Posts Tagged ‘Marty Surdyk’

The 6 O’Clock Alarm Was Most Welcome

December 5, 2021

There’s a song by The Monkees titled Daydream Believer that has a line that goes “the 6 o’clock  alarm would never ring.”

On most mornings that I don’t have to work that would be a good thing, but on Thanksgiving morning, the 6 a.m. alarm had better ring; I’ve got trains to watch.

Up and out the door ASAP, I could hear a train rumble off in the distance as I headed to my Jeep in the parking lot of my apartment complex.

I turned on the scanner to hear “eye oh 20, Clear 14, two east”

“Take it easy approaching the tunnels eye oh 20; eye 157 is coming west and he’ll go first,” the
CSX dispatcher announced.

I decided to head straight to Berea, with a stop at the drive-thru at Dunkin’ Donuts for some
breakfast along the way.

I took one bite of my croissant sandwich when a headlight appeared to the east on CSX. I 157 was
approaching. At 6:54 a.m. the first train of the day was logged. CSX 4551 and CSX 5389 were
heading a train of stacks and racks.

I had breakfast finished by the time the time the next move came by. It was NS 13Q. This mixed
freight was lead by a trio of NS 1189, NS 1184 and CSX 490.

As the last cars of 13Q were going by a headlight on CSX heralded an eastbound. This was Q560 with CSX 5346 and . . . “hey, what’s that last unit,” I thought to myself.

I caught the number as 4006. It was painted like an American Flag on the front and camouflage on the rear. “Have to look that up when I get home.”

About 10 minutes later NS had a hi-rail truck patrolling No. 1 track from Berea down to
CP Drawbridge. NS would be single tracking for the near future.

The scanner was quiet, and I was getting tired of sitting, so I walked down Depot Street to
Rocky River Drive and looked over the bridge replacement that NS is doing where Rocky River
Drive goes under their tracks.

A couple of hundred feet short of my Jeep, a light rain started to fall. This would be with us
most of the day.

The brief lull was broken by back-to-back CSX ethanol trains. The first was led by Union Pacific 2660 and NS 4027. The second had Canadian National 8963 up front and CN 3048 on the rear.

Just before the 9 o’clock hour was to begin, an NS westbound mixed freight made an appearance. They weren’t calling signals, so I didn’t get the symbol, but it had NS 7592, UP 5302 and
NS 7553 up front.

Next up at 9:47 an NS 16G made an appearance. This mixed freight was lead by NS 9546 and UP 8611. By now some of the attendees who had gone to breakfast at Bob Evans were arriving.

“Did you see the KCS Veteran’s Unit go by?” one of them asked. “So that’s what that was.”

NS had double stacks to run next at 10:13 a.m. as 20T rumbled past behind NS 7575/ NS 7577
and NS 1178.

Before 20T could clear, a fast charging I 166 slammed past behind CP 8502 up front and CP 8777 about half way back.

At 10:32 a.m. we watched NS 26E go by behind NS 4268, NS 8006 and NS 9956. The 26E
is a doublestack train.

I had to think about leaving soon, so I was off, but I did catch two additional CSX trains on the way home. These included a westbound mixed freight went that went under Front Street as I was going over, and I got stopped at Holland Road crossing by an eastbound stack train that turned out to be I 158. It had CSX 9045 leading one other CSX unit.

So if you’re keeping score, it was CSX 7, NS 6. Not a bad four hours of railfanning, with motive power from six of the seven Class 1 railroads. No BNSF this year.

I just wish the weather would cooperate and we could have a sunny Turkey Day. Maybe next year.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Surdyk to Present RRE Program on Friday

October 3, 2021

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts will meet Friday (Oct. 8) in Westlake.

Marty Surdyk will present a slide show titled Something Old, Something New.

The meeting will begin at approximately 8:15 p.m. at the Western Cuyahoga Lodge 25 of the Fraternal Order of Police. At 26145 Center Ridge Road.

The club said that dues for 2022 are due and will be collected at the meeting. Dues are $20.

Upcoming meetings include the Nov. 12 meeting at which Jerry Jordak will present a digital program.

The December meeting will be the annual pizza party and member’s night and will begin at 7 p.m. Members are invited to bring slides or digital images to show.

On Thanksgiving morning (Nov. 25), RRE members will gather in Berea for the annual Turkey Shoot railfan outing.

The Winning Formula for Successful Railfanning

August 23, 2021

I have a formula for any successful railfan trip.

You begin with preparation. Study maps, magazine articles, rail photo sites, and employee timetable, where applicable.

Learn when the trains run. Learn where the good photo spots are. Learn the radio frequencies. Learn the mileposts, so if you hear a detector go off, you know where the train is. Learn, Learn Learn.

This accounts for 50 percent of the formula.

Next you have to get there. All this prep work is no good if you’re sitting at home in your LazyBoy watching reruns of Leave It To Beaver.

Be There, Be There, Be There.

This is 25 percent of the formula.

Then there is the dumb luck factor. You’re in the right place at the right time and something goes by that you weren’t expecting.

You come across a train on an obscure short line or run into a heritage unit that you didn’t know was coming.

The usually nocturnal train or trains are running hours late and your train count soars to a level you weren’t expecting. Luck can work the other way also, that why it’s LUCK.

Better to be Lucky than good sometimes.

Luck accounts for 25 percent of the formula.

Sunday was a good example of the luck factor. Eddie and I were at Berea killing time before heading to Avon Lake for the Lake Erie Crushers baseball game against the Washington (Pennsylvania) Wild Thing.

The Crushers lost 4-2. But while at Berea Norfolk Southern train 11N went west with the Central of Georgia heritage unit on the lead.

It is the last of the 20 original H units that I needed to complete my collection. We had no idea it was coming.

So to recap, 50 percent of successful railfanning comes from preparation; 25 percent of successful railfanning comes from being there; 25 percent of successful railfanning comes from dumb luck.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Busy Morning at Berea During RRE Turkey Shoot

December 8, 2020

As I pulled into the parking lot at Berea on Thanksgiving morning across from BE Tower the clock in my Jeep read 6:33 a.m.

Why was I up so early on a holiday morning? Some traditions must go on no matter what is trying to impede them. 

Since the 1970s members of the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts group in Cleveland have been meeting in Berea on Thanksgiving morning for the annual turkey shoot.

In past years they would meet for breakfast at Bob’s Big Boy restaurant and spend the morning photographing trains in Berea.

I came directly to Berea from home due to some scratching on the CSX radio channel. They might have a train to run.

Turns out they didn’t. It must have been the train working at Parma Yard that I heard as I headed out to the car from my apartment.

Today was one of those days; it was heavily overcast with a light mist coming down.

There would be no daybreak, no dawning of a new day. Days like this just happen.

The scanner was quiet, almost too quiet. Hunger drove me over to a nearby Dunkin Donuts for a trip through the drive through.

A bacon, egg and cheese bagel, and two frosted donuts would have to suffice until our turkey day feast at 1 p.m.

The quiet was briefly broken by the passing of a hi-rail truck on NS Track No. 1.

Then the NS Toledo East channel began to scratch. This could be a train coming.

As the radio signal got stronger, it sounded like “2014, clear, 200, two east.”

Something was coming, but I just was not sure what.

After the eastbound called “clear, 195, two east,” the Cleveland East Dispatcher cleared up things.

The train was 24Z and was going to be held for a couple of minutes at CP Max for the hi-railer to clear up at CP Drawbridge in downtown Cleveland.

The 24Z would go over to No. 1 track at CP Max. The dispatcher also mentioned that 11N and 414 were at the drawbridge patiently waiting for 24Z to pass.

Also about now 15N radioed in for permission into Rockport Yard. The yardmaster gave them yarding instructions. There would be action today.

The 24Z behind NS 4352 plus four other units glided past at 7:39 a.m.

The 11N, a solid auto rack train was next at 8:13 a.m. behind NS 2766 doing it solo.

A few minutes behind 11N was loaded coke train 414 behind NS 1207 plus one. They were OSed at 8:37 a.m.

CSX finally came to life with the passing of a K Train. This solid train of tankers carrying 1267 placards, which is crude oil if I’m not mistaken, passed by westbound at 8:58 a.m. behind CSX 35 plus one.

The 9 o’clock hour was led off by a CSX eastbound at 9:14 a.m. Q158 with double stacks was led by CSX 3185 plus one.

Fifteen minutes behind the stacker was CSX auto rack train Q204, which was lead by CSX 5359 plus one.

The latter minutes of the 9 o’clock hour saw a flurry of action on both lines.

 It began with Q634, a manifest freight eastbound. As it lumbered by, seemingly forever, CSX ran Q517 west on the other track.

While this was happening NS 15N was heading west with a huge consist.

On the other side of the 15N a westbound NS intermodel train went by. It was not quite four at a time, but close.

For those keeping score, Q634 had CSX 3224 plus one. Q517 had what sounded like CSX 809 as its leader. I didn’t catch the engine number as it went by or catch the engine numbers for 15N or the intermodal.

All this happened in a seven-minute stretch from 9:43 to 9:50 a.m. It would take until 10:13 a.m for the next train to go by, another CSX K train with 1267 on the tanks.

This one was lead by BNSF 5846 solo on the lead and Canadian Pacifuc 8145 solo on the rear.

Ten minutes later NS 21Z passed behind 4263 plus one. The 15N was being held at CP 197 for 21Z and the earlier intermodal that passed it as it came past BE Tower.

The 15N crew radioed in for a “how long we going to be here? We’ve got Olmsted Falls completely blocked.”

I’m not sure where their head end was, but the last few cars were still in the interlocking at BE.

“”You’ll go west after 21Z. Recrew at Fairlane.”

A very short and inefficient 26E was next at 10:31 a.m. with 8085 plus one. Ten minutes behind them was I2K, a second section of 22K, which rolled by behind NS 4111 plus one.

I had 11 a.m. pegged as my departure time, but scratching on the CSX radio channel as the bells at St. Adelbert’s Church sounded the hour kept me there for a few more minutes.

CSX has another K Train, tankers with 1267 placards, the third one of the day. This one was led by CSX 5378 plus one. It was OSed at 11:08 a.m.

There was more action in the pipeline with NS 309 working Rockport. Akron Railroad Club president Todd Dillon texted me that NS had an oil train coming west at Hudson where he was hanging out.

But it was now time for me to leave. Attendance at this year’s turkey shoot was down from previous years, which is not surprising due to the virus concerns.

Yet it was still an enjoyable morning of train watching at a busy location. Let’s hope for better times next year.

Article by Marty Surdyk

RRE Cancels September Meeting

September 8, 2020

The September meeting of the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts has been canceled due to the COVID019 pandemic.

In a notice sent to members, RRE President Marty Surdyk said the October meeting might also be canceled.

He said he is looking into having an alternative activity to replace the canceled meetings.

Members are reminded that due for 2021 are now due and remain $20.

Moving From Point B to Point A

March 22, 2020

I know what you’re thinking’ that’s bass ackwards. You go from Point A to Point B.

Well normally you do, but on March 1 the brother and I went from Bellevue to Ada.

How did we get there? Read along and you’ll find out.

I was barely in the door of my apartment on Saturday after work when my phone started ringing.

“Going to be a beautiful day tomorrow; Lisa (my brother’s wife) is off work and I’m itching to hit the road somewhere.”

“Where are we heading?”

“I don’t care, you pick someplace.”

“I’ll text you later with what I decide.”

“Roger, Willco.”

I went about my Saturday chores and then readied myself for church. As I sat in the pew waiting for mass to start “Bellevue” kept coming to mind. So after church I texted the brother “Be ready by 7:30, destination Bellevue.”

I got a text back. “I’ll be ready.”

Our 7:30 a.m. call time found us on the road headed west to Bellevue. As we got to Norwalk the scanner was turned on. Radio chatter from Bellevue began to filter in.

A good channel to listen to is the crew bus channel. They happen to use the same frequency as the Sandusky District, 161.190.

By the time we got to town, we knew that 218 and 234 were in the picture as crews were being picked up at the hotel/dorm for these trains.

Also at this time 12V was nearly ready to leave on its trek from Bellevue to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh. The 12V operates via Mansfield on the former Conrail Ft. Wayne Line.

As we entered Bellevue the 218 was re-crewed and ready to resume its trip.

We shot through town and headed south on Ohio Route 269 bound for one of our morning southbound (timetable eastbound) shots on the Sandusky District.

The 218’s counterpart, No. 217, was the first train we saw. It was approaching Flat Rock and would be stopping for a crew change shortly.

We headed to a county road crossing that features a nice white farmhouse and bright red barn as your photo props to shoot the 218. It wasn’t long before his headlight was on the horizon.

After shooting the intermodal train here, we headed south with it. Often NS trains get delayed at the former Baltimore & Ohio diamonds at Attica Junction. Today that would be the case.

“Take it easy down to Attica, CSX has two to run, before he can take you.” was the dispatcher’s message to 218’s crew.

As we approached the crossing where Ohio Route 4 crosses CSX, an eastbound double stack was going past.

It cleared and the gates went up just long enough for a couple of cars to get across before going back down for a westbound tank train.

This gave us a chance to get ahead of the 218 and shoot it again at the grain elevator in the actual town of Attica (top photograph). After 218 passed, we doubled back north for the other two trains.

The 12V was next and we set up for it at a spot that we like with two red barns to add to the photo (photo two below). The 12V was monster today with 205 cars, four units up front and a DPU 124 cars deep.

It was plodding along at about 25 mph on the normal westbound main. Before it could clear our location, the 234 went by on the other track blocked from our view by the 12V.

About now 234’s crew was talking to the PTC desk. Something wasn’t right and they’d have to stop briefly and reset something.

This gave us just enough of a break to get ahead of both trains. We again stopped at the Attica elevator and shot both trains there (photo three below).

The 12V would be our focus for the next few shots. The lumbering monster train was not only easy to chase because of its slow speed, it had the Conrail H-Unit running third in the consist (photo four below).

Plus when it got to Bucyrus (buck-eee-rus) it would make a left turn onto the former Conrail Ft. Wayne Line.

I wanted to shoot the elevator at North Robinson between Bucyrus and Crestline.

The brother was now driving. I had to change film after shooting 12V at Attica, so he chose a county road crossing north of the end of the double track at Chatfield for our next shot.

We let the whole train go by before resuming the chase. We tried for the north end of Benson siding via Carroll Road but didn’t make it in time.

Not to panic, the Ridgeton detector showed all the wheels hot on the 125th car. That would be the covered hopper right behind the DPU.

The crew on the 12V figured out a spot in Bucyrus where they could stop and not block crossings to inspect their problem car. It was now about 11:45 a.m. so we made a quick lunch stop at a Burger King on the east side of Bucyrus.

We didn’t dawdle which proved to be a good move. When we came out of the restaurant the Sandusky District dispatcher called the 12V for a progress report.

“Conductor’s about 10 cars back heading this way, we should be on the move shortly.”

“Permission to depart from where you stand.”

We arrived at North Robinson to find two younger railfans already set up for a shot. They were from the Dayton area. Before the 12V got to us two more cars of railfans showed up.

“A lot of fans for an H-unit running third out,” I thought.

Everyone except me lined up for a shot of the 12V splitting the position light signals (photo five below). I positioned myself so I could get the grain elevator with the train.

One of the late arrivals said that the 12V would be meeting the 171 at Crestline. The latter is a Conway to Chatanooga train.

And behind the 171 was a Wheeling and Lake Erie train heading to Lima with interchange cars for the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern.

“That’s why the crowd; they’re all here to chase the W&LE. Now it all makes sense,” I thought to myself.

After shooting the 12V, I walked west of the elevator to see if there was a shot there.

Not finding anything to my liking because of too much clutter and derelict truck trailers, I chose a spot that I could get a couple of the houses in town in my photo. Again the rest of the photo line was shooting those signals.

The 171 would be held for one train on the Sandusky District before it would be let around the corner to head south for Cincinnati.

We headed to the diamonds at Colsan in Bucyrus for the 171. We were the only ones there.

If indeed the Wheeling was behind the 171 we were going to chase it west on this former Pennsylvania Railroad trackage.

This is new territory for us. Trains out on this line on weekends are few and far between.

We waited at Colsan for the headlight of the Wheeling to appear before we barreled out of town.

I didn’t want to repeat an episode we had in Indiana a few years back where we chased air for a couple of hours.

The Wheeling indeed was on the move west and would get right across the diamonds at Colsan.

An elevator on the west side of Bucyrus was our first possible shot but we couldn’t find a good angle so it was on the road to Nevada (the city in Ohio, not the state).

Here we found a nice elevator shot in town at the Main Street crossing. The Wheeling train had three units up front, a black, yellow and another black.

They were making about 25 mph on jointed rail. Forgot how good that sounds.

After shooting it here we were off heading west. Using U.S. 30 to get around Upper Sandusky (both elevators there sit along the former C&O), we stopped at Kirby.

Here we found an elevator on the south side of the tracks and a garage that was painted to look like a red barn on the north side. We could frame the train between the two. We liked it and waited a few minutes for the train (photo six below).

Forest is the next town and never having been there we didn’t know what to expect.

