Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Berea Ohio’

A Little of the Bay State in Berea

January 29, 2016

NBTA 2000 (MP40PH-3C) at Berea

I was sitting in Berea one day last fall when a westbound CSX train approached. As usual, I looked at the lead locomotive, saw that it was a CSX unit and sat back in my seat.

Then the train got closer and I spotted something looking very foreign trailing in the motive power consist.

It was Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority HSP-46 No. 2000. If that model designation seems foreign to you, it was to me, too.

An HSP-46 is a 4,650 horsepower, four-axle locomotive built by MotivePower, Inc., for commuter train service. That means that we won’t be seeing those units very often in Northeast Ohio.

The locomotives are EPA Tier 3 compliant and MBTA was the launch customer. The first HSP-46 to arrive on the property, No. 2001, was delivered to MBTA on Oct. 24, 2013, for testing and training.

No. 2001 began revenue service on April 16, 2014.

So what was No. 2000 doing going westbound and away from Boston? I will never know for sure, but MotivePower is based in Boise, Idaho, and I can only speculate that No. 2000 was headed there to have addressed a mechanical issue.

What I do know is that I could have made a better photo of No. 2000. By the time I realized that this CSX train had something unusual in its motive power consist, it was too late to get out of my car and step back to get in a better position.

So the angle of this image is not what I would have liked. But I still managed to come away with something and something is almost always better than nothing.

Photograph and Article by Craig Sanders

The Early Bird Gets the ‘Glow Worm’

December 8, 2015

“You sure that there’ll be trains running today?”

That was the question posed by Lakeshia, my mom’s caregiver, as I readied myself to head to Berea for the annual Forest City Division/Railroad Enthusiasts turkey shoot.

“Yeah, they will; maybe not as many as usual, but something will be moving,” I replied.

My answer was confirmed as I walked out the door; I could hear a horn off in the distance. At least one train was moving somewhere.

Seeing a high green westbound at CP 17 from I-480 westbound was encouraging. CSX had ideas of running a train.

But the big surprise was waiting for me as I traveled the airport freeway on the way to Berea.

Holy cow!

A Norfolk Southern westbound, which I later learned was the 11T, had the Illinois Terminal heritage unit up front. It was moving slowly past the airport and approaching Eastland Road.

Initially, I went to Sheldon Road to see it, figuring the early morning light might be better there than at Berea.

I also figured there would be less chance of being blocked by another train.

I quickly scuttled those plans as the 20R was rumbling along on Track No. 2 and likely to block a view of the 11T and I settled on the cul-de-sac under the Front Street overpass in Berea for my photo of the “glow worm.”

It almost didn’t work there, either, as another eastbound intermodal was coming fast through CP 194 as I shot the 11T.

If I’d had been using a telephoto lens instead of a normal lens, I could have recorded the meet.

After both trains cleared my position, I moved on to the traditional hang out for Berea, the parking lot for the Berea Union Depot Taverne.

I was joined by Jerry Jordak, who had photographed the “glow worm” at the far west end of the interlocking in order to avoid being blocked by the intermodal train.

Things were quiet for only a few minutes before a westbound CSX intermodal train, led by a BNSF unit, came past.

It was followed by the L091, the salad shooter, with a quartet of Union Pacific locomotives.

Behind that was a stone train featuring some battered hoppers of Wisconsin Central and Algoma Central heritage.

NS was not quiet either, with several more trains passing by for our viewing pleasure.

At 9:55 a.m., we had our first two at a time with westbound intermodals on NS and CSX. The NS train was the 205 and was led by a UP unit.

The second highlight of the day was on the heels of the 205. The 67X, an empty crude oil train, was heading west behind a rather filthy Kansas City Southern de Mex “Southern Belle” with a BNSF unit trailing. That passed by around 10:10 a.m.

Just before 11 a.m., the NS 15N headed for a re-crew at Lewis Road behind an old high hood GP38-2, No. 5120, as the third unit.

At 11 a.m., I checked the scorecard and found it tied at 11 apiece. Not bad.

Other RRE members had arrived and at the high point 16 of them were patrolling the grassy strip along Depot Street.

The last four trains of the day belonged to NS. The final one for me was the 65K, another westbound crude oil train.

This one had an NS unit leading a CSX locomotive. It came through at 12:10 p.m.

I had to get back home and relieve Lakeshia, who was working only until 12:30 p.m. All in all, it had been a great day with great weather.

There was a November bite to the wind in the early morning, but overall it was party sunny to partly cloudy with temperatures up near 60.

Article by Marty Surdyk

It’s Berea, But it Could be North Dakota

September 17, 2015

BNSF grain train-x

I was sitting in Berea on a recent Sunday afternoon when I spotted a headlight to the east on CSX. It didn’t look like CSX colors and as the train drew closer a glance through my telephoto lens showed it to have a BNSF locomotive on the lead.

BNSF locomotives are not uncommon in Berea on CSX or Norfolk Southern. For that matter, motive power consists of all or nearly all BNSF power are not necessarily rare, either.

But not only did this train have three BNSF units, the consist behind it was all BNSF covered hoppers except for one.

The train, whose symbol I didn’t catch, pulled up to a signal at the far east end of the CP 194 interlocking plant and stopped.

It would wait for three eastbound CSX eastbound trains before it was given a signal to leave. Presumably, the dispatcher planned to cross the grain train over down the road. Or maybe one of those eastbounds had gone around another one.

As the grain train went past, I thought about how this train would be right at home in North Dakota or Iowa. Maybe that is where it was headed.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Back When the Summer Was About to Begin

September 16, 2015

Berea CP train

As I write this, summer 2015 is in its waning days. Already, I’ve seen some leaves turning colors. Fall is nearly upon us.

I ran across this photo that I made back in mid May of eastbound CSX train Q166 in Berea. It is one of two — the other being Q167 — intermodal trains that run on CSX between Buffalo, New York, and Chicago that are actually Canadian Pacific trains.

I’ve seen Q166 and Q167 several times and they boasted a solid motive power consist of CP power. But not on this day.

What is that CSX unit doing here? What about that lease unit in the middle? At least it doesn’t look like a rent a wreck.

The lighting is a clue that this image was made in the afternoon, just after 2 p.m. to be precise, and the sun had already begun to shift northward.

May is the gateway month to summer, which never seems to last long enough in Northeast Ohio. The fifth month of year is a time to make plans for summer activities.

It is time, to borrow a line from the song “The Boys are Back in Town” by the British rock group Thin Lizzy, “The nights are getting warmer, it won’t be long. It won’t be long til summer comes.”

But that was then. All too soon, summer 2015 will be another memory.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

 

On Photography: Venturing Out at Night

June 15, 2015

Night photo Berea 1

Night photo Berea 2

On a recent Saturday night I decided to get reacquainted with night photography.

I had dabbled with taking photos during the nighttime hours, using available light, several years ago. I was still using film then and, for the most part, I had been pleased with the results.

I showed some of those images at an Akron Railroad Club member’s night.  That program, titled “between dawn and dusk,” had prompted one member to quip, “do you ever take photographs during the day?”

But I hadn’t tried night photography since going digital nearly four years ago. It was time to see what my digital camera could do after dark.

I went to Berea, had dinner at the restaurant in the old station there and waited for the night to come.

But even before the sunlight has slipped over the horizon for the day, I began facing the first of many challenges.

Those started with the realization that I had forgotten most of what I once knew about making time exposure photographs at night.

I took with me a book on how to use the particular model of camera that I have, but as I looked through it I realized that it lacked the instruction in night photography that I thought it would have.

Therein was lesson one about night photography. You need to prepare for your photo taking well before the sun goes down.

In this case, I should have reviewed the book before leaving home and not assumed that it had the instruction that I needed. Nonetheless, I decided to press ahead and do some experimenting.

I got the tripod out and set it up, only to learn that the knob that locks into place the component that levels the camera no longer works effectively.

It is an old tripod that I bought used and haven’t used that much.

The book I had brought along did have some useful tips, including an explanation of why you should manually focus your camera in low light situations rather than use the auto focus.

I quickly discovered that focusing in low light is not easy.

Framing the composition is tricky for the same reason. It’s dark and you can’t see well what you are including or not including.

But digital has the supreme advantage of immediately showing the results of your work. I did a lot of test shots and those helped me to hone the focus and composition as well as make other adjustments.

Now all I needed was a train, but CSX and Norfolk Southern were both in lull periods.

A westbound on CSX stone hoppers train finally came past just after 11 p.m. and it yielded my best image of the night (top photo above).

For this image I set the shutter speed to 2.3 seconds, with an aperture setting of f7.1 and ISO of 100.

A half hour later, another westbound CSX train rolled by and I decided to for one of those streaking light images (bottom photo above).

I set the camera to the bulb setting, holding the shutter open for 9 seconds with an aperture of f8 and ISO of 100.

I would rate the quality of both images as fair. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get, but at least I got something.

I also learned that next time I need to be better prepared by doing my homework before setting out for the scene.

I learned that I probably need a new tripod, but that isn’t in the cards right now.

Finally, I had just enough success to whet my appetite for doing more of this type of photography.

Although some guys specialize in nighttime photography, I don’t see myself going there. I do see myself learning to do more of it.

It is, I suppose, like learning to walk. Once you’ve done it you’ll want to keep doing it and keep working to get better at it.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

New Signals Going Up in Berea

May 27, 2015
The new signals for the Toledo connection stand ready to be turned and placed into service as a westbound tanker train passes on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern with the Interstate heritage locomotive in the consist.

The new signals for the Toledo connection stand ready to be turned and placed into service as a westbound tanker train passes on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern with the Interstate heritage locomotive in the consist.

Soon, these signals heads will be turned.

Soon, these signals heads will be turned.

The old and the new even if the old dates back to the Conrail era. The Type G signal heads have performed well over the years.

The old and the new even if the old dates back to the Conrail era. The Type G signal heads have performed well over the years.

During the Conrail era, the Toledo connection in Berea was a busy piece of railroad. But use of that track all but ended after Norfolk Southern and CSX divided Conrail in 1999.

But the connection remains in place because the railroads have an agreement that each can use the other’s tracks even if that seldom occurs.

In recent weeks, crews have been busy installing new signals in Berea, including modern Safetran signals on the Toledo connection.

Reportedly, the work is part of a project to enable CSX to have control of its own tracks through the CP 194 interlocking. At present, NS controls the interlocking even through CSX trains do nothing more than pass through.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

McKay Day Outing in Berea Saw Range of Trains

April 5, 2015
There  was a fair number of BNSF locomotives to see during the 11th annual Dave McKay Day at Berea. A pair of "pumpkins" lead the eastbound K038 on CSX.

There was a fair number of BNSF locomotives to see during the 11th annual Dave McKay Day at Berea. A pair of “pumpkins” lead the eastbound K038 on CSX.

It wasn’t a record. In fact, it was second best. But during the time that at least one Akron Railroad Club member was in Berea on Saturday during the 11th annual Dave McKay Day, 69 trains passed through. The record number of trains for a McKay Day is 74.

Unlike in past years, the traffic was nearly evenly split with Norfolk Southern putting 35 trains through and CSX dispatching 34 trains through the interlocking plant.

One of the last trains of the day enabled ARRC members to wrap up some “unfinished” business from last year. At the 2014 McKay Day outing, the Wabash heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern made an appearance, but it was trailing.

This year, the NS 1070 came back on the point of the 67W, a train of empty tank cars bound for the oil fields of North Dakota. However, by the time the train reached Berea it was nearly dark.

The approximately 10 club members and guests who spent part of their Saturday in Berea were treated to sunny skies, but chilly temperatures. Although the sunshine felt nice, the wind had a bite to it that didn’t diminish until late in the day.

Aside from a Loram rail grinder that went east on CSX, there was nothing other than CSX or NS trains. The Wheeling & Lake Erie, which uses trackage rights on both railroads to reach Cleveland, was a no show. Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited, the train that we would have been most likely to see, arrived in Cleveland early at 5:27 a.m.

Nonetheless, those who spent time trackside were treated to some variety in motive power with locomotives of Canadian Pacific, Canadian National, BNSF, Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern making appearances.

As expected, intermodal trains made up the lion’s share of the traffic on both railroads. But the mix also included manifest freights as well as unit trains carrying coal and coke, grain, stone, crude oil and ethanol. The count also included a handful of auto rack trains.

There had been a report that a Bessemer & Lake Erie locomotive would pass through on NS train 145, but we later learned that the B&LE unit was not on that train. Furthermore, the 145 didn’t come through Berea during the time that an ARRC member was present.

