Posts Tagged ‘Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’

CVSR 365 Back in Revenue Service

October 21, 2017

After being sent for a rebuild in 2013 Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad No. 365, originally a Seaboard Air Line Alco C420, has returned to revenue service. After testing last week, it started revenue service on Thursday. I got it at Boston Mills Friday evening.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

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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.

On Second Thought Glad He Was There

October 11, 2017

I was set up to photograph the arrival of the ferry move that would make up the first Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad National Park Scenic run of the day from Rockside Road station.

The space between myself and the tracks was open. I planned to use a low-hanging tree branch to frame the lead locomotive.

Then the inevitable happened. Three people walked into the grassy area that stood between my lens and CVSR FPA-4 No. 6771.

I was not pleased, but I made the photographs anyway.

As I reviewed them on the display screen of my camera, I saw that the guy closest to me was waving at the train.

I would still rather not have had those folks in my image, but if they were going to be there, at least the buy waving added a human interest tough that, dare I say, enhanced the image.

Riding That 765 Train (Part 2)

October 4, 2017

Nickel Plate Road 765 backs up at Rockside Road station. I got better images of the Berkshire-type engine here than I did at the photo runby site at Boston Mills.

Second of two parts

A handful of Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad personnel were on the ground as the excursion train pulled by RS18 1822 came into Boston Mills station and stopped.

At last I would get to experience life inside the cattle pen as Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 executed its photo runbys.

Having that experience wasn’t my primary reason for buying a ticket to ride behind the 765. But I did wonder what it would be like.

On the CVSR website, would-be passengers are told that they will get to watch the 765 do a runby at a secure location.

If you are standing outside the photo runby site fence, you’ve learned the meaning of the word “secure.”

If you dare cross Riverview Road to stand on the fringe of the orange plastic fence, either a CVSR official or a police officer will shoo you back to the other side of the road.

As I stood in the cattle pen, I saw a couple guys cross the road toward the far north end of the ski resort.

A Peninsula police officer saw it, too, and raced to the scene in his cruiser with the emergency lights on.

Although my train was not sold out, it did have a large crowd and it takes time to unload a few hundred people.

I was among the first people off the train, in part because my car had a small number of passengers.

A CVSR volunteer instructed us to stand behind a line of small orange cones.

That was the extent of the instructions that we received. For that matter, there was no announcement over the PA or by the car host about the photo runby. It was as though CVSR personnel figured that everyone knew what was going on.

The line of orange cones stretched back toward the Boston Mills station and was set up on an angle.

I avoided the far north end of the line, which was where many people congregated.

I heard the CVSR volunteer tell those there that the 765 would make two runbys. She asked those toward the front to get down and after the first runby to trade places with those in the back.

People were nearly shoulder to shoulder where I was standing, but I didn’t feel overly crowded.

I didn’t expect to get great photographs during the runby. One reason I had wanted to ride the afternoon trip was because the lighting would be better. The sun would be on the west side of the tracks.

Although the runbys for my excursion were performed at about 11:15 a.m., the lighting still favored the east side of the tracks.

But the west side of the train was not in deep enough shadows to mar the images by making it difficult to see the detail of the locomotive.

Many who got off the train were not photographing, just watching. Among those who did photograph, many of the images – and maybe most of them – were made with smart phones.

It used to be that “ordinary” people made photographs with point and shoot digital cameras. Now they use smart phones.

Not as many people clustered around the cab of the 765 as I expected. Instead, most people found a place in the photo line and stayed there.

There was a construction project underway across the road and shortly before the 765 began backing up for the first runby I heard that safety squawk that construction vehicles make in reverse.

I wasn’t doing video so it didn’t bother me. But I know guys who would have gone ballistic upon hearing that sound.

The beep, beep, beep was short lived and not repeated during either runby.

The runbys were nice, but not overly spectacular. I thought the 765 put on a better show when pulling into Rockside Road station earlier that morning.

I’ve also seen better smoke displays from the locomotive at other places along the CVSR.

But most of those in the photo line weren’t looking for a spectacular display of steam and smoke.

They wanted to see the big engine run by, which is what it did, twice. Many have probably never seen such a sight.

About the only advantage to being inside the Boston Mills cattle pen from a photography standpoint is being able to see the 765 coming straight at you.

There is a curve north of Boston Mills and inside the viewing area is the best place to see that without any obstruction.

Boston Mills also offers an open field, but that’s nothing that you can’t find in other places along the CVSR if you know the territory.

I didn’t have any trouble with heads or arms getting in the way of my views and everyone was well behaved.

The runbys complete, it was time to get in line and back on the train.

The rest of the trip was routine. We stopped at Fitzwater Yard to pick up the afternoon on-board crew members.

I lingered on the platform after disembarking at Rockside Road station.

The 765 and its train would go north of the station to make room for the Scenic inbound from Akron.

By now it was almost 12:30 p.m. Clouds were forming, but it was still sunny as I got my last photographs of the 765 as it backed northward.

As it turned out, the afternoon trip was 25 minutes late leaving Rockside due to late passengers and other issues I wasn’t on hand to observe.

That trip only went as far south as Peninsula and by the time the photo runbys at Boston Mills were executed, the skies had turned mostly cloudy.

It had been an enjoyable experience riding behind the 765 even if I never saw it while it was pulling the train. But I knew it was there.

The CVSR is one of the few places where the 765 can operate. Every year there is talk about the 765 going to various unspecified places, but those trips seldom seem to materialize.

This year the 765 has run on Metra in Chicago and on the CVSR. No fall excursions have been announced of which I am aware.

Many Northeast Ohio railfans have probably become indifferent toward the 765 running on the CVSR. Been there, done that.

The Berkshire-type locomotive has been a regular fixture on the CVSR since 2010 except for a couple of years.

Yet I always treat each appearance of the 2-8-4 as its last because some day that might be the case.

Disembarking at Boston Mills for the photo runbys. I’ve made many photographs over the years of people getting off from the outside perspective, but never from the on the train perspective.

Getting a photograph of the NKP 765 backing up for the first of two photo runbys at Boston Mills.

Here comes the first photo runby.

Not everyone disembarked at Boston Mills for the photo runbys. They enjoyed waving and taking in the scene.

The second photo runby is getting underway as the 765 charges southward toward the waiting crowd.

Blowing the whistle at Boston Mills. The 765 crew paid tribute to the late Jerry Jacobson by placing his name on both sides of the cab.

Time to get back on board the train following the runbys. We’ll need that step box.

He’s wearing a NKP hat, sitting in a former NKP coach and riding behind a NKP steam locomotive.

Reviewing the video that they made on their smart phones of the 765.

A pair of youthful photographers watch for the steam engine at Hillside Road.

Lending a helping hand to a detraining passenger at Rockside Road.

A wave from my car host as the train leaves the station at Rockside Road.

Riding that 765 Train (Part 1)

October 3, 2017

Nickel Plate Road 765 backs up beneath Rockside Road to make way for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train scheduled into Rockside Road station in about 15 minutes.

First of two parts

The idea seemed to come out of nowhere. I was thinking ahead to chasing Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 during its first weekend on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

What could I do with the 765 that I haven’t done before? Why not ride behind it?

Actually, I have ridden behind the 765, but that had been in September 2010 out of Akron. I had not ridden behind the 765 on the north end of the CVSR.

I knew from writing stories for the Akron Railroad Club blog that coach tickets were $25, which is not much more than the fare to ride the CVSR’s National Park Scenic.

Besides, I wanted to experience what it was like to be inside the Boston Mills cattle pen during the photo runbys of the Berkshire-type locomotive.

In the early years of steam returns to the Valley, you could walk into the station area and mingle among the paying passengers.

But in the past few years security has been tight, keeping the riff raff away from the station and confining non-passengers to Boston Park or the parking area of the Boston Mill ski resort on the west side of Riverview Road.

It was late in the week when I went onto the CVSR website to buy my ticket. I planned to ride the afternoon trip out of Rockside Road station, but it was sold out.

There were plenty of tickets for the morning trip, scheduled to depart at 9:30 a.m., a half-hour after the departure of the first run of the Scenic.

The 765 trip had five coaches and I deliberately chose No. 5. My thinking was that most people would buy tickets in the first car that came up.

Presuming that the morning trip didn’t sell out, I figured that coach 5 would be the least crowded.

As it turned out, my reasoning that coach 5 would be less crowded proved to be correct.

I arrived at the Rockside Road station at 8:15 a.m.,which was just in time to see the steam train slowly rolling past the station and north of Rockside Road to clear up for the Scenic.

I found a parking space close to the tracks and was trackside in plenty of time to photograph the 765 being towed northward on its ferry move. The early morning light was nice.

CVSR personnel do not allow passengers on the platform before the arrival of a train, so my views of the inbound ferry move of the Scenic from Fitzwater yard were limited and hindered by a wood fence.

The Scenic arrived at 8:45 a.m. and departed on schedule at 9. The 765 rolled into the station about 10 minutes later.

Rockside has two gates to the platform and I had stationed myself at the northernmost one. A CVSR trainman said coach 5 would board from there.

It turned out, though, that coach 5 was spotted south of the southernmost gate. So I had to walk nearly the length of the platform to board.

The advantage of being at the northernmost gate, though, was a more open view of the steam locomotive as it came into the station.

Longtime Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society member Rich Melvin retired as a steam locomotive engineer last year, but is still part of the operating crew.

He handled the radio communications during Saturday’s trips and appeared to be performing a supervisory role.

He directed the engineer to make lots of smoke and steam as the 765 entered the station.

The CVSR trainman opened the north gate to the platform shortly after the steam train halted.

However, the south gate remained closed and a long line of people stood behind it.

I was the sole person on the platform other than CVSR personnel as I walked toward the vestibule for coach 5.

It turned out that nearly all of the premium fare passengers, those in the open-window coaches, the Saint Lucie Sound and the dome car Silver Bronco, would board through the same vestibule that I did.

That was because those cars were beyond the south end of the platform. I was the first passenger to board coach 5. I elected to sit toward the rear of the car.

The next car to the north was the concession car and the doors between coach 5 and that car were open, allowing the scent of fresh popcorn to waft through my car.

I sat on the west side of the train because the lighting would be better for from-the-train photographs. It also meant I would not see as many trackside photographers because most would be on the east side of the tracks to take advantage of the best light angles.

We left shortly after our scheduled departure time of 9:30 a.m. The operating plan was to go as far south as Botzum, reverse direction and stop at Boston Mills for the photo runbys.

I would later learn, though, that going to Botzum was just a suggestion and maybe even a subterfuge to mess with photographers listening on the radio. In actual practice, the crew would run as far as they could until 10:30 a.m., stop and reverse direction.

It takes a few minutes to do the latter because control of the train is transferred from the 765 to the diesel on the north end – in this case RS18u No. 1822 – and a brake test must be completed.

We didn’t make it to Botzum, instead getting as far as Indigo Lake. I would later learn that some photographers had heard the highball for Botzum  and were waiting at Howe Meadow. They never saw the 765 pass their position.

Not far into our journey, the conductor radioed the 765 to say we needed to make a stop at Brecksville station to pick up three passengers.

I was surprised that at no point during our journey were there ever any announcements made to welcome us aboard or to provide instructions for the photo runby. In fact, there no announcements about anything.

Nor did the car host check our tickets. Not once during my trip did any CVSR personnel ask to see my ticket.

The run down to Indigo Lake was uneventful. There were photographers and train watchers along the route, but not a high number of them.

On the return leg, the train made an unexpected stop in Peninsula. In response to a question from the engineer of the 1822, Rich Melvin had said he would spot the train at Boston Mills.

But as the train came into Peninsula the 1822 engineer confused it with Boston Mills and halted the train.

The conducted immediately asked the 1822 on the radio “what’s going on?”

The engineer said he was waiting for the 765 to spot him, but stopped when that did not happen.

The conductor told the engineer that was to be at Boston Mills, not Peninsula.

Melvin chimed in with a similar retort. The engineer admitted his confusion and we continued northward.

Gotta sell tee shirts and sweat shirts to earn money to buy coal.

A CVSR trainman ponders his duties once the 765 and its train arrive at Rockside Road. In the background is the Scenic train.

Capturing the move of the 765 into the station on a tablet.

The 765 engineer heeded Rich Melvin’s command to make smoke and steam as the engine arrived into the station at Rockside Road. What a nice show.

Rich Melvin surveys the platform at Rockside Road as the train arrives.

For a brief time I had the platform virtually to myself and was the first to board at the south end.

Outside the windows of CVSR coach 166 a line has formed to board.

Camera are out at Jaite.

Crossing the Cuyahoga River.

If I wasn’t riding I, too, might be watching and photographing at Deep Lock Quarry.

Parting Images of NKP 765

September 26, 2017

We could not have asked for a better day from a weather standpoint than what we had this past Sunday.

Although Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 was making its final public trips on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad that day, chasing the Berkshire-type locomotive was not in my plans.

Instead, I was going to explore some new territory for me in Northeast Ohio.

But I made it a point to at least get down to the CVSR to catch the morning ferry move to Akron.

I was hoping for foggy conditions as had occurred last year, but that wasn’t to be. Although the temperatures for Sunday were going to climb into the 80s, it was still somewhat cool in the morning.

I know from previous years that cool mornings in September often yield a nice smoke and steam show from the 765 during its first outing of the day.

The ferry move left Fitzwater shops and yard just before 9 a.m. I was waiting in Brecksville just south of the station.

The 765 did not disappoint. It put forth one fine show as it chugged past, sounding as good as it looked.

NKP 765 Puts on Another Great Show

September 25, 2017

 

Here are three images of Nickel Plate Road No. 765 southbound on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad this past Saturday. All three photos were taken in Jaite with the top and middle images taken in the morning and the bottom image taken in the afternoon.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Best of the Rest (From the Picnic)

September 21, 2017

To borrow a line used by Paul Woodring to title a couple of his programs at Akron Railroad Club meetings, here are the best of the rest of the photographs that I made during the ARRC picnic this past Sunday.

I ended up spending all day at the picnic site, which is located along Riverview Road south of Peninsula in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

I didn’t do any chasing of the Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765. Sometimes, it’s nice to let the steam locomotive come to you. And it did, four times.

The regular National Park Scenic train of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad also passed by three times. So I photographed it, too.

So here are the best of the rest of my images from last Sunday.

FPA-4 No. 6771 wears its snazzy livery and pulled the Scenic northward during the weekend.

The first of two southbound passages of the Scenic past the Valley Picnic Area in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The second of two southbound runs of the Scenic.

The Scenic heads north for the final time of the day. About 20 minutes later the steam train would come charging north behind it.

Passengers in the Saint Lucie Sound look us over as their train rolls northbound in the afternoon. NKP 765 was trailing at this point, not pulling the train.

 

CVSR Imposes $1 Fee on Tickets

September 20, 2017

If you’ve noticed a $1 fee applied to your ticket on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, it is being used to help build a preservation fund for the railroad.

The fee began on July 1 and applies to all tickets except Bike Aboard!, whether they are bought at a station, online, by phone or aboard the train.

In a posting on its website the CVSR said the fund will be used “to help support the safety and integrity of our heritage rail equipment” and will be available for expected and unexpected capital expenses.

CVSR said the preservation fees will not be used to pay for general operating expenses, which are reliant upon ticket sales, fundraising and other revenue streams.

I’m Gonna Be Like Him, Yeah

September 19, 2017

When I made this image my purpose was to catch a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad volunteer trainman in a candid moment.

He was standing by the entrance gate to the platform at the CVSR station in Independence, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb. I’m not sure if he knew I had photographed him.

He seems preoccupied thinking about the work facing him in the boarding of his passengers.

He was assigned to a steam excursion train that I and hundreds of others were ticketed to ride.

But first the regular CVSR passenger train, which can be seen in the background, had to finish its work in the station before the steam train could board its passengers.

It was after I downloaded this image that I noticed the boy to the left who appears to be looking at the trainman.

Maybe he isn’t, and maybe it’s just my imagination. But the expression on the boy’s face caught my attention. He seems to have a look of admiration as through he is impressed with the trainmen and their uniforms.

If so, he belongs to a long line of children who were awe struck in seeing railroad conductors and trainmen in their passenger uniforms while at work on their trains.

Presumably, over the decades of passenger train travel, boys have looked up to conductors and wanted to follow in their footsteps. Many might have done so, although that is more likely to have occurred in another time than today.

Although it was written for a different context, the words to the Harry Chapin song Cat’s in the Cradle came to my mind. “I’m gonna be like him, yeah. You know I’m gonna be like him.”

Maybe this boy will some day become a CVSR volunteer so that he, too, can wear a passenger uniform.

That dream might have started here while he waited to board a train.