixed freights. The M363 went by on Track 2 behind CSX 3263 and CSX 95. As its last cars passed a headlight was seen on Track 1. This was CSX M635 behind CSX 4565 on the lead and CSX 3458 half way back.

NS frac sand train 61X was next at 9:04 a.m. behind NS 4516 and CSX 4553. In the middle was NS 1139 and CP 8804. It looked like this may have been two trains put together because of its excessive length.

Ten minutes later CSX had M634 to run. This mixed freight was led by CSX 531 and three additional units.

While the M634 was going by NS L15 slipped by going east. It was led by NS 4064 and NS 4284. L15 is an intermodal turn job that hauls cars to and from the Maple Heights intermodal facility. It originates in Sandusky.

Next up 12 minutes later was NS mixed freight 148. It had NS 4327 and NS 9486 up front.

The crowd was growing as the attendees who went to breakfast at Bob Evan’s began to arrive. Jerry Jordak and Terry Chicwak had their drones in the air. Yes, both were flying legally having received permission from the FAA to fly in Hopkins Airport air space, something that is done via a phone app.

The last train of the 9 o’clock hour was NS 32N at 9:50 a.m. This eastbound mixed freight was led by NS 9574 and NS 4337.

The 10 o’clock hour began with another NS eastbound, the 66E tanker train led by NS 7659 ahead of BNSF 3990 and BNSF 685. The latter is still in Santa Fe red and silver and is tracked on Steve LaConte reported its whereabouts to that site.

The crew of the 66E was very short on time. The dispatcher wanted them to make it to the West Park Industrial Track to tie down.

The crew didn’t think they’d make it and have time to tie the train down. They ended up stopping at CP Max and left the train there until later when a yard crew came out and moved it to the West Park.

The train sat there the rest of the day and most of the rest of the weekend, not making it to Conway until sometime Sunday.

CSX auto rack train M205 was next on the scene behind CSX 3447 and CSX 844. Our second two at a time occurred at 10:18 a.m. as CSX I158 and NS 265 passed at the same time. The CSX train had CSX 376 and CSX 3474. Sorry, I did not catch any engine numbers on the NS 265.

After the doubleheader, we had about 20 minutes to catch our breath before CSX got busy again with the passage of M364 behind CSX 3248 going solo.

The last five trains of the day, at least for me, were NS. First up was eastbound intermodal train 28P behind a very clean Union Pacific 8616 and UP 6380. It was recorded at 10:50 a.m.

Just five minutes after 28P went by NS ran intermodal train 265 west behind BNSF 6998 and BNSF 7003.

About 10 minutes passed before another NS eastbound tanker train was heard and then seen. Train 6E4 was led by NS 9570, Canadian National 3859 and CN 2652.

At 11:35a.m. NS ran westbound stack train 23G. It was led by NS 7601, NS 9667 and UP 7206.

My last train, NS eastbound double-stack 268, went by at 11:44 a.m. behind NS 7579 and UP 2627.

I had set a noon deadline to head home and get ready to head out for Thanksgiving dinner at my niece’s house. I actually left at 12:05 p.m. after six-and-a half hours and 22 trains with motive power from all seven Class I North American railroads. Not bad. And add to that sunny skies with unseasonably warm temperatures.

This was the best weather and train count day we’ve had in quite a few years. See you next year.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Not Much to Look at But I Appreciate it Now

November 21, 2022

This CSX SD40-2 leading an auto rack train through Berea won’t win any beauty contests but in its own way it has a certain visual appeal. And that is despite the rust, mismatched number boards, faded paint, and generally battered appearance.

The 8068 was built for the Louisville & Nashville in October 1979 and later served the Seaboard System motive power fleet. It appears to have an earlier CSX livery iteration that is well worn and weathered.

Today such sights would be rare on CSX for the carrier doesn’t have that many standard cab locomotives left in road train service.

The image was made on April 29, 2000, and was scanned from color negative film.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Distinctive Visitors in Berea

May 14, 2022

Catching and photographing the CSX executive train in its distinctive and attractive Baltimore & Ohio inspired livery has been on my “to do” list ever since the scheme debuted.

But the executive train doesn’t operate all that often and when it does you have to be in the right place at the right time.

That right place and right time for me occurred on May 11. I happened to be in Cleveland on business and had the opportunity to spend time in Berea that morning.

I saw on Heritage that the three CSX F40PH-2 units were on the road, having left Buffalo, New York, around 6:15 a.m. en route to Chicago.

I figured that would put them through Berea around mid to late morning depending on traffic and dispatching preference.

Sure enough, there were some railfans on hand waiting for train P001, including Akron Railroad Club President Todd Dillon. He had information that P001 blew through Collinwood Yard on Cleveland’s east side and would soon be bearing down on us. That would put it through Berea not long after 9 a.m.

I stood near the tree by the Dave McKay memorial with a cluster of other railfans and waited. It wasn’t long before I could hear P001 calling signal indications over the radio.

Then a headlight came into view. I looked through my camera lens and waited. At that point it seemed as though the train had stopped.

In fact, it had. Just east of Berea a broken air hose sent the train into emergency.

Although CSX dispatched a maintenance truck to the scene, it wasn’t needed. The crew resolved the problem and P001 was on the move, albeit at restricted speed.

Among the onlookers watching the train come through were Rita and Rich Volosyn of Brunswick. Their son Paul was the locomotive engineer assigned to P001 and was working from Buffalo to Willard.

Also on hand was a CSX special agent to ensure that no one got too close to the tracks.

The 12-car train was led by CSX1, CSX2 and CSX3. The trio of F40s are former Amtrak units. They were lined up elephant style and made for an impressive sight.

CSX1 was built in April 1978 and given Amtrak roster number 280. After being retired by Amtrak, it was picked up by the Ohio Central System, where it continued to carry roster number 280.

After CSX acquired the unit, it renumbered it 9998. Upon being repainted into the B&O scheme, it was renumbered CSX1.

On the rear of the train was theater car W. Thomas Rice. But its shades were drawn, which suggested no one was aboard. The train also featured dome car Moonlight Dome. Built in 1947 for the Chesapeake & Ohio for its planned but never launched Chessie streamliner.

The B&O acquired the car in December 1950 where it operated on the Shenandoah and, after October 1963, the Capitol Limited. It later ran on the Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Coast Line before ending up on the Amtrak roster. After being sold by Amtrak Moonlight Dome had a series of owners, including The Cincinnati Railway Company, which sold it to CSX in 2020.

Early CSX Era in Berea Two for Tuesday

April 26, 2022

CSX took over Conrail’s Short Line and Indianapolis Line on June 1, 1999. During the early months of CSX operation it was common to see motive power from various railroads pulling CSX trains.

In the top image, made in Berea on Feb. 26, 2000, we see a pair of standard cab locomotives pulling a CSX manifest freight. Such motive power largely has disappeared from the CSX motive power roster.

Also different about this scene is the tracks crossing Front Street at grade. It would be a few more years before the bridge carrying Front Street over the CSX and Norfolk Southern tracks was built.

In the bottom image an eastbound CSX train passes the former Big Four depot in Berea. On the lead is a former Burlington Northern “green machine” followed by a Santa Fe warbonnet.

The Santa Fe unit shows some wear and tear plus road dirt and grime, but otherwise its livery looks to be in better condition than warbonnets still out there a decade later appear to be. The image was made on Nov. 6, 1999.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

McKay Day Memories

April 2, 2022

For more than a decade the Akron Railroad Club had a tradition of gathering on the first Saturday in April for a day of train watching in Berea. Known as Dave McKay Day, the event paid tribute to the second longest-serving ARRC president, David A. McKay, who died in December 2004 shortly after stepping down from his 12-year tenure as ARRC president.

The downside to holding a railfanning event in early April in Northeast Ohio is that the weather could be anything from snow and cold to sunshine and temperatures in the low 70s. During the 14 years McKay Day was held on the first Saturday in April, we saw it all.

In 2019 the McKay Day date was shifted to May in hopes of having better weather and better attendance.

The two images shown above were made on April 2, 2016. The day began partly cloudy and there was nice sunlight for the first few trains that I photographed after arriving around 8 a.m.

But those conditions wouldn’t last. The weather went from partly cloudy to cloudy to back to partly cloudy and then to winter when light snow fell in mid afternoon.

Those conditions prompted the handful of us who were still there to call it a day and head to the Berea Union Depot Taverne for dinner. The snow was really coming down by the time I got home that night.

I chose these two images because they are among the few I made that day with nice light. In the top image an eastbound is passing a westbound between the depot and the Front Street overpass.

The bottom image shows that westbound a couple minutes earlier. It has yet to reach Front Street. This is a view that few photographs seem to seek out while photographing trains in Berea.

When McKay Day fell early in April, which was often the case, the national semifinals of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament were played the same day.

In 2016, the Final Four was Villanova, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Syracuse. Games were played in Houston and the tournament was won by Villavnova. This year the Final Four features two of those 2016 teams, Villanova and North Carolina. Others are Duke and Kansas. The semifinal games will be played Saturday night in New Orleans.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

One Long Ago Day in Berea

April 1, 2022

It was a typical Sunday day of railfanning in Berea. An eastbound CSX manifest freight stopped to wait for traffic ahead to clear. The date was Feb. 27, 2000, more than two decades ago. Could it have been that long ago? Well, it was.

The lead unit, former Conrail C40-8W No. 7395 still wearing its Conrail livery, halted a short distance past the former Big Four depot in Berea, which at the time was a restaurant named the Pufferbelly.

