Posts Tagged ‘Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’

NOACA Pushing Extending CVSR Into Cleveland

February 5, 2023

A Northeast Ohio transportation planning agency is trying to revive a long-held dream of having the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad serve downtown Cleveland.

The Plain Dealer recently reported that the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency is working with other agencies to what needs to be done to enable CVSR trains to travel the 11 miles from the tourist railroad’s northern terminus in Independence into Cleveland.

The idea has been studied before and has been around for more than 20 years. A major stumbling block to extending the CVSR into Cleveland is that CSX owns the former Baltimore & Ohio tracks that excursion trains would need to use.

Once part of the B&O’s Valley Line, the track north of Independence remains an active freight line. There are no freight operations over the track used by the CVSR between Rockside Road station in Independence and downtown Akron. That track is owned by the National Park Service.

NOACA coordinates transportation planning in Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Geauga, and Medina counties.

Executive Director Grace Gallucci said the agency plans to hire a consultant to conduct a feasibility study of extending the CVSR northward, possibly to Tower City Center on the southwest corner of Public Square.

“We all have enthusiasm for the project,” Gallucci said. “We’re going to get this done. To be able to put together a railroad taking people from the inner city to the national park would be fantastic.”

She said the study is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete. Any infrastructure improvements the study recommends could be funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

As for the cost of the feasibility study, Galluci said that will be shared by the partnering agencies. She did not say how much the study will cost.

Those agencies are still working out their respective contributions to the study.

Lisa Petit, the superintendent of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, told The Plain Dealer creating a car-free connection between the park and Cleveland is a major motivating factor behind the renewed effort to extend the CVSR into downtown Cleveland.

She noted that Northeast Ohio has been designed primarily for access by car rather than transit.

This has resulted, Petit said, in lack of transportation between the park and “certain neighborhoods and communities around us.”

U.S. Census data shows that 22.4 percent of Cleveland households don’t have a car. The state median is 6.2 percent.

Joseph Mazur, CVSR president, said previous efforts to extend the railroad’s trains into Cleveland have failed, most recently in 2008.

NOACA has listed extending the CVSR into downtown Cleveland as among a dozen “major projects’’ eligible for federal funding.

The agency defines a major project as one costing $12 million or more to complete.

CVSR to Resume Operating Feb. 3

February 2, 2023

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad said this week it plans to resume operating on Feb. 3.

Since last October the CVSR has been limited to operating over for miles between Rockside Road station in Independence and the Fitzwater maintenance facility.

The curtailed operations were due to erosion along the bank of the Cuyahoga River in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park where the tracks run along the waterway.

Pamela Barnes, the track was closed until potential safety risks could be better understood. She said the track was evaluated by a geotechnical engineer and park officials decided that train operations could resume.

The first operation to resume will be the Cleveland Dinner and Event Train on Feb. 3. That will be followed by an Ales on Rails excursion on Feb. 10 and a Grape Escape wine tasting train on Feb. 11.

The National Park Scenic is slated to resume operating on March 4.

However, Barnes said that depending on conditions operations may be modified.

Park officials said the track closure is a separate issue from a riverbank stabilization program being undertaken at eight locations in Summit and Cuyahoga counties.

In an unrelated development, travel website Travel Lens has named the CVNP as the second best national park in the United States.

The site ranked parks base several on factors including number of recreational visitors, entrance fee, distance to the closest city and percentage of park reviews that mention the word “beautiful.” CVNP received a score of 8.16 our of 10.

The study said CVNP had 2.76 recreational visitors with 35 percent of them describing the park as “beautiful.”

Topping the list was Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park received a score of 8.16 out of 10.

CVSR Featured in Tom Hanks Movie

January 26, 2023

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Brecksville station is featured in the recently-released movie A Man Called Otto.

The Tom Hanks film from Sony Pictures Entertainment was released earlier this month and has done well with Midwest older moviegoers.

As reported by The Plain Dealer, the movie tells the story of a Baby Boomer grump played by Hanks, who no longer sees purpose in his life following the loss of his wife.

Most of the movie was filmed in Pittsburgh, but the CVSR is featured in a scene in which Hanks’ son, Truman, playing a younger Otto, boards a train at the Brecksville station.

“Having a Tom Hanks movie filmed in our cars at our railroad and in the [Cuyahoga Valley] national park has been huge for us,” CVSR President Joe Mazur told The Plain Dealer.

The cast also includes former Shaker Heights state legislator and Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, who plays a stroke victim named Reuben.

Mazur said five Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad cars were used during the one-day shoot, with Truman’s scene involving him leaving the station and riding Car 15 car southbound toward Akron.

“Truman was very friendly,” Mazur said. “He took pictures with the volunteers and staff. They were overjoyed by how warm everyone was because it doesn’t always have to be that way.”

The scene was filmed last May 3.  “The folks who really are train buffs loved the fact that a [CVSR] car was in “Otto,’” Mazur said. “There will be people who will want to get on the car just to check it out.”

Steam Saturday: Jaite Memories

January 21, 2023

Seeing Todd Dillon’s article and photos of Nickel Plate Road 765 at Vaughn Road on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad at Jaite prompted me to look through my files for same location favorites.

Morning photos were preferred on the east side of the tracks and afternoon from the west side. All these photos as Todd’s were are from the east side.

This location is probably now the favored spot since the Ohio Route bridge in Brecksville is so grown in with trees and brush.

Looking through old photos the only photos I have of Grand Trunk Western 4070 are from the west side of the tracks.

From top to bottom, the images were made on Sept. 29,2012; Sept. 14, 2013; Sept. 7 2014, and Sept. 26, 2016.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Tale of Two Photographs

January 20, 2023

Here are a couple photos of Nickel Plate Road 765, both taken at Jaite on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. They are from 2021 the last year of fully running trips to Akron.

While similar — they are from the same runby — there are some differences and I have thoughts on what makes for a good photo.

The first image is closer to the camera. The 765 fills the frame and the sun has risen to fully light the side of the engine. 

Another photographer is also taking pictures and I worked him into my photo for human interest.

Many times we tend to shun people being in our train photos particularly other railfans but it isn’t always possible to work them out.

An old saying is when you have a bunch of lemons make lemonade that applies here.  

This is a good photo and I am pleased with the result but let’s look at the second photo. The engine is farther back and we have more of the scene.

The railroad crossing and the two former Baltimore  & Ohio railroad buildings are visible. The 765 is a litter further back in the scene than I would like. Having the engine on or just about to enter the crossing would be ideal or would it? 

Take a look at the shadow that covers the second building.  This is caused by 765 itself and its smoke plume.

If the train was on or near the crossing the shadow would engulf both buildings. In fact I have that photo, this being a sequence of pictures and that is exactly what happened.  

I find that I prefer the second photo even though both turned out well. The first photo is more of a three-quarter wedge while the second shows more of the total scene. 

And the ideal or what I thought would be the ideal photo turned out to be a dud in my view.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

CVSR Two for Tuesday

January 17, 2023

Here are two Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad photos for a Tuesday. The images show an early CVSR locomotive livery.

In the top image, CVSR FPA-4 No. 15 is southbound in Brecksville in August 1996. On the north end is CVSR Alco RS3 No. 4099 (cx-Delaware & Hudson 4099).

The same train is shown in the bottom image in Peninsula.

CVSR trains are currently on hiatus but will return starting in February. A notice posted on the CVSR website said the Cleveland Dinner and Event train will resume running on Feb. 3. The National Park Scenic will return on weekends starting March 4.

The notice did not say of much of the CVSR those trains will cover. Much of the CVSR south of Fitzwater maintenance yard is out of service due to erosion issues along the Cuyahoga River.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Steam Saturday: When Backlighting is Good

December 24, 2022

Sometimes backlit images can be saved and here are two examples. Both were made in 2016 on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in Akron.

In the top image Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 767 is southbound approaching Akron Northside Station in Akron on the afternoon of Sept. 25. For a short time NKP 765 was renumbered to 767. It is shown crossing the remains of the Ohio and Erie Canal. In the bottom image, CVSR FPA-4 No. 6771 is about to pull its train and the NKP 767 north.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

July 2022 Scenes from Akron

November 10, 2022

Here are three images made in Akron on July 30, 2022. In the top image, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad FPA-4 No. 6771 is southbound approaching Akron Northside Station as the train crosses over the remains of the Ohio and Erie Canal.

In the middle image, the 6777 is is being towed south and will be the lead unit on the northbound trip.

In the bottom image Wheeling & Lake Erie SD40-2 No. 7006 is on the connecting track between CSX and the W&LE. In a few minutes the former CEFX unit will pull forward bringing its train onto the Wheeling. Then it will back down to Brittain Yard.

The Wheeling acquired the 7006 in December 2015 and quickly pressed it into revenue service.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

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 Akron North Pole Trains Shifted to Rockside Station

October 28, 2022

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s North Pole Adventure trains that were to have departed from Akron in November and December have been shifted to the northern end of the line.

A notice posted on the railroad’s website indicated that trains that had been set to depart from Akron will now depart from Rockside Road Station in Independence due to track closures.

The National Park Service, which owns the track used by the CVSR, closed a significant portion of the route earlier this month due to erosion near the Columbia Run Picnic area north of Boston.

As a result, departure times have also changed. Trains that had been slated to leave Akron at 7 p.m. will now depart Rockside Road at 5:30 p.m.

Trains that had been scheduled to depart Rockside Road at 7:30 p.m. will now leave at 8 p.m. Seat assignments remain unchanged for all North Pole Adventure trains.

The notice did not say directly say if North Pole Adventure riders will still visit the North Pole.

In past years, the North Pole has been the Peninsula station where volunteers dressed as elves greeted the trains. The station also had Christmas-themed decorations.

However, Peninsula is several miles south of the area where the Cuyahoga Riverbank erosion has occurred.

An alternative could be to set up the North Pole at Brecksville station, Jaite, or the Fitzwater maintenance facility.

The notice, which was presented as a letter from Santa Claus told Akron ticket holders, “you will have more time with me.”

It went on to say, “And for the first time, you will ride with me to see my North Pole workshop up close with all of my elves hard at work making all of your holiday dreams come true.

“Along the way, onboard elves will ensure you have plenty of hot chocolate and cookies and your letters to me will be delivered directly through the North Pole Postmaster.”

That suggests Santa will board the train at Rockside rather than at the North Pole in Peninsula and that an abbreviated North Pole will be set up somewhere along the route.

The trip time will be 75 minutes. Akron passengers who are unable to travel to Rockside station will offered a refund of their fare.

In a related development, the CVSR said it is placing additional tickets for North Pole Adventure trains on sale for 5:30 p.m. departures.

The North Pole Adventure will operate Nov. 11-12, Nov. 25-30, and Dec. 1-21. Coach tickets are $45 per person for weekday trips and $47 per person for weekend trips.

Other seating classes include Deluxe ($65 and $67), executive St. Lucie ($85 and $87), executive Solarium ($85 and $87), first class ($90 and $92), and premium ($75 and $71).

More information is available at