Posts Tagged ‘CVSR’

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.

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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 Service Expands Today

March 4, 2017

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Starting today the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad will expand service to Saturdays and Sundays on weekends. Since mid January the railroad had operated only on Saturdays.

Service will expand to Friday, Saturday and Sunday in May when  service also begins at intermediate stations at the Canal Education Center, Brecksville,  Boston Mill, Indigo Lake, Botzum and Big Bend.

The new schedule has trains departing from Rockside Road station in Independence at 10 a.m. and 1:50 p.m. and arriving at 1:20 p.m. and 5:10 p.m.

Times are Peninsula are 10:45 a.m., 12:35 p.m., 2:40 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Arriving in Akron are at 11:30 a.m. and 3:25 p.m. while departures are at 11:45 a.m. and 3:40 p.m.

 

CVSR Scenic to Resume Service on Saturday

January 19, 2017
A southbound CVSR Scenic train arrives at the station in Brecksville.

A southbound CVSR Scenic train arrives at the station in Brecksville.

The National Park Scenic train of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad will resume operations on Saturday (Jan. 21).

CVSRThe Scenic will operate twice a day on Saturdays through the end of February.

Trains will depart from Rockside Road station in Independence at 9 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. and arrive at 12:30 p.m. and 4:05 p.m.

Depaturers from Peninsula will be at 9:40 a.m.,11:30 a.m., 1:40 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Departures from Akron’s Northside station will be at 10:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. with arrivals at 10:20 a.m. and 2:20 p.m.

A coach ticket is $15 for adults and $10 for children and is good all day.

Tickets to ride in the caboose are $13 for adults and $8 for children. The caboose has just seven seats and outside food and beverages are not permitted aboard.

Caboose passengers will not be able to move from that car to other passenger cars during the duration of their ride.

The caboose ride is a half loop that departs from Peninsula at 9:40 a.m. and returns at 11:30 a.m.

Dome car Silver Bronco and first class car Saint Lucie Sound will not be available until March due to being down for maintenance.

Something Borrowed (And Blue) on the CVSR

July 11, 2016

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The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is leasing Horizon Rail (HZRX) No. 3134 for the time it takes to fix the 8420.

I made an effort to catch the HZRX 3134 on the bike extra on Saturday since it’s time on the CVSR may be short.

Being the north unit I knew the afternoon shot at Boston Mill would be the best light.

Earlier in the day I checked out Big Bend (near MP 43), an area I knew would be in shadows but figured I could do something there.

What was nice was the green marker lights were on and visible in the subdued lighting conditions at FT (the station letters for Big Bend).

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

 

Autumn Color in the Valley

October 14, 2014
The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad's late morning Scenic approaches Brecksville station amid some colorful trees by Chippewa Creek.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s late morning Scenic approaches Brecksville station amid some colorful trees by Chippewa Creek.

October is the most colorful month of the year and I make it a point to get trackside to look for autumn foliage and trains.

Although there was considerable cloudiness last Saturday morning, there were enough peaks of sunshine to prompt me to get out and look for fall color.

What better place to do that than Cuyahoga Valley National Park where the trains run on a schedule?

My pursuit of fall colors began in Brecksville. There was a fair amount of color, but it was far from peak. I would spend part of the day looking for trees with good color.

The trees surrounding the Brecksville Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad station were at or near peak. I had noticed that they had begun to turn in mid September when the Nickel Plate Road No. 765 was pulling excursions.

I was satisfied with the results, yet made a mental note return here later in the month when the trees north of the Route 82 bridge should be at their peak.

I then spent time photographing near Deep Lock Quarry and Indigo Lake. I finished the day in Peninsula. The foliage there is far from peak so I had to try to be creative and work with what foliage had turned.

Again, the results were satisfying and I made another mental note of where I want to return and try again later.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The foliage tends to hit its peak by the Brecksville station in early October.
The foliage tends to hit its peak by the Brecksville station in early October.
I liked what I got of the southbound scenic rounding the bend to come into Brecksville station. In another week or so, these spot will be fantastic as to its color.

