Posts Tagged ‘Cuyahoga Valley National Park’

Kids Ride Free on CVSR in August

August 16, 2018

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is allowing some children to ride for free this month when accompanied by an adult.

The promotion, sponsored by WKYC-TV, allows for one free child’s coach ticket aboard the National Park Scenic when an adult buys a $15 coach ticket. There is a limit of three child tickets per household.

After three free coach child’s tickets, any additional passengers will require paid tickets.

The promotion is available Tuesdays-Fridays and excludes Saturdays and Sundays.

The promotion will end on Aug. 31 and is not valid with other promotions or discounts. It also does not apply to special event tickets.

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Steamtown Head Moving to Another Post

August 16, 2018

The head of Steamtown National Historic Site is leaving for another position with the National Park Service.

Debbie Conway, who once worked in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, said she has accepted a position as deputy regional director for the Park Service’s Northeast Region and will step down at Steamtown on Oct. 1.

“This is a great opportunity professionally for me and a position in which I think I can have some positive influence for the region,” Conway told her staff in an email message.

Conway has been at Steamtown for four years. An acting superintendent will be appointed to replace her.

Baseball, Hot Dogs and Trains

July 25, 2018

CVSR train No. 34 approaches the Big Bend station, but no one wanted to get on or off.

Back in late spring Ed Ribinskas proposed that Marty Surdyk and I join him in attending a baseball game in Akron featuring the Class AA Rubber Ducks.

The Ducks, who are affiliated with the Cleveland Indians, were honoring former Cleveland Cavaliers star Mark Price that night and Price is Ed’s favorite former Cav.

As part of the festivities, the first 1,000 fans were to receive a bobble head doll of Price wearing a Rubber Ducks uniform with the same number he wore during his NBA career.

It would be my first trip to Canal Park in several years. The last time I was there the team was still named the Aeros.

We agreed to do some railfanning in the afternoon before the game.

The outing started at Marty’s house and from there we headed for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to chase a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train.

We were driving along Riverview Road when Marty asked, “where are we going?”

I suggested we go to the Big Bend station in Akron, which is located in the Sand Run Metropark.

Big Bend is the only CVSR station where I’ve never photographed a train.

We easily found the station, which isn’t much, just a gravel platform lacking any signs identifying it as a CVSR stop.

The northbound train from Akron to Rockside Road arrived not long after we did. We got our photographs of it alongside a trail and then headed north in pursuit.

I was hoping that C424 No. 365 would be on the north end of the train as it had been the previous weekend. But that was not the case.

Instead, FPA-4 No. 6771 was on the point. That’s not bad because it features the V stripe on the nose.

The next photo stop was at Indigo Lake and after that we caught the train at Boston Mill.

I wanted to get the train passing the under construction CVNP visitor’s center.

Earlier, the National Park Service purchased a private apartment building and is gutting it to create the visitor’s center, which is expected to open in May 2019.

We continued to follow the train northbound, figuring to maybe getting it at Brecksville.

But Riverview was closed north of Jaite so the chase came to an abrupt halt.

We still had more than an hour to kill before heading to Akron and I suggested we check out Maple Grove Park in Hudson next to the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern.

Marty has been there but I haven’t. He wrote about it in a past issue of the Bulletin.

We arrived in the park just ahead of westbound intermodal train 25T, which was slowing to go around a train ahead that was getting a new crew.

The 25T would cross over to Track No. 2 once the eastbound 20E cleared CP 102. The two stack trains met in front of us.

We didn’t have a much longer wait before the train that was stopped, the 24W, got on the move eastbound.

In the meantime someone walking on the trail asked if we were trainspotters. Well, yes, we are, but I associate that term with British railfanning.

After passage of the 24W, it was time to head for Canal Park. The gates opened at 6 p.m. and we had a good half hour or more wait in line to get in.

It turned out that only 200 people got a Mark Price bobble head doll. The vendor had not sent the allotted 1,000 bobble heads so those who were among the first 1,000 into Canal Park but not in the initial 200 received a voucher to receive their bobble head at the Aug. 26 game against Harrisburg. They also received a free ticket to that game.

I didn’t care about the bobble head and had I been offered it I would have given it to Ed or said give it to someone else.

I had eaten a tuna salad wrap from Sheetz during the ride to Akron, but Ed and Marty went to the concession stand to get hotdogs.

The weather was pleasant for a baseball game and it was announced late during the game that it was the eighth sellout of the season.

Price threw out a ceremonial first pitch and signed autographs for fans during the first hour of the game.

The Ducks got the better of the Richmond Flying Squirrels by a score of 4-1, scoring three times in the seventh and once in the eighth.

Following the game was a fireworks display set to music by the Counting Crows. It was nice, but not the best fireworks shows I’ve seen.

It had been an enjoyable day filled with a few firsts for me and visits to four parks.

That gravel to the right of the train is the boarding platform for Big Bend station.

Here comes the train at Indigo Lake.

Boarding at Indigo Lake after a visit to Hale Farm.

Leaving Indigo Lake behind.

That old red building at Boston Mill will several months from now be the new visitor’s center for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Here comes the 25T at Maple Grove Park.

Eastbound 20E meets the 25T at Maple Grove Park.

NS stacker 24W was our last train of the day.

Seems like I’ve seen these guys somewhere before. Maybe it was even in Akron.

Mark Price throws out a first pitch. The ball is at the top of the frame.

The finale of the post-game fireworks show.

Memories of My First CVSR Trip

May 17, 2018

My first photograph of a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train came during a railfan event. It would be another decade before I saw the CVSR again.

Twenty-one years ago today I saw and rode the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for the first time.

I was a passenger on a railfan special that traveled the length of the CVSR.

I don’t remember how I learned about this event. Maybe I read about it in The Plain Dealer.

At the time I didn’t belong to any railroad clubs and the only railfans I knew were a few guys I regularly saw in Berea.

I bought my ticket by phone and during that conversation the ticket agent asked if I also wanted to buy a cab ride. Sure, why not.

Aboard that day were at least three Akron Railroad Club members: Marty Surdyk, Robert Farkas and the late Dave McKay. There may have been others.

Little did I know that photographs made by Marty and Bob on this day would later turn up in book I would publish about the CVSR.

Although I don’t remember it, my rail travel logs indicate the event started at Boston Mill station with the train being pulled to Rockside Road station by RS3 No. 4099.

It would be my first and only time to see that locomotive, which in the CVSR’s early diesel era was one of its workhorses.

At Rockside Road, we got off and did one of many photo ops staged for us by the crew.

This one involved the conductor and two crew members comparing watches and train orders on the platform.

There was also a handing up of train orders at Jaite, a scene of a pickup truck and tractor waiting at a rural road crossing that was located at Szalay’s Farm, and a “farmer” handing up milk cans to a crew member in the baggage section of the combine.

There were photo runbys at various places, including just south of Pleasant Valley Road, along the Cuyahoga River just south of Fitzwater Yard – although it wasn’t a railroad shop at the time – and at Brecksville to get the classic Ohio Route 82 bridge shot.

For the latter, the CVSR got permission from the National Park Service to cut down vegetation growing along the bank of the Cuyahoga River so as to afford a more open view of the train.

There probably were other photo runbys, but I don’t remember where they were. I knew virtually nothing about the CVSR of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in those days.

The train arrived in Akron at the site of today’s Northside Station and we rode buses to the Spaghetti Warehouse to have lunch.

It was one of two times I’ve eaten there. The other time occurred in summer 2013 when fellow ARRC member Paul Woodring and I were scouting for a place to hold the first end of year dinner.

My cab ride came during the last segment of the event. I don’t remember where I got on at, but it probably was at Indigo Lake.

I rode in the cab of FPA-4 No. 14, which today is CVSR No. 6777. The other FPA-4 in the motive power consist was No. 15, which today is CVSR No. 6771.

At the time, CVSR locomotives had a red, black and gold livery that heavily emphasized the gold. It has since been revised to emphasize black on the flanks.

The railfan event was one of just two times that I’ve seen lounge-observation car Saint Lucie Sound operate uncovered.

Most of the time, the observation end of the former Florida East Coast car is covered by a locomotive due to trains operating with motive power on each end.

I don’t recall us being allowed into the Saint Lucie Sound during our trip.

It would be just over a decade before I again rode and saw the CVSR. I’ve been trying to make up lost ground ever since in documenting the CVSR.

There is much I’ve missed that I could have recorded. I arrived in Northeast Ohio three years too late to see former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-2 light Mikado No. 4070 on the then-named Cuyahoga Valley Line.

I missed the Delaware & Hudson look-alike livery era even though it played out during my earlier years here.

The photographs I made of that railfan trip from 1997 are my only ones of CVSR locomotives in that first red, gold and black livery.

Given that the CVSR has moved to nearly all year scheduled operations on weekends, it would be difficult to duplicate this event.

It would have to be done on a weekend in the off-season and that would not encourage ridership.

Like so many railfan events, it was a good things that I did it when I did.

Comparing watches at Rockside Road station.

Creating a farm road scene at Szaly’s Farm.

Coming into Peninsula during my cab ride.

We were able to see Saint Lucie Sound operate as it was designed to operate.

Handing up train orders at Jaite.

CVNP Begins Construction of Visitor Center

January 10, 2018

A groundbreaking ceremony was held this week for what is being billed as the first full-service visitors center in the 44-year history of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Although eight people engaged in a ceremonial turning of a shovelful of dirt, the new visitor’s center actually will involve renovating what had been a privately-owned apartment building adjacent to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad tracks just south of the Boston Mills station.

The visitor’s center is projected to cost $5.9 million and open in spring 2019.

It will supplement and not necessarily replace the nearby Boston Store visitor’s center, which will remain open but be given a new focus.

Park officials do not consider smaller-scale facilities at the Hunt House and the Canal Exploration Center to be visitor centers.

Once opened, the Boston Mills Visitors Center will be described as the main stop for park visitors to learn about attractions and activities inside the 33,000-acre park.

The CVNP was created in late 1974 as the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation area.

Now one of 59 national parks, CVNP drew more than 2.4 million visitors last year, ranking it 12th in attendance among the national parks.

For 2 Hours I Outsold a NYT Bestseller

November 11, 2017

I’m sitting at a black square table just inside the front door of a Barnes & Noble book store in suburban Cleveland engaging in a ritual familiar to many authors. On the table is a stack of 19 copies of my latest book Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

I’m a niche author and not many people are interested in railroad history. Therefore I don’t have high hopes about selling all of those books.

Directly in front of me is a table piled high with books labeled “new releases.” One of them has an orange cover that catches my attention. Titled The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, I’m hoping the book by Mark Manson won’t be a summary of how my book signing will go.

The railroad about which I wrote is known in Cleveland and last year carried a record 214,063 passengers.

Anyone who has visited the Cuyahoga Valley National Park probably has seen and/or ridden on a CVSR train. I’m hoping that that might help sell a few books.

A few people mentioned having ridden on the CVSR with some saying they had ridden several times. But they didn’t buy my book. Not today at least.

Twelve minutes into my book signing, a guy walked in, spotted me and immediately came over. In a matter of minutes he bought two of my books, one for himself and another for a friend.

I felt much better because at least I had made a sale. But he was more the exception than the rule.

As I expected, most who came into the store had little to no interest in me or my book. They walked past as though I didn’t exist, not making eye contact or saying hello. They were not subtle in not giving a . . . well you know.

This is my eighth railroad history book and I learned a long time ago how these book signings are often about learning the art of humility.

What I experienced at B&N I’ve also experienced at events filled with railroad enthusiasts. That was tough to take at first, but it comes with the territory.

The afternoon wore on and I made a few more sales. I had interesting conversations with a few folks. Interactions such as these make book signings worth doing even when sales success is modest.

One woman said she had seen a poster advertising my signing and came in to get my book, buying two copies.

There were some near-misses in which people expressed interest but didn’t buy. Maybe later.

A woman pointed at my table and said to her daughter, “look, there’s an author. He wrote a book. Isn’t that great! Maybe someday you’ll write one, too.”

The girl never looked my way, but I understood. Preschoolers have short attention spans.

I had plenty of time to keep an eye on those new releases, the Christmas-themed table to my right and the magazine racks slightly to my left. High on the walls were posters for such classics as Walden, The Maltese Falcon and To Kill a Mockingbird.

I wondered how many people come into bookstores and buy those books just to read them and not because the title is on a school reading list.

It was getting late. My publisher had said the signing was to be for two hours, but I stayed a half-hour longer.

As I was packing up my fliers and business cards while getting ready to leave, a B&N employee asked me to sign the unsold books. She placed a “signed by the author” sticker on each as soon as I finished signing. Sometimes that helps sell a book.

I don’t recall anyone even looking at Mark Manson’s book, but I might have missed it. He will sell far more copies of his book then I’ll sell of mine. It has been, after all, on The New York Times bestseller list.

I’ll never have Mark’s level of success, but for two hours on one afternoon in one store I outsold him.

Train Time at Canal Exploration Center

November 4, 2017

I’ve photographed the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad multiple times at all of its stations except two.

I had never been to the CVSR station at Hillside Road, which CVSR refers to as the Canal Exploration Center station.

The visitor’s center is actually located on the east side of the Cuyahoga River whereas the tracks are on the west side.

You have to take a trail that spans the river on a dedicated bridge. Otherwise CEC is just like any other CVSR station.

I decided to visit the CEC station after disembarking at Rockside Road station from a steam excursion train pulled by Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

The CVSR website designates CEC station as a bike aboard station. But on the day of my visit a large crowd was on hand to board the train and they were not bicyclists.

It was probably a tour group that had been to the visitor center there and had made arrangements to ride the train.

In the top image, cell phone cameras are out as the train approaches. In the middle image some passengers are heeding the call of a notice in some CVSR stations to wave at the engineer if they plan to board the train.

The bottom image was made from the farm south end of the station platform.

Now the only station where I need to photograph the CVSR in action is Big Bend in Akron.

Skirting the Swamp

October 14, 2017

Last month I posted some images made of Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 passing a swamp located south of the Brecksville station o n the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

I had walked along the tracks to reach that location. But the steam locomotive wasn’t the only thing I photographed there.

I also captured the CVSR diesel on the north end of the train, RS18u No. 1822, and some passenger cars.

Note how the smoke in the bottom image is still hanging in air back near the Brecksville station. It almost looks like the 765 is still there.

Wonderful Day for a Picnic and Steam

September 18, 2017

The photo line is out as Nickel Plate Road No. 765 passes the Valley Picnic Area en route back to Akron with the first excursion of the day.

It was a perfect day for a picnic. Under sunny skies with temperatures in the upper 70s, 17 Akron Railroad Club members and guests descended on the Valley Picnic Area in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to watch Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 pass by four times as it carried excursionists out of Akron on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

The Berkshire locomotive built in Lima, Ohio, performed flawlessly and cameras were out to record its passage.

At least one ARRC member, Vice President Emeritus J. Gary Dillon, was aboard the train, riding in car 165 on the afternoon trip with his niece Lisa.

As always, Chef Martè fired up the grill and served up hamburgers and hot dogs.

It was the second time the ARRC has held a September picnic in the CVNP in conjunction with a visit by the 765.

Last year we also held a picnic at the same location when the 765 was operating as the 767. Attendance at that picnic was 27 and may have been boosted by the novelty factor of NKP 765 operating with a different number.

We observed that there didn’t seem to be quite as many photographers out chasing the 765 as there had been last year or in some previous years.

To be sure, there were still a lot of people in the park with cameras. But the posse chasing 765 along Riverview Road as the steam train passed by wasn’t as long as in previous years and we didn’t recognize anyone we knew.

However, the steam trains appeared to be well patronized and as in past years the premium seats in the open window and dome cars were sold out.

Between runs of the steam train we also observed the passage of the regular CVSR train, the National Park Scenic, three times.

It had FPA-4 No. 6771 on the north end and Alco C424 No. 4241 on the south end. Most of the CVSR’s feature cars were on the steam train so the Scenic had an abbreviated consist that included a caboose.

For the record the steam train had RS18u No. 1822 on its north end.

If you missed the 765 this past weekend, it will be pulling another slate of trips on Sept. 23 out of Rockside Road station and on Sept. 24 out of Akron.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society is paying tribute to the late Jerry Joe Jacobson, a lifetime ARRC member, by placing his name beneath the cab widows on both sides of the 765 above the number.

Jacobson, who died on Sept. 13, was the developer of the Age of Steam Roundhouse as well as a friend of the steam locomotive preservation community.

The chef has another round of burgers on the grill while hungry members go through the serving table.

When two old railroaders get together they are going to talk a little shop. Paul Woodring (left) and Bob Rohal try to solve the problems of the industry while agreeing it’s not what it used to be.

The engineer of NKP 765 gives us some whistle as the train passes the ARRC picnic. The locomotive paid tribute to Jerry Jacobson on the cab.

A few ARRC members can be seen at right photographing the northbound excursion in mid afternoon.

The sunlight was still barely over the tree line as the last excursion of the day headed for Akron along Riverview Road.

CVSR to Run Fall Foliage Specials

September 14, 2017

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad plans to operate two-hour fall foliage trains in October in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The trains will depart from Rockside Road station and run nonstop to Indigo Lake before reversing direction and returning to Rockside.

The specials will operate on Saturdays and Sundays and consist of coach, ADA and dining car seating. Snacks, drinks and merchandise will be available for purchase in the concession car.

Tickets will be $20 for coach and $25 for deluxe seating at tables in the dining car

All passengers ages 3 and over require a ticket. Passengers ages 2 and under do not require a ticket, but must sit on a parent’s or guardian’s lap.