Posts Tagged ‘NS Conrail heritage unit’

Conrail H Unit Two for Tuesday

November 15, 2022

I don’t remember the last time I caught a Norfolk Southern train with a heritage unit leading. I do know it has been several months since that happened.

So I was pleased to learn on that the Conrail heritage locomotive was leading Train 177, which runs from Chicago to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The 177 was the third train in an eastbound parade on the New Castle District on late Sunday morning. I had caught the parade leader, the 197, which originates in Fort Wayne and also runs to Chattanooga, at Cowan and then at Springport on the NS New Castle District in Indiana.

I also caught the middle train, the 189, which originates in Detroit and runs to Atlanta.

I heard the 177 calling signals on the radio and got into position. I would photograph it in New Castle, Indiana, where I also had bagged the 189 several minutes earlier.

The 177’s motive power consist was quite colorful. Aside from the Conrail H unit, it boasted a Union Pacific unit and a BNSF warbonnet.

Alas, things were not quite perfect when the 177 reached New Castle. The sky was clouds and sun meaning that catching anything between the clouds was a roll of the dice.

There was still direct sunlight on the nose of NS 8098 as it came toward my position, but then a cloud moved. You can see the result of that in the second image.

But I got the shot and that is what matters most. The image was made on Nov. 13.

Whole Lotta Heritage Going By

May 23, 2020

This was one of those days when a cloudy sky was a benefit to photography.

Had it been sunny much of the detail of Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 would have been lost in the shadows.

The Berkshire-type locomotives is steaming through Alliance on May 30, 2013.

Note that trailing it are the Pennsylvania Railroad and Conrail heritage locomotives of Norfolk Southern.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Moving From Point B to Point A

March 22, 2020

I know what you’re thinking’ that’s bass ackwards. You go from Point A to Point B.

Well normally you do, but on March 1 the brother and I went from Bellevue to Ada.

How did we get there? Read along and you’ll find out.

I was barely in the door of my apartment on Saturday after work when my phone started ringing.

“Going to be a beautiful day tomorrow; Lisa (my brother’s wife) is off work and I’m itching to hit the road somewhere.”

“Where are we heading?”

“I don’t care, you pick someplace.”

“I’ll text you later with what I decide.”

“Roger, Willco.”

I went about my Saturday chores and then readied myself for church. As I sat in the pew waiting for mass to start “Bellevue” kept coming to mind. So after church I texted the brother “Be ready by 7:30, destination Bellevue.”

I got a text back. “I’ll be ready.”

Our 7:30 a.m. call time found us on the road headed west to Bellevue. As we got to Norwalk the scanner was turned on. Radio chatter from Bellevue began to filter in.

A good channel to listen to is the crew bus channel. They happen to use the same frequency as the Sandusky District, 161.190.

By the time we got to town, we knew that 218 and 234 were in the picture as crews were being picked up at the hotel/dorm for these trains.

Also at this time 12V was nearly ready to leave on its trek from Bellevue to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh. The 12V operates via Mansfield on the former Conrail Ft. Wayne Line.

As we entered Bellevue the 218 was re-crewed and ready to resume its trip.

We shot through town and headed south on Ohio Route 269 bound for one of our morning southbound (timetable eastbound) shots on the Sandusky District.

The 218’s counterpart, No. 217, was the first train we saw. It was approaching Flat Rock and would be stopping for a crew change shortly.

We headed to a county road crossing that features a nice white farmhouse and bright red barn as your photo props to shoot the 218. It wasn’t long before his headlight was on the horizon.

After shooting the intermodal train here, we headed south with it. Often NS trains get delayed at the former Baltimore & Ohio diamonds at Attica Junction. Today that would be the case.

“Take it easy down to Attica, CSX has two to run, before he can take you.” was the dispatcher’s message to 218’s crew.

As we approached the crossing where Ohio Route 4 crosses CSX, an eastbound double stack was going past.

It cleared and the gates went up just long enough for a couple of cars to get across before going back down for a westbound tank train.

This gave us a chance to get ahead of the 218 and shoot it again at the grain elevator in the actual town of Attica (top photograph). After 218 passed, we doubled back north for the other two trains.

The 12V was next and we set up for it at a spot that we like with two red barns to add to the photo (photo two below). The 12V was monster today with 205 cars, four units up front and a DPU 124 cars deep.

It was plodding along at about 25 mph on the normal westbound main. Before it could clear our location, the 234 went by on the other track blocked from our view by the 12V.

About now 234’s crew was talking to the PTC desk. Something wasn’t right and they’d have to stop briefly and reset something.

This gave us just enough of a break to get ahead of both trains. We again stopped at the Attica elevator and shot both trains there (photo three below).

The 12V would be our focus for the next few shots. The lumbering monster train was not only easy to chase because of its slow speed, it had the Conrail H-Unit running third in the consist (photo four below).

Plus when it got to Bucyrus (buck-eee-rus) it would make a left turn onto the former Conrail Ft. Wayne Line.

I wanted to shoot the elevator at North Robinson between Bucyrus and Crestline.

The brother was now driving. I had to change film after shooting 12V at Attica, so he chose a county road crossing north of the end of the double track at Chatfield for our next shot.

We let the whole train go by before resuming the chase. We tried for the north end of Benson siding via Carroll Road but didn’t make it in time.

Not to panic, the Ridgeton detector showed all the wheels hot on the 125th car. That would be the covered hopper right behind the DPU.

The crew on the 12V figured out a spot in Bucyrus where they could stop and not block crossings to inspect their problem car. It was now about 11:45 a.m. so we made a quick lunch stop at a Burger King on the east side of Bucyrus.

We didn’t dawdle which proved to be a good move. When we came out of the restaurant the Sandusky District dispatcher called the 12V for a progress report.

“Conductor’s about 10 cars back heading this way, we should be on the move shortly.”

“Permission to depart from where you stand.”

We arrived at North Robinson to find two younger railfans already set up for a shot. They were from the Dayton area. Before the 12V got to us two more cars of railfans showed up.

“A lot of fans for an H-unit running third out,” I thought.

Everyone except me lined up for a shot of the 12V splitting the position light signals (photo five below). I positioned myself so I could get the grain elevator with the train.

One of the late arrivals said that the 12V would be meeting the 171 at Crestline. The latter is a Conway to Chatanooga train.

And behind the 171 was a Wheeling and Lake Erie train heading to Lima with interchange cars for the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern.

“That’s why the crowd; they’re all here to chase the W&LE. Now it all makes sense,” I thought to myself.

After shooting the 12V, I walked west of the elevator to see if there was a shot there.

Not finding anything to my liking because of too much clutter and derelict truck trailers, I chose a spot that I could get a couple of the houses in town in my photo. Again the rest of the photo line was shooting those signals.

The 171 would be held for one train on the Sandusky District before it would be let around the corner to head south for Cincinnati.

We headed to the diamonds at Colsan in Bucyrus for the 171. We were the only ones there.

If indeed the Wheeling was behind the 171 we were going to chase it west on this former Pennsylvania Railroad trackage.

This is new territory for us. Trains out on this line on weekends are few and far between.

We waited at Colsan for the headlight of the Wheeling to appear before we barreled out of town.

I didn’t want to repeat an episode we had in Indiana a few years back where we chased air for a couple of hours.

The Wheeling indeed was on the move west and would get right across the diamonds at Colsan.

An elevator on the west side of Bucyrus was our first possible shot but we couldn’t find a good angle so it was on the road to Nevada (the city in Ohio, not the state).

Here we found a nice elevator shot in town at the Main Street crossing. The Wheeling train had three units up front, a black, yellow and another black.

They were making about 25 mph on jointed rail. Forgot how good that sounds.

After shooting it here we were off heading west. Using U.S. 30 to get around Upper Sandusky (both elevators there sit along the former C&O), we stopped at Kirby.

Here we found an elevator on the south side of the tracks and a garage that was painted to look like a red barn on the north side. We could frame the train between the two. We liked it and waited a few minutes for the train (photo six below).

Forest is the next town and never having been there we didn’t know what to expect.

Turns out Forest has two elevators along the tracks. We shot at the easterly one, a classic ceramic tile structure that was painted white at one time. The peeling paint on the elevator added some character to the scene.

It was then back on the road toward Dunkirk where the Ft. Wayne Line crosses the former New York Central (Toledo & Ohio Central Western Branch), now the CSX Toledo Branch Subdivision.

Dunkirk Tower still stands at the southwest corner of the diamond. It is shootable on the north/south line, because I have done it in the past while railfanning the Toledo Branch in Conrail days.

We rolled into town to find that the tower is shootable for a northbound/southbound and eastbound. You guessed it, no westbound shot. Off to Dola we went.

Dola is the next town to the west. The elevator in town is visible from Dunkirk.

I had hoped for a better photo op there but Dola disappointed. The elevator is only accessible on the east end, so it can only be shot eastbound. Oh Well, on to Ada.

Ada is a college town, the home of Northern Ohio University. I knew from some friends that went to NOU that the depot still stands and a caboose is displayed outside of it.

As we found in the last two towns the depot was not shootable for a westbound train when the sun is as far south as it is on March 1. It might be shootable from the north side of the tracks in the summer for a westbound.

We continued two blocks further west to the grain elevator in town. It is shootable westbound (photo seven below).

Actually, there is a large open area west of it with some siding tracks that could hold grain cars when the harvest season is in progress. They also have a critter to switch the facility.

We parked the car and waited about five minutes for the W&LE to arrive. I finally got a chance to count the cars that the Wheeling had today: 96 empty sand cars, an empty trash hopper and another covered hopper not like the sand cars.

This would be our last shot of the train and of the day. It was now after 3:30 p.m. and we were due home for dinner at 6 p.m.

Lisa was making chicken paprikash and you don’t want to miss that. Using Ohio Route 235 north out of town to access U.S. 30, which is now a four-lane divided highway all the way back to Interstate 71, we made good time.

The brother drove the U.S. 30 section of highway. A gas stop and crew change at Ashland put me back at the wheel for the last miles home. We pulled into Robert’s driveway at 5:58 p.m., two minutes to the good.

What a day! We did not expect to be in Ada but we were glad we that we were.

Article by Marty Surdyk, Photos by Robert Surdyk

Getting Double Lucky with the Conrail H Unit

December 22, 2019

I checked Heritage at 11:09 a.m. Saturday and a post from 11:08 a.m. showed No. 8098, the Conrail heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern, leading on NS train 310.

Would I be lucky?  I grabbed my coat and camera and went to the spot on Madison Avenue. Soon I heard horns.

I expected it would be by right away but it showed up about 10 minutes later at a crawl as seen in the top and middle photographs.

Since it was so slow I figured I had another opportunity so I went to Davis Road east of Perry. I was told by a photographer there that intermodal train 206 was ahead of 310 with positive train control problems thus the reason for the slow speed.

However when 310 showed at Davis Road its speed had picked up as seen in the bottom image.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Dave No Doubt Approved

April 5, 2019

In my mind’s eye it was just a couple of years ago when I would drive to Berea on Saturday mornings and spot a man sitting in a folding chair beneath a tree watching for trains of Norfolk Southern or CSX.

That man was Dave McKay and when he wasn’t traveling to chase trains elsewhere you often could find him on weekends sitting in that chair in Berea.

Dave died in late December 2004. That’s 14 years ago so it only seems like it was just yesterday.

In 2005, Dave’s many friends in the Cleveland railfanning community arranged to create a memorial to Dave near the spot where he often set up his chair.

