Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Olmsted Falls Ohio’

Wabash Heritage Unit Makes Appearance

March 23, 2017

The Wabash H-unit made a pass through Cleveland on Tuesday leading the 21Q. I was lucky enough to be able to get off work in time to catch it. As luck would have it, 21Q was held up near where I had set up to photograph it. Both scenes are in Olmsted Falls, the first one at Milepost 196 (Lewis Road) and then near the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

EOT at End of the Day

March 17, 2017

It was already starting to get dark when I arrived in Olmsted Falls. It has been an unusually warm January day and traffic on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern was unusually heavy. Almost all of it was going westbound.

What had brought me there was the promise of seeing the Lehigh Valley heritage unit. I had seen it just once before, back in 2012, in Olmsted Falls. But it had been trailing.

I got the LV H unit and waited for the train to pass. There was some sunset color to the west so I decided to see what I could do with it.

To my surprise and delight, I caught the blinking red light of the EOT just at the right time.

It created a starburst effect that provided a nice contrast with the shadows of the train against the last light of day.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

NS Marathon: Day in Olmsted Falls (2)

December 27, 2016
This was the only "foreign power" that I saw all day leading an NS train. I wound up seeing CSX after all.

This was the only “foreign power” that I saw all day leading an NS train. I wound up seeing CSX after all.

One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

The downside to spending so much time railfanning in one location is that you might lack the motivation to move on.

Last July, I spent the morning in Olmsted Falls next to the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern. My plan was to drive to Berea about noon so that I could catch some CSX action. I wouldn’t miss anything on NS.

But as noon drew near, I found myself putting off heading for Berea. In part that was because I wanted to photograph aircraft landing at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport where making their final approaches over the Falls. I was enjoying photographing aircraft about as much as I was photographing trains.

In looking back at my 2016 railfan activities, I’ve probably spent more time with NS than with CSX. In part that is due to the erratic nature of CSX traffic these days.

An operating plan implanted within the past year has sought to have regular trains leave on a schedule of something like every 26 hours rather than every 24 hours.

Some symbol freights have been combined, others abolished and trains have become much longer.

During my times in Berea this year, it has seemed as though NS traffic – though still subject to lull periods – has been steadier than CSX traffic.

But I haven’t conducted any empirical studies of that so at best I am conveying an impression than a conclusion based on hard evidence.

On this July day, NS did go through some long lulls during the afternoon hours, particularly in late afternoon. But it didn’t seem so empty because I had airplanes to watch.

I kept putting off my time to relocate to Berea until a car pulled in that didn’t look familiar, but the driver did.

It was Marty Surdyk and his brother Robert. The car belonged to the girlfriend of Marty’s brother John.

Once Marty arrived, my plans to move over to Berea vanished because we started visiting and talking trains.

The model railroad club housed in the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot in Olmsted Falls was open and Marty and I spent some time talking with club members and checking out their HO scale layout.

That also effective ended my keeping a log of the trains that we saw because my log book was in my camera bag, which was in my car on the other side of the tracks.

There was shade next to the depot, but not in the parking lot on the north side of the tracks.

The afternoon traffic mix was not as diverse as it had been earlier in the day.

Intermodal trains predominated, but there were two auto rack trains, a couple of tanker trains and a couple of manifest freights.

The auto rack train was a one hit wonder with a CSX locomotive. It might have been the CSX train that uses NS trackage rights between Cleveland and Toledo.

It would be the only train I would see all day that did not have an NS unit leading.

Marty had to take Robert home around 5 or 5:30 p.m. but said he’d be back for the evening.

We ended up sticking around until just after 8 p.m. As luck would have it, the only trains we caught after 5:30 were westbounds.

That was a good thing because the light favored westbounds over eastbounds.

By 8 p.m. the shadows were growing long and I began thinking about getting home to fix dinner.

And so ended my all-day NS marathon in Olmsted Falls. I probably won’t be doing anything like that again until next year’s Dave McKay Day in early April.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Going green with a bit of orange thrown in.

