Posts Tagged ‘New York & Lake Erie’

Ex-Erie Alco Switcher Gets Heritage Treatment

August 14, 2021

New York short line railroad New York & Lake Erie has applied a new livery to its Alco S1 No. 308.

The new look combines elements of the Erie Railroad and Erie Lackawanna liveries.

The 75-year-old unit was built for the Erie in November 1946. It received the new livery as part of a rebuilding process.

No. 308 has been returned to revenue service at Gowanda, New York, and will operate on former Erie trackage along with former VIA Rail Canada FPA4 locomotives.

Where a Movie Was Once Made

June 20, 2021

In writing my posts last week about the New York & Lake Erie Railroad excursion train that Marty Surdyk and I chased on June 13, I was reminded of how some of the train scenes in the movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles were made on that railroad.

The film, starring John Candy as Del Griffith and Steve Martin as Neal Page, included a scene where the two of them boarded a train at Stubbville, Kansas.

That was actually South Dayton, New York, and it is the first trackside sequence shown in the movie, which also featured scenes of the the train rounding a curve popping into and out of a short tunnel.

During an Akron Railroad Club/Railroad Enthusiasts photo charter on the NY&LE on April 26, 1987, club members had the opportunity for cab rides on locomotive 1013.

I was fortunate that my cab ride included a trip through the tunnel, which is the remnants of a former Erie Railroad branch from Dunkirk, New York, that passed over the ex-Erie line from Buffalo.

The top photo shows a runby at a tunnel at Dayton, New York, earlier in the day of April 26, 1987.

The middle image is my cab ride through tunnel while the last image is a runby through the tunnel similar to what is seen in the movie.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Chasing the NY&LE (Part 2)

June 16, 2021

Second of two parts

After the New York & Lake Erie excursion train arrived at South Dayton, passengers disembarked for a 30-minute layover.

We watched and photographed as the locomotive ran around to the other end of the train for the return to Gowanda.

We then toured the station, which was open during the layover. We enjoyed the displays and photo albums from local residents of Robert Redford, Steve Martin, John Candy, and the former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-4 No. 4070 during the visits in the 1980s.

Many of the locals were very lucky to have photos of and with the celebrities.

At about 3:15 p.m. the train departed for the return trip. We chased it and got a few more photographs.

In the images above we see changing ends at South Dayton, approaching Markhams Road after passing Dole Street, the train at East Hill Street dropping down into Gowanda.

Back in Gowanda, we see the train passing a derelict Contrack coach that Marty, myself and Craig Sanders had seen in 2017 during a trip to Arcade & Attica.

Finally, here is No. 1013 as it appears today and No. 1013 as it appeared during an Akron Railroad Club/Railroad Enthusiasts charter trip on April 26, 1987

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Disappointment Quickly Turned to Joy

June 15, 2021

On Sunday Marty Surdyk picked me up just after 9 a.m. at my house. Our quest for the day was to photograph the excursion on the New York & Lake Erie (ex-Erie trackage) out of Gowanda, New York.

In the 1980s we rode and chased trips often during our younger days. This was to be a reprise of that era.

The NY&LE always had a special connection to us. In 1983, former Grand Trunk Western 2-8-2 No. 4070 traveled from Cleveland to the NY&LE for an important role in scenes for The Natural starring Robert Redford.

In 1987 the railroad had a special role in the filming of the comedy Planes, Trains & Automobiles starring John Candy and Steve Martin.

Also in 1987 and 1988, we participated in photo charters on the railroad when the locomotive and passenger cars were still wearing the fictitious Contrack livery for Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

We arrived on the NY&LE before noon and scouted the line to plot our potential photo locations. After having lunch in Gowanda, we ventured to the station there. Passengers were beginning to arrive.

However, our excitement changed to disappointment. An Alco FA was attached to the train but with its back end forward. The other FA was in the engine house.

We were thinking of riding the train because we weren’t too excited about photographing what appeared to be a boxcar leading the train.

We decided to still chase since the lone FA would being facing the proper direction on the return even though the sun angles would not be ideal.

We set up at East Hill Street just around a curve from the station area. At 2 p.m. a horn blow for departure sounded. Oh well maybe another time we’ll come back to get the back-to- back FAs.

Shortly the train appeared and disappoitment turned to “Wow!” There was the other FA. We never heard it coming out of the engine house.

We have no idea how we did not hear anything since Alcos definitely are not quiet. We were extremely delighted.

And with that the chase was on from Gowanda to South Dayton.

In the top image is the excursion train at East Hill Street in Gowanda followed by images made at Church street in Dayton, Markhams Road and at the South Dayton station.

Also shown is what we thought would be the motive power for the trip and a depiction in the Gowanda station of John Candy and Steven Martin.

The South Dayton station was used in the filming of The Natural and Planes, Trains & Automobiles.

A group photograph of Akron Railroad Club and Railroad Enthusiasts members was made at the South Dayton depot in 1987.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

NY&LE Resumes Excursion Trains

October 14, 2020

A western New York short line railroad has announced that it will resume tourist train excursions.

The New York & Lake Erie Railroad will run its first passenger excursions this Saturday, offering two trips celebrating the railroad’s 42nd anniversary.

Excursions had been suspended thus far this year due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Also planned for the fall and winter are fall foliage, Halloween, Harvest Fest, and Santa Express trains.

The Class III short line is based in Gowanda, New York, near Buffalo.

There was Much to Anticipate in April 1987

June 5, 2020

The restore Pennsylvania Railroad K4 steam locomotive chugs along at Milesburg, Pennsylvania, north of Bellfonte on the ex-PRR Bald Eagle branch in central Pennsylvania.

April of 1987 was looking to be a very exciting month. There would be inaugural steam locomotive trips featuring Pennsylvania Railroad 4-6-2 No. 1361 and Norfolk & Western 2-6-6-4 No. 1218.

Pennsy 1361 would make its debut at Altoona, Pennsylvania, and N&W 1218 would be ssteaming out of Roanoke, Virginia.

We chose to chase the 1361 because we knew the 1218 would be up in our area later that summer.

No. 1361 ran on Conrail (the former PRR mainline) from Altoona to Tyrone then up the Nittany & Bald Eagle, a former Pennsy branch, to Bellefonte on April 12, 1987.

The day was complete rain, fog and gloom; however, that did not hinder the first time seeing the K4 live since her days just recently on display at Horseshoe Curve.

I was with the Surdyks on this day along with hundreds if not thousands witnessing this historic restoration having come to fruition.

On April 26, 1987, there was a joint Akron Railroad Club/Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts photo special on the New York & Lake Erie out of Gowanda, New York.

This excursion on former Erie Railroad tracks was set up with the president of the NY&LE, Bob Dingman.

We were fortunate to have the locomotive and a coach used in the filming of the movie Planes Trains and Automobiles with Steve Martin and John Candy.

You may notice the railroad name Contrack is a takeoff of Conrail and Amtrak.

In the movie Candy plans Del Griffith, a shower curtain ring salesman who winds up traveling  with Martin , who plays marketing executive Neal Page, by train and automobile, after their flight from New York to Chicago is diverted to Wichita, Kansas, during a blizzard.

The NY&LE was also noted for the railroad scenes in The Natural with Robert Redford. Former Grant Trunk Western 2-8-2 No. 4070 was brought from Cleveland to the NY&LE for the early scenes in the movie.

Finally on May16, 1987, Louisville & Nashville 4-6-2 No. 152 was leased by Norfolk Southern for several trips as part of its steam program.

The trip I photographed was ran from L&N 152 from Lexington to Stearns, Kentucky. N&W 611 would then return the train to Lexington.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

No. 1361 passes a Conrail helper set on the Pittsburgh Line at Pinecroft, which is east of Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Doyle McCormick sits in the engineer’s seat of No. 1361 in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

ARRC and RRE members ride in a a gondola during their excursion on the New York & Lake Erie. That is the late J. Gary Dillon standing on the porch of the caboose while Marty Surdyk stands at far right wearing a red and white hat.

The excursionists pose at South Dayton, New York, on the Contrack locomotive used in the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Louisville & Nashville 152 at Danville, Kentucky.

L&N 152 is putting on a show at Moreland, Kentucky.

Norfolk & Western 611 pulls the excursion train over the Cumberland River at Burnside, Kentucky.

From Movie Star to Derelict

September 30, 2017

Marty Surdyk, Ed Ribinskas and I were driving home last July from an outing on the Arcade & Attica in New York State.

We stopped in Gowanda, New York, to photograph a former Erie Railroad station and ended up discovering something else.

It was Contrack coach 3573 sits neglected nearby. Many of its windows are broken or covered with plywood.

Now owned by the New York & Lake Erie, the short-line railroad has a connection to the Akron Railroad Club. In 1987 the club and the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts sponsored an excursion on that railroad.

Being a late Sunday afternoon, no one was around the depot, which is adjacent to a small yard.

I happened to look across the street and noticed something that I wanted to investigate.

It turned out to be one of the “Contrack” coaches used in the filming of the 1987 movie Trains, Planes and Automobiles, which featured Steve Martin  and John Candy.

The unlikely pair are traveling by plane from New York to Chicago en route home for Thanksgiving when the plane was diverted to Wichita, Kansas, due to a blizzard in Chicago.

The two opposites wound up taking a Contrack train out of Stubbville, Kansas, but the locomotive broke down in Missouri and the passengers were left stranded in a field.

A utility pole has fallen on one side of the car and vegetation is threatening to swallow it.

An online search yielded little information other than the car has apparently been sitting at this location for more than 10 years.

Parts of the movie were filmed in Gowanda and the scene where the locomotive breaks down occurred between Dayton and South Dayton.

As you might imagine, the car is rusting and its paint fading, but the Contrack logo and name are still visible.

The car appears to have been built or modernized during the streamliner era, but I otherwise know nothing about its heritage. It probably was used for a time in the NY&LE tourist train operation.

I’m not an expert in assessing the physical condition of passenger cars, but it appears it would require a lot of money to cosmetically restore Contrack 3573, let alone get it into operating condition.

With the car having been in one place for so many years and continuing to deteriorate, it seems likely it will be scrapped in place some day.

Trains, Planes and Automobiles was released 30 years ago on the day before Thanksgiving to take advantage of its Thanksgiving travel theme.

The film had an upbeat conclusion that was pure Hollywood, yet it will take more than Hollywood magic for Contrack 3573 to have a happy ending.