Posts Tagged ‘railfanning at Berea Ohio’

Pair of Canadians in Berea

March 3, 2017

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Motive power from Canadian National and Canadian Pacific is not rare in Berea, but it is not a given, either.

CP has a pair of run-through trains that use CSX between Chicago and Buffalo, New York, and it is not unusual to see them in Berea during daylight hours.

Given how the North American Class I railroads share motive power, seeing a CN unit is not an unusual thing on either CSX or Norfolk Southern.

But what was a out of the ordinary during a recent railfanning outing in Berea was seeing two westbound NS trains with Canadian motive power on the lead as shown above.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

Dave McKay Day Outing is Saturday

April 3, 2014

The annual Akron Railroad Club outing to Berea in memory of the late Dave McKay will be this Saturday. Come early and stay late as we enjoy the action on Norfolk Southern and CSX rolling through one of the premier railfan hot spots in Ohio.

Between them, the two railroads put more than  100 trains a day through Berea in any given 24 hour period. If we’re lucky we might also the Wheeling & Lake Erie train that uses both railroads to and from Cleveland en route to Campbell Road Yard.

Amtrak has four daily trains through Berea, although all of them are scheduled to pass through during the darkness hours. But those who come around dawn might catch an Amtrak train if it is running excessively late.

Thus far no Norfolk Southern heritage units have passed through Berea on a McKay Day. Perhaps this year we will break that streak of futility. We are due.

At the end of the day, several ARRC members plan to have dinner at the nearby Berea Union Depot Taverne. The restaurant is housed in the former Big Four passenger station. Of course we’ll require a table by the windows so we can further follow the train action.

The annual McKay Day outing to Berea is always held on the first Saturday of April. McKay served as ARRC president for 12 years, the longest tenure of any club president. He died in late December 2004 shortly after he stepped down as president.

See you at Berea on Saturday.

Spending Sunday Afternoon With Old Friends

January 23, 2014

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I didn’t feel like going on a long-distance railfan outing on a recent Sunday. Besides, the skies were overcast in Northeast Ohio Sunday morning, but the forecast called for sunshine in the afternoon.

So, I decided to go visit an old friend, Berea Tower. I don’t get out to BE as often as I used to. There are too many places to railfan in this region. But rumors continue to swirl that the tower will be razed sometime in the near future so I figure I better get some photographs while I can.

While in Berea I also caught up with fellow Akron Railroad Club members Alex Burchac and Dennis Taksar. Alex reported that the NS Lackawanna heritage unit had gone by earlier, but it was trailing and it caught him by surprise.

Shown here is a selection of some of the color that I saw pass by BE during my Sunday afternoon stay.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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The Hunt for Red in January

January 14, 2014

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I went to Berea on Sunday hoping to fulfill two objectives. I wanted to photograph the CP intermodal trains that began operating late last year on CSX between Buffalo, N.Y., and Chicago, and I wanted to get a sunset shot.

It was mission accomplished for the first objective at 4:44 p.m. as the CP train passes the former Big Four depot.

I achieved my second objective not long after the passage of the CP train. On the way home, I pulled off I-480 onto Tiedeman Road en route to Steak ‘n Shake to get something to take home. I noticed the sky had gotten nice and red so I parked behind the Cracker Barrel restaurant and got the grab shot you see below. Amid the urban clutter are some freight cars parked on a siding on the CSX mainline.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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Friday Afternoon in Cleveland

September 1, 2013
A pair of Norfolk Southern freights waiting at Rockport on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013.

A pair of Norfolk Southern freights waiting at Rockport on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013.

Todd Dillon got an early start to railfanning on the Labor Day weekend by getting out in Cleveland on Friday afternoon. Here is a sample of what he captured.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

A high hood GP38-2 with a work train.

A high hood GP38-2 with a work train.

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Some old and well graffitied commuter cars at Berea on CSX.

Some old and well graffitied commuter cars at Berea on CSX.

Paint611! BNSF 611 in need of some restoration itself. It is shown on CSX in Berea

Paint611! BNSF 611 in need of some restoration itself. It is shown on CSX in Berea

NS1065 leads train 309 at Cleveland. With Abbey Avenue being closed I couldn't get my preferred shot of the Savannah & Atlanta heritage unit, but this still worked.

NS1065 leads train 309 at Cleveland. With Abbey Avenue being closed I couldn’t get my preferred shot of the Savannah & Atlanta heritage unit, but this still worked.

Some Late Saturday Afternoon Action

February 23, 2013
A westbound cruises past the depot at Olmsted Falls.

A westbound cruises past the depot at Olmsted Falls.

Another railroad club to which I belong was having its annual banquet on Saturday night in Berea. The banquet didn’t begin until 6 and I decided to go out to Olmsted Falls and Berea for some late afternoon railfanning.

Most of the snow was gone when I arrived. That was disappointing. I had not expected anything to be left on the tracks, but I had hoped for more snow than still existed on the periphery.

None of the trains that I saw and photographed featured anything out of the ordinary in the way of motive power or freight cars. But with the high level of traffic on the Norfolk Southern and CSX routes here you never know what you might see.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

No, it is not a train of containers and half containers. It’s actually two trains passing in Olmsted Falls. The eastbound train on the right has a block of single containers whereas the westbound train had double-stacked containers.

The lead locomotive of this westbound CSX intermodal train shows evidence of having plowed through some heavy snow earlier in its journey. It was the weekend following a blizzard that dumped heavy snow on New England and parts of New York state.

The lead locomotive of this westbound CSX intermodal train shows evidence of having plowed through some heavy snow earlier in its journey. It was the weekend following a blizzard that dumped heavy snow on New England and parts of New York state.

The sun is about to set behind a stand of trees as coal hoppers rumble by on the NS Chicago Line at Berea on Saturday, Feb. 9.

The sun is about to set behind a stand of trees as coal hoppers rumble by on the NS Chicago Line at Berea on Saturday, Feb. 9.

Penn Central and Conrail Heritage ‘Unit”

January 6, 2013

While at Berea on Saturday afternoon I spotted this covered hopper that sported a dual heritage of Penn Central and Conrail. The PC heritage is obvious given the green paint and the Penn Central logo and name.

But look in the upper left hand corner of this car and you will see that someone has painted out a Conrail logo and markings.

I also noticed that someone painted out what appeared to be lettering above the Penn Central identification and my first thought was that had been the Conrail name. But there are just five letters painted out and Conrail has six letters. So I don’t know what it was that painted out there. Something else was painted out in the upper right hand corner of the car as well.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Shortest Day of the Year Outing–Part 2

December 27, 2012
Who says that all raiilroad photos must have a train in them? The sun sets on Sunday, Dec. 23 on the CSX tracks in Berea.

Who says that all raiilroad photos must have a train in them? The sun sets on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012, on the CSX tracks in Berea, turning them into ribbons of steel.

Second of Two Parts

Less than a couple of minutes after I had departed the depot at Olmsted Falls, I spotted a familiar figure at Grand Pacific Junction. I knew it was fellow ARRC officer Marty Surdyk because of the Santa Fe jacket he was wearing. If the weather is cool or even cold, chances are Marty will be wearing his Santa Fe jacket.

I wheeled into the parking lot and Marty said he was there to seek out some Christmas photos with or without trains. He said he’d join me at Berea in a little while.

I saw two CSX trains before getting to the Berea railfan parking lot. An eastbound intermodal train was crossing Bagley Road above me and a manifest freight was cruising west as I drove on Depot Street. In the meantime, I had stopped at Mickey Ds to grab a chicken sandwich from the dollar menu.

Marty arrived at Berea about 10 minutes after I did. This sort of made it an ARRC outing because two club members were present even if we had not planned it that way.

A third club member soon joined us in spirit. We heard on the scanner the familiar voice of David Mangold who had taken over as the engineer of the 14N in Rockport Yard. Dave would be at the controls to Conway Yard in Pittsburgh.

Well, maybe he would be. After giving three-step protection and doing various maneuvers, Dave noticed that the lead locomotive on the 14N wasn’t set up right to be a lead unit. I can’t say I understood what he meant, but he had some discussions with the operations people at NS about it. This went on for what seemed a long time.

In the meantime, Marty and I spent time visiting, talking about club business and lamenting the lack of CSX westbound trains. The sun angle would have made for a nice photo with the former Big Four station, which reopened more than a month ago as a restaurant, as a prop.

Marty got a call from home. His Coshocton brother – the one who works for the Ohio Central – and his family had arrived for Christmas. Hoping to buy time, Marty said there was a westbound on CSX that he wanted to photograph and then he’d come home.

That wasn’t quite true. There may have been a westbound train somewhere on CSX headed toward Berea, but not nearby. Just before 4:30, Marty gave up the wait and headed home without getting a photograph of that elusive westbound.

By now, Dave had gotten his lead locomotive set up or decided it could make it to Pittsburgh anyway or whatever. The conductor called the dispatcher and said the 14N was ready to go.

NS traffic had been fairly steady all afternoon. Not so CSX. During the time that Marty and I spent at Berea – about two and a half hours – the only CSX trains had been two eastbound manifest freights.

The sun kept sinking and with it went my hopes of getting late day light on the former Big Four depot and the nose of a westbound CSX train.

The consolation prize was good sunset images looking down the CSX tracks. I even got an eastbound NS RoadRailer coming out of the setting sun in one of those images.

You can probably guess happened once the sun dipped below the tree line at 4:59 p.m. The CSX road channel came to life with a westbound intermodal train calling signals. It arrived less than five minutes later.

I was content to get a going away shot of the intermodal train headed into the last light of day bending over the horizon. As a bonus, an NS train was passing through at the same time.

It had been a good day. I had captured some nice static sunset images and a few interesting after the sunset shots. I turned off my camera and put it in the camera bag. I packed away my scanner and took the antenna off the roof of my car. Time to head home and enjoy a bottle of Christmas ale while watching the rest of the Browns-Broncos game.

But wait! Off to the west I saw a headlight on CSX through the trees. An eastbound was coming.

“OK, I have time for one more shot.” It turned out to be a second section of the Salad Bowl Express, that Union Pacific-CSX run through train that originates on the West Coast and carries perishables on an expedited schedule to a terminal near Albany, N.Y.

It has all UP reefers and motive power, but those are not easily identified in the darkness. I did get a nice shot of the lead locomotive silhouetted again the last rays of red sunlight.

CSX wasn’t done yet. There was a headlight to the east of another westbound intermodal train. As it was passing by, an eastbound manifest freight came through. That made for a good shot of the eastbound’s headlight illuminating the sides of the westbound containers as the trains rounded the slight curve in Berea to the west of the parking lot.

If you’re counting, that was four CSX trains in less than 20 minutes. That flurry also brought the Berea count to nine NS trains and six CSX trains. Not bad for about three and half hours on a winter day. I was happy to take it.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A Norfolk Southern RoadRailer comes out of the setting set at Berea, Moments later the sun would dip below the horizon.

An eastbound Norfolk Southern RoadRailer comes out of the setting set at Berea. Moments later the sun would dip below the horizon.

The sun has set but the afterglow of the last light of day remains as another NS trains trundles through Berea.

The sun has set but the afterglow of the last light of day remains as another NS trains trundles through Berea.

Yeah, I should have known that about five minutes after the sun set that CSX would send a westbound train through Berea.

Yeah, I should have known that about five minutes after the sun had set that CSX would send a westbound train through Berea. There was just enough light to illuminate things.

The westbound CSX intermodal train chases the setting sun as an NS train also rumbles along on the nearby tracks.

The westbound CSX intermodal train chases the setting sun as a westbound NS manifest freight also rumbles along on the nearby tracks.

My trip home was delayed by the approach of a second section of the "Salad Bow Express" headed eastward. You can't tell, but that's a Union Pacific locomotive on the lead.

My trip home was delayed by the approach of a second section of the “Salad Bowl Express” headed eastward. You can’t tell, but that’s a Union Pacific locomotive on the lead.

Moments after the perishables train had cleared along came another westbound stack train on CSX. Where were these guys a half hour ago?

Moments after the perishables train had cleared, along came another westbound intermodal  train on CSX. Where were these guys a half hour ago?

Two CSX trains meet at Berea. That made four trains in less than 20 minutes. Not a bad way to end the day.

Two CSX trains meet at Berea. That made four trains in less than 20 minutes. Not a bad way to end the day. The approaching eastbound train is a manifest freight.

Late Afternoon In Berea

December 19, 2011

The setting sun reflects off CSX rails at Berea on Sunday, Dec. 11. With winter arriving, scenes such as this will become scarce in coming weeks.

Sunday, Dec. 11 was a rare day for this time of year in Northeast Ohio. There was hardly a cloud in the sky and the forecast promised to remain that way all day. It was a perfect day to get out with the camera, but I didn’t feel like chasing trains all over the countryside.

So, I decided to go to Berea to see what I could do photowise that I had not done before. Considering how often I’ve photographed at Berea, that would be a challenge.

If you like to see a high volume of trains without having to move, Berea is ideal. A typical day there can net you 20,  maybe 30 trains between Norfolk Southern and CSX.

Yet from a photography standpoint, Berea is less great. Sure, there is a high density of freight traffic, but after a while your photos all start to look the same. You are confined to the south side of the tracks and the lighting isn’t always ideal. The bridge carrying Front Street has opened some new photo vistas, but they are more limited than we’d all like.

Still, I went to Berea with the idea of seeking new ways of photographing rail operations. I remembered capturing an image several years ago of a westbound CSX train late in the day with some intense lighting on the nose. Of course, I did that image in late December, not the middle of the month.

As the sun began sinking in the west, I noticed that the reflections off the wires on the utility lines on the north side of the NS tracks began glowing as if covered in ice. I spent the rest of the afternoon experimenting with the late-day lighting, much of it back lighting, to see what I could create. Shown here are a few of those images.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

That's not ice on wires of the utility lines along the NS tracks. Its how the light plays on the wires.

Somehow this westbound CSX manifest freight seems more husky when the late light washes away most of its color.

Trains passing on CSX (left) and NS heading into the sunset.

No, it's not a steam engine in the consist. It's just diesels doing what diesels sometimes do.

Photographs crave the "sweet light" of late day. I'm not exception and I got it with this westbound CSX train.

This image was captured earlier than the photo immediately above. Although it doesn't feature quite the warmth of the other image, there's still plenty of glow playing off the rails and the former Big Four passenger depot in the background.

Train Action Plentiful at ARRC McKay Day Outing

April 4, 2011

Akron Railroad Club members gathered in mid afternoon for the traditional group photo during the seventh Dave McKay day outing at Berea, which was held on April 2, 2011. Shown by the McKay memorial are (left to right) Richard Thompson, Marty Surdyk, William Surdyk, Craig Sanders, Cody Zamostny (and his nephew), Drew Deneher, John Puda, Tom Kendra, Alex Bruchac, Bill Kubis and Dennis Taksar.

It was close, but not quite at the Akron Railroad Club’s seventh annual Dave McKay Day outing at Berea on Saturday (April 2) at Berea. Club members recorded 71 train movements during the 15 hours that one or more club members were present. That fell just short of the record 74 movements recorded in 2008. Still, it was the second highest total in the seven years the club has held the event to honor its longest serving president, who died in December 2004.

Dennis Taksar arrived  just before 6 a.m. and recorded the first train of the day, a coal train on CSX with Union Pacific power in the lead. The longevity award went to John Puda who arrived at 7:05 a.m. and remained on site for the remainder of the day.

Although club members were treated to a steady flow of traffic, none of the trains that rolled by featured anything special in the way of motive power of freight cars. Foreign power was relatively scarce and primarily limited to BNSF units.

ARRC member Dave Mangold rolled through just after 7 a.m. behind the throttle of Norfolk Southern train 20V, but didn’t notice any club members present in the darkness. However, former club member Tony Dannemiller was the conductor on CSX intermodal train Q148 and he did make his presence known as his stack train came by just before 4:30 p.m. He leaned out the engineer’s side window and waved.

During the noon hour, CSX had both main tracks out of service for maintenance and NS had one of its mains out of service for the same reason. That limited traffic for awhile, but club members did not have to endure any interminably long lulls.  

Nearly 20 club members and guests turned out for the event during the day, which was quite cool but mostly sunny throughout. The weather began cloudy and ended that way, but in between the forecast snow showers and rain failed to materialize. The temperatures began in the mid 30s and improved only into the mid 40s.

Table of Trains Recorded at Berea (April 2, 2011)

NR          NR          UP (NR)                5:52 a.m. (on CSX)

Q149      WB         CSXT 7600           6:35 a.m.

X096      EB          NR                         6:59 a.m. (on CSX)

Q114      EB          CSXT 5428           7:06 a.m.

20Q        EB          NS 9805                7:08 a.m.d

Q263      WB         CSXT 308             7:16 a.m.

21T         WB         NS 7508                7:20 a.m.

20V        EB          NS 7542                7:21 a.m.

Q366      EB          CSXT 4745           7:30 a.m.

24Z         EB          NS 8450                7:55 a.m.

S393       WB         CSXT 5484           8:06 a.m.

L163       WB         CSXT 7584           8:54 a.m.

11J          WB         NS 2615                9:12 a.m.

K689      WB         CSXT 936             9:28 a.m.

Q385      WB         CSXT 4722           9:35 a.m.

205         WB         NS 8898                10:05 a.m.

20R         EB          NS 6765                10:10 a.m.

Q164      EB          CSXT 5300           10:28 a.m.

242         EB          NS 9703                10:29 a.m.

Q160      EB          CSXT 7375           10:30 a.m.

D752      EB          CSXT 6119           10:51 a.m.

N859      EB          BSNF 9940           11:03 a.m. (on CSX)

34N        EB          NS 9425                11:09 a.m.

22K        EB          NS 9679                11:53 a.m.

21Z         WB         NS 9633                12:06 p.m.

145         WB         NS 8726                NR

Q122      EB          CSXT 4749           NR

Q377      WB         CSXT 3443           NR

V818      EB          CSXT 4759           NR

206         EB          NS 9550                1:59 p.m.

Q351      WB         CSXT 7633           2:07 p.m.

261         WB         NS 2635                2:13 p.m.

D752      WB         CSXT 8305           2:19 p.m.

24M        EB          NS 9265                2:23 p.m.

Q378      EB          CSXT 4797           2:41 p.m.

20E         EB          NS 7556                2:57 p.m.

14K        EB          NS 9860                3:15 p.m.

Q108      EB          CSXT 7363           3:15 p.m.

18N        EB          NS 9687                3:23 p.m.

Q386      EB          CSXT 5312           3:42 p.m.

Q393      WB         CSXT 4785           3:42 p.m.

316         EB          NS 9761                3:51 p.m.

21G        WB         NS 8348                3:54 p.m.

Q110      EB          CSXT 778             3:58 p.m.

Q123      WB         CSXT 5382           3:58 p.m.

M1V       WB         NS 6773                4:17 p.m.

Q148      EB          CSXT 7332           4:24 p.m.

Q157      WB         CSXT 7827           4:30 p.m.

15N        WB         NS 8315                4:45 p.m.

Q364      EB          CSXT 7683           4:47 p.m.

21Q        WB         NS 9803                4:58 p.m.

262         EB          NS 9716                5:07 p.m.

NR          WB         NS (NR)                5:10 p.m.

11G        WB         NS 9751                5:30 p.m.

K695      WB         CSXT 5473           5:45 p.m.

19A        WB         NS 9351                6 p.m.

Q109      WB         CSXT 5267           6:09 p.m.

573         EB          NS 7687                 6:10 p.m.

N859      EB          BNSF 9928           6:43 p.m. (on CSX)

K925      EB          CSXT 7731           6:51 p.m.

Q290      EB          CSXT 314             7:03 p.m.

L115       WB         CSXT 5303           7:03 p.m.

25Z         WB         NS 9893               7:09 p.m.

11V        WB         NS 9791               7:21 p.m.

14N        EB          NS 9762               7:25 p.m.

K683      WB         CSXT 5350           7:59 p.m.

23K        WB         NS 7671                 8:13 p.m.

Q117      WB         CSXT 5247           8:15 p.m.

Q380      EB          CSXT 5472           8:20 p.m.

15K        WB         NS (NR)                8:31 p.m.

Q381      WB         BNSF 7622           8:40 p.m. (on CSX)