President Craig Sanders was the first member to arrive, pulling into the parking lot just after 7:30 a.m. He had scarcely halted when the first train of the day roared past, an eastbound CSX crude oil train lead by BNSF 5679.

Eight minutes later, the first NS train arrived, the eastbound 34N, which sported a caboose on the rear. It appeared to be used to escort oversize loads because it was attached to a heavy duty flatcar.

Traffic was particularly brisk in the morning with five trains passing through in 15 minutes, starting at 8 a.m.

On more than one occasion, CSX and NS trains passed simultaneously. The most notable of those events occurred at 11:20 a.m. when three westbounds passed through at the same time, including side-by-side trains on NS.

It was quite a sight to see three headlights of westbound trains approaching at the same time.

How busy was the morning? Thirty-two of the day’s 69 trains had passed through by noon. Traffic remained fairly steady in the afternoon, but lulls began cropping up, the longest lasting just over an hour between 5:38 p.m. and 6:39 p.m.

As four club members went to dinner at the Berea Union Depot and Taverne in the old Big Four station, traffic picking up again with 13 trains passing through as we dined, including the Wabash H unit.

Article by Craig Sanders, Photographs by Richard Thompson

The day would not be complete without seeing at least one rent-a-wreck.

The day would not be complete without seeing at least one rent-a-wreck.

A pair of Canadian Pacific units are tucked in behind CSX 7361 on the Q364.

A pair of Canadian Pacific units are tucked in behind CSX 7361 on the Q364.

A Loran Rail grinder made an appearance on CSX.

A Loran Rail grinder made an appearance on CSX.

Although most of the crude oil trains on CSX were going east, this train of tankers is headed west.

Although most of the crude oil trains on CSX were going east, this train of tankers is headed west.

Blue skies were the rule for the most of the day as the Q377 passes in Berea.

Blue skies were the rule for the most of the day as the Q377 passes in Berea.

Whether watching or photographing, the line has formed to observe eastbound K140 pass by with CSX 666.

Whether watching or photographing, the line has formed to observe eastbound K140 pass by with CSX 666.

The 15N rattles the windows of BE Tower.

The 15N rattles the windows of BE Tower.

There were lots of stacks, but not as many racks as in auto racks. CSX train Q123 heads westward.

There were lots of stacks, but not as many racks as in auto racks. CSX train Q123 heads westward.

Passing trains were a common sight throughout the day. Shown is the westbound 21Q and the eastbound 14N.

Passing trains were a common sight throughout the day. Shown is the westbound 21Q and the eastbound 14N.

That the Q166 had Canadian Pacific power on the lead was not a surprise because it is a CP train. But the Kansas City Southern unit trailing was a surprise.

That the Q166 had Canadian Pacific power on the lead was not a surprise because it is a CP train. But the Kansas City Southern unit trailing was a surprise.

The Q009 hustles past the former Big Four station. The four ARRC members who had dinner at the station had just arrived and were waiting to be seated when this train came by.

The Q009 hustles past the former Big Four station. The four ARRC members who had dinner at the station had just arrived and were waiting to be seated when this train came by.

It was getting dark as the 67W with the Wabash heritage locomotive passed by Eastland Road.

It was getting dark as the 67W with the Wabash heritage locomotive passed by Eastland Road.

 

Looking Good in the Snow Despite February blues

February 27, 2015
CSX train Q010 plows through a snow squall at Berea.

CSX train Q010 plows through a snow squall at Berea.

Yeah, I know many of you are sick of winter, particularly the cold. I could do without the latter. But it doesn’t look like it is going away just yet.

Last Saturday I was able to get out for a while in the afternoon before going to a railroad club banquet that night.

The outing began with a chase of a Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive leading a crude oil train. I posted earlier this week my images of the Central of New Jersey leading that train through Vermilion.

After that, we drove back to Berea. Here is a selection of some of the images that illustrate trains and railroad operations in winter.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The Q008 was not far behind the Q010.

The Q008 was not far behind the Q010.

What's a little snow storm? Norfolk Southern eastbound intermodal train 20E pushes through the snowfall in Berea.

What’s a little snow storm? Norfolk Southern eastbound intermodal train 20E pushes through the snowfall in Berea.

The NS 14N has eight locomotives up front.

The NS 14N has eight locomotives up front.

A man and his young son wave at the L091 as it rumbles past with an approach signal at the west end of the interlocking. The L091 would meet an eastbound crude oil train at CP 13.

A man and his young son wave at the L091 as it rumbles past with an approach signal at the west end of the interlocking. The L091 would meet an eastbound crude oil train at CP 13.

The headlights of the lead BNSF locomotive illuminate the rails ahead as an eastbound crude oil train approaches.

The headlights of the lead BNSF locomotive illuminate the rails ahead as an eastbound crude oil train approaches.

Standing on a pile of snow provided a slightly different perspective than you usually get in Berea.

Standing on a pile of snow provided a slightly different perspective than you usually get in Berea.

Memories of Winter Railfanning at Berea

January 3, 2015
Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited is westbound at Berea behind a pair of burly SDP40F locomotives.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited is westbound at Berea behind a pair of burly SDP40F locomotives.

Remember when Conrail ran through Berea? When Amtrak ran SDP40Fs and new F40PHs? When Front Street was at grade level? When you could drive into the Berea interlocking and visit the tower without being arrested?

I’ve been visiting Berea for many years and I lived there while working at the nearby NASA facility by Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

I not only shot photos from Front Street grade crossing, but also in the middle of the interlocking. I used to drive by the tower from Front Street travelling west toward the western signal bridge.

I sometimes parked in the access road near the MOW shanty that still existed there. The road was plowed by the Conrail crews so getting in and out was without problems.

Here are a few of the photos taken that I have scanned. I hope that you enjoy them.

Article and Photographs by Richard Jacobs

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited sends the snow flying as it rushes westbound at Berea behind F40PH No. 275 and an E-unit that helped to provide steam heat.

Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited sends the snow flying as it rushes westbound at Berea behind F40PH No. 275 and an E-unit that helped to provide steam heat.

 

Conrail power everywhere! SD50 No. CR 6798 leads a westbound by BE tower on Track 1, while SD50 No. 6790 leads a light power move on the former Big Four.

Conrail power everywhere! SD50 No. CR 6798 leads a westbound by BE tower on Track 1, while SD50 No. 6790 leads a light power move on the former Big Four.

Conrail BUEL train passes BE tower behind BN, NS and SF power. BUEL was a Buffalo Frontier Yard  to Elkhart, Ind., train.

Conrail BUEL train passes BE tower behind BN, NS and SF power. BUEL was a Buffalo Frontier Yard to Elkhart, Ind., train.

Conrail westbound freight is about to cross Front Street while passing Berea Hardware behind SD50 No. 6782.

Conrail westbound freight is about to cross Front Street while passing Berea Hardware behind SD50 No. 6782.

A Conrail westbound passes BE tower and MP 194 behind GP40 No. 3165.

 

Conrail westbound fright behind U33B No. 2922 as it travels through Berea interlocking on a cold winter day. Note the signal box and MOW structure.

Conrail westbound fright behind U33B No. 2922 as it travels through Berea interlocking on a cold winter day. Note the signal box and MOW structure.

 

UP Heritage Day in Berea on Conrail

December 20, 2014

BE02April11-98

Fans flock to Berea to see trains and “foreign power.” You never know what you might see on a Norfolk Southern or CSX train in the way of motive power.

That was also the case in the Conrail era. Shown is an eastbound manifest freight on the Chicago Line crossing the East Branch of Rocky River with a Union Pacific “heritage” consist.

On the point is Chicago & North Western No. 8526, one of 30 GE C40-8A units built in June, July and August 1998 for the C&NW.

Trailing are a pair of Southern Pacific locomotives, each wearing a different livery. The middle unit is letter for SP subsidiary Cotton Belt while the third unit wears the SP speed lettering that came into vogue after SP and Denver & Rio Grande Western hooked up.

Union Pacific acquired both the SP and C&NW and at the time that this image was made on April 11, 1998, these units were UP owned.

I don’t recall which train this was, but it may have been the NPSE, which originated in North Platte, Neb., on the UP and terminated at Selkirk Yard near Albany, N.Y.

It was not uncommon for the NPSE to have Union Pacific motive power that ran through Chicago with the train.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

 


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