Posts Tagged ‘Lehigh Valley heritage locomotive’

Day on the East Slope

June 23, 2021

About three weeks ago I took a trip to Altoona, Pennsylvania, and railfanned the east slope of the former Pennsylvania Railroad Alleghany Mountain grade.

Here is a selection of some of my photographs, all of which were taken at Bennington Curve.

In order they include a downhill stack train, Amtrak’s westbound Pennsylvanian, and an eastbound coal train that had the PRR heritage leading and the Lehigh Valley heritage as a DPU

Photographs by Todd Dillon

Valley Girl Makes Couple Passes Through NEO

July 31, 2019

Sometimes you only get one heads up that something out of the ordinary is coming. That was the case with the Lehigh Valley heritage unit of Norfolk Southern.

Ed Ribinskas reported that he saw a report on that NS 8104 was approaching Berea at 9:50 a.m. on eastbound stack train 206 on Monday.

No additional sightings were reported to until 10:53 a.m. when the 206 was passing through Willoughby.

By then Ed had already located to the bridge over the Grand River near his home in Painesville where he got the 206 just after 11 a.m.

Another railfan was there watching trains but didn’t know the “Valley Girl” was coming.

Perhaps he was the guy who reported the 206 through Painesville at 11:05 a.m.

Previous reports on HU showed the 8104 was leading NS train 23M westward late Sunday.

So it would have gone through Cleveland in the wee hours of the Monday morning.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas

Near Miss in the H Unit Lottery

May 15, 2018

National Train Day wasn’t too bad depending on where you were.

Railfans in Rochelle, Illinois, got treated to two of Union Pacific’s heritage units on the same train.

Closer to home something unusual started to unfold. The Lehigh Valley heritage unit was leading an eastbound intermodal spotted at Chesterton, Indiana, early that morning.

That’s isn’t so unusual. We typically get more than our share of heritage engines in Northeast Ohio on Norfolk Southern.

Also that morning the NS Honoring First Responders unit was leading an eastbound CSX freight. This turned out to be the S370 which takes the New Castle Sub through Akron.

As both were still hours away I settled in at Rootstown to railfan Norfolk Southern yet still be close enough to jump over to CSX if need be.

As the day progressed I relocated to Ravenna where the two lines cross on a bridge.

Checking on the progress of both trains, it was going to be close. I began hoping for an over and under meet which is difficult enough but with two special painted engines that’s like hitting the lottery.

Well, the Lehigh Valley arrived first and the 9-1-1 engine came within 10 minutes. I didn’t get an over and under but I did get the two engines at the same location. Not a bad day at all.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Taking Care of Unfinished Business

April 11, 2018

On Tuesday I had to take my car to Marty Surdyk’s garage in Parma for service. Prior to leaving in the morning I saw the potential of four Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive sightings if luck was with me.

They were the Lehigh Valley No. 8104, which I needed; Penn Central No. 1073

which I needed the engineer side; the Reading No. 1067, which I have never seen; and the First Responders 911 unit, which also I needed.

As the day went by I saw that the Reading turned south in Indiana and the 911 terminated in Bellevue.

This is what I got at 2:15 p.m. (PC), and 4:10 (LV). Two for four is a pretty good day.

 Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Flip-da-Flop, Flip-da-Flop. Chase of the ‘Valley Girl’ on the Sandusky District Had Plenty of Sole

April 26, 2017

This particular Sunday dawned sunny with unseasonably warm temperatures. The sunlight through the stained glass windows at church had a special glint to it today. It was going to be a memorable day. Little did I know in what way.

My plans for the day were set, at least for the early hours. I was to attend the birthday party for my great nephew Griffen in the morning. Yes, in the morning, actually, 11 a.m.

The Grif had a hockey game later in the afternoon. Yes, beside trains, cars and trucks, the Grif is a hockey puck. (Hard to believe he’s 6 already)

I thought I might head out trackside in the afternoon, depending on what the weather was doing and/or if any Norfolk Southern heritage units were around.

I was the first from nephew Henry’s side of the family to arrive. We went to the basement to inspect the work he’s done on his new HO scale train layout.

The bro and his clan arrived shortly after I did. The first thing Robert said wasn’t, “Hi,” it was, “Lehigh Valley at Columbus coming north on No. 174.”

“Wonderful.” I thought to myself. “One of the units I’ve never seen close by and a nice weather day . . . figures.”

As lunch was served and the party progressed, the progress, or lack thereof, as it turned out, of the Valley Girl was tracked via the Heritage Unit app.

“Lewis Center at Noon.”

Didn’t look good; we still had cake to cut and presents to open. I was hoping for a miracle, maybe, just maybe, it would get delayed somewhere.

As the gathering broke up about 1:30 p.m, the Valley Girl was still shown at Lewis Center at noon. Could this be our miracle or just no one reporting it today?

Robert was game for heading to Bellevue to see if we might catch it. Henry got sprung from parenting duties to join us. Grif, unfortunately, had to get ready for his hockey game.

We were off to Bellevue shortly after 2 p.m. We used the Ohio Turnpike to make the best time. You can make Bellevue via the Turnpike from my house in less than one hour.

Upon arrival in Bellevue, we found no railfans in position to catch an imminent move of a heritage unit. Either it was already by or still a long way off.

We stopped for a leg stretch at the south wye to watch two westbounds go by on the Fostoria District.

To my surprise, while driving out to Bellevue the sole of my right shoe came about two-thirds of the way off. When I walked it made a flip-da-flop noise.

I tried to attach it, but it didn’t hold. The noise didn’t bother me, but Robert and Henry didn’t care for it.

So I walked around as much as I could . . . flip-da-flop . . . flip-da-flop.

Since it looked like it hadn’t arrived yet in Bellevue, we continued south in search of the Valley Girl.

We would occasionally pick up a train calling signals as we rolled south. We were behind train No. 194, but gaining on it.

No. 194 was routed into the Benson siding north of Bucyrus. No. 194 would sit here for several hours before continuing on.

The Sandusky District dispatcher finally cleared up the situation as he explained to No. 194 what his plans were.

He had five northbounds between Columbus and Marion. The last one was an 11,000 foot monster. No. 194 would be held at Benson for all five to pass. One of them had to be No. 174 with the LV.

Henry found a post about the No. 174 and the Valley Girl that said that it was leading a long train with mid-train DPUs. “That must be the 11,000 foot monster the dispatcher was talking about.”

We stopped south of Bucyrus to shoot the second of the five northbound trains. The first one got by us as we tangled with traffic in Bucyrus.

This was a grain train, the lighting was not very good, but we did the best we could. The search was on now for a suitable photo spot for the 174/Valley Girl.

Late afternoon, in the dead of winter, with a northbound train? Not a good set up, but it was all we had to work with.

The third northbound, we shot closer to Monnet. Again, not great light. We continued on.

The spot we settled on was at Tobias. There are some spots here that you can get back enough to get some side lighting on a northbound.

The fourth northbound was fast approaching. Tobias is north of the U.S. Route 23 overpass on the northern outskirts of Marion. The coaling tower at Harvey can be seen in the distance.

We had a chance to get a “test shot” of the 195 as it passed. This should work for the Valley Girl, as its headlight was right on the block of the 195.

As we waited, I made sure to walk around as much as I could. Flip-da-flop . . . flip-da-flop . . . flip-da-flop.

As train time approached, two more cars full of railfans showed up. This was more like it. Show time was now upon us.

The gates went down at the crossing we were at. The Valley Girl was leading a Canadian Pacific GE. About three-quarters of the way back, there were two NS black DPUs.

The chase was on. I had Robert drive due to my shoe malfunction. I didn’t want the flap of my shoe to get caught under the brake or gas pedal and cause a serious safety issue, especially in the heat of the chase.

No. 174 and the Valley Girl weren’t setting any speed records; the trains ahead kept their pace in check.

We got through Bucyrus and headed for the north end of the Benson siding.

The rear end of No. 194 was clear of the crossing when we went by earlier. This would be the best lighted shot we would get. The tracks turn a little to the northwest here.

We had a couple of minutes to wait. I passed the time flip-da-flopping . . . flip-da-flopping.

Finally the train showed up. Film and pixels were exposed and we were off again.

“Let’s go for the Attica Reservoir,” Robert said. Since he was driving, he calls the shots.

We arrived to see the last cars of No. 195 passing by. The 174 better hurry, the sun was getting very low. Thankfully this is flat country and the sun stays up a lot longer than in the mountains.

We also had to hope that they didn’t get stabbed by CSX at Attica Junction. If 174 has to stop our day was over.

All things worked out and the 174 passed by us while the sun was still up.

If we were to get another shot, we would have to beat it to the Ohio Route 4 crossing north of Attica Junction. Otherwise, we would have to wait for all 11,000 feet of train to pass.

Just enough traffic and a red light in Attica cost us any chance of getting one more shot. I was able to count 48 cars behind the DPUs, as we waited for the train to cross Route 4.

By now both Robert’s and Henry’s wives were on the phone, wondering if we’d be home for dinner. The chase was called off at this point and we headed for home, satisfied with our results.

What do the Grif and the Valley Girl have in common? They were both the star of the show on the same day.

Article by Marty Surdyk

It Was Dark, But I Got My H Unit Leading

January 23, 2017

It took more than four years, but I finally got the Lehigh Valley heritage unit leading a train.

It took more than four years, but I finally got the Lehigh Valley heritage unit leading a train.

It wasn’t the most ideal of conditions to be photographing a train, even with a digital camera. But this wasn’t just any train that was coming.

OK, so a stack train is any train. But on the point was Norfolk Southern No. 8104, the Lehigh Valley heritage locomotive.

I’ve only seen the 8104 once and that was more than four years ago. And it was trailing.

The light was good then, but, you know, trail equals fail.

The Lehigh Valley H unit has not been a frequent visitor to Northeast Ohio. It got stuck in service down in the West Virginia and Virginia and took a long time to escape.

So when word came that the 8104 was leading a westbound 25Z, off to Olmsted Falls I went.

It was almost 5:30 p.m. when the 25Z showed up. It was cloudy and the sun was setting.

There was barely enough light to record anything. I shot at f3.5 at 1/500th of a second at ISO 6400 and at one full f stop over.

That netted a grainy, though usable image. But, hey, I finally got on the lead a heritage unit that had eluded me since June 2012.

As I processed my images in preparation for this post, I also came to appreciate how the conditions enable me to create some mood and effects that don’t exist in broad daylight.

Given a choice, I would rather have had ideal lighting when the 8104 showed up. But sometimes making do with what you have can yield some surprisingly pleasing images.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The 25Z with the Lehigh Valley heritage locomotive on the point was following the 25T and the 21Q as it left town. It is shown passing the depot in Olmsted Falls.

The 25Z with the Lehigh Valley heritage locomotive on the point was following the 25T and the 21Q as it left town. It is shown passing the depot in Olmsted Falls.

Hard on the heels of the 25Z was a westbound manifest freight whose headlight can be seen in the distance on Track No. 2. The 25Z was on Track No 1. In an hour's time, NS sent six westbound trains through Olmsted Falls.

Hard on the heels of the 25Z was a westbound manifest freight whose headlight can be seen in the distance on Track No. 2. The 25Z was on Track No 1. In an hour’s time, NS sent six westbound trains through Olmsted Falls.

The containers of NS train 25Z catch the last rays of daylight as the train heads into the sunset.

