Posts Tagged ‘Erie Railroad’

EL Monday: Excursion on the Ex-Erie Mainline

September 19, 2022

Akron & Barberton Belt SW1500 Nos. 1501 and 1502 are leading an excursion train on the former Erie Railroad and later Erie Lackawanna mainline east of Rittman on Nov. 16, 1984. These became Akron Barberton Cluster Railway Nos. 1501 and 1502.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

EL Monday: Still Wearing Erie Markings

July 11, 2022

More than a decade after the merger of the Erie Railroad and the Delaware, Lackwanna & Western that created the Erie Lackawanna, Erie Alco S2 switcher No. 520 is still wearing its original livery. It is shown working in Akron on May 14, 1974. The switcher continued to wear Erie colors until the coming of Conrail in 1976. The switcher was built in June 1949.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

One Early January Day at Brady Lake

January 20, 2022

It was a typical Northeast Ohio early January day in 2012, the kind that features clouds and sun that at times is more sun than clouds and then a few minutes later more clouds than sun.

Such days can make photography tricky and yet rewarding at the same time due to low sun angles that creates warm light all day when you can get sun breaking through around the clouds.

I ventured down to Towner’s Woods Park in Brady Lake, one of my favorite hang out spots because you can park next to the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern.

It’s not the greatest location to photograph NS operations due to the tracks lying in a cut and the trees on both side providing obstructions.

But in the winter when the leaves are off you can get some decent if not good images.

The former Erie Railroad mainline that once extended between Chicago and New York also borders the park, but being a Sunday I knew there would be no rail traffic on that line.

The ex-Erie tracks here are now owned by Portage County and used by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway, which only operates on this segment of the ex-Erie on weekdays and even then it doesn’t always go to Ravenna and thus past Brady Lake.

A snow storm had swept through a few days earlier but by now most of the snow had melted. There remained some accumulation in areas that spend most of the day in shade or had seen heavier accumulations.

I photographed a few NS trains and at one point ventured into Kent where I captured an eastbound empty CSX hopper train as I stood on the West Main Street Bridge.

But most of my photographic endeavors on this day were devoted to railroad infrastructure images in winter.

Winter is a good time to photograph Brady Lake Tower, seen in the top image above.

I say that because during much of the year leaves block a clear view of the tower from the railroad side.

You can get all the unobstructed views you want from three sides of the tower from within Towner’s Woods Park, but if you want to create a view of the tower as passing railroaders saw it you have to wait until winter.

Even then you still have to contend with tree trunks creating “noise” in your photographs.

The tower was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1928 to control a set of crossovers and the flying junction here with the Lake Erie & Pittsburgh.

The latter extended from Brady Lake to Marcy in Cleveland. It was 50-50 owned by the PRR and the New York Central but used by the latter to move freight between Cleveland and Youngstown.

East of Brady Lake the NYC used the PRR to Ravenna and then the Baltimore & Ohio to Youngstown.

The former LE&P was mostly taken out of service not long after the creation of Penn Central.

As for Brady Lake Tower, it was taken out of service on May 14, 1966, but the interlocking plant remained intact with the tower was used as an emergency block station through 1969 and possibly sometime into 1970.

Because it is located on park land its future is assured.

The ex-Erie tracks also got much of my attention. There used to be a double track mainline here but one of the tracks was lifted in the Conrail era when this line was downgraded to become the Freedom Secondary.

I thought on this day as I have thought often while walking the Portage Hike and Bike trail about what it must have been like in the late 1960s or early 1970s when Erie Lackawanna freight trains with their colorful locomotives lumbered through here.

Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and enjoy that.

But the trail is built on former Erie right of way and didn’t exist during the EL years.

The second of the four images is looking railroad eastward to a curve after the Erie tracks crossed over the Pennsy on a plate girder bridge that can be partly seen at right.

About where the tracks curve is the site of the original Cleveland & Pittsburgh right of way, which built the line between its namesake cities and today is the NS Cleveland Line.

However, in the early 20th Century the Pennsy rebuilt the line to eliminate grade crossings and shifted the tracks slightly to the south.

The Erie used the now vacated C&P right of way between Brady Lake and Ravenna.

What got my attention in this scene is the lone pole that once supported the Erie code lines that still stands but without any wires. And note the lone tree to the left that still has its leaves, albeit rust colored.

The third and fourth images are looking railroad westbound toward Kent on the other side of Ravenna Road.

There is still some snow accumulation in a shady spot. Perhaps the snow was deeper here because it had drifted. That grade crossing up ahead is Lake Rockwell Road.

I was struck by the pattern the melting snow made on the tracks, still clinging to the ties but gone on the ballast.

Most of the infrastructure that once supported the Erie and later the EL is gone.

I’ve seen a few photographs of what it used to look like here, including an image made by the late Robert Redmond of a steam train passing a semaphore signal near Ravenna Road. I’ve found the concrete base for that signal.

