Posts Tagged ‘CVSR stations’

Akron Buys Land for CVSR Merriman Valley Station

December 10, 2019

The Akron City Council recently agreed to acquire land along Merriman Road as a step toward creating a new station in the city’s Merriman Valley commercial district for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

The council agreed to spend $200,000 from federal Community Block Grant funds to buy the property at 1762 Merriman Road from Gary Malick.

The site is a vacant parcel located north of the Dollar General store and south of the McDonald’s restaurant.

A CVSR station serving the Merriman Valley commercial district has been in the planning stages for several years.

It would not be the first time that the CVSR has served the district.

After the Federal Railroad Administration in late 1989 condemned a bridge over Howard Street in downtown Akron as unsafe, trains of the former Cuyahoga Valley Line terminated in the Merriman Valley between 1990 and Aug. 1, 1993.

Aside from Akron Northside Station downtown, CVSR trains also stop in Akron at Big Bend station for bicyclists in the Sand Run Metropark at 1337 Merriman Road.

The Merriman Valley stop would be similar to the one in Peninsula whereby all passengers and not just bikers can board or disembark.

City officials are hoping that the Merriman Valley station will create more foot traffic for businesses there.

That, in turn, could encourage more businesses to locate there, thereby creating jobs, generating tax dollars and increasing property values.

James Hardy, Akron’s deputy mayor for integrated development, said the city hopes to have the station open by 2023.

He doesn’t expect construction to begin next year, though, because the city still needs to work with the railroad and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to get funding for construction and design work.

“This will take some time,” Hardy said.

Tying Back to Where it Began

October 9, 2019

A tram has just delivered passengers to the Indigo Lake station of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad after a visit to Hale Farm and Village in August 2019. In the railroad’s early years you rode an old school bus from Bath Road.

I was reading an article in the Akron Beacon Journal online about recent changes on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad when I found toward the end an interesting and poignant observation from one of its founders.

Siegfried Buerling was the director of Hale Farm and Village in the early 1970s when the CVSR, initially called the Cuyahoga Valley Line, was created.

Buerling was among a small group that sought to start an excursion train on a Baltimore & Ohio branch line that ran between Cleveland and Akron through the Cuyahoga Valley.

It took about a decade, but they saw their idea come to fruition in June 1975 when the first CVL trip run left Cleveland behind former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-2 light Mikado No. 4070.

Buerling mused in an interview with the ABJ that everyone said getting the excursion service out of the station couldn’t be done.

“There were very tough years in the early days,” he said. “Everyone thought I was crazy.”

He’s right about that. During the first five years of the CVL fares covered only half of the operating expenses. Grants and donations made up the difference.

The 1980 season was almost canceled. It was saved when the City of Akron, the developer of Quaker Square and some other local governments in Summit and Cuyahoga counties agreed to contribute funding.

There were the lost years of 1886 and 1987 when no trains ran because CSX had abandoned most of the track used by the CVL.

In stepped the National Park Service to buy the track. Federal funding would play a key role in the development of the CVSR but would also lead to the transformation of the railroad’s basic purpose.

The ABJ article observed that in its early years the CVL offered a simple ride through the countryside with a side trip to Hale Farm.

The CVL had been created to transport passengers from Cleveland to Hale Farm. Then it began allowing passengers to stay onboard to Akron where the steam locomotive was turned.

It wasn’t long after that before buses began meeting the train to take passengers to Quaker Square and other Akron cultural attractions.

But once the Park Service began to develop the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, renamed Cuyahoga Valley National Park in 2000, the role of the CVSR changed to serving the park.

Foundations, corporate gifts and multiple revenue streams now ensure the financial viability of the railroad.

The CVSR is in the midst of a $5 million capital campaign that has raised money to expand the fleet, which includes three dome cars and two observation cars.

Operating nearly year-round, the CVSR offers a wide range of theme trains in a wide of fares.

For $115 per person you can ride in the dome section and enjoy a gourmet meal.

For $15 you can ride in a coach seat the length of the 25-mile line and back with a stopover in Peninsula if you’d like.

For $5 you and your bicycle can travel one way within the park. And there are programs designed to appeal to families and children, and others tied to particular seasons. You can even sample wine and beer.

It seems unlikely that these services were on the minds of those who created the CVL in the middle 1970s. Keep in mind the park itself was created at the same time as the CVL so it has developed on a parallel track with the railroad.

I thought about these things the last time I was trackside on the CVSR at Indigo Lake waiting for the National Park Scenic to arrive.

Up came a tram with a handful of passengers who had been to Hale Farm and were returning to catch the train.

Taking the train to Hale Farm is just one of many experiences the CVSR offers whereas it was once the reason for the train to operate.

As I watched the Scenic arrive in the station, my mind wandered back to that ABJ article and another comment made by Buerling.

“I never envisioned we would be doing something like this,” Buerling said. “This is a dream come true.”

It probably was inevitable that the CVL would morph into something that at times resembles corporate entertainment designed to squeeze every dollar possible from its assets.

A simple ride through the countryside would at some point no longer be enough to keep people coming back.

Yet if a simple ride is all you’re seeking you can still find it on the CVSR.

Train Time at Northside Station

October 20, 2018

Few Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad passengers probably know that the site of the Akron station once hosted a Baltimore & Ohio passenger station.

The original depot was created by the Valley Railway in the 19th century.

B&O passenger trains using what are today’s CVSR tracks continued to stop at the station at Ridge and North Howard streets until B&O passenger service on the line ended in January 1962.

The station was razed a few years later, but when the Cuyahoga Valley Line began serving Akron in the late 1970s, the station site again saw passengers, albeit without a station. The current CVSR Northside station opened in 2001.

Shown is FPA-4 No. 6777 on the north end of a steam excursion pulled by Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.

It is moving east of the station to get out of the way of the National Park Scenic.

Stand Here, Kids

April 14, 2018

A father instructs his two young children to stand on a step box at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad station in Peninsula so that he can photograph them next to the train. By the looks of things, the boy isn’t quite sure that he likes this idea.

The CVSR National Park Scenic is operating twice a day on Saturday and Sundays throughout April. The schedule will expand next month.

Akron Station Parking Lot to be Paved

April 14, 2018

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has received has received a $50,000 grant from the State of Ohio that will be used to pave the parking lot at the station in Akron this summer.

All of the gravel parking area under the Y bridges are expected to be paved over with asphalt in an effort to eliminate the high ridge on which many vehicles bottom out on when entering or exiting the gravel lot.

The work has not yet been scheduled, but is expected to be done before late September when Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 765 is expected to pull excursions on the CVSR.

Train Time at Rockside Road

February 10, 2018

The National Park Scenic departs from Rockside Road station in Independence.

The Rockside Road station in Independence is the northernmost outpost on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

National Park Service ownership of the tracks ends shortly north of the Rockside Road bridge.

In theory, Rockside Road is the closest station to my home. But I seldom photograph the CVSR there because it is not much of a photogenic place and I can’t as easily set out to chase trains from there as I can from other locations on the CVSR.

Last September, though, I ventured to Rockside Road to board a steam excursion train pulled by Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765. Before the steam train left, the first National Park Scenic of the day arrived in the station on a deadhead move, boarded passengers and left for Akron.

The Scenic ferry move from Fitzwater Yard arrives at Rockside Road.

Boarding bikers and their bicycles as a car passes overhead on Rockside Road.

Passengers look for their car to board.

A CVSR trainman walks to his post.

Winter Afternoon in Peninsula

January 30, 2018

It had been a while since I’d been able to get out with my camera. Car troubles and other matters had kept me at home as winter fell on Northeast Ohio in early January.

More than a week into the month, I finally got everything squared away and was able to get out of the house to go do some winter photography.

I had plans to go watch a college basketball game in Akron on a Tuesday night so I left the house early and stopped by Peninsula to see what I might find.

I knew better than to expect to catch a train on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. That operation was on hiatus until later in the month. But you can still do a lot without a train.

Several years ago I photographed the Peninsula train station during winter when it had icicles hanging on it. That was not the case on this day because the sun had melted them.

A step box on the platform had accumulated some snow and the platform area had footprints made by visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Snow no longer covered the rails, but in the late day sunlight the ties on the siding were barely visible as the snow had that sunken look.

At the far north end of town sat a baggage car that had been used as a prop when the Polar Express trains were operating before Christmas. Beneath that car was bare ground.

There weren’t many people around on this day. It was still cold and winter is not a time of year when many people want to visit the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.


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.

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.

Autumn Day Out With the CVSR

November 29, 2016
The National Park Scenic depart Peninsula amid peak fall colors in early November.

The National Park Scenic departs from Peninsula station amid peak fall colors in early November.

Autumn is probably the favorite season of the year for the managers of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroads.

It’s trains are stuffed full of leaf peepers wanting to get a look at the autumn foliage along the 25-mile route between Akron and Independence.

And just as soon as the foliage season is done the Polar Express season begins. The trains featuring the children’s Christmas tale account for 20 percent of the CVSR’s annual ridership.

Is it any wonder that the railroad looks forward to the end of the year?

I, took, look forward to autumn on the CVSR, but for a different reason. Some of my best images of that railroad have been made in October and early November.

And between runs of the National Park Scenic, there is autumn glory to photograph in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders


Peninsula as already been decked out to become the North Pole for the Polar Express trains.


The first of three images of the southbound Scenic coming through an S curve north of Brecksville station.



Horizon Rail No. 8420 leads the National Park Scenic at Brecksville.

Horizon Rail No. 8420 leads the National Park Scenic at Brecksville.

Passing the leaf-covered path to the Brecksville station.

Passing the leaf-covered path to the Brecksville station.

CVSR 1822 is framed by an arch of the Ohio Route 82 bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley.

CVSR 1822 is framed by an arch of the Ohio Route 82 bridge over the Cuyahoga Valley.

FPA No. 6771 leads the last Ales on Rails train of the year through Brecksville.

FPA-4 No. 6771 leads the last Ales on Rails train of the year through Brecksville.

The Baltimore & Ohio tribute FPA-4 No. 800 brings up the rear of the Ales on Rails train at Brecksville.

The Baltimore & Ohio tribute FPA-4 No. 800 brings up the rear of the Ales on Rails train at Brecksville.