Posts Tagged ‘Dave McKay Day’

15 Years of McKay Day Memories

May 2, 2020

Marty Surdyk photographs a westbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight during the 2013 Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day in Berea.

More than likely I first met the late David McKay in Berea. I didn’t know him by name then, only as a guy who would show up on Saturday morning with another fellow who needed assistance in moving.

I don’t know if we ever were formally introduced, but in time we got to know each other and would talk between watching trains go by.

He sometimes would talk about a railroad club to which he belonged in Akron and that got me to thinking it might be fun to join that group.

Little did I know at the time that I would one day succeed Dave as president of the Akron Railroad Club.

Dave died in late 2004 after serving as ARRC president for 12 years, which at the time the the longest tenure of anyone to hold the office since the club evolved into the ARRC in the late 1940s.

Since 2005 ARRC has held an annual outing known as Dave McKay Day in Berea. Until the 2019 event it was held on the first Saturday in April.

The weather in Northeast Ohio in early April can be quite varied ranging from from summer-like weather with temperatures in the low 80s to January conditions with heavy snow and cold. Sometimes the weather can change rapidly on a single day.

So in 2019 the club changed McKay Day to early May. This year’s event, though, was called off due to the social distancing restricting imposed by the State of Ohio during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was to have been held today although at least one ARRC member plans to still railfan in Berea in an unofficial celebration of McKay Day.

In looking back at 15 years of McKay Day outings, one constant has been that the two railroads lines that pass through Berea have always been owned by Norfolk Southern and CSX and you could count on seeing a high volume of traffic, long lulls notwithstanding.

You also could count on a variety of traffic although in some years the motive power was a steady progression of NS and CSX units.

For this report I drew on my own memories of McKay days supplemented by the reports published in the ARRC Bulletin.

I chose one photograph for each year to represent that year’s event in some manner while collectively providing an overview of what we saw over the past 15 years.

April 2, 2005

The inaugural McKay Day was less a railfan outing than a celebration of the release of Dave’s book, Trackside Around Cleveland 1965-1979 with Dave McKay.

The book had been printed shortly before Dave’s death on Dec. 27, 2004, the same month he retired as president of the ARRC, a post he had held since 1993.

But Dave never saw a copy of his book, which was published by Morning Sun Books and printed shortly before his death.

The event was held in a restored rail car that is part of the restaurant housed in Berea’s former Big Four passenger station.

The 80 to 100 attendees ate hors d’oeuvres and a cake decorated for the occasion.

Those who had ordered Dave’s book or bought it at the event received a copy with a memorial edition sticker affixed to the first page that contained a facsimile of Dave’s signature.

Some of the proceeds from books sales went toward the expense of the McKay bronze memorial plaque that sits near the tree where Dave used to set up a folding chair on weekends to watch and photograph trains in Berea.

Between four to six inches of snow fell during the inaugural McKay event and I didn’t make any photographs that day so my representative image shows the first day sticker in my copy of Dave’s book.

April 4, 2006

The first McKay Day to be billed as a railfanning event drew 17 participants who saw 66 trains over 12 hours. The rule established that day as to the train count was that so long as someone saw a train in Berea it counted. That rule was later expanded to include trains seen outside of Berea provided the train would pass through the Berea interlocking or had already done so.

It was not a good day for photography. Although the temperature was in the low 50s, the skies were cloudy and there was a brisk wind.

My image for that day shows an eastbound coal train on CSX with Union Pacific motive power. Looking for foreign power would be a pursuit of every McKay Day and in the early 2000s coal trains were still a common sight.

April 7, 2007

It snowed again. Those who braved the winter conditions saw 49 trains in 10 hours. My highlight of that day is Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited passing BE tower in an image I made from the Front Street grade crossing of the NS Chicago Line. No. 48’s appearance surprised us but I was ready for it. It would be the only McKay Day in which Amtrak made an appearance while an ARRC member was present.

April 5, 2008

At last we had good weather with the temperature topping out at 58 degrees. The day began with fog but it eventually burned off. Between 6:45 a.m. and 9:05 p.m. we logged 70 trains.

My image for that year is a crowd standing near the McKay memorial watching an eastbound CSX train pulled by a motive power consist that included two NS units. It wasn’t a common sight then or now in Berea to see motive power of the other railroad on “enemy” tracks.

The report in the Bulletin said 17 ARRC members attended with some bringing friends and family members as can be seen here.

April 4, 2009

It was sunny although quite cool when the day began. By the afternoon it had turned pleasant. There were 18 ARRC members on hand and counting their friends and family members total attendance was 35. These were the halcyon days for the McKay event as far as attendance. Shown is a westbound on NS passing BE tower with a BNSF leader. The NS Cleveland terminal banner on the side of the tower has a photograph made by ARRC members and then NS conductor Roger Durfee. The train log showed 45 trains that day.

April 3, 2010

This was a memorable McKay Day for me because it was only the second time I had been able to get out and photograph railroad operations. In January I had had retina surgery on my left eye and the recovery precluded railfaning for a couple months.

The day began sunny and the high temperature reached the low 80s.

Construction of the Front Street bridges over the NS and CSX tracks was underway and those of us who were there in the morning spent our time on the bridge.

However, in late afternoon a front moved through and the temperatures dropped into the low 60s in short order. It was a busy day on the railroad though and we logged 67 trains.

A highlight of the day was ARRC member and then NS locomotive engineer David Mangold getting called to take train 15N west from Rockport yard.

Seven of us gathered in Olmsted Falls to watch Dave go past as he gave us plenty of horn and bell.

My image for the day shows a westbound CSX tank car train that I made from the Front Street bridge because of how much I enjoyed being able to hang out there.

April 2, 2011

It was another busy day with 71 trains logged over 15 hours. Former ARRC member Tony Dannemiller was at the throttle of an eastbound CSX train that came through during the afternoon. Otherwise there weren’t that many highlights that day.

Even my chosen image of a westbound NS train passing beneath the new signals by BE tower is pretty ho hum. Yet it features the new signals that NS had installed to replaced the venerable Type G signal heads that dated to the New York Central days.

I remember enjoying dinner at a Mexican restaurant that used to operate on Front Street with some of the guys, including Alex Bruchac.

April 7, 2012

The weather was pleasant with sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s. The 16 attendees logged 49 trains, which was probably lower than the previous two years because guys were not arriving as early or staying as late. Few of the trains we saw on this day had foreign power leading. It was my first McKay Day after switching to digital photography and my image for the day was made on the Front Street bridge of an eastbound CSX stack train in good morning light passing the Berea station, which would be the site of many an enjoyable dinner during future McKay Days.

April 6, 2013

It was the first McKay Day after NS created its heritage units fleet. We didn’t see any NS heritage locomotives, but we did meet one of the co-founders of the website Heritageunits.com. He was there with a large video camera. The ARRC Bulletin described the trains we saw as work-a-day CSX and NS because we only saw two sets of foreign power all day.

It was a busy day, though, with 62 trains logged between 8 a.m. and midnight.

In looking at my images there wasn’t much that caught my eye and it didn’t help that the weather alternated between cloudy and sunny.

I chose an image of the conductor of a westbound CSX train watching the assembled railfans.

That evening some of us had dinner at the restaurant in the Berea Big Four station, a tradition that continued for a few more years.

April 5, 2014

It would be the first of three McKays days to feature the NS Wabash heritage unit. This year it was a trailing unit on NS train 15N and it would be the only time that anyone photographed it.

It was the first McKay Day at which I was the first to arrive and among the last to leave. The 15 attendees logged 65 trains between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

The image for this year is a Wheeling & Lake Erie train transitioning from CSX to NS in Berea. In the early years of McKay Day the W&LE train to Campbell Road yard on NS was a regular, but by now sightings of it had become scarce.

April 4, 2015

The good news is that the Wabash H unit made an encore performance. Better yet it was the leader on crude oil train 67W.

The bad news is that it was almost dark when it came through and no one got a photograph. We only saw it while having dinner at The Station restaurant.

We logged 69 trains during the day. The Bulletin report said the record was 74, but in going through the newsletter year by year I was unable to verify what year that was. If anything that number appears to be a case of faulty memory.

It was sunny but chilly and it became windy late in the afternoon.

There was a range of foreign power to see, including units of Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, BNSF, Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern.

I chose one of those trains, an eastbound tanker train on CSX led by BNSF power, as the image for that year’s event.

At one point we could see headlights of three westbound trains at the same time split between NS and CSX.

A Loram railgrinder came through on CSX and we saw 13 trains while having dinner.

April 2, 2016

The day’s highlight was the Dave Mangold show on the NS road channel.

Dave was called to recrew a 16G and take it from the Berea siding, where it was tied down, to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

As soon as Dave got into the cab of the lead unit he reported it lacked operating cab signals.

It would be the first of many lengthy discussions Dave would have with the dispatcher and the NS trouble desk in Atlanta.

