Posts Tagged ‘PRR E8A locomotives’

Pennsy Heritage Two for Tuesday

March 23, 2021

We’ve traveled back to Aug. 1, 2004, in Orrville. Former Pennsylvania Railroad E8A Nos. 5711 and 5809, both owned by Bennett Levine, are heading eastbound home to Philadelphia on  the Fort Wayne Line of Norfolk Southern.

In the top image, the train is about to cross Ohio Route 57. In the bottom image it is passing the restored Orrville Union Depot along with the former tower and a PRR cabin car on static display.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Looks Like the Pennsy

January 19, 2021

When these photographs were taken the Pennsylvania Railroad name had been gone for more than 30 years.

There are still times when ghosts of the Pennsy can still be seen roaming. These photographs, for example, appear to show PRR passenger trains on a Pennsy route.

But in one instance the train is actually wearing a PRR-inspired paint scheme on Ohio Central’s Columbus & Ohio River subsidiary, which uses former PRR rails.

These images were taken on the same photo special from Oct. 5, 2002. They were made just west of West Lafayette and crossing the Tuscarawas River just west of Newcomerstown

Some images were made in Bedford on Norfolk Southern’s Cleveland Line, a former PRR route between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

The train is being pulled by Bennett Levin’s Juniata Terminals E7A, which is an actual former Pennsy locomotive.

These images were made on May 8, 2011. 

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

The Fort Pitt in Canton

January 9, 2021

Penn Central E8A No. 4309 is heading the westbound Fort Pitt through Canton on May 30, 1968. You’ve already noticed that it still wears its Pennsylvania Railroad markings.

Indeed, it was built by EMD for the Pennsy in January 1951 as No. 5809. This unit would later join the Amtrak motive power roster where it held roster numbers 315 and 498.

It then became Conrail 4020 and helped to pull that railroad’s executive trains. It then became Juniata Terminal No. 5809 where it was repainted back into PRR colors and markings.

In the image above you can also see Wandle interlocking in the background where the Norfolk & Western (former Wheeling & Lake Erie/Nickel Plate Road) crossed the Fort Wayne Line of the Pennsy.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Pennsy Locos on a Former Pennsy Route

December 30, 2020

Bennett Levin’s former Pennsylvania Railroad E8s powered a rare mileage private car excursion on Aug. 19, 2001, on a former Pennsy route from Harrisburg to Erie, Pennsylvania.

From Emporium, Pennsylvania, to Erie the railroad was operated as the Allegheny & Eastern and since it was a secondary route for the Pennsy the operating speeds were more relaxed.

Marty Surdyk and his brother Robert studied that route and that was where we focused our photography of the excursion.

Listening to the scanner on our trek eastward we set up initially at  St. Marys (top photograph) in pouring rain.

As the day went on the rain let up but the weather mainly remained overcast. We were able to find 12 photo locations. Five of the best are here in this story. 

They included crossing the Allegheny River in Warren, Pennsylvania; Garland, Pennsylvania; and passing a mural of a Climax steam locomotive in Corry, Pennsylvania, the home of Climax Manufacturing, which built the famous logging locomotives.

Our final photo location was in Erie where the excursion train arrived at the Erie Union Station, which today is still used by Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited.  

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

The Fort Pitt in Canton

November 4, 2020

The Fort Pitt was one of the most photographed Pennsylvania Railroad passenger trains in Northeast Ohio because of its schedule.

Most of the Pennsy’s passenger trains came through Canton and Massillon in the dark but the Fort Pitt was a daylight train from Pittsburgh to Chicago.

It is 1969 and the Fort Pitt is now a Penn Central train even though it still appears to be a PRR one.

On the point is E8A No. 4252. Built by EMD for the Pennsy in May 1952 as No. 5792, it would eventually receive a Penn Central livery as well as new number.

Amtrak would acquire the unit and renumber is 278. It would serve the nation’s intercity passenger carrier until being retired in May 1976.

In the photograph above, the photograph was standing on the eastbound passenger platform in Canton.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Deep in the Heart of the Pennsy in 1987

June 24, 2020

A pair of former Pennsylvania Railroad E8A locomotives lead an excursion train through Thompstontown Station, Pennsylvania, on the former Pennsy mainline between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Since it’s raining today I figured I would finish off 1987. On Nov. 1, 1987, the Blue Mountain & Reading ran a marathon excursion from Temple to Altoona, Pennsylvania, that included rounding Horseshoe Curve and turning at Gallitzin.

Just about the entire train was open window coaches. The BM&R’s former Pennsylvania Railroad E8A locomotives powered the excursion mixed in nicely with the Conrail freights. From what I remember the timekeeping was pretty good. Marty and Robert Surdyk did an excellent job scouting for some premier photo locations.

Article and Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Crossing the Susquehanna River west of Harrisburg on the famous Rockville bridge.

Passing Hunt Tower in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

Conrail helper locomotives escort the special around Horseshoe Curve west of Altoona.

At the Amtrak station in downtown Altoona.

Fort Wayne Line Memories

April 9, 2020

An eastbound Conrail RoadRailer train approaches the diamonds with the Indianapolis Line in Crestline on Sept. 12, 1998.

The news that Norfolk Southern plans to reduce the infrastructure of its Fort Wayne Line between Alliance and Crestline brought back a lot of memories of the trains I over the years on that route.

That sent me into my photo collection where I discovered I had a surprisingly wide variety of trains and types of motive power.

I say surprising because the Fort Wayne Line has not often been a place where I’ve spent a lot of time, particularly west of Alliance.

East of Alliance the Fort Wayne Line is a busy railroad hosting a extensive assortment of NS traffic operating between the Midwest and East Coast.

But west of Alliance is another story. It was a moderately busy place in the Conrail era because traffic coming east from Columbus, Indianapolis and St. Louis joined the Fort Wayne Line at Crestline.

But after NS and CSX split Conrail, traffic on the Fort Wayne line plummeted.

It wasn’t always that way. The Fort Wayne Line was a principal freight and passenger artery to Chicago for the Pennsylvania Railroad, hosting many of the railroad’s Blue Ribbon fleet passenger trains.

Conrail downgraded the Fort Wayne Line west of Crestline in the late 1980s, a move that sent Amtrak’s Broadway Limited and Capitol Limited onto other routes in November 1990.

I first experienced the Fort Wayne Line on June 12, 1995, during the Orrville Railroad Days festival.

Conrail would send a locomotive to display and you could visit the cab.

The Orrville Railroad Heritage Society would operate track cars and a passenger train on a siding that was the original Wheeling & Erie mainline before the Orrville bypass was constructed.

You could count on seeing a few Conrail freights pass during the late morning hours.

I got lucky during the June 1998 festival and caught the rear head end of an eastbound W&LE train passing over the top of the rear of an eastbound Conrail manifest freight on the west side of Orrville.

I got even luckier by scoring cab rides twice in the battered F unit the ORHS used to pull the excursion train during that era.

During the final years of Conrail I got out with Dan Davidson to railfan the Fort Wayne Line and we nabbed some good photographs of Big Blue in Crestline and Orrville.

The railroad days festival later moved to August and one year the Akron Railroad Club had a table at a train show held in a pole barn owned by a lumber company.

By then NS owned the Fort Wayne Line and trains were far fewer in number so my forays there were limited to outings when I knew something out of the ordinary was coming.

The Fort Wayne Line was among the favorites of the late ARRC member Richard Jacobs, who lived not far from in Apple Creek.

Jake was active in the ORHS and spent a lot of time in Orrville. He therefore knew when the locals could be expected to arrive.

Jake and I twice photographed the NS locals in Orrville and caught an R.J. Corman train on the Fort Wayne Line once.

Corman uses the Fort Wayne Line to reach its isolated operation in Wooster, a remnant of a former Baltimore & Ohio secondary line, where it serves a Frito Lay plant.

Fellow ARRC member Paul Woodring and I also caught the NS local in Orrville in June 2008 when it had a caboose. Or should I say it had a shoving platform?

Paul and I would railfan the Fort Wayne Line four years later when we chased a ferry move of Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.

We picked up the chase in Massillon where I recreated a scene that the late ARRC member Robert Redmond had made decades earlier of a westbound PRR steam train coming off the fabled curved bridge over the Tuscarawas River.

Getting the NKP 765 in the same location was tough because by the time it arrived I was photographing right into the sun. But I got the shot.

We later captured the 765 east of Mansfield and at North Robinson passing a pair of classic Pennsy position light signals.

I photographed a number of noteworthy visitors to the Fort Wayne Line over the years.

There was the NS executive train on April 30, 2011, as it made its way to the Kentucky Derby with the F units that have since been sold.

I chased it with Roger Durfee, getting it at Maximo and Orrville.

Then there was Bennett Levin’s Pennsylvania Railroad E8A Nos. 5711 and 5809, which were headed back to Philadelphia after pulling a private car special during the Dennison railroad festival on the Ohio Central in August 2004.

And there was the time during the 2016 ARRC picnic in Warwick Park in Clinton when we learned that the NS Pennsylvania Railroad heritage locomotive was leading eastbound manifest freight 12V.

We followed its progress on social media throughout the day and several of us headed for Massillon in late afternoon to get it.

I chose to catch NS 8102 splitting the PRR position light signals at CP Mace. It just might be my favorite Fort Wayne Line photograph made west of Alliance.

NS increased its use of the Fort Wayne Line around 2014 by diverting some crude oil and ethanol trains that had been using the Chicago Line.

Thinking there might be enough increased traffic to make a day outing worthwhile I drove to Orrville one Saturday morning on a photo safari.

The day got off to a promising start when an eastbound crude oil train with helpers on the rear came through shortly after I arrived.

I heard the crew of that train talking on the radio to another train, which I presumed was in Massillon meeting the tanker train at CP Mace, where the Fort Wayne Line becomes single track to Orrville.

However, it would be an hour before that westbound, a coal train, showed up.

Once it passed through it would be four hours before another train came along, an eastbound crude oil train.

It was a good thing I brought plenty of magazines to read.

None of the four regular manifest freights that use the Fort Wayne Line through Orrville showed up during my time there on this day.

My last photo outing to the Fort Wayne Line was more productive. On Sept. 3, 2016, Adam Barr and I had gone to Alliance to railfan but got word that the Southern heritage unit was leading a westbound coal train over the Fort Wayne Line and would meet the 64T at Mace.

The 64T was being led by a Union Pacific unit and had the Erie heritage unit trailing.

We drove over there and caught both trains as planned. A bonus was a northbound R.J. Corman train waiting to cross at Mace.

It couldn’t get much better than that.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

You could always count on seeing some Conrail action in late morning in June during the Orrville Railroad Days festival. In a view made from Orr Tower a westbound RoadRailer comes through town.

The late Richard Jacobs and I caught the NS local working in Orrville on a couple of occasions including November 2010 when it was backing off the Fort Wayne Line and onto a remnant of the former Cleveland, Akron & Columbus line.

En route to see the thoroughbreds run in the Kentucky Derby, another thoroughbred strikes a classic pose in Maximo on April 30, 2011.

A touch of the Pennsy passes a former PRR passenger station in Orrville as Bennett Levin’s E8A locomotives return to Philadelphia.

It may be trailing but at least I caught the Erie Railroad heritage locomotive at CP Mace.

This just might be my favorite photograph that I’ve made on the Fort Wayne Line. The Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit leads the 12V at CP Mace in Massillon.

The lighting was tough but I managed to recreate with Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 an image similar to one made of a Pennsy steam locomotive by Bob Redmond leading a train west from the curved bridge in Massillon.

Amtrak’s Westbound Broadway Limited in 1978

November 30, 2019

Although Amtrak’s Broadway Limited was assigned new SDP40F locomotives in the mid 1970s, but that assignment proved to be relatively short lived.

The units became embroiled in a controversy over whether they were derailment prone after being implicated in several derailments.

Some railroads banned the units whiles others imposed speed restrictions on them on certain types of curves.

By the late 1970s Amtrak had replaced most of the SDP40Fs on its long-distance eastern trains with E units.

Later these trains began receiving F40PH locomotives although for a time there were still locomotives with steam generators in the motive power consist to provide steam for heating and cooling.

Starting in late 1979 equipment with head-end power capability came onboard, starting with the Lake Shore Limited. Once Heritage Fleet equipment was permanently assigned to eastern long-distance trains the last of the E units with steam generators in revenue service was retired from long-distance service.

But all of that was a few years down the road on June 3, 1978, when Bob Farkas caught a tardy westbound Broadway Limited in Wooster, Ohio, at Prairie Lane.

His notes from that date indicate that the third unit might have been the first E unit painted for Amtrak.

Lead E8A No. 447 should feel right at home on these rails. It was built in May 1952 as Pennsylvania Railroad No. 5790A.

During the Penn Central era it carried roster number 4250 and was initially assigned Amtrak roster number 277.

It was renumbered to 447 in November 1975 after being rebuilt in March 1974, which was just before the second order of SDP40Fs began rolling out of the EMD shops in LaGrange, Illinois.

Amtrak retired No. 447 in July 1981 along with several other rebuilt E units as they by then had become surplus as F40s and Heritage Fleet equipment had become the norm on eastern long-distance trains such as the Broadway Limited.

Remembering the PRR E8A Units

April 26, 2018

With the cancellation of the excursion from Philadelphia to Altoona, Pennsylvania, I would like to share some pictures that I did of the two Pennsylvania Railroad E8As during happier times out that way.

The cancelled trip was to have helped the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society celebrate its 50th anniversary during a convention in Altoona.

The train was to have run to Altoona on May 9 and return four days later.

It might have been the last mainline excursion of the Pennsy passenger locomotives because owner Bennett Levin has said he does not plan to give the engines a positive train control apparatus.

The images in this series were made at Altoona, Horseshoe Curve, Gallitzin and Cassandra.

Photographs by Jack Norris

PRR Group to Run Special Train

April 14, 2018

The Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society will operate a special to celebrate its 50th anniversary convention in Altoona, Pennsylvania, on May 9-13.

The trip will operate via Lock Haven and returning via the loop at Gallitzen. The motive power will be PRR E8s 5711-5809.

The fare is $1,000 and includes reserved round trip seating in one of five parlor cars, food and beverage service while aboard, a special farewell brunch on May 13, and an illustrated route guide and souvenirs.,

Contact Steve Staffieri at Interceptor92@verizon.net to verify availability and send your check, payable to the PRRTHS, to:
Steve Staffieri
President PRRTHS
2963 Columbia Drive
Bensalem, PA 19020