Turns out Forest has two elevators along the tracks. We shot at the easterly one, a classic ceramic tile structure that was painted white at one time. The peeling paint on the elevator added some character to the scene.

It was then back on the road toward Dunkirk where the Ft. Wayne Line crosses the former New York Central (Toledo & Ohio Central Western Branch), now the CSX Toledo Branch Subdivision.

Dunkirk Tower still stands at the southwest corner of the diamond. It is shootable on the north/south line, because I have done it in the past while railfanning the Toledo Branch in Conrail days.

We rolled into town to find that the tower is shootable for a northbound/southbound and eastbound. You guessed it, no westbound shot. Off to Dola we went.

Dola is the next town to the west. The elevator in town is visible from Dunkirk.

I had hoped for a better photo op there but Dola disappointed. The elevator is only accessible on the east end, so it can only be shot eastbound. Oh Well, on to Ada.

Ada is a college town, the home of Northern Ohio University. I knew from some friends that went to NOU that the depot still stands and a caboose is displayed outside of it.

As we found in the last two towns the depot was not shootable for a westbound train when the sun is as far south as it is on March 1. It might be shootable from the north side of the tracks in the summer for a westbound.

We continued two blocks further west to the grain elevator in town. It is shootable westbound (photo seven below).

Actually, there is a large open area west of it with some siding tracks that could hold grain cars when the harvest season is in progress. They also have a critter to switch the facility.

We parked the car and waited about five minutes for the W&LE to arrive. I finally got a chance to count the cars that the Wheeling had today: 96 empty sand cars, an empty trash hopper and another covered hopper not like the sand cars.

This would be our last shot of the train and of the day. It was now after 3:30 p.m. and we were due home for dinner at 6 p.m.

Lisa was making chicken paprikash and you don’t want to miss that. Using Ohio Route 235 north out of town to access U.S. 30, which is now a four-lane divided highway all the way back to Interstate 71, we made good time.

The brother drove the U.S. 30 section of highway. A gas stop and crew change at Ashland put me back at the wheel for the last miles home. We pulled into Robert’s driveway at 5:58 p.m., two minutes to the good.

What a day! We did not expect to be in Ada but we were glad we that we were.

Article by Marty Surdyk, Photos by Robert Surdyk

Surdyk to Present at March RRE Meeting

March 9, 2020

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts will hold its March  meeting on Friday (Feb. 14) in Westlake.

The meeting will begin at 8:15 p.m. at the Western Cuyahoga F.O.P. No. 25 Hall at 26145 Center Ridge Road.

The program will be a slide show presented by Marty Surdky that will have two parts.

One part is titled Chasing Skittles and highlights trains of what Surdyk described as “a local railroad infamous for multi-colored motive power lash ups.” That might include the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

The other part is titled Green and will feature railroad images with the color green as a nod to St. Patrick’s Day.

Guests are welcome at all RRE meetings. The entrance to the meeting room is around the back of the building at ground level.

Weekend With 611: Sunday

October 3, 2019

Norfolk & Western 611 departs Groffs after meeting a train pulled by N&W 4-8-0 No. 475

On Sunday, Sept. 29, Ed Ribinskas, his wife, Ursula, and friends Karl West and Laura Lee Konczos were up early again to return to the Strasburg Rail Railroad for another day with Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611.

They had tickets to get into the cab of the Class J steam locomotive and take turns pulling its whistle cord.

Karl and Laura got to blow the whistle during the 10 a.m. session while Ed and Ursula got their turn at noon. Crew members instructed participants to pull the cord for two longs, a short and a long.

Ed and Karl rode the 12:30 p.m. excursion behind the 611 with Ed reporting they were the first two passengers to make their way to the platform end of the Hello Dolly car.

Ed said the lighting wasn’t perfect, but out on the line many people were photographing where the lighting was much worse, including some who were standing on the side of the tracks enveloped in shadows.

He also thought it odd that no one seemed to be getting the classic Strasburg shot of the steam locomotive passing the restored J Tower.

They weren’t able to stay for the entire day’s activities because they had a long drive back to Northeast Ohio.

So the 2:30 p.m. trip pulled by the 611 trip was the last one that they photographed before heading home.

On the drive out to Strasburg, Ed said he had some stories to tell as they passed the famous Rockville Bridge north of Harrisburg that carried the Pennsylvania Railroad mainline over the Susquehanna River.

