Posts Tagged ‘Illinois Central locomotives’

Last Year of IC Varnish

February 13, 2018

I was going through some glassine envelopes of negatives and found this. Illinois Central No. 4035 is in Centralia, Illinois, in August 1970. The Train name/number are unknown to me.

John Woodworth, Mike Ondecker, and I were in Centralia to photograph IC passenger trains. I never guessed that in less than a year there would no longer be IC passenger trains.

Photograph by Robert Farkas


January Treat in Conneaut

January 23, 2018

A southbound taconite pellets train slowly makes it way out of Conneaut. The view is from the U.S. 20 bridge over the valley of Conneaut Creek.

I’ve photographed the former Bessemer & Lake Erie in Conneaut in every season except winter. Now I can cross that off my to do list.

On a cold but mostly sunny mid-January day, fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and I trekked to Conneaut with little time to spare to catch a southbound Canadian National train finishing its work in the yard and heading out of town.

I was driving and Peter was monitoring my scanner as we neared Conneaut on Interstate 90. He reported hearing a lot of chatter on the B&LE radio frequency.

That was good news because it meant the crew was either disassembling or assembling its train.

It turned out to be the latter. As we arrived at the CN grade crossing on Old Main Street, the train was coming out of the yard in its final move before stopping to wait for the conductor.

Peter jumped out and bolted for the bridge over Conneaut Creek, having in mind getting an image of the train along the ice-covered river.

I wanted to get that, too, but couldn’t get into position as fast as he could because I had to park and then gather up my camera.

I also wasted time getting an image from the west side of the tracks of the train coming out of the yard. By the time I got onto the bridge, the lead unit was past the open area and obscured by brush.

I was hoping that the crew had more work to do that would require a back-up move and I’d have a second chance at the shot I had missed.

But they were done with working in the yard. We made some images of the train sitting there and the engineer got out to fix something on the third unit as we waited to see what was next.

Down Main Street came a CN block truck and it was time to get into position for our next series of images.

Those would come from atop the U.S. 20 bridge and we got into position there just as the train began moving.

The ditch lights of the lead unit were already flashing as we scrambled into position. Days of snow plowing had left heavy snow on the bridge’s sidewalks. Even with boots on, walking through that snow and slush was like walking through heavy sand.

This vantage point yielded my favorite image of the series. Illinois Central SD70 No. 1038 is about to pass into the shadow of the bridge as the train slowly ambles into the horseshoe-shaped curve it goes around leaving town while grinding upgrade.

Although I didn’t recognize it at the time, my second favorite image was made from the other side of the bridge. It is not often that a going-away shot captures my imagination as this one did.

I’ve photographed trains from this vantage point before, but not during winter. The snow makes the bare trees and hillsides come alive in a way they don’t during the other seasons.

There is a sense of the train going somewhere as it motors its way through a river valley, even if it is a modest one.

The remainder of my images are pleasant winter photographs. IC black contrasts well with that white snow. Of course, so does CN red and, no doubt, would Bessemer orange.

This was my second favorite image of the CN train leaving Conneaut.

I missed the along the river image I wanted to get because I stopped to make this image. Maybe there will be another opportunity later this winter to get the one that got away.

I See the IC

December 19, 2017

One of my primary motivations for going to Conneaut to railfan is the hope of catching a Canadian National train on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie. Of course, my objective in doing that is getting the former Illinois Central SD70 locomotives that have been assigned to the route since March 2015.

Since the IC units have been assigned to the ex-B&LE, every train I’ve spotted on the line has had IC motive power.

The IC units are not always leading. Much of the time, the motive power consist includes at least one engine painted in CN colors and markings.

On a rare occasion, there has been a unit still wearing its B&LE colors and markings. I’ve also seen pure IC motive power consists.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, I was sitting by the Main Street crossing monitoring the rail traffic on Norfolk Southern.

Then the gates started coming down on the B&LE tracks at the Main Street crossing. The incoming train had CN 5422 leading and IC 1034 and IC 1018 trailing.

That was good news. It would mean IC power would be leading when the train came out of the yard heading south.

Last September, the last time I caught a B&LE train, there had been a CN unit leading southbound.

I didn’t chase this train out of town. I photographed it from the east bank of Conneaut Creek, from the Main Street crossing, and from the U.S. 20 bridge. That was enough for this day.

Reflections in Conneaut

December 5, 2017

Illinois Central SD70 No. 1018 and its running mates are reflected in the relatively calm water of Conneaut Creek.

One of the challenges of railroad photography is finding new ways to portray something you’ve already captured a dozen or more times.

Even then it might not be that you are doing something new as much as putting a new twist on something you’ve done before.

I ended up doing that during a visit last Sunday to Conneaut. My objective in going there was the same as it always is: Capture all three railroads that come into town.

But I also wanted to do something I hadn’t done in awhile. I recently showed some images of Norfolk Southern trains crossing the trestle that I had made in November 2005.

During that outing, fellow Akron Railroad Club member Ed Ribinskas and I had stood fairly close to the trestle carrying the former Nickel Plate Road tracks over Conneaut Creek.

I’ve been to Conneaut dozens of times since then, but seldom have I stood near the trestle. All other times I photographed from a distance with a telephoto lens.

I did that this past Sunday, too, but for the passage of eastbound NS intermodal train No. 206 I got close to the trestle.

The lighting conditions last Sunday were similar to what we had had during that 2005 outing. Both were sunny days with low sun angles that produced a warm feeling.

I created an image of the NS motive power crossing the bridge that was similar to the work that I did in 2005.

But after photographing the NS motive power, I noticed that the train was being reflected in the relatively calm water of Conneaut Creek.

I had to step back to fit the train and its reflection into the frame. The results are shown below.

I also created some reflection images when the Canadian National taconite pellets train came out of the yard later that day on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie. Those results can be see above and below.

The reflections are not as pronounced as they were with NS 206 and its containers and trailers, yet still pleasing.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve used Conneaut Creek as a mirror. It was the first time I’ve done it since the ex-ICRR locomotives showed up in 2015 and it was the first time I’ve focused on reflection photography from the NS trestle in this manner.


Bright Red on a Line Known for Orange

November 9, 2017

Putting together the train alongside Conneaut Creek.

I go to Conneaut these days to see the former Illinois Central SD70s that have been assigned to the ex-Bessemer & Lake Erie property since early 2015.

Despite being owned by Canadian National, the ex-B&LE hasn’t seen all that much CN red and black in recent years.

On a recent visit to Conneaut, the CN job to Conneaut came into town in early afternoon with B&LE 867 on the lead. Then came two IC SD70s followed by a CN SD60.

The CN unit, No. 5422, did sport a bright red nose. That came courtesy of a rebuild in Centralia, Illinois, in a former IC shop in 2012.

I guess if the train I’m going to chase must wear CN red, I’d prefer that it be bright red.

I didn’t chase it all that far. By the time the CN train was ready to leave Conneaut it was getting to be late afternoon.

I would catch it in Albion and Conneautville, Pennsylvania, before breaking off the chase and heading home.

Splitting the signals in Albion, Pennsylvania.

A last look at CN 5422 as it saunters through Conneautville, Pennsylvania.


Still Some Bessemer Orange to be Found

November 6, 2017

Since early 2015, Bessemer & Lake Erie motive power has been scarce on the former B&LE. Owner Canadian National sent a fleet of former Illinois Central SD70s to the property that extends between Conneaut and the northern Pittsburgh suburbs.

I was sitting in Conneaut waiting for Norfolk Southern traffic when a car came up and a guy about 12 years old got out with his cameras and started walking briskly toward the tracks.

His mother explained that there was a train with an orange engine coming.

I knew what that meant. A few minutes later I heard horns to the south. A train would be arriving on the B&LE in Conneaut soon.

It turned out to have a dog’s breakfast of motive power, B&LE 867, IC 1018, IC 1034 and CN 5422.

For whatever reason, this same motive power set would leave town minus the B&LE 867. Maybe it was being ferried to Conneaut for yard duty.

Easy Catch in Conneaut

May 4, 2017

I had a hankering to see some Illinois Central motive power so, naturally, I went to Conneaut to find it.

It didn’t take long. I had parked opposite of the former New York Central passenger station along the CSX Erie West Subdivision.

I turned on my scanner and the first radio transmission I heard was a Canadian National crew making switching moves in the yard of the former Bessemer & Lake Erie.

So off I went to the Main Street crossing to wait. Within 15 to 20 minutes IC SD70 No. 1034 and two other IC sister units pulled down by the Norfolk Southern trestle.

It would be the easiest catch of the day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Neither Flipping nor Flopping in Bellevue

April 28, 2017

Of course the highlight of the day, or any day for that matter, for me is catching an Illinois Central unit. It is leading train W08 on the Toledo District into the mini plant.

OK, so what did my trip to Bellevue in early April have in common with Marty Surdyk’s venture there last winter that he wrote about this week in the Akron Railroad Club Bulletin and the ARRC blog?

Actually, very little. The soles on both of my shoes stayed firmed in place and I did not do any flipping or flopping while waiting for trains. I’m still laughing about that story.

I didn’t get any NS heritage units as Marty did in catching the Lehigh Valley H unit on northbound train No. 174.

But I did chase No. 194 southward (railroad eastbound) and my catch of the day was a former Illinois Central SD70 leading a train into town on the Toledo District.

I posted a photograph earlier of the IC unit along with a few other highlights of my day, so here are a few more images from my day in Belleveue, which also involved a chase down the Sandusky District.

The first train that I saw was a monster Wheeling & Lake Erie manifest freight sitting outside of town.

A railfan who goes by the screen name of Camcorder Sam on, said that the W&LE didn’t come into Bellevue on Saturday so the Sunday train was extra long.

I would get it creeping around the Brewster Connection at Center Street.

If it wasn’t such a great day for heritage locomotives, it was a good day for western foreign power. Two trains had Union Pacific power sets leading them. BNSF power led the 44G, a grain train that came in on the Fostoria District and west south on the Sandusky District.

The crew putting together the 12V had the mini plant tied up for a good half-hour to 45 minutes, causing three trains to have to sit and wait before they could leave town or come into town.

The dispatcher used a term to describe this that I’ve never heard before. It sound like “shopping” but it could have been “chopping.” Whatever work it was had an “op” sound to it.

The crew of L14 toured the mini plant as they spun their motive power set because the original lead unit had some type of issue.

ARRC members will be going to Bellevue in June for our annual longest day outing and Bellevue will be the subject of the cover story in the June ARRC eBulletin.

Just remember to wear a good pair of shoes that day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Union Pacific No. 4012 leads train into town as another one leaves town. They are passing at Southwest Street.

A trio of UP units leads a train out of town.

The W&LE always seems to have to wait before it gets into the NS yard in Bellevue. An inbound train is shown on the Brewster Connection.

It’s all about steel wheels on steel rails. Shown are the wheels of a car on the W&LE train.

The L14 maneuvers around the Mad River Connection in the background as seen between two auto rack cars on an inbound train coming off the Fostoria District.

After spinning its power the L14 finally got underway. It is passing the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum on the Mad River Connection.

As the 12V was being assembled and had the mini plant tied up, it operated as symbol L07.

Train 194 had to wait for the 12V to finish its assembly work before it could leave town. The 12V picked up a Mansfield Crew near Flat Rock and the 194 went around and out ahead of it. The 194 is leaving Bellevue with a CSX unit tucked behind lead locomotive 2661.

The 194 had to wait for a CSX intermodal train at Attica Junction before it could resume its journey. It is shown on the south edge of Siam (Attica Junction)

The 12V saunters through Attica in a view made from the cemetery along the tracks.

Tank cars bring up the rear of NS train 188 as it crosses the Fort Wayne Line at Colson in Bucyrus. The 44G was waiting for it to clear.