In my mind at least, the EL sent some ghost trains past as I walked along the adjacent trail. That and seeing the occasional photograph made during Erie or EL days is as close as I’ll ever come to experiencing what it must have been like here in days past.

Article by Craig Sanders

Another View

October 14, 2021

This image or a similar one may have been posted on this site some time back. An Erie switcher sits west of the Main Street bridge over the tracks in Akron in the late 1960s. This was taken from the long-ago removed walk bridge west of the road bridge. This image is a higher quality redo of this photograph.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

EL Monday: Double Dip of Switcher 507

October 4, 2021

These two photos of the Alco S2 switcher No. 507 were taken only a few years apart. In the top image, No. 507 is shown in Akron 1967 or 1968 still wearing its Erie markings. The bottom image shows the unit in Marion on July 29 1972.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Ex-Erie Alco Switcher Gets Heritage Treatment

August 14, 2021

New York short line railroad New York & Lake Erie has applied a new livery to its Alco S1 No. 308.

The new look combines elements of the Erie Railroad and Erie Lackawanna liveries.

The 75-year-old unit was built for the Erie in November 1946. It received the new livery as part of a rebuilding process.

No. 308 has been returned to revenue service at Gowanda, New York, and will operate on former Erie trackage along with former VIA Rail Canada FPA4 locomotives.

3 Things Gone from the Akron Railroad Scene

July 22, 2021

I don’t know if Richard Antibus plans to show images similar to those above during his slide show to the Akron Railroad Club on Friday night. But he might.

Shown are three things that are not longer part of the Akron Railroad scene. All of them existed 20 years ago, but have fallen within the past decade or so.

In the top image is Erie Railroad herald that once adorned the freight house on Exchange Street in downtown Akron. The Erie became the Erie Lackawanna in 1960 and passed out of existence in 1976.

But the freight house, which was built in 1916, continued to stand and proudly show its heritage. One of the last uses of the freight house was to receive shipments of news print for the Akron Beacon Journal.

But things have changed and the freight house was razed in May 2013 to make way for a $20 million rental housing used by University of Akron students and known as The Depot.

In the middle is the former yard office for the Baltimore & Ohio. Located along Arlington Avenue, it served yards of both B&O lines in Akron.

The yard for the former Valley Railway is gone, but CSX still maintains a rather small portion of the former Hill Yard. But there is no yardmaster assigned there anymore and crews no longer report for duty here.

In this views, made on April 30, 2006, the rear of an eastbound CSX train is passing on the nearby New Castle Subdivision. This photograph was made the same day as the image of the Erie herald on the freight station. It’s a good thing I made these images when I did.

The former B&O yard office was destroyed by a suspicious fire Oct. 1, 2013. Akron firefighters said a door of the building, which by then had been vacant and board up for several years, had been forced open, leading them to specualte it might have been arson.

In the bottom photograph is the boarding platform for the Akron Amtrak station. Constructed in 1990, the platform is located where boarding platforms once existed for Akron Union Depot to serve passenger trains of the B&O and Pennsylvania railroads.

This image was made early on the morning of Sept. 9, 1995. Later that day Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Broadway Limited would begin its final trips. Amtrak Nos. 40 and 41 has begun serving Akron Nov. 11, 1990, after being rerouted away from the former PRR mainline between Chicago and Pittsburgh via Canton.

Amtrak service to Akron resumed Aug. 10, 1998, when the Chicago-New York Three Rivers began stopping here.

The Three Rivers was discontinued west of Pittsburgh on March 7, 2005. The boarding platforms were removed in early 2012 during a CSX project to revamp the New Castle Sub so that it could accomodate double-stacked container trains.

That work also led to the removal of the last umbrella shed and platform still standing at former Akron Union Depot site.

Article and Photograhs by Craig Sanders

Alco S2s Around Every Corner

July 14, 2021

Marty Surdyk and I had a few more adventures before and after our ride and lunch stop last Sunday as we ventured to Titusville, Pennsylvania, to ride the Oil Creek & Titusville.

On a siding in Titusville were two Alco S2’s. For many years No. 75 was the passenger power for the OC&T.

Back in the 1980s we rode behind and photographed it on the New York & Lake Erie out of Gowanda, New York. It was formerly South Buffalo Railroad. No. 85 was used by the OC&T as standby power.

Erie  S2 No. 518 was donated to the French Creek Valley Railroad Historical Society by the Ashtabula,  Carson & Jefferson.

Prior to being on the AC&J roster it was owned by the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company for use at its Ashtabula facility.

Before that it was used by Erie Lackawanna and the Erie. It is now on display in Meadville, Pennsylvania.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

More Than Likely the Rails Will Become a Trail

February 22, 2021

It doesn’t have to be an either or situation although it probably will wind up being that.

For several years, the former Akron Branch of Pennsylvania Railroad between Hudson and Cuyahoga Falls via Stow and Silver Lake has been fallow, its rails rusting away and the right of way overgrown with weeds and brush.

Now there are competing plans for use of that right of way.

A company called Hudson & Southern Railway wants to revive rail service on the line.

But a group known as Trail Advocates of Summit County instead wants to see it transformed into a hike and bike trail.

In addressing the Hudson City Council late last year, the trail group, which also goes by the name TASCForce, made it clear it adamantly opposed allowing the trail line to be reactivated.

Among other things the group said trains are noisy, dangerous and interfere with traffic.

Trying to sound like populists, the group said a multipurpose trail would be a “higher and better” use of the right of way even though it was built as a railroad.

Allowing the right of way to revert to rail operations would allow “a very few railroad employees and some unpopular businesses entities to benefit,” the trail advocates said.

Some of the rhetoric that TASCForce has espoused is political posturing and yet it also reflects how upper middle class homeowners typically think about railroads.

A railroad is fine so long as it operates somewhere else. It is classic NIMBY thinking.

Lest you think that TASCForce members have a special dislike of trains, they also took aim at “heavy industries that require rail service,” which it called inappropriate for a suburban setting.

H&S has talked about providing service to a bulk transfer station but TASCForce dismisses this as unsuitable for “the office/warehouse/light manufacturing business parks that people expect to find in a residential area.”

Not only does TASCForce dislike the idea of trains in the neighborhood it doesn’t like heavy trucks, either.

Nor does TASCForce like the idea of the rail line being used for rail car storage as H&S has suggested.

TASCForce said suburban homeowners don’t want rail cars sitting in their backyards for months at a time.

What TASCForce is seeking to do is to pressure Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority, which owns much of the rail line, into renouncing the proposal to revive rail service and to instead seek authority from the Federal Transit Administration to allow immediate construction of the hike and bike trail.

Presumably, TASCForce would be opposed to any plan in which there would be a rail line and a trail.

It can be done and has been done in the Akron region. There is a trail alongside an unused former Erie Railroad line in Talmadage.

The Portage Hike and Bike Trail shares space with an active former Erie Rail line between Kent and Brady Lake that has rail service provided by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway.

The Portage trail is instructive because it is an example of what could be possible with the Hudson-Cuyahoga Falls line.

Rail traffic on the Kent-Brady Lake line is minimal, typically only operating on weekdays.

The situation with the Hudson-Cuyahoga Falls line is complicated. Akron Metro bought the rail line several years ago for potential commuter train use.

That prospect is unlikely to happen which is why the rail line has been inactive all this time.

Although the rail line has been abandoned, it has been railbanked meaning it is being preserved for potential future rail use.

The transit agency apparently has considered ideas in the past about reviving the line for rail use with the H&S proposal the latest proposal.

At one point a dinner train company proposed using the line but it never materialized. At the time, there was fierce opposition to that idea in Silver Lake.

Using the Hudson-Cuyahoga Falls rail line for anything other than rail service would require Akron Metro to get FTA approval.

Valerie Shea, director of planning and strategic development for Akron Metro, told a local newspaper the agency is planning to seek the FTA’s concurrence to use the rail line land and its surrounding right-of-way as a trail.

Trail advocates want to speed up that process and kill the H&S proposal ASAP.

Whether the backers of the H&S would be able to launch freight rail service is uncertain, something TASCForce has noted when it told the Hudson City Council the success of H&S is “far from certain.”

On this point TASForce showed its cards when it said allowing rail service could potentially delay for several years the development of trail on the right of way.

Some Hudson City Council members have spoken in favor of the rail to trail process.

Councilman Skylar Sutton said he wants to “keep a focus on rail-to-trail conversion.”

The city of Stow has won approval for $700,000 in funding to develop a trail.

It is not difficult to see why trail advocates covet converting inactive or lightly used rail line into trails.

They offer a liner piece of land well suited for a trail. You don’t have to mess with the expensive, sometimes difficult, and time-consuming process of land acquisition.

Not every homeowner along an inactive rail line is necessarily onboard with the idea of converting the property into a trail.

Some of those homeowners dislike having a trail in their backyard and have spoken against the idea of passing hikers, joggers and bikers being able to look into their homes.

But hiking and biking trails have become a sort of status symbol for upper middle class suburbs with affluent and well-educated homeowners who are politically connected and know how to manipulate government and regulatory processes.

For that reason alone I’d bet that more likely than not, the land hosting what was Akron’s first rail line is going to wind up being a trail rather than an active railroad.

Conrail in Akron

November 19, 2020

An eastbound Conrail manifest freight passes through downtown Akron in June 1987. It is passing what used to be tracks leading to the Erie Railroad’s McCoy Street Yard as well as the Erie mainline tracks. Conrail had a hand in eliminating the former Erie’s presence in Akron by abandoning most Erie trackage west of the city.

Photograph by Robert Farkas