Posts Tagged ‘NS Cleveland Line’

Winter Day in Alliance

February 12, 2022

The 14N (left), 170 and an eastbound intermodal in Alliance.
Train 170 heading west.
Train 64N on the Alliance runner.
Train 6K4 taking the Cleveland single.  It would get a new crew about 7 p.m. then reverse back onto the mainline to continue east.

Last Saturday (Feb. 5) I spent the day in Alliance.

Upon arriving I found an eastbound intermodal sitting on Track No. 1 and another eastbound moving slowly on Track No. 2.

The reason for this soon became apparent as train 14N was sitting on Track 1 blocking every railroad crossing in town. It had broken several air hoses and had gone into emergency. 

Also sitting on Track 2 east of town was the 170 waiting to go west.  The slowly moving EB train was taking the runner track, a long siding for parking trains, to get around the 170.

After about an hour, the 14N was able to get moving and continue east; However it would need a new crew before reaching Conway.

Once the 14N cleared, the 170 was able to continue west. The 170 takes the Fort Wayne line to Canton and 14N was blocking his move.

The 170 crew was also on short time and ended up tying down at Freshley Road west of town.

Other trains had backed up behind the 14N including 64N an oil or ethanol train.

This train then took the Alliance runner previously used by the intermodal and tied down to wait for a  new crew. 

A little later train 6K4, another oil or ethanol, took the Cleveland single and tied down on the Mahoning siding south of town. 

An empty coal train came an hour or so later, which picked up this crew.  The 6K4 had a GP38-3 leading some Canadian National engines, which was interesting.

Another train that I had hoped to get was the 171 which had the Virginian heritage unit.  Alas it sat in Canton all afternoon before getting a new crew and going through Alliance about 5 p.m.  I had left by then. 

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

One Early January Day at Brady Lake

January 20, 2022

It was a typical Northeast Ohio early January day in 2012, the kind that features clouds and sun that at times is more sun than clouds and then a few minutes later more clouds than sun.

Such days can make photography tricky and yet rewarding at the same time due to low sun angles that creates warm light all day when you can get sun breaking through around the clouds.

I ventured down to Towner’s Woods Park in Brady Lake, one of my favorite hang out spots because you can park next to the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern.

It’s not the greatest location to photograph NS operations due to the tracks lying in a cut and the trees on both side providing obstructions.

But in the winter when the leaves are off you can get some decent if not good images.

The former Erie Railroad mainline that once extended between Chicago and New York also borders the park, but being a Sunday I knew there would be no rail traffic on that line.

The ex-Erie tracks here are now owned by Portage County and used by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway, which only operates on this segment of the ex-Erie on weekdays and even then it doesn’t always go to Ravenna and thus past Brady Lake.

A snow storm had swept through a few days earlier but by now most of the snow had melted. There remained some accumulation in areas that spend most of the day in shade or had seen heavier accumulations.

I photographed a few NS trains and at one point ventured into Kent where I captured an eastbound empty CSX hopper train as I stood on the West Main Street Bridge.

But most of my photographic endeavors on this day were devoted to railroad infrastructure images in winter.

Winter is a good time to photograph Brady Lake Tower, seen in the top image above.

I say that because during much of the year leaves block a clear view of the tower from the railroad side.

You can get all the unobstructed views you want from three sides of the tower from within Towner’s Woods Park, but if you want to create a view of the tower as passing railroaders saw it you have to wait until winter.

Even then you still have to contend with tree trunks creating “noise” in your photographs.

The tower was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1928 to control a set of crossovers and the flying junction here with the Lake Erie & Pittsburgh.

The latter extended from Brady Lake to Marcy in Cleveland. It was 50-50 owned by the PRR and the New York Central but used by the latter to move freight between Cleveland and Youngstown.

East of Brady Lake the NYC used the PRR to Ravenna and then the Baltimore & Ohio to Youngstown.

The former LE&P was mostly taken out of service not long after the creation of Penn Central.

As for Brady Lake Tower, it was taken out of service on May 14, 1966, but the interlocking plant remained intact with the tower was used as an emergency block station through 1969 and possibly sometime into 1970.

Because it is located on park land its future is assured.

The ex-Erie tracks also got much of my attention. There used to be a double track mainline here but one of the tracks was lifted in the Conrail era when this line was downgraded to become the Freedom Secondary.

I thought on this day as I have thought often while walking the Portage Hike and Bike trail about what it must have been like in the late 1960s or early 1970s when Erie Lackawanna freight trains with their colorful locomotives lumbered through here.

Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and enjoy that.

But the trail is built on former Erie right of way and didn’t exist during the EL years.

The second of the four images is looking railroad eastward to a curve after the Erie tracks crossed over the Pennsy on a plate girder bridge that can be partly seen at right.

About where the tracks curve is the site of the original Cleveland & Pittsburgh right of way, which built the line between its namesake cities and today is the NS Cleveland Line.

However, in the early 20th Century the Pennsy rebuilt the line to eliminate grade crossings and shifted the tracks slightly to the south.

The Erie used the now vacated C&P right of way between Brady Lake and Ravenna.

What got my attention in this scene is the lone pole that once supported the Erie code lines that still stands but without any wires. And note the lone tree to the left that still has its leaves, albeit rust colored.

The third and fourth images are looking railroad westbound toward Kent on the other side of Ravenna Road.

There is still some snow accumulation in a shady spot. Perhaps the snow was deeper here because it had drifted. That grade crossing up ahead is Lake Rockwell Road.

I was struck by the pattern the melting snow made on the tracks, still clinging to the ties but gone on the ballast.

Most of the infrastructure that once supported the Erie and later the EL is gone.

I’ve seen a few photographs of what it used to look like here, including an image made by the late Robert Redmond of a steam train passing a semaphore signal near Ravenna Road. I’ve found the concrete base for that signal.

In my mind at least, the EL sent some ghost trains past as I walked along the adjacent trail. That and seeing the occasional photograph made during Erie or EL days is as close as I’ll ever come to experiencing what it must have been like here in days past.

Article by Craig Sanders

Brady Lake Tower Two for Tuesday

January 11, 2022

Over the years Brady Lake has been a favorite hang out of mine to watch Norfolk Southern trains on the Cleveland Line. On occasion I’ve also caught an Akron Barberton Cluster Railway train here, too.

Towner’s Woods Park is located next to the tracks and has plenty of parking. The park also features a former Pennsylvania Railroad interlocking tower, which the PRR named Brady’s Lake.

At one time, the tower controlled switches and signals for the Lake Erie & Pittsburgh line to Cleveland that diverged here.

The LE&P is nearly all gone today and there are few signs by the tower that it ever existed. Portions of it are a hike and bike trail.

The top image was made on Nov. 4, 2005, and shows NS westbound manifest freight 15K passing the tower, which is shrouded by colorful fall foliage.

The bottom image was made on Feb. 1, 2000. The tower is easier to see with the leaves off the trees but remains somewhat obscured by tree branches and trunks.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Fall Foliage Spectacular Two for Tuesday

November 23, 2021

I was looking in my slide collection earlier this week with an emphasis on images made on the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern in the vicinity of Brady Lake and Ravenna when I ran across the image shown above.

Seeing it brought back a lot of memories of a late October day, Oct. 28, 2005, to be exact.

I was in my first year as president of the Akron Railroad Club. It was a Friday and the October meeting was that night in the Carriage House of the Summit County Historical Society.

Before the meeting Ed Ribinskas and I got in some late day railfanning around Ravenna.

As you can see in this image the fall foliage along the Cleveland Line east of Lake Street was at peak color although some of the trees had already lost most or all of their leaves.

We were there in late afternoon and fortunate to get two westbounds before the shadows completely covered the rails.

As it was, the shadows were rapidly moving in, which turned out to be a good thing by creating some dramatic contrast. Contrast helps to give an image visual tension, which increases its drama and interest.

It is noteworthy that as dramatic as these images are they are not the photographs I remember the most from this outing.

Those images were made several minutes later on the CSX New Castle Subdivision at Chestnut Street.

In the last direct sunlight of the day we caught a westbound with a BNSF leader. I framed it with a Baltimore & Ohio color position light signal and the block sign denoting the end and beginning of the Kent and Rave blocks.

The warm light on a BNSF “pumpkin” was, I thought at the time, the catch of the day.

CSX has long since dropped the use of blocks on the New Castle Sub and the CPLs have been gone for years. So those photos now make nice period pieces.

Curious as to who had the program that night I dug out the October 2005 Bulletin. The program was titled Now and Then with the “now” being presented by Marty Surdyk and the “then” being shown by his father, the late William Surdyk.

The photographs shown were made roughly 40 years apart and used different types of slide film.

Marty’s images were 35 mm slides shown in a Kodak Carousel projector.

He featured the Bessemer & Lake Erie, CSX in the Akron area, Marion, Berea and the Wheeling & Lake Erie around Spencer.

Bill’s images were 2.25-inch format slides shown in a 1950s era Goldie projector that could be fed one slide at a time. In Bill’s show were images from Berea, Marion and Akron among other locations.

The meeting minutes for October reported that a record 18 members went to the Eat ‘n Park in Cuyahoga Falls after the meeting for dessert, a late dinner or an early breakfast.

The next day ARRC members gathered again, this time in Berea to dedicate the Dave McKay memorial.

A week before the meeting, ARRC members had enjoyed an excursion on the Ohio Central between Dennison and Morgan Run. It was supposed to have been pulled by 2-8-0 Baldwin-built No. 33.

But the steamer was sidelined with mechanical issues. Instead, a Montreal Locomotive Works RS18 pulled the trip to Morgan Run while an OC FP7 powered the return trip.

What a month October 2005 was for the ARRC.

Hanging Out With NS in Alliance

February 26, 2021

Under normal circumstances the Akron Railroad Club would be holding its February meeting tonight. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic the club won’t be meeting. In fact it last met in February 2020 and who knows when the next meeting will be.

In past years I sometimes would drive to Alliance on the afternoon of ARRC meetings and spend a couple hours watching NS trains there.

In late afternoon I’d put the camera and scanner away and head north out of town and eventually west on Interstate 76, stopping for dinner at the Cracker Barrel in Ravenna or the Bob Evans on Gilchrist Road in Akron right around the corner from the club’s meeting site.

Shown above is an eastbound headed by SD70 No. 2563. The train is about to take the connection from the Cleveland Line to the Fort Wayne Line as it continues its trip toward Pittsburgh.

This locomotive was built for Conrail and Chris Toth’s NS locomotive website reports it has since been retired.

First Look at the NS F Units

July 18, 2020

I don’t recall when I first became aware of the plans of Norfolk Southern to buy a fleet of F units and rebuild them for use with its executive train.

However, I do recall reading about the locomotives as I sat in my car at Cassandra, Pennsylvania, on an October morning in 2007.

It was my first visit to Cassandra and at that moment traffic was in a lull.

Although I knew it was highly unlikely, I thought maybe NS will send those fancy looking F units out on a test run and I’ll get to photograph them.

Cassandra is not that far from Altoona, where the F units were based. Such are the trackside fantasies of railfans.

In reality, I didn’t get to see the NS executive units for eight more months.

My opportunity finally came in June 2008 at Brady Lake when the executive train came up the Cleveland Line en route to Bellevue.

It was being sent there to help celebrate the retirement of an NS executive who had begun his career in Bellvue.

The F units and its train would park by the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum and I would be among the hundreds — maybe it was thousands — who turned out to see and photograph them.

But that was a few days away as I stood next to the old Erie Railroad bridge spanning the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline at Brady Lake.

A headlight to the east was my clue to get my camera ready.

The F units were well received by railfans in part because they were different.

In a sea of wide cab locomotives that all looked the same the NS F units provided a welcome contrast.

It also helped that the units wore a classic looking livery that hearkened back to the “tuxedo” look that once adorned the Southern Railway F units.

As the executive train came into my viewfinder I was impressed with what I saw.

You can’t really appreciate what you’re seeing as you’re photographing it. If stop to admire a moving train you’ll miss getting the photographs you want.

My recollection is that the day I got my first in-person look at the F units was a cloudy one. I was using slide film and worried that there wasn’t enough light for a good exposure of a train doing track speed.

The conditions may not have been ideal, yet there was just enough light and with some Photoshop work on the scanned images they don’t look too bad.

As I wrote in a post last November I only was able to photograph the F units 12 times before NS sold them.

It would have been nice to have captured them a few more times, but life has a way of intervening and limiting your opportunities.

My first photographs of the NS F units were not my best images of them but I find these images to be satisfactory. There is something about a first that makes it special.

Light, Shadows and Fall Foliage in Ravenna

July 9, 2020

I ran across this slide as part of my search for the past campaign yesterday. It was a hot and humid day so I had an incentive to stay inside in the air conditioned comfort to look at old slides.

The date of this image is Oct. 28, 2005. The Akron Railroad Club met that night and it would be the penultimate meeting we had at the carriage house of the Perkins Mansion of the Summit County Historical Society.

Ed Ribinskas probably was with me when I made this image. It was late in the day and the light was warm as it typically is in late October.

Shown is a westbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight rounding the curve in Ravenna on the Cleveland Line.

The fall foliage is past its peak but there is still plenty of color left in those trees to make for a pleasing image.

Although I had forgotten about this particular photograph, I had not forgotten about this outing because of a dramatic image I made on the CSX New Castle Subdivision in Ravenna after I got this photo on NS.

As the sunlight was about to drop out of sight, a westbound train showed up at just the right moment.

Using a Baltimore & Ohio color position light signal and a block limit sign as props, I made what I still consider one of my best late day light photographs.

No wonder that I had forgotten about getting anything on NS.

It would turn out that that 2005 outing in Ravenna would be one of the few times I would photograph there before an ARRC meeting.

We explored other locations and finally settled on watching trains most of the time before ARRC meetings in Bedford.

Eastbound in Alliance

June 24, 2020

The photographer is standing to the east of the Amtrak station in Alliance at the far end of the interlocking.

NS 9255 leads an eastbound on the morning of Oct. 14, 2016, onto the Fort Wayne Line.

The interlocking controls moves between the Fort Wayne Line and Cleveland Line, which accounts for the majority of movements in Alliance.

The signal heads with the letter “C” on them are for trains whose lead unit is not equipped with working cab signals.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

The Classic Alliance Pose

May 26, 2020

If you hang around the Amtrak station in Alliance to watch trains on the Fort Wayne Line and Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern you probably have several images similar to the one above.

The image above shows an eastbound on the Cleveland line taking the connection to the Fort Wayne Line to continue its journey toward Pittsburgh.

This particular image was made on May 19, 2012, but the scene is timeless.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

 

Empty Table

November 14, 2018

Alliance is a good place to watch Norfolk Southern action because it is the junction of two mainlines.

Most of the traffic through Alliance transitions from the Cleveland Line to the Fort Wayne Line or vice versa.

Few moves take the Fort Wayne Line straight through town. Even rarer are trains going to and from the Cleveland line east of Alliance via Bayard.

Shown is eastbound intermodal train 24M making the transition from the Cleveland Line to the Fort Wayne Line.

I made this image before an Akron Railroad Club meeting and because it was winter I was the only railfan present at the time.