Posts Tagged ‘NS Chicago Line’

Wabash Heritage Unit Makes Appearance

March 23, 2017

The Wabash H-unit made a pass through Cleveland on Tuesday leading the 21Q. I was lucky enough to be able to get off work in time to catch it. As luck would have it, 21Q was held up near where I had set up to photograph it. Both scenes are in Olmsted Falls, the first one at Milepost 196 (Lewis Road) and then near the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

EOT at End of the Day

March 17, 2017

It was already starting to get dark when I arrived in Olmsted Falls. It has been an unusually warm January day and traffic on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern was unusually heavy. Almost all of it was going westbound.

What had brought me there was the promise of seeing the Lehigh Valley heritage unit. I had seen it just once before, back in 2012, in Olmsted Falls. But it had been trailing.

I got the LV H unit and waited for the train to pass. There was some sunset color to the west so I decided to see what I could do with it.

To my surprise and delight, I caught the blinking red light of the EOT just at the right time.

It created a starburst effect that provided a nice contrast with the shadows of the train against the last light of day.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

NS Bridges of Oak Harbor

February 7, 2017

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One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

The Toledo District of Norfolk Southern in Oak Harbor has two bridges that make for good photo props.

One bridge carries the tracks over the NS Chicago Line on the west side of town while the other carries the Toledo District over the Portage River.

In the top and middle photograph above, a westbound NS tanker train cruises westbound on the Chicago Line and ducks beneath the Toledo District.

I don’t know the age of that plate girder bridge but it might have been installed by the original Wheeling & Lake Erie. The modern day NS Toledo District was back in the day the W&LE’s mainline to Toledo.

A lot of trains of the New York Central, Penn Central, Conrail and now NS have passed beneath that bridge.

The modern W&LE has trackage rights on the NS Toledo District so you can still see Wheeling trains on the bridge.

The bottom photograph shows an NS train crossing the bridge over the Portage River in a view that was made from the Oak Harbor cemetery.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Changing Times at Oak Harbor

January 26, 2017

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One in a period series of images I made last summer

I don’t get to Oak Harbor that often. It is just far enough away to discourage a day trip there.

But I did get there last summer during an all-day outing that focused primarily on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

At the far west end of Oak Harbor just east of North Benton Street is a set of intermediate signals.

I remembered photographing NS trains passing those signals during my first visit to Oak Harbor about 10 years ago.

In particular, I set my camera’s shutter speed to 30th of a second so I could create a blur as the train whizzed by with the blur making it seem as though the train was going 500 miles an hour.

During last summer’s visit to Oak Harbor those old type G signals were still in place, but newer signals were standing next to them waiting to be activated.

Given how little I get to Oak Harbor this was likely going to be the last time I’d photograph those old signals.

So I waited for an intermodal train to come, set the shutter speed of 30th of a second and recreated something I had made years earlier on slide film.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Getting 2017 Off to a Good Start

January 26, 2017

Call me in the morning if it looks good,” was the last thing my brother Robert said to me as he departed my house on New Year’s Eve. We had been up to the nursing home to visit our mother and he was optimistic about the weather forecast for New Year’s Day.

He had a right to be; the weather gurus were calling for partly to mostly sunny and highs in the mid to upper 30s.

I knew it would be a good day because as Sunday mass progressed the sun shining through the stain glass windows gave more than the usual heavenly glow. There was something special in the air today. Maybe it was just the optimism that a new year brings.

I was on the phone to the bro’ as soon as I got home from church and we were headed toward downtown Cleveland a few minutes later.

I wanted to check out a new photo vantage point at the east side of CP Drawbridge, the NS lift bridge over the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.

A new parking lot abuts the tracks and the lighting this morning was perfect. As we pulled into the lot, we heard on the scanner, “34N Clear, Drawbridge.” Our first train of 2017 was already upon us.

We shot and got back into the Jeep; it was still a bit chilly this morning. But looking around we noticed that the lot we were in at times could be off limits to railfans unless you wanted to pay a parking fee.

On this Sunday morning there were no bars or restaurants open in the Flats so we had the lot to ourselves.

As the morning progressed we did have a few other cars park in the lot. They looked like workers arriving early to help clean up from the previous night’s revelries.