The engineer saw me trackside with my camera and invited me to come up to the cab. That was not something that happened often.

So I did and made a few images, including this one looking eastward from the engineer’s side.

Much has changed since this image was made. The bar next to the tracks on Front Street, once known as Fat Pat’s, has been razed. Front Street itself now crosses over the tracks on a bridge. The Pufferbelly would undergo at least one ownership change and is now known as the Berea Depot Bar and Restaurant, one of many names it has had over the years

But the concrete structures plant is still there along with the brown industrial building along Front Street. CSX still owns these tracks and railfans still gather here on Sundays to watch trains while hoping to see something just a little out of the ordinary.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Bright Orange for a Dreary Day

January 26, 2022

It was a typical dreary Northeast Ohio winter day in Berea. In looking back, I’m not sure why I bothered to create photographs at all given the conditions. But I did.

On a day such as this, the appearance of an eastbound CSX interrmodal train led by a pair of BNSF “pumpkins” was a welcome sight because it gave the day a splash of bright color.

I had forgotten that I made these images until I went looking for something else and found these photos, which were made on Feb. 1, 2014.

Scenes From RRE 2021 Turkey Shoot

December 5, 2021

RRE members watch I 166 pass through Berea. That is Marty Surdyk’s silver jeep behind them.
Bob Todten takes shelter from the rain in his vehicle.
Here comes the I 166 as NS train 20T passes nearby.
An eastbound NS manifest freight with Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific motive power passes through Berea.

Despite the cool temperatures and steady rain, a few brave Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts members still made it to Berea for the 46th Annual Turkey Shoot on Thanksgiving Day, Nov 25, 2021.

Marty Surdyk and Bob Todten arrived first, followed by another five members.

Both CSX and Norfolk Southern ran a few trains, including the I 166, the Canadian Pacific run through train on CSX with a 1+1 pair of CP GE’s which looked like they had previously been in coal train service, given their coating of what looked like coal dust on their car bodies.

In the photographs above, that is Marty’s  silver Jeep behind the group and Bob Todten, sitting in his SUV, avoiding the then-steady downpour. 

Back in 1975, Bob and I started what has become this annual tradition.

Article and Photographs by Mark Demaline

Trio From Berea

August 18, 2021

Here are three trains passing through Berea on April 16, 2005. Although that was a Saturday, it was not an Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day, which was traditionally held on the first Saturday in April. In fact the first McKay Day was held two weeks before these images were made and it was snowing heavily that day. Note that in 2005 former Conrail locomotives in their original livery were still roaming Norfolk Southern.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

The ‘Unofficial’ McKay Day

May 4, 2020

Q166 appears with its customary Canadian Pacific motive power.

Jason Worcester (standing), Dennis Taksar and Alex Bruchac watch the reduced rail action in Berea.

Alex Bruchac takes it easy as a westbound CSX train approaches in Berea.

This year’s Dave McKay Day event in Berea was officially cancelled, but unofficially it was a success. Six current and former members attended.

At least that’s who I saw; it’s possible there were others.

In attendance were Todd Dillon, Brian Szemon Alex Bruchec, Dennis Taksar, Jason Worcester and Richard Thompson.

There were many others there as well whether they knew it was Dave McKay day or not.

The parking lots were full as it turned out to be a pretty nice day although a bit windy with a high of 73 degrees.

We ended up with about 24 trains that we either saw or knew about.

Two Norfolk Southern heritage paint units and an Operation Lifesaver went by but in true club tradition we missed them all.

The Erie on the 15N arrived at 8:15 a.m. and the Central of Georgia was on 14N, which went by during lunch break.

An Operation Lifesaver unit was on 24Z which also went by before anyone arrived.

That left the most interesting power on CSX trains Q166 and Q165 which are the Canadian Pacific run-through trains.

The Q166 had CP power while Q165 had CP and Union Pacific power.

Two oil or ethanol trains 66Z and 66J, which would have run on the Fort Wayne Line a couple weeks ago but now run through Bellevue and Cleveland, added to the train count.

Missing from the train count was 22K which now takes the connection at Vermillion and bypasses Berea.

We left around 5 p.m. as there was only one westbound train on both NS and CSX which were still east of Cleveland.

On Sunday morning I returned for a few hours and got six NS and one CSX train.

In summary traffic levels are way down from previous years.

Part of this is due to the precision scheduled railroading operating model that favors longer and fewer trains, but part is the downturn in the economy with rail freight traffic levels dropping 30 percent or more in the first quarter.

A couple trains were huge. NS Train 310, for example, had two mid train DPUs and was basically two full-length trains combined.

The lone CSX train on Sunday morning was an empty tank and grain train combined.

Had these trains run separately, which they easily could have been, the train count would have increased.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon