Posts Tagged ‘Ohio Central steam locomotives’

One Afternoon in Sugarcreek

January 12, 2018

The Ohio Central began running its steam-powered Sugarcreek-Baltic tourist train behind former Canadian National 4-6-0 No. 1551 in 1989.

Although I moved to Northeast Ohio in August 1993, it would more than four years before I ventured to Sugarcreek to see that tourist train in action.

However, my first encounter with the 1551 had occurred two years earlier when I rode behind it on an Orrville Railroad Heritage Society excursion that originated in Beech City and ran to Coschocton. A diesel pulled the return trip.

What would turn out to be the last time that I saw the 1551 in steam would be on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon on Sept. 27, 1997.

I’m not sure how I learned about it, but the Ohio Central had two working steam locomotives in town that day.

The 1551 would be pulling the regularly-scheduled tourist train to Baltic and back. But also in town was the newest edition to the Ohio Central roundhouse, former Canadian Pacific 4-6-2 No. 1293.

OC owner Jerry Jacobson had acquired No. 1293 in 1996 from Steamtown and restored it to operating condition. It debuted in fall 1997 and would eventually take over the duties of pulling the Sugarcreek-Baltic tourist train.

My memory is a little hazy as to why the 1293 was in Sugarcreek on this day, but it probably had something to do with pulling an excursion train.

In the photograph above, the 1293 is idling on the siding as the 1551 prepares to depart for Baltic.

What is crystal clear in my memory was how I was thinking that on this day this was one of the few places in America that featured two operating steam locomotives. This remains one of my favorite Ohio Central steam memories.

Given that the Ohio Central steam program is a thing of the past, that makes those memories all the more special.


In Tribute to Jerry Jacobson

September 15, 2017

Jerry Jacobson was more than a member of the Akron Railroad Club. He was a friend to so many and will truly be missed.

In memory of Jerry, perhaps the members could post a favorite photo from an ARRC special or a public excursion.

Here is OHCR 6325 heading west over Ohio route 151 as she approaches Dennison, Ohio on August 13, 2004.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas

An Early Foray Into Digital Photography

March 9, 2017

Your recent blog post about early digital camera acceptance got me thinking about what could be done back then. Here is an example from 2004.

By 2004, a railfan could buy a good 4 megapixel camera like my Olympus and post a decent quality photo online, but true full-page book-quality digital images were much harder back then because of the lack of pixels.

Ohio Central No. 6325 is westbound nearing Dennison, Ohio, on Aug. 1, 2004. She was in Dennison for Train Fest 2004.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas


Thanks, Jerry, For All That You’ve Done

March 25, 2016



Dear Jerry Jacobson,

Whether it was excursions, steam locomotives or diesel-powered freights, you were there for us then, are there for us now, and, hopefully, you will continue being a railfan friend through all the changes that have been going on and are still going on.

Here are two of my favorite images of Ohio Central past.

In the top image OHCR 13 is towing an Alco switcher toward one of the plants north of Sugarcreek on July 4, 1996.

In a few moments OHCR 13 will uncouple from the switcher, couple onto freight cars, and back them up to the switcher.

For one brief moment in time, OHCR 13 was perhaps the only steam locomotive used in freight service in North America on that day.

Here she is passing a billboard advertising your excursions from Sugarcreek. What good memories this image brings back.

In the bottom image, when you owned the OHCR, it often interchanged with CSX at Warwick. Here is a morning freight with OHCR 7574 and 5407 preparing to leave Warwick and head south on June 25, 1996.

Thank you again. May your present and future endeavors also bring you the thanks that we so owe you for all you have done.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

When the ARRC Used to Ride the Ohio Central

March 25, 2016

Sunrise at Dennison

The boilers are cold now. Smoke no longer billows from the stacks and steam doesn’t escape and create enormous clouds during a blow down.

The steam locomotives of Jerry Jacobson are now clustered in a roundhouse in Sugarcreek after he got out of the railroad business by selling the Ohio Central System to Genesee & Wyoming.

G&W is a massive corporation and has no need for the kind of down-home ways that Jerry’s railroad used to do business by.

Between 1991 and 2006 Jerry would allow the ARRC to use his railroad once a year in the fall, allowing the club to travel behind one of his steamers.

The last of those trips occurred on Oct. 7, 2006, and it was one of the best. It was an all-day affair featuring the 1293, a 4-6-2 that was built for Canadian Pacific.

The day began at dawn in Dennison and by the time we returned on a sun-splashed late afternoon we had enjoyed seven photo runbys at five locations.

But my favorite image of the day wasn’t made during any of those runbys.

It was made just after sunrise as the 1293 patiently waited to go to work that morning. On the other end of the train was RS18 No. 1800, which would lead the ARRC excursion train east out of town on the former Panhandle mainline of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Those ARRC excursions on the Ohio Central are just memories now, but oh what memories they are.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Sometimes a Photograph is as Much About the Photographer as it is the Scene Being Potrayed

March 15, 2016

CP 1293 at Pearl

Sometimes you see in a photograph something you didn’t see and/or understand at the time that you made the image. That something may tell you something about yourself.

That happened to me recently as I reviewed slides that I had made during an Akron Railroad Club steam excursion on the Ohio Central on Oct. 4, 2003. The trip featured former Canadian Pacific No. 1293 pulling the train from Sugarcreek to Morgan Run.

The train had halted at Pearl and many of the passengers disembarked to watch and/or photograph the photo runby.

Unloading had occurred at the crossing of a driveway that led to a cheese company store. A photo line then formed on that road.

There is an open grass field between the tracks and the cheese store and some folks stood in various places in that field behind the photo line.

On Photography Logo-xI walked to the far end of the field and stood in some brush just beyond the edge of that field where the property owner had stopped mowing the grass.

I don’t clearly remember why I did that. I had been at photo runbys involving steam locomotives before and was aware of the common practice of establishing a photo line.

I had stood in photo lines myself. I had also stood apart from photo lines because I wanted to get my “own” angle on the image.

But on this day I seemed oblivious to the existence of the photo line.

I have a vague recollection of having walked far from the photo line in an effort to create some open space.

But, as you can see in the image above, that plan was foiled when three folks stepped up close to the edge of the ballast of the tracks with the apparent same idea that I had.

I wasn’t pleased, but not necessarily upset. The behavior of people at photo runbys can be an interesting study in itself.

The guy wearing the hat must have seen me for he kneeled down in order to become less of an obstruction.

It wasn’t until I was reviewing this image that I realized that my standing far away from the photo line says something about me that transcended my desire for a good image.

At the time of this trip, I had been a member of the ARRC for less than two months.

I knew just one person in the club, the late David McKay, and recognized a few other faces I had seen at other railroad related events. But I didn’t know those people at the time.

I still felt like an outsider and my walking to the far end of the photo runby site probably reflected a subconscious lack of level of comfort with this group.

It was for that same reason that I skipped the dinner after the trip at the Swiss Hat restaurant in Sugarcreek.

I’ve also never been one to enjoy being in a crowd so that might have played a role in where I chose to stand.

Throughout the trip I mostly kept to myself and this photograph is a reminder of that.

The image also reminds me of why I’m glad that I now have a digital camera.

You may have noticed that the train is quite some distance from my location. “Best practices” composition techniques say that I should have waited a second or two longer before tripping the shutter.

But if you look at images that I made during this era, I was notorious for making photographs too soon. It is a common error made by novice photographers.

The train looks larger and closer in the viewfinder than it actually is. I have a lot of photographs with tons of “empty space” between me and the front of an oncoming train.

My Canon Rebel G camera could only expose one frame of film per second. My digital Canon 60D can expose five frames per second.

In a way, though, the presence of those bystanders who initially annoyed me saved the photograph.

Another way of looking at the image is that it is about what people do when they watch trains. It is not so much about the train itself even if that was my primary subject matter. In this image the train turned out to be secondary.

I still think this would be a better image if I had waited a little longer for the train to come to me. But if I had, it would not have the dramatic smoke action of this image.

I did make a photo of the locomotive much closer to where I was standing and the amount of smoke coming from the stack had greatly diminished.

By the time the 1293 got to the end of the field, the train had started to slow in preparation for a stop and back-up move.

In 2004, the ARRC had another steam trip on the Ohio Central with the 1293. By then I had gotten to know some people in the club and in fact had been approached about running for president because Dave planned to retire after 12 years in that position.

During the 2004 trip, I stood on the photo line with everyone else. I also went to dinner after the trip at the Swiss Hat and enjoyed talking with those at my table.

My comfort zone had greatly expanded to include even those in the ARRC I didn’t yet know.

Railroad Photography and the Human Element

March 2, 2014




Too often as railfan photographers we are concerned only with the engine itself.  We go to great lengths not to have people included in the photograph. This is especially a problem when a large steam engine like Nickel Plate Road No. 765 is around.

My third photo above a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad special with an intent photographer taking his photo.  He didn’t know I was there so I patiently waited until he finished to take an unobstructed view.  I also took this photo of him.

Upon reviewing my pictures later the unobstructed view seemed lacking somehow but the photo of the photographer and the train worked.  It had that missing element which made a good photo a great one.

I posted the photo on Flickr and a discussion ensued as to which photo is better and why.  Unanimously, everyone liked the photo with the photographer in it.

Imagine my surprise when the next morning I had this comment on my photo: “I’m sorry I ruined you’re photo but could you send me a copy?”  It was none other than Ray Thibaut, the person who I had photographed.  I of course sent him a copy.

These top two photos come from 2004 at Dennison, Ohio. They show workers attending to Grand Trunk Western No. 6325, a northern type locomotive.

In the large view, there is a photographer at left. He stood indignant while the workers did their thing, not making a single picture of the steamer until the workers had finished and left.

I also took photos without the workers and again found them lacking.  Again they are the missing element the “it factor” if you will.

These became my favorite photos of the entire weekend.  As to the other photographer, well, I think he missed out.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

When 13 Was a Lucky Number

June 24, 2013


Remember When 13 Was A Lucky Number? Here is Ohio Central 13 sitting at the Sugarcreek, Ohio, station boarding site on a beautiful October 1997 day.

She was originally ex-Buffalo Creek & Gauley No. 13 and was used into the early 1960s making her one of the last steamers in regular service in the United States.

Photograph by Robert Farkas