Posts Tagged ‘NS Chicago Line’

Traces of Conrail

November 15, 2017

Conrail ceased operating as an independent railroad on June 1, 1999, when its assets were acquired by Norfolk Southern and CSX.

There remains the Conrail shared assets in New Jersey and Detroit, but those are operated by the two railroads that carved up Conrail more than 18 years ago.

Traces of Conrail can be found here there with the most notable being rolling stock still wearing Conrail markings.

But Conrail can also be found in other ways as well. This marker is affixed to a grade crossing signal at Joppa Road west of Vermilion on the Chicago Line.


Making a Mad Dash For the Bridge

November 8, 2017

I’m told that federal regulations give commercial traffic priority on the Cuyahoga River at the Drawbridge carrying the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern over the waterway in Cleveland.

But during warm weather months, most boats on the river are pleasure craft and the bridge tender does not have to lift the bridge to accommodate them until rail traffic is out of the way.

Sept. 24 saw temperatures soar into lower 90s, breaking a record for the date of 88 degrees set in 2007.

Needless to say, the onset of summer weather in the early days of what is officially autumn has boaters out in droves.

But NS had trains to run and all the boaters could do was idle in place or run around in circles as four trains went by.  But once rail traffic cleared and the bridge began going up, the boaters didn’t wait for it to reach its peak position.

As soon as clearances allowed, the boaters began making a mad dash toward the lake or from the lake as seen here.

Over and Under

October 16, 2017

We were hanging out at the boat launch in Vermilion watching trains on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern cross the Vermilion River.

Someone heard on their scanner an eastbound call a signal on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline, now the NS Cleveland District.

Ron McElrath and I started walking up toward the grade crossing near the boat launch while everyone else decided to photograph the train crossing the river.

I’d done that before, but I’d never photographed from the grade crossing. I didn’t get there in time to get into the position I wanted.

As the eastbound was blowing for the crossing, I heard another horn. The timing of the sounds reminded me of my childhood days in Illinois when the New York Central had locomotives whose horns alternated high and low pitches.

It turned out there was a westbound stack train on the Chicago Line blowing for another crossing.

I wished that I had more focal length on my zoom lens and that that highway bridge wasn’t in the foreground. But you work with what you have and I ended up with a over-under sequence.

A Nickel Plate Kind of Day

October 9, 2017

I made it a point on the last day that the Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 ran on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to get down to Brecksville to photograph it leading the ferry move to Akron.

But my plans for the rest of the day was to railfan Norfolk Southern in Cleveland.

As the afternoon was winding down, we got wind that the NKP heritage locomotive of NS was in the motive power consist of westbound manifest freight 11K. We decided to get as it passed the Battery Park neighborhood of Cleveland.

The 11K had to wait on the east side of the drawbridge for three eastbounds to go past, the third of which was crossing over at CP Drawbridge.

At last the traffic cleared and the 11K resumed its westward trek. You’ve probably noticed by now that NS 8100 is trailing. Ah well, not everything can be perfect.

There is a Lake Out There

October 5, 2017

Norfolk Southern train 375 had a stop signal at CP Drawbridge on the Chicago Line. It would wait for the 20E to go around it and then a light power move of the locomotives that earlier that day had powered the BF10 from Motor Yard to Rockport.

Then the empty coal train would continue eastward, crossing from Track 1 to 2 at Drawbridge before entering the Cleveland Line on the other side where the track numbering scheme reverses from New York Central practice to Pennsylvania Railroad practice.

In the top photograph, Lake Erie is visible on the other side of the couplers and air hoses of two cars.

The bottom photo was made after the train stopped. The sailboats are off the shore of Cleveland’s Edgewater Park.

Both images were made in the Battery Park neighborhood.

What We Don’t Want to Hear

September 28, 2017

Depending on what they are carrying, if these tank cars derail, they might make a sound that mirrors the name of the boat waiting for them to clear the Norfolk Southern bridge over the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland.

The tankers were part of the consist of BF10, which makes a daily trip from Motor Yard in Macedonia to Rockport Yard on  Cleveland’s southwest side.

The boater, though, still had a long wait after the BF10 cleared. Trains 24M, 17N and 18N all had to clear before the bridge tender raised the bridge to allow the armada of waiting boats to head for Lake Erie or up the Cuyahoga.

NKP 765 Ferry Move: 2

September 13, 2017

Akron Railroad Club member Todd Dillon also went out to photograph the ferry move of Nickel Plate Road No. 765 after it reached Northeast Ohio. Here are three of his photographs.

Top photo: Crossing the Vermilion River in Vermilion as seen from the South Street boat launch.

Middle Photo: Passing the signals near milepost 192 on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern and across from Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

Bottom photo: Moving through the switches at CP Max as seen from Interstate 480 as the train enters Rockport Yard.


Night Trains

September 2, 2017

Back in early August I had some magazines that had been donated to the Akron Railroad Club to convey to Marty Surdyk, who stores the inventory of merchandise that we sell at trains shows.

We arranged to meet in the evening at Olmsted Falls, where we would also spend some time railfanning the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

It was reminiscent of an outing we had in the Falls several years ago when I brought my tripod and dabbled with night photography.

I admire the work of those who have mastered the art, but that hasn’t motivated me to do much of it myself.

But my appetite for night photography was whetted earlier this summer during a night photo shoot at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

I’ve also wondered what I could do with a digital SLR camera. One advantage of digital is that you will know right away if what you tried worked.

In North East I was working with steady light. That would not be the case in Olmsted Falls.

I was fortunate that much of the NS traffic on this evening was moving west.

I was able to get some late day images with natural lighting that didn’t require a tripod.

But along about 9 p.m. it was time top set up the tripod and shuttle cable release.

My first effort is the top image that accompanies this post. It was a straight-forward long shutter release of seven seconds at f/16 at ISO 100.

It has the streaks that I wanted and there was enough natural light to bring out some detail in the station and the fading blue light.

About 25 minutes later I tried this technique again, this time focusing on an approaching train. This image, shown immediately below the text, was made with a 16-second exposure a f/16 at ISO 100.

OK, what do I do for an encore? Marty suggested “painting” the station with light from a small flashlight, then keeping the shutter open but covering the lens with the lens cap.

I did a couple test images by shining the flashlight on the station. The results were good results.

Marty said that if I did that as a train approached, the crew might mistake the light for a signal telling them to stop their train.

My first effort was promising. I kept the shutter open for 77 seconds. Getting the lens cap on and off was more tricky than it might seem because I did not want to cause any vibration.

I tried the same technique a second time with an exposure time of 36 seconds. I also changed the f stop to 22. Of the two images, I liked the second one the best and it shown below this post.

Of course I didn’t like all of the “spots” on the image. That was light reflecting the aperture and made it appear that it was raining and I had water droplets on my lens.

I swung my camera around to try to get the train going away with the red light of the EOT “trailing behind.”

This ideal didn’t work well. I couldn’t get the blinking red light to “trail.” My best image, shown below, didn’t feature the train so much as a landing aircraft at nearby Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

For an encore, I went over to Berea and tried getting NS and CSX trains there.

The results were only so-so. The best of the lot is the final image shown below showing an eastbound.

Like any endeavor, there is a learning curve to learning how to do night photography. It requires study, practice and no small amount of trial and error. Having good equipment, particularly the tripod, also helps.

For most photographers, it is much easier to get trains in daylight. Yet some of the most dramatic images I’ve seen have been made at the extremes of the day in varying lighting conditions.

I don’t know that I’ll be doing much night photography, but I’m willing to learn and try it again.


West of Vermilion on the Chicago Line

August 31, 2017

One of the byproducts of making a trip last Saturday to inspect the progress of the new connection from the Chicago Line to the Cleveland District of Norfolk Southern was an opportunity to check out some new photo locations.

Last year when members of the Akron Railroad Club inspected the connection site during our day in Vermilion, no NS trains came through.

This year, though, we caught a small flurry of trains, two of them westbound, that we photographed at three locations.

In the top photograph, a string of JB Hunt containers approaches Risden Road near the Vermilion Country Club. This is the site where the new connection will join the Chicago Line.

The second photograph from the top features a westbound manifest freight approaching Poorman Road at milepost 225.

In the last two images, an eastbound intermodal train is rounding a curve by the Joppa Road crossing, which is at the apex of the curve.

Into the Siding Leading to Fairlane

August 30, 2017

Passing the 213 milepost in Amherst as train 287 takes the siding.

About to duck beneath the Jackson Street bridge.

A parting shot as the auto rack cars catch a little glint from the filtered late day sunlight.

Traffic on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern has all but dried up.

A lull of more than an hour was broken by a radio transmission from the Toledo East dispatcher to westbound auto rack train No. 287.

The dispatcher informed the crew it would be going into the siding whose eastern end begins in Amherst beneath the Ohio Route 58 bridge.

They also received yarding instructions for Fairlane.

That prompted me to begin walking briskly from the restored former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot in Amherst to the bridge carrying Jackson Street over the NS tracks.

I had been shooting the breeze with the guys at the joint picnic hosted by the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts to which Akron Railroad Club members had been invited.

The RRE annually has its picnic in Amherst and every year I’ve attended I’ve spent time photographing on the Jackson Street bridge.

The headlight of the lead unit of the 287 was already in sight as I reached the bridge.

Slowly the train made its way into the siding, making it the first train I’ve shot in this siding.

For awhile I wasn’t sure if I would keep my Amherst bridge tradition going. So I felt better as I walked back to the depot knowing the streak had been kept alive.