Posts Tagged ‘excursion trains’

Museum Seeks to Build Rail Line for Excursions

November 6, 2020

A railroad museum in New York State wants to construct 1.3 miles of track to reach a regional railroad so that it can operate excursion trains to Buffalo.

The Salamanca Rail Museum wants to connect with the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad in East Salamanca.

The project would cost $3 million and involve laying track on an abandoned right of way that traverses land owned by the Seneca Nation.

Museum officials told the Salamanca Common Council that the Seneca Nation might be involved in operating a shuttle bus service to bring passengers to the museum.

The officials also said they are seeking funding for the project.

NY&LE Resumes Excursion Trains

October 14, 2020

A western New York short line railroad has announced that it will resume tourist train excursions.

The New York & Lake Erie Railroad will run its first passenger excursions this Saturday, offering two trips celebrating the railroad’s 42nd anniversary.

Excursions had been suspended thus far this year due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Also planned for the fall and winter are fall foliage, Halloween, Harvest Fest, and Santa Express trains.

The Class III short line is based in Gowanda, New York, near Buffalo.

2021 Dates Set for W.Va. Excursion Train

August 19, 2020

The sponsors of the New River train in West Virginia have announced that its 2021 dates of operation.

The Autumn Colors Express between Huntington and Hinton has been canceled for this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rail Excursion Management Company said the 2021 trips will operate Oct. 21-24.

The trains will made an intermediate stop in Charleston.

W.Va. Fall Excursion Train Canceled

July 22, 2020

The New River excursion train in West Virginia has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now known as the Autumn Colors Express, the train had been scheduled to operate over the CSX New River Subdivision between Huntington and Hinton, West Virginia, on Oct. 22-25.

Operator Railexco said that pandemic rules announced by Gov. Jim Justice led to the cancellation.

The same rules also prompted the scrapping of the annual railroad festival in Hinton held at the same time as the excursion.

Railexco said it will seek to operate the train in 2021 between Oct. 21 and 24.

R&N Cancels F unit Excursions

July 15, 2020

The Reading & Northern has canceled two excursions that were to feature its new F unit locomotives.

The excursions, both of which were near sell outs, had been set to run on Aug. 1 and Sept. 5.

Each was to feature a photo runby and have onboard food service.

In an announcement posted to its Facebook page, the railroad cited health and safety reasons for canceling the excursions, noting that the number of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania have been trending up in recent days.

The announcement also cited unspecified “additional mandates/recommendations.”

Calling the decision to cancel “uneasy,” the railroad said its management concluded there was no room for social distancing aboard passenger cars, making photographs in lines during the photo runbys, and serving food aboard the train.

R&N acquired the F units, an F9A No. 270 and F7B No. 275, in November 2019 from Norfolk Southern, which used them for several years to pull its executive trains.

The Pennsylvania regional railroad also owns two former Bessemer & Lake Erie F7 locomotives.

NS had acquired four F units in 2006 to use to pull its executive trains starting in 2007. It decided last year to sell them through an auction.

Steam Sunday: Good Times on the RBM&N

July 5, 2020

It’s a pleasant early summer day in Leetonia, Pennsylvania, as Reading Blue Mountain & Northern 4-6-2 No. 425 puts on a show on June 25, 1988.

The photographer was with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Paul Woodring on this day and reports, “those were good trips.”

The Pacific type locomotive was built in 1938 by Baldwin Locomotive Works.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Remembering the Kent Heritage Festival Trains

July 3, 2020

As the Kent Freedom Festival train boards passengers on the former Erie Railroad tracks above, a westbound CSX train passes on the former Baltimore & Ohio below.

Independence Day brings to mind thoughts of fireworks, picnics and, once upon a time, train rides in Kent.

In the early 2000s short trains rides over former Erie Railroad were a fixture of the annual Heritage Festival held during a weekend close to July 4.

I don’t know when the festival train rides began but I was on hand for five of them between 2003 and 2010.

In 2009 the festival was on the 4th because it fell on a Saturday.

My hazy memory is that I also was there in 2011 when the Heritage Festival excursions ran for the last time, but I couldn’t find any photographs that I made. So maybe my memory is faulty.,

The consist of the excursions usually was two open-window Nickel Plate Road coaches and a caboose, all of it owned by the Midwest Railway Preservation Society of Cleveland.

The motive power typically was Akron Barberton Cluster Railway SW1500 No. 1502.

In 2003 the trains were pulled by Wheeling & Lake GP35 No. 200 in observance of the Ohio Bicentennial that year.

Until 2010, the trains boarded just north of Main Street and ran eastward to a point between Lake Rockwell and Ravenna roads.

In 2010 the route changed to going west a short distance on the ex-Erie and taking the connection to the W&LE Cleveland Subdivision. They went south to Sunnybrook Road.

The boarding location with the route change became the former Erie passenger station.

The trains were popular and always seem to have a good crowd onboard.

They were ideal for “daisy pickers” with the ride being not too long, not too short and not too expensive.

You could walk up, buy a ticket and climb aboard. The festival drew a crowd of thousands so selling tickets wasn’t a problem.

I rode in 2003 and 2010, both times in a coach. Caboose tickets usually sold out right away.

The W&LE ended the excursions by saying track conditions raised safety concerns.

There may have been some truth in that, but I suspect there were other reasons behind the cancellation of the excursions.

The W&LE did allow excursions to operate to Kent from Glenwillow during the 2013 and 2014 festivals.

I never got out to photograph either of those excursions, which used locomotives of the Cleveland Commercial Railroad.

I don’t know why I missed them but now I wished I hadn’t because the Wheeling would later prohibit all excursion train operations on its rails.

I’d probably become complacent about excursion trains on the Wheeling because there were be so many of them.

They would always be there because they always had been.

I created just over 100 slides of the trains I saw, chased and rode. Many of those images are just so-so and I found that I duplicated a lot of the photo angles.

This raises the question of how much photo documentation does any one photographer need of a given rail operation.

Railroads have changed their thinking about public relations and are less likely now to send rolling stock or a locomotive to a community festival for display or to allow short train rides.

Their public relations work is primarily conducted through social media.

The Kent Heritage Festival excursion trains were like so many other things in life. You don’t always appreciate what you have until it’s gone.

Nonetheless, I appreciate what I was able to get when the opportunity was there. I could have done more, but having done something is better than not having done anything or being unable to do anything at all, which is situation today.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Akron Barberton Cluster Railway SW1500 No. 1502 was usually the motive power for the Kent Heritage Festival trains.

The caboose was always a popular place to ride.

Agawa Canyon Train Canceled for 2020

June 12, 2020

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train will not operate in 2020.

The operator announced this week that it was canceling this year’s season “in the interest of public health and safety.”

A notice posted on its website indicated that the cancellation “is in line with existing restrictions at both the provincial and federal levels.”

The train provide a 114-mile excursion from Sault Ste. Marie

However, work is continuing on building a new station in Sault Ste. Marie, funded partly with $5 million from the province of Ontario.

There was Much to Anticipate in April 1987

June 5, 2020

The restore Pennsylvania Railroad K4 steam locomotive chugs along at Milesburg, Pennsylvania, north of Bellfonte on the ex-PRR Bald Eagle branch in central Pennsylvania.

April of 1987 was looking to be a very exciting month. There would be inaugural steam locomotive trips featuring Pennsylvania Railroad 4-6-2 No. 1361 and Norfolk & Western 2-6-6-4 No. 1218.

Pennsy 1361 would make its debut at Altoona, Pennsylvania, and N&W 1218 would be ssteaming out of Roanoke, Virginia.

We chose to chase the 1361 because we knew the 1218 would be up in our area later that summer.

No. 1361 ran on Conrail (the former PRR mainline) from Altoona to Tyrone then up the Nittany & Bald Eagle, a former Pennsy branch, to Bellefonte on April 12, 1987.

The day was complete rain, fog and gloom; however, that did not hinder the first time seeing the K4 live since her days just recently on display at Horseshoe Curve.

I was with the Surdyks on this day along with hundreds if not thousands witnessing this historic restoration having come to fruition.

On April 26, 1987, there was a joint Akron Railroad Club/Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts photo special on the New York & Lake Erie out of Gowanda, New York.

This excursion on former Erie Railroad tracks was set up with the president of the NY&LE, Bob Dingman.

We were fortunate to have the locomotive and a coach used in the filming of the movie Planes Trains and Automobiles with Steve Martin and John Candy.

You may notice the railroad name Contrack is a takeoff of Conrail and Amtrak.

In the movie Candy plans Del Griffith, a shower curtain ring salesman who winds up traveling  with Martin , who plays marketing executive Neal Page, by train and automobile, after their flight from New York to Chicago is diverted to Wichita, Kansas, during a blizzard.

The NY&LE was also noted for the railroad scenes in The Natural with Robert Redford. Former Grant Trunk Western 2-8-2 No. 4070 was brought from Cleveland to the NY&LE for the early scenes in the movie.

Finally on May16, 1987, Louisville & Nashville 4-6-2 No. 152 was leased by Norfolk Southern for several trips as part of its steam program.

The trip I photographed was ran from L&N 152 from Lexington to Stearns, Kentucky. N&W 611 would then return the train to Lexington.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

No. 1361 passes a Conrail helper set on the Pittsburgh Line at Pinecroft, which is east of Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Doyle McCormick sits in the engineer’s seat of No. 1361 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

ARRC and RRE members ride in a a gondola during their excursion on the New York & Lake Erie. That is the late J. Gary Dillon standing on the porch of the caboose while Marty Surdyk stands at far right wearing a red and white hat.

The excursionists pose at South Dayton, New York, on the Contrack locomotive used in the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Louisville & Nashville 152 at Danville, Kentucky.

L&N 152 is putting on a show at Moreland, Kentucky.

Norfolk & Western 611 pulls the excursion train over the Cumberland River at Burnside, Kentucky.

Highlighting 1982: Circle Trip in the Rockies

April 26, 2020

My only photos that I found from 1981 were a few so-so images of Chesapeake & Ohio No. 614 when it ran from Columbus, Ohio, to Russell, Kentucky. That trip and everything else from that year were regular movies.

So here are my favorites of 1982 which all are a circle trip with the National Railway Historical Society Convention in Colorado.

From top to bottom the photographs show the Rio Grande Zephyr in Gore Canyon on July 10.

On the Durango & Silverton on July 11 are K28 Mikado No. 473 departing and K36 Mikado No. 481’s train soon to be boarded at Durango on July 11; and K 28 Mikado No. 473 picking up an order at a McDonalds.

Shown on the Cumbres & Totec Scenic is K36 Mikado No. 487 during a lunch stop at Osier on July 13,1982; and a brakeman atop passenger-carrying converted boxcars at Cumbres Pass.

The series wraps up with Union Pacific 8444 (844) at Denver Union Station preparing for trip to LaSalle, Colorado, on July 15.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas