Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Berea Ohio’

Bright Orange for a Dreary Day

January 26, 2022

It was a typical dreary Northeast Ohio winter day in Berea. In looking back, I’m not sure why I bothered to create photographs at all given the conditions. But I did.

On a day such as this, the appearance of an eastbound CSX interrmodal train led by a pair of BNSF “pumpkins” was a welcome sight because it gave the day a splash of bright color.

I had forgotten that I made these images until I went looking for something else and found these photos, which were made on Feb. 1, 2014.

The 6 O’Clock Alarm Was Most Welcome

December 5, 2021

There’s a song by The Monkees titled Daydream Believer that has a line that goes “the 6 o’clock  alarm would never ring.”

On most mornings that I don’t have to work that would be a good thing, but on Thanksgiving morning, the 6 a.m. alarm had better ring; I’ve got trains to watch.

Up and out the door ASAP, I could hear a train rumble off in the distance as I headed to my Jeep in the parking lot of my apartment complex.

I turned on the scanner to hear “eye oh 20, Clear 14, two east”

“Take it easy approaching the tunnels eye oh 20; eye 157 is coming west and he’ll go first,” the
CSX dispatcher announced.

I decided to head straight to Berea, with a stop at the drive-thru at Dunkin’ Donuts for some
breakfast along the way.

I took one bite of my croissant sandwich when a headlight appeared to the east on CSX. I 157 was
approaching. At 6:54 a.m. the first train of the day was logged. CSX 4551 and CSX 5389 were
heading a train of stacks and racks.

I had breakfast finished by the time the time the next move came by. It was NS 13Q. This mixed
freight was lead by a trio of NS 1189, NS 1184 and CSX 490.

As the last cars of 13Q were going by a headlight on CSX heralded an eastbound. This was Q560 with CSX 5346 and . . . “hey, what’s that last unit,” I thought to myself.

I caught the number as 4006. It was painted like an American Flag on the front and camouflage on the rear. “Have to look that up when I get home.”

About 10 minutes later NS had a hi-rail truck patrolling No. 1 track from Berea down to
CP Drawbridge. NS would be single tracking for the near future.

The scanner was quiet, and I was getting tired of sitting, so I walked down Depot Street to
Rocky River Drive and looked over the bridge replacement that NS is doing where Rocky River
Drive goes under their tracks.

A couple of hundred feet short of my Jeep, a light rain started to fall. This would be with us
most of the day.

The brief lull was broken by back-to-back CSX ethanol trains. The first was led by Union Pacific 2660 and NS 4027. The second had Canadian National 8963 up front and CN 3048 on the rear.

Just before the 9 o’clock hour was to begin, an NS westbound mixed freight made an appearance. They weren’t calling signals, so I didn’t get the symbol, but it had NS 7592, UP 5302 and
NS 7553 up front.

Next up at 9:47 an NS 16G made an appearance. This mixed freight was lead by NS 9546 and UP 8611. By now some of the attendees who had gone to breakfast at Bob Evans were arriving.

“Did you see the KCS Veteran’s Unit go by?” one of them asked. “So that’s what that was.”

NS had double stacks to run next at 10:13 a.m. as 20T rumbled past behind NS 7575/ NS 7577
and NS 1178.

Before 20T could clear, a fast charging I 166 slammed past behind CP 8502 up front and CP 8777 about half way back.

At 10:32 a.m. we watched NS 26E go by behind NS 4268, NS 8006 and NS 9956. The 26E
is a doublestack train.

I had to think about leaving soon, so I was off, but I did catch two additional CSX trains on the way home. These included a westbound mixed freight went that went under Front Street as I was going over, and I got stopped at Holland Road crossing by an eastbound stack train that turned out to be I 158. It had CSX 9045 leading one other CSX unit.

So if you’re keeping score, it was CSX 7, NS 6. Not a bad four hours of railfanning, with motive power from six of the seven Class 1 railroads. No BNSF this year.

I just wish the weather would cooperate and we could have a sunny Turkey Day. Maybe next year.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Scenes From RRE 2021 Turkey Shoot

December 5, 2021

RRE members watch I 166 pass through Berea. That is Marty Surdyk’s silver jeep behind them.
Bob Todten takes shelter from the rain in his vehicle.
Here comes the I 166 as NS train 20T passes nearby.
An eastbound NS manifest freight with Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific motive power passes through Berea.

Despite the cool temperatures and steady rain, a few brave Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts members still made it to Berea for the 46th Annual Turkey Shoot on Thanksgiving Day, Nov 25, 2021.

Marty Surdyk and Bob Todten arrived first, followed by another five members.

Both CSX and Norfolk Southern ran a few trains, including the I 166, the Canadian Pacific run through train on CSX with a 1+1 pair of CP GE’s which looked like they had previously been in coal train service, given their coating of what looked like coal dust on their car bodies.

In the photographs above, that is Marty’s  silver Jeep behind the group and Bob Todten, sitting in his SUV, avoiding the then-steady downpour. 

Back in 1975, Bob and I started what has become this annual tradition.

Article and Photographs by Mark Demaline

RRE Sets Annual Turkey Shoot in Berea

November 22, 2021

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts will conduct its annual turkey shoot outing on Thanksgiving morning in Berea on Nov. 25.

Attendees will meet in the west end of the parking lot of the Berea Depot restaurant and watch and photograph trains until late morning.

An optional breakfast has been set at the Bob Evans at West 130th Street and Brookpark Road at 8 a.m. when the restaurant opens.

In past years some RRE members have eaten at the nearby Bob’s Big Boy but it won’t open on Thanksgiving morning until 9 a.m.

They Might Have Been Surprised But I Wasn’t

August 24, 2021

My one and thus far only catch of the Central of Georgia heritage locomotive came in March 2015

Early Monday morning I opened my new email folder expecting to find a message from Edward Ribinskas containing a photograph of the Central of Georgia heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern passing through Berea.

Ed had told me of his plans to attend a Frontier League baseball game in Avon Lake on Sunday afternoon with Marty Surdyk. They had planned to railfan in Berea before going to the game.

Catching the NS 8101 may have surprised Ed and Marty, but it didn’t surprise me.

On Saturday evening I had checked HeritageUnits.com to see if anything was setting up to come through Berea Sunday morning that they might catch.

I noticed an 11N with the NS 8101 was making its way across Pennsylvania en route to Sterling Heights, Michigan, from Doremus, New Jersey.

On Sunday morning I checked HU.com again to see how far west the 8101 had been reported.

The latest report was in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, at 10:54 p.m. on Saturday. Had the 8101 been leading an intermodal train it more than likely would have been through Northeast Ohio hours before Marty and Ed arrived in Berea.

But the 11N works Conway Yard near Pittsburgh and manifest and bulk commodity trains don’t always move expeditiously, sometimes getting held for long periods of time for higher priority traffic and/or a new crew.

On Sunday afternoon I checked HU.com and found the 11N was reported at Berea at 11:05 a.m. or 11:07 a.m., depending on whose report you want to believe.

That would have been within the window of when I expected Ed and Marty to be in Berea; hence I was looking for Ed to send a photo of the 8101.

The two of them also caught DC to AC conversion unit 4000, one of the “Blue Brothers” locomotives that are so named because of a blue and gray livery.

You may recall reading in Ed’s report as well as a post Marty had written about his formula for having railfan success that getting the 8101 on Sunday morning completed Marty’s collection of photographs of all 20 NS heritage units.

Marty is correct in saying that success in catching out of the ordinary trains and locomotives hinges in part in doing your homework. Likewise, he is correct in saying that there is a lot of luck involved in being in the right place at the right time to catch something.

Neither Ed nor Marty indicated it they checked HU.com before heading for Berea on Sunday. If they had they might have found out as I did that there was a chance they might see the Central of Georgia H unit.

I say might because the latest report on HU.com before they actually saw the 8101 was the previous evening in Johnstown. If anyone saw it in Alliance and anywhere else east of Cleveland, they didn’t report it.

Likewise, the most recent report on NS 4000 was at Rochester, Pennsylvania, at 8:19 p.m. on Saturday.

Relying on HU.com or other online reports, e.g., Facebook, sometimes can only take you so far in determining what lies down the tracks that is headed your way.

That means Marty is also correct in saying that above all you need to be there if you want to catch something out of the ordinary or, sometimes, anything at all.

By coincidence the Central of Georgia H unit was the last one I needed to complete my check list of NS heritage units. When I finally photographed the 8101 on March 12, 2015, in Olmsted Falls, it was not the first time I had seen it.

I had seen it at least once but had not been in a position to get a photograph. One of those sightings occurred as I drove east on Chester Avenue in Cleveland and it passed in front of me on the Cleveland Line bridge over the street.

Although I’ve forgotten the details I have a hazy memory of having had a few near misses in getting NS 8101 in the weeks and months leading up to finally bagging it.

Alas, I haven’t seen or photographed the 8101 since then.

While researching this article I noticed that had Ed and Marty gone back to Berea or even to Olmsted Falls after the baseball game they could have caught the Monongahela H unit, which came west leading the 25Z.

It was reported at Berea at 7:23 p.m. but that probably was too late for them to still be trackside.

At some point you just have to call it a day, move on to other things, and hope that luck is still with you next time you are trackside.

We all need to remind ourselves from time to time that railfanning for most of us is a hobby and not a job with all of the pressures and demands that come with it. I have met railroad photographers who make rail photography into something akin to work.

They come back with some spectacular images that we all admire and enjoy. Maybe we even wish we could have gotten that image. You could have if you had been willing to do the work required to get it.

Yet is going to work the reason why you go trackside? For some the answer is yes.

As for Ed and Marty, I have a hunch that even if their Sunday in Berea had been just another routine day and the NS 8101 and NS 4000 had never come along they still would have enjoyed themselves and not been greatly disappointed about the two that got away.

Article by Craig Sanders

Getting Lucky (Twice) in Berea

August 23, 2021

I was able to witness Marty Surdyk’s completion of his Norfolk heritage units photo collection when he caught No. 20, the Central of Georgia No. 8101, in Berea on Sunday.

It was leading train 11N, which operates from Doremus, New Jersey, to Sterling Heights, Michigan, in the Detroit area.

The 11N came through shortly after 11 a.m.

We also were able to get DC to AC conversion unit 4000, one of the NS “Blues Brothers.”

It was the second unit of the motive power consist of the 13Q, a Conway to Elkhart manifest freight that operates via Bellevue and Fort Wayne.

The 13Q preceeded the 11N by about 20 minutes.

As Marty indicated in his article, we were in Berea on late Sunday morning before watching a Frontier League baseball game in Avon Lake.

The Crushers center fielder was Shawon Dunston Jr. You may remember his father played shortstop with the Chicago Cubs from 1985-1995. 

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

The Winning Formula for Successful Railfanning

August 23, 2021

I have a formula for any successful railfan trip.

You begin with preparation. Study maps, magazine articles, rail photo sites, and employee timetable, where applicable.

Learn when the trains run. Learn where the good photo spots are. Learn the radio frequencies. Learn the mileposts, so if you hear a detector go off, you know where the train is. Learn, Learn Learn.

This accounts for 50 percent of the formula.

Next you have to get there. All this prep work is no good if you’re sitting at home in your LazyBoy watching reruns of Leave It To Beaver.

Be There, Be There, Be There.

This is 25 percent of the formula.

Then there is the dumb luck factor. You’re in the right place at the right time and something goes by that you weren’t expecting.

You come across a train on an obscure short line or run into a heritage unit that you didn’t know was coming.

The usually nocturnal train or trains are running hours late and your train count soars to a level you weren’t expecting. Luck can work the other way also, that why it’s LUCK.

Better to be Lucky than good sometimes.

Luck accounts for 25 percent of the formula.

Sunday was a good example of the luck factor. Eddie and I were at Berea killing time before heading to Avon Lake for the Lake Erie Crushers baseball game against the Washington (Pennsylvania) Wild Thing.

The Crushers lost 4-2. But while at Berea Norfolk Southern train 11N went west with the Central of Georgia heritage unit on the lead.

It is the last of the 20 original H units that I needed to complete my collection. We had no idea it was coming.

So to recap, 50 percent of successful railfanning comes from preparation; 25 percent of successful railfanning comes from being there; 25 percent of successful railfanning comes from dumb luck.

Article by Marty Surdyk

ARRC Shifts McKay Day Event to Sunday

May 28, 2021

With rain likely on Saturday, the Akron Railroad Club has chosen to move its annual Dave McKay Day outing in Berea to Sunday.

ARRC President Todd Dillion noted that the forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of rain on Saturday.

Attendees are asked to park at the far west end of the Berea Depot Bar and Restaurant parking lot at 30 Depot Street just west of Front Street.

As always the event begins when the first person arrives and ends when the last one leaves. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair.

McKay Day is held in memory of the late David McKay, who served as ARRC president 1993-2004.

Busy Morning at Berea During RRE Turkey Shoot

December 8, 2020

As I pulled into the parking lot at Berea on Thanksgiving morning across from BE Tower the clock in my Jeep read 6:33 a.m.

Why was I up so early on a holiday morning? Some traditions must go on no matter what is trying to impede them. 

Since the 1970s members of the Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts group in Cleveland have been meeting in Berea on Thanksgiving morning for the annual turkey shoot.

In past years they would meet for breakfast at Bob’s Big Boy restaurant and spend the morning photographing trains in Berea.

I came directly to Berea from home due to some scratching on the CSX radio channel. They might have a train to run.

Turns out they didn’t. It must have been the train working at Parma Yard that I heard as I headed out to the car from my apartment.

Today was one of those days; it was heavily overcast with a light mist coming down.

There would be no daybreak, no dawning of a new day. Days like this just happen.

The scanner was quiet, almost too quiet. Hunger drove me over to a nearby Dunkin Donuts for a trip through the drive through.

A bacon, egg and cheese bagel, and two frosted donuts would have to suffice until our turkey day feast at 1 p.m.

The quiet was briefly broken by the passing of a hi-rail truck on NS Track No. 1.

Then the NS Toledo East channel began to scratch. This could be a train coming.

As the radio signal got stronger, it sounded like “2014, clear, 200, two east.”

Something was coming, but I just was not sure what.

After the eastbound called “clear, 195, two east,” the Cleveland East Dispatcher cleared up things.

The train was 24Z and was going to be held for a couple of minutes at CP Max for the hi-railer to clear up at CP Drawbridge in downtown Cleveland.

The 24Z would go over to No. 1 track at CP Max. The dispatcher also mentioned that 11N and 414 were at the drawbridge patiently waiting for 24Z to pass.

Also about now 15N radioed in for permission into Rockport Yard. The yardmaster gave them yarding instructions. There would be action today.

The 24Z behind NS 4352 plus four other units glided past at 7:39 a.m.

The 11N, a solid auto rack train was next at 8:13 a.m. behind NS 2766 doing it solo.

A few minutes behind 11N was loaded coke train 414 behind NS 1207 plus one. They were OSed at 8:37 a.m.

CSX finally came to life with the passing of a K Train. This solid train of tankers carrying 1267 placards, which is crude oil if I’m not mistaken, passed by westbound at 8:58 a.m. behind CSX 35 plus one.

The 9 o’clock hour was led off by a CSX eastbound at 9:14 a.m. Q158 with double stacks was led by CSX 3185 plus one.

Fifteen minutes behind the stacker was CSX auto rack train Q204, which was lead by CSX 5359 plus one.

The latter minutes of the 9 o’clock hour saw a flurry of action on both lines.

 It began with Q634, a manifest freight eastbound. As it lumbered by, seemingly forever, CSX ran Q517 west on the other track.

While this was happening NS 15N was heading west with a huge consist.

On the other side of the 15N a westbound NS intermodel train went by. It was not quite four at a time, but close.

For those keeping score, Q634 had CSX 3224 plus one. Q517 had what sounded like CSX 809 as its leader. I didn’t catch the engine number as it went by or catch the engine numbers for 15N or the intermodal.

All this happened in a seven-minute stretch from 9:43 to 9:50 a.m. It would take until 10:13 a.m for the next train to go by, another CSX K train with 1267 on the tanks.

This one was lead by BNSF 5846 solo on the lead and Canadian Pacifuc 8145 solo on the rear.

Ten minutes later NS 21Z passed behind 4263 plus one. The 15N was being held at CP 197 for 21Z and the earlier intermodal that passed it as it came past BE Tower.

The 15N crew radioed in for a “how long we going to be here? We’ve got Olmsted Falls completely blocked.”

I’m not sure where their head end was, but the last few cars were still in the interlocking at BE.

“”You’ll go west after 21Z. Recrew at Fairlane.”

A very short and inefficient 26E was next at 10:31 a.m. with 8085 plus one. Ten minutes behind them was I2K, a second section of 22K, which rolled by behind NS 4111 plus one.

I had 11 a.m. pegged as my departure time, but scratching on the CSX radio channel as the bells at St. Adelbert’s Church sounded the hour kept me there for a few more minutes.

CSX has another K Train, tankers with 1267 placards, the third one of the day. This one was led by CSX 5378 plus one. It was OSed at 11:08 a.m.

There was more action in the pipeline with NS 309 working Rockport. Akron Railroad Club president Todd Dillon texted me that NS had an oil train coming west at Hudson where he was hanging out.

But it was now time for me to leave. Attendance at this year’s turkey shoot was down from previous years, which is not surprising due to the virus concerns.

Yet it was still an enjoyable morning of train watching at a busy location. Let’s hope for better times next year.

Article by Marty Surdyk

RRE Cancels November Meeting, Will Still Hold Turkey Shoot

November 10, 2020

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts in Cleveland has canceled its November meeting, which was to have been held on Friday (Nov. 13).

The RRE will, though, hold its annual “turkey shoot” in Berea on Thanksgiving morning (Nov. 26).

Members and guests will gather at the west end of the Berea Union Station Restaurant for a morning of train watching.

There will be an optional breakfast get together at the Dunkin Donuts, 789 Front St., in Berea, which opens at 5 a.m.

The RRE event will begin around 7 a.m. and last until the last person heads home to eat Thanksgiving dinner.

The Thanksgiving outing was started by Mark Demaline and Bob Todten in 1975.