Posts Tagged ‘Ohio tourist trains’

Rail Events Planned for Cincinnati Area

April 12, 2021

Various railroad related events are being planned for the Cincinnati area this spring.

These include resumption of service of the Cincinnati Dinner Train. Tickets can be purchased and other information is available at

The Cincinnati Railroad Club will participate in a National Train Day event on May 1.

CRRC board member Jim Corbett said the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad has invited the club to set up a booth about/for the club.

Excursions that day will depart at trains departing at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

On May 15, a restored Southern Railway steel caboose, X554, will be moved in a parade down Elm Street in Ludlow, Kentucky, to a location on city property next to the city’s rail viewing platform.

The Ludlow Railroad Heritage Museum is hosting the move to the location at 49 Elm St.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for May 31 at the caboose. It will be the first time the caboose will be opened to the public.

The event will be held between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and has been dubbed “Party on the Plaza” by the Ludlow Heritage Museum.

There will be food and drink options and museum merchandise for sale including green tee shirts with an image of the caboose.

Looking in on the Byesville Scenic

November 15, 2020

Keeping with our theme today of passenger trains we take a trip to southern Ohio to check out the Byesville Scenic Railway, a tourist train operation that bills itself as “the route of the Black Diamond.”

Trains traveled the former Marietta Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad for 2.5 miles between Byesville and Derwent over what is said to be the longest straight stretch of the branch.

SW1 No. 211 is shown pulling a pair of passenger cars in Byesville on June 15, 2007.

Operations of the Byesville Scenic were halted in 2011 and the railroad’s website indicated they have not yet resumed.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Ohio Tourist RR to Resume Running on Aug. 1

July 9, 2020

Ohio tourist train operator Zanesville & Western Scenic Railroad will begin its 2020 season on Aug. 1.

The Z&WCR will offer trips on Saturdays and Sundays. In an announcement on its Facebook page, the railroad said it will restrict seating to promote social distancing and staff will wear masks and clean all passenger seating after every trip.

Ticket prices are unchanged from 2019 at $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 6 to 15. Children age 5 and under ride for free.

The railroad also said it plans to offer its annual hobo camp over two weekends in August.

The Z&WSR operates on a rail line once known as the Glass Rock Spur that was part of a short line railroad also known as the Zanesville & Western that later became part of the New York Central System.

The tourist operator is located on Ohio Route 204 in Mt. Perry in Perry County.

Today’s Ohio Central Steam Memory

January 28, 2020

The Sugarcreek-Baltic steam train that used to operate on the Ohio Central was commonly pulled by 4-6-0 No. 1551, but not always.

In the top photo it is July 4, 1996, and the motive power is 2-8-0 No. 13, which was built in 1920 by Alco-Brooks.

The locomotive had various owners over the years including the Buffalo Creek & Gauley.

In the bottom photo, No. 13 is shown in Sugar Creek.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

J&L Narrow Gauge Season to Resume in June

January 23, 2020

The J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad in Youngstown will begin its second operating season in June.

The 24-inch railroad operates with a 0-4-0T steam locomotive built by H.K. Porter for a Pittsburgh Steel Mill.

Operating dates for 2020 will be  June 6 and 7, July 4 and 5, August 1 and 2 Sept. 5 and 6, and Oct. 3 and 4.

Trains will operate between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $8 per person with children age 5 and under carried for free.

The railroad is located at 2261 Hubbard Road in Youngstown and is part of the Youngstown Steel Heritage Museum.

Special operating dates are expected to include a private event in September for the Erie Lackawanna Railroad Historical Society annual symposium and in October for the Mahoning Valley Railroad Heritage Association’s annual whistle blow.

The railroad said on a YouTube posting that it may operate additional days for work sessions and private events.

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.

Tooling With Thomas

May 25, 2017

Most railroad photographers give little thought to getting out to photograph Thomas the Tank Engine. I didn’t either until this year.

It is hard to take seriously a pint-sized steam locomotive that’s not really a locomotive but a “shoving platform” that is a cartoon character designed to appeal to children.

I’ve done my share of mocking Thomas by referring to him as “Thomas the tanked engine” and “man, is our Thomas tanked.” The word tanked in this context refers to being intoxicated.

The fictional steam locomotive first appeared in The Railway Series books by British authors Wilbert and Christopher Awdry and later became the star of a television series.

There is nothing small about Thomas, though, when it comes to money. For many tourist railroads, Thomas pulls in badly needed dollars to fund restoration and maintenance work. Trains magazine recently described him as “Thomas the bank engine.”

The Thomas franchise operates worldwide and is worth $1 billion annually in sales.

Since making his first appearance on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad in May 1998, Thomas has become the second most popular special event behind the Polar Express – another children’s story – and draws 25,000 to 26,000 passengers a year.

That is far more than who ride behind a real steam locomotive, Nickel Plate Road No. 765.

There are multiple versions of Thomas that tour the United States, often appearing on tourist railroads. One Thomas was converted from a 1916 steam locomotive that served Brooklyn Dock & Terminal in New York City.

Google “Thomas the Tank Engine” and you’ll find that in some quarters there is an intense dislike of Thomas, with one commentator saying the TV program featuring Thomas is filled with messages of classism, sexism and anti-environmentalism bordering on racism.

Other parents have been critical of Thomas by saying he and his friends are nasty, negative and set a bad example for children, particularly in their shirking of their responsibilities, showing off and competing against each other.

Such thinking, though, hasn’t kept Thomas from becoming a superstar among children or kept many parents from taking their children to see and ride behind Thomas.

Earlier this year when I was working on my book about the CVSR, I decided I would get out to see Thomas this year. I wanted to document Thomas because, like him or not, he is a part of the story of the CVSR.

The half-hour Thomas excursions leave from Boston Mill station every hour at half past the hour.

As I approached Boston Mill while driving southbound on Riverview Road, there was a long line of people waiting to get into a large tent, presumably the passengers for the 9:30 a.m. trip.

I knew from reading the CVSR website that various ancillary activities surround the visit of Thomas – most of which are designed to appeal to children – but I was surprised at how much the area around the station resembled a carnival minus the Ferris wheel and tilt-a-wheel rides.

Much of the carnival was located on the west side of Riverview on the property of Boston Mill ski resort. You can’t gain access to the site without a ticket.

So much for my idea of walking around and getting a feel for the Thomas experience.

On every other excursion, Thomas would meet the CVSR National Park Scenic train in Peninsula.

So that was where I waited. At 10:44 a.m., Thomas came steaming into town and went into the siding.

Maybe “steaming” isn’t the right word to use since Thomas is not a live steam locomotive. But he does make smoke, although not consistently.

Thomas has a steam whistle, which isn’t that loud, but it’s a whistle. There is one light on his right side that at first glance resembles a ditch light.

His eyes go back and forth and his mouth moves, too. I didn’t know that Thomas could talk, but he does.

The Thomas specials on the CVSR were being pulled and propelled by CVSR FPA-4 No. 6777. A crew member in the cab of Thomas communicated with the 6777 by radio.

Shortly after the arrival of Thomas and his train, the southbound Scenic arrived. Thomas departed and the Scenic did its station work.

My plan to photograph Thomas next to CVSR 4241 was marred somewhat by people standing in front of Thomas when the Scenic arrived.

A small crowd of onlookers was drawn to Thomas with their smart phone cameras out.

I stayed in Peninsula until the next meet occurred between the Scenic and Thomas. This time the Scenic did its station work before Thomas got there and I was able to get a clearer view of No. 4241 and Thomas. The Scenic left and Thomas followed it out of town a few minutes later.

I had made enough photographs of Thomas, to satisfy my curiosity and to fill a void in my CVSR collection so I left, too.

Thomas takes the siding at Peninsula to allow the CVSR Scenic to pass on the mainline.

Thomas is modeled after a British steam locomotive design.

Here comes Thomas minus his friends.

CVSR crew members have their smart phones out as Thomas chugs into Peninsula for a meet with the CVSR Scenic.

Children aboard the CVSR Scenic get a glimpse of Thomas as the two trains pass in Peninsula.

Thomas steams out of Peninsula to return to Boston Mill.

Toledo Area Tourist Train Remains Idle

August 14, 2015

The Toledo, Lake Erie & Western still wants to resume its tourist train service, but offering freight service appears unlikely for now.

The 10-mile railroad last ran passenger trains in 2010 on its line between Waterville and Grand Rapids, Ohio.

The 2011 season was canceled after vandals broke into some of the train cars and stole seat bottoms and loosened a gas line on a motor car, causing it to spew gasoline when it was moved.

At one time, an affiliate company, Midwest Rail LLC, had plans to work with Norfolk Southern to develop freight service. In 2012, NS had used TLE&W-operated  track to store unit coal trains destined for Detroit Edison

NS owns and had leased to the TLE&W 1.8 miles of track near Waterville that is the TLE&W’s only connection to the national rail network.

NS and Midwest Rail jointly obtained on July 1 a federal discontinuance of service exemption of the NS-owned track.

Midwest Rail never developed any other freight business and subsequently defaulted on its lease, which a Surface Transportation Board filing stated has since been canceled.

NS spokesman Dave Pidgeon said NS has no plans to remove the out-of-service track.

Clarice Wyse, TLE&W’s president, said tourist train operations won’t likely resume operation before mid-2016 because the equipment still needs to be repaired.