Posts Tagged ‘Ohio Central System’

Running Light in Beach City

July 2, 2020

Both of these photographs were made in Beach City, Ohio, on Sept. 2, 2009.

Both locomotives are GE B23-7R units. No. 4094 is still wearing the colors and markings of the New Castle Industrial Railroad.

The locomotive has a history that is as colorful as its livery. It was built in June 1972 for the Western Pacific. It would later be on the rosters of the Monongahela, Conrail and Norfolk Southern before going to the NCIR.

No. 4093 was built for the WP the same month as the 4094. It, too, was on the rosters of the MGA and Conrail but went to CSX after the Conrail break up.

The light power move shown here was running southward.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Ohio Central Consecutive Roster Numbers

May 29, 2020

Although not on the same train or part of the same motive power consist, the sequence above shows consecutively numbered Ohio Central U23B units both of which were once owned by Conrail.

In the top photo OHCR 4092 is working in Coshocton on Nov. 12, 2009.

In the bottom photo OHCR 4093 is northbound on R.J. Corman (ex-Baltimore & Ohio) trackage in Massillon on April 19, 2010.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

A Fleeting Wisp of Ohio Central Glory

April 18, 2020

I’ve been going through my slide collection in recent weeks and scanning images to post online.

It’s been a diversion from the COVID-19 pandemic and brought back pleasant memories of what seemed to have been happier and less threatening times.

The photograph above of an Ohio Central passenger excursion train, though, is not one of those recent scans.

I scanned this image several months ago but have thus far refrained from posting it because of its lackluster quality.

Yet it’s the type of image in which I find myself taking solace these days and the fact that it’s less than ideal doesn’t matter.

I made this image on July 31, 2004, on a wood bridge at the west edge of West Lafayette, Ohio. The excursion originated in Columbus and was bound for Train Festival 2004 in Dennison.

It was one of several excursion trains I photographed that day during an event like few others I experienced in Ohio.

It was not an ideal day for train photography due to overcast skies and rain and drizzle. The slide is dark suggesting an under exposed image.

This photo has been sitting in a folder on my computer awaiting a decision to post it or delete it.

Sometimes a photograph has to wait for the right moment to be displayed, a moment when the content outweighs whatever technical flaws it has.

I was always a fan of the Pennsylvania Railroad inspired livery that Ohio Central FP9A units 6313 and 6307 had.

I once sat at a table with the late Jerry Jacobson at an Akron Railroad Club event and heard him say how much it cost to get those locomotives custom painted. I don’t recall the figure, but it wasn’t cheap.

Jerry talked about that expense in the same causal way that most people speak of how much they spent for dinner at a Bob Evans restaurant. In the scheme of things it isn’t that much.

I don’t have too many photographs of the Ohio Central FP9As in this livery and I didn’t see them operate very often.

Sure, I wish I had more photographs, but having regrets is as much a part of being a railfan photographer as bragging about what you did capture.

Everyone has missed out on something and everyone has something they wish that had more of than they do.

Everyone also can speak about days when they wished the weather and lighting had been better.

Having something is better than having nothing so although this isn’t one of my best images it reminds me of a day when I was there for something special.

There never was another train festival in Dennison or anywhere else on the Ohio Central like the 2004 event that was attended by 27,000 people.

Although the two steam locomotives that operated that day are at the Age of Steam Roundhouse, Jerry sold the FP9A locomotives and they can’t be seen in their PRR lookalike livery.

During the pandemic it is easy to think about what we can’t do.

It remains to be seen what end game the pandemic will bring, but for now we can look forward to some day resuming doing things we used to do without giving them a second thought.

Yet some things are not coming back. The steam excursions and other special movements that Jerry made possible may have lasted several years but in looking back on them now their time seems to have been rather fleeting.

Fortunately, our memories and photographs of those moments are not.

On the Pittsburgh & Ohio Central

March 18, 2020

The Ohio Central system was made up of a number of component short line railroads one of which is the Pittsburgh & Ohio Central.

It operates on 35 miles of track much of which is the former Pittsburgh, Chartiers & Youghiogheny. It also used former Conrail (Pennsylvania Railroad) track between Carnegie and Walkers Mill although this segment has not had rail traffic since 2014.

P&OC operates a turn job to Arden, Pennsylvania, which is located near Washington. That line runs past the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum.

P&OC No. 4032 is shown near Washington on Aug. 24, 2004. The GP9RM was built for Canadian National and rebuilt in 1984.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Get It While You Can

January 24, 2020

It is the afternoon of May 15, 1998, in Clinton (Warwick).

Ohio Central has sent its coiled-steel train to Warwick where it has been put in the eastbound siding.

Now the OHCR power is waiting on R.J. Corman tracks for the CSX train bringing back the empty coiled-steel cars to be taken south.

In the top photograph, the view is looking south at OHCR GP9 No. 91and OHCR GP38AC No. 2175 with its Operation Lifesaver lettering with Warwick Tower in the background.

The tower was out of service as an interlocking tower but used by maintenance of way workers.

The bottom photograph shows a side view of both locomotives with the roof of Warwick shower showing above the 2175.

Today OHCR no longer interchanges with CSX at Warwick, and OHCR is no longer owned by Jerry Jacobson.

This is just another reminder to photograph the familiar while there is time.

Article and Photographs by Robert Farkas

G&W to be Acquired by Brookfield Infrastructure

July 2, 2019

Genesee & Wyoming has agreed to be acquired by Brookfield Infrastructure Partners in a transaction that is being valued at $8.4 billion, including outstanding debt.

The sale is expected to close by the end of this year or in early 2020 pending approval by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board and a review by the U.S. Justice Department and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States

Certain G&W stockholders must also approve the transaction, which will transform G&W into a privately held company.

Terms of the acquisition say that each issued and outstanding share of G&W stock would be converted into the right to receive $112 per share in cash, which is a 39.5 percent premium to the unaffected per share price of $80.28 on March 8, the day before the initial media speculation of a potential transaction began.

In a news release, Brookfield said its investment in the deal will total about $500 million of equity, funded from existing liquidity that totaled about $1.9 billion as of June 30. The remainder of the business would be owned by Toronto-based Brookfield Infrastructure’s institutional partners and GIC.

G&W owns or leases 120 freight railroads organized in eight operating regions including the Ohio Central System.

Its regional and short line railroads operate in 41 states and four Canadian provinces. G&W also has rail holdings in Australia and Europe.

When the Ohio Central was the Ohio Central

January 17, 2018

This is a grab shot, literally. I was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by fellow Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee.

We were driving around the Youngstown area when we crossed over the OC tracks. There sat three OC diesels, probably resting over the weekend. I made this shot out the window as we drove over them.

Ever since the Ohio Central stopped interchanging with CSX at Warrick, I haven’t seen its trains. The OC system is a little too far south of my regular railfanning haunts.

Since it was acquired by Genesee & Wyoming, OC diesels have been slowly been repainted into the G&W livery that is dominated by the color orange.

Soon these maroon and gold units will be just another memory of the days when the late Jerry Joe Jacobson owned the railroad.

In Memory of Jerry Joe Jacobson

September 14, 2017

Jerry Joe Jacobson, who had a lifelong passion for steam locomotives that he generously shared with others and who was a champion of short-line railroads, has died.

Mr. Jacobson, 74, died on Wednesday at 9:15 p.m. (Sept. 13, 2017) surrounded by family members after a long illness. He had been in hospice care.

Mr. Jacobson

A life member of the Akron Railroad Club, he was the founder and chief executive officer of the Ohio Central System where he was able to indulge his steam dreams by purchasing a fleet of 10 steam locomotives, many of which were restored to working order.

Mr. Jacobson’s steam locomotives pulled excursion trains on the Ohio Central and a few pulled revenue service freight trains.

Between 1988 and 2004 the Ohio Central ran scores of steam-powered excursions ranging from the Sugarcreek-Baltic tourist trains to photo freights to side-by-side steam double and triple headers to ARRC excursions.

Thousands of passengers and trackside observers made countless memories of those trips that have been preserved in written accounts, photographs, movies and video tape.

About the time that he sold the Ohio Central on Sept. 30, 2008, to Genesee & Wyoming Industries, Mr. Jacobson began developing the Age of Steam Roundhouse on a 34-acre tract near Sugarcreek to serve as the home of his 10 steam locomotives, 22 diesel locomotives and 24 passenger cars.

Although not envisioned as a museum, the roundhouse has hosted visits by large groups and is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of another era of American railroading.

Mr. Jacobson’s passion for steam motive power began as a boy growing up in Cuyahoga Falls where he would walk or ride his bike to the Akron Division tracks of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and watch steam-powered trains pass by during the twilight of steam in Northeast Ohio.

When he was 13, a friendly crew invited him to climb into the cab of a locomotive and to take the throttle as they set off a car on June 20, 1957. He even remembered that it was B&O Mountain-type 4-8-2 No. 710.

“It was exciting,” he said years later. He vowed some day to own a steam engine and maybe even a railroad.

Mr. Jacobson wrote that what once seemed like a “never-ending steam world had, by my teenage years, become only a fond memory, recalled through photographs, film and the all-too-rare steam excursion.”

Upon graduation from high school, Mr. Jacobson was unable to land a job working for a railroad.

He joined the U.S. Army as his father had once done, serving in the 82nd Airborne Division.

“Of the many words used to describe Jerry Joe Jacobson perhaps his most favorite was ‘paratrooper;’ more specifically, Sergeant Jacobson, parachute rigger, Company B, 407 PIR, 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army. He continued his military service with the U.S. Army Reserve, eventually rising to the rank of Captain,” said a statement posted today on the Age of Steam Roundhouse website.

Mr. Jacobson went on to a career as a nurse-anesthetist. He studied at Kent State University for two years and later received a degree in anesthesia from a teaching hospital in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he spent weekends at the steam‐powered Strasburg tourist railroad.

The AOS obit said that Mr. Jacobson came to appreciate the simple, quiet life of the surrounding Amish community in Pennsylvania.

He moved back to Ohio and began his anesthesia career in maternity suites and operating rooms at hospitals in Northeast Ohio.

He would later make his mark as the “doctor of sick railroads.”

He finally got into railroading after the State of Ohio acquired from Conrail in 1982 a 35-mile former New York Central branch line between Minerva and Hopedale.

For two years Mr. Jacobson was involved with Ohi-Rail, which operated the line. On May 1, 1984, he purchased a controlling interest in the short line, which had two diesel locomotives, two full-time employees and a roster of as-needed part-timers.

At Ohi-Rail, Mr. Jacobson honed his philosophy of short-line railroading that would later become the motto of the Ohio Central, “big enough to serve you, small enough to care.”

A year later the State of Ohio selected Mr. Jacobson to operate another cast-off short line, a former Pennsylvania Railroad branch between New Lexington and Zanesville known as the Ohio Southern.

In 1986, the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corporation asked Mr. Jacobson to operate a 4-mile former Erie Lackawanna industrial branch that would become the Youngstown & Austintown.

That brought Mr. Jacobson’s railroad portfolio to 73 miles and five full-time employees.

It was during this era that Mr. Jacobson bought his first steam locomotive, a Baldwin 0-6-0 from Jackson Iron & Steel in Jackson, Ohio.

By the late 1980s, Norfolk Southern was divesting its former Nickel Plate Road branches in southern Ohio, some of which had been part of the original Wheeling & Lake Erie.

Mr. Jacobson negotiated with NS for two years before he was able to buy the 71-mile Zanesville line (Zanesville-Harmon) on April 16, 1988.

He named it the Ohio Central Railroad and it would become the centerpiece of the Ohio Central System.

The line had several freight customers who required daily switching that NS was not willing to provide, but Mr. Jacobson was.

Mr. Jacobson sold his interest in Ohi-Rail and focused on rebuilding the OC. He acquired 22 miles of trackage rights over the CL&W Subdivision of CSX – now owned by R.J. Corman – between North Beach City and Warwick.

The OC expanded in 1990 when Mr. Jacobson became the operator of the former Pennsy Panhandle mainline between Columbus and Mingo Junction.

OC formed a subsidiary, the Columbus & Ohio River Railroad, to operate this property.

Mr. Jacobson continued to acquire short-line railroads and at its peak the OC system included 486 miles operated by 10 railroads in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The OC was based in Coshocton, Ohio, where Mr. Jacobson built an office building on Paper Mill Road and a locomotive shop at Morgan Run east of town.

As Mr. Jacobson’s railroad empire grew, so did his steam locomotive fleet. He traded his 0-6-0 Baldwin to Steamtown USA in 1986 for ex-Canadian National 4-6-0 No. 1551.

In October 1988, No. 1551 was steamed up and soon began pulling OC excursion trains.

No. 1551 was the primary motive power on the 7-mile Sugarcreek-Baltic tourist trains that began in summer 1989.

It was a family affair with Mr. Jacobson’s wife, Laura, selling tickets and running the gift shop while his son, Joe, worked as a trainman and manned a snack bar at the Sugarcreek station.

The Sugarcreek-Baltic train operated four times a day, but not on Sunday in deference to the beliefs of the large Amish population in the region that Sunday was the Lord’s Day.

Other locomotives that Mr. Jacobson acquired included Alco 2-8-0 No 13 (former Buffalo Creek & Gauley); 4-6-2 No. 1293, a Pacific-type built for Canadian Pacific by Canadian Locomotive Company; 4-8-4 No. 6325, an Alco Northern type that was built for the Grand Trunk Western; 2-8-0 No. 33, a Consolidation type that once ran on the Lake Superior & Ishpeming in Michigan’s upper peninsula; and 0-4-OT No. 3, another Alco that once worked on the W&LE.

Nos. 6325 and 1293 became mainstays in OC excursion service.

Mr. Jacobson and the OC sponsored a 1997 rail festival in Dennison that drew photographers and steam fans from as far as Germany, Japan and South America. It featured four locomotives in steam.

The Dennison steam festival was reprised in 2004 with Nos. 1293 and 6325 playing a starring role.

During the years that Mr. Jacobson owned the Ohio Central, its employees offered special instruction so that hundreds of Boy Scouts could earn their railroad merit badge

The railroad hosted excursions for railroad groups and historical societies; campaign trains for candidates for public office; special sightseeing and grade crossing safety excursions for government agencies; and even wedding trains so that couples could get married aboard the train.

Not long after selling the Ohio Central, Mr. Jacobson made a $10 million donation to the Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia where a barracks has been named Jacobson Hall. Two of his sons attended the academy.

He also established the Jerry & Laura Jacobson Foundation.

Work on the Age of Steam Roundhouse began in 2008 and was completed in 2012.

Designed with the appearance of a 1920s locomotive terminal, it was the first large roundhouse built in America since the Nickel Plate Road completed a facility in Calumet, Illinois, in 1951.

Mr. Jacobson had a long affiliation with the ARRC. Initially joining on March 22, 1961, Mr. Jacobson dropped out while serving in the military. He rejoined the club in October 1965.

On June 21, 1991, he offered the club a complimentary trip on his Sugarcreek tourist train. Club members later dined at the Swiss Hat restaurant in Sugarcreek and two traditions had been born.

In 1992, the ARRC Ohio Central steam excursions moved to October and the club began selling train and dinner tickets.

Proceeds from those trips helped replenish the club’s depleted treasury, which had dipped below $100 in the early 1990s. Pulling those ARRC excursions were Nos. 1551, 1293, 13 and 6325.

Nos. 1551 and 13 combined during an Oct. 15, 1994, excursion to tackle Baltic hill and nearly 700 witnessed Ohio Central’s first steam doubleheader.

Many of the ARRC trips operated between Sugarcreek and Morgan Run. A diesel might pull the train in one direction while steam pulled it in the other.

During the Morgan Run lay over, passengers explored the shops complex and viewed the array of equipment on a storage track awaiting restoration or sale.

Some trips featured Ohio Central’s “new” F9As 6307 and 6313, which Mr. Jacobson purchased from VIA Rail Canada and had repainted in a striking Tuscan red pinstripe livery that mirrored the livery of PRR passenger diesels.

The Oct. 2, 2004, trip would be the final Ohio Central steam excursion for which the ARRC could sell tickets to the public.

The Sugarcreek excursion trains had ended in 2003 and the railroad offered no public excursions in 2005. However, it operated an excursion free of charge for ARRC members and their families on Oct. 22, 2005.

On Oct. 7, 2006, Ohio Central again offered ARRC members a complimentary excursion.

An RS-18 pulled the train to Carmen and No. 1293 took the train up the Apex branch. The club’s first excursion east of Dennison featured a record seven photo runbys at five sites. It was Ohio Central’s first steam operation on the Apex branch.

Mr. Jacobson also arranged for the ARRC to have a car on Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad excursions pulled by No. 1293 in 2007 and 2008.

The club was able to sell tickets for those trips and the proceeds from the 2008 trip boosted the treasury to a record balance.

During dinner at the Swiss Hat following the 2003 excursion, the officers of the ARRC awarded Mr. Jacobson a life membership in the club.

Mr. Jacobson would occasionally attend ARRC meetings and he usually attended the December banquet.

He knew many ARRC members by name and never forgot his roots as a railfan. He was easily approachable and enjoyed sharing stories about his railroad and its steam program.

On June 1, 2013, at Mr. Jacobson’s invitation, ARRC members toured the Age of Steam Roundhouse.

Mr. Jacobson had been scheduled to present a program at the March 2016 ARRC meeting, but was unable to attend.

Instead, club members Craig Sanders and Paul Woodring gave a salute to Ohio Central steam program with still images and video.

The last ARRC event that Mr. Jacobson attended was the 2016 end of year dinner.

Mr. Jacobson was born June 27, 1943, in Jacksonville, Illinois, the son of Douglas L. and Helen R. Jacobson.

The family later moved to Cuyahoga Falls where Mr. Jacobson graduated from Cuyahoga Falls High School in 1961.

They lived on Chestnut Boulevard and Mr. Jacobson in high school was a wrestler and drummer in the band.

After his Army service, Mr. Jacobs became an anesthesiologist, working at Brentwood Hospital in Warrensville Heights and St. Thomas Hospital in Akron.

He is survived by his wife, Laura L. Jacobson and his children; sons Joe, Jesse and Jay, and daughters Julie Jenifer and Jana. Details about services are pending.

Chasing a 1984 Passenger Excursion

February 3, 2017

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


Southbound under the Route 93 bridge in Dundee.





The power has cut off in Zanesville.

CSX Reports Record Earnings in 2014

January 15, 2015

CSX reported record earnings for 2014. The company said it earned a record $12.7 billion last year with operating income of $3.6 billion and net earnings of $1.9 billion.

That worked out to $1.92 per share. The company said its operating ratio in 2014 was 71.5

In the fourth quarter of 2014, CSX had net earnings of $491 million, a 15 percent increase from $426 million for the same period last year. The company also generated record fourth-quarter earnings per share of $0.49, up 17 percent from $0.42 per share in 2013.

Fourth-quarter revenue increased 5 percent to $3.2 billion with strong business in merchandise, intermodal and coal.

CSX said that it expects double-digit growth in earnings per share and margin expansion in 2015. That should pull its operating ratio down to the mid-60s.

In other railroad financial news, Genesee & Wyoming reported increased traffic volumes for the fourth quarter of 2014.

The railroad handled 510,141 carloads, an increase of 38,235 carloads, or 8.1 percent, compared with the fourth quarter of 2013. G&W’s same-railroad traffic in the fourth quarter of 2014 was 493,599 carloads, an increase of 21,693 carloads, or 4.6 percent, compared with the fourth quarter of 2013.
G&W is the parent company of the Ohio Central System.