Posts Tagged ‘Cuyahoga Valley National Park’

Steam Saturday: Remember These ARRC Outings?

November 5, 2022

It’s a nice warm fall Sunday afternoon in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Akron Railroad Club is having a picnic at the Valley Picnic Area along Riverview Road south of Peninsula. Chef Marty Surdyk is cooking burgers and dogs on the grill and other goodies are laid out on a table.

The impetus for the picnic is about to arrive, so many of the attendees have walked a short distance to get a better view of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad tracks.

Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 767 — yes you read that right — is on the property to pull excursion trains on the CVSR. You know this locomotive as No. 765, but for the 2016 runs on the CVSR the engine was renumbered 767.

There is a long story behind why the 765 operated as the 767 for two weekends on the CVSR in September 2016. It goes back to the 1950s when Nickel Plate Road No. 767 participated in a grand opening ceremony in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to mark the completion of a track elevation project through downtown Fort Wayne.

When the NKP offered to give the city a retired steam engine to put on static display in a park, officials requested No. 767. But the 767 had been scrapped and in a bit of subterfuge, the railroad sent No. 765 renumbered as No. 767.

That sleight of hand went unnoticed for years until the Fort Wayne Railroad History Society began restoring the 767 to operating condition and discovered it was actually No. 765.

In summer 2016 a ceremony was held in Fort Wayne to mark the beginning of the Headwaters Junction project. That railroad-themed park will someday be the home of the 765. For that ceremony the 765 was renumbered 767 and it continued to wear that roster number during its two weeks on the CVSR in September.

But getting back to the ARRC picnic, the afternoon northbound trip that originated in Akron is coming with the 767 trailing.

We’ve gathered on a slight hill along Riverview that offers a clear view of the tracks. Cameras are poised to capture the 767 as the excursion train goes past the photo line during its trip up from Akron.

We’ll repeat all of this in another hour when the 767 pulls the train back to Akron and past the picnic area.

The ARRC would hold another picnic in September 2017 when the 765 returned to the CVSR for another slate of excursions. That year it operated as 765 and carried a tribute to Jerry Joe Jacobson, who had died earlier that year, on the sides of the locomotive below the cab.

In looking at the 2917 image, which shows the excursion returning to Akron, I’m struck by how Riverview Road was almost empty when the 765 arrived. Some years there was a posse of vehicles chasing the train along Riverview, including one guy who paced the steamer and backed up traffic in the process.

In both 2016 and 2917 the CVSR’s regular train, the National Park Scenic, operated, thus giving us another train to watch. In later years that would not be the case when the 765 was running excursions.

The 2017 picnic would be the last time the ARRC held an outing in the Valley to picnic and watch the steam train.

CVSR Extends Cancellations Through November

October 19, 2022

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has cancelled all National Park Scenic, Fall Flyer, Bike Aboard, Hale Farm, Explorer Program, and Family Fun Loop services through Nov. 6.

The Cleveland Dinner and Event train will continue operating on Friday nights through Oct. 28. A Veteran’s Day special planned for Nov. 10 will operate between Rockside Road station in Independence and the Fitzwater shops and yard.

The CVSR announcement also said that at this time it still expects its North Pole Adventure excursions to begin operating as scheduled on Nov. 11.

The cancellations began last weekend after the National Park Service closed a portion of the tracks used by the CVSR due to erosion of the bank of the Cuyahoga River.

That issue first surfaced last spring where the tracks run close to the river north of the Boston Mill station near the Columbia Run picnic area.

That led to the cancellation of service to Peninsula and Akron between early March and July 16. During that period, the CVSR was limited to using eight miles of track from Rockside Road southward.

The Park Service, which owns the track used by the CVSR, has hired an engineering firm to oversee stabilization work in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, including along the railroad.

Erosion Issues Prompt Cancellation of CVSR Fall Flyer and National Park Scenic Trips for Awhile

October 14, 2022

Erosion issues continue to plaque the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, prompting it to cancel all National Park Scenic and Fall Flyer excursions for this weekend.

In a notice posted on the railroad’s website and its Facebook page, the cancellations were attributed to the National Park Service closing portions of the tracks used by CVSR trains “due to significant erosion from the Cuyahoga River.”

The Cleveland Dinner and Event Train will run as scheduled tonight (Oct. 14). Also still operating this weekend is a special CVSR members-only event.

