Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Conneaut Ohio’

Checking Out the B&LE in Conneaut in 1968

March 23, 2020

Bessemer &Lake Erie 406, a Baldwin DRS6-6-1500, is working the yard in Conneaut in 1968.

It is Sept. 8, 1968, in Conneaut. Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 Berkshire type No. 759 has just left on its first trip after being restored and John Woodworth and I have gone to photograph the Bessemer & Lake Erie.

Here is some of what we saw and photographs that day.

B&LE 830 is outside the engine house.

B&LE 830 as seen from the other side.

We were given permission to get in the cab. I’m looking down the long hood at the engine house.

I’m on the walkway of the short hood looking the opposite way from the photo above.

B&LE 406, a Baldwin DRS6-6-1500, is working a string of hoppers.

B&LE 881 and 883 are working on a coal train.

Working beneath the Nickel Plate Road trestle over Conneaut Creek in a timeless scene.

B&LE 405, a Baldwin DRS6-6-1500,) is in the engine house.

A Penn Central freight is on the ex-New York Central bridge over the B&LE. Note the mixed motive consist of the PC train. The view is looking southward.

An Unusual Sequence

August 15, 2018

North America’s Class 1 railroads long ago decided to go primarily with wide-cab locomotives for their road trains.

It has resulted in a steady, if not boring, progression of trains with look-alike locomotives.

About the only break in the monotony is whether the unit is a GE or EMD unit. Those who are really into locomotives might add that there is variance in the models of those ubiquitous wide cabs.

Earlier this summer I was in Conneaut hanging out at the railroad museum housed in the former New York Central passenger station.

All three railroads in town were quiet and I waited more than an hour before getting my first train.

It was the eastbound ballast train shown in the top image. All three locomotives had four-axle power.

Not long after another CSX eastbound came along (bottom image) and three of its four units were four-axle power.

Yet a third train followed and it was an intermodal. Of course, it had wide-cab motive power. But it was nice to see four-axle units are still alive and well on a Class 1 railroad.

Carrying the Coal In Conneaut

March 14, 2018

Norfolk Southern train symbol 888 crosses Conenaut Creek and the former Bessemer & Lake Erie tracks in Conneaut on an early fall day. The train has a full load of coal bound for a power plant somewhere out East.

Information I found on line indicated that the coal is mined in West Virginia and that symbol 888 originates at Portsmouth, Ohio.

Train 888 then ventures via Bellevue and Cleveland and sets off some of its loads in Conneaut to be interchanged to CSX for forwarding to Erie Coke in Erie, Pennsylvania.

The rest of the train goes to Buffalo, New York, and is handed off to the Buffalo & Pittsburgh. I’m not sure where the B&P takes the coal.

Railroad Space in Conneaut

March 5, 2018

I’d never photographed a CSX train in Conneaut from this particular angle until last fall.

The crew of westbound Q145 probably paid little attention to the former New York Central depot, which is now a museum. They’ve passed it dozens of times.

As I looked through my lens, I also noted the two-story red brick building to the right of the station.

I suspect that at one time it might have been a hotel. It was common back in the day for hotels to be placed next to or near railroad stations.

If this was a hotel at one time, it has been decades since the last guest signed the register. The NYC last picked up passengers in Conneaut on Oct. 25, 1962.

That building probably had ceased being a hotel well before that. I’m not sure what use is made of that building today. It might be an apartment building.

Uncle Pete Down the Street

February 14, 2018

I was visiting the museum in the former New York Central depot last summer in Conneaut when Norfolk Southern intermodal train 206 came through town. I heard it but was not in a position to get close to it. So I did the next best thing, which was photograph it down Sandusky Street. On this day, the 206 had Union Pacific 4877 on the point.

Belle of a Day (Part 1)

February 7, 2018

Norfolk Southern coal train 888 gains speed as it leaves the siding at PA east of Conneaut, Ohio.

I had high hopes for getting some winter weather action photographs last Sunday. The forecast called for an 80 percent chance of snow with one to three inches of accumulation.

I had visions of catching trains dashing through the snow.

It might have happened if the temperatures had managed to dip below freezing. But they hovered around 33 for most of the day and we got rain mixed with snow and no accumulation.

I was out in Lake County with fellow Akron Railroad Club members Marty Surdyk and Ed Ribinskas in a reprise of our railfanning on Super Bowl Sunday outing.

There is nothing out of the ordinary about railfanning on the day of the NFL championship game, but we’d done it before and had some good luck getting dramatic winter weather images.

However, the snow and rain mix wasn’t heavy enough to create much effect and the overcast skies made for flat light. Nonetheless, it turned out to be one Belle of a day.

We began where our past Super Bowl day outings had begun sitting next to the CSX Erie West Subdivision in Perry.

For about an hour nothing was moving and there wasn’t any chatter on the radio.

We passed the time reminiscing about past railfan outings to faraway places and listening to  Marty describe how he came to put together his program for the February ARRC meeting titled The Power of Four.

Tired of sitting and looking at air, we decided to check the signals on Norfolk Southern. The eastbound home signal  showed an approach indication, suggesting that the dispatcher intended to hold an eastbound at CP Davis and put a westbound into the siding.

Off we went toward the Painesville trestle over the Grand River, where a new bridge is under construction. Marty wanted to get an image of a train with the old and new bridges.

We didn’t make it. The eastbound, which turned out to be coal train 888, called the intermediate signal at Madison Avenue east of Painesville as we cruised westbound on Ohio Route 84.

We turned around to chase it, not sure where we could get it. We could see it at times and were pleased to see that the lead unit was a Kansas City Southern “Belle.”

That is not something you see very day in Northeast Ohio and getting this train gave our day a focus it had been lacking.

We got on Interstate 90 at Madison and motored over to North Kingsville for our first photo op with Miss Belle.

Then it was into Conneaut where we would wait for the 888 to change crews and work in the yard. This isn’t an ordinary coal train. The coal comes from West Virginia and the train picks up its symbol at Portsmouth, Ohio.

After going west on the Sandusky District, it gets onto the former Nickel Plate Road in Bellevue and takes that to Buffalo, New York.

It drops cars in Conneaut that are interchanged to CSX for delivery to Erie Coke in Erie, Pennsylvania. The remainder of the train is interchanged to the Buffalo & Pittsburgh in Buffalo.

It took awhile for the 888 to complete its work in Conneaut. In the meantime, we saw a Bessemer & Lake Erie train roll into town and that would become the focus of the latter part of our day.

The 888 called the NS Pittsburgh West Dispatcher to let him know it was ready to leave Conneaut.

The dispatcher told the crew to depart on signal indication. The 888 would be going into the siding at Woodworth to meet a westbound or get out of the way of an eastbound that had higher priority.

After photographing the 888 rumbling over ice-covered Conneaut Creek, we learned that intermodal train 206 would pass the 888 in the siding that extends from Woodworth to PA.

We quickly hatched a plan to photograph the meet at Rudd Road, which is a couple miles or so inside Pennsylvania.

Much of the property surrounding that area is state game land, but some is private property. Someone was firing weapons on that property. The sound of nearby gunshots was a little unsettling.

The 206 soon came into view, but it had just a run of the mill NS wide-cab unit.

Shortly after the 206 cleared the switch at PA, the dispatcher lined it for the 888 to come out of the siding.

On our way back to Conneaut we listened to the crew of the 888 tell the dispatcher about how the KCS unit was experiencing excessive wheel slip, in part due to the wet rails.

They agreed to put another unit online. The crew followed that up with a conversation with an NS power desk representative about the wheel slip issue.

In the meantime, we slipped back into Conneaut and waited at the Old Main Street crossing for the Canadian National train to slip out of town and the start of another chase.

Our first photo op of the KCS Southern Belle leading NS train 888 came at North Kingsville.

NS 888 crosses the icy Conneaut Creek on its way out of town.

NS intermodal train 206 (left) overtakes train 888 at PA.

The 206 splits the signals at PA.

Now it is the turn of the 888 to split the signals at PA.

Returning for Another Load of Lettuce

February 2, 2018

CSX and Union Pacific team up to haul perishable produce between warehouses in California and Washington state and distribution centers in New York state.

The trains typically have UP motive power and fans and railroaders alike have dubbed them the “salad shooter.”

On a trip to Conneaut last fall, the salad shooter was the first train that I saw and photographed.

It is shown rushing westbound past the former New York Central passenger station and beneath the iconic town water tank.

I See the IC

December 19, 2017

One of my primary motivations for going to Conneaut to railfan is the hope of catching a Canadian National train on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie. Of course, my objective in doing that is getting the former Illinois Central SD70 locomotives that have been assigned to the route since March 2015.

Since the IC units have been assigned to the ex-B&LE, every train I’ve spotted on the line has had IC motive power.

The IC units are not always leading. Much of the time, the motive power consist includes at least one engine painted in CN colors and markings.

On a rare occasion, there has been a unit still wearing its B&LE colors and markings. I’ve also seen pure IC motive power consists.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, I was sitting by the Main Street crossing monitoring the rail traffic on Norfolk Southern.

Then the gates started coming down on the B&LE tracks at the Main Street crossing. The incoming train had CN 5422 leading and IC 1034 and IC 1018 trailing.

That was good news. It would mean IC power would be leading when the train came out of the yard heading south.

Last September, the last time I caught a B&LE train, there had been a CN unit leading southbound.

I didn’t chase this train out of town. I photographed it from the east bank of Conneaut Creek, from the Main Street crossing, and from the U.S. 20 bridge. That was enough for this day.

More Conneaut Doings

December 12, 2017

NS eastbound manifest freight 316 has a pair of Union Pacific locomotives in charge as it crosses Conneaut Creek in a view made from the U.S. 20 bridge.

In a recent post I described a recent Sunday afternoon catching a Canadian National train in Conneaut on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie. CN wasn’t the only operations that I observed and photographed.

Traffic on Norfolk Southern was slow for most of the morning with nothing running. Things began picking up before noon when the 22K showed up followed by the 206, the 098 and the 316.

I never saw or heard of a westbound on NS during my time in Conneaut.

I spent most of the morning on CSX where traffic was heavy after I arrived with four trains coming through in the first hour that I was there.

I was surprised that none of the CSX trains I saw were intermodals. Once NS got into action, I moved away from the CSX tracks.

After the CN train showed up around 1 p.m., the likelihood of my going back trackside along the CSX Erie West Subdivision became minimal.

Here are some highlights of what I saw on NS and CSX on this day.

It’s the eastbound stack train 22K.

NS train 206 has one of the DC to AC conversion units on the point today.

Can you guess which way the 098 is going? It is headed for work in Pennsylvania.

A two-image sequence of a westbound CSX crude oil train.

A westbound CSX manifest freight passes the former New York Central freight house, which is now owned by the Conneaut Historical Society.

CSX eastbound auto rack train Q254 passes the Conneaut water tank.

Reflections in Conneaut

December 5, 2017

Illinois Central SD70 No. 1018 and its running mates are reflected in the relatively calm water of Conneaut Creek.

One of the challenges of railroad photography is finding new ways to portray something you’ve already captured a dozen or more times.

Even then it might not be that you are doing something new as much as putting a new twist on something you’ve done before.

I ended up doing that during a visit last Sunday to Conneaut. My objective in going there was the same as it always is: Capture all three railroads that come into town.

But I also wanted to do something I hadn’t done in awhile. I recently showed some images of Norfolk Southern trains crossing the trestle that I had made in November 2005.

During that outing, fellow Akron Railroad Club member Ed Ribinskas and I had stood fairly close to the trestle carrying the former Nickel Plate Road tracks over Conneaut Creek.

I’ve been to Conneaut dozens of times since then, but seldom have I stood near the trestle. All other times I photographed from a distance with a telephoto lens.

I did that this past Sunday, too, but for the passage of eastbound NS intermodal train No. 206 I got close to the trestle.

The lighting conditions last Sunday were similar to what we had had during that 2005 outing. Both were sunny days with low sun angles that produced a warm feeling.

I created an image of the NS motive power crossing the bridge that was similar to the work that I did in 2005.

But after photographing the NS motive power, I noticed that the train was being reflected in the relatively calm water of Conneaut Creek.

I had to step back to fit the train and its reflection into the frame. The results are shown below.

I also created some reflection images when the Canadian National taconite pellets train came out of the yard later that day on the former Bessemer & Lake Erie. Those results can be see above and below.

The reflections are not as pronounced as they were with NS 206 and its containers and trailers, yet still pleasing.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve used Conneaut Creek as a mirror. It was the first time I’ve done it since the ex-ICRR locomotives showed up in 2015 and it was the first time I’ve focused on reflection photography from the NS trestle in this manner.