Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Kent Ohio’

ABC in Kent Passing Treno

August 30, 2018

Last Friday Akron Railroad Club Vice President Todd Dillon was in Kent when the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway local to and from Ravenna came through town headed back to Brittain Yard in Akron. It is shown passing the former Erie passenger station, which is now an Italian restaurant named Treno.

Photograph by Todd Dillon

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Running on Empty

July 10, 2018

The Jackson Browne song reflected in the title of this post has nothing to do with railroads but it does have a line about “looking out at the road rushing under my wheels.”

He meant a car and not a train. Indeed Browne said the idea for the song came to him while driving to a studio every day in 1976 to record his album The Pretender.

Browne’s 1978 hit came to my mind as I watched this empty coal hopper train roll beneath me as I stood on the Portage Hike and Bike Trail near Kent.

The eastbound train is probably headed for a mine in southwest Pennsylvania.

Arguably the theme could apply to coal trains generally. Coal trains are still around and not going away anytime soon, but coal as a fuel continues to lose ground to natural gas.

In fact the coal industry might be able to relate to another line in the song, “I don’t know when that road turned, into the road I’m on.”

Good Locomotive, Bad Light

June 22, 2018

I had time to get in some afternoon railfanning before the May Akron Railroad Club meeting so I took my camera with me during a hike on the Portage Hike and Bike Trail near Kent.

I also took my scanner and sat on bench on the trail next to the CSX New Castle Subdivison and waited for a train to show up.

In my experience, afternoons can be slow on the New Castle Sub. and today was no exception.

There was a track gang at work somewhere nearby and approaching trains had to call the foreman on the radio to get authority through the work zone.

I thought I heard a train identifying itself as Q015, a stack train, calling the foreman. That was good news because I really wanted to get a westbound coming around a curve and into some good later afternoon light.

I got up and got into position. Soon I heard the rumbling of prime movers of an approaching train.

But it seemed to be coming from behind me. It got louder and finally I looked around to discover that I had actually heard the Q016 approaching.

The good news was that on the point was a beautiful Southern Belle of Kansas City Southern. Such units are not unheard of in Northeast Ohio, but not common either.

The bad news was the the lighting was unfavorable. I made the photograph anyway even though I didn’t have much time to get a better composition.

Some days are like that. Not far behind the Q016 was an eastbound auto rack and stack train. I never did see a westbound during my time on the trail that afternoon.

Some EL Color in Kent

February 21, 2018

Thankfully, I have some Erie Lackawanna photographs that I made in color although many of them are roster photos. Here is one of my favorite EL slides. F7A EL 7124 leads three E8A locomotives eastbound through the EL yard in Kent in April 1973.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

When Jointed Rail Was Quite Common

February 19, 2018

Here is another memory for the blog. A Baltimore & Ohio trailer train heads east through Kent in the late 1960s/early 1970s. The Erie Lackawanna passenger station can be seen on the hill in the middle left. Notice all the jointed rail that was normal back then.

Vindication of Sorts on the New Castle Sub

November 30, 2017

Yesterday I wrote about an outing I had on the CSX New Castle Subdivision near Kent in which I had hoped in vain to get a westbound train in gloriously warm late-day light. It didn’t happen.

It was the second time I had come up empty hoping for a westbound on the New Castle Sub in the nice late-day sunlight.

With CSX operations still in a state of flux as the precision scheduled railroading operations model is implemented, I’ve treated my recent visits to the New Castle Sub as learning experiences.

Some trains have been annulled while others have been consolidated.

Railfanning the New Castle Sub has always tended to be a feast or famine proposition and now that is even more the case.

But if E. Hunter Harrison is trying to implement train operations that run on a schedule, then with enough observations I should be able to discern a pattern as to when those trains are likely to operate.

Four days after striking out on getting a westbound near Kent in late-day light I decided to try it again.

This time I got an earlier start, arriving at about 1:15 p.m. along the tracks where they run alongside the Portage County Hike and Bike Trail.

Aside from gathering information on how the New Castle Sub is operating these days, another benefit of these outing has been getting exercise. It is a mile walk in and a mile walk out.

This time I bought my scanner and camera bag. I set them down on a bench and began the waiting game.

I had seen trains operating westbound on the New Castle Sub in early afternoon during forays to Kent last October. Those included the Q015, the Q137 and the Q299.

I had been waiting about a half hour when the radio came to life. It was the Q015 calling the signal at “Davey Tree.”

I scrambled to get into position. The sunlight at about 2 p.m. is not as warm as that in late afternoon, but still quite nice.

That’s due to the low sun angles of this time of year and the fact that it provided more side lighting than would be the case in another two hours.

Q015 came rumbling around the curve with CSX ES44AC-H No. 721 on the point and a BNSF “pumpkin” trailing.

I suppose it would have been nice had the order of the locomotives been reversed, but I didn’t want to be too greedy.

I got the westbound that had eluded me a few days earlier, albeit in light that was not as warm as that of the earlier outing.

I debated whether to stay a little longer and hope for another westbound. I had to be home by about 4:30 p.m. so I didn’t have much time to work with.

It would take time to walk the mile back to my car and I also had a hankering to get a Norfolk Southern train crossing the Cuyahoga River by the Akron water treatment plant along Ravenna Road.

I elected to try to get the NS shot on the theory that I had a higher chance because the NS Cleveland Line has far more traffic than the CSX New Castle Sub.

I relocated to Tower’s Woods park and set up my big antenna with my scanner. I continued to monitor the CSX frequencies out of curiosity.

Sure enough, shortly after I arrived at Towner’s Wood, I heard CSX auto rack train Q299 calling signals followed not afterward by a westbound coal train.

However, I also got wind of an NS dimension train coming west and I was able to get the photograph I wanted of that train crossing the Cuyahoga. It was, for once, a win-win afternoon.

Where Was a Westbound When I Needed it?

November 29, 2017

Photographers crave late day light. It casts a golden glow and hence the hour before sunset is often called the golden hour.

Although the golden hour can be found all year around, we are now in a time when there is also a low sun angle as we move toward the December solstice, which this year will occur on Dec. 21.

On a recent walk on the Portage Hike and Bike trail I took my camera in the hopes that CSX would send a train my way when I reached the portion of the trail that runs alongside the CSX New Castle Subdivision just north of Kent.

The light was, indeed, very sweet, and it favored a westbound.

I sat on a bench and waited. It took awhile before I heard what sounded like a CSX locomotive horn. Alas, the sound was coming from town, which suggested an eastbound.

I got into position and sure enough the sound of the locomotives of an approaching train confirmed that I was about to get an eastbound, which turned out to be the Q016.

That is a stack train that runs from Chicago to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and usually passes through Northeast Ohio in daylight hours.

On this particular day, though, it had more bare tables than containers.

I made an image of the last bare table going away and was pleased, overall, with the results.

It was nearly 4 p.m. and I knew that only about an hour of daylight was left and even less time for that light to illuminate a westbound.

I found an open location that was high above the tracks and waited.

I didn’t have my scanner with me so I would have to hope to hear an approaching train in time to be ready to photograph it.

That would be a challenge because across the tracks a worker was doing some work at the Standing Rock Cemetery that involved the use of a loud power tool.

As luck would have it, the worker quit for the day just after 4.

I was hoping to get the Q015, the westbound counterpart to the Q016. I’ve seen it in late afternoon passing through Kent.

The minutes continued to tick by and the sun continued to move. I noticed that it was slowly edging out onto the tracks.

Even if I got a westbound there would be little, if any, light on the side of the train. It would be all nose light.

I was fine with that because that can create an interesting effect of light and shadows.

It was getting to be 4:30 and the temperature was becoming noticeably colder. The wind had an increasing bite to it.

As my “drop dead” time approached, I decided to admit defeat and begin the mile-long walk back to my car.

The trail veers away from the CSX tracks and into a grove of trees. Then the former Erie Railroad mainline comes back alongside the trail to the right.

If a CSX train were to pass I’d be able to hear it but not see it. Yet all I heard was the wind.

I paused on the bridge that carries the trail over the double-track CSX New Castle Sub.

The intermediate signals that the crews refer to as “Davey Tree” were dark. They are approach lighted so nothing was imminent.

I didn’t go home empty handed. I had the going away image of the Q016 and I had the top image of the tracks and my long shadow to remind me that some days all you get is air over the rails.

Share the Trail With a CSX ET44EH

November 3, 2017

Walkers, joggers and bicyclists are common users of the Portage Hike and Bike trail, but with a little imagination you can pretend that this CSX ET44EH is coming around the curve and continuing down the trail to Kent.

In reality, CSX No. 3343 is going away on Track No. 2 in a light power move.

Note the remains of the foundation of the Erie Railroad roundhouse at the right by the sign that explains some history of the Erie in Kent.

That sign contains a few photographs of the Erie in Kent that were made by the late Robert Redmond, a one-time Akron Railroad Club member.

Whole Lot of Orange Rolling By

October 18, 2017

You might find yourself in an argument if you asked what the dominant color of October might be. Some might say orange for pumpkins and fall foliage, but others might say gold, which tends to be the dominant fall foliage color in Northeast Ohio. A case might be made for red as well.

Whatever the answer, I thought this image of a long cut of Schneider National containers on CSX train Q015 passing through Kent was a nice seasonal image. Bring on the orange and the gold and the red.

Nice Way to Begin October

October 10, 2017

Coal train N640 cruises along the Cuyahoga River in Kent, but you can hardly see the water due to the thick vegetation.

The first day of October was a good one. Warm temperatures and mostly sunny skies combined with the nice low sun angles for which October known made for a good day to be trackside.

I had not been to Kent for awhile so I hung out there in late morning and middle afternoon. In between I went for a walk on the Portage Hike and Bike trail, which is built on the former Erie Railroad right of way between Kent and Brady Lake.

The CSX New Castle Subdivision is notorious for long lulls and I spent about an hour after arriving on the Main Street bridge waiting to get a train.

That turned out to be the N640, a westbound coal train. It was a good thing that it was a westbound because even though it was late morning, Track 2, which handles most eastbounds, was enveloped in shadows.

A westbound auto rack train came by about a half-hour later, but I missed photographing it because either I was in a radio dead spot or the lead unit had a bad radio.

By the time I saw it, it was starting to sound its horn for the grade crossing at Summit Street and I didn’t have enough time to get into position to get a photograph.

I arrived back in town later that day just in time to see two trains passing each other, a westbound coke train and an eastbound auto rack train. Again, no time to get photographs.

I had to wait a while but CSX sent two more trains my way, the Q015 and the Q016, both stack trains.

It had been awhile since I’d been in Kent and I noticed that it is all but impossible to make photographs of trains north of the Main Street bridge running along the Cuyahoga River.

Neither the river or the tracks have moved, but the vegetation between the tracks and the river has grown to jungle proportions. Maybe we’ll be able to see the river this winter when the leaves are gone.

Another view of the N640. A small portion of the Cuyahoga River is visible in the lower left-hand corner of the photograph.

Here comes the Q015. It would pass its eastbound counterpart somewhere in or near Akron.

Q016 passes the dam on the Cuyahoga that is now strictly decorative.