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