The Akron Railroad Club, which Dave served as president of for 12 years, started a tradition of railfanning in Berea on the first Saturday in April in memory of Dave.

Much has changed since Dave’s death, although the ownership of the tracks through Berea is not among those changes.

Dave didn’t live long enough to see the 2012 roll out by Norfolk Southern of its fleet of heritage locomotives but if he had I’m sure he would have made images of all of them rolling through Berea.

Knowing how much Dave used to travel in his younger years he probably photographed all or nearly all of the heritage liveries when they were used by the NS predecessor railroads that they commemorate.

I can’t even guess how many thousands of images that Dave made of Conrail trains at Berea and elsewhere.

On a nice early spring afternoon I ventured to Berea to photograph the NS Conrail heritage unit.

It was the sole motive power pulling train 14N, which was parked in the Berea siding awaiting a new crew.

It had arrived about 9:20 a.m. and didn’t move until 4 p.m. I wasn’t in Berea all that time, but I did spend three hours waiting.

By the time the 14N got moving the lighting conditions were adverse.

Would Dave have made the image anyway? Probably. And so did I.

I walked down to the McKay Memorial and incorporated it into the image that appears above.

The ARRC will conduct its annual Dave McKay Dave this year on May 4. The current leadership decided to move to event to May in hopes of having better weather.

I’ve attended all 14 McKay Days held thus far and I know how the weather can range from feeling like summer to feeling like mid January.

But traditions die hard and tomorrow I plan to be in Berea out of nostalgia. I should be at the “official” McKay Day next month, but going to Berea on the first Saturday of April has become a tradition I’d like to keep while I can.

Conrail H Unit Passes through N.E. Ohio

August 8, 2016




The past several weeks the Conrail heritage unit of Norfolk Southern has been leading trains through Northeast Ohio.

Two weeks ago I caught it going by Berea tower (top photograph). This is a significant location both locally but also for the Conrail system.

Conrail’s route structure was basically an X with the lines crossing at Cleveland and, specifically, at Berea tower.

On Saturday, I caught the Conrail H unit leading again, this time at East Conway (middle and bottom photographs). Conway Yard was an important point on the former Pennsylvania Railroad ever since it opened in 1957. This continued through Penn Central and Conrail and remains so with Norfolk Southern.

Many photos have been taken throughout the years at this iconic spot and I thought this would be a worthy inclusion with those.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Some Conrail Heritage and Some Spring

April 29, 2015

The Conrail heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern leads an eastbound intermodal train through Bedford, Ohio, on April 27, 2015.

The Conrail heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern leads an eastbound intermodal train through Bedford, Ohio, on April 27, 2015.

It has become something of a tradition. On the afternoon of the April meeting of the Akron Railroad Club I swing by the Bedford Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks to catch some Norfolk Southern action on the Cleveland Line as well as make some photographs that show trains and spring.

Last Friday, I spent just over an hour there. Rail traffic was good and the trees were starting to bud. However, they were not in full bloom as has been the case in the past. Chalk it up to a late spring triggered by the long and tough winter that we had.

Two days later reports made their way into the railfan cyberspace world that the NS Conrail heritage locomotive was leading a 20E intermodal train across Ohio.

It would reach Cleveland in late afternoon so I headed again for Bedford where I knew I would be able to catch the NS 8098 in good side lighting. As had been the case on Friday, the weather was sunny and nice.

I heard the 20E calling a signal shortly after I arrived. It would be held briefly at CP 114 for a westbound crude oil tanker train that was crossing over from Track 1 to Track 2.

The Cleveland Line dispatcher informed two trains holding near Motor Yard in Macedonia that they would be following the 20E because of single tracking on the Cleveland Line heading out of Cleveland.

I sought to duplicate with the NS 8098 a similar photo setup that I had made with the Penn Central heritage locomotive. I had photographed it during spring in Bedford on the lead of an eastbound train.

In both instances, I photographed the lead locomotive as it traveled over the plate girder bridge carrying the trains over the access road into the Bedford Reservation.

The results with the NS 8098 can be seen above. It could easily be a scene from the 1990s when this was still Conrail territory.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The 20E approaches on the high line passing through Bedford. It is at least the fourth NS heritage unit that I've photographed here.

The 20E approaches on the high line passing through Bedford. It is at least the fourth NS heritage unit that I’ve photographed here.

The trees are budding and blooming at last in Northeast Ohio.

The trees are budding and blooming at last in Northeast Ohio.

The lead unit of an eastbound crude oil train.

The lead unit of an eastbound crude oil train.

An eastbound intermodal train meets a westbound RoadRailer in Bedford on Friday, April 24.

An eastbound intermodal train meets a westbound RoadRailer in Bedford on Friday, April 24.


Conrail Tribute Unit Meets Ex-Conrail Unit

April 27, 2015

The 20E (left) passing the 16G  on Norfolk Southern.

The 20E (left) passing the 16G on Norfolk Southern.

I was out Sunday afternoon waiting for Norfolk Southern train 20E, which had No. 8098, the Conrail heritage unit, leading. Due to a rail train in Ravenna around CP 86 (Rave), traffic was backed up a bit. Train 16G showed up with one of the former CSX ex-Conrail SD80MACs leading and stopped close to MP 104 in Macedonia waiting for some railroad. Along came that 20E on the adjacent main, making for a Conrail heritage meet of sorts.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

Side by side Conrail heritage.

Side by side Conrail heritage.

The 16G stopped at MP 104 .

The 16G stopped at MP 104 .

Roster view of the 7226.

Roster view of the 7226.

After the Conrail-Penn Central ‘Breakup’

January 30, 2015

A zoom in shot showing 8098 and the 195 signal bridge.

A zoom in shot showing 8098 and the 195 signal bridge.

Due to work obligations I wasn’t able to get the Conrail/Penn Central heritage duo together when they returned to Cleveland on Wednesday, but I did manage to catch them both after they were separated.

First it was the 27N with the Conrail H unit now doing its solo gig at Lewis Road in Olmsted Falls passing under the 195 signal bridge.

Then it was back over to Rockport Yard in Cleveland to photograph the sitting duck PC unit. Prior to the 27N showing up, the 15N headed west with three BNSF units.

Article and Photographs by Roger Durfee

Closer view of Big Blue.

Closer view of Big Blue.

Roster view of the 1073.

Roster view of the 1073.

PC unit with 14N and the Rockport yard office in the background. Note CR coil car behind the 1073 that is still in a patched PC green.

PC unit with 14N and the Rockport yard office in the background. Note CR coil car behind the 1073 that is still in a patched PC green.

It is one busy railroad at Lewis Road.

It is one busy railroad at Lewis Road.

The 15N with the three BNSF units heads west.

The 15N with the three BNSF units heads west.



Conrail, PC H Units Split up in Cleveland

January 29, 2015

The pairing of the Conrail and Penn Central heritage locomotives of Norfolk Southern came to an unceremonious end on Wednesday afternoon in Rockport Yard in Cleveland.

The duo came into town around 1 p.m. leading the 27N, an auto rack train bound for Fairlane Yard near Amherst.

At Rockport, the NS 1073 (Penn Central) and NS 1011 were removed and the 27N left town behind only the NS 8098 (Conrail).

Online reports indicate that a small number of fans were gathered in Berea to witness the second coming of the Conrail/Penn Central duo but had to settle for just Conrail.

The Conrail and PC pair had emerged last Sunday from Chicago leading the 24M, an intermodal train bound for Baltimore.

After arriving there on Monday, the pair along with NS 1011 were cut off and subsequently assigned to the 33A, which operated to Enola Yard near Harrisburg, Pa.

That brought them to their last assignment together, the 27N.