Among other things Dave discussed his problems logging into the computer on the second unit, which did have functioning cab signals, and oil seeping out onto the walkway of another unit.

There was also a lot of discussion about how Dave would take cut the motive power away from the train, take it down to the Knob and spin it on the wye there before returning to Berea and tying back onto his train.

All of this started in late afternoon and by the time we left that evening Dave still had not left town.

Only three people showed up, perhaps because of the unpleasant weather which was as varied as any McKay Day.

The morning was sun and clouds conditions but by afternoon intermittent snow showers had moved in followed by partial clearing and then overcast skies.

During dinner with Todd Dillon and Paul Woodring at the Berea station restaurant we saw 10 of the 54 trains that I logged for the day.

There were no heritage units sighted, but we did see the NS GoRail unit.

My image from this day shows a westbound CSX train with a clear signal while up ahead the skies look ominous in a bit of foreshadowing of what was to come.

Another memorable event from the day involved a guy who was not part of our group. He had set up his camera on a tripod next to his vehicle.

As he sat in the vehicle gust of wind blew the tripod over and it landed on the ground camera first, breaking the camera into two pieces. He left shortly after that happened.

April 1, 2017.

Once again the NS Wabash heritage unit showed up and once again no one got a photograph of it.

It was leading NS Train 394 and we knew it was coming but when it got to us it caught us by surprise.

We might have gotten photographs of NS 1070 had we gone to dinner at the Berea station restaurant when we had planned and not tarried to get a photograph of a westbound CSX train.

By the time NS 294 arrived at 6:19 p.m. we were getting up from the dinner table and not everyone even saw it.

Attendance was 12 and we logged 49 trains between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The day was overcast and chilly until the sun broke through about 5:30 p.m.

This was the first McKay Day after E. Hunter Harrison had taken over CSX and implemented the precision scheduled railroading model.

That was the subject of some conversation between a CSX dispatcher and trains crew during the morning.

That same dispatcher also read a pertinent passage over the radio word for word from the CSX rule book regarding inspecting a train carrying hazardous materials after said train went into emergency twice while en route to Collinwood Yard on the Short Line.

Part of the discussion involved whether an eastbound intermodal train on another track could pass the train at restricted speed or even at all.

The dispatcher said he had checked with his boss who in turn had checked with his boss.

The image of that day’s event shows a westbound CSX auto rack train after dinner. Where was that good weather earlier when we needed it.

April 7, 2018

From the perspective of diversity of traffic, this was easily my favorite McKay Day.

During a day that was sunny but cool, we logged more than 40 trains – I didn’t get a firm count – and saw the NS GoRail unit leading the 17N, the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit leading the 65N and a Southern Belle of Kansas City Southern leading CSX Q272.

I also saw the W&LE train and a Pan Am Railways SD40-2 in the motive power consist of NS Train 309.

Any of those would have made a good image for the day, but I chose an image of three NS eastbounds at the west end of the CP194 interlocking plant. They are, left to right, the 16T, 294 and M6G.

Getting the Pennsy H unit was not without some drama. As it approached on the Lake Front line we could see a westbound headlight on CSX.

The PRR H unit and its train beat the CSX train into Berea by just two minutes.

We got hosed from photographing a BNSF warbonnet on an NS train when it was blocked by another NS train coming through Berea as the same time.

The tradition of eating dinner at the Berea station restaurant ended this year, in part because the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts was having its annual banquet on this night at Tony K’s restaurant in Berea.

Before I headed for Tony K’s I saw two former Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus train cars pass through on a westbound NS manifest freight. It was that kind of day where there was much to see.

There were 10 attendees, some of them members of both ARRC and the RRE.

May 4, 2019

Thinking the weather in early May would be more favorable then early April, the ARRC officers moved McKay day to the first Saturday in May.

As it turned out the weather on the first Saturday in April was better than the foggy and overcast conditions of the first Saturday in May.

There were six in attendance and no one stayed beyond mid afternoon. Also ending was the tradition of keeping a train log.

I only made a handful of photographs and spent more time watching than photographing trains.

My image for the day is CSX train Q020 coming out of the fog shortly before 8 a.m.

Summary

As I was compiling information for this report I was reminded of how many ARRC members are now deceased, those who have since left the club and those who attended McKay Day in some years but have since stopped coming.

It used to be standard operating procedure to take a group photograph at the McKay memorial in the afternoon, but we last did that in 2015 and even then there were just four people in the photograph, two of whom were former members.

Although the event is described as way to remember Dave, in truth we seldom talked about him during the the day named for him.

I wonder how many current active ARRC members knew Dave, who conducted his last ARRC meeting in November 2004 and died about a month later.

Looking at my photographs over a 15-year span also reminded me that although the railroads are the same their operations have changed.

There are fewer trains now and both railroads are mingling traffic that used to operate in single-commodity trains.

Some commodities are seen far less often now, coal most notably but even crude oil shipments aren’t what they used to be due to market changes.

It wasn’t just the trains we saw that I remember from McKay days, though. It was the people we met and the conversations and camaraderie that we shared between trains.

McKay Day was typically the ARRC’s first railfan event of the year and it felt good to get out regardless of the weather.

It was not unlike opening day in baseball, a day of optimism that anything this year is possible even if it’s not always likely.

At one time or another McKay Day featured everything on rails you could expect to see in Berea.

Had he been able to join us I’m sure Dave would have enjoyed it.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Coming Saturday: 15 Years of McKay Day Memories

May 1, 2020

This year’s annual Akron Railroad Club David McKay Day in Berea has been wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’re got 15 years of memories to enjoy.

On Saturday the feature post will highlight one photograph from each of the 15 McKay Days along with summaries of what attendees saw that year and other highlights.

The event got its start in April 2005 as a way to celebrate the release of the book Trackside Around Cleveland 1965-1979 with Dave McKay.

The next year the event became an all-day railfan outing.

The weather wasn’t always pleasant but we could also count on a mixture of freight traffic passing through on the busy parallel lines of Norfolk Southern and CSX.

Traditions associated with McKay Day came and went, including the group portrait made in the afternoon by the McKay memorial in Berea.

Had it not been for the pandemic, the 2020 McKay Day would have been Saturday, May 2.

Shown on April 6, 2013, above are (left to right) are Eli Akerib, Dennis Taksar, (unidentifiable), Marty Surdyk, Rick Houk, Craig Sanders, Alex Bruchac, Paul Woodring, Ron McElrath, J. Gary Dillon (seated), Jim Mastromatteo and Richard Thompson.

ARRC Cancels 2020 McKay Day Outing

April 29, 2020

The Akron Railroad Club has canceled its annual Dave McKay Day outing in Berea that had been scheduled for this Saturday. The event was called off due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions.

The annual outing, which began in 2005, is in memory of the late McKay, who served for 12 years as ARRC president until stepping down in December 2004.

ARRC President Todd Dillon that although the outing has been canceled as an official club event, individuals can still railfan in Berea.

He noted the weather forecast for Saturday calls for sunny skies and a high temperature of 65.

Dave No Doubt Approved

April 5, 2019

In my mind’s eye it was just a couple of years ago when I would drive to Berea on Saturday mornings and spot a man sitting in a folding chair beneath a tree watching for trains of Norfolk Southern or CSX.

That man was Dave McKay and when he wasn’t traveling to chase trains elsewhere you often could find him on weekends sitting in that chair in Berea.

Dave died in late December 2004. That’s 14 years ago so it only seems like it was just yesterday.

In 2005, Dave’s many friends in the Cleveland railfanning community arranged to create a memorial to Dave near the spot where he often set up his chair.

The Akron Railroad Club, which Dave served as president of for 12 years, started a tradition of railfanning in Berea on the first Saturday in April in memory of Dave.

Much has changed since Dave’s death, although the ownership of the tracks through Berea is not among those changes.

Dave didn’t live long enough to see the 2012 roll out by Norfolk Southern of its fleet of heritage locomotives but if he had I’m sure he would have made images of all of them rolling through Berea.

Knowing how much Dave used to travel in his younger years he probably photographed all or nearly all of the heritage liveries when they were used by the NS predecessor railroads that they commemorate.

I can’t even guess how many thousands of images that Dave made of Conrail trains at Berea and elsewhere.

On a nice early spring afternoon I ventured to Berea to photograph the NS Conrail heritage unit.

It was the sole motive power pulling train 14N, which was parked in the Berea siding awaiting a new crew.

It had arrived about 9:20 a.m. and didn’t move until 4 p.m. I wasn’t in Berea all that time, but I did spend three hours waiting.

By the time the 14N got moving the lighting conditions were adverse.

Would Dave have made the image anyway? Probably. And so did I.

I walked down to the McKay Memorial and incorporated it into the image that appears above.

The ARRC will conduct its annual Dave McKay Dave this year on May 4. The current leadership decided to move to event to May in hopes of having better weather.

I’ve attended all 14 McKay Days held thus far and I know how the weather can range from feeling like summer to feeling like mid January.

But traditions die hard and tomorrow I plan to be in Berea out of nostalgia. I should be at the “official” McKay Day next month, but going to Berea on the first Saturday of April has become a tradition I’d like to keep while I can.

Ed’s McKay Day Favorites

April 10, 2018

ARRC member Ed Ribinskas attended the recent Dave McKay Day outing for the first time in several years.

Ed used to not be able to come because he was working on Saturdays, but he retired last November and mow has weekends free.

He said he was very happy with his results and in particular was pleased to get a clean Kansas City Southern ‘Belle” as compared to the dirty one he got on a Super Bowl Sunday outing with Marty Surdyk and Craig Sanders.

Ed had seen the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage locomotive No. 8102 pass by as he drove over the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern on Rockside Road in Maple Heights at 9 a.m.

“On my way in I thought I was doomed. However, luck was with me and I was very happy at 10:43 a.m. at Berea” when the NS 8102 led train 65N westbound past Berea Tower.

He sends along a few of his favorites from the McKay Day, one of which he said he made because he wanted to get a nice lash-up with Dave’s memorial in the foreground.

Photographs by Edward Ribinkas

Colorful Day in Berea on ARRC McKay Day

April 9, 2018

At long last Akron Railroad Club members got a Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive leading a train through Berea during the annual Dave McKay Day outing there. The Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit leads a westbound ethanol train late Saturday morning.

The long defunct Pan American World Airways used to have the tagline in its advertisements, “Pan Am makes the going great.”

The word “great” is much overused, yet it could fairly describe the 14th annual Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day in Berea last Saturday.

Among the more than 40 trains that at least one ARRC member observed during the event was an ethanol train with the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage locomotive on the point, another NS train led by the GoRail unit, and a CSX stack train led by a Southern Belle SD70MAC of the Kansas City Southern.

Those who got there early enough to see NS train 309 also saw a rare sighting in Berea of a Pan Am Railways locomotive, Maine Central No. 3403.

The SD40-2 was the third of three units that included Union Pacific ES44AC-H No. 8151.

It was a colorful day with more than the usual allotment of UP, Canadian National and BNSF motive power, including two trains with all BNSF motive power consists.

The day wasn’t perfect. We got hosed big time when NS intermodal train 26E passed by with a former BNSF war bonnet that was blocked from view by NS train 16T. And the weather was sunny, but quite cool.

ARRC President Craig Sanders was the first to arrive. As he rolled in at about 8:10 a.m., westbound intermodal train 23K was heading west on the NS Chicago Line.

At the far west end of the CP 194 interlocking an inbound Wheeling & Lake Erie coke train was waiting on for the 23K to clear before it could proceed off CSX Shortline Subdivision Track No. 1 to get onto NS for the journey down to Campbell Road Yard.

It has been several years since we’ve seen a W&LE train come through Berea during an ARRC McKay Day.

On the heels of the Wheeling train came an eastbound CSX ethanol train led by the day’s lone sighting of CN motive power.

CSX would go into a slumber for the next hour and a half. In the meantime, NS was busy with an eastbound fleet, including two moments when three eastbounds were side-by-side at the west end of CP 194.

Word had filtered in that two westbound NS trains, the 65N and 17N were being led by the Pennsy heritage unit and the GoRail special promotions unit respectively. Ahead of the 65N was crude oil train 67R.

They were hung up, though, by the NS eastbound parade, which had Tracks 1 and 2 tied up.

By late morning the ARRC contingent had swelled to include Vice President Todd Dillon, Ed Ribinskas and Paul Woodring. Dennis Taksar made an appearance before going off to work.

In the meantime, CSX stack train 272 lumbered through with KCS Southern Belle 3915 on the point. It was slowed by the S388 waiting ahead for westbound L163 to clear the single track through the tunnels in Cleveland.

About the time that westbound traffic got going on NS, CSX began running trains and we feared that our view of the PRR unit would be blocked.

It could have happened. As the headlight of NS 8102 bore down on Berea we saw the headlight of a westbound CSX train, the L163. The 65N got to Berea two minutes before the L163 so we were able to get clear images of the Pennsy heritage locomotive.

It is not the first time that a heritage locomotive has come through on McKay day. We saw the Wabash H unit in 2014, but it was trailing.

By early afternoon we had been joined by Rick Houck and Marty Surdyk. Rick had debated whether to come because of the cold.

They arrived in time to see the 17N with the GoRail unit go west.

NS traffic dominated the day. Of the 16 CSX trains we spotted, nine of them came through after 2 p.m. and six of them were clustered in just over an hour’s time between 3:30 p.m. and 4:40 p.m. during which NS was silent. In fact, seven of the last nine trains we logged were on CSX.

Dennis returned to the scene in late afternoon during which time Paul Emch made a short appearance while en route to the annual banquet of the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts that was being held at Tony K’s restaurant in Berea.

Former ARRC member and occasion meeting attendee Alex Buchac also made an appearance as did ex-ARRC member Richard Thompson.

Most ARRC members and former members had departed by the time NS westbound 19A came through just before 6 p.m. with two passenger cars in its consist.

Both were former Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus cars being ferried to new owners.

It was nice not just to see a Southern Belle locomotive of the Kansas City Southern, but a clean one at that. It is leading a very long CSX stack train 272.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie coke train made an early morning appearance.

Like race horses in the starting gate, three NS trains were briefly abreast at the west end of CP 194. Only the 294 in the middle was moving. Watching are the 16T at left and the M6G at right.

The GoRail special interest locomotive is on the point of the 17N.

Eastbound ethanol train K634 was the first CSX train of the day. Once it went by, CSX went into a lull lasting an hour and a half.

A Pan Am Railways SD40-2 made an appearance on NS train 309.

Another look at the colorful and varied motive power consist of NS train 309

Stack train 22K had a brace of BNSF locomotives running elephant style. This train will take the former Nickel Plate Road mainline east of Cleveland.

NS train 20R was one of four consecutive eastbounds that kept a fleet of westbound trains at bay east of CP Max on the Chicago Line.

A young railfan sits on what used to be a signal base to photograph westbound CSX train L135. BNSF motive power was plentiful during the McKay Day outing.

CSX No. 99 has the S388 rolling along through Berea, but not for long. The manifest freight would stop in a few miles to wait for the passage of the L163 through the single-track tunnels in Cleveland.

The Q391 used to be a manifest freight but now it hauls containers.

The rear of the Q166 passes the head end of Q561 by the former Big Four passenger station in Berea.

One of the locomotives pulling eastbound CSX intermodal train Q008 thinks it is an Alco or a steam locomotive as it pours out smoke. The railfan in the distance waving at the train is former ARRC member Richard Thompson.

McKay Day Train List

April 9, 2018

Marty Surdyk prepares to photograph CSX westbound manifest freight Q363 during the Dave McKay Day in Berea on Saturday.

Todd Dillon photographs CSX westbound stack train L163 as Norfolk Southern ethanol train 65N passes in the background. Watching at right are Ed Ribinskas and Paul Woodring.

The photo line is in place to capture an oncoming NS train. They are (left to right) Todd Dillon, Marty Surdyk and Ed Ribinskas.

 [Q 390 along I-480 en route to Berea]

8:10     NS 23K stack (na)

8:16     W&LE coke (7004, 6348, 6350)

8:20     CSX K634 ethanol (CN 5752)

8:34     NS 14K manifest (UP 4232 trailing)

8:35     NS 309 manifest (UP 8151, MEC 3403)

9:26     NS 20R stacks (9971)

9:40     NS 294 stacks (9777)

9:50     NS 16T manifest (2749)

9:53     NS 26E intermodal (na, War bonnet trailing)

10:06   CSX S388 manifest (99)

10:15   NS 205 stacks  (9167)

10:25   CSX 272 stacks (KCS 3915)

10:29   NS 67R crude oil (8028)

10:46   NS 65N ethanol (8102-Pennsylvania)

10:48   CSX L163 stacks (206)

10:55   NS 21G stacks (9884)

10:57   CSX V057 grain (BNSF 8351)

11:07   NS M6G light power (8140)

11:56   NS 21GZ intermodal (9967)

12:01   CSX Q391 stacks (5449)

12:04   NS M6G manifest (8140)

12:35   NS 22K stacks (BNSF 7190)

12:50   NS 206 intermodal (9338)

1:03     NS 24Z stacks (9923)

1:17     NS 24M intermodal (na)

1:30     NS 17N manifest (6963-GoRail)

1:42     NS 18N auto racks (9944)

1:56     CSX L135 crude oil (BNSF 4989)

2:35     CSX Q363 manifest (3242)

2:50     NS 420 coke (9682)

3:14     NS 21Q stacks (7504)

3:16     CSX Q364 manifest (5308)

3:17     NS 20E intermodal (na)

3:26     CSX Q008 intermodal (4509)

3:55     CSX Q166 stacks (UP 5544)

3:58     CSX Q561 manifest (7845)

4:27     CSX Q010 stacks (3049)

4:35     CSX Q389 manifest (145)

4:40     CSX G071 grain (na)

5:03     NS L13 manifest (na)

5:05     CSX K662 ethanol alcohol (UP na)

5:59     NS 19A manifest (na) passenger cars

The lead locomotive number is in parenthesis. Unless indicated otherwise, it is a unit of the railroad operating the train. If (na) that means the lead unit was not recorded.

