Posts Tagged ‘Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’

Tickets on Sale for NKP 765 Trips on CVSR

June 22, 2017

Tickets are now on sale for excursions behind Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765, which will return to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for two weekends in September.

The Berkshire-type locomotive, which was built by Lima Locomotive Works in Lima, Ohio, will pull excursions on Sept. 16 and 23 from Rockside Road station in Independence and on Sept. 17 and 24 from Akron Northside station.

Each trip will be two hours in duration and feature a photo runby at Boston Mill station.

Boarding times will be 9:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. at Rockside Road station and 11:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. in Akron.

New this year will be a Friday excursion that will be open only to CVSR members and volunteers. That trip will depart Rockside station at 5:30 p.m. and feature a 1940s theme. NKP 765 was built in 1944.

Passengers aboard the Friday trip will be served complimentary hors d’oeuvres. A cash bar will be available along with live entertainment from the period. There will be a photo runby during the excursion.

Tickets for the public trips are $25 for coach seating, $30 for an open-window coach, $38 for deluxe seating in dining car, $40 for Silver Bronco first class seating and $50 for Silver Bronco dome section seating.

Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.cvsr.com/steam-valley-rides/

CVSR Now Running 6 Days Each Week

June 3, 2017

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has resumed its summer schedule, operating six days a week, which is a change from past seasons when trains ran five days a week during the summer.

Also new this year is that the National Park Scenic will make just two roundtrips on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The Scenic will make three roundtrips on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Trains will not operate on Mondays.

On Tuesday and Thursdays, the train will depart Rockside Station in Independence at 9 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. Akron departures at 10:55 a.m. and 2:50 p.m.

On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays the same schedule is in effect plus a 4:45 p.m. departure from Rockside and a 6:45 p.m. departure from Akron.

Intermediate stops include the Canal Exploration Center, Brecksville, Boston Mill, Peninsula, Indigo Lake, Botzum and Big Bend.

Coach tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children and are good for travel all day.

Upper level dome tickets are available for $28 for adults and $23 for children. These tickets are good for one continuous roundtrip and passengers may not disembark at an intermediate stop.

The same conditions also apply for first class tickets, which are priced at $23 for adults and $18 for children.

It Bike Aboard Season Again on the CVSR

May 27, 2017

The Bike Aboard program is back for another year on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

Shown is a long line of bikes waiting to be boarded in the baggage car at Peninsula. It’s a Saturday morning and this is the first southbound National Park Scenic train of the day.

Swelling the numbers was a Boy  Scout troop that was riding the train one way and biking back to Peninsula, perhaps from Akron.

The waiting bicyclists made for an impressive sight.

Waving From a Train

May 26, 2017

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad crew members are encouraged to wave at people they see watching their train at stations and within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Of course waving at or from a train is a common practice in many other places, too. It is a practice as American as apple pie.

Some locomotives engineers will wave at railfans along the tracks and many railfans like to wave at trains whether the crew reciprocates or not.

These images were made of CVSR crew members waving in Peninsula on a recent Saturday.

In my experience, CVSR passengers like to get into the act, particularly if they see you photographing a train leaving or arriving at a station.

That included that man in the Saint Lucie Sound shown above.

Tooling With Thomas

May 25, 2017

Most railroad photographers give little thought to getting out to photograph Thomas the Tank Engine. I didn’t either until this year.

It is hard to take seriously a pint-sized steam locomotive that’s not really a locomotive but a “shoving platform” that is a cartoon character designed to appeal to children.

I’ve done my share of mocking Thomas by referring to him as “Thomas the tanked engine” and “man, is our Thomas tanked.” The word tanked in this context refers to being intoxicated.

The fictional steam locomotive first appeared in The Railway Series books by British authors Wilbert and Christopher Awdry and later became the star of a television series.

There is nothing small about Thomas, though, when it comes to money. For many tourist railroads, Thomas pulls in badly needed dollars to fund restoration and maintenance work. Trains magazine recently described him as “Thomas the bank engine.”

The Thomas franchise operates worldwide and is worth $1 billion annually in sales.

Since making his first appearance on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in May 1998, Thomas has become the second most popular special event behind the Polar Express – another children’s story – and draws 25,000 to 26,000 passengers a year.

That is far more than who ride behind a real steam locomotive, Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

There are multiple versions of Thomas that tour the United States, often appearing on tourist railroads. One Thomas was converted from a 1916 steam locomotive that served Brooklyn Dock & Terminal in New York City.

Google “Thomas the Tank Engine” and you’ll find that in some quarters there is an intense dislike of Thomas, with one commentator saying the TV program featuring Thomas is filled with messages of classism, sexism and anti-environmentalism bordering on racism.

Other parents have been critical of Thomas by saying he and his friends are nasty, negative and set a bad example for children, particularly in their shirking of their responsibilities, showing off and competing against each other.

Such thinking, though, hasn’t kept Thomas from becoming a superstar among children or kept many parents from taking their children to see and ride behind Thomas.

Earlier this year when I was working on my book about the CVSR, I decided I would get out to see Thomas this year. I wanted to document Thomas because, like him or not, he is a part of the story of the CVSR.

The half-hour Thomas excursions leave from Boston Mill station every hour at half past the hour.

As I approached Boston Mill while driving southbound on Riverview Road, there was a long line of people waiting to get into a large tent, presumably the passengers for the 9:30 a.m. trip.

I knew from reading the CVSR website that various ancillary activities surround the visit of Thomas – most of which are designed to appeal to children – but I was surprised at how much the area around the station resembled a carnival minus the Ferris wheel and tilt-a-wheel rides.

Much of the carnival was located on the west side of Riverview on the property of Boston Mill ski resort. You can’t gain access to the site without a ticket.

So much for my idea of walking around and getting a feel for the Thomas experience.

On every other excursion, Thomas would meet the CVSR National Park Scenic train in Peninsula.

So that was where I waited. At 10:44 a.m., Thomas came steaming into town and went into the siding.

Maybe “steaming” isn’t the right word to use since Thomas is not a live steam locomotive. But he does make smoke, although not consistently.

Thomas has a steam whistle, which isn’t that loud, but it’s a whistle. There is one light on his right side that at first glance resembles a ditch light.

His eyes go back and forth and his mouth moves, too. I didn’t know that Thomas could talk, but he does.

The Thomas specials on the CVSR were being pulled and propelled by CVSR FPA-4 No. 6777. A crew member in the cab of Thomas communicated with the 6777 by radio.

Shortly after the arrival of Thomas and his train, the southbound Scenic arrived. Thomas departed and the Scenic did its station work.

My plan to photograph Thomas next to CVSR 4241 was marred somewhat by people standing in front of Thomas when the Scenic arrived.

A small crowd of onlookers was drawn to Thomas with their smart phone cameras out.

I stayed in Peninsula until the next meet occurred between the Scenic and Thomas. This time the Scenic did its station work before Thomas got there and I was able to get a clearer view of No. 4241 and Thomas. The Scenic left and Thomas followed it out of town a few minutes later.

I had made enough photographs of Thomas, to satisfy my curiosity and to fill a void in my CVSR collection so I left, too.

Thomas takes the siding at Peninsula to allow the CVSR Scenic to pass on the mainline.

Thomas is modeled after a British steam locomotive design.

Here comes Thomas minus his friends.

CVSR crew members have their smart phones out as Thomas chugs into Peninsula for a meet with the CVSR Scenic.

Children aboard the CVSR Scenic get a glimpse of Thomas as the two trains pass in Peninsula.

Thomas steams out of Peninsula to return to Boston Mill.

CVSR Launches New Membership Program

May 23, 2017

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has introduced a new membership program that it said offers additional opportunities.

This includes a complimentary coach ticket aboard the National Park Scenic train year-round.

Additional membership benefits offered will include behind-the-scenes access to CVSR events and facilities including Day Out With Thomas for a special breakfast with Sir Topham Hatt; behind-the-scenes access to Fitzwater Train Yard with the arrival of the Nickel Plate Road No. 765 steam locomotive for Steam in the Valley, and a special invitation to the Christmas in July Excursion.

Many membership levels will offer the opportunity for first-class ticket upgrades and exclusive use of CVSR’s Saint Lucie Sound lounge car or Caboose.

With the program’s introduction, the Bike Aboard and Annual Pass will no longer be sold separately as in previous years, with benefits now included in new membership levels.

To become a member, visit the membership page on the CVSR website, call 234-759-0092 or send an email request to members@cvsr.com.

 

Thomas Returns to CVSR this Weekend

May 19, 2017

Thomas the Tank Engine is returning to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad this weekend with trips from Boston Mill station on Saturday and Sunday.

Thomas will make a return visit on May 26-28, also departing from Boston Mill station.

The CVSR said that only those who have purchased Thomas tickets or a site ticket will be allowed into the boarding and festival area at Boston Mill. A site ticket grants admission to the Boston Mill station area, but does not include the half-hour train ride.

The site will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and include magicians, bounce houses, balloon artists, live entertainment and railroad displays.

Fares are $18 for all trips on Friday and $20 or $22 for Saturday and Sunday trips.

The $20 tickets are good for the 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. trips.  The $22 tickets are for the 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. trips.

Passengers are advised to arrive at the site an hour before departure time.

CVSR Oddball Locomotives Featured in April 2017 Issue of the Akron Railroad Club eBulletin

April 25, 2017

The Alco FPA-4 units built by Montreal Locomotive Works may have gotten much of the attention over the years on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, but if you have spent time chasing CVSR trains you would have seen an eclectic variety of motive power, some of which operated only for a short time.

The cover story in the April 2017 Akron Railroad Club eBulletin will focus on locomotives that did time on the CVSR but seemed out of place even if they added some interest.

A photographer would have had to have regularly spent time on the Valley throughout its more than more 40-year history to have captured all of these locomotives.

Also in the April eBulletin is a report from the ARRC’s 13th annual Dave McKay Day at Berea held on April 1. There is also the latest railroad industry news in the monthly Interchange Track feature.

All Aboard the Akron Soul Train

April 21, 2017

Shipping containers and small houses are going to be used to create a residential artists’ village in Akron that will be known as The Akron Soul Train.

The complex will also have tiny houses and be built near the Northside Arts District.

Funding for the project came from a $150,000 Knight Foundation Arts Challenge grant that was matched by a $50,000 Burton D. Morgan Foundation grant.

Money also is being raised through train-themed memberships, allowing members to get special deals at the village and on Akron Soul Train-branded collectibles.

“A year ago we were just announcing that we got a grant,” said Akron artist Amy Mothersbaugh, who is leading the project with Nancy Brennan. “It’s not because we’re really good at what we do. It’s because everyone seems to be excited about the vision and the possibility of this being in Akron. People feel like it’s theirs too, and that’s so cool.”

The plan is to offer artistic fellowships that help develop, promote and teach visitors about the arts through educational outreach, workshops, classes and exhibitions.

The group hopes to be able to select three artists to live at the village under varying-length fellowships.

For the time being, the fellowships can only be offered in warmer months until heat can be installed.

Akron Soul Train is working to develop collaborative programming with the city, Summit Metro Parks and the CVSR, whose Akron station is near the site of the village.

Speed Limit Drops on Riverview Road in CVNP

April 8, 2017

I got an email this week from fellow Akron Railroad Club member Paul Woodring letting me know that the speed limit on Riverview Road through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park fell to 35 mph on April 4.

Although a new state law mandated the change, a story in the Akron Beacon Journal said the lower speed limit was requested by Summit County engineer Al Brubaker.

He told the Beacon Journal he wanted the speed limit lowered for safety reasons due to joggers, bicyclists and pedestrians mingling on “curvy and hilly” highways with motor vehicles.

“While drivers, riders and pedestrians will still need to use common care and caution within the park, at least we will now be able to post the county’s park roads at a more reasonable speed limit,” Brubaker said in a statement.

As Paul sees it, though, the slower speed limit makes it difficult if not impossible to chase steam trains on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

Before the recent change, Riverview Road had a myriad of speed limits. From north to south it was 25 mph from Pleasant Valley Road to Ohio Route 82, 35 mph to the Cuyahoga-Summit county line, 40 mph to Peninsula, 35 mph in Peninsula to Ohio Route 303, 25 mph to the Peninsula border, 35 mph to just north of the diagonal crossing of the CVSR tracks, and 45 mph to Cuyahoga Falls where the speed limit again dropped to 35 mph.

The speed limit will be dropping on other roads in the CVNP, but Riverview is of special interest to railroad photographers because it is parallel with the CVSR tracks.

I have chased Nickel Plate Road No. 765 and Ohio Central No. 1293 on Riverview Road, but found plenty of other obstacles other than the speed limit to chasing a steam train on the CVSR.

Most notable among them is the traffic light at Riverview and Route 303 where traffic backs up when the chase is on. I’ve missed out on more than one photograph because I got hung up at that signal.

It also can be difficult to catch up with a steam train on the CVSR if you photograph it in Peninsula. The weather is usually nice in September and the town is crowded with tourists.

Finding a parking space is tough and navigating your way out of town after getting your photographs is time-consuming due to traffic. I’ve missed the photo runbys at Boston Mill because it took so long to get out of Peninsula.

Some of the photo locations that I favor require some walking to get in and out. That often means being one and done with that particular trip of the steam train.

The lower speed limits are not going to change my strategy for photographing NKP 765 – or whatever number it operates with this year – if it comes back to the CVSR in September.

I’ll determine my photo locations for the day and travel on Riverside when the train is doing its photo runbys at Boston Mill or sitting in the station where trips begin and end. In short, it requires realistic planning and not being so reactive.

Anyone who has chased a steam train has stories to tell about photographers who drove recklessly to get to their next photo op, putting not only themselves at risk of injury but other photographers and motorists who were not there to chase a train.

I also remember a time when I was standing by the CVSR tracks near the Valley Picnic area.

I thought it odd that there was little traffic on Riverview going the direction of the train.

As the train came into view I could see why. A vehicle with a guy making video was pacing the steam locomotive and traffic was backed up behind him.

It doesn’t matter what the speed limit is when someone is behaving like that.