Posts Tagged ‘NS Central of Georgia heritage locomotive’

They Might Have Been Surprised But I Wasn’t

August 24, 2021

My one and thus far only catch of the Central of Georgia heritage locomotive came in March 2015

Early Monday morning I opened my new email folder expecting to find a message from Edward Ribinskas containing a photograph of the Central of Georgia heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern passing through Berea.

Ed had told me of his plans to attend a Frontier League baseball game in Avon Lake on Sunday afternoon with Marty Surdyk. They had planned to railfan in Berea before going to the game.

Catching the NS 8101 may have surprised Ed and Marty, but it didn’t surprise me.

On Saturday evening I had checked to see if anything was setting up to come through Berea Sunday morning that they might catch.

I noticed an 11N with the NS 8101 was making its way across Pennsylvania en route to Sterling Heights, Michigan, from Doremus, New Jersey.

On Sunday morning I checked again to see how far west the 8101 had been reported.

The latest report was in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, at 10:54 p.m. on Saturday. Had the 8101 been leading an intermodal train it more than likely would have been through Northeast Ohio hours before Marty and Ed arrived in Berea.

But the 11N works Conway Yard near Pittsburgh and manifest and bulk commodity trains don’t always move expeditiously, sometimes getting held for long periods of time for higher priority traffic and/or a new crew.

On Sunday afternoon I checked and found the 11N was reported at Berea at 11:05 a.m. or 11:07 a.m., depending on whose report you want to believe.

That would have been within the window of when I expected Ed and Marty to be in Berea; hence I was looking for Ed to send a photo of the 8101.

The two of them also caught DC to AC conversion unit 4000, one of the “Blue Brothers” locomotives that are so named because of a blue and gray livery.

You may recall reading in Ed’s report as well as a post Marty had written about his formula for having railfan success that getting the 8101 on Sunday morning completed Marty’s collection of photographs of all 20 NS heritage units.

Marty is correct in saying that success in catching out of the ordinary trains and locomotives hinges in part in doing your homework. Likewise, he is correct in saying that there is a lot of luck involved in being in the right place at the right time to catch something.

Neither Ed nor Marty indicated it they checked before heading for Berea on Sunday. If they had they might have found out as I did that there was a chance they might see the Central of Georgia H unit.

I say might because the latest report on before they actually saw the 8101 was the previous evening in Johnstown. If anyone saw it in Alliance and anywhere else east of Cleveland, they didn’t report it.

Likewise, the most recent report on NS 4000 was at Rochester, Pennsylvania, at 8:19 p.m. on Saturday.

Relying on or other online reports, e.g., Facebook, sometimes can only take you so far in determining what lies down the tracks that is headed your way.

That means Marty is also correct in saying that above all you need to be there if you want to catch something out of the ordinary or, sometimes, anything at all.

By coincidence the Central of Georgia H unit was the last one I needed to complete my check list of NS heritage units. When I finally photographed the 8101 on March 12, 2015, in Olmsted Falls, it was not the first time I had seen it.

I had seen it at least once but had not been in a position to get a photograph. One of those sightings occurred as I drove east on Chester Avenue in Cleveland and it passed in front of me on the Cleveland Line bridge over the street.

Although I’ve forgotten the details I have a hazy memory of having had a few near misses in getting NS 8101 in the weeks and months leading up to finally bagging it.

Alas, I haven’t seen or photographed the 8101 since then.

While researching this article I noticed that had Ed and Marty gone back to Berea or even to Olmsted Falls after the baseball game they could have caught the Monongahela H unit, which came west leading the 25Z.

It was reported at Berea at 7:23 p.m. but that probably was too late for them to still be trackside.

At some point you just have to call it a day, move on to other things, and hope that luck is still with you next time you are trackside.

We all need to remind ourselves from time to time that railfanning for most of us is a hobby and not a job with all of the pressures and demands that come with it. I have met railroad photographers who make rail photography into something akin to work.

They come back with some spectacular images that we all admire and enjoy. Maybe we even wish we could have gotten that image. You could have if you had been willing to do the work required to get it.

Yet is going to work the reason why you go trackside? For some the answer is yes.

