Posts Tagged ‘NS locomotives’

Spring in Olmsted Falls

April 25, 2017

 

During a railfan expedition to Olmsted Falls last Sunday, I noticed a small flowering tree next to the parking lot for the city park that sits along the north edge of Norfolk Southern’s Chicago Line.

I would have liked for that tree to have been larger and closer to the rails. But it wasn’t and I had to work with what I had.

Framing trains with that tree was a challenge. No matter what angle I tried the light was not going to be ideal. It might be in late in the day in the middle of summer, but trees flower in the spring and not in June.

I’ve not had much luck being able to photograph trains and flowering trees. I’ve found very few of them along railroad tracks anywhere, particularly in large numbers. Such trees might exist somewhere next to an active rail line, but I haven’t found such a location yet.

Like peak fall foliage, flowering trees in the spring bloom in a short window that closes all too soon, giving way to what Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee likes to refer to as the great green blowout of summer.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

 

Let’s Get Behind the Horses

April 19, 2017

Many years ago when I was a kid we were on a family vacation out east. We saw a billboard that read, “let’s get behind the birds,” making a reference to the Baltimore Orioles Major League Baseball team.

The billboard had a team photo that was taken from behind the players, not in front of them.

The vast majority of the time, railroad photographs show the nose of a locomotive approaching the photographer.

This Norfolk Southern light power move — symbol 967 — is headed from Columbus to Bellevue.

With the exception of DPU units, it is not often that the rear of a locomotive is also the rear of the train.

Last Gasp of Winter

April 11, 2017

Where did the winter go? That’s a term more commonly heard about summer, a season  that most people embrace, and not winter, a season that most people dread.

We had snow this winter, but not as much as I remember there being in past winters and for various reasons I didn’t get out when we had it to make any photographs.

It is not that I didn’t make photographs during the winter months, but when I did get out there was little to no snow on the ground.

So here it is April and this is one of the best snow and trains photograph that I have to show for the winter of 2016-2017.

Yeah, I know it is kind of lame, but at least there is snow in the image even if little of it.

There will always be another winter and the next one might have more opportunity than I care to have. But I’ll deal with that then.

NS Opens New Chicago Locomotive Shop

February 15, 2017

Norfolk Southern has opened a new locomotive shop in Chicago adjacent to its 47th Street intermodal facility.

NS logo 2The $9.5 million facility has 16,300 square feet and comes with a 125-ton drop table to inspect, repair, or replace traction motors; a mobile, 7.5–ton overhead gantry crane, and a 77-foot-long inspection pit.

It can handle four locomotives indoors at once and will employ 25 craft workers around the clock.

“The new facility is strategically located on Norfolk Southern’s primary rail line serving Chicago, and it will allow NS to rapidly make repairs to locomotives moving freight to our major terminals,” said NS vice president mechanical Don Graab in a statement. “The investment is part of NS’s commitment to provide timely and reliable service and will enable us to move goods even more efficiently across the Chicago gateway and benefit intermodal customers shipping freight to East Coast markets.”

With the opening of the shop NS will no longer have to move locomotives requiring extensive maintenance to other shops on its system.

NS also operates a minor repairs shop in Chicago at Calumet Yard. NS has six yards in the Chicago region that handle more than 100 trains a day.

Chasing a 1984 Passenger Excursion

February 3, 2017
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Eastbound crossing the Chessie System (now R.J. Corman) track east of Brewster yard.

Here is something a little bit different. This is from an excursion 32 years ago. I don’t know if this is a Norfolk Southern excursion or perhaps Orrville Railroad Heritage Society excursion. It may have been ORHS’ first excursion. It began in Orrville or Brewster, but I photographed it from Brewster to Zanesville. These photos were taken on what is now mostly the Ohio Central as the train ran southbound on Oct. 6, 1984.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

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Southbound under the Route 93 bridge in Dundee.

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The power has cut off in Zanesville.

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

An Hour or So at East Conway

January 7, 2017
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Three trains came out of Conway Yard and then backed up to switch tracks during my time there.

The title of this post notwithstanding, I don’t know how much time I spent at East Conway near Pittsburgh in early December.

Hanging out there was not on our agenda when my friend Adam and I ventured toward Pittsburgh. It just sort of happened.

We thought we might be able to catch westbound train 21Q, which was being led by the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage locomotive.

Earlier in the year we had caught the New York Central H unit at East Conway. Given that the PRR and NYC merged in  1968 to form Penn Central, there was a certain symmetry to photographing the PRR and NYC heritage locomotives in the same place in the same year.

As it turned out, we spent more time at East Conway than expected. The 21Q had to wait for a new crew to arrive and there was opposing traffic coming in and out of Conway Yard.

We had been told by local railfans on another trip to Pittsburgh that it is all right to hang out on the bridge over the East Conway interlocking.

The bridge carries a street into the yard and, we were told, it is a public street.

I’m not sure about that, but during the two times that we spent on that bridge in 2016 no one from NS told us to leave and there were always a number of locals there making photographs.

NS has installed security cameras on the bridge, although that may have more to do with checking who and what is coming in and out of the yard.

Getting images of Conway Yard from this bridge had been on my “to do” list for some time.

So everything seemed to work out during this visit. It would have been nice had it not been overcast, but I can live with that.

Now that I’ve made numerous images at the East Conway bridge, I’m not sure I’m all that motivated to go back there except, perhaps, to photograph something specific, like say, the Penn Central heritage unit. I’ve pretty much documented operations there.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Four movements at one time at East Conway.

Four movements at one time at East Conway.

A light power move comes out of the yard for head room.

A light power move comes out of the yard for head room.

Keeping watch ahead for a light power move returning to the yard.

Keeping watch ahead for a light power move returning to the yard.

Keeping watch from a gondola as a manifest freight backs up at East Conway.

Keeping watch from a gondola as a manifest freight backs up at East Conway.

An eastbound stack train has a new crew and is ready to go east.

An eastbound stack train has a new crew and is ready to go east.

An eastbound stack train passes a manifest freight backing into Conway.

An eastbound stack train passes a manifest freight backing into Conway.

New NS Eco Power Rolls Through Area

December 30, 2016

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Thursday started out gloomy and overcast but by afternoon the sun had come out. I was Railfaning Norfolk Southern at Hudson and caught a few trains.

About 3 p.m. I got word that 15N had left Conway with a brand new eco set in its consist. I figured it would take about two hours to reach me which by then would be dark.

I decided to relocate to Rootstown, which would put me 20 minutes closer to the train. I got a few more trains while waiting but the shadows were creeping in.

At 4:28 p.m. the train arrived and I was able to get a few sunlight photos. In the few minutes it took the train to pass me the sun dipped behind the clouds. Talk about cutting it close.

Article and Photograps by Todd Dillon

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.

An Unexpected and Pleasant Surprise

December 12, 2016

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Railfans go to great lengths to determine when something special is coming down the tracks that they want to photograph.

They’ve set up Facebook pages, online chat lists, websites and texting networks.

Yet there will always be a place for dumb luck in getting something out of the ordinary.

Such was the case during a recent trip to Pittsburgh. We had set up at California Avenue to get Norfolk Southern train 21Q as it came across the OC bridge on the Mon Line.

Leading the 21Q was the Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit, a fact we had learned about through the website HeritageUnits.com.

We had only been there a few minutes when a coal train came rumbling out onto the bridge.

The trailing unit of the coal train was DC to AC conversion No. 4004. There are thus far only a handful of these conversion locomotives in revenue service wearing one of the special liveries that NS designed for them.

No. 4004 features the a black nose, gray body and blue lighting accent stripes. Yes, it would have been nice it had been leading, but I was still quite pleased to get it as it was.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders