Posts Tagged ‘Orrville depot’

ORHS to Hold Christmas at the Depot on Saturday

November 27, 2019

The Orrville Railroad Heritage Society will hold its annual Christmas at the Depot event on Saturday (Nov. 30) from noon to 4 p.m.

Santa Claus will arrive at the restored former Pennsylvania Railroad station at 4 p.m.

The depot will be decorated for the holidays and have operating train layouts and refreshments.

The gift shop will be open and with any luck at all Norfolk Southern will send a train or two past during the festivities.

ORHS has also announced that it will hold its annual membership dinner on Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. at Top of the Viaduct Restaurant at 607 Lincoln Way West in Massillon.

Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and include two meats, potatoes, pasta, vegetable, salad and coffee or soft drink.

The cost is $15 person and ORHS members are welcome to bring a guest and/or family members.

An automatic 18 percent gratuity will be added to each bill. Meal charges will be collected at the restaurant.

Following dinner, members of the board of directors will be elected for 2020.

Once Upon a Time in Orrville

May 14, 2018

A westbound Conrail RoadRailer cruises through Orrville on June 12 1995, during the then-named Depot Days of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society. The view is from the steps of Orr Tower.

The last sentence of a news release issued by the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society noted that the upcoming open house to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Orrville Union Depot will not feature train or track car rides.

That was probably placed there because in the past track car rides and a short train ride were a part of a day-long festival that centered on the station that once served the Pennsylvania Railroad.

But all of that began to go away a few years ago when some ORHS passenger cars being ferried back home by the Wheeling & Lake Erie derailed while on Norfolk Southern tracks in Bellevue.

The W&LE subsequently banned excursion trains from its rails and evicted the ORHS from a siding track in Orrville.

I may or may not get down to the depot anniversary event on Saturday, May 19. If I do, it will be to indulge in a little bit of nostalgia.

Back in the 1990s the ORHS used to sponsor what it called Depot Days. Aside from track car and train rides, the depot was open along with the restored Orr Tower.

Conrail usually sent a locomotive that was on static display and visitors were allowed to visit the cab.

In those days Conrail had a fair level of traffic through Orrville, much of it coming off the Indianapolis Line at Crestline and taking the Fort Wayne Line that ran through Orrville.

You could count on seeing a couple of intermodal trains in late morning and manifest freights at intervals throughout the day.

Much of that traffic ended after CSX and NS divided Conrail in 1999. There were no more visiting locomotives and the level of train traffic greatly diminished.

The event itself was renamed Railroad Days and moved to August. But the train rides and track car rides continued and at times the W&LE would have a visiting locomotive to view.

This week’s event will be but a shadow of what used to be. You can sit in Orrville for hours now before a train comes through.

But there will always be memories of what once was.

Watching Steel Rust on the Fort Wayne Line

June 24, 2015
The first NS train through Orrville arrived a half-hour after I did. Then I had a four-hour wait for the next one.

The first NS train through Orrville arrived a half-hour after I did. Then I had a four-hour wait for the next one.

Last winter the railfan cyberspace world was abuzz with reports that Norfolk Southern was rehabilitating the tracks of the Fort Wayne Line west of Bucyrus.

This was remarkable news for a number of reasons. First, NS doesn’t own these tracks. CSX does.

Second, CSX doesn’t use this line. The Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern does.

Yes, NS does have the right under the terms of the Conrail breakup to operate as many as six trains a day west of Bucyrus, but it has seldom taken advantage of those rights.

But after the meltdown on the Chicago Line last summer, railroad officials began looking for alternative routes for some trains.

One of those alternatives was the Fort Wayne Line. Even before the Conrail breakup, this former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline in western Ohio saw little traffic.

The segment between Crestline and Alliance was moderately busy under Conrail, but once NS took it over the traffic levels dropped precipitously.

NS operates a pair of Conway-Bellevue manifest freights over the line daily. The route also sees locals out of Mansfield that operate as far east as Orrville. There are some coal trains.

But otherwise, traffic on the Fort Wayne Line is rather sparse.

As I read the reports that traffic on the Fort Wayne Line was picking up, I made a mental note that I needed to get down there this summer and see just much more traffic is using the line.

In particular, NS is routing eastbound crude oil trains over the route. I had seen posted photos taken of some of those trains, which led me to believe that they operated during daylight hours.

On the first Saturday in June, I set out for Orrville. I wasn’t expecting to see a flood of new traffic, but I was hopeful that there would be enough to make it worth the trip.

I got a later start than I wanted so it was about 10:30 a.m. when I arrived, parked next to the tracks, set up my scanner and waited.

Shortly after 11 a.m. I could hear the scratchy sound on the radio of a train calling signals.

The signal became stronger and clearer. That a train was coming a half-hour after I had arrived was a good omen.

It was a westbound coal train and it had one of those massive ex-Union Pacific SD90MACs as the second of two locomotives.

Then things got quiet, real quiet. And that was the way it was for the next four hours. That’s right, four hours.

To pass the time I read that day’s Akron Beacon Journal and the latest issue of Trains. The Fort Wayne Line has a long and colorful history and I had plenty of time to think about it.

I had expected lulls between trains, but not this long. I was about to give up for the day when I heard a scratchy sound on my scanner.

Shortly after 3:30 p.m., an eastbound oil train showed up with a set of helper units on the rear.

I was curious how far I’d be able to hear that train call signals over the radio so I stuck around and listened.

That train must have been past Massillon when I thought I heard the oil train crew speaking with the crew of another train.

Could it be that a westbound was waiting at Massillon for the oil train to pass? I decided to wait awhile longer. It was an agonizingly long wait.

I was, again, about to pack it in when I thought I heard a distant radio transmission. It took awhile but it got stronger and my earlier hunch had been right. There had been a westbound near Massillon.

That train, another coal train with an ex-UP SD90MAC in the motive power consist, finally reached Orrville at almost 4:30 p.m. After its passage, I headed home.

I’d like to give Orrville and the Fort Wayne Line another try, preferably getting there in the early morning.

It has always seemed as though more trains pass through Northeast Ohio in the morning hours than during the middle of the day.

Maybe that’s not true for the Fort Wayne Line, but I’d like to give it a try.

I’d also like to go down during the week when the locals are running and when the R.J. Corman train for Wooster comes and goes.

It may be technically accurate to say that there is more traffic on the Fort Wayne Line than there used to be.

But when the previous traffic levels were already quite thin, adding another couple of trains a day isn’t going to make that much of a difference.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The tower at Orrville used to be on the other side of the tracks and farther west. I can't remember a time when it wasn't where is is today. But my first visit to Orrville came in 1995.

The tower at Orrville used to be on the other side of the tracks and farther west. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t where is is today. But my first visit to Orrville came in 1995.

This former Pennsy cabin car has been in display for years in Orrville, but no one has gotten around to restoring the PRR keystone and markings.

This former Pennsy cabin car has been in display for years in Orrville, but no one has gotten around to restoring the PRR keystone and markings.

After a wait of four hours I could not believe my eyes. There is training coming on the Fort Wayne Line.

After a wait of four hours I could not believe my eyes. There is training coming on the Fort Wayne Line.

The first and (only) eastbound of the day (for me at least) passes the Orrville station. The view was made from the steps of the former Orrville Tower.

The first and (only) eastbound of the day (for me at least) passes the Orrville station. The view was made from the steps of the former Orrville Tower.

What a nice surprise. There were helper locomotives on the rear of the 66W, the eastbound crude oil train.

What a nice surprise. There were helper locomotives on the rear of the 66W, the eastbound crude oil train.

Orrville is located at milespost 124 on the Fort Wayne Line. I had plenty of time to memorize this fact.

Orrville is located at milespost 124 on the Fort Wayne Line. I had plenty of time to memorize this fact.

The rear of the morning westbound coal train passes the restored Orrville depot, now the home of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society.

The rear of the morning westbound coal train passes the restored Orrville depot, now the home of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society.

Orrville Depot Damaged in Car Crash

May 21, 2014
The west wall of the Orrville Union Depot Museum was shattered by a colliding car on 5/20/2014. The baggage cart was pushed in front of the crash site after to prevent entry.

The west wall of the Orrville Union Depot Museum was shattered by a colliding car on 5/20/2014. The baggage cart was pushed in front of the crash site after to prevent entry.

Orrville School System has conducted tours of the Orrville Historic District for third grade students for several years.

It is a walking history lesson for the students. The district is comprised of the Smith Orr homestead, the Orrville History Museum and the Orrville Union Depot Museum. All are related to the early founders of Orrville and the Pennsylvania Railroad.

On Tuesday May 20, approximately 120 students took the history tour. They were in groups of about 12 students who rotated from one site to the next.

Just before noon the last group was inside the Orrville Union Depot Museum, the home of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society. ORHS member Roger Scott had just finished talking about the artifacts in a large wood and glass showcase in the former depot waiting room.

A few seconds after they moved to another display a large crash filled the room with a loud bang. A car had backed into the west depot wall, caving it in and spreading debris inside.

The large showcase was toppled and shoved several feet into the room. Shattered glass was everywhere. Roger and the students were still in the waiting room, but luckily were no longer in front of the toppled showcase. Thankfully, no one had been injured.

The driver of the car had been escorting the student groups to and from the depot. Since it was the last group of the morning, he climbed into his car to leave. As he was backing from his parking spot, his foot slipped off the brake pedal and onto the accelerator. This caused his car to careen into the depot wall.

When you have a trackside historic museum, you are always concerned about a derailed train coming through the wall. It happened to the Wooster depot by a Conrail freight train after it had been painted for restoration as a museum by a local history group. That depot was a total loss.

Today’s crash was much less serious than that, but could have caused many injuries. It was a blessing that it did not.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

Bricks from the depot's west wall litter the floor of the main waiting room after the crash.

Bricks from the depot’s west wall litter the floor of the main waiting room after the crash.

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Railroad artifact debris fills the toppled showcase.

Railroad artifact debris fills the toppled showcase.