Posts Tagged ‘Fallen flag railroads’

Railroading as it Once Was: Still Chasing Fate

October 19, 2016


In light that October 17 was the day the Erie Lackawanna was created in 1960, I’ll repost this “Roger’s Reflections” piece.

The Erie Lackawanna Railroad was (and remains) very instrumental in how I got into this hobby back in the early 70s.

Friendly crews and an attractive company image drew me to that railroad right from the first time I started hanging out where the railroads passed through my home town of Akron, Ohio.

Sure, there were other railroads in town, several of which passed right next to the EL lines.

Yes, they were trains and were interesting in their own right. It was the EL that grabbed my attention the most.

With fast mainline trains, frequent cab rides in the yard, and railroaders who took the time to explain the workings of their job to a young fan it’s no wonder I got hooked on the EL.

I would also come to learn that the EL was struggling just to continue operating. A smaller underdog surrounded by larger carriers, the EL kept rolling mostly through the sheer will of its people.

The beginning of the end came in 1976 when the EL was merged into Conrail and ceased to exist as an operating carrier, its motive power and people scattered to the four winds.

In a few short years the tracks through town that once held my undivided attention fell quiet, the sound of steel wheels replaced by the sound of growing weeds. The railroad was gone.

While the EL may be long gone its presence  — its spirit if you will – is often in my thoughts to this day.

It was something that was in my life but then gone all too quick, new found friends and pretty locomotives all disappearing in the blink of times eye. Hard lessons learned at an early age.

Yes, seasons change, and as fall approaches I like to remember how the colors of the EL seemed to fit the fall season just perfectly.

It’s the time of year I miss the EL the most. I paraphrased a song by David Arkenstone called “Slip Away” as a caption to the below above that I’ve titled Missing Diamonds.

The seasons change
and age our temporary souls
I was chasing fate
along its winding road

Your flame burned bright but passed into smoke
And those trains
that passed through my life
now roll down rails of gold

I close my eyes
and drift into a shining memory
but I can’t see your trains
as those rails fade into dreams

Yes, the seasons change . . . and age our temporary souls
And I’m still chasing fate along its winding road.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

A Moment in Time Now Being Savored

March 21, 2014


Back in the spring of 1975 I didn’t think much about taking this quick “snapshot” of the Erie Lackawanna Brier Hill facility in Youngstown.

You could pull up and take a similar photo on any weekend day.

I came across the negative of this photo while digging for some others and thought I’d scan it.

As is often the case, it’s taking the time to look for the details that were included that makes me glad I pointed the camera at this scene on that long ago day.

I was a young fan at the time, more interested in locomotive photos than anything and certainly not going for any details that weren’t on an engine.

Was it by luck that I included the turntable with its associated wires and supports? The control cab with it’s lever and light? The silhouette of that RS-3 in the one bay? Why include the fire hydrant?

Who knows? Too many years have passed to remember that stuff. I’m just glad I took the time to capture this everyday “moment in time” in the waning months of the EL.

The slow decay of so much of Youngstown’s railroad and industrial past didn’t spare Brier Hill.

Although the shop and turntable are still there, only a few disconnected tracks remain and no locomotives visit this place anymore.

A “moment in time” today would bear little resemblance to this moment so many years ago.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee