Posts Tagged ‘NS in Olmsted Falls’

Looks Like We Got Ourselves a Convoy

January 19, 2018

I was railfanning in Olmsted Falls on a Friday afternoon last year when an eastbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight came rolling by.

Tucked into the consist were several flats cars of military equipment. On occasion you’ll find a dedicated military train, but you also are liable to find military equipment being moved on regular trains as was the case on this day.

I have no idea where this equipment originated or where it was going. Maybe it received special handling and maybe NS treated it as nothing more than another load of freight.

But it made for something out of the ordinary to see amid the usual parade of intermodal trains, unit trains and manifest freights.

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Red and Orange in Olmsted Falls

December 29, 2017

NS train 60E not only has a Canadian National leader, it is a narrow cab one to boot.

You  can pretty much count on most trains passing through Olmsted Falls on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern having NS locomotives on the lead.

That’s because most of the traffic is going to or coming from the Cleveland Line, which has cab signals. Most foreign locomotives are not equipped with a cab signal device compatible with the Cleveland Line.

One exception to this NS-only locomotives rule is trains going to or coming from the Cleveland District toward Buffalo, New York. They diverge by Rockport Yard and don’t need a unit on the point with cab signal capability.

On occasion a train will come in with a foreign unit and be shunted into the Berea siding to await a cab signal equipped leader to come out and hook on.

So when you get the chance to photograph a train on the Chicago Line in the Falls with foreign power leading, better grab it.

My Shortest Day Outing

December 22, 2017

CSX crude oil train K048 has a pair of BNSF units and a badly faded Union Pacific motor as it passes westbound NS manifest freight 309 in Berea.

NS local B14 heads west to do some work in Olmsted Falls. It is shown passing through Berea.

It’s the westbound manifest freight 35N with a standard NS motive power consist as it slices through Olmsted Falls en route from Conway Yard near Pittsburgh to Decatur, Illinois.

For several years the Akron Railroad Club has had a tradition of holding a “longest day” outing in June, usually on a Sunday after the summer solstice.

I’ve often thought if we have a longest day outing why not have a shortest day outing.

However, the winter solstice falls in December just before Christmas when winter weather is a good possibility. The ARRC is in slumber mode for most of December.

Undeterred by that, I held a “shortest day” outing of my own on Wednesday in Berea and Olmsted Falls.

The actual winter solstice was on Thursday, but I had a doctor’s appointment that day and other plans for the afternoon.

Besides, the weather was better on Wednesday with mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures. Maybe I should have put the word “mild” in quotation marks because some might question whether temperatures in the 30s qualify as mild.

But coming on the heels of a week with temperatures in the teens and wind chills in the low single digits, it felt downright balmy outside.

I didn’t spend as much time trackside as I would on a longest day outing. I got to Berea about 10:30 a.m. just as a westbound intermodal train was passing through on Norfolk Southern.

A few minutes later an eastbound stack train came roaring through on CSX.

By the time the 11 o’clock hour arrived, I had seen five trains. Four more came past before noon.

Then things died on both railroad lines. I wouldn’t see another train until 1 p.m. By then I had shifted to Olmsted Falls, primarily because with the wind out of the north that meant aircraft landing at Cleveland Hopkins Airport would landing to the northeast.

On the rails, nothing out of the ordinary came by. It was the usual mix of intermodal trains with a couple of crude oil trains thrown in and a pair of manifest freights on NS.

Aside from a pair of BNSF units leading a CSX eastbound crude oil train, the motive power was the same old, same old. No NS heritage units were anywhere in the picture.

In all, I spotted 16 trains, although that number rises to 17 if I double count NS local B14, which I saw twice. Both times it had one locomotive and three boxcars.

I had to leave just after 3 p.m. because of an obligation at home. On the whole, it was a nice day.

See the Train, Mommy

December 21, 2017

A mother and her young son watch the approaching steel coil train 60W in Olmsted Falls on a late September day. The woman and her two children spent time train watching before moving on to other things. Notice that her other child is watching the train from the rear of the vehicle.

Let Those Stackers Roll

December 20, 2017

Stacker is a term that some railfans use to describe a double-stacked container train. These trains are ubiquitous on all Class 1 North American railroads although they are more common on some lines rather than others.

If stack trains are your passion, you would do well to spend time along the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Olmsted Falls.

Unlike such routes as the CSX New Castle Subdivision, which has just one pair of stack trains a day through Northeast Ohio,  there are a dozen or more stack trains on the NS Chicago Line.

If you spend any amount of time on the Chicago Line no matter the time of day you’ll will see a stack train go by eventually.

Most of the stack trains on the Chicago line are bound for or coming from Chicago. Some will run through as interchange trains with other railroads while others will originate or terminate in the Windy City.

Although stack trains tend to have a uniform appearance, there is some variation in the colors and markings of the containers hauled on the trains.

And I’ve always wondered what was in those containers. Probably just about anything you can imagine that moves by rail.

The Almost Always Reliable L13

December 6, 2017

If you hang out in Olmsted Falls or Berea in the afternoon, chances are you’re going to see the Norfolk Southern rain L13. Sure, there is a fleet of other regularly scheduled trains that you can count on seeing during the afternoon hours, but those are primarily intermodal trains with fairly standard consists.

The L13 is a Bellevue to Rockport Yard turn. It typically arrives in Cleveland in late afternoon and departs in early evening. During the summer months you can catch it going both directions in daylight.

On occasion the crew will run out of time and the L13 won’t return to Bellevue until the next morning.

The consist of the L13 can vary widely. I’ve seen it running light and I’ve seen it with enough cars to appear to be a regular manifest freight.

For a good part of this year, the L13 had one or more “triclops” units for power. Those are SD60M units that were built for Burlington Northern and feature a unique looking three-piece windshield.

The rendition of L13 shown here doesn’t have triclops in the motive power consist, but it does seem to nearly as many locomotives as freight cars. Some of the units may might be being ferried to Rockport for assignment.

By the Glint’s Late Day Light

December 4, 2017

I had a trunk load of railfan magazines to convey to Marty Surdyk to be sold at trains shows at which the Akron Railroad Club has a table.

We arranged to exchange the magazines one evening last summer in Olmsted Falls, which is a favorite railfanning haunt for both of us.

After transferring the magazines, we settled in to do some evening railfanning. I had brought my tripod to try some night photography.

But before you get to darkness you get to that time when the low sun angle makes for some nice glint lighting.

Of course you need a train to show up when the light is just right to go glint hunting.

On this evening NS cooperated by sending eastbound manifest freight 16G at just the right time. As a bonus, the Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive was on the lead.

Strictly speaking, the going away shot of the NS 8114 below is not a glint shot. But I liked it and included it in the gallery because it is part of the story.

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.

 

Seeing Red

August 10, 2017

Train Q165 roars past the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

On a couple of back-to-back outings I had the good luck of seeing Canadian Pacific motive power on four trains.

Two of them were Q165 and Q166, which are Chicago-Buffalo, New York, run through trains on CSX that have been operating for a few years now.

I used to somewhat regularly see one of those trains at Berea, but that hasn’t been the case for a while.

I’ve only seen both of them in the same day twice and each time I was in North East, Pennsylvania.

I also found CP motive power leading a pair of Norfolk Southern trains, the 216 and the 67X. One of those was moving and the other was tied down.

I didn’t mind seeing so much red and wouldn’t mind seeing it again now that CP has resumed putting its beaver tail logo on the flanks of some locomotives.

The light was less than ideal to get Q166, which was one of five consecutive eastbounds allowed to move as CSX was single-tracking the Erie West Subdivision between North East, Pennsylvania, and a point in New York York State.

A pair of CPs lead NS 216 through the vineyard country near Bort Road in North East, Pennsylvania.

The first of two views of NS train 67X tied down near Lewis Road in Olmsted Falls, Ohio.

 

Planes Were the Objective Along With the Trains

May 1, 2017

Having picked up a third unit, the motive power set of the 20R is returning to its train, which was parked east of CP 194.

When I saw the weather forecast for Sunday, April 23, I knew I just had to get out someplace trackside.

The winds were going to be northeasterly, which sealed the deal on going to Olmsted Falls. Why? Because aircraft landing at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport would be landing on runway 6 left and that would put their final approach path just to the west of the depot.

I could photograph trains and planes. Maybe I would get lucky and get a heritage plane as well as an NS heritage unit.

It turned out that I got neither. All of the motive power was standard NS black. All of the planes were in their usual colors and markings.

Not a single foreign unit led a single train during my nearly nine hours there.

I did succeed, though, in photographing for the first time Allegiant Air, which began flying into Hopkins in February. That same month Allegiant stopped serving the Akron-Canton Airport.

I also got an American Airlines MD80 in its original livery. American plans to phase the MD80 out of its fleet later this year so those planes are flying on short time.

This outing had something in common with the ARRC’s Dave McKay Day back on April 1.

On McKay Day, NS train 20R had to pick up another locomotive. The same thing happened on this day, too.

The 17N cut off its power and dropped a spare unit at the far west end of the Berea siding. The 20R power set ran light through the Falls to pick it up.

Otherwise, it was a pretty routine day, but even a routine day can be a good day when you are trackside on a nice spring day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Eastbound 22K passing a budding tree by the depot.

The crew of NS train 17N returns to its train after dropping off a unit for the 20R in the Berea siding.

A stack train with a colorful set of containers approaches the Olmsted Falls depot.

I believe this is NS train 206.

Big wheels keep on turning. Tractors hitch a ride on eastbound NS train 14A.

An Allegiant MD80 is lined up to land on at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Catching Allegiant for the first time was at the top of my objective list for this outing. This flight is inbound from Orlando Sanford Airport.