The CVSR notice said the Park Service regularly inspects the railroad tracks, particularly near the Cuyahoga River.

The statement indicated that the erosion areas are the same as those that last spring shut down the line from about the Columbia Run picnic area north of Boston Mill to Akron.

Park Service officials have hired an engineering firm that is reviewing how to address the area where erosion has been a problem.

CVSR’s statement suggested that train cancellations are might continue beyond this weekend.

“The modifications to operations will remain in place while NPS and CVSR wait for additional information and explore options for returning to normal,” the statement said.

No North Pole Adventure trains, which will begin running Nov. 11, have been cancelled but CVSR said some trips may be modified.

It is the second consecutive weekend in which the CVSR has cancelled trips.

The weekend of Oct. 7-9 saw all Fall Flyer excursions cancelled and some National Park Scenic trips were scrapped on Oct. 7.

Those cancellations were attributed to maintenance issues with CVSR’s motive power fleet.

Earlier this week, the CVSR posted another notice on its Facebook page acknowledging, “the CVSR is a preservation railroad that provides a traditional rail experience through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park; many of our cars were built in the 1940s and 1950s.”

The loss of excursions in October will be a major blow to a tourist railroad that suffered significant revenue losses during the COVID-19 pandemic when dozens of trips were cancelled.

October is one of the railroad’s busiest months as passengers flock to CVSR trains to see fall foliage.

CVSR Begins Explorer Program

July 21, 2022

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad this week launched its Explorer program for bikers, hikers and kayakers in the the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The program replaces the Bike Aboard program that operated during the summer and fall for many years.

It enables hikers, bikers or kayakers to ride the National Park Scenic one way to begin or after ending their trek in the park.

Hikers and bikers pay a $5 fee for each trip while kayakers pay $10 for a single seat kayak or $15 for a double-seat one.

A season pass is available for $50 and provides unlimited rides. The program will operate through Oct. 31.

CVSR serves three main boarding stations: Rockside in Independence, Peninsula and Akron Northside.

The stations at Canal Exploration Center, Brecksville, Boston Mill, Indigo Lake and Botzum are considered flag stops with passengers needing to wave to the locomotive engineer to indicate they want the train to stop.

In an advisory, CVSR said passengers should use both hands to wave at the engineer to indicate they want to be picked up.

The Scenic is operating twice times a day on Wednesday through Sunday except on Sunday when it operates three three times a day.

Trains leave Rockside Road southbound at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.. They are scheduled to arrive in Akron at 10:30 a.m., 2:40 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. the 5 p.m. departure from Rockside Road and 6:30 p.m. arrival in Akron is a Saturday-only train.

Northbound trains depart Akron at 11 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., and are scheduled to arrive at Rockside station at 12:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The 7 p.m. departure from Akron and 8:30 p.m. arrival at Rockside is a Saturday-only train.

CVSR to Resume Akron Service July 16

July 12, 2022

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad said today it will return to operating the full length of its route on July 16.

Trains have been operating only eight miles south of Rockside Road station in Independence due to erosion of the bank of Cuyahoga River in early March.

Railroad officials said the erosion had reached to within a few feet of the CVSR tracks.

Heavy rains caused the erosion near the Columbia Run picnic area of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The location is between Boston Mill and Jaite.

In a news release, CVSR said it will reinstate the full summer schedule of the National Park Scenic. The Scenic will operate five days a week, skipping Monday and Tuesday.

Also being reinstated will be the Explorer program, formerly known as Bike Aboard. The Explorer program allows passengers to bring aboard bicycles and kayaks. That program will resume on July 20

CVSR said those who have purchased tickets for an excursion starting July 16 or after will be contacted by email with updated information on their planned journey. This will not apply to those holding tickets for the Cleveland Dinner & Event Train.

Ticket sales for trips from Akron and Peninsula will begin July 13 at 9 a.m. and can be purchased at cvsr.org.

NKP 765 Won’t See Akron in May

March 26, 2022

There will be no steam excursions from Akron in May and resumption of Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad service to the city is not expected until July.

The change in operating plans was prompted by erosion of the bank of the Cuyahoga River to within three feet of the tracks north of Boston Mill.

The National Park Service, which owns the tracks, is overseeing a riverbank stabilization program to shore up the bank.

The erosion occurred in early March following heavy rains. Since then CVSR has been operating only from Rockside Road station in Independence.