McKay Day Set for Saturday in Berea

April 5, 2018

The 14th annual Dave McKay Day outing in Berea of the Akron Railroad Club is set for Saturday, April 7.

As always, it begins when the first club member arrives and the last one leaves. Given that the weather forecast for Saturday is for partly cloudy skies with a high of 33 degrees, that might mean the first arrival won’t be too early.

Nonetheless, we’ve had worse weather and, of course, we’ve had better weather, too.

Whatever the case, come out and enjoy a day or a few hours of quality train watching time in honor of our good friend and colleague Dave McKay, who died in late December 2004 after serving as ARRC president between 1993 and 2004.

Since then, the ARRC has set aside the first Saturday in April as a day to honor Dave’s memory at his favorite train watching spot.

Attendees should assemble in the parking lot at the west end of the Berea Depot Restaurant parking lot along Depot Street.

We may try to do a group photo if weather and time permit sometime during the day. Most likely that will be in the early afternoon.

As in past years we can expect to see a lot of trains on Norfolk Southern and CSX although with the latter having switched to the precision scheduled railroading model since our last McKay Day traffic on that railroad may not be what it has been in the past.

Still, we can expect to see on both railroads a several intermodal trains with a fair number of auto rack, manifest and bulk commodities thrown into the mix.

It is common to see foreign power, particularly on CSX, and if we’re lucky we’ll catch the Canadian Pacific run-through trains that use CSX between Chicago and Buffalo complete with CP motive power.

If we’re really lucky, we’ll catch an NS heritage unit leading a train.

Amtrak puts four trains through Berea daily, but they are scheduled between midnight and dawn. The Wheeling & Lake Erie also has a train through Berea, but it tends to operate at night.

In past years those still in Berea in late afternoon have had dinner at the restaurant in the former Big Four passenger station in Berea.

However, word is that the menu there has changed along with the name. Now known as the Berea Depot Bar and Restaurant, it advertises itself as offering upscale pub fare.

That means a more limited number of entrees ranging in price from $15 to $21. There are also a range of sandwiches on the menu, most of which are priced at $11. The menu also includes salads, appetizers and flatbreads.

Some ARRC members are members of the Forest City Division – Railroad Enthusiasts, which is holding its annual banquet in Berea that night at Tony K’s restaurant.

Tickets for that banquet are available at the door for $34 per person. The program that night is being given by Don Wetzel, who will discuss the development of the jet-powered rail diesel car that the New York Central tested in the 1960s west of Toledo.

McKay Day Train Listed Posted

April 8, 2017

The train list for the 13th annual Akron Railroad club Dave McKay Day outing in Berea on April 1, 2017, has been posted. To view the list, click on the link below.

https://akronrrclub.wordpress.com/about/activities/2017-dave-mckay-day/

Wabash H Unit, Citirail Locomotives Highlight 13th ARRC Dave McKay Day Outing in Berea

April 3, 2017

Late day sun illuminates the nose of a westbound CSX auto rack train during the waning hours of the annual Dave McKay Day in Berea.

It took nearly all day and six years but we finally got one. A Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive led a train through Berea during the annual Akron Railroad Club Dave McKay Day outing last Saturday.

NS No. 1070, the SD70ACe that pays tribute to the Wabash Railroad, was on the point of eastbound intermodal train No. 294 through Berea at 6:19 p.m.

We had known since mid-morning that it was coming and it would be a late afternoon train.

ARRC member Todd Dillon, who did not attend the event, sent some timely texts updating us on the progress of the Wabash unit.

So knew that THE WABASH IS COMING! THE WABASH IS COMING!

But when it finally got here it caught those of us still in Berea unprepared and no one got a photograph of it.

It was but one of the highlights of the 13th McKay Day, the all-day outing in Berea on the first Saturday in April to remember the late David McKay, who served as ARRC president between 1993 and 2004.

Twelve ARRC members and guests attended the event, which featured overcast skies and chilly temperatures for most of the day.

The sun finally broke through at 5:27 p.m. With the clouds having moved out, the temperatures at last reached the 50s. If only it had been that nice in the morning.

