Posts Tagged ‘Ohio’

ORDC Gives Grants to 4 Rail Projects

January 23, 2021

The Ohio Rail Development Commission has awarded $642,890 in grants to four rail-related projects.

Ohio South Central Railroad will receive $367,890 to rebuild the AluChem lead on the line in Jackson to improve rail efficiency and safety.

The project involves replacing 2,540 ties, switch refurbishment, tie deck replacement on four bridges and rail replacement. OSCR plans to invest over $244,000 in the more than $600,000 project.

Versa-Pak will receive $125,000 for for the expansion of on-site rail infrastructure at its facility in Celina to improve rail capacity and rail yard fluidity.

M&M Industries, a plastic pail manufacturer, will receive $100,000 to add a rail spur at its Lordstown facility.

Freepoint Commodities will receive $50,000 to installing a rail spur at a facility in Obetz.

The building will be the new site of a plastics-to-fuel operation, where Freepoint will recycle plastics into synthetic oil.

ORDC Awards Grants to 4 Railroads

November 20, 2020

The Ohio Rail Development Commission announced this week four grants to an equal number of railroads that will provide the state’s share of matching funds for federal Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program grants.

The grants and projects include: 

Chicago, Fort Wayne and Eastern Railroad: $462,000 to match $4,358,547 of CFER funding and a $4,530,546 CRISI grant to assist with upgrades in the Lima Yard and on 11 miles of track from Lima to north-central Indiana.

Napoleon, Defiance and Western Railroad: $250,000 to match $3,862,452 of NDW funding and a $4,112,452 CRISI grant to assist with significant track upgrades and eliminating speed, train length and height restrictions along the line between Defiance and Woodburn, Indiana.

R. J. Corman Western Ohio & Cleveland Lines: $489,300 to match $709,485 of RJC funding and a $2,226,315 CRISI grant to assist with the installation of more than 20,000 ties of track in and around Massillon, Wooster, Celina and Lima.

Youngstown & Southeastern Railroad: $350,025 to match $350,025 of YSRR funding and a $700,050 CRISI grant to assist with the installation of more than 10,000 ties and perform surfacing along the line between Struthers and Signal in Mahoning and Columbiana counties. Also, five grade crossing surfaces will be repaired.

Is Ohio Really the Heart of Midwest Railroading?

July 24, 2020

When I moved to Ohio in August 1993 the state had a slogan “the heart of it all.”

That always struck me as odd because it begs the question of “all of what?”

The current state marketing slogan is “find it here.” Find what here? Maybe it depends on what you’re seeking.

If it is freight trains and a rich railroad history you’re in luck, which probably is why Trains magazine in its August issue describes Ohio as the “heart of Midwestern railroading.”

That might trigger a retort from a Hoosier that many of the trains that pass through Ohio also pass through Indiana.

For that matter many of Ohio’s freight trains also pass through Pennsylvania. But the Keystone State is not a Midwest state so it doesn’t count.

Then there is Illinois, home of the largest railroad terminal in the Midwest. The Land of Lincoln also hosts trains going to and from St. Louis, another enormous Midwest railroad terminal.

So is Ohio actually is the “heart” of Midwestern railroading?

Well, the state is somewhat heart shaped. Yet if you use the meaning of “heart” as “the center or innermost part” of something then Ohio can’t be the “heart “ of Midwestern railroading because it is located on the eastern periphery of the Midwest.

A traditional definition of the Midwest includes the states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

This region also is sometimes referred to as the Heartland, and Trains editor Jim Wrinn used that term in the headline over his column introducing the August issue.

By pure geography, the “heart” of Midwestern railroading is Illinois or Iowa because of their central location in the block of states identified as the Midwest or the Heartland.

Yet I suspect the editors of Trains didn’t have central location in mind when deciding to describe Ohio as the heart of Midwestern railroading.

Another definition of heart is “the essential or most vital part of something.”

Does that make Ohio the heart of Midwest railroading? Not necessarily.

The bulk of the rail freight traffic in Ohio didn’t originate here and isn’t bound for destinations in Ohio.

Some of that traffic may have been classified in a yard somewhere in Ohio.

Until recently, Bellevue was the home of the second largest classification yard in the United States and the largest on the Norfolk Southern system.

CSX a few years ago downgraded operations at its classification yard in Willard and its Stanley hump yard in Toledo.

All of these yards and others remain in operation and continue to play important roles even if those have been redefined in the wake of the adoption of the precision scheduled railroading operations model and its emphasis on reducing the handling of freight cars en route to their destinations.

It may be that what makes Ohio stand out from other Midwest states is the presence of numerous railfan friendly places where you can watch trains.

Notable among these are Marion, Fostoria, Deshler, Bellevue, Berea and Alliance. These locations draw fans from all over the Midwest and beyond.

I would add Olmsted Falls to the list, but beyond Cleveland it lacks the familiarity of its better known cousin a short drive east down Bagley Road.

The development of PSR has meant that the volume of train traffic in the state has diminished as railroads operate fewer and longer trains in an effort to reduce their expenses.

You can sit in some traditional Ohio hotspots and go an hour or more between trains.

And there is a fair amount of grousing on social media about how the trains of the Class 1 railroads all look alike.

Ohio will never be confused with places that feature dramatic geographic land forms that provide stunning backgrounds for railroad action photography.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter much whether Ohio is or is not the heart of Midwest railroading.

Trains was merely seeking to spotlight rail operations in a single state and it needed a theme to build around.

It may be that from the perspective of the major railroads, Ohio is just one more place on the way to somewhere else with a little bit of business to be had as well.

If you like to watch mainline Class 1 railroad action, though, it’s a pretty darn good place to be.

Trains Features Ohio Railroads in August Issue

June 25, 2020

“Oh, yeah, I’ve photographed there . . . and there . . . and there . . . and there!”

If you’ve spent any amount of time photographing Ohio railroad operations you’ll find yourself saying that to yourself as you leaf through the August 2020 issue of Trains magazine.

And if you like railfanning in Ohio you’ll love the issue when it arrives in your mailbox late this month or you buy it where magazine are sold once it goes on sale on July 14.

Trains devoted most of the content of the August issue to Ohio, which it deems the heart of Midwestern railroading.

The coverage starts with an historic overview of Ohio as a crossroads for major railroad lines that was written by H. Roger Grant.

There are features articles about Cincinnati Union Terminal, how former Conrail lines fared after they were split by Norfolk Southern and CSX, and a look at how the former Detroit, Toledo & Ironton has managed to survive after losing much of its traditional sources of freight traffic.

The images illustrating the articles and a gallery of Ohio photographs feature work by well-known Buckeye state photographers David Oroszi, David Patch, Michael Harding and Matt Arnold.

Other photographers whose names you might recognize also contributed images from various locations in the state, many of which will look familiar to you.

The issue was overseen by former Ohioan Brian Schmidt, now an associate editor at Trains, and who supplied several photographs including the cover image of a CSX train rounding the north to east connection at Deshler past the iconic Baltimore & Ohio color position light signals.

Grant’s story is illustrated with historic photographs featuring railroads large and small.

Although Northeast Ohio didn’t rate a story of its own, it’s not ignored. Cleveland’s role as the epicenter of the Conrail X features prominently in Bill Stephens’ article about the Conrail split.

Editor- in-chief Jim Wrinn gives a shout out to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, the Age of Steam Roundhouse in Sugarcreek and the various hot spots of Fostoria, Deshler and Marion.

But he said his favorite place to hang out in Ohio is Berea.

He correctly notes that there is so much railroading in Ohio that one issue hardly does it justice. But it does provide a good overview that will resonate with those familiar with Ohio railroads and their history.

Throw in two In My Own Words pieces about a double-saw meet on the Norfolk & Western in Northwest Ohio, and how a 12-year-old used to get to Deshler and a piece on how to railran the Napolean, Defiance & Western and you have an issue that you’ll want to spend hours enjoying.

Oh, there is one other name in the issue you might recognize. I wrote the story about the I&O that begins on Page 30.

It was fun to be a part of contributing to a special issue about a place I’ve gotten to know so well in the past 26 years.

Hamilton Seeking to Save B&O Station

February 28, 2020

Officials in Hamilton, Ohio, are making an eleventh hour push to save a railroad depot that CSX has earmarked for demolition.

The former Baltimore & Ohio station was constructed in 1885 and is in rough condition but the city wants to preserve it for various uses.

CSX wants to raze the structure as part of a clearance project and has given the city a Feb. 28 deadline to purchase and make plans to move the station.

In the meantime Mayor Pat Moeller has pleaded with CSX to hold off on the demolition.

City officials would like to move the depot four blocks away and have discussed such possible uses as making it a multi-modal transportation hub, turning it into a museum, making it a restaurant or locating a farmer’s market there.

“The more I learn about this train station, the more I started to realize that this is something special,” Moeller said. “The place does matter.”