I liked what I got of the southbound scenic rounding the bend to come into Brecksville station. In another week or so, these spot will be fantastic as to its color.

The early afternoon southbound Scenic cruises past Deep Lock Quarry.

The early afternoon southbound Scenic cruises past Deep Lock Quarry.

LTEX 1420 is hardly anyone's favorite engine on the CVSR, but it still looks good amid all of those golden leaves near Deep Lock Quarry. This was the best foliage that I found on Saturday.

LTEX 1420 is hardly anyone’s favorite engine on the CVSR, but it still looks good amid all of those golden leaves near Deep Lock Quarry. This was the best foliage that I found on Saturday.

A large crowd boards at Indigo Lake. Many had visited nearby Hale Farm.

A large crowd boards at Indigo Lake. Many had visited nearby Hale Farm.

With the fall foliage season at hand, the CVSR has assigned extra motive power to the Scenic trains. The northbound is shown at Indigo Lake.

With the fall foliage season at hand, the CVSR has assigned extra motive power to the Scenic trains. The northbound is shown at Indigo Lake.

There was enough color to make things interesting in Peninsula. You just had to look for it.

There was enough color to make things interesting in Peninsula. You just had to look for it.

In another week or so the trees surrounding Peninsula will be at their peak color.

In another week or so the trees surrounding Peninsula will be at their peak color.

The Emerson passes the "falls" of the Cuyahoga in Peninsula.

The Emerson passes the “falls” of the Cuyahoga in Peninsula.

Not long after the Scenic departed for Akron, an "extra" showed up. It was probably a feature train such as ales on rails or the grape express.

Not long after the Scenic departed for Akron, an “extra” showed up. It was probably a feature train such as ales on rails or the grape express.

The former Pennsylvania Railroad lounge car that the Nickel Plate Road 765 brought with it has remained behind.

The former Pennsylvania Railroad lounge car that the Nickel Plate Road 765 brought with it has remained behind.

The "extra" sported a caboose on the rear.

The “extra” sported a caboose on the rear.

CVSR Now Operating to Indigo Lake

June 6, 2014

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The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad began operating to Indigo Lake station this week as its summer scheduled went into effect, but Akron remains without service.

Severe thunderstorms in May damaged CVSR tracks near Bath Road, forcing the railroad to suspend operations between Peninsula and Akron.

The National Park Service, which owns the tracks between Rockside Road (Independence) and Akron is making repairs. No date has been announced for when service to Akron will resume.

In the meantime, CVSR is operating Wednesdays through Sundays between Rockside Station  and Indigo Lake.

The modified June schedule includes southbound departures from Rockside Station at 9:30 a.m., 12:25 p.m., and 3:20 p.m., and two northbound departures from Peninsula Depot at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The Bike Aboard! service is available for $3, will also be available between Rockside Station and Indigo Lake Station.  A full-service concession car with snacks and beverages is available to all passengers.

Washouts on CVSR Near Bath Road Illustrated

May 17, 2014

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Much of Northeastern Ohio experienced very heavy downpours earlier this week. Upwards of 4 inches of rain fell in a very short time in some locations with some of the results shown here.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad suffered several sizable washouts and is now out of service on the south end between Peninsula and Akron.

The biggest washout appeared to be near Bath Road where Yellow Creek takes a sharp bend close to the tracks before flowing into the Cuyahoga River.

All photos are from that area unless marked otherwise. I have heard no estimate of how long before the railroad will be reopened. It’s going to take a lot of stone because much of it has been washed away, leaving the tracks suspended in the air.

Although a large mainline carrier might have the manpower and machines to repair something like this quickly, this will be a major job for the CVSR and/or a contractor.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Looking north from Bath Road.

Looking north from Bath Road.

Closer view of undermined track.

Closer view of undermined track.

Same location, other (trail) side.

Same location, other (trail) side.

Switch suspended in air.

Switch suspended in air.

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Yellow Creek off to the left; water had to rise to track level.

Yellow Creek off to the left; water had to rise to track level.

The bike and hike trail was damaged, too

The bike and hike trail was damaged, too

 

Riverview Road suffered washouts, too (two views)

Riverview Road suffered washouts, too (two views)

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A photo of the muddy mess around Yellow Creek.

A photo of the muddy mess around Yellow Creek.

Reward Offered for Info About CVSR Vandals

May 13, 2014
A CVSR train passes Deep Lock Quarry. FPA-4 No. 6771 was vandalized in late April but quickly repaired and returned to service.

A CVSR train passes Deep Lock Quarry. FPA-4 No. 6771 was vandalized in late April but quickly repaired and returned to service.

Summit County Crime Stoppers is offering a $2,000 reward for information that leads to the two arrest of two men suspected of vandalizing a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad locomotive as it sat in Peninsula in late April.

Witnesses say the two attempted to set the locomotive on fire on April 22, but fled on bicycles after being scared off.

The locomotives brake lines were damaged and three headlights smashed, said Mary Pat Doorley of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Doorley said CVSR equipment is usually kept in a more secure place overnight, but on this night, the train was parked in Peninsula because of track repairs.

The engine was able to be quickly put back into service. At the time, CVSR service operated only between Akron and Peninsula.

Summit County Crime Stoppers is offering the reward. To leave anonymous tips, call 330-434-2677 or text “TIPSCO plus the tip” to 274637 (CRIMES).

The CVSR is Back at Full Length

May 11, 2014
The northbound Scenic pauses at Brecksville next to the Cuyahoga River on Saturday afternoon.

The northbound Scenic pauses at Brecksville next to the Cuyahoga River on Saturday afternoon.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad returned to running the full length of its route between Rockside Road and Akron this weekend. For much of the winter, CVSR trains had been terminating and originating at Brecksville due to construction  north of there.

In mid March, operations were further reduced to Akron-Peninsula as additional construction work got underway.

But early Friday afternoon the first train departed Rockside Road station in Independence since December.

For the next month, the CVSR will operate two roundtrips on Saturdays and Sundays between Rockside Road and Akron. It will operate one roundtrip on Friday afternoons.

Coinciding with the resumption of service to Rockside Road, CVSR trains resumed making all stops and resumed the Bike Aboard! program.

Service will expand on June 4 when the CVSR resumes its summer schedule of three Rockside Road-Akron roundtrips five days a week.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

C424 No. 4341 ran long hood forward on Saturday. At least the black LTEX unit wasn't leading.

C424 No. 4341 ran long hood forward on Saturday. At least the black LTEX unit wasn’t leading.

Getting ready to stop at Botzum where a group of Boy Scouts watched the train depart.

Getting ready to stop at Botzum where a group of Boy Scouts watched the train depart.

The heritages of the CVSR passenger car can be seen in this side view at Bath Road.

The heritages of the CVSR passenger car can be seen in this side view at Bath Road.

FPA-4 No. 6771 is bringing up the markers on a nice spring day as the Scenic departs Indigo Lake en route to Akron.

FPA-4 No. 6771 is bringing up the markers on a nice spring day as the Scenic departs Indigo Lake en route to Akron.

Holy smokes! Call the Environmental Protection Agency. The Alco is doing what Alcos do.

Holy smokes! Call the Environmental Protection Agency. The Alco is doing what Alcos do.

A crew member on the fireman's side keeps a watchful eye on the platform at Indigo Lake.

A crew member on the fireman’s side keeps a watchful eye on the platform at Indigo Lake.

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Drop the step box and get ready to load passengers.

Drop the step box and get ready to load passengers.

Load those bikes, these wheels must continue turning.

Load those bikes, these wheels must continue turning.