Posts Tagged ‘CSX stack trains’

Did They Know the Train Was There?

November 20, 2017

CSX westbound stack train Q015 was coming into Kent so I made my way to an overlook on the dam on the Cuyahoga River that has since been transformed into a giant water fountain.

My plan was to get the train passing the former Erie Railroad station located on the bluff above the river.

It would be nothing special, nothing I had not done before. What is different is that since I last made an image here of CSX and the Erie depot the latter has been transformed into an Italian restaurant named Treno.

As I waited for the Q015 I noticed a couple on the observation deck having photographs made.

They must have heard the train passing by. But it was just so much noise in the city. They had other things to do than watch a train pass by.

On second thought, maybe one of them is a rail buff and wanted a photograph made of the couple with a passing train.


Traces of the Central

October 19, 2017

The last New York Central passenger train to board passengers in Conneaut did so on October 25, 1962.

It was not, of course, the last passenger train to pass by the Conneaut depot. NYC and later Penn Central varnish rushed past until May 1, 1971.

Amtrak restored service a few weeks later but ended it in early January 1972. Until the coming of the Lake Shore Limited in October 1975, the former Water Level Route was freight only.

The Conneaut depot is now a museum and it has many artifacts related to the NYC and the other railroads in town, the Nickel Plate Road and the Bessemer & Lake Erie.

The NYC passenger platform is still visible next to the CSX Erie West Subdivision tracks.

Most people look at this image and see what it is, which is containers headed eastward on CSX train Q020.

But in my mind’s eye, I see an NYC passenger train arriving. The conductor is standing on the folding vestibule steps, his left hand on the railing of the silver Budd passenger car and his eyes scanning the platform for passengers.

People whose names I do not know are waiting, tickets in hand, to board for Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati Cleveland, St. Louis or who knows where else. All of those were cities you could travel to from this platform.

A check of the Official Guide of the Railways for June 1962 shows that the last NYC trains scheduled to stop in Conneaut were unnamed No. 222 eastbound from Chicago to Buffalo, New York; and No. 35, the Iroquois from New York to Chicago.

Everything else blew past without stopping just as Amtrak does today.

Whole Lot of Orange Rolling By

October 18, 2017

You might find yourself in an argument if you asked what the dominant color of October might be. Some might say orange for pumpkins and fall foliage, but others might say gold, which tends to be the dominant fall foliage color in Northeast Ohio. A case might be made for red as well.

Whatever the answer, I thought this image of a long cut of Schneider National containers on CSX train Q015 passing through Kent was a nice seasonal image. Bring on the orange and the gold and the red.

The North Side is Nice, Too

September 29, 2017

The book on photographing CSX in Conneaut during the morning hours is to be on the south side of the tracks.

The classic image features the town’s water tank with an eastbound train coming around a curve.

I’ve done that before and was looking to do it again earlier this month on a Sunday morning that featured sunny skies.

I parked by the historical society, which is housed in the former New York Central freight depot on the north side of the tracks and turned my scanner on.

I figured to get enough warning to get out, walk to the other side of the tracks and to get into position in advance of a train.

However, I forgot to bring my railroad employee timetable pages for that area and couldn’t remember the mileposts on the CSX Erie West Subdivision.

That was how I got caught flat footed as I was sitting in my car and the gates started to go down. I had heard the eastbound Q116 calling signals but it was not as far west as I thought it was.

So I got out and did the best I could on the north side of the tracks. Shown in the top photograph, that photo op turned out better than I expected.

There was ample nose light and the sides of the containers were not as much in shadows as I feared they would be.  One reason for being on the south side of the tracks is to get sunlight bathing the entire train.

When an eastbound ethanol train came along about half-hour later, I deliberately stood on the north side of the tracks.

Shown in the middle, this image of a train that identified itself on the radio with symbol number 452, had some side shadows, but in the past year I’ve grown to like those because it gives an image some contrast, which in turn creates visual tension.

As much as I liked what I was getting on the north side, I still wanted to get the classic view, so when the Q388 was nearing town, I moved to the south side. The result can be seen in the bottom image, which has a BNSF unit trailing the lead CSX locomotive.

The Conneaut water tank is better positioned in this image than it is in the middle photograph. Also, standing on the south side puts the photographer on the inside of the curve.

There are multiple advantages of being on the south side of the rails when in Conneaut at the Mill Street crossing. But you can get some pleasing results on the other of the tracks, too.

The Red Grain Elevator of Wellington

May 19, 2017

A certain member of the Akron Railroad Club is known for his passion for photographing trains and grain elevators.

I know that in particular he likes the red grain facility in Wellington alongside the Greenwich Subdivision of CSX.

It makes for a dramatic  image in late afternoon sunlight. From what I can see, the facility is no longer served by rail.

I didn’t go there on a recent outing just to capture the red grain elevator. As much as anything I went there because Wellington wasn’t being covered  by clouds.

CSX cooperated beautifully by sending a pair of westbounds through town, a stack train and an ethanol train.

The ethanol train shown at top was the second of the pair and I tend to like that image the best of the two.

Searching for CSX in Downtown Kent

May 19, 2016
An early March view of the eastbound Q016 passing beneath the former Erie Railroad station in downtown Kent while skirting the remains of a canal lock.

An early March view of the eastbound Q016 passing beneath the former Erie Railroad station in downtown Kent while skirting the remains of a canal lock.

A head-on view of the Q016 about a week later on a cloudy day.

A head-on view of the Q016 about a week later on a cloudy day.

I spent a little bit of time in Kent last winter parked on the Main Street bridge and looking for CSX traffic on the New Castle Subdivision.

I didn’t find a whole lot, but twice I caught the eastbound Q016 rumbling through in late afternoon. I’m told that the traffic patterns are such that the New Castle Sub is pretty quiet in Kent and Akron between early and late afternoon.

My limited experience in hanging out there during the afternoons would comport with that.

Is traffic down on the New Castle Sub? I can’t say for certain, but it might be. But I like going to Kent so I’ll keep working it, trying the mornings once the weather gets warmer for good.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

No O.J. on This Day in Kent

October 16, 2015

Kent Q016

The plan was to walk on the Portage Hike and Bike trail, shop at Beckwith’s Orchard and, if time permitted, get in some railfanning in Kent.

I walked on the tail, found the carmel apples I was looking for at Beckwith’s and then turned my attention toward finding some O.J.

I had not been to Kent in a while and one of the lures of spending time there was the remote chance of catching the Tropicana juice train on a detour move.

Normally, that train doesn’t come within hundreds of miles of Northeast Ohio, but in the aftermath of flooding in South Carolina, it was rerouted via Cincinnati. It used the New Castle Subdivision on its trek to the New Jersey processing plant.

For all I knew, the detour that attracted attention on Saturday, Oct. 10 might have been a one-time event.

There is a certain blind hope that railfans have when going out into the field that they are going to see something unusual.

More often than not, what they see is the routine. But seeing the unusual seems to happen enough to keep that hope alive rather than it succumbing to cynical discouragement.

By the time I got into Kent it was late afternoon. The juice train had gone east the previous day around mid morning. My only hope that was today’s edition was running very late or that the return move was running in late afternoon.

I found a parking space on the Main Street bridge, got my radio out and waited.

I heard several scratchy transmissions on my scanner that turned out to be the D750 working in Akron.

The IO dispatcher told a train whose symbol I didn’t catch that he would be waiting for the eastbound Q016 to pass before the dispatcher would be able to get him to Scotty, which is located east of Newton Falls.

The New Castle Subdivision tends to be feast or famine. In my experience, weekend afternoons tend to be more famine than feast. Patience will be rewarded, though, most of the time.

It was nearly 4:30 p.m. before I heard the Q016 call the signal at CP 120 on the far west side of Kent near Middlebury Road.

I got out and crossed the street only to hear a locomotive horn sounding for Summit Street.

I wasn’t able to get to where I wanted to be, but I was satisfied with making an image from the bridge.

The late day light was nice. The train was nothing out of the ordinary, but it was a train.

It seemed a little longer than usual and a few people stopped to watch it.

It would be the only train I would see in Kent, unless you want to discount the westbound tanker train that I spotted while walking on the Portage Hike and Bike Trail.

The Tropicana juice train, though, was nowhere to be found.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Another Day in the Life of the Railroad

November 13, 2014

Crew change at Berea

I spent a few hours at Berea last Saturday where I kept getting blocked from shooting what I wanted on both railroad by stopped or slow moving CSX trains on Track 2. But we’ve all been there before.

One of those CSX wall trains was the Q022, a stack train whose crew was coming close to outlawing. The dispatcher arranged for the crews to change just east of The Station restaurant.

They are shown here mingling as a westbound container train approaches on Track 1.

Just another day in the life of the railroad and its operating personnel that make it go.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

2 Trains, 1 Meet, 1 Minute and 2 Firsts

January 28, 2014

The first of the two CSX container trains passes beneath the Fairchild Avenue bridge in Kent at 1:16 p.m.

It was one of those railfan photograph moments in which everything seemed to be moving rapidly.  We were driving toward Kent because he had heard a CSX train call a signal on the radio. But we couldn’t pick out which signal it was.

We were a few miles north of town so we didn’t even know if we would have enough time to catch this train. We had already struck out twice earlier in the day on catching CSX trains.

In the meantime, another CSX train called a signal, but this one was much fainter. There must be two trains out there.

As we came into Kent on Ohio Route 43 (North Mantua Street), I looked toward the  CSX tracks. No train. That was good news, I thought. Or was it? Was the train by already.

We heard a train calling the signal “Kent,” which is located just south of Summit Street. We pulled into the Sheetz parking lot and hoofed it across Mantua to the bridge carrying the Portage County Hike and Bike travel over the CSX track. A moderate level of snow was falling.

This bridge was opened last year and I had yet to photograph from it. Earlier we had discussed how it might be a nice view from there.

The snow on the ground on the east side of Mantua Street was deep and I was racing as hard as I could while hoping I didn’t slip and fall. I could see a headlight of the approaching Q016 reflecting off the rails on Track No. 2. Did I have enough time?

I barely had gotten into position when the eastbound train was upon us. This would be a first: my first photo taken from this bridge.

Q016 rumbled past. Roger then said he had heard the crew of this train talking on the radio to another train crew . That was even better news. A westbound was coming.

Seconds later westbound Q015 came around the curve and another first occurred. It would be the first time that I’d spotted and photographed double-stacked containers passing each other on the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

Container trains are old hat on this line, but it has only been a few months since double- stacked container trains began operating here. The clearance enlargement project on the former Baltimore & Ohio mainline has advanced far enough to allow some double-stack operations.

We got our photographs and headed back toward the Sheetz lot, this time at a much slower pace. The elapsed time between my first and last photographs was one minute.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders


The head end of the eastbound has passed beneath the trail bridge and leans into the curve.


Then westbound Q015 pops out from behind the curve. Note the double-stacked containers passing on each train.


Q016 had just a few double-stacked containers.


Passing the snow-covered milepost 117. The Cuyahoga River is out of view to the left.