Local historians noted that Abraham Lincoln gave a speech near the station during his trip to Washington to be inaugurated as president. President Harry S. Truman spoke nearby in 1948.

Moeller said if the station is razed it would be difficult to rebuild it. The station is listed on Ohio’s register of historic places.

The city is seeking partners to help it save the building.

“Now is the time where I think we have to get it done,” Moeller said. “Gather all the interested parties, create partnerships and get this done.”

The building will need much work. Parts of its roof have are rotted and graffit would need to be removed. But the structure of the building is said to be strong.

Happy Old Year 1967

January 2, 2020

It was Kent State University’s Christmas vacation in December 1967, and Mike Ondecker and I had ridden Erie Lackawanna’s Lake Cities to Marion, Ohio. EL 823 and another E8A would power the Lake Cities west to Chicago while EL 833 would be left behind in Marion. The open nose door suggests that 833 had had a problem. How strange and wonderful the railfan world of 1967 looks through 2020 eyes.

Article and Photograph by Robert Farkas

Far From Boston or Maine

November 18, 2019

Boston & Maine GP9 No. 1746 sits in the Erie Lackawanna yard in Kent, Ohio yard in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s. B&M units sometimes came through in sets with no EL power. Perhaps there was a problem with 1746 and it had to be set aside.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Down Near Sugar Creek

July 30, 2019

Mention Sugarcreek, Ohio, and many Northeast Ohio railfans will start telling you stories about the steam locomotives they photographed there.

Sugarcreek was for several years the base of operations for Ohio Central steam trains, including excursions and the Sugar Creek-Baltic tourist train.

However, the OC also ran freight trains on its tracks through the village of 2,200 in Tuscarawas County. Ohio Central even had some freight customers there.

The rolling terrain and farmland setting in this area that is home to many Amish families made it ideal for photographing trains when you could find one of course.

On Independence Day 1996, Bob found a southbound freight being led by Alco S-1 No. 12, a former Timken Company switcher.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Bill Would Mandate 2-Person Crews in Ohio

June 28, 2019

An Ohio lawmaker has introduced legislation to require two people in locomotive crews.

The bill is currently before the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee.

HB 186 establishes penalties ranging from up to $1,000 for a first violation to as much as $10,000 for a third violation within three years of the first.

The bill would also require railroads to illuminate rail yards as outlined by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and to construct walkways next to tracks wherever employees perform switching activities.

Trains would not be able to block grade crossings for emergency vehicles and violations would incur a fine of up to $5,000.

“Railroads are a very important part of commerce, but if you start thinking about what’s carried in a railcar, what kind of havoc that could wreak on your districts and your communities, I think it is a common sense solution to require a two-man train crew,” Rep. Brett Hudson Hillyer (R-District 98) told the committee.

Also testifying in support of the legislation was Michael Sheehy (D-District 46), who retired from CSX in 2012 after working for 40 years in the railroad industry, much of it as a conductor.

“Historically members of a freight railroad crew consisted of an engineer, a fireman, a conductor and two switchmen—a five-man crew,” Sheehy said. “With advances in technology, that crew size has been reduced to just a conductor and an engineer—a two-person crew.”

He noted that at least 10 states either have or are considering legislation requiring minimum two-person train crews.

Railway Age noted in a report about the legislation that the issue of crew size is largely a moot point because every Class 1 railroad has labor contracts requiring a two-person crew.

The Federal Railroad Administration recently ended a rule-making proceeding that would have mandated a two-person crew on every freight train.

Chicago-Columbus Passenger Line Hearings Set

October 17, 2018

Four public meeting have been scheduled in Indiana and Ohio to discuss a proposed intercity rail passenger route between Chicago and Columbus via Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The meetings are being conducted by the Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association and will cover recent work that has been done to bring the service to fruition as well as how to secure funding for the service.

The only Ohio hearings will be held Oct. 23 between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in Lima at the Lima Municipal Center.

Other hearings are set for Oct. 24 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne; Oct. 24 between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. in the city hall council chambers in Warsaw, Indiana; and Oct. 25 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.  at the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce in Valparaiso, Indiana.

At each meeting, there will be a brief presentation from HNTB, a consulting firm hired to complete an analysis required under federal law in order for the rail project to receive federal funding.

The analysis includes a purpose and need assessment, a public involvement plan, an analysis of the route options, development of service alternatives along the preferred route, and preliminary engineering to develop cost estimates of the service alternatives.

That work is being done in phases and the meetings and analysis to be presented will focus on the corridor between Lima and Gary, Indiana.