After 34N passed, 35N, its counterpart, was next about five minutes later.

Following it were two more westbounds, one being an oil train. Our vantage point, between the drawbridge and the RTA Waterfront Line overpass of the Chicago Line, meant that between trains we could watch and photograph RTA cars on the Waterfront Line. We narrowly missed an over/under with oil train 67W.

Traffic was steady for the morning as NS was business as usual. All the normal morning trains were running.

By noon, we were in need of some food. Everything here was closed, so we headed for the near West Side. A Subway on Detroit Road not too far from Battery Park was our choice of eateries.

It didn’t have any seating inside the sandwich shop, so we headed to Battery Park to park and eat lunch.

After lunch and two trains, one each way, we went to explore the West Bank of the Cuyahoga River.

We parked at the Aquarium in the Powerhouse and walked along the docks where the Nautica Queen was docked. From here, you can get some nice across-the-river views of the Waterfront Line, using the newly renovated warehouse buildings as backgrounds.

The old warehouses are now apartments. They start at $1,050 a month. Yikes!

We strolled north along the river to the docks next to Shooters. From here you can get some nice views of the NS lift bridge at CP Drawbridge.

I would later find out that Shooters is usually open on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. So on a normal day these views may not be possible or only available to restaurant patrons. I’m not sure, but for today, we were the only humans enjoying the views. Some Lake Erie gulls and some Canada geese were also taking in the view.

Traffic on NS had slowed a bit, but we were able to capture 24M on film as it made its way across the bridge. We moved on, not wanting to overstay our welcome.

Our next stop was at the Superior Viaduct. This is a remnant of the stone arch bridge that once crossed the Cuyahoga.

We were hoping for an across-the-river view of the Waterfront Line. Parking on the viaduct is perpendicular to the roadway and the roadway is narrow.

I parked next to a full size pick-up truck, only to find that seeing around it trying to back out was next to impossible. Fortunately, the owner showed up and drove off while I sat there trying to back out.

The viaduct has trolley tracks imbedded in the stone pavement, the only thing we found of interest up there. The view across the river is blocked by the roof of an open air pavilion called, “Jacob’s Pavilion.”

From here we were off to an area known as Settler’s Landing. This is where Moses Cleaveland supposedly landed and began the settlement that became Cleveland. Near the log cabin that marks the spot, you can shoot RTA cars on the Waterfront Line across a bend in the river.

The light was nice here, but the local lake gull population was causing problems. They were flying around trying to get some popcorn from a lady who was throwing it to them.

One bird almost flew in the way of one of my photos. I’ll find out when I get it back if it is in or out of the photo.

From here we moved closer to the Waterfront Line tracks in the grassy area between the tracks and the river at the Settler’s Landing station; no one was feeding the birds there, at least when we first arrived.

We shot several RTA cars here. They were running about every 15 minutes. When the southbound car would go past, the northbound none would be coming very soon.

Then you had a short break before the cycle repeated itself.

When we tired of this area, we were again off to Battery Park for the remainder of the day.

NS ran two eastbounds and one westbound before we left. The sun disappears behind a new condo building at about 4:30 p.m. in January.

The condos here start at $345,280 and there is a monthly grounds maintenance fee added on.

Wow! I’m glad I live in Parma Heights.

I exposed 30 frames this day, which is not a bad way to kick off 2017. Let’s hope there’s plenty more where this came from.

Article by Marty Surdyk

New Rails, I Presume

January 19, 2017

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One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

I presume that these rails lying on the ballast in Olmsted Falls are new. That’s because they are rusty and do not look worn.

I spotted them last July near the crossing of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern and Mapleway Drive.

I was waiting for an eastbound manifest freight to arrive and decided to get make a “detail” image.

I never checked to see if the rails were, indeed, installed at this location. I can only presume that they were.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Swanton Yard Project Tops NS Capital Plans

January 11, 2017

Norfolk Southern said this week it expects to continue spending for infrastructure maintenance this year at the about the same level as last year even as it reduces how much it invests in capacity expansion.

NS logo 1The largest 2017 NS capital project is the construction of a staging yard in Swanton, Ohio, along the Chicago Line. NS also plans to expand yards in Fostoria, Ohio, and Whiting, Indiana.

