Posts Tagged ‘Olmsted Falls Ohio’

Wabash Heritage Unit Makes Appearance

March 23, 2017

The Wabash H-unit made a pass through Cleveland on Tuesday leading the 21Q. I was lucky enough to be able to get off work in time to catch it. As luck would have it, 21Q was held up near where I had set up to photograph it. Both scenes are in Olmsted Falls, the first one at Milepost 196 (Lewis Road) and then near the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

EOT at End of the Day

March 17, 2017

It was already starting to get dark when I arrived in Olmsted Falls. It has been an unusually warm January day and traffic on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern was unusually heavy. Almost all of it was going westbound.

What had brought me there was the promise of seeing the Lehigh Valley heritage unit. I had seen it just once before, back in 2012, in Olmsted Falls. But it had been trailing.

I got the LV H unit and waited for the train to pass. There was some sunset color to the west so I decided to see what I could do with it.

To my surprise and delight, I caught the blinking red light of the EOT just at the right time.

It created a starburst effect that provided a nice contrast with the shadows of the train against the last light of day.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

It Was Dark, But I Got My H Unit Leading

January 23, 2017
It took more than four years, but I finally got the Lehigh Valley heritage unit leading a train.

It took more than four years, but I finally got the Lehigh Valley heritage unit leading a train.

It wasn’t the most ideal of conditions to be photographing a train, even with a digital camera. But this wasn’t just any train that was coming.

OK, so a stack train is any train. But on the point was Norfolk Southern No. 8104, the Lehigh Valley heritage locomotive.

I’ve only seen the 8104 once and that was more than four years ago. And it was trailing.

The light was good then, but, you know, trail equals fail.

The Lehigh Valley H unit has not been a frequent visitor to Northeast Ohio. It got stuck in service down in the West Virginia and Virginia and took a long time to escape.

So when word came that the 8104 was leading a westbound 25Z, off to Olmsted Falls I went.

It was almost 5:30 p.m. when the 25Z showed up. It was cloudy and the sun was setting.

There was barely enough light to record anything. I shot at f3.5 at 1/500th of a second at ISO 6400 and at one full f stop over.

That netted a grainy, though usable image. But, hey, I finally got on the lead a heritage unit that had eluded me since June 2012.

As I processed my images in preparation for this post, I also came to appreciate how the conditions enable me to create some mood and effects that don’t exist in broad daylight.

Given a choice, I would rather have had ideal lighting when the 8104 showed up. But sometimes making do with what you have can yield some surprisingly pleasing images.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The 25Z with the Lehigh Valley heritage locomotive on the point was following the 25T and the 21Q as it left town. It is shown passing the depot in Olmsted Falls.

The 25Z with the Lehigh Valley heritage locomotive on the point was following the 25T and the 21Q as it left town. It is shown passing the depot in Olmsted Falls.

Hard on the heels of the 25Z was a westbound manifest freight whose headlight can be seen in the distance on Track No. 2. The 25Z was on Track No 1. In an hour's time, NS sent six westbound trains through Olmsted Falls.

Hard on the heels of the 25Z was a westbound manifest freight whose headlight can be seen in the distance on Track No. 2. The 25Z was on Track No 1. In an hour’s time, NS sent six westbound trains through Olmsted Falls.

The containers of NS train 25Z catch the last rays of daylight as the train heads into the sunset.

The containers of NS train 25Z catch the last rays of daylight as the train heads into the sunset.

New Rails, I Presume

January 19, 2017

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One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

I presume that these rails lying on the ballast in Olmsted Falls are new. That’s because they are rusty and do not look worn.

I spotted them last July near the crossing of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern and Mapleway Drive.

I was waiting for an eastbound manifest freight to arrive and decided to get make a “detail” image.

I never checked to see if the rails were, indeed, installed at this location. I can only presume that they were.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

NS Marathon: Day in Olmsted Falls (2)

December 27, 2016
This was the only "foreign power" that I saw all day leading an NS train. I wound up seeing CSX after all.

This was the only “foreign power” that I saw all day leading an NS train. I wound up seeing CSX after all.

One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

The downside to spending so much time railfanning in one location is that you might lack the motivation to move on.

Last July, I spent the morning in Olmsted Falls next to the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern. My plan was to drive to Berea about noon so that I could catch some CSX action. I wouldn’t miss anything on NS.

But as noon drew near, I found myself putting off heading for Berea. In part that was because I wanted to photograph aircraft landing at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport where making their final approaches over the Falls. I was enjoying photographing aircraft about as much as I was photographing trains.

In looking back at my 2016 railfan activities, I’ve probably spent more time with NS than with CSX. In part that is due to the erratic nature of CSX traffic these days.

An operating plan implanted within the past year has sought to have regular trains leave on a schedule of something like every 26 hours rather than every 24 hours.

Some symbol freights have been combined, others abolished and trains have become much longer.

During my times in Berea this year, it has seemed as though NS traffic – though still subject to lull periods – has been steadier than CSX traffic.

But I haven’t conducted any empirical studies of that so at best I am conveying an impression than a conclusion based on hard evidence.

On this July day, NS did go through some long lulls during the afternoon hours, particularly in late afternoon. But it didn’t seem so empty because I had airplanes to watch.

I kept putting off my time to relocate to Berea until a car pulled in that didn’t look familiar, but the driver did.

It was Marty Surdyk and his brother Robert. The car belonged to the girlfriend of Marty’s brother John.

Once Marty arrived, my plans to move over to Berea vanished because we started visiting and talking trains.

The model railroad club housed in the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot in Olmsted Falls was open and Marty and I spent some time talking with club members and checking out their HO scale layout.

That also effective ended my keeping a log of the trains that we saw because my log book was in my camera bag, which was in my car on the other side of the tracks.

There was shade next to the depot, but not in the parking lot on the north side of the tracks.

The afternoon traffic mix was not as diverse as it had been earlier in the day.

Intermodal trains predominated, but there were two auto rack trains, a couple of tanker trains and a couple of manifest freights.

The auto rack train was a one hit wonder with a CSX locomotive. It might have been the CSX train that uses NS trackage rights between Cleveland and Toledo.

It would be the only train I would see all day that did not have an NS unit leading.

Marty had to take Robert home around 5 or 5:30 p.m. but said he’d be back for the evening.

We ended up sticking around until just after 8 p.m. As luck would have it, the only trains we caught after 5:30 were westbounds.

That was a good thing because the light favored westbounds over eastbounds.

By 8 p.m. the shadows were growing long and I began thinking about getting home to fix dinner.

And so ended my all-day NS marathon in Olmsted Falls. I probably won’t be doing anything like that again until next year’s Dave McKay Day in early April.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Going green with a bit of orange thrown in.

Going green with a bit of orange thrown in.

After sitting in the Berea siding for quite a while, this train got a new crew and headed westward.

After sitting in the Berea siding for quite a while, this train got a new crew and headed westward.

I've always enjoyed stack trains of a nearly uniform consist. All of this train fit into the frame.

I’ve always enjoyed stack trains of a nearly uniform consist. All of this train fit into the frame.

I'm pretty sure this was an NS auto rack train.

I’m pretty sure this was an NS auto rack train.

Train L13 came in from Bellevue running light. Between the time it arrived and departed nearly two hours later, just one train would pass by.

Train L13 came in from Bellevue running light. Between the time it arrived and departed nearly two hours later, just one train would pass by.

Train L13 had a cut of brand new tank cars.

Train L13 had a cut of brand new tank cars.

Bellevue-bound L13 passes the Olmsted Falls depot.

Bellevue-bound L13 passes the Olmsted Falls depot.

I had a pair of tanker trains in the morning and another pair in the late afternoon.

I had a pair of tanker trains in the morning and another pair in the late afternoon.

I managed to work in a landing plane at Hopkins passing over this westbound tanker train. And I got the sun in the image to boot.

I managed to work in a landing plane at Hopkins passing over this westbound tanker train. And I got the sun in the image to boot.

A Union Pacific until in trailing in this consist was the only Western Class 1 unit I saw.

A Union Pacific until that is trailing in this consist was the only Western Class 1 unit I saw.

The late day light was really sweet.

The late day light was really sweet.

NS Marathon: A Day in Olmsted Falls (1)

December 26, 2016
When you are out all day in one spot you look for ways to get creative by trying things such as shooting a train through a fence.

When you are out all day in one spot you look for ways to get creative by trying things such as shooting a train through a fence.

One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

There are some days when you just want to camp out in one location along a busy railroad line and let the trains come to you.

I had one of those days last July. My plan was to spend the morning at Olmsted Falls and move onto Berea in early afternoon.

It would not quite work out that way and I wound up staying in the Falls all day.

Berea has more traffic, but I’ve always felt Olmsted Falls was a better place to railfan because you can hang out on either side of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

Berea has two railroads whereas Olmsted Falls has one, but NS alone provide enough traffic throughout the day to keep things interesting.

I also wanted to spend a day in one place to get a sense of the NS traffic flow these days.

With traffic generally down this year, railroads have been seeking to cut costs by operating longer and fewer trains.

That trend seems more pronounced on CSX but NS has not been immune from it.

Coal and crude oil traffic in particular has fallen off on both railroads and there have been some days this year when I spent hours railfanning and didn’t see a coal and/or oil train.

On this particular day, though, I would see pretty much all of the traffic that NS operates.

I tried to keep a log of all of the trains I saw, but gave that up after logging 21 trains.

I’ll have more to say about that in the second part of this report.

The weather was sunny skies and warm temperatures. It was in many ways an ideal day to be trackside.

I didn’t see much in way of motive power that was out of the ordinary. No NS heritage units came past, whether leading or trailing.

Foreign power was, in general, scarce. What little foreign power there was was trailing.

The busiest time on NS was during the morning hours. It was quite busy shortly after I arrived around 8:30 a.m.

As a bonus, aircraft landing at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport were landing to the northeast, meaning they made their final approach over Olmsted Falls.

I spent a fair amount of time between trains photographing landing jetliners.

Accompanying this report are some of my best images made between my arrival and early afternoon.

Articles and Photographs by Craig Sanders

My first train of the day was a westbound auto rack.

My first train of the day was a westbound auto rack.

Most eastbound trains were on Track No. 1

Most eastbound trains were on Track No. 1

Some tank trains have all black car . . .

Some tank trains have all black cars . . .

 . . . and some are all white.

. . . and some are all white.

Trying to capture a sense of place.

Trying to capture a sense of place.

One of the few meets that I witnessed during the day.

One of the few meets that I witnessed during the day.

This eastbound manifest freight would be the only one I would photograph at a location other than near the depot.

This eastbound manifest freight would be the only one I would photograph at a location other than near the depot.

The Last Train of the Day

October 15, 2016

ns-of-july-10-20-x

ns-of-july-10-21-x

ns-of-july-10-22-x

One in a periodic series of images I made last summer.

Any all-day summer railfan outing ultimately gets down to the last train of the day. If you’ve spent all day trackside you are working toward the golden light hour when a westbound will be running  into that low-angle warm light that photographers crave.

It may be that the most interesting train  you saw all day came through around noon under high sun conditions with its corresponding harsh light. That might have been the train with the double Norfolk Southern heritage unit duo or a rare foreign unit, say a Kansas City Southern Belle or a Ferromex unit on the lead.

Maybe that last train of the day had yet another ho hum dash 9 wide cab of which  you’ve already seen a dozen today. But no matter what its consist might be that last train of the day has the best light.

You are looking at a three-shot sequence of a westbound Norfolk Southern intermodal train at Olmsted Falls that I made last July.

The sequence took advantage of the three general ways that you can capture something with a general purpose walking around zoom lens with a rated focal length range of 18 to 135 millimeters.

The opening shot was made with the zoom all the way out. The image features a quality that of late I’ve come to appreciate in photography, the interplay of shadows and light.

Contrast creates tension and thus interest in a photograph and that is the case here with part of the locomotive in shadow and part of it in sweet light.

The middle image is the obligatory “get the train by the depot shot.” It’s a medium shot at 47 mm.

In this case, though, the station is uniformly lighted. There is still a touch of light and shadows on the train to provide some some contrast.

The wide angle bottom image of the set provides visual evidence that I had not been paying attention to my camera settings. Look at the number board of NS C44-9W No. 9681 and you’ll notice that it is soft.

That’s because I had my camera in aperture priority mode rather than shooting at a high shutter speed, which is my standard procedure when photographing moving trains on a mainline. For the record the aperture setting is f8. You know, “f8 and be there.” Well, there I was.

This image was made at 1/200th of a second, which wasn’t enough to freeze an intermodal train with a clear straight track ahead of it.

But sometimes a little blur doesn’t matter that much. That is my shadow on the right covering the Berea siding while the shadow on the left belongs to Marty Surdyk. I could not make this image the way I wanted to make it without getting our shadows.

This image was made at 8:08 p.m. It was time to head home and for some dinner and to celebrate the good fortune of getting a westbound during the time of day when I really wanted one.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

It Was Dark But I Got the OCS

October 2, 2016

ns-ocs-01-x

 

ns-ocs-02-x

I didn’t take long for word to get out at the Great Berea Train show on Saturday that the Norfolk Southern executive train was coming. Reportedly, it was headed for St. Louis.

It departed its base in Altoona, Pennsylvania, in late morning, which meant it was likely to pass through Cleveland in late afternoon.

My fellow Akron Railroad Club member Todd Dillon decided to intercept it at Hudson, which it passed through just before 5 p.m.

I left the train show just after 4:30 p.m. and headed for Olmsted Falls. Eastbound manifest freight 34N or 34M (I don’t remember which letter it was) was passing through as I arrived. It would be the only eastbound I would see over the next two hours.

Operating under symbol 955, the OCS was following manifest freight 11V. L13, the Bellevue-Rockport Yard turn, and a coal train, the 552, would also depart westbound ahead of it.

About 5:30 p.m., ARRC Bulletin Editor Marty Surdyk arrived. He had planned to run home to grab his camera, but traffic leaving the train show was heavy.

He reckoned that it would be cloudy when the OCS came through and his chances of getting a good image on slide film were slim. So he just came out to watch and didn’t bother to get his camera.

Marty’s hunch proved to be correct. There was some nice sunlight just before the L13 led the late afternoon westbound parade, but by the time 955 showed up at 6:53 p.m., it was cloudy and dark.

Even with a digital camera, it was a tough image to make. But I got it and saw something I don’t see often.

It also means that the last two times that I’ve seen the NS OCS I’ve been trackside with Marty.  We had caught the OCS last month at Salem on the Fort Wayne Line.

The consist of the train was NS F9A 4270, F9B 4275, F9B 4276, F9A 4271, and passengers cars 23, Buena Vista; 24, Delaware; 19, Kentucky; 18, New Orleans; 2, Carolina; 4, Michigan; 14, Missouri; 13, Georgia; 11, Illinois; 9, Alabama; 20, Ohio; 3, Claytor Lake; 7, Pennsylvania; and 39 (a power car).

Even in the near dark it was an impressive looking consist. It was not a bad way to begin October.

I Do Believe That is a Warbonnet

September 18, 2016

Warbonnet 1

Warbonnet 2

I was hanging out in Olmsted Falls late on a Friday afternoon, checking out the action on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

A eastbound NS manifest freight was approaching so I got out to take a look. Nothing out of the ordinary in the motive power department was likely to come through the Falls as far as I knew.

The train had an NS unit leading and the trailing unit was BNSF orange. But what about that third unit? It looks like neither NS or BNSF.

It turned out it was a BNSF unit wearing the Santa Fe warbonnet livery. It’s tough to get a good image of the third unit in a consist and with a warbonnet you really would like to get the nose.

Warbonnets are becoming scarce as BNSF retires or idles its older locomotives.

I found it interesting that this particular warbonnet had Santa Fe lettering on the nose but BNSF markings on the flanks.

The car following No. 720 was a boxcar, so there was little chance to get much of the nose. I don’t know if this will be the last warbonnet that I see in a moving motive power consist. But in case it is, I have a record of it.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Like Turning Back the Clock

August 25, 2016

_DSC6318 CROPPED Conrail Olm Falls with sig RES (1)

It was a Wednesday. Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler noticed online that Norfolk Southern heritage unit 8098 was leading a westbound intermodal train.

He had enough lead time so he headed for Olmsted Falls to intercept the ES44AC paying tribute to Conrail as it led train 21Q.

According to HeritageUnits.com, the 21Q was reported through Olmsted Falls at 3:05 p.m.

It would continue to Chicago where it apparently flipped and came back east the next day when was reported to be leading the 20Q.

The 8098 spent a few days out east before coming back through Northeast Ohio and then making another return trip shortly thereafter.

It can be interesting to track the travels of a heritage unit. In the case of the 8098, since Peter photographed it the unit has been in 10 states, assuming that all of those reports on HU are accurate.

During much of its travels in the past month the Conrail H unit has burnished former Conrail  routes — such as the one shown here — and had its photograph taken who knows how many times.

The fascination with NS heritage units is still going strong more than four years after No. 8098 because the first of those locomotives to be released from the shop for duty.

Photograph by Peter Bowler