The containers of NS train 25Z catch the last rays of daylight as the train heads into the sunset.

The Reds and Golds of Spring in Ohio

April 21, 2015

NS 8104 sits at Klines (Bellevue) next to a multi-level train.

NS 8104 sits at Klines (Bellevue) next to a multi-level train.

I headed to Bellevue last Saturday to possibly catch Norfolk Southern No. 8104, the Lehigh Valley heritage unit. It had been a middle unit and normally that is not something that I would travel very far to see.

But there was a slight chance it might be made the leader so off I went. Luck was with me as I arrived just after it had been turned and made the leader of a grain train, the 42G.

Traffic through Bellevue was heavy and caused a delay in the 42G’s departure. But some other good photos of other trains were to be had before the 42G finally got the railroad.

I chased it to Attica Junction (Siam) where I let it go and made some photos on CSX before heading home. All in all, there were some nice springtime photos with locomotives and trees sporting red and gold colors.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Departing Bellevue.

Departing Bellevue.

Coming through the signals at Shriver.

Coming through the signals at Shriver.

Just above Attica Junction.

Just above Attica Junction.

A colorful NS train No. 234 passing some "red buds" in Bellevue.

A colorful NS train No. 234 passing some “red buds” in Bellevue.

Roadrailer at Bellevue.

Roadrailer at Bellevue.

CSX Q166 at Attica Junction.

CSX Q166 at Attica Junction.

Q166 passing a flowering tree near Willard.

Q166 passing a flowering tree near Willard.

Two detail views of the CPR 9815. I had wondered what those "marks" around the perimeter of the unit were for. Turns out this unit was the Christmas Train unit a few years back.

Two detail views of the CPR 9815. I had wondered what those “marks” around the perimeter of the unit were for. Turns out this unit was the Christmas Train unit a few years back.


LV Heritage Unit Makes Brief Ohio Appearance

June 12, 2013


Norfolk Southern’s Lehigh Valley heritage unit led a No. 189 manifest freight up the Sandusky  District to Bellevue on Sunday, June 9.

My first shot (in the cemetery) was taken in Attica. The two shots in the field were taken just south of Flat Rock. The near head-on shot was taken in downtown Flat Rock.

The visit of No. 8104 to Ohio was brief. On Monday, the same power took mixed freight train No. 188 back south to Roanoke, Va.

Photographs by Richard Thompson



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Catching Up With the NS Valley Girl

May 11, 2012

Last Sunday morning (May 6) I was hanging around Kent.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie’s Solon train came by with the Ohio Bicentennial No. 200 in the lead and I got that in farmland north of Kent

I then got a call saying that Norfolk Southern’s Lehigh Valley heritage unit (No. 8104) had a 12:30 p.m. crew call at Conway to head west.

So off to Rochester Pa., I went to catch him. By the time we arrived, the call time had changed to 4 p.m.

My ride had to leave at 5 p.m., my car was sitting back at Akron and the train was still sitting in the yard.

Fortunately, Rich Thompson’s group had also arrived and I ended up riding back with them.

The train finally left about 6:30 p.m. An inbound train blocked the view from ground level but an overpass provided a clear view.

We easily beat him to Homewood, Pa., and about 15 minutes after we arrived the two units ground their way uphill pulling 15,000 tons of coal behind.

We continued chasing and had a final view off the Interstate 76 overpass at Rootstown, Ohio

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

‘Valley Girl’ Basks in the Sunshine

April 25, 2012

A friend of mine coined the nickname “Valley Girl” for the Lehigh Valley 30th anniversary heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern and it seems to fit.

We had secured permission to enter the area where the new girl was Tuesday morning (April 24) for some photographs. We were just glad that the sun was out after the previous days of snow and rain.

The Valley Girl is a beauty! They had to move her over a track while we were there, which allowed us a view of one of the “Admiral Cab” SD60 rebuilds nose to nose with the 8104.

Photographs by Roger Durfee