Speaking to the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association convention, David Becker, NS chief engineer for design and construction, cited two “super projects” that will increase capacity.

Those include the Piedmont Improvement Program, which is being undertaken in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and a project in Virginia being undertaken with that state’s Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

The $520 million Piedmont project involves laying more than 40 miles of second main track.

Other work set for 2017 includes a  $70 million project to replace the Genesee River bridge in Portageville, New York, and replacing 262.7 miles of dual rail and 187.3 of single rail.

Becker said NS will replace 2.35 million crossties and surface rails with 2.32 million tons of ballast. Both figures are approximately the same as what the railroad did in 2016.

NS Marathon: Day in Olmsted Falls (2)

December 27, 2016
This was the only "foreign power" that I saw all day leading an NS train. I wound up seeing CSX after all.

This was the only “foreign power” that I saw all day leading an NS train. I wound up seeing CSX after all.

One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

The downside to spending so much time railfanning in one location is that you might lack the motivation to move on.

Last July, I spent the morning in Olmsted Falls next to the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern. My plan was to drive to Berea about noon so that I could catch some CSX action. I wouldn’t miss anything on NS.

But as noon drew near, I found myself putting off heading for Berea. In part that was because I wanted to photograph aircraft landing at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport where making their final approaches over the Falls. I was enjoying photographing aircraft about as much as I was photographing trains.

In looking back at my 2016 railfan activities, I’ve probably spent more time with NS than with CSX. In part that is due to the erratic nature of CSX traffic these days.

An operating plan implanted within the past year has sought to have regular trains leave on a schedule of something like every 26 hours rather than every 24 hours.

Some symbol freights have been combined, others abolished and trains have become much longer.

During my times in Berea this year, it has seemed as though NS traffic – though still subject to lull periods – has been steadier than CSX traffic.

But I haven’t conducted any empirical studies of that so at best I am conveying an impression than a conclusion based on hard evidence.

On this July day, NS did go through some long lulls during the afternoon hours, particularly in late afternoon. But it didn’t seem so empty because I had airplanes to watch.

I kept putting off my time to relocate to Berea until a car pulled in that didn’t look familiar, but the driver did.

It was Marty Surdyk and his brother Robert. The car belonged to the girlfriend of Marty’s brother John.

Once Marty arrived, my plans to move over to Berea vanished because we started visiting and talking trains.

The model railroad club housed in the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot in Olmsted Falls was open and Marty and I spent some time talking with club members and checking out their HO scale layout.

That also effective ended my keeping a log of the trains that we saw because my log book was in my camera bag, which was in my car on the other side of the tracks.

There was shade next to the depot, but not in the parking lot on the north side of the tracks.

The afternoon traffic mix was not as diverse as it had been earlier in the day.

Intermodal trains predominated, but there were two auto rack trains, a couple of tanker trains and a couple of manifest freights.

The auto rack train was a one hit wonder with a CSX locomotive. It might have been the CSX train that uses NS trackage rights between Cleveland and Toledo.

It would be the only train I would see all day that did not have an NS unit leading.

Marty had to take Robert home around 5 or 5:30 p.m. but said he’d be back for the evening.

We ended up sticking around until just after 8 p.m. As luck would have it, the only trains we caught after 5:30 were westbounds.

That was a good thing because the light favored westbounds over eastbounds.

By 8 p.m. the shadows were growing long and I began thinking about getting home to fix dinner.

And so ended my all-day NS marathon in Olmsted Falls. I probably won’t be doing anything like that again until next year’s Dave McKay Day in early April.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Going green with a bit of orange thrown in.

Going green with a bit of orange thrown in.

After sitting in the Berea siding for quite a while, this train got a new crew and headed westward.

After sitting in the Berea siding for quite a while, this train got a new crew and headed westward.

I've always enjoyed stack trains of a nearly uniform consist. All of this train fit into the frame.

I’ve always enjoyed stack trains of a nearly uniform consist. All of this train fit into the frame.

I'm pretty sure this was an NS auto rack train.

I’m pretty sure this was an NS auto rack train.

Train L13 came in from Bellevue running light. Between the time it arrived and departed nearly two hours later, just one train would pass by.