Sunday Surprise (and Prize) in Bellevue

April 10, 2017

Illinois Central No. 1028 leads the W08 off the Toledo District of Norfolk Southern in Bellevue and into the mini plant.

I knew I wanted to go to Bellevue this past weekend. The question was whether it would be Saturday or Sunday.

The original plan was to go on Saturday. But as Friday night approached I began having second thoughts. I had work to do at home over the weekend and the banquet of the Railroad Enthusiasts to attend on Saturday night.

The weather forecast for Sunday called for temperatures in the 70s and mostly sunny skies. It would be warmer than it was going to be on Saturday. And I’d have more time if I went on Sunday because I wouldn’t have to leave as early to attend an evening event.

So I went with Sunday. Of course Saturday would be the day that two Norfolk Southern heritage locomotives — the Interstate and the Norfolk Southern units — passed through Bellevue.

I would learn that four Ferromex locomotives also made an appearance in Bellevue on Saturday. So there would have been much to see had I gone out there on Saturday.

I had time to think about what I had missed on Saturday during my first hour in Bellevue on Sunday, which wasn’t too bad. Traffic was steady and a couple of trains were led by Union Pacific motive power, not that that is all that unusual of a sight in Northern Ohio.

I mentioned to the railfan who gave me the “what I missed on Saturday report” that I was hoping to something great today.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait long for that.

About 10:30 a.m., the railfan was looking through his binoculars and said an inbound train on the Toledo District had what looked like an Illinois Central unit in the lead.

What! An Illinois Central locomotive on an NS train in Bellevue? That seemed to good to be true.

There aren’t that many ICRR units left and they hardly ever show up in Northern Ohio, let alone leading a train.

But it was true. IC SD70 No. 1028 was on the point with a Canadian National unit trailing of the W08 making its way into Moorman Yard.

For what it’s worth, I never did see any NS heritage units on this day. I did see a Wheeling & Lake Erie train come into town and into the yard on the Brewster connection. The railfan who gave me the Saturday report said the Wheeling didn’t come in on Saturday.

If you know me, though, then you know how Sunday was the better day for me to have been in Bellevue.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Seeking New, Old Photography Locations While Chasing on the Former Bessemer & Lake Erie

July 9, 2016
Illinois Central SD70 No. 1018 leads a train out of the yard in Conneaut.

Illinois Central SD70 No. 1018 leads a train out of the yard in Conneaut.

Conneaut was quiet, very quiet. We had been sitting next to the former Bessemer & Lake Erie tracks for more than an hour and had heard nothing on the radio and seen nothing on the rails.

Nothing was going on with CSX. Nothing was going on with Norfolk Southern. And, of course, CN was quiet, too.

Finally, a CSX train called a signal on the radio. OK, let’s head to the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot where we might see a train.

But the best we saw was the middle of a CSX intermodal train as we were driving to the tracks.

Our stay near the depot turned out to be brief and that wasn’t a bad thing.

The B&LE radio channel had come alive so back we went to the Main Street crossing and the B&LE tracks.

Soon, the radio transmissions became more frequent and it was clear that a crew was putting a train together.

When the train finally came out of the yard the head end went all the way down to the crossing.

On the point was a trio of Illinois Central SD70s, Nos. 1018, 1034 and 1038. The Canadian National train had IC motive power as it traveled former Bessemer & Lake Erie tracks.

One of my objectives for the subsequent chase was to photograph in some new places.

So, we drove to the crossing at Welton Road, which is not exactly a new place for me.

I’ve photographed inbound trains here, including as recently as last fall when I got an IC SD70 leading a train past some nice autumn foliage.

But only once have I photographed a train leaving town and crossing the bridge over Conneaut Creek.

That was in June 2006 when Ed Ribinskas and I waited an interminably long time to catch a train that didn’t depart until late afternoon. It is still the latest I’ve ever seen a train leave Conneaut on the B&LE.

The screaming of the IC SD70s alerted us that the train was coming. Trains leaving Conneaut on the B&LE face a tough grade and go around a horseshoe curve.

We had to wait for the train to clear the Welton Road crossing before we could dash off to Pond Road. But the train beat us there by less than a minute.

Adam turned his car around and we set out for Albion. The train was already going over U.S. Route 6N shortly after we left West Springfield, Pennsylvania.

I had an idea for a photo location in Albion that I’d never tried, but it didn’t work out.

We found, though, a grassy area alongside John Williams Avenue at the south end of the B&LE yard. It worked out just fine.

We had to wait for the train at the East Main Street crossing in downtown Albion so I got a grab shot out the window of the lead unit passing a sign for a restaurant touting its “country cooking.”

I wanted to get a photo at Conneautville of the train passing the grain elevator. But at the first grade crossing south of that facility there were so many trees that you couldn’t see it.

We ended up going to the feed store and to get the classic Conneautville photos.

The chase continued south on Pennsylvania Route 18 and on a whim we turned down Agnew Road.

The good news is that it’s a nice photo location. The bad news is that we got there about a minute too late. All I could do was a grab shot out the window.

The train was already past Hartstown when we arrived, having been slowed by heavier than normal traffic in Conneaut Lake.

Still, we caught up to and passed the train and had enough time to set up at our objective, which was Osgood.

I’ve shot a B&LE train crossing over the former Erie Railroad tracks here – now owned by Norfolk Southern – but a railfan had parked his vehicle along the right of way. Today, though, I was able to get the photo that I wanted.

We had no concrete plans for chasing the train further. Adam suggested trying to follow the tracks on his GPS.

That eventually led us to St. Glory Road southeast of Greenville. The minute that we had needed at Agnew Road we had here.

Now what do we do? I’ve never been to Kremis before, the location on the B&LE where they often change crews.

Presumably, it is near a town or road of the same name. Using a GPS, we found Kremis Road, but it ended far from the tracks.

Through a combination of using the GPS and dead reckoning we wound up on Heckman Road, which turned out to be just south of the spot where the crew change occurs.

A cab was already waiting to pick up the crew and the dispatcher told them the next crew was not on duty until 1900 hours. That was five hours from now.

So the conductor and engineer got out and started setting hand brakes to tie the train down.

At that point, we headed back to Greenville and then on to Meadville to check out the Western New York & Pennsylvania as well as the Voodoo Brewing company.

As it turned out, we only photographed one train on this day, but it had still been a productive outing.

I’m never going to complain about a train with three Illinois Central locomotives.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Crossing Conneaut Creek while climbing out of Conneaut. Those SD70s were really screaming as they approached.

Crossing Conneaut Creek while climbing out of Conneaut. Those SD70s were really screaming as they approached.

A new photo location in Albion, for me anyway.

A new photo location in Albion for me.

The crew did not have time to stop for some country cookin' in Albion.

The crew did not have time to stop for some country cookin’ in Albion.

The classic shot to be had at Conneautville. At least it is open.

The classic shot to be had at Conneautville. At least it is open.

Getting down low at Conneautville. At one time I presume this siding served the grain elevator across the street behind me.

Getting down low at Conneautville. At one time I presume this siding served the grain elevator across the street behind me.

Crossing over the former Erie mainline at Osgood.

Crossing over the former Erie mainline at Osgood.

At St. Glory Road southeast of Greenville. I'd never been here before.

At St. Glory Road southeast of Greenville. I’d never been here before.

So this is Kremis, which I've heard so many times mentioned in radio transmissions. The view is from Heckman Road.

So this is Kremis, which I’ve heard so many times mentioned in radio transmissions. The view is from Heckman Road.

Tying it down at Kremis and then going off the clock.

Tying it down at Kremis and then going off the clock.

The cornfields in the foreground and three IC locomotives in the background made me feel as that I had found a little of central Illinois in western Pennsylvania. But the part of Illinois where I grew up is flatter.

The cornfields in the foreground and the three IC locomotives in the background made me feel as though I had found a little piece of central Illinois in western Pennsylvania. But the part of Illinois where I grew up is flatter.