The steam excursions, to be pulled by former Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765, will now operate out of Rockside Road for all trips.

Trips are scheduled for May 13-15 and 20-22. Schedules have been changed on the CVSR website to reflect the changes.

In a news release, CVSR said it is contacting those who purchased tickets for excursions from Akron’s Northside station.

Those who wish a refund of their fare must notify CVSR by March 29. Otherwise, the CVSR will rebook them on a trip from Rockside Road.

The 765 is owned by the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society and usually visits the CVSR in the fall.

The CVSR news release said the timeline of work for the riverbank stabilization program is still being worked out.

CVSR Suspends Service to Akron, Peninsula

March 9, 2022

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has cancelled its National Park Scenic train through May.

In its place, it will offer a replacement, the National Park Flyer, which will operate on Saturdays and Sundays for one-and-a-half hour trips from Rockside Road station in Independence. The Flyer will not operate to Peninsula or Akron.

The schedule change was prompted by erosion of the bank of the Cuyahoga River north of Boston Mill where the tracks run close to the river for a short stretch.

National Park Service officials said last weekend that erosion from recent rains has reached to within a few feet of the tracks used by the CVSR.

The Park Service owns the track, which passes through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Park officials said it will take weeks to complete work to stabilize the river’s banks where the erosion occurred near the Columbia Run picnic area just north of the Boston Mill ski resort.

In an email message distributed on Tuesday morning, the CVSR said the Cleveland Dinner  & Event Train will continue to operate on Fridays. Also still operating are such theme experiences such as Ales on Rails and caboose rides.

Trains depart from Rockside Road station on Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. and noon. The dinner and event train departs Rockside Road at 6:30 p.m. on Fridays.

Riverbank Erosion Prompts CVSR Curtailment

March 6, 2022

Erosion of the bank of the Cuyahoga River has prompted the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to cut back operations to between Peninsula and Akron.

The National Park Service is undertaking an emergency stabilization effort to shore up the river bank in an area near the Columbia Run picnic area north of Boston Mill in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

However, the work is expected to take weeks to complete.

NPS officials said in a news release that the erosion occurred as a result of recent rains and reached within three feet of the ballast of the track used by CVSR trains.

The track is owned by the Park Service. As part of the repair process, engineering must be performed before the bank can be stabilized.

NPS spokeswoman Pamela Barnes said the erosion progressed quickly. She said park staff routinely monitors the riverbank.

 “The river is a dynamic system, and it is constantly changing,” park officials said in the news release.

CVSR Two For Tuesday

November 10, 2020

This week’s two for Tuesday features a pair of images of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in action on Oct. 21, 2009. In the top image the National Park Scenic was caught near Akron. In the bottom image it is crossing a creek near Brecksville. In both images the train was headed northbound.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

CVSR Extends Service Suspension to Oct. 1

April 30, 2020

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad on Wednesday said it is canceling all trains operations until Oct. 1.

The tourist railroad that operates between suburb Cleveland and downtown Akron through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, had earlier suspended trains operations in mid March due to the COVID-19 pandemic

“As we look to an uncertain future with respect to this situation, CVSR must make decisions now,” said CVSR President and CEO Joe Mazur in a statement.

Mazur said it was a difficult decision to forgo operations during the busy summer months but said large gatherings are unlikely to be safe for some time.

“We look forward to welcoming our passengers and volunteers when the time is right,” he said.

In a news release, the CVSR said it will continue to monitor the pandemic throughout the summer and determine if it is safe to operate trains in the fall.

The release also contained a statement from park superintendent Craig Kenkel agreeing with the decision to suspend train operations through September.

CVSR said it will issue refunds to passengers who purchased advance tickets and plans to automatically extend all active memberships and appropriate benefits by the number of months the railroad will be closed.

Although the release did not address the fate of the annual steam in the valley program, it seems likely it will not operate this year.

In past years the CVSR has operated steam in the valley in September so that it did not encroach upon the busy fall foliage season.

In most years steam in the valley has featured former Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

This will not be the first time that rail service through the Cuyahoga Valley has not operated during the summer since the then-named Cuyahoga Valley Line emerged in 1975.

Service was cancelled or all of 1986 and 1987 after CSX abandoned the valley line and negotiations played out for the Park Service to buy the tracks.

The 1990 season didn’t get started until July 21 due to mechanical problems that sidelined former Grand Trunks Western 2-8-2 No. 4070.