As for Ed and Marty, I have a hunch that even if their Sunday in Berea had been just another routine day and the NS 8101 and NS 4000 had never come along they still would have enjoyed themselves and not been greatly disappointed about the two that got away.

Article by Craig Sanders

Getting Lucky (Twice) in Berea

August 23, 2021

I was able to witness Marty Surdyk’s completion of his Norfolk heritage units photo collection when he caught No. 20, the Central of Georgia No. 8101, in Berea on Sunday.

It was leading train 11N, which operates from Doremus, New Jersey, to Sterling Heights, Michigan, in the Detroit area.

The 11N came through shortly after 11 a.m.

We also were able to get DC to AC conversion unit 4000, one of the NS “Blues Brothers.”

It was the second unit of the motive power consist of the 13Q, a Conway to Elkhart manifest freight that operates via Bellevue and Fort Wayne.

The 13Q preceeded the 11N by about 20 minutes.

As Marty indicated in his article, we were in Berea on late Sunday morning before watching a Frontier League baseball game in Avon Lake.

The Crushers center fielder was Shawon Dunston Jr. You may remember his father played shortstop with the Chicago Cubs from 1985-1995. 

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

I Still Enjoyed Seeing NS 8101 Even in the Gloom

March 17, 2020

Maybe you’ve seen my photograph of the Central of Georgia No. 8101 of Norfolk Southern that I made on May 6, 2018, at west end of the old Nickel Plate Road trestle over the Grand River in Painesville.

I’m pretty sure No. 8101 was leading train 287 at 1:50 p.m. I always loved that photo because the lighting was absolutely perfect and it showed the new bridge under construction.

On Monday the 8101 showed up pulling Train 316 en route to Buffalo, New York, just after 6 p.m. on a gloomy Monday.

It wasn’t as clean as it was when I got it a couple years ago yet I still enjoyed seeing it.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Boats and an NS Heritage Unit

May 8, 2018

I thought on Sunday that I would intercept Norfolk Southern train 287 with the Central of Georgia Heritage unit at the Cuyahoga River Bridge.

While I was waiting, the Sam Laud, an ore boat, was heading upriver to the Mittal Steel mill.

As the Sam Laud was clearing a tugboat with a barge left just as the 287 came through.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

Worth the Wait

May 7, 2018

I saw on Sunday morning that Norfolk Southern train 287 would have the Central of Georgia No.  8101 leading.

Before I went to church in the morning I saw that it was in the Buffalo, New York, area so I was able to attend mass then come home for an update.

After I got home the next post was North East, Pennsylvania, at 9:56 a.m. I figured under normal circumstances it would show around 11:30 a.m. It obviously was held in Conneaut until 206 and 22K passed it.

Because of the delay, the lighting was perfect at 1:50 p.m. at the west end of the Painesville trestle over the Grand River.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinksas

Date That Almost Lived in Infamy

July 27, 2017

June 18, 2017, started as a typical Saturday. We were busy at work. My phone chimed that I had a text message around 9 a.m.

Too busy to check it at that time, I continued working. It wasn’t until I got the next vehicle in and was in the process of texting the mileage to our secretary that I read the message.

“Erie leading 25T, 9 a.m. at Johnstown.”

“Holy Cow!”

The 25T usually comes through the Cleveland area in the mid to late afternoon. Today it had the Erie heritage unit leading, one that I have not yet seen, much less photographed.

I texted the Bro back and suggested he keep me informed about its progress.

Work wrapped up and while having lunch at home, I texted Robert for an update.

“At Conway changing crews.”

I had a few errands to run this afternoon that couldn’t wait, but the yard work could. So by 3, I was ready to head trackside.

The last report was Enon Valley at 1 p.m. It would be a family affair to see the Erie today. My nephew Henry and the Grif (his son) were also going along.

Since we had a “tot” with us, we went to the Tot Lot in Bedford. It is located on Palmetto Avenue between the crossings at Grace and Glendale.

We set up here and waited. Norfolk Southern had something happening in the vicinity of CP 86.

Eastbounds were stacked up on both mains waiting to continue east. Our westbound would not be in the picture for a while.

As we waited, Henry got a phone message that the Central of Georgia H unit was coming east on a 66W oil train. It was by Amherst.

It was trailing however, so trail equals fail. But it is still one of the H Units I have yet to see or photograph. This would be a GREAT day if I could get two in one day.

We shot eastbounds for just under three hours: 20E, 20R, 24W, 24M, 18N and a couple of more that I don’t remember the symbol on.

The low man on the pole, or the crew with the most time left to work was M4N. It was sitting at a red board at CP 110 on Track 2 for the entire time we were there.

Grif entertained himself on the slides and ladders of the Tot Lot, stopping only to watch a train go by. He made three new friends who were there with their grandmother.

When the slides became old hat, they took one of Grif’s toy trucks, one a little bigger than a Matchbox, for those who remember Matchbox Cars, and were throwing it over the gym sets.

The first one to get over, under or around to the other side and find the truck got to throw it back over, and the race was on again . . . until they got the truck stuck in the tree.

About now the other kids had to leave. It was pushing 6 p.m.

Henry was convinced that the 66W was the next train but each time he was wrong. Still, he kept insisting.

“Cleveland Terminal to M4N. OK to start heading east; you’ll cross over at CP 107 after one more eastbound.”

The traffic jam was finally subsiding. We had not gotten any more updates about 25T since Enon Valley. Where was it?

As the M4N clumped by and 18N shot past him, Cleveland Terminal cleared up the situation.

“25T, take it easy down to CP 107; got an eastbound crossing over ahead of you. As soon as they clear, you’ll get a light to go west.”

“Hot &%$#”

We loaded up Grif’s toys and his bike that he brought with him and were ready for 25T. We were going to shoot it here and head to Olmsted Falls for another view.

Skies were partly cloudy, so sun wasn’t guaranteed. We had to rub our rabbit’s foots and four leaf clovers to, hopefully, get some luck.

“25T, Clear, CP 107”

Show time was just a few minutes away. We each picked out our spots. As the gates went down at Grace Street, the sun popped out. It would be a sunny shot.

The Erie roared past with its intermodal train in tow. We were off as soon as the last cars cleared the Glendale crossing. Olmsted Falls, here we come.

There had been no further updates on the 66W and we didn’t hear anything about it on the scanner, so what happened to it?

Did it go east on the Nickel Plate to Ashtabula and turn south for Conway there? Is it still around Rockport waiting for a fresh crew? We speculated as we drove west.

As we passed Rockport Yard and the Chicago Line, our questions were answered. They spun the power and the Central of Georgia was now on the lead.

I was hoping for a miracle now, two never before seen H Units in one day . . . wow! We got to the Falls, parked across from the depot and set up shop. We were ahead.

The 25T would be the only train we would see. It came past about 20 minutes after we arrived.

Going back toward the brother’s house, Henry suggested I stop on I-480 and shoot the 66W from the bridge. It would take a long telephoto, but I might get lucky.

Traffic was heavy on I-480 and I couldn’t get over fast enough to pull over on the bridge. They were still sitting there. Not a word was said about the 66W, so how long they were going to be there was anyone’s guess.

I dropped off the rest of the clan and headed home for dinner.

After dinner I had an idea. I needed to go to the airport post office, so I thought I’d check on the 66W’s progress, or lack thereof.

This time I would come up onto I-480 from the airport freeway, making the pull over onto the bridge over the Chicago Line much easier.

The 66W was still sitting there, but they were sitting short of the signal bridge at CP Max and the shadow of the signal bridge was on the C of G and they were a little too far away for my 300mm lens. It was a good idea that fizzled.

The radio finally crackled with chatter about the 66W. A fresh crew was aboard, but they were having trouble getting their marker linked up to the 8101 and other assorted problems.

They would not be departing any time soon, and the sun was now getting pretty low in the sky.

I called it a day at this point, happy about the Erie, but frustrated by the C. of Ga. Hopefully, I’ll have better luck next time.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Central of Ga. H. Unit on the Former NKP

October 4, 2016


Norfolk Southern No. 8101, the Central of Georgia heritage unit, passed through Cleveland around noon on Monday.

It was leading an 888 coal train en route to Buffalo, New York, and came through Painesville at 1:45 p.m., where Akron Railroad Club member Jeff Troutman caught it with his cell phone.

The train took the former Nickel Plate Road mainline all the way east from Bellevue after coming up the Sandusky District from Columbus. The train originated in West Virginia.

Photograph by Jeff Troutman

Putting the Finishing Touches on Memories

May 22, 2015



If I was forced to choose my favorite Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive, I’d probably pick the 8101, which pays tribute to the Central of Georgia.

It is not because the CofG is a favorite railroad of mine. In fact, I never saw a CofG train.

It is more a matter of association. Two Illinois Central passenger trains, the City of Miami and the Seminole, used CofG tracks during their runs between Chicago and Florida.

At one time, two CofG E units painted in the same livery that adorns the modern-day NS heritage locomotive, operated on those trains.

The CofG livery on those locomotives was short lived. IC insisted that they be painted in IC orange and brown if they were to operate on IC property.

So CofG sent them to the paint shop. I rode behind one of those locomotives in its IC colors at least once.

The Central of Georgia name was emblazoned in the IC green diamond on the nose rather than “Illinois Central”

NS 8101, the CofG tribute unit, was the last of the 20 heritage locomotives that I photographed. That alone should make it a distinctive locomotive for me.

It is one thing to photograph a locomotive, but quite another to paint one.

As I was walking through the National Train Day celebration in Toledo earlier this month, I spotted this artist putting the finishing touches on a painting of NS 8101.

I don’t know his name and he probably didn’t see me standing behind him.

Some photographers have long insisted that their craft constitutes art. Not everyone agrees and even those who do might say that many, if not most, photographs are not works of art.

A handful of men have distinguished themselves as railroad painters. The late Ted Rose comes to mind. So does Gil Reid.

A painter doesn’t need to be at the scene that they re-create, only to have an idea of what it looks like.

I paused for a moment to watch this artist exercise his craft.

Artistic painting has never been one of my strong suits. I can’t draw a crooked line and couldn’t paint one either.

So I admire someone who can, particularly if that artist can skillfully reproduce the straight lines and tiny details of a large piece of machinery.

The artist has the advantage of being able to recreate scenes that never existed.

So much of railroad photography is about being in the right place at the right time.

So much of art is having a vivid imagination, including the ability to see in your mind what your hands will create.

Both mediums have can make their subjects come alive in the minds of the viewer.

In the finished painting to the left of the artist, is a reproduction of Illinois Central passenger trains in Chicago with one of those CofG E units still wearing its original livery.

Perhaps there is an intentional juxtaposition going on here.

The NS 8101 was created to celebrate memories such as that moment in Chicago as well as to remind folks that Norfolk Southern is a descendant of a series of railroads that served certain territories for many years before changing economic conditions triggered widespread consolidation of the industry.

Perhaps those who view this painting of NS 8101 will think of that when they see it.

More likely, though, is that it will remind them of an era long after that consolidation occurred.

Whatever the case, paintings can take you back in time, remind you of the present or do both.

And that is one of the beauties of paintings.

The ability to celebrate the dual heritages of different eras is just one of the beauties of the Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive program.

Georgian and Steeler in Cleveland Browns Land

March 13, 2015

Georgia 1a

Georgia 2b

Steelers 2c

Everything just fell into place for me to photograph my 20th Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive on Thursday.

I had some time off, the weather was great and NS 8101, the Central of Georgia unit, was in Northeast Ohio.

I’ve had more than a couple of near misses with this rascal and I had even seen it twice, but wasn’t in a position to photograph it.

But on Thursday morning I saw that it was leading a 20Q through western Ohio and I went out to Olmsted Falls after lunch.

This was the first place where I had missed the NS 8101. That was the Sunday before Labor Day in 2012. I missed it by about five or 10 minutes. That didn’t happen this time.

Some of the H units that I’ve photographed were trailing, such as the Pennsylvania Railroad unit behind Nickel Plate Road steamer No. 765. So there is still work to do to get a few H units on the lead.

Shortly after the passage of the 20Q, I stuck around to make some aircraft photos as planes were landing on runways 6R and 6L at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and coming over the Olmsted Falls depot where I was hanging out.

A US Airways flight from Charlotte arrived with a livery honoring the nemesis of the Cleveland Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The air traffic controller made note of the black and gold livery on this plane after it landed and as he was giving it taxi instructions.

I have recently become aware that American Airlines is painting some planes in heritage liveries to honor the memory of some of the predecessors of US Airways, with which it is in the process of merging.

I don’t know how many of these special liveries that there are, but there are probably guys who seek to photograph all of them just as there are guys who seek to photograph all railroad heritage locomotives.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders


Bad Luck = Missing NS 8101 Yet Again

August 31, 2014

The 24W has completed its work at the Maple Heights intermodal facility and it heading eastbound in Bedford, Ohio, on Sunday, Aug. 25.

The 24W has completed its work at the Maple Heights intermodal facility and it heading eastbound in Bedford, Ohio, on Sunday, Aug. 25.

Before I left home on Sunday morning for the Akron Railroad Club outing to Alliance I saw online that the Central of Georgia heritage locomotive was leading an eastbound train that was sitting at the fuel pad in Elkhart, Ind.

I felt a surge of excitement. Of all the Norfolk Southern heritage units that I’ve yet to photograph, No. 8101 is the one I would most like to get.

The report did not say what train the 8101 was leading. Chances were good that it might be bound for Conway Yard near Pittsburgh or beyond. If so, I had a shot at capturing it during the Akron Railroad Club outing in Alliance.

Shortly after I arrived in Alliance, fellow ARRC member Paul Tait checked Heritage on his smart phone and determined that the Central of Georgia H unit was leading the 14N, a train that would pass through Alliance.

That got me even more excited. Today was going to be the day.

You see I have a history with the 8101. On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend 2012, the 8101 led a train westward through Cleveland during the afternoon.

I drove to Olmsted Falls to catch it, only to miss it by a few minutes. In early November last year I was in the Kent-Brady Lake area when the 8101 led a westbound grain train through the area around the noon hour.

I was less than a mile away from the NS tracks, but had no idea that the 8101 was in the area. Not long after that miss, I was driving home on Chester Avenue in Cleveland when I spotted the 8101 from a distance. It was a trailing unit and I didn’t have my camera with me, not that I could have gotten a photo of it given the situation.

The 8101 has been through Northeast Ohio a few other times, but I was either working, tied up with other commitments or it came past during the nighttime hours.

Paul continued to monitor the progress of the 14N as we watched trains pass through Alliance.

The 14N moved rather slowly. It was reported at Toledo at 12:44 p.m., but didn’t get out of there until nearly 2:30. The Chicago Line was congested and the 14N would not reach Berea until 5:39 p.m. It had to change crews and work at Rockport Yard.

Just before 4 p.m., fellow ARRC officer Marty Surdyk suggested that we would have a better chance of getting the 14N and the 8102 at Bedford.

Marty learned from a source that the new crew for the 14N had been called for 5 p.m.

So we trekked up to Bedford, ending up at the Willis Picnic Area of the Bedford Reservation because the “tot lot” was full when we got there.

We had no sooner parked when Marty got a text saying the 14N didn’t have a conductor. The next available crew for the 14N was called for 7:40 p.m.

Even in a best case scenario, the chances of the 14N passing our location during daylight were pretty slim. A few NS trains ran past us until we decided about 7:30 to go to dinner.

There was barely enough sunlight peeking over and between the trees to illuminate the power of the 24W, which turned out to be the last train that I photographed on this day.

It is a nice photograph but not of equal value to what I missed out on. I went home that night feeling sharply disappointed.

Marty and I had failed in the sense that we had not achieved our objective. That doesn’t mean, though, that we were failures.

We didn’t do anything wrong or in an incompetent manner. We had a good plan, but things just didn’t work out as we had hoped. Circumstances beyond our control were just not in our favor.

I’m still disappointed that I missed the 8101, but I also understand that there is an element of luck involved in photographing heritage units, including circumstances being in your favor.

I’ll keep watching for the 8101. I might even have another outing or two where I miss it. I’d like to think that I’ll get it someday but that is not guaranteed.

One thing is for sure, though. Catching up with this locomotive is higher on my wish list now than it was before Sunday.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders