Posts Tagged ‘Olmsted Falls railroad depot’

Double Heritage Unit Friday in Northeast Ohio

September 26, 2020

On Friday Norfolk Southern sent two heritage units through Northeast Ohio.

Todd Dillon caught the New York Central H unit passing the former NYC depot in Olmsted Falls.

It was on the point of the 21Q headed for 47th Street in Chicago after originating in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Next he caught the Interstate H unit going through Hudson leading the 25V. The train originates in Elizabethport, New Jersey, and terminates at Landers Yard in Chicago.

Both units came through during the afternoon.

Ordinarily, Friday night would have been Akron Railroad Club meeting night for September. But that meeting was canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there was an impromptu ARRC meeting in Hudson with club president Dillon, Vice President Bill Kubas (shown on the ladder) and Tom Kendrick on hand in Hudson to get some photographs and video.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

Early Morning and the Westbound Lake Shore Limited

October 26, 2019

The sun is slowly climbing over Olmsted Falls as a very late Lake Shore Limited scoots toward Chicago.

Under normal circumstances Train No. 49 would have passed here in darkness.

The sun angle when this image was made on May 11 made photography tricky but did yield a nice reflection from the lead P42DC locomotive No. 92.

The former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (later New York Central) depot at right is now the home of a model railroad club.

Just Like Sunday Mornings With Grandpa

August 18, 2019

Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited is more than four hours late as it passes through Olmsted Falls, Ohio, on a Sunday morning in mid May.

It was a sunny and pleasant Sunday morning in Olmsted Falls as I stood next to the tracks of Norfolk Southern at the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern station that is now owned by a model railroad club, the Cuyahoga Valley & West Shore.

I was waiting for a tardy eastbound Lake Shore Limited that Amtrak predicted would arrive in Elyria at 9:12 a.m. and depart two minutes later.

If that held, that would put No. 48 through Olmsted Falls at about 9:25 a.m.

As I waited, my thoughts flashed back to Sunday mornings in the early 1960s when my grandparents on my mother’s side would come to my hometown in east central Illinois from St. Louis for a weekend visit.

On Sunday morning, grandpa would take my sister and I for a walk of about four blocks that we called “going to the trains.”

On the west side of Mattoon not far from our house was an open area that still had tracks leading to a an abandoned shop building once used by the Peoria, Decatur & Evansville, which was absorbed by the Illinois Central in the early 20th century.

The tracks leading into that long-closed shop were still in place, but rusty and covered in weeds. Cinders were plentiful in the ballast.

This area was located between the tracks of the IC – that former PD&E – and the St. Louis line of the New York Central.

We would walk across those tracks to stand near the Central tracks. Two NYC passenger trains were scheduled to pass through Mattoon during the mid to late morning hours.

The eastbound train was the Southwestern and the westbound train the Knickerbocker. They were all that was left of the Central’s service to St. Louis.

In the early 1960s, both of those trains were still quite grand with sleepers, dining cars and coaches, some of which operated through to New York and all of which operated to and from Cleveland.

Sometimes the motive power for the trains were E units still wearing NYC lightning stripes, but at others times the motive power was Geeps in the cigar band look.

I thought about those trains as I waited for Amtrak No. 48, which had lost time starting with a late departure from Chicago Union Station the night before.

But something happened between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, where the bulk of the lost time occurred.

Amtrak equipment, like much of that used by the Central, is silver-colored stainless steel. The Central had some two-tone gray smooth sided passenger cars that were assigned to the St. Louis trains.

There are some parallels to where the Central’s passenger service was in the early 1960s and where Amtrak is today.

NYC management under the leadership of Alfred Perlman was convinced that long-distance trains had no future and throughout the 1950s the Central had aggressively discontinued as many of those trains as regulators would allow.

There might not have been any NYC passenger trains for myself, my sister and my grandpa to watch during our walks “to the trains” had the Illinois Commerce Commission allowed the Central to discontinue all service to St. Louis as it wanted to do in the late 1950s.

Amtrak management under the leadership of Richard Anderson has been signaling that it wants to transform its network into a series of short-haul corridors between urban points.

That strategy would eviscerate Amtrak’s long-distance network and probably spell the end of the Lake Shore Limited, the only daily train between Chicago and New York.

Those walks “to the trains” did not last long. By the middle 1960s my grandparents were no longer traveling from St. Louis to Mattoon to visit us.

In the meantime, the Southwestern and Knickerbocker grew shorter, shrinking to one sleeper and a couple of coaches. The dining car no longer operated west of Indianapolis.

In late 1967 the Central posted notices of its intent to discontinue its last trains to St. Louis. By then the trains only operated between St. Louis and Union City, Indiana, the NYC having used the “Ohio strategy” to discontinue them between Union City and Cleveland.

The “Ohio strategy” was a rule of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that allowed a railroad to discontinue a passenger train within the state of Ohio without PUCO approval provided it was not the last passenger train on that route.

The NYC and other railroads used that rule to devastating effect in the 1960s.

The Interstate Commerce Commission stayed the discontinuance of the remnants of the Southwestern and Knickerbocker, but after conducting an investigation concluded they were not needed for the public necessity and convenience. They made their last trips in March 1968.

By then they had shrunk to one E unit and one coach.

My grandpa died in 1982, the same year that Conrail won regulatory approval to abandon the former NYC through Mattoon. The tracks were pulled up through town in May 1983.

In the meantime, the IC razed the former shops used by the PD&E. That area where we used to walk remains an open field passed by a handful of trains of Canadian National.

No. 48 was slowly gaining back some of its lost time a minute or two at a time as it made its was east from Toledo. It departed Elyria about when Amtrak predicted it would.

The Lake Shore Limited continues to be an impressive looking train with three sleepers, six coaches, a baggage car, café car, dining car and two locomotives. But the dining car no longer serves meals freshly prepared onboard.

Just like the Central did, Amtrak is slowing chipping away at onboard service in an effort to cut costs.

As the Lake Shore flashed past, I again felt myself going back to the early 1960s and watching the Southwestern rush past also en route to New York City.

I couldn’t think of too many better ways to spend part of a Sunday morning.

Passing the Olmsted Falls depot, now the home of a model railroad club.

All the meals being served in that dining car behind the Amfleet coach were prepared off the train. The chefs were laid off or reassigned to other runs.

Signal Indication is a Shadow

March 8, 2018

It’s late afternoon in Olmsted Falls. The sun is swinging around toward the southwest and illuminating the west end of the former New York Central station, which is now owned by the Cuyahoga Valley & West Shore Model Railroad Club.

One of the latest additions to the club’s modest 1:1 scale of railroad collectables at the depot is a two-headed Type G signal.

You don’t see the signal above, but it is casting a shadow on the side of the station.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Day

December 26, 2017

A westbound NS coal train passes the former New York Central passenger station in Olmsted Falls in early evening last August.

Nothing is finer in Olmsted Falls than to be there in early evening on a summer evening. The golden hour light makes everything seem to be a little brighter.

Summer is not the only season during which you can find warm light bathing westbound trains in the Falls.

Some of the images in this gallery were made in autumn and one was made in winter.

Late day light comes earlier in October. Shown is NS train 287.

It was really late when this auto rack train showed up.

A westbound coke train. That is Marty Surdyk waiting for the train at the crossing in his Jeep.

Autumn late day light illuminates the westbound 17N.

Traces of what turned out to be the last significant snow fall of the winter of 2016-2017 still hangs on in shady areas.

 

Night Trains

September 2, 2017

Back in early August I had some magazines that had been donated to the Akron Railroad Club to convey to Marty Surdyk, who stores the inventory of merchandise that we sell at trains shows.

We arranged to meet in the evening at Olmsted Falls, where we would also spend some time railfanning the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

It was reminiscent of an outing we had in the Falls several years ago when I brought my tripod and dabbled with night photography.

I admire the work of those who have mastered the art, but that hasn’t motivated me to do much of it myself.

But my appetite for night photography was whetted earlier this summer during a night photo shoot at the Lake Shore Railway Museum in North East, Pennsylvania.

I’ve also wondered what I could do with a digital SLR camera. One advantage of digital is that you will know right away if what you tried worked.

In North East I was working with steady light. That would not be the case in Olmsted Falls.

I was fortunate that much of the NS traffic on this evening was moving west.

I was able to get some late day images with natural lighting that didn’t require a tripod.

But along about 9 p.m. it was time top set up the tripod and shuttle cable release.

My first effort is the top image that accompanies this post. It was a straight-forward long shutter release of seven seconds at f/16 at ISO 100.

It has the streaks that I wanted and there was enough natural light to bring out some detail in the station and the fading blue light.

About 25 minutes later I tried this technique again, this time focusing on an approaching train. This image, shown immediately below the text, was made with a 16-second exposure a f/16 at ISO 100.

OK, what do I do for an encore? Marty suggested “painting” the station with light from a small flashlight, then keeping the shutter open but covering the lens with the lens cap.

I did a couple test images by shining the flashlight on the station. The results were good results.

Marty said that if I did that as a train approached, the crew might mistake the light for a signal telling them to stop their train.

My first effort was promising. I kept the shutter open for 77 seconds. Getting the lens cap on and off was more tricky than it might seem because I did not want to cause any vibration.

I tried the same technique a second time with an exposure time of 36 seconds. I also changed the f stop to 22. Of the two images, I liked the second one the best and it shown below this post.

Of course I didn’t like all of the “spots” on the image. That was light reflecting the aperture and made it appear that it was raining and I had water droplets on my lens.

I swung my camera around to try to get the train going away with the red light of the EOT “trailing behind.”

This ideal didn’t work well. I couldn’t get the blinking red light to “trail.” My best image, shown below, didn’t feature the train so much as a landing aircraft at nearby Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

For an encore, I went over to Berea and tried getting NS and CSX trains there.

The results were only so-so. The best of the lot is the final image shown below showing an eastbound.

Like any endeavor, there is a learning curve to learning how to do night photography. It requires study, practice and no small amount of trial and error. Having good equipment, particularly the tripod, also helps.

For most photographers, it is much easier to get trains in daylight. Yet some of the most dramatic images I’ve seen have been made at the extremes of the day in varying lighting conditions.

I don’t know that I’ll be doing much night photography, but I’m willing to learn and try it again.

 

Last Gasp of Winter

April 11, 2017

Where did the winter go? That’s a term more commonly heard about summer, a season  that most people embrace, and not winter, a season that most people dread.

We had snow this winter, but not as much as I remember there being in past winters and for various reasons I didn’t get out when we had it to make any photographs.

It is not that I didn’t make photographs during the winter months, but when I did get out there was little to no snow on the ground.

So here it is April and this is one of the best snow and trains photograph that I have to show for the winter of 2016-2017.

Yeah, I know it is kind of lame, but at least there is snow in the image even if little of it.

There will always be another winter and the next one might have more opportunity than I care to have. But I’ll deal with that then.

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.

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.