Train L13 came in from Bellevue running light. Between the time it arrived and departed nearly two hours later, just one train would pass by.

Train L13 had a cut of brand new tank cars.

Train L13 had a cut of brand new tank cars.

Bellevue-bound L13 passes the Olmsted Falls depot.

Bellevue-bound L13 passes the Olmsted Falls depot.

I had a pair of tanker trains in the morning and another pair in the late afternoon.

I had a pair of tanker trains in the morning and another pair in the late afternoon.

I managed to work in a landing plane at Hopkins passing over this westbound tanker train. And I got the sun in the image to boot.

I managed to work in a landing plane at Hopkins passing over this westbound tanker train. And I got the sun in the image to boot.

A Union Pacific until in trailing in this consist was the only Western Class 1 unit I saw.

A Union Pacific until that is trailing in this consist was the only Western Class 1 unit I saw.

The late day light was really sweet.

The late day light was really sweet.

NS Marathon: A Day in Olmsted Falls (1)

December 26, 2016
When you are out all day in one spot you look for ways to get creative by trying things such as shooting a train through a fence.

When you are out all day in one spot you look for ways to get creative by trying things such as shooting a train through a fence.

One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

There are some days when you just want to camp out in one location along a busy railroad line and let the trains come to you.

I had one of those days last July. My plan was to spend the morning at Olmsted Falls and move onto Berea in early afternoon.

It would not quite work out that way and I wound up staying in the Falls all day.

Berea has more traffic, but I’ve always felt Olmsted Falls was a better place to railfan because you can hang out on either side of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

Berea has two railroads whereas Olmsted Falls has one, but NS alone provide enough traffic throughout the day to keep things interesting.

I also wanted to spend a day in one place to get a sense of the NS traffic flow these days.

With traffic generally down this year, railroads have been seeking to cut costs by operating longer and fewer trains.

That trend seems more pronounced on CSX but NS has not been immune from it.

Coal and crude oil traffic in particular has fallen off on both railroads and there have been some days this year when I spent hours railfanning and didn’t see a coal and/or oil train.

On this particular day, though, I would see pretty much all of the traffic that NS operates.

I tried to keep a log of all of the trains I saw, but gave that up after logging 21 trains.

I’ll have more to say about that in the second part of this report.

The weather was sunny skies and warm temperatures. It was in many ways an ideal day to be trackside.

I didn’t see much in way of motive power that was out of the ordinary. No NS heritage units came past, whether leading or trailing.

Foreign power was, in general, scarce. What little foreign power there was was trailing.

The busiest time on NS was during the morning hours. It was quite busy shortly after I arrived around 8:30 a.m.

As a bonus, aircraft landing at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport were landing to the northeast, meaning they made their final approach over Olmsted Falls.

I spent a fair amount of time between trains photographing landing jetliners.

Accompanying this report are some of my best images made between my arrival and early afternoon.

Articles and Photographs by Craig Sanders

My first train of the day was a westbound auto rack.

My first train of the day was a westbound auto rack.

Most eastbound trains were on Track No. 1

Most eastbound trains were on Track No. 1

Some tank trains have all black car . . .

Some tank trains have all black cars . . .

 . . . and some are all white.

. . . and some are all white.

Trying to capture a sense of place.

Trying to capture a sense of place.

One of the few meets that I witnessed during the day.

One of the few meets that I witnessed during the day.

This eastbound manifest freight would be the only one I would photograph at a location other than near the depot.

This eastbound manifest freight would be the only one I would photograph at a location other than near the depot.

One UPS Conveyance Approaches Another

December 20, 2016

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UPS is one of America’s foremost shippers by rail. How formidable?

Consider that every day UPS ships more than 1 million containers and trailers by rail at a cost of $1 billion a year. That translates to 6 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

Those trailers and containers hold packages, which is the backbone of the UPS business. In 2015, it delivered 4.7 billion packages and documents.

Some of those items moved by rail and many, if not most, reached their destination aboard a package car, such as the one show here near Oak Harbor.

The vehicle is about to cross the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern, which is critical artery used by UPS in shipping containers and trailers by rail.

Could some of the packages and documents aboard this package car have traveled the rails that they are about to cross?

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders