Posts Tagged ‘New London Ohio’

Good Catches While Trolling CSX, W&LE

March 3, 2021

I always remember Marty Surdyk using the fisherman’s term of “trolling” when hoping for a good catch.

On May 23, 2008, I had a good day of trolling during the afternoon before an Akron Railroad Club meeting. Craig Sanders and I caught a few unexpected prizes.

In Grafton as in photos one through three we caught CSX (ex Baltimore & Ohio) on the former Cleveland, Lorain & West Virginia) crossing the Big Four. Conrail units were still around but the surprise was the B&O caboose restored to excellent condition.

I also got a railfan (Craig) in the first photo. Often I did that on purpose to document who was on the scene.

Afterwards we were working our way to Spencer and we had a catch by surprise on the W&LE. Photos four and five show former Nickel Plate coaches 62 and 90 of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society being shipped to Wellington for short excursions on the Lorain & Wheeling.

Finally in photos six and seven on the former Akron, Canton & Youngstown we caught an empty Wheeling & Lake Erie stone hopper train headed back west to Carey.

Photo six was made west of Spencer while photo seven was at New London about to get on CSX (ex Big Four) on trackage rights to Greenwich.

Today I consider those heritage unit catches: Wisconsin Central, and Denver & Rio Grande Western.

I always wonder since we had good catches, did I have fish for dinner?

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Mailbag: Train Consolidation, AC&Y Trail

August 2, 2020

We don’t get many comments in response to postings on this blog but on occasion we get some. One of those was an email from a friend who used to work for a Class 1 railroad.

He wrote to say that although most trains these days being operated by Class 1s are a mish mash of various type of freight, don’t expect to see UPS trailers or containers moving as part of a monster length manifest freight.

“They are the hottest trains on any railroad that gets a contract for them, and they move,” he wrote.

Any intermodal train that has even one UPS trailer or container is considered to be a UPS train for dispatching purposes.

As for auto racks moving in manifest freights, he wrote that automobile traffic probably has not come back to the point where it is economical to separate them out again.

“The advantage of operating dedicated auto rack trains is that they are considered intermodal trains, like trailer/stack trains, and can operate at the maximum allowable speed for whatever subdivision they are on.”

On CSX, for example, that can be a top speed of 70 mph. But auto racks placed in the consists of manifest freights are limited to a top speed of 50 mph.

He said that sales of new vehicles probably are not good enough currently to warrant paying more for a dedicated train.

We also received a comment from a reader involved with a new recreational trail group, New London-Greenwich Rail Trail, Incorporated.

He wrote to say his group purchased the former Akron, Canton & Youngstown right-of-way between New London and Greenwich in May of 2019 from the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway.

NLGRT has been working to remove overgrowth and construct the trail, which has been named The AC&Y Trail.

Late last year CSX removed a piece of panel track from the former AC&Y right of way that had sat at Greenwich East Town Line 79 road.

I remember photographing that panel track a few years back and know that it sat there for some time.

The AC&Y Trail is expected to open to the public by the end of summer 2020.

Perhaps that will create some new photographic opportunities of the CSX Greenwich Subdivision.

The trail will pass the New London Reservoir, which sits above ground and is a good place to photograph CSX trains and W&LE trains using CSX trackage rights.

I Had Forgotten How Good This Day Had Been

May 23, 2020

A three-way meet in Olmsted Falls with an eastbound Norfolk Stack train, a very Lake Shore Limited and a tied down grain train with Canadian Pacific power was one of the highlights of my outing of Aug. 30, 2014.

It can be a quite pleasing feeling when going through old photographs and discovering an image you forgot you had.

I recently discovered not only images I had forgotten having made but a day-long outing that in retrospect must have seemed like one of those days where everything was going right.

And it occurred less than six years ago. So how could I have forgotten it?

I’ll answer that question later but on Aug. 30, 2014, I photographed 18 trains and saw locomotives of every Class 1 railroad except Canadian National.

The day began in Olmsted Falls just after 8 a.m. where I found a grain train sitting in the Berea siding west of Mapleway Drive with a Canadian Pacific leader.

There was no crew on board and the train probably needed a Norfolk Southern unit equipped with a cab signal apparatus.

In case you’ve forgotten, summer 2014 was the year NS implemented a new computer program in its dispatching system that tied the Chicago Line into knots for several weeks.

Mainline tracks between Cleveland and Chicago were blocked with trains whose crews had outlawed.

It was so bad that Amtrak in daylight became a regular occurrence in Northeast Ohio.

Indeed, I twice in one week photographed the eastbound Capitol Limited in mid morning. No. 30 is scheduled to arrive in Cleveland at 1:45 a.m., well before daybreak.

I’ve long since forgotten what plans I had for railfanning on Aug. 30, but I began the day in Olmsted Falls because the eastbound Lake Shore Limited was running more than five hours behind schedule.

Amtrak No. 48 would not reach Olmsted Falls until shortly before 11 a.m. By then NS had sent eight trains through the Falls of which four were westbounds.

An interesting fact I discovered upon reviewing the photos of the 11 Chicago Line trains I photographed that morning is that all but two of them were running on Track 1.

The NS dispatcher sent four trains west on Track 1 between 8:15 a.m. and 9:22 a.m. Three trains went east on the same track through Olmsted Falls between 9:38 a.m. and 10:05 a.m.

It must have been a challenge getting those trains out of each other’s way west of Cleveland.

An eastbound stack train at 10:50 a.m. was the first train to use Track 2 during the time I was there.

Two minutes after it arrived came the eastbound Lake Shore Limited on Track 1.

Running right behind the stacker on Track 2 was an eastbound coal train, which turned out to be the last NS train I saw.

The 10 NS trains I photographed included six stack trains, two tank car trains, a coal train and the grain train that never turned a wheel during my time in the Falls.

After the coal train cleared I headed for Wellington where CSX was equally as busy.

Between 12:15 p.m. and 12:47 p.m. I photographed five trains, two eastbounds and three westbounds.

It was an interesting mix of traffic that included an eastbound manifest freight, an eastbound auto rack train, the westbound trash containers train, the westbound Union Pacific-CSX “salad shooter” reefer train and a westbound grain train.

The reefer train had its customary three UP units, but of particular interest was the Southern Belle of Kansas City Southern leading the trash train.

Sometime after 1:30 p.m. I decided to head for New London. On the drive there, I spotted a Wheeling & Lake Erie train tied down just west of the grade crossing on Ohio Route 162 east of New London on the Carey Subdivision.

The lead unit of the eastbound W&LE train was a former KCS SD40 still wearing its KCS colors but with small W&LE markings.

The trailing unit was painted in Wheeling colors but lettered for the Denver & Rio Grande Western.

I don’t remember hanging out in New London but I presume that I did. Yet I didn’t photograph any trains there, which suggests that CSX might have died for the afternoon.

Whatever the case, I decided at some point to head east and wound up on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad where I photographed the last southbound train of the day arriving in Peninsula.

On the south end of the train was that LTEX leased unit that everyone loved to hate, GP15 No. 1420 in its solid black livery. On the north end was CVSR 1822, an Alco RS18u.

I photographed the train leaving and then headed home, having had quite a day with my camera.

OK, why did this become a “lost” memory given the diversity of what I captured with megapixels.

A number of reasons come to mind. Notice that I saw virtually no trains for most of the afternoon. I tend to evaluate the success of an outing by how it ends more than how it begins.

If the day ends with a flourish I tend to remember it as being successful. It is ends with little I tend to think that it could have been better.

Another factor was that August 2014 was a busy and eventful month for me and that might explain why this outing got lost in a lot of other memories.

Finally, days like the one I had on Aug. 30 used to be fairly common in Northeast Ohio when rail traffic was heavier.

A Kansas City Southern Belle might not have been a common sight in NEO back then — and still isn’t — but UP, BNSF and CP units were.

When you live in a place that has a high level of freight traffic it is easy to get somewhat jaded about it. It will always be there, right?

Yet five years later changes in railroad operating patterns have made outings like this less common.

There are fewer trains even though NS and CSX mainlines through Cleveland still host a lot of trains and can have busy spells. The “salad shooter” is now gone and the nature of and the overall level of rail traffic is not what it was five years ago.

Given my current circumstances how I long for a day today like the one I had on Aug. 30.

If there is a lesson to be drawn from this story it would be to appreciate what you have when you have it and learn to make the best of the opportunities that do present themselves in the here and now. They won’t always be there.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Many of the photographs that I made in Olmsted Falls on this day revolved around the grain train and its CP leader. In the distance a stack train heads west.

BNSF and NS units combined to wheel a westbound container train through Olmsted Falls.

NS units created a BNSF sandwich in the motive power consist of this eastbound tank car train.

A pretty lady leads an ugly train at Wellington. Southern Belles were a prized catch whenever I was trackside anywhere in Northeast Ohio.

The “salad shooter” makes an appearance in Wellington with its customary Union Pacific motive power consist.

Fresh lumber was among the many commodities being toted by this eastbound CSX manifest freight past the reservoir in Wellington.

Although it’s a Wheeling & Lake Erie unit, this SD40 still wore its KCS colors and thus made it a KCS two-fer type of day. It is sitting at the distant signal for Hiles near New London.

CVSR 1822 will be leading when this train comes back through Peninsula more than an hour from now.

ARRC Memorial Day Weekend Memories

May 27, 2019

Although The May meeting of the Akron Railroad Club meeting almost always is on the Friday leading into the Memorial Day weekend, the club has generally avoided having outings near or on holidays.

It made an exception in 2006. Even though I was in my second year as president then, I don’t recall why we chose the holiday weekend that year for an outing.

The plan was to go to Greenwich, but Marty Surdyk said he would spend the first part of the day at the above ground reservoir in nearby New London.

I’d never been there at the time so I and several others followed his lead and met there in the morning.

Most of the group spent a few hours atop the reservoir, which offers a nice panoramic view of CSX trains on what it today is known as the Greenwich Subdivision.

It can be fun and even instructive to look back at images you made during long-ago photo expeditions to see how much things have changed.

Consider the top photograph of an eastbound passing the reservoir. Note how new the BNSF “War Bonnet” looks. Yet, it had been in service for nine years when this image was made.

Your long ago photographs can also show what hasn’t changed in the intervening years, including the basic Norfolk Southern locomotive livery as seen in the trailing unit behind BNSF 757.

If you’ve seen a War Bonnet, you know that the paint has badly faded on many of them and BNSF has shown no inclination to give them a touch up or refreshing.

The middle image shows a surprise sighting of a caboose still wearing Chessie System colors but with CSX markings along with a liberal amount of graffiti. It was also on the rear of a westbound and we weren’t sure where it was going or why it was traveling there.

By mid afternoon the New London contingent had relocated to Greenwich to join the ARRC members who had spent all day there.

We were watching an oncoming westbound on the former Big Four, which had a signal for a straight move onto what is today the Mt. Victory Subdivision.

Marty was looking at the train through a telephoto lens and proclaimed, “that looks like an F40.”

I didn’t believe him at first. What would a passenger unit be doing pulling a train on a holiday weekend?

But he was correct. CSX F40PH 9992 was pulling three passenger cars from the railroad’s executive fleet.

We speculated that the train was bound for Indianapolis to pick up VIPs attending the Indianapolis 500, which was held that day.

The train had a theater car on the rear but the shades were pulled over the windows, suggesting the train did not have any passengers.

It would be the first and thus far only time that I’ve spotted the CSX executive train.

No. 9992 was built by EMD in August 1981 as Amtrak No. 390. A review of my trip logs shows I’ve ridden behind it twice on Amtrak.

It was on the point of the San Francisco Zephyr when I rode it from Chicago to Denver in October 1981, when it was about two months old. It also led the Cardinal in April 1990 on a trip I rode from Chicago to Indianapolis.

Not too long after the passage of the passenger train, the ARRC outing in Greenwich came to a close. I don’t recall us going anywhere to have dinner together as some guys typically have done at the conclusion of a longest day outing.

And that’s the way it was on May 28, 2006, which has turned out to be the last time the ARRC held an outing in New London or Greenwich.

How Do They Unload Those Things?

October 27, 2018

At the beginning of summer I was hanging out on the above-ground reservoir in New London by the CSX Greenwich Subdivision.

Traffic was decent given that CSX operates fewer trains these days.

I heard a Wheeling & Lake Erie eastbound train get permission to enter CSX tracks at Greenwich for the trip to New London where it would get back on its own railroad.

My enthusiasm for seeing a W&LE train amid a stream of CSX action was tempered somewhat by the fact that both locomotives were running long hood forward.

Much of the consist of the train was gondolas loaded with limestone. That raised a question in mind as to how the stone is unloaded.

Most of the stone I’ve seen shipped by rail moves in hopper cars with doors that open at the bottom. Gravity then does the unloading.

But how do you get stone out of a gondola. My guess is either you use a clamshell bucket or you have to turn the car upside down as is down with some cars carrying coal.

My hunch is these cars are not turned upside down when unloaded.

Circle Trip of Reservoirs and Railroads

June 5, 2018


My original plan for railfanning on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend was to drive down to New London and “recreate” a memorable Akron Railroad Club outing of 2006.

I remember that outing for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that it was billed as a trip to Greenwich but started out in New London because that is where Marty Surdyk wanted it to begin.

We did get to Greenwich, eventually, but not until mid to late afternoon.

I had never been to either location so I had to rely on Marty for directions on getting there.

My memories from that day include seeing the CSX executive train headed westbound through Greenwich, seeing a caboose on an eastbound manifest freight at New London and catching a BNSF warbonnet leading a train at New London.

There was also the emphatic manner in which the late Tim Krogg suggested that it was time to get some bleeping lunch and how Peter Bowler schooled us in how a flock of buzzards is known as a kettle.

I enjoyed that outing so much that I suggested in 2013 that we do it again. It was scheduled, but I was the only person who showed up.

As I was heading west on Interstate 480 I decided to modify my plans.

I would make this a reservoir circle trip with stops in Wellington, New London and Attica. By day’s end I wanted to have photographs of trains and water at four reservoirs, three of them located above ground.

This would hinge, of course, on the cooperation of CSX, which since the onset of scheduled precision railroading has reduced the number of trains it operates. Those that do run tend to be much longer.

Sure enough, CSX was dead when I arrived in Wellington. I would wait 45 minutes before finally hearing an eastbound stack train calling signals on the radio.

Making images of an above-ground reservoir and trains is a challenge because of the distance between the shoreline and the tracks.

If you feature the shoreline that is closet to the rails, you have to use a wide-angle lens, which guarantees you’ll only get a portion of the water. In proportion to the scene the train will be small.

The latter doesn’t bother me but it does some railfan photographers.

You can also try to shoot across the water with a telephoto lens but you might not get the train. Remember, these are above ground reservoirs.

My first catch of the day in Wellington was an eastbound stack train with a pair of BNSF locomotives running elephant style. Not bad.

It was late morning so I decided to move on to New London. But as I was walking toward my car I heard the westbound Q163 stack train calling signals and decided to wait for it.

I tried a different angle, going for the north shoreline that is perpendicular to the tracks. The downside of this view is that I could get very little of the train into the image. Interestingly, the Q163 also had BNSF motive power.

I arrived in New London during another CSX lull that also lasted about 45 minutes.

I could hear other CSX trains on the radio, but nothing that would be coming through New London.

I also heard a Wheeling & Lake Erie train get track authority from Hartland to Spencer, meaning I would have seen it had I stayed in Wellington.

I finally got a train just before noon, an eastbound crude oil train with three BNSF units.

Hmmmm. I’m starting to see a pattern here. Did BNSF buy CSX and I didn’t know about it? Fat chance of that.

My idea was to shoot this train in the same manner that I did the Q163 at Wellington. It would have worked had I been paying more attention to the water and less to the locomotives.

I managed to create an image that didn’t show any of the water.

That would not be the case with the next train, a W&LE train off the Carey
Subdivision carrying stone in gondola cars and a few covered hoppers.

I heard this train get permission from the IP dispatcher in Jacksonville to enter CSX track at Greenwich at GN Tower.

At the time time, I thought this was fantastic news. I would be getting a Wheeling train after all.

Yet when the train showed up, it’s locomotives were both running long hood forward.

At least I got some water in this image and the lead unit is a former BNSF locomotive still in its BNSF colors. That sort of kept my BNSF motive power streak alive.

That streak was snapped when the Q348 showed up with CSX motive power. It stopped at CP 47 to allow the Q008 to pass.

I got the Q008 passing the manifest freight and some water.

The chatter on the radio indicated that more trains were coming, including the Q010 so I stayed a little longer at New London.

That paid off when a westbound auto rack train came past with a CREX (Citirail) ES44AC in the lead.

I’ve always like the color scheme of these Citirail units, but I’ve seldom been able to catch them leading a train.

The trailing unit of the auto rack train, by the way, was, you guessed it, a BNSF unit, which would be the final binsiff I would see on this day.

After the passage of the Q010, I set out for Attica but distractions along the way kept me from getting to the Attica reservoirs until late afternoon.

First, I stopped in Greenwich to photograph an eastbound CSX auto rack train whose headlight I saw in the distance as I crossed the Mt. Victory Subdivision tracks on U.S. Route 224.

Upon crossing the Sandusky District tracks of Norfolk Southern in Attica, I saw the rear of an eastbound and decided to check it out.

It turned out to be a grain train with three Canadian National units for motive power that I wound up chasing to Bucyrus where I got it going around the connection to the Fort Wayne Line.

I made further stops near Chatfield to photograph across a field a stopped eastbound NS manifest freight and to make some non-rail photographs in Chatfield of a hardware store that is going out of business.

By the time I got to the lower Attica reservoir, the Sandusky District had been turned into a parking lot because of a malfunctioning switch at Colsan in Bucyrus.

I waited a while before catching the eastbound 188 passing the reservoir, which had surprisingly smooth water for a windy day. That yielded a nice reflection image.

I had heard the 20E calling signals and thought I’d get it at the upper Attica reservoir a short distance away.

The dispatcher had told the 188 to stop at County Line Road and maybe the 20E would stop behind it.

I drove up to the top of the upper Attica reservoir, but there was no 20E. It was getting late and I didn’t want to get home too late, so I decided to forgo getting an image from my fourth reservoir of the day.

Although I looked, I never did see the 20E. Either the train I photographed at the lower Attica reservoir had been the 20E or it slipped past me as I was driving through Attica.

 

 

One August Day in New London

December 28, 2017

The weather wasn’t the greatest. Mostly cloudy skies and the threat of rain hung over us although the wet stuff didn’t come until later in the day.

I was out with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and we didn’t have any concrete objective other than to get out and photograph some trains.

We headed out on the CSX Greenwich Subdivision and eventually would work our way west to the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern.

It had been six years since I had been on the bridge in New London carrying Biglow Parkway over the CSX tracks. The last time I’d been here I was making photographs with slide film.

As I reported in an earlier post this year, we found that someone had cut holes in the fence on  the north side of the bridge. We used those to our advantage.

CSX was single tracking west of CP 47, where the Wheeling & Lake Erie tracks join CSX on the north side of New London. There is also a set of crossover switches there.

We would see four trains pass through CP 47 before we moved on after about an hour. First up was the Q158 which was closely followed by the Q166. The latter was to meet a westbound stack train waiting north of CP 47.

After the Q166 cleared the interlocking plant, the westbound stacker, whose symbol I didn’t record, crossed over from Track 2 to Track 1 to continue its westbound trek.

Shortly after the westbound stack train cleared the crossovers, I spotted a westbound headlight in the distance.

It was manifest freight whose symbol I also didn’t record or understand but it might have been the Q363. It had a long string of auto racks on the rear and I had earlier seen the Q363 with such a consist.

It took the Q363 quite a while to get to CP 47. It, too, crossed over from Track 2 to Track 1.

There didn’t seem to be any more traffic in the vicinity, so after the last of the auto rack cars had cleared the crossovers, we moved on. Four trains in an hour isn’t too bad these days when railfanning CSX.

CP 166 comes through the interlocking with an assortment of Canadian Pacific motive power.

Q166 is about to meet a westbound stack train waiting north of the westbound home signals for CP 47 at New London.

Here comes the Q363. The track veering off to the right is the Wheeling & Lake Erie. It used to be the Akron, Canton & Youngstown line to Cary and it used to cross the New York Central here at a diamond known as Hiles.

Long strings of auto rack cars appended to manifest freights has become a standard procedure in the E. Hunter Harrison era.

 

 

A Railfan Photographer Was Here

September 20, 2017

Earlier this year I was out with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler on a Sunday photo outing.

He had not been to the New London area for several years so we headed down that way.

One of our stops was the Biglow Parkway bride over the CSX Greenwich Subdivision tracks.

Although I’ve been in New London a few times in recent years, it has been more than a two since I’ve been on Biglow Parkway bridge.

There are high fences on both sides of the bridge, each with small chain link fencing.

On the north side of the bridge, though, someone had cut three holes to create portholes.

I presume it was a railfan photographer who did this and I don’t know how long these holes have been there.

But I took advantage of them to photograph three CSX trains.

Restore the AC&Y!

August 24, 2017

The former Akron, Canton  & Youngstown track between New London and Greenwich was removed several years ago in favor of the Wheeling & Lake Erie using trackage rights over the parallel CSX Greenwich Subdivision.

West of New London the ex-AC&Y right of way is still in place, although largely overgrown with weeds.

During a recent railfan outing to New London, I noticed that a piece of panel track had been placed on the former AC&Y right of way near the CSX crossing at the northwest corner of the New London above ground reservoir.

Could it be part of a plan to put the AC&Y back in? That’s not likely. It was probably left there by a CSX maintenance of way gang.

Stumbling Into a Photograph

May 11, 2017

Nothing about this photograph was planned. At the time that it was made, I was chasing after a Wheeling & Lake Erie train that was leaving the siding at Hiles east of New London.

The case began at the northwest parking lot for the New London reservoir. You can sit there and watch trains on the CSX Greenwich Subdivision.

With a good antenna and radio you can also pick up radio transmissions on the W&LE frequency.

And so that was how I learned that a tank train I had seen earlier in the day in the Hiles siding was reading to go east.

I wasn’t sure that I could catch that train before it got to Spencer. I started to move, then sat back down. There is too much distance.

A moment later I began having second thoughts. The train will be accelerating from a standing start. It won’t be moving all that fast. In a worse case scenario I can catch it at Spencer.

So I drove out of the parking lot and on the spur of the moment decided to take a road that would go south of New London, which I thought would save time as opposed to going through town.

I had been on the road earlier that day when I had a false start trying to chase that Wheeling tank train. In that case, the conversation I heard on the radio was not the crew of the tank train.

I’m racing along eastward on a road I don’t know well but had been on earlier in the day. I make a left turn on a road that I think will lead me to Ohio Route 162.

It did, but it wasn’t the road I wanted. I turned on Chenango Road when what I really needed was Butler Road.

Chenango Road crosses the W&LE tracks, but by the time I reached them the tank train was gone. I also realized that I had the wrong road.

OK, I thought, I’ll go north a short distance and then turn east. Except that there were no crossroads.

Maybe there would be one just beyond the CSX crossing. As I was crossing the CSX tracks, I looked to my right and saw the headlight of a westbound train. That gave me a jolt.

Just as or just after I cleared the tracks, the gates started to come down. That gave me another jolt.

At that point instinct and experience kicked in. Something told me I could get a photograph of this train.

There was a dirt road to the right. I pulled in, grabbed my camera and headed for an opening near the tracks.

There was no time to think through the shot. I spotted a puddle and instinct and experience kicked in again.

In retrospect had I been standing back a little further I might have been able to capture the ditch lights and locomotive nose in the heart of the puddle rather than on the edges.

I also had the misfortune of photographing as a cloud blocked the sun. It was one of five times when that happened.

This, like most of the photographs that I made on this day, turned out to be less than ideal. It was that kind of a day.

But at least I didn’t come away from this photo op empty handed as I had earlier when just as I was catching up to the head end of an eastbound stack train on the New Castle Subdivision, I ran out of highway because U.S. 224 was closed for construction east of Nova.