Posts Tagged ‘Erie Railroad’

Simulating the Work of a Tower Operator

January 31, 2018

Being a volunteer at the former Erie Railroad WC Interlocking Tower Museum in Waldwick, New Jersey, I have keys to the place and can access it whenever I want.

I had a day off so I decided to spend a Monday morning rush hour seeing it from the tower operator’s point of view.

Between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. there were 30 scheduled movements, plus deadheads and a local Norfolk Southern freight for good measure.

These trains either passed through the interlocking on the mainline or were originating/terminating in Waldwick Yard.

Each time I watched the computer-controlled interlocking set up for each train, all I could think of was the poor operator setting up the interlocking for up to 10 trains per hour.

Even though WC interlocking was electrified early, the operator still had to throw the switches and signals individually.

When you experience the conditions first hand it makes you appreciate the workers of the past. Here is some of the variety from this morning, including New Jersey Transit runs push-pull trains with a cab car on the south end.

They are suffering from a cab car shortage right now, the result being that some trains are being led by a locomotive on the south end, making for some rare photo ops.

Being a volunteer at the former Erie Railroad WC Interlocking Tower Museum in Waldwick, New Jersey, I have keys to the place and can access it whenever I want.

I had a day off so I decided to spend a Monday morning rush hour seeing it from the tower operator’s point of view.

Between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. there were 30 scheduled movements, plus deadheads and a local Norfolk Southern freight for good measure.

These trains either passed through the interlocking on the mainline or were originating/terminating in Waldwick Yard.

Each time I watched the computer-controlled interlocking set up for each train, all I could think of was the poor operator setting up the interlocking for up to 10 trains per hour.

Even though WC interlocking was electrified early, the operator still had to throw the switches and signals individually.

When you experience the conditions first hand it makes you appreciate the workers of the past. Here is some of the variety from this morning, including New Jersey Transit runs push-pull trains with a cab car on the south end.

They are suffering from a cab car shortage right now, the result being that some trains are being led by a locomotive on the south end, making for some rare photo ops.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

 

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Life After Conrail

January 25, 2018

It was interesting to see Conrail 4022 (a.k.a. Erie 833) pulling an Amtrak train in the January Akron Railroad Club eBulletin. As I have shared with you, Erie 833 survives in a happy retirement in Port Jervis, New York, usually displayed on the former Erie Turntable.

Photograph by Jack Norris

Straight Down the Tracks

December 14, 2017

The advance signals on the Cleveland District of Norfolk Southern for the location west of Vermilion where the connecting track to the Chicago Line diverges.

There is a group on Flickr titled Tracks Without Trains. I’ve posted there a few times because I like to make photographs of empty tracks.

I like the look of rails going off into infinity, which seems to invite you to travel.

Sure, I’d prefer to be photographing a train here instead, but sometimes the rails are all you get.

The first two images below were made of the former Erie Railroad mainline between Kent and Brady Lake. The piece of track was lying on the former right of way of the Akron, Canton & Youngstown west of New London. The bottom image is the Cleveland District of Norfolk Southern west of Vermilion.

 

More Former Erie Passenger Stations

December 13, 2017

The Park Ridge Station of the Erie Railroad.

In June I did a series on Erie Railroad mainline stations from Hoboken, New Jersey, to Port Jervis, New York. Here are some other stations on some lesser known Erie/Erie Lackawanna branches.

The New Jersey & New York Railroad was leased by the Erie in the 1880’s. The railroad served Bergen County, New Jersey.

Even though the Erie took control of the line, it was still the NJ&NY on paper right through the EL days.

There are some beautiful old stations on the NJ&NY RR. Here are (in order) River Edge, Oradell, and Park Ridge.

Today the line is New Jersey Transit’s Pascack Valley Line and all these stations still serve passengers in their waiting rooms. Ticket machines sell the tickets rather than agents.

Another Erie Line was originally The Northern Railroad of New Jersey.

This railroad started before the Civil War and was bought outright by the Erie about 1940.

The EL ended passenger service on this line in 1966. Today CSX owns the line and only a couple industries are served on the lower end of the line.

This line served some very affluent New Jersey communities and their stations demonstrate that. In order, we have Tenafly Station, now a restaurant, and Demarest Station, which looks more like a church.

The railroad is pretty much dead in these parts, although there is talk about making part of this line a light rail system, which still won’t reach these locations.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

The Tenafly station of the Erie Railroad

The River Edge station of the Erie Railroad

The Demarest Station of the Erie Railroad

The Oradell Station of the Erie Railroad

Some Erie Sights

November 16, 2017

Hunter’s railroad wasn’t being very cooperative. I had set up on the West Main Street bridge in downtown Kent hoping to get a train or two on the CSX New Castle Subdivision.

Westbound intermodal trains Q015 and Q137 have been operating in mid to late afternoon of late. But I got crickets. There wasn’t as much as a peep on the radio.

After about 45 minutes of waiting, I got out and walked around to make photographs of whatever caught my eye, including some Erie Railroad relics.

The most prominent of those is the former passenger station, which has been restored and now houses an Italian restaurant.

Just south of the station is a heavyweight passenger car painted in Erie colors. It apparently is used as a meeting room, although I’ve never seen anyone in it.

There is a signal box by the station that I know I’ve seen dozens of times, but never photographed. Today I saw something there as the late afternoon sunlight cast a warm glow on the rust-covered box. Who knows how many years it has been here and how many trains it has seen?

Finally, I checked out the siding for the Star of the West grain elevator. Just the night before during a program at the Railroad Enthusiasts meeting in Cleveland there was speculation as to what will happen with this property, which closed earlier this year.

The Erie would have served this facility as did the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway. Now the siding sits unused.

At one time, one of the mainline tracks would have been here, but it has been a long time since these rails were a double-track mainline.

3 From the 1960s

November 14, 2017

Here are three local photos that show long-gone pieces of Northeast Ohio history from December 1966 and January 1967.

In the top images are boxcars on the now-removed Pennsylvania Railroad line to Orrville crossing the southbound Baltimore & Ohio tracks at Warwick.

Looking down the string of boxcars, the main road is there, but the railroad crossing cross bucks and the side road aren’t. Also, there is a bridge under Ohio Route 21 in this photo. How quickly the past is removed.

In the middle is Akron, Canton & Youngstown X991 big hook in Akron.

The bottom image shows Erie No. 21576 at the north end of the A&BB yard that served Columbia Chemical and PPG.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Share the Trail With a CSX ET44EH

November 3, 2017

Walkers, joggers and bicyclists are common users of the Portage Hike and Bike trail, but with a little imagination you can pretend that this CSX ET44EH is coming around the curve and continuing down the trail to Kent.

In reality, CSX No. 3343 is going away on Track No. 2 in a light power move.

Note the remains of the foundation of the Erie Railroad roundhouse at the right by the sign that explains some history of the Erie in Kent.

That sign contains a few photographs of the Erie in Kent that were made by the late Robert Redmond, a one-time Akron Railroad Club member.

Reflections on a Reflection

October 28, 2017

Many of my favorite photographs have been created by happenstance. Such was the case with this image of a reflection of the former Erie Railroad passenger station in Kent in a pool of the decorative dam on the Cuyahoga River.

The story behind this image begins with a walk down to the observation platform that can be seen toward the right middle of the image.

My intent was to get a close-up view of the late day sun hitting the station, which is now an Italian restaurant named Treno, which is Italian for train.

The dam used to be functional, but several years ago the river was channeled away from it and into the remnants of the Pennsylvania & Ohio Canal. What had been the river became dry land that was transformed into a park while the dam was renovated to become, in essence, a giant water fountain.

The top of the dam is quite high, about at the level of my eyes. I happened to notice the station reflecting in the pool at the top of the dam and thought it would make a nice photograph.

I made it but all you could see was the reflection in the water. I then lifted my camera above my head and held it over the railing in the foreground.

A Canon 60D has a foldout screen that can be angled up or down. That came in handy in being able to see what the lens was seeing. I then used the live view feature of the camera to make the image.

The result was, perhaps, my best image of the day. What appears to be a reflection from a flash toward the right end of the station is actually the sun reflecting off a window.

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.

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