He said he pointed it out as they drove past that a special event happened there in the summer of 1985.

Ed was there along with the late William Surdyk and his three sons, Marty, Robert and John, to ride an excursion train during the National Railroad Historical Society convention held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

“I told everyone that the consist [included] Strasburg open window coaches. I also told it was a doubleheader of two steam locomotives but I wouldn’t tell them which locomotives until we went into the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania,” Ed said.

The special event was the photo runby executed at Rockville Bridge.

The steam locomotives that staged that runby, PRR 4-4-2 No. 7002 and PRR 4-4-0 No. 1223, are today on display at the museum.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

N&W 611 is getting set up for cab tours and whistle blows.

Laura Lee Konczos takes a turn in the engineer’s seat in the cab of the 611.

Karl West gets to be a steam locomotive engineer for a minute.

A Class J Passes J Tower

N&W Class M No. 475 passes J Tower.

One of the most recognized steam locomotives noses in America.

Getting into position for another trip.

A meeting of the noses of two Norfolk & Western steam locomotives.

Turning the 611 at Leaman Place where the Strasburg meets Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor.

N&W 611 and N&W 475 prepare to meet at Groff’s picnic area at Cherry Hill Road.

A meet between N&W 611 and N&W 475.

N&W 475 departs Groff’s.

A meet between N&W 475 and N&W 611.

Going away at Groff’s.

Weekend Trip Nets Games, Trains and Rain

August 20, 2019

An eastbound CSX manifest freight passes the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania, late Sunday morning.

It was a 3-2 weekend in Erie, Pennsylvania, for three Akron Railroad Club members.

Marty Surdyk, Ed Ribinskas and Jeff Toutman ventured to Erie to see a pair of minor league baseball games pitting the Erie SeaWolves against the Akron Rubber Ducks that both ended with identical scores of 3-2.

Akron won on Saturday night but Erie returned the favor on Sunday afternoon.

Of course railfanning was on the agenda of the trio on their trip, which started late Saturday afternoon in Painesville.

After checking in at a Red Roof Inn by Interstate 90, they went to UPMC Park for a game that featured fireworks at the conclusion of the Rubber Ducks’ win.

Sunday morning found the trio getting an early start to catch trains at Bort Road near North East under overcast skies.

Shortly after they arrived at 7 a.m., a CSX westbound trash train rumbled past. Less than 10 minutes later came an eastbound on Norfolk Southern.

Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited was right on the money shortly after 7:30 a.m. with its usual consist of two P42DC locomotives, three Viewliner sleepers, an Amfleet café car, six Amfleet II coaches, a Viewliner diner and a Viewliner sleeper.

After the passage of Amtrak, the group decided to get breakfast at the Freeport restaurant north of North East, but it wasn’t open yet.

They killed about 15 minutes at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East where they noted a clear signal for a CSX westbound.

But nothing showed and they went back to the Freeport for breakfast, getting there just ahead of a heavy thunderstorm that also swept through Cleveland.

In fact, Ed’s wife, Ursula, texted that the power at their house in Painesville had gone out.

With breakfast completed and the rain letting up, Marty, Ed and Jeff returned to the museum.

Jeff checked HeritageUnits.com on his phone and learned that CSX train K603 with the Chicago & North Western heritage unit of Union Pacific on the point had cleared Lake City, Pennsylvania, at 9:23 a.m.

It must have passed through North East while they were having breakfast up the road. Ed noted the clear signal they had seen earlier must have been for the K603.

However, even if they had stuck around and waited for it they would have been trying to photograph UP 1995 in a downpour.

UP 1995 was later reported by Berea at 2:20 p.m. and Greenwich at 3:14 p.m.

Clearing skies and sunlight were the order of the rest of the morning at the museum along with passing trains.

New in the museum is a CSX U36B that is the eighth GE Erie-built locomotive in the collection.

No. 7764 was built in 1970 as No. 1776 for the Seaboard Coast Line. Its most recent assignment had been serving as a training unit for the Massachusetts Call Volunteer Firefighters Association.

After the Sunday afternoon game concluded, Marty, Ed and Jeff made their way back to Lake County, noting that there was a lot of storm damage in Geneva and Madison.

As they made their way back they stopped in Swanville and Lake City in Pennsylvania, and in Conneaut in Ohio to reminisce about what those places looked like back in the day compared with their modern day appearances.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Amtrak No. 48 was running on time when it passed Bort Road near North East.

Some folks might think they would get a better breakfast at McDonald’s than what Amtrak serves these days to its sleeping car passengers under its contemporary dining program.

The latest member of the collection of GE diesels that were built in Erie is on display at the Lake Shore Railway Museum.

The former Chicago, South Bend & South Shore “Little Joe” is another Erie-built GE unit on display in North East.

The westbound CSX trash train has a full load as it passes Bort Road under overcast skies.

Memorial Day Weekend in Indiana: Part 1

June 18, 2018

First of two parts

As Memorial Day weekend approached the brother and I exchanged ideas for how we would spend the weekend. Several good ideas came to light, but as always the weather forecast would dictate where we would wind up.

By Thursday before the holiday, it was obvious that Northern Indiana was going to be the best way to head.

We agreed that Sunday would be a freight train day and Monday would be a day of passenger trains.

Our weekend began with a late Saturday afternoon departure. We were bound for the Super 8 motel in Goshen, Indiana.

After our free breakfast on Sunday morning we were trackside at the cemetery on the west side of town before 7:30 a.m. We were there a good two minutes when 19K called a medium clear at CP412.

The 19K is a Marion Branch train, one that we chased last Labor Day weekend as part of our “chasing air” adventure.

This normally afternoon train was either really early today or this was yesterday’s train. It didn’t matter; it was a train headed in the right direction at the right time of day. We shot it from the cemetery and the chase was on.

Marion Branch trains don’t run real fast, so getting ahead was not a problem.

We had to let the entire train go by at the road crossing at the cemetery and were still ahead by the time we reached the outskirts of town.

Indiana Route 15 is the chase road south out of Goshen. Our next shot was at MP8. This is right at the New Paris elevator.

You can see from here the distant signal for the CSX diamonds at Milford Junction. The 19K was only looking at an approach.

Milford Junction is much like Attica Junction for Norfolk Southern trains on the Sandusky District in Ohio. If CSX has a train within a hundred miles, you’re not getting across.

We again had to let the entire train go by before we could resume the chase, but not to worry, it was slowing down as the last cars passed by us.

After Milford, we looked for the first county road to the left after leaving town to access Old Route 15 Road. Old 15 Road runs right next to the tracks on the west side from Milford to Leesburg.

We were easily ahead and set up for a shot that features a nice white farm house and red barn.

Again, the whole train had to pass, but they were only making 25 mph and the speed limit on the road is 50 mph.

Even without speeding we should make the grade crossing at the north end of Leesburg. Just in case, I did bend the speed limit a little and we made the crossing easily.

This is important if you want to get the Leesburg elevator shot. The road crosses over to the east side of the tracks for a couple of miles.

We got the Leesburg shot and, again, got across the tracks at the south end of Leesburg siding where the road runs out.

Our next shot would be at the street running in Warsaw. This is the earliest in the day that we’ve gotten a train in Warsaw.

The light was fabulous on this morning as the 19K tiptoed down the street and across the diamonds with the CF&E.

We decided to keep going with the 19K rather than sit on our laurels at Warsaw. Route 15 stays with the tracks to Silver Lake, then the tracks cut across to the southeast to North Manchester, where we picked up Indiana Route 13.

We found a nice spot at Rose Hill, a thriving community of four houses and not much else for our next shot.

We were off from here to North Manchester for a shot at the elevator there. The elevator is at the southern edge of town just after the tracks cross the Eel River.

Last Labor Day weekend, Route 13 had a bridge out and we had to detour around it to continue the chase. There were no detours today and we were again in hot pursuit down Route 13.

We got another shot at the fertilizer plant in Urbana and another at the grain elevator in Speicherville (pronounced Spikerville).

The town of Wabash was next. We found the over/under between the Marion Branch and the former Wabash last year, but it was shadowed in and the train never showed. I followed the same route to the over/under that we did before.

Follow Route 13 into town and after crossing the Wabash take the first street to the left and just keep going straight.

The city street turns into Lagro Road. This time we found the over/under bathed in sunshine and we had the right radio channel for the former Wabash (160.380).

The 19K was coming through the connection to the Wabash, known as the NS Huntington District.

As we set up for the shot, horns to the south got our attention. Train 368 was approaching. They stopped just short of Lagro Road where we were.

When the 19K went by overhead the two crews exchanged some chatter. It seems that 369 was coming south behind the 19K and the 368 was getting re-crewed here.

Armed with that information, we gave up on the 19K and returned to the Marion Branch between Wabash and Speicherville.

Finding a spot that could be shot in either direction depended on which train showed up first. We waited and waited . . and waited . . . and waited.

All of a sudden our eventful morning had come to a screeching halt. Lunch time was now upon us and the Subway just down the road was calling me. The sun was getting high in the sky, so we went for vittles.

After lunch we began trolling north, not sure if either train had passed; the radio was suddenly rather quiet. As we got back near North Manchester we began to pick up 368 on the radio.

It was ahead of us. We kept moving north and eventually caught up to the 368 in the siding at Claypool.

The 369 was sitting there as well and had to have been there the better part of four hours waiting for this meet.

More chatter on the radio indicated that a westbound on the former Nickel Plate Road that crosses the Marion Branch at Claypool was approaching.

Train 365 turned north on the Marion Branch. It had a single former Burlington Northern Grinstein green SD70 for its power.

We made a beeline for Warsaw and the street running. While we were on the road the Marion Branch Dispatcher indicated to the 365 that it would be holding at Leesburg for the 200 to run around them.

This made for an easy decision; we just waited at Warsaw for Train 200 and then we would head north and intercept both trains again north of Leesburg.

The 200 is a double-stack train; today it was also a one-unit wonder and not very long. That is inefficient by CSX standards, but NS plays by different rules.

After shooting the 200 in the street we were off for Leesburg, to find that the 365 was gone. Somewhere along the way the plans got changed and the run around was called off.

The 200 was now going into the siding at Leesburg for a meet with something else. Since there are no sidings between Leesburg and Goshen, it would be a while before something would come south.

About now the CSX detector at MP 155 announced a train passing it. The diamonds at Miford Junction are at about MP 166 on CSX. The train was a westbound, the Q137.

According to the detector it had over 15,000 feet of train. That’s almost three miles . . . holy cow!

We set up for its passage at the old grain elevator just west of Milford Junction. While we waited we decided that after Q137 passes we were going to head west along the former Baltimore & Ohio.

We started to do this about 10 years ago, but a line of severe thunderstorms cut our trip short as we headed through the storms to drier areas.

We left off at Nappanee, which just happens to be the next town west of Milford.

The Q137 lumbered by doing about 35 mph. We had to wait awhile for the train to clear the crossing that we were at because my Jeep was on the north side of the tracks and we had shot on the south side.

We did not see any other trains as we headed west through Nappanee. We caught up to the Q137 at Bremen.

They were stopped at a red signal looking into the headlight of an eastbound mixed freight at the Bremen crossovers.

An eastbound double stack was coming past the two trains; Q137 would cross over to Main 2 after the double stack cleared.

Before the eastbound could clear up, the dispatcher changed his mind and let another eastbound intermodal come past before turning the Q137 loose.

He also radioed a westbound that they were crossing over at Nappanee to Main 2 and they were going to follow the Q137 west.

Armed with this information, we continued scouting ahead for decent photo spots. They were few and far between in this part of Indiana.

I had heard from others that the former B&O is not very photogenic in spots, and this certainly was one of those spots.

We found the thriving metropolis of Teegarden to be about the size of Rose Hill.

The CSX right-of-way was heavily treed-in and there was no elevator or anything else worth shooting here.

We headed into Walkerton. Here the former B&O crosses the Michigan City branch of the Nickel Plate at a brick tower.

The tower is still standing and it looks surprisingly good considering it is no longer used.

The lighting for photography was right down the nose, made even worse by the westbounds being on Main 2, the south track. Had they been on Main 1 I think the shots could have turned out a little better.

We shot both westbounds here and then continued west across the Indiana countryside.

The former Grant Trunk Western diamonds at Wellsboro  were the next thing we encountered. An eastbound Canadian National train belonging to the current owner of the ex-GTW was  sitting east of town. They were working the elevator at Kingsbury.

Since it was now late afternoon and almost into evening, we decided to hang here for a while until heading north to Michigan City for the night.

We were rewarded with a CSX train each way and a westbound CN. Wellsboro is not very photogenic but we did the best we could.

As the sun began to set, we were heading north on U.S. 421 bound for a hotel in Michigan City. There is a cluster of hotels just north of the interchange of I-94 and U.S. 421.

We chose the Super 8. They had plenty of rooms and we were at the Texas Roadhouse across the parking lot having dinner a few minutes later.

Article by Marty Surdyk