Going green with a bit of orange thrown in.

After sitting in the Berea siding for quite a while, this train got a new crew and headed westward.

After sitting in the Berea siding for quite a while, this train got a new crew and headed westward.

I've always enjoyed stack trains of a nearly uniform consist. All of this train fit into the frame.

I’ve always enjoyed stack trains of a nearly uniform consist. All of this train fit into the frame.

I'm pretty sure this was an NS auto rack train.

I’m pretty sure this was an NS auto rack train.

Train L13 came in from Bellevue running light. Between the time it arrived and departed nearly two hours later, just one train would pass by.

Train L13 came in from Bellevue running light. Between the time it arrived and departed nearly two hours later, just one train would pass by.

Train L13 had a cut of brand new tank cars.

Train L13 had a cut of brand new tank cars.

Bellevue-bound L13 passes the Olmsted Falls depot.

Bellevue-bound L13 passes the Olmsted Falls depot.

I had a pair of tanker trains in the morning and another pair in the late afternoon.

I had a pair of tanker trains in the morning and another pair in the late afternoon.

I managed to work in a landing plane at Hopkins passing over this westbound tanker train. And I got the sun in the image to boot.

I managed to work in a landing plane at Hopkins passing over this westbound tanker train. And I got the sun in the image to boot.

A Union Pacific until in trailing in this consist was the only Western Class 1 unit I saw.

A Union Pacific until that is trailing in this consist was the only Western Class 1 unit I saw.

The late day light was really sweet.

The late day light was really sweet.

NS Marathon: A Day in Olmsted Falls (1)

December 26, 2016
When you are out all day in one spot you look for ways to get creative by trying things such as shooting a train through a fence.

When you are out all day in one spot you look for ways to get creative by trying things such as shooting a train through a fence.

One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

There are some days when you just want to camp out in one location along a busy railroad line and let the trains come to you.

I had one of those days last July. My plan was to spend the morning at Olmsted Falls and move onto Berea in early afternoon.

It would not quite work out that way and I wound up staying in the Falls all day.

Berea has more traffic, but I’ve always felt Olmsted Falls was a better place to railfan because you can hang out on either side of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

Berea has two railroads whereas Olmsted Falls has one, but NS alone provide enough traffic throughout the day to keep things interesting.

I also wanted to spend a day in one place to get a sense of the NS traffic flow these days.

With traffic generally down this year, railroads have been seeking to cut costs by operating longer and fewer trains.

That trend seems more pronounced on CSX but NS has not been immune from it.

Coal and crude oil traffic in particular has fallen off on both railroads and there have been some days this year when I spent hours railfanning and didn’t see a coal and/or oil train.

On this particular day, though, I would see pretty much all of the traffic that NS operates.

I tried to keep a log of all of the trains I saw, but gave that up after logging 21 trains.

I’ll have more to say about that in the second part of this report.

The weather was sunny skies and warm temperatures. It was in many ways an ideal day to be trackside.

I didn’t see much in way of motive power that was out of the ordinary. No NS heritage units came past, whether leading or trailing.

Foreign power was, in general, scarce. What little foreign power there was was trailing.

The busiest time on NS was during the morning hours. It was quite busy shortly after I arrived around 8:30 a.m.

As a bonus, aircraft landing at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport were landing to the northeast, meaning they made their final approach over Olmsted Falls.

I spent a fair amount of time between trains photographing landing jetliners.

Accompanying this report are some of my best images made between my arrival and early afternoon.

Articles and Photographs by Craig Sanders

My first train of the day was a westbound auto rack.

My first train of the day was a westbound auto rack.

Most eastbound trains were on Track No. 1

Most eastbound trains were on Track No. 1

Some tank trains have all black car . . .

Some tank trains have all black cars . . .

 . . . and some are all white.

. . . and some are all white.

Trying to capture a sense of place.

Trying to capture a sense of place.

One of the few meets that I witnessed during the day.

One of the few meets that I witnessed during the day.

This eastbound manifest freight would be the only one I would photograph at a location other than near the depot.

This eastbound manifest freight would be the only one I would photograph at a location other than near the depot.

Hi Train!

October 17, 2016

kid-in-falls-july-10-x

Whenever I’m track side I’m always looking to create human interest images. Children can be a great subject in that regard.

I was standing in the parking lot on the north side of the Chicago Line tracks in Olmsted Falls last July when I noticed that a father and his young son were watching an approaching westbound Norfolk Southern train.

The boy was waving at the train and maybe the engineer tooted the horn in response.

Chances are it is Dad who is the railfan. He and his wife and son had come to the depot to have lunch and watch a few trains.

This boy may share his father’s interest in trains and may someday become a railfan himself. It all starts here.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

The Last Train of the Day

October 15, 2016

ns-of-july-10-20-x

ns-of-july-10-21-x

ns-of-july-10-22-x

One in a periodic series of images I made last summer.

Any all-day summer railfan outing ultimately gets down to the last train of the day. If you’ve spent all day trackside you are working toward the golden light hour when a westbound will be running  into that low-angle warm light that photographers crave.

It may be that the most interesting train  you saw all day came through around noon under high sun conditions with its corresponding harsh light. That might have been the train with the double Norfolk Southern heritage unit duo or a rare foreign unit, say a Kansas City Southern Belle or a Ferromex unit on the lead.

Maybe that last train of the day had yet another ho hum dash 9 wide cab of which  you’ve already seen a dozen today. But no matter what its consist might be that last train of the day has the best light.

You are looking at a three-shot sequence of a westbound Norfolk Southern intermodal train at Olmsted Falls that I made last July.

The sequence took advantage of the three general ways that you can capture something with a general purpose walking around zoom lens with a rated focal length range of 18 to 135 millimeters.

The opening shot was made with the zoom all the way out. The image features a quality that of late I’ve come to appreciate in photography, the interplay of shadows and light.

Contrast creates tension and thus interest in a photograph and that is the case here with part of the locomotive in shadow and part of it in sweet light.

The middle image is the obligatory “get the train by the depot shot.” It’s a medium shot at 47 mm.

In this case, though, the station is uniformly lighted. There is still a touch of light and shadows on the train to provide some some contrast.

The wide angle bottom image of the set provides visual evidence that I had not been paying attention to my camera settings. Look at the number board of NS C44-9W No. 9681 and you’ll notice that it is soft.

That’s because I had my camera in aperture priority mode rather than shooting at a high shutter speed, which is my standard procedure when photographing moving trains on a mainline. For the record the aperture setting is f8. You know, “f8 and be there.” Well, there I was.

This image was made at 1/200th of a second, which wasn’t enough to freeze an intermodal train with a clear straight track ahead of it.

But sometimes a little blur doesn’t matter that much. That is my shadow on the right covering the Berea siding while the shadow on the left belongs to Marty Surdyk. I could not make this image the way I wanted to make it without getting our shadows.

This image was made at 8:08 p.m. It was time to head home and for some dinner and to celebrate the good fortune of getting a westbound during the time of day when I really wanted one.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Like Turning Back the Clock

August 25, 2016

_DSC6318 CROPPED Conrail Olm Falls with sig RES (1)

It was a Wednesday. Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler noticed online that Norfolk Southern heritage unit 8098 was leading a westbound intermodal train.

He had enough lead time so he headed for Olmsted Falls to intercept the ES44AC paying tribute to Conrail as it led train 21Q.

According to HeritageUnits.com, the 21Q was reported through Olmsted Falls at 3:05 p.m.

It would continue to Chicago where it apparently flipped and came back east the next day when was reported to be leading the 20Q.

The 8098 spent a few days out east before coming back through Northeast Ohio and then making another return trip shortly thereafter.

