Posts Tagged ‘railfanning csx’

Reminder of a Past ARRC Outing

May 30, 2017

Westbound CSX manifest freight lumbers beneath the eastbound home signals for CP 37 and the water tower in Wellington.

Wellington is one of those places that is not that far away yet far enough that I don’t get there that often.

It is closer than Bellevue, Fostoria or Marion, but not as close to my home as Berea and Olmsted Falls.

Sometimes you just don’t have a good reason for neglecting to spend more time at a place that you really like.

I recently spent a few hours in Wellington and as I sat at the Lorain County Fairgrounds on the west side of the CSX Greenwich Subdivision I was reminded of the one and only Akron Railroad Club outing to Wellington during my time in the club.

That day was not necessarily the best or most exciting ARRC outing I’ve attended over the years, but I still remember it fondly.

It occurred on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009. I no longer remember why we chose to go to Wellington. Maybe at the time we were making an effort to visit what the Bulletin termed secondary hotspots in Northeast Ohio.

The report in the Bulletin indicated that 10 members showed up during the day and 22 CSX trains passed through. The W&LE sent just one train through town.

While sitting in Wellington recently I thought about some of the things that have changed since that 2009 outing.

I was using slide film exclusively then but have since switched to digital photography. Five of the 10 who attended no longer belong to the ARRC with Richard Jacobs among them having passed away.

Marty Surdyk was driving a Dodge Nitro then, but has since downsized to a smaller Jeep Patriot, I think it is.

Despite logging 22 CSX trains, I only made and/or saved eight 10 slides of CSX trains from that day, one of which is strikingly similar to the image that accompanies this article.

I had forgotten until I looked up the report of the outing published in the October 2009 Bulletin that Marty, myself and Rick Houck piled into the Nitro and chased the W&LE hopper train, getting it three times.

We speculated that it was a coke train that the Wheeling had picked up in Toledo from Canadian National. At the time, the W&LE was hauling coke that CN forwarded to Detroit.

I also had forgotten that when the outing began that morning a heavy rain was falling and that kept us in town rather than climbing the reservoir on the east side of the CSX tracks.

That also might explain why I have so few images from that day of CSX action.

The Bulletin report said we had lunch at Subway — where else? — and that by afternoon the skies had turned mostly sunny.

The report ended with the proclamation, “Let’s do it again, soon!” But that hasn’t happened and it probably won’t occur again as an ARRC activity.

Yet that won’t stop me from paying a return visit sooner rather than later. There are more memories there waiting to be made.

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Changes in Railfanning in Sterling

May 25, 2017

Many moons ago, I wrote a hot spot report for the Akron Railroad Club Bulletin on Sterling.  Much has changed since then and I thought an update was in order.

Sterling for the newcomers is a spot on the former Baltimore & Ohio, now the CSX New Castle Subdivision, where the CL&W Sub turns off and heads to Cleveland and Lorain via Lester.

CSX is trying to stop using the CL&W from Sterling to Lester, servicing Lorain and the yard at West Third Street in Cleveland via their ex-Conrail trackage in Cleveland.

Sterling has lost a couple of trains due to this change, but that is nothing new for fans of the New Castle Sub.

CSX has been adding and subtracting trains on this line for many years. It always seems to be in a state of flux. What has changed the most since I wrote the last article is where you hang out to watch trains at Sterling and what photo spots have come and gone.

Sterling is at MP 155.5 of the New Castle Sub. Besides the junction with the CL&W, the B&O used to cross the Erie at a sharp-angled diamond that was guarded by RU tower. The tower sat between the mains west of the diamonds.

Visiting railfans used to gather in the dirt/gravel area across the B&O from where the tower used to be. The driveway into the gravel area looped around and headed back out to the street.

This led the Sterling railfan group to call themselves the “Sterling Loop.”

Today, the visiting railfan will find a paved parking lot for the hiking and biking trail that is on the former right-of-way of the Erie on the southwest side of the Kauffman Avenue crossing with CSX.

This spot allows for good side views of passing CSX trains. No signals are visible at this spot, so to get advance warning of a train, you will have to monitor the scanner.

CSX still uses 160.230 (road channel) and 160.320 (dispatcher channel) for communications on the New Castle Sub.

The signals that are facing away from you at the parking lot can be shot with a westbound by walking a short ways west on the former Erie and looking for the clearing just after the bridge over Chippewa Creek.

I haven’t actually done a photo here yet, but a normal to wide-angle lens should work.

If you like to hike/bike, the trail continues west to Creston, where the tracks of the Wheeling & Lake Erie come up next to CSX.

To the east, the trail stays close to CSX as far as the outskirts of Rittman.

While Sterling is not as busy as Greenwich or other CSX hot spots, it can provide some quality time trackside. Plus you could use it as a starting point for a W&LE chase if you get wind of an imminent move on that railroad.

On weekends, for food it may be best to head for Creston, which is a short drive or bike ride from Sterling.

Creston has a Subway sandwich shop in the Circle K convenience store and gas station just south on Ohio Route 3 from the downtown area.

Article by Marty Surdyk

10 Years Ago Today Was a Most Memorable ARRC Photography Outing to New London, Greenwich

May 28, 2016
"That looks like an F40." And it was, leading the CSX executive train at Greenwich on May 28, 2006.

“That looks like an F40.” And it was, leading the CSX executive train at Greenwich on May 28, 2006.

Ten years ago today several members of the Akron Railroad Club gathered for what was one of my top five outings in the nearly 13 years I’ve been in the club.

It was a trip to New London and Greenwich that was ideal because of its good weather, diverse mixture of trains and a few pleasant surprises.

When the idea was mentioned during a club meeting about holding a Memorial Day Weekend outing, club members initially settled on going to Greenwich.

But Marty Surdyk said he planned to spend the morning in New London at the above-ground reservoir there and would go to Greenwich in the afternoon.

At the time, I had never railfanned in either location so I followed Marty’s lead and began the day at the reservoir.

CSX traffic was steady throughout the morning. Most members who participated in the outing began in New London, although a few spent all day in Greenwich.

At one point a flock of vulture was flying above us, which as you might expect led to some joking. We learned from Peter Bowler that a group of such birds is known as a “kettle.” I’ve yet to hear that term used since that day.

In putting together my program for the ARRC 80th anniversary event I had a chance to review my photos from that day and had forgotten that among other things we saw a caboose on the rear of an eastbound train.

Another train featured a BNSF warbonnet with its motive power running mates consisting of a Norfolk Southern unit and a TFM locomotive.

Most of our group at New London spent their time atop the reservoir or at its base.

Tim Krogg was one of those who spent the morning down below and about 1 p.m. he started getting impatient.

“When are we going to get some (expletive) lunch?” he bellowed up at us.

With that we descended to ground level and headed into town to McDonalds’s, where we could eat and keep an eye on the CSX mainline.

After lunch, we went back to the reservoir but shortly thereafter decided to head for Greenwich.

I didn’t know how to get there so Marty said, “follow me.” I did and the route he took was one dusty road after another.

In Greenwich we continued to have good luck and even caught an eastbound Wheeling & Lake Erie manifest freight with GP35 No. 2662 in the lead, one of the railroad’s two “Kodachrome” or “painted ladies” locomotives.

But the sighting of the day was a westbound train on CSX that went straight through toward Crestline and Galion.

We had seen a headlight and heard a symbol that no one recognized. As Marty eyed the train through his telephoto lens he said, “that looks like an F40.”

I didn’t believe it but as the train got closer it turned out to be a three-car passenger train that was, indeed, led by an F40PH.

It was my first and thus far only sighting of the CSX executive train.

We speculated it was en route to Indianapolis to pick up VIPs who had attended the Indy 500 earlier that day.

I never forgot how much I enjoyed that outing and I wanted to do it again, but it took a few years before I could get it onto the club’s schedule.

The date was set for May 26, 2013. Unlike the 2006 outing, this one was a total bust. I was the only person to show up.

As I wrote this, I thought about what made that 2006 outing so enjoyable. There were a number of reasons, most noticeably the fellowship of being with fellow rail fans. I would have enjoyed seeing and photographing those same trains had I been there by myself, but it is more enjoyable to do it in the company of other like-minded people.

It also was my first time to railfan in New London and Greenwich. Although I’ve been back to both places numerous times in the intervening years, like anything else in life once you do it several times it just doesn’t have the same excitement of discovery feel that it had the first time.

Beyond that, there are some events that seem destined to be special because of the set of circumstances that surround them and what happens during the day.

That decade ago outing in New London and Greenwich was one of those. It cannot be duplicated in quite the same way as it played out, but at least I’ll always have my memories.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A Helm Financial, a.k.a. HLCX SD40 trails on this westbound manifest freight. No. 9039 was built in April 1970 for the Louisville & Nashville.

A Helm Financial, a.k.a. HLCX, SD40 trails on this westbound manifest freight. No. 9039 was built in April 1970 for the Louisville & Nashville.

The typical motive power on a typical CSX stack train.

The typical motive power on a typical CSX stack train.

It was just like old times, but we were still surprised to see a caboose on the rear of this eastbound CSX train.

We were still surprised to see a caboose on the rear of this eastbound CSX train even if it was battered and vandalized.

What a motive power consist this train had.

What a motive power consist this train had. That is Peter Bowler making a photograph at the far left.

It is always a good outing when you can catch a warbonnet leading a train.

It is always a good outing when you can catch a warbonnet leading a train.

Even some of the clouds seemed special.

Even some of the clouds seemed special.

A special W&LE sighting in Greenwich.

A colorful  W&LE sighting in Greenwich.

Many of us spent most of the morning atop the reservoir.

Many of us spent most of the morning atop the reservoir.

Oh, the Trains It Has Seen

December 30, 2013

Lonetree

So, fellow Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee tells me that we can do some winter railfanning without snow. “How is that?” I asked. And he says we can look for other things that say winter, e.g., bare trees and fields. And that led us to this slumbering field along Boughtonville Road just west of its namesake village east of Willard, Ohio.

Who knows why this lone tree still stands. It probably has survived because it’s next to a drainage ditch and thus not on a spot where the farmer wants to plant crops. Perhaps during the warm weather months the farmer working in this field takes a break and sits beneath the shade of this tree.

Of course the tree also has a good view of the nearby CSX mainline. Imagine the thousands of trains that have passed by this tree over the years.

Shown is the westbound Q015, whose crew is a just a few miles away from ending its day and going off the clock. They’ve the lucky ones, for this train will pass three parked manifest freights on Track No. 1 waiting to get into Willard. An eastbound is sitting at East Willard waiting to get a route to Greenwich and beyond.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Memorial Day Weekend With CSX–Part 1

May 27, 2013
The first train that I photographed was a manifest freight heading west. It is crossing Greenwich Townline Road 79 S.

The first train that I photographed was a manifest freight heading west. It is crossing Greenwich Townline Road 79 S.

My first visit to the reservoir at New London came on May 28, 2006, during an Akron Railroad club outing. Almost immediately, I liked the location.

I’ve been back to New London several times since then, but not so the ARRC. Having enjoyed the 2006 outing there, I pushed to have another club outing to New London and nearby Greenwich over Memorial Day weekend of 2012.

But no one wanted to go or could not go so the outing never happened. I pushed again for the club to go to New London over the Labor Day weekend, but again there was no interest.

This year I decided to have my own outing to New London on Memorial Day weekend Sunday.

I arrived shortly before 9 a.m. after picking up breakfast at McDonalds. The skies were clear and the temperatures a bit cool. There was a light breeze that made ripples in the water.

This jacket weather was quite a contrast from the 2006 Memorial Day weekend.

I had another motivation for going to New London. Ever since Norfolk Southern revived its steam program and painted 20 diesels in heritage liveries, I’ve all but forgotten railfanning CSX. It was high time to spend a day with an old friend.

Train traffic through New London was brisk early. I saw three trains roll past before I had finished eating breakfast.

After getting a couple of ground-level shots, I climbed atop the reservoir.

Nothing out of the ordinary came past in terms of motive power or train consists. It was the typical daily traffic with the usual CSX power.

During the 2006 outing, we had seen the CSX executive train. But nothing extraordinary came by today and the only foreign power that I saw was BNSF.

Nonetheless, I was enjoying myself. There is something relaxing about sitting next to a body of water.

I wondered what other club members were doing today. Some I knew were in Pennsylvania chasing Nickel Plate Road No. 765. Another club member had a trip to Pittsburgh planned.

My thoughts were interrupted by hearing on the radio a K train taking the southeast connection at Greenwich.

That got me off the top of reservoir and driving toward Nova to get yet another shot of a train and the tower that seems to be cheating demolition with each passing day.

Back on the reservoir less than an hour later, I heard train after train on the ex-B&O while the ex-Big Four through New London was silent.

The lull would last nearly two hours before the Cleveland Subdivision sprang back to life and a steady stream of trains returned.

By mid afternoon I was thirsty and feeling it was time to move on. Did I want to go over to Greenwich? Up to Wellington and a stop at the Dairy Queen? Or perhaps it was time to mosey toward home?

I heard the rumble of locomotives working hard. My decision was about to be made.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Tank train shots have almost become cliche. But they still intrigue me.

Tank train shots have almost become cliche. But they still intrigue me.

A red house and a locomotive nose in a view taken from atop the reservoir.

A red house and a locomotive nose in a view taken from atop the reservoir.

The image was recorded in Ohio, but it could have been in Kansas. Everything in this eastbound grain train carried BNSF markings.

The image was recorded in Ohio, but it could have been in Kansas. Everything in this eastbound grain train carried BNSF markings.

The reservoir is not the only body of water at this site.

The reservoir is not the only body of water at this site.

I don't know if these ties are awaiting pick up by the railroad or they are going to be used to create a set of steps from the parking lot to the top of the reservoir.

I don’t know if these ties are awaiting pick up by the railroad or they are going to be used to create a set of steps from the parking lot to the top of the reservoir.

A track inspector looks over Track No. 1 as he travels toward New London.

A track inspector looks over Track No. 1 as he travels toward New London.

What is a photograph in May witout flowers? Some wild daisies sway in the wind as an eastbound stack train passes.

What is a photograph in May witout flowers? Some wild daisies sway in the wind as an eastbound stack train passes.