Posts Tagged ‘NS stack trains’

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.

Blue and a Little Autumn Gold in Hudson

October 29, 2020

Norfolk Southern DC to AC conversion locomotive No. 4001 led westbound stack train 21Q through Northeast Ohio on Wednesday afternoon.

The blue-nose unit has passed through the area a few times in recent weeks, but was trailing rather than leading.

It is shown at Hudson at 1:55 p.m. en route to 47th Street Yard in Chicago.

Photograph by Todd Dillon

Good Place to Put a Red Maple Tree

October 28, 2020

Finding colorful fall foliage along a railroad mainline can be a challenge. Despite all the trees that line the tacks these days many of them are not particularly colorful when the leaves begin to turn in October.

So it was a pleasant surprise to find in Waterloo, Indiana, during an outing earlier this month this red maple tree standing near the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

I worked this tree into the image for four trains, including one going away picture. Shown is a westbound stack train.

Virginian H Units Passes through NE Ohio

September 9, 2020

The Virginian heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern made a pass through Northeast Ohio on Tuesday on the point of intermodal train 22K.

Ed Ribinskas caught No. 1069, an SD70ACe, on the bridge over the Grand River in Painesville just after 11 a.m.

The train is bound for Ayer, Massachusetts, and originated in Chicago. It is a pretty reliable daytime sighting in Northeast Ohio.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas

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

 

I Had Forgotten How Good This Day Had Been

May 23, 2020

A three-way meet in Olmsted Falls with an eastbound Norfolk Stack train, a very Lake Shore Limited and a tied down grain train with Canadian Pacific power was one of the highlights of my outing of Aug. 30, 2014.

It can be a quite pleasing feeling when going through old photographs and discovering an image you forgot you had.

I recently discovered not only images I had forgotten having made but a day-long outing that in retrospect must have seemed like one of those days where everything was going right.

And it occurred less than six years ago. So how could I have forgotten it?

I’ll answer that question later but on Aug. 30, 2014, I photographed 18 trains and saw locomotives of every Class 1 railroad except Canadian National.

The day began in Olmsted Falls just after 8 a.m. where I found a grain train sitting in the Berea siding west of Mapleway Drive with a Canadian Pacific leader.

There was no crew on board and the train probably needed a Norfolk Southern unit equipped with a cab signal apparatus.

In case you’ve forgotten, summer 2014 was the year NS implemented a new computer program in its dispatching system that tied the Chicago Line into knots for several weeks.

Mainline tracks between Cleveland and Chicago were blocked with trains whose crews had outlawed.

It was so bad that Amtrak in daylight became a regular occurrence in Northeast Ohio.

Indeed, I twice in one week photographed the eastbound Capitol Limited in mid morning. No. 30 is scheduled to arrive in Cleveland at 1:45 a.m., well before daybreak.

I’ve long since forgotten what plans I had for railfanning on Aug. 30, but I began the day in Olmsted Falls because the eastbound Lake Shore Limited was running more than five hours behind schedule.

Amtrak No. 48 would not reach Olmsted Falls until shortly before 11 a.m. By then NS had sent eight trains through the Falls of which four were westbounds.

An interesting fact I discovered upon reviewing the photos of the 11 Chicago Line trains I photographed that morning is that all but two of them were running on Track 1.

The NS dispatcher sent four trains west on Track 1 between 8:15 a.m. and 9:22 a.m. Three trains went east on the same track through Olmsted Falls between 9:38 a.m. and 10:05 a.m.

It must have been a challenge getting those trains out of each other’s way west of Cleveland.

An eastbound stack train at 10:50 a.m. was the first train to use Track 2 during the time I was there.

Two minutes after it arrived came the eastbound Lake Shore Limited on Track 1.

Running right behind the stacker on Track 2 was an eastbound coal train, which turned out to be the last NS train I saw.

The 10 NS trains I photographed included six stack trains, two tank car trains, a coal train and the grain train that never turned a wheel during my time in the Falls.

After the coal train cleared I headed for Wellington where CSX was equally as busy.

Between 12:15 p.m. and 12:47 p.m. I photographed five trains, two eastbounds and three westbounds.

It was an interesting mix of traffic that included an eastbound manifest freight, an eastbound auto rack train, the westbound trash containers train, the westbound Union Pacific-CSX “salad shooter” reefer train and a westbound grain train.

The reefer train had its customary three UP units, but of particular interest was the Southern Belle of Kansas City Southern leading the trash train.

Sometime after 1:30 p.m. I decided to head for New London. On the drive there, I spotted a Wheeling & Lake Erie train tied down just west of the grade crossing on Ohio Route 162 east of New London on the Carey Subdivision.

The lead unit of the eastbound W&LE train was a former KCS SD40 still wearing its KCS colors but with small W&LE markings.

The trailing unit was painted in Wheeling colors but lettered for the Denver & Rio Grande Western.

I don’t remember hanging out in New London but I presume that I did. Yet I didn’t photograph any trains there, which suggests that CSX might have died for the afternoon.

Whatever the case, I decided at some point to head east and wound up on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad where I photographed the last southbound train of the day arriving in Peninsula.

On the south end of the train was that LTEX leased unit that everyone loved to hate, GP15 No. 1420 in its solid black livery. On the north end was CVSR 1822, an Alco RS18u.

I photographed the train leaving and then headed home, having had quite a day with my camera.

OK, why did this become a “lost” memory given the diversity of what I captured with megapixels.

A number of reasons come to mind. Notice that I saw virtually no trains for most of the afternoon. I tend to evaluate the success of an outing by how it ends more than how it begins.

If the day ends with a flourish I tend to remember it as being successful. It is ends with little I tend to think that it could have been better.

Another factor was that August 2014 was a busy and eventful month for me and that might explain why this outing got lost in a lot of other memories.

Finally, days like the one I had on Aug. 30 used to be fairly common in Northeast Ohio when rail traffic was heavier.

A Kansas City Southern Belle might not have been a common sight in NEO back then — and still isn’t — but UP, BNSF and CP units were.

When you live in a place that has a high level of freight traffic it is easy to get somewhat jaded about it. It will always be there, right?

Yet five years later changes in railroad operating patterns have made outings like this less common.

There are fewer trains even though NS and CSX mainlines through Cleveland still host a lot of trains and can have busy spells. The “salad shooter” is now gone and the nature of and the overall level of rail traffic is not what it was five years ago.

Given my current circumstances how I long for a day today like the one I had on Aug. 30.

If there is a lesson to be drawn from this story it would be to appreciate what you have when you have it and learn to make the best of the opportunities that do present themselves in the here and now. They won’t always be there.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Many of the photographs that I made in Olmsted Falls on this day revolved around the grain train and its CP leader. In the distance a stack train heads west.

BNSF and NS units combined to wheel a westbound container train through Olmsted Falls.

NS units created a BNSF sandwich in the motive power consist of this eastbound tank car train.

A pretty lady leads an ugly train at Wellington. Southern Belles were a prized catch whenever I was trackside anywhere in Northeast Ohio.

The “salad shooter” makes an appearance in Wellington with its customary Union Pacific motive power consist.

Fresh lumber was among the many commodities being toted by this eastbound CSX manifest freight past the reservoir in Wellington.

Although it’s a Wheeling & Lake Erie unit, this SD40 still wore its KCS colors and thus made it a KCS two-fer type of day. It is sitting at the distant signal for Hiles near New London.

CVSR 1822 will be leading when this train comes back through Peninsula more than an hour from now.

Pittsburgh Residents Opposing NS Clearance Plan

December 4, 2019

Norfolk Southern has encountered considerable citizen resistance to its plan to operate double-stacked container trains through the north side of Pittsburgh.

The dispute has gone to mediation after residents protested that the project to increase clearances in the city will cause added noise pollution as rail traffic increasedsfrom about 25 trains a day to as many as 50.

The residents have also expressed concern about the type of cargo that the train will carry.

NS plans to raise bridges at Pennsylvania and West North avenues, lower the tracks at Columbus Avenue Bridge and build a new Merchant Street Bridge.

NS said raising the bridges is needed because it cannot lower the tracks in some areas.

The project in April 2017 received a $20 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the bridge work. NS will pay $8.2 million.

The Pittsburgh residents sought mediation after the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission declined to intervene on their behalf against the bridge construction work.

The mediator, who was chosen by NS and the Northside Leadership Conference, has said he will work with NS.

PennDOT representatives are meeting with community groups to listen to their concerns.

NS has said that routing stack trains over its Pittsburgh Line, which is also used by Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian, is a shorter and faster route than the Mon Line that the carrier currently uses.

The Mon Line bypasses downtown Pittsburgh, running along the south side of the Ohio and Monongahela rivers.

Work on the clearance project has already begun in the suburbs, but no work has yet been undertaken in the city.

A Pennsylvania court had agreed to hear arguments on the dispute, but delayed the hearings for at least 90 days to allow the mediation process to play out.

When the Lighting is Less Than Ideal

October 19, 2019

There are times when the good news is that you’re trackside with camera in hand when a train is approaching.

The bad news is the lighting is not favorable for photography.

In those instances your best option is to take the resulting image with its subdued colors and convert it to black and white.

The top and middle images are westbound Norfolk Southern trains in Alliance that were photographed on Aug. 24. The bottom image is a CSX eastbound captured in Akron on the evening of Aug. 23.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Green Containers

September 12, 2019

Containers that railroads haul tend to come in various colors and markings making for a mish mash of colors as a train goes by.

You might see a cut of containers owned by the same company that provide a uniform appearance.

Such is the case with this eastbound Norfolk Southern intermodal train. The view is from the Front Street Bridge in Berea.

Apparently, it is not economically feasible for there to be unit trains of containers all belonging to the same shipping company. That is something I’ve yet to see.

Note that the lead locomotive pays tribute to 25 years of Operation Lifesaver.

Going Green

October 28, 2018

A lot of companies with which you do business through the mail are trying to entice you to switch to online payment of bills.

They often use the slogan “go green,” to make it seem as though paying online is environmentally sound.

It might be in the sense that it creates less paper, but I’ve always suspected that the real motivation is cost cutting.

This image of a westbound Norfolk Southern stack train rumbling through Olmsted Falls gives another meaning to the phrase “going green” as the first block of containers are all painted green.