Posts Tagged ‘Erie Railroad’

Searching for Ghosts of the Erie in Sterling

July 31, 2017

A westbound CSX auto rack train with Union Pacific and BNSF motive power rattles the windows as it passes through Sterling on the New Castle Subdivision.

I can’t help but be reminded of the late Richard Jacobs when I am in or think about Sterling.

It was the last place I saw Jake alive and during the final years of his life he often hung out at Sterling and photographed CSX operations on the New Castle Subdivision.

Jake’s last posting to the Akron Railroad Club blog was about an outing to Sterling in March 2015. He died of cancer the following June.

It was an article written by fellow ARRC officer Marty Surdyk, though, that prompted me to visit Sterling on a Saturday afternoon in early July.

He had written about Sterling in the ARRC Bulletin after he and his brother Robert swung past there earlier this year.

Marty made a few observations about railfanning in Sterling these days, including how it has changed from the old days when RU Tower still guarded the crossing of the Erie Lackawanna (nee Erie) and Baltimore & Ohio mainlines.

The tower is long gone and so is the EL. But Wayne County has converted 6.75 miles of the former Erie right of way between Creston and Rittman into an asphalt hiking and biking trail.

Just off Kauffman Avenue in Sterling is a parking lot for the trail and a former B&O freight house that long-range plans call for converting into a museum.

The trail runs parallel with the CSX line and I wanted to check it out.

So I parked at the station and started walking westward with my camera over my shoulder.

Marty’s article had spoken about there being an opening to photograph trains passing beneath the eastbound home signals for the interlocking.

You have to walk off the trail a short distance, but the view is reasonably open.

CSX crosses Chippewa Creek here and the view from the trail is open, but rather tight.

I walked for about a mile and a half west from Sterling and most of the time a wall of trees obscured the view of the CSX tracks.

There are a few open areas, but only at the grade crossings can you get any significant open space to work with in making photographs.

The first of those is at Eby Road, which has crossing gates protecting the CSX tracks. If you know of a train coming you can stand by the side of the road and have fairly open views.

There are three tracks here one of which is a siding used to store cars although this may be a block swapping location.

Likewise, there are open views at Jordan Road, which is about a half-mile to a mile west.

Here the trail jogs slightly and there are remnants of ballast for the EL tracks. The jog is made to avoid an access road leading to private property.

A short distance west of Jordan Road the trail veers away from the CSX New Castle Sub as it nears Creston.

It is in this vicinity that you can see the Wheeling & Lake Erie’s Brewster Subdivision to the south

I came upon a few other remnants of the Erie during my hike, including a milepost, a whistle post and the concrete foundation of what might have been a signal base. There were also discarded cross ties in various places.

The trail is level and easy to walk. I wished, though, that I had a much smaller and lighter point and shoot digital camera rather than my DSLR.

Marty mentioned various places to eat in Creston. There is also Bradley’s in Sterling and a restaurant in Creston in the former Erie depot in Rittman.

I will have to check out the latter. The last time I saw the ex-Erie depot in Rittman there were still tracks in front of it.

The Akron Barberton Cluster Railway serves a customer in Rittman and operates on the ex-Erie between there and Barberton.

Once you’re done hiking or biking, you can always hang out in the trailhead parking lot in Sterling and wait for trains to come to you on CSX.

One thing hasn’t changed. Traffic on the New Castle Sub remains hit and miss. I spotted four trains in Sterling during my time there, three of them westbounds.

But during the last hour and a half that I was there nothing came past or seemed to be imminent.

If you are out on the trail you might not have much advance warning of an approaching train and will have to hustle to find an opening in the trees to watch and/or photograph it.

Plans are to make into former freight station into a museum.

Joggers and bikers are 225 miles from Salamanca, New York.

Something the railroad left behind when pulling up the tracks.

A remnant of CSX stands outside the former B&O freight station in Sterling.

A trio of silos between a pair of tank cars.

If a CSX train comes as you’re out on the trail you might have to hustle to get to an open area to watch it.

Looking west at Eby Road.

An eastbound manifest freight passes a cut of cars in the siding as it approaches Eby Road.

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Memorial Day Weekend in an ex-Erie Tower

June 3, 2017

On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, I spent my day volunteering in the former Erie Railroad WC interlocking tower in Waldwick, New Jersey.

Four trains an hour go through the interlocking on a Sunday. Two start and end in Waldwick Yard while the others continue to/from Suffern, New York, or Port Jervis, New York.

Waldwick Tower was built by the Erie in 1880 and for about 103 years the operator controlled movements on the four-track Erie main as well as movements into and out of the commuter terminal.

Today, the main goes from three tracks to two in the interlocking  and it is controlled by an operator at a computer in a location where they cannot even see the railroad.

While sitting up there, one can only imagine the operator on a dark and stormy night listening to the telegraph spitting out orders from the dispatcher.

A new addition this year is the beautiful Erie logo, made from colored stones courtesy of a local landscaping company. A day watching trains from a 137-year-old interlocking tower is a great way to spend a holiday.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

More Railroad Stock Certificates

May 8, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some more stock certificates that I think would be of interest to the Akron Railroad Club members.

As for stocks issued after a company “died,” most acquisitions and mergers were actually 999 year leases.

Keeping companies as separate entities on paper had great tax and union benefits. Once keeping separate railroads got more expensive than the benefits is when railroads actually consolidated.

That is why Chessie, for example, had locomotives and other equipment with Baltimore & Ohio, Chesapeake & Ohio and Western Maryland sub lettering.

On paper, Chessie System was still three separate railroads. I am showing an old (1930s) and newer Erie certificate for comparison of how certificates were “modernized” over the years. Some that showed steam were remade with diesels.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

An Original Van Sweringens’ ‘Bible’

April 21, 2017

Once upon a time two brothers named Van Sweringen controlled the Erie, Chesapeake & Ohio, Nickel Plate Road and Pere Marquette.

They wanted to standardize things on their railroads so they set up a committee to come up with specific standards on everything from mixing concrete to cloth rubber lined fire hoses. You name it, they standardized it.

My girlfriend was in a junk shop near her home in Suffern, New York, and found this book, which is the “bible” of the Van Sweringens’ standards.

There can’t be too many of these 80-year-old books around. There probably weren’t many too many to begin with.

As you can see from the bottom right hand corner of the cover, this copy was used by the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad, which during this time period was controlled by the Erie.

I think it is neat that each standard is signed off by officials of all the railroads involved. I think you have to agree it is a neat gift for a railroad historian.

Article and photographs by Jack Norris

Ex-Erie Station in Fair Lawn Being Renovated

April 18, 2017

The former Erie Railroad station in the Radburn section of Fair Lawn, New Jersey, is closing for four months for some badly needed TLC.

It is getting a new roof, ceiling and interior renovations. The station was built by the Erie in 1929 and replaced a small wood building.

The station sees about 1,500 commuters a day and is one of only a couple of former Erie stations that still has an agent, albeit only for morning rush hour Monday through Friday.

The station is styled in the Dutch style that matched many of Fair Lawn’s early homes.

Since the station is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places the appearance of the depot will not change.

The only significant change to the station was the addition of a platform canopy in the early 2000s. Compare the 1950s postcard view with the picture taken at the same angle in 2012.

The Radburn-Fair Lawn station has a special meaning for me; It is where I became a railfan.

In the ‘60s, when I was old enough to start wandering around town on my own I would go to the station every day after school and watch the trains roll by.

The Erie Lackawanna’s commuter trains were hauled by RS-3s and geeps. The train to Port Jervis was hauled by an E8.

In the early 1970s the commuter trains were replaced with brand new U34CH diesels and push-pull train sets.

The E’s would last on the Port Jervis runs a few more years. In those days the station still had a full-time agent who was there until 4 p.m.

I had many pleasant conversations with the gentleman. There was also a full-time section gang that had an office in the station, including a a kind old Italian gentlemen who would always talk to a young railfan.

My daily railfanning would end at 6:15 p.m. when the train pulled in and brought my father home from his job in New York City.

We would get in the car and drive home to become a complete family once again.

At 9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 14, the agent closed up the office and New Jersey Transit started removing the office equipment.

On Monday the station’s cozy waiting room fell silent. In about four months the refurbished building should be reopened and the waiting room and agent will be welcoming travelers once again.

I can’t wait to walk through her doors once again.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

A contemporary view of Radburn station.

Historic post card view of Radburn station.

When Pennsy Had a Yard in Akron

April 7, 2017

Perhaps you will have the same feeling of disbelief as I had when I looked at these two Mike Ondecker images.

Where was this heavily industrialized area? I didn’t know, but the sign on one of the factories matched a company in Cleveland, so I labeled this as Cleveland.

Much to my surprise, several railfans said this was Akron!

It was only upon close observation that I realized this was taken from a Firestone building.

On the left where a stone company now is located was once the Pennsylvania Railroad yard in Akron.

The building on the left is part of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. Erie No. 517 is most likely bringing a cut of cars back to the Erie Lackawanna McCoy Street Yard.

This Akron of the early 1960s is totally unlike today’s railroad/industrial scene, but thanks to Mike these memories come alive again.

Article by Robert Farkas, Photographs by Mike Ondecker

 

Steel Construction Begins on New NS Bridge

March 22, 2017

In a progress report Norfolk Southern said that steel construction has begun on the main arch span of the Portageville Rail Bridge that crosses the Genesee River in Letchworth State Park in Portageville, New York.

Replacement of the 152-year-old iconic structure that has long captivated railroad photographers began in 2015 and thus far has focused on building the foundations and approach piers.

Work also has been done in blasting the gorge walls.

In a news release, the engineering firm Modjeski and Masters described the project as one of the largest to be undertaken by NS.

The bridge is located on the Southern Tier Line of the former Erie Railroad between Buffalo and Binghamton, New York.

NS has said that the 820-foot steel viaduct no longer is adequate for heavy freight traffic.

“The existing railroad bridge has defined the viewshed of the gorge and waterfalls since 1875,” said project manager Kevin Johns. “The erection of the first steel members of the new arch bridge marks the start of what will be the new viewshed for at least the next 100 years.”

EL Business Car Arrives at Pa. Short Line Railroad

March 11, 2017

Genesee Valley Transportation Company will use a former Erie Lackawanna business car that was sold last month.

EL No. 2 recently arrived in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Built by Pullman for the Central Railroad of New Jersey, the car later was sold to the Erie Railroad.

It has been privately owned by a series of owners since 1975.

One of those owners had it rebuilt to meet Amtrak standards for private cars and renamed it Phoebe Snow.

Most recently, No. 2 has been at the North Shore Railroad in Northumberland, Pennsylvania.

Genesee Valley operates four short line railroads in Pennsylvania and New York, including Delaware-Lackawanna, Depew Lancaster & Western, Falls Road, and Mohawk Adirondack & Northern.

Despite Massive Snow NJT Still Ran On Time

February 10, 2017

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A severe snow storm hit New Jersey on Thursday. Since I live within walking distance of the old Erie/Erie Lackawanna Bergen County Line I wandered down to the station at the height of the storm to see the action. All the trains I saw (except for one) were on time to the minute. Our station is seeing its 88th winter, still doing its job sheltering passengers from the weather. The trains keep rolling on the old Erie, moving passengers just like they have for over a century.

Photographs by Jack Norris

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Looking for Reminders of the Erie in NJ

February 4, 2017

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I recently took a train ride over the former Erie Railroad to Port Jervis, New York. At one time Port Jervis had 12,000 residents, about half of them employed by the Erie.

Today, Port Jervis is a run-down town trying to survive by reinventing itself as a go-to destination. There are plenty of relics of the Erie to be seen there.

At the west end of Campbell Hall Yard, 22 miles east of Port Jervis, sits a typical Erie concrete phone booth.

In Port Jervis itself, restored Erie E8A No. 833 and a short line railroad’s RS-3 bring the Erie back to life.

The 115-foot turntable once handled the Erie’s largest steam locomotives.

The base of a huge water tower remains at the east end of a snow-covered wasteland that was once a 10-track coach yard.

The old Port Jervis station now serves as a commercial office building. Trains of Metro-North Railroad pass by on their way to a replacement Metro-North station about a half mile to the west. In the old engine servicing area, the old sanding towers remain where Berkshires and 2-10-2s once roamed.

The old Erie signals are getting replaced between Suffern, New York, and Port Jervis.

Those at Port Jervis, however, should still be around for a while. An underpass that at one time had 15 tracks passing above it proudly proclaims its former owner.

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