We recorded 49 movements between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., but that comes with a couple of asterisks.

The ARRC’s newest member, Jack Norris, watched Amtrak 48, the eastbound Lake Shore Limited, pass through Berea on the Berea webcam from his home in New Jersey.

Two of the trains in the tally were ones I spotted while en route to Berea, an eastbound NS loaded coal train at CP Max and an eastbound CSX train that I could see from Interstate 480 that was waiting for permission to go through the tunnels.

That train, Q260, would cause more than its share of headaches for the first trick IG dispatcher because it went into emergency twice before reaching Collinwood Yard.

That resulted in backed-up trains and a lot of discussion over the radio about the proper procedures for inspecting a train that goes into emergency that has a load of hazardous materials.

At one point the dispatcher read on the air word for word the applicable rule from the rule book. During another conversation he said he had checked with his boss who had checked with his boss.

Some of the discussion involved whether the Q123 could pass the Q260 and if so at what speed.

Also figuring into the situation was a maintainer in a track car who was following the Q260 and doing track inspections in its wake.

Early in the day that same dispatcher had told the maintainer in one of many radio conversations they had in which the latter received track warrant authority that he (dispatcher) was going to go to his favorite brewery in Indianapolis once he finished his shift to help it celebrate its first anniversary.

Given the day he had had that beer must have tasted pretty good once he got to the bar.

In another conversation the IG dispatcher revealed that many operational changes are occurring, including the abolition of some symbol freights.

Road freights are now going to handle switching in some places, e.g., 84 Lumber in the Cleveland suburbs, rather than a local.

The road freights are also going to start handling stone trains. If I understood the dispatcher correctly, the number of classification tracks at Avon Yard west of Indianapolis is being reduced.

Such is life these days in E. Hunter Harrison land where the employees must feel that they are the hunted.

At the same time that the first trick IG dispatcher had his hands full, the first trick NS Toledo East dispatcher had a train that left Cleveland with no re-crew available in Toledo.

He advised the crew of gondola train 60S to take it easy coming toward Toledo.

Later, he said he would be putting the 60S into a siding to kill time. The crew probably would have preferred to have gotten to Toledo in due time and then gone off duty. But it didn’t work out that way.

Among the other interesting occurrences throughout the day was an involved maneuver involving the 20R picking up a new locomotive at Rockport Yard to replace a unit that was experiencing mechanical troubles.

NS sent an eastbound Herzog ballast train through Berea in the afternoon that was the subject of a lot of radio traffic.

It was a moderately good day for foreign power with BNSF locomotives showing up on two trains, Canadian National power leading a westbound CSX ethanol train and a lone Union Pacific unit trailing in the motive power consist of an NS train.

But the sighting of the day was a pair of Citirail (CREX) ES44AC units leading CSX train Q384.

As for the Wabash H unit, the plan was for four of us – Craig Sanders, Marty Surdyk, Paul Woodring and Alan Nagy – who planned to have dinner at the Berea Union Depot Taverne to go there at 5 p.m. We figured that the NS 1070 would be coming along after 6, probably closer to 6:30 p.m.

After eating we could get into position to get photographs of the first H unit to lead a train through Berea on a McKay Day.

We’ve seen heritage units on McKay Day in the past, most notably the Wabash H unit in 2014. But it had been trailing.

The plan might have worked had we gotten to the restaurant at exactly 5. But we decided to wait for the westbound CSX Q009, which didn’t arrive until 5:11. Two other NS trains also passed by and we didn’t get to the depot and seated until about 5:20.

As the Wabash unit was leading No. 294 through Berea we had just gotten up to leave. Not everyone in the party saw it.

Had anyone been really ambitious and gotten to Berea in the early hours of McKay Day he would have seen three other heritage units.

The New York Central H unit led NS train 54K through town during the darkness hours. It was reported at Amherst at 9:38 p.m. on Friday night and at Macedonia at 2:13 a.m., so it is unclear when it was in Berea.

Amtrak No. 184, the Phase IV H unit, was trailing in the motive power consist of the westbound Lake Shore Limited at 4:05 a.m.

The Virginia heritage unit must have been a nocturnal visitor leading the 17N. It was reported at Wauseon at 9:48 a.m. on Saturday and the previous report for it had been in Conway late Friday morning.

CSX intermodal train Q009 passes the marker honoring Dave McKay in Berea.

A westbound ethanol train on CSX had a pair of Canadian National locomotives.

Looking like a giant candy cane, the Herzog ballast train slowly makes it way eastward through Berea on Norfolk Southern tracks.