It can be interesting to track the travels of a heritage unit. In the case of the 8098, since Peter photographed it the unit has been in 10 states, assuming that all of those reports on HU are accurate.

During much of its travels in the past month the Conrail H unit has burnished former Conrail  routes — such as the one shown here — and had its photograph taken who knows how many times.

The fascination with NS heritage units is still going strong more than four years after No. 8098 because the first of those locomotives to be released from the shop for duty.

Photograph by Peter Bowler

They Also Ran in O.F. One Saturday Morning

August 20, 2016
An eastbound container train rolls through Olmsted Falls on a late spring day.

An eastbound container train rolls through Olmsted Falls on a late spring day.

I was doing some housekeeping on my computer when I ran across photographs I had made in Olmsted Falls in late April that I had meant to post but had forgotten. It didn’t help that they were filed in the wrong folder on my backup hard drive.

As for the backstory of these images, I had gone out to the Falls to catch the Erie heritage unit of Norfolk Southern leading an intermodal train.

I got it and decided to stick around a little longer. In the process I made images of a westbound NS train with a former Union Pacific SD90 still in its UP paint on the lead.

I seldom have seen such locomotives leading so, sure, I photographed it. I also was enthralled by an eastbound with BNSF motive power and no NS units.

And to top it all off, I photographed a Spirit Airlines “yellow bird” landing at nearby Cleveland Hopkins Airport.

All of those images were posted weeks ago. I also captured a few ordinary NS trains and planned to post them, too.Then they got misfiled and I forgot about them.

Most of the trains that we see on NS or CSX in Northeast Ohio are just your usual workaday fare. Maybe you try to do something a little different to give them a new look, but they still wind up looking like the same old, same old.

Yet there may come a day when the models of locomotives, these liveries and maybe even the railroad itself will be gone.

Although thousands if not millions of images have been made of Norfolk Southern trains over the years, there still may come a day when these trains are no longer the same old, same old.

After all, people once said that about steam locomotives and how many of them can you see out on the line today?

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Can you guess where this photograph was made?

Can you guess where this photograph was made?

The trees were still budding even though it was late April.

The trees were still budding even though it was late April.

The last stacks pass the Olmsted Falls depot.

The last stacks pass the Olmsted Falls depot.

Two members of the Cuyahoga Valley and West Shore model railroad club look to make a sale during the club's open house at the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot.

Two members of the Cuyahoga Valley and West Shore model railroad club look to make a sale during the club’s open house at the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot.

What Did the Photographer See?

July 16, 2016

Marty July 10 1

Marty July 10 2

It’s a pleasant summer afternoon in Olmsted Falls. The scanner brings the news that a westbound Norfolk Southern stack train is approaching on Track No. 1.

Marty Surdyk decides to photograph the train from the north side of the Chicago Line, but I stay on the south side because the light favors that side.

A headlight appears to the east and cameras are up. But I swing mine toward Marty and capture him focusing in on the approaching train.

Then I swing my camera back around and get the stacker in my sights. Press the shutter release button and a scene is frozen in time.

Another railfan moment has come and gone, but I have photographs to remember it.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Yes, Where Was Spring?

July 8, 2016
An eastbound tanker train on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Olmsted Falls.

An eastbound tanker train on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Olmsted Falls.

A meet between an eastbound grain train and a westbound stack train.

A meet between an eastbound grain train and a westbound stack train.

Yes, where was spring?

Yes, where was spring?

With some very hot and humid weather having taken hold in Northeast Ohio in the past few days, I thought I would remind everyone of how it wasn’t that long ago that snow was falling.

I was out of town on the Sunday morning in May when snow fell on Northeast Ohio and even accumulated enough on the east side to cover some of the grass.

But I was very much on hand in early April when show covered the ground. For a winter that was unusually mild, the winter of 2016 sure had a way of hanging around.

In case you’ve forgotten, here is what spring looked like earlier this year. All of the images were made in Olmsted Falls.

Photographs by Craig Sanders