Posts Tagged ‘railroad tracks in snow’

Super Sunday Memory

February 13, 2022

For a few years in the decade of the 2010s. Ed Ribinskas, Marty Surdyk and myself got together during the winter for a day railfanning in Lake County. Some of those outings occurred on Super Bowl Sunday. It wasn’t planned that way. It just happened.

Perhaps the most memorable of those Super Bowl Sunday outings occurred on Feb. 2, 2014. It had rained the day before and then snowed overnight. The result was some of the most beautiful winter conditions I’ve seen during a railfan photo outing. Nearly everything was coated in snow and it stayed that way throughout the day.

CSX was rather busy on that 2014 Sunday. It was the height of the crude oil by rail boom from the Bakken Formation of North Dakota and Montana. Several of the trains we photographed were tank car trains led by BNSF motive power. Let me tell you pumpkins look good in the snow.

But today I am spotlighting an image made early during our outing. Marty had picked me up at my house and we had just picked up Ed at his house in Painesville. We were on our way to the CSX crossing at Bowhall Road when we crossed the former Painesville, Fairport & Eastern.

This is now a Norfolk Southern branch line to Fairport Harbor to serve a chemical plant and, perhaps, a few other customers.

I probably made this image by rolling down the driver’s side window and getting some grab shots as we crossed the tracks, which are now known as the Fairport Industrial Track. You will note in the image above milepost 3, which is measured from Perry where the ex-FP&E connects with the NS Lake Erie District.

At one time the FP&E extended beyond Perry to Unionville but that track is now gone.

As nice a setting as the ex-FP&E line is at Bowhall Road was, I knew the odds of getting a train here were slim to none because the local out of Conneaut that serves the branch didn’t run on Sunday. So I made a few photographs on the fly and we continued on to a busier rail line.

Winter Day in Alliance

February 12, 2022

The 14N (left), 170 and an eastbound intermodal in Alliance.
Train 170 heading west.
Train 64N on the Alliance runner.
Train 6K4 taking the Cleveland single.  It would get a new crew about 7 p.m. then reverse back onto the mainline to continue east.

Last Saturday (Feb. 5) I spent the day in Alliance.

Upon arriving I found an eastbound intermodal sitting on Track No. 1 and another eastbound moving slowly on Track No. 2.

The reason for this soon became apparent as train 14N was sitting on Track 1 blocking every railroad crossing in town. It had broken several air hoses and had gone into emergency. 

Also sitting on Track 2 east of town was the 170 waiting to go west.  The slowly moving EB train was taking the runner track, a long siding for parking trains, to get around the 170.

After about an hour, the 14N was able to get moving and continue east; However it would need a new crew before reaching Conway.

Once the 14N cleared, the 170 was able to continue west. The 170 takes the Fort Wayne line to Canton and 14N was blocking his move.

The 170 crew was also on short time and ended up tying down at Freshley Road west of town.

Other trains had backed up behind the 14N including 64N an oil or ethanol train.

This train then took the Alliance runner previously used by the intermodal and tied down to wait for a  new crew. 

A little later train 6K4, another oil or ethanol, took the Cleveland single and tied down on the Mahoning siding south of town. 

An empty coal train came an hour or so later, which picked up this crew.  The 6K4 had a GP38-3 leading some Canadian National engines, which was interesting.

Another train that I had hoped to get was the 171 which had the Virginian heritage unit.  Alas it sat in Canton all afternoon before getting a new crew and going through Alliance about 5 p.m.  I had left by then. 

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

National Park Scenic in the Snow

February 10, 2022

Last Sunday I did a quick chase of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

After a major snowstorm Thursday and Friday things were pretty much cleared out by Sunday.

CVSR ran a plow train on Friday and with the regular runs of the National Park Scenic on Saturday I did not expect to have any snow buildup at crossings.

Imagine my surprise when the train hit a snow bank at Boston Mills.  It was not a very large one but it still made for a nice photo.

The train itself was covered in ice and snow reminding me of Snowpiercer, a dystopian novel in which the earth has been covered in a global freeze and the last survivors ride a train that circles the planet once a year. 

This has been adopted into a movie and most recently a TV show. As with most sci-fi works you must suspend disbelief (like who maintains the track for instance?) but otherwise are enjoyable programs.

Anyhow I thought you might enjoy these.

Article and Photographs byTodd Dillon

One Early January Day at Brady Lake

January 20, 2022

It was a typical Northeast Ohio early January day in 2012, the kind that features clouds and sun that at times is more sun than clouds and then a few minutes later more clouds than sun.

Such days can make photography tricky and yet rewarding at the same time due to low sun angles that creates warm light all day when you can get sun breaking through around the clouds.

I ventured down to Towner’s Woods Park in Brady Lake, one of my favorite hang out spots because you can park next to the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern.

It’s not the greatest location to photograph NS operations due to the tracks lying in a cut and the trees on both side providing obstructions.

But in the winter when the leaves are off you can get some decent if not good images.

The former Erie Railroad mainline that once extended between Chicago and New York also borders the park, but being a Sunday I knew there would be no rail traffic on that line.

The ex-Erie tracks here are now owned by Portage County and used by the Akron Barberton Cluster Railway, which only operates on this segment of the ex-Erie on weekdays and even then it doesn’t always go to Ravenna and thus past Brady Lake.

A snow storm had swept through a few days earlier but by now most of the snow had melted. There remained some accumulation in areas that spend most of the day in shade or had seen heavier accumulations.

I photographed a few NS trains and at one point ventured into Kent where I captured an eastbound empty CSX hopper train as I stood on the West Main Street Bridge.

But most of my photographic endeavors on this day were devoted to railroad infrastructure images in winter.

Winter is a good time to photograph Brady Lake Tower, seen in the top image above.

I say that because during much of the year leaves block a clear view of the tower from the railroad side.

You can get all the unobstructed views you want from three sides of the tower from within Towner’s Woods Park, but if you want to create a view of the tower as passing railroaders saw it you have to wait until winter.

Even then you still have to contend with tree trunks creating “noise” in your photographs.

The tower was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1928 to control a set of crossovers and the flying junction here with the Lake Erie & Pittsburgh.

The latter extended from Brady Lake to Marcy in Cleveland. It was 50-50 owned by the PRR and the New York Central but used by the latter to move freight between Cleveland and Youngstown.

East of Brady Lake the NYC used the PRR to Ravenna and then the Baltimore & Ohio to Youngstown.

The former LE&P was mostly taken out of service not long after the creation of Penn Central.

As for Brady Lake Tower, it was taken out of service on May 14, 1966, but the interlocking plant remained intact with the tower was used as an emergency block station through 1969 and possibly sometime into 1970.

Because it is located on park land its future is assured.

The ex-Erie tracks also got much of my attention. There used to be a double track mainline here but one of the tracks was lifted in the Conrail era when this line was downgraded to become the Freedom Secondary.

I thought on this day as I have thought often while walking the Portage Hike and Bike trail about what it must have been like in the late 1960s or early 1970s when Erie Lackawanna freight trains with their colorful locomotives lumbered through here.

Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and enjoy that.

But the trail is built on former Erie right of way and didn’t exist during the EL years.

The second of the four images is looking railroad eastward to a curve after the Erie tracks crossed over the Pennsy on a plate girder bridge that can be partly seen at right.

About where the tracks curve is the site of the original Cleveland & Pittsburgh right of way, which built the line between its namesake cities and today is the NS Cleveland Line.

However, in the early 20th Century the Pennsy rebuilt the line to eliminate grade crossings and shifted the tracks slightly to the south.

The Erie used the now vacated C&P right of way between Brady Lake and Ravenna.

What got my attention in this scene is the lone pole that once supported the Erie code lines that still stands but without any wires. And note the lone tree to the left that still has its leaves, albeit rust colored.

The third and fourth images are looking railroad westbound toward Kent on the other side of Ravenna Road.

There is still some snow accumulation in a shady spot. Perhaps the snow was deeper here because it had drifted. That grade crossing up ahead is Lake Rockwell Road.

I was struck by the pattern the melting snow made on the tracks, still clinging to the ties but gone on the ballast.

Most of the infrastructure that once supported the Erie and later the EL is gone.

I’ve seen a few photographs of what it used to look like here, including an image made by the late Robert Redmond of a steam train passing a semaphore signal near Ravenna Road. I’ve found the concrete base for that signal.

In my mind at least, the EL sent some ghost trains past as I walked along the adjacent trail. That and seeing the occasional photograph made during Erie or EL days is as close as I’ll ever come to experiencing what it must have been like here in days past.

Article by Craig Sanders

Rounding the Bend in Kent

January 28, 2021

It used to be that Crain Street in Kent crossed over the CSX New Castle Subdivision tracks on its own bridge. A sidewalk on the north side of the bridge offered an expansion view of westbound trains rounding a curve before heading south through downtown Kent.

A road construction project several years ago removed the Crain Street bridge and instead extended Fairchild Avenue over the CSX tracks.

That bridge came with fence. However, a pedestrian bridge located where the Crain Street bridge used to be still offers some photo angles.

The image above was made on March 23, 2008, from the old Crain Street bridge. A westbound is about to pass a remnant of pole line that once graced this former Baltimore & Ohio line.

Photograph by Craig Sanders

Still Standing

January 15, 2021

Over the years I photographed CSX trains passing beneath this signal bridge at the far west end of the yard in Ashtabula.

But with the conversion to positive train control, CSX like many Class 1 railroads, decided to replace many older signals on busy main lines with newer signals.

In some instances, the new signals were in a different location than the signals they replaced.

Such was the case in Ashtabula. As you can see, the new signals are closer to the yard itself.

This image was made near sunset on a very cold January day in 2018. I was hoping to get a westbound coming into that late day light but had no such luck.

But it made for a nice image anyway. I haven’t been back to this location since making this image so I don’t know if this old signal bridge that dates to the New York Central years is still standing or has been removed.

Winter Afternoon in Peninsula

January 30, 2018

It had been a while since I’d been able to get out with my camera. Car troubles and other matters had kept me at home as winter fell on Northeast Ohio in early January.

More than a week into the month, I finally got everything squared away and was able to get out of the house to go do some winter photography.

I had plans to go watch a college basketball game in Akron on a Tuesday night so I left the house early and stopped by Peninsula to see what I might find.

I knew better than to expect to catch a train on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. That operation was on hiatus until later in the month. But you can still do a lot without a train.

Several years ago I photographed the Peninsula train station during winter when it had icicles hanging on it. That was not the case on this day because the sun had melted them.

A step box on the platform had accumulated some snow and the platform area had footprints made by visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Snow no longer covered the rails, but in the late day sunlight the ties on the siding were barely visible as the snow had that sunken look.

At the far north end of town sat a baggage car that had been used as a prop when the Polar Express trains were operating before Christmas. Beneath that car was bare ground.

There weren’t many people around on this day. It was still cold and winter is not a time of year when many people want to visit the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

 

No Trains Here Today

January 27, 2018

The Grand River Railway operates irregularly and probably not at all on Sundays.

So when I visited Grand River, Ohio, a while back in search of winter photographs, getting a train wasn’t on my expectation list.

We were actually hoping to find a switch engine out in the open that the GRR had been leasing, but it was nowhere to be seen near the Morton Salt Plant where the railroad stores its motive power.

But the trip wasn’t a bust because while in Grand River the town to make some images of the ice-covered Grand River the river, I liked how the snow was covering up the rails in some places.

The top image was made at a grade crossing that leads to a city park and a few private businesses. It has been a while since a train ran here.

The middle image is looking toward the street running in “downtown” Grand River. Note Pickle Bill’s restaurant on the right, whose entrance is by the tracks. Also note the boats in winter storage in the distance.

The bottom image was made from River Street, which ascends a hill alongside the tracks. The view is looking southeastward.

Golden Light

January 18, 2018

There is golden light and then there is golden light. The golden hour is a term used by photographers to describe an hour before sunset.

Sunlight during that time tends to be warm and give objects a golden glow.

Even light in the last two to three hours of the day can be warm, particularly during the winter months when there is a low sun angle.

To take advantage of golden light at its best, you have to move fast because that light doesn’t last long. If you enjoy photographing trains you have to be lucky that one will come along during that small window of opportunity.

On this particular day that type of luck was not with us. We couldn’t get a westbound when we really needed it.

But we didn’t do too bad, either. That light looks nice on those aluminum signal standards and the train working in the yard in Ashtabula.

The vantage point is from the grade crossing of North Bend Road on the west side of Ashtabula.

Railroading as it Once Was: Erie Lackawanna Winter View in Scranton Felt Like a Railroad

January 5, 2017
el-units-in-pennsylvania
Even on a dull day a fresh-painted Erie Lackawanna unit stood out. This is Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the winter of 1975. Typical of a locomotive service area back then, oil and sand were all over. White snow didn’t stay white very long. Goodies abound with not only the shiny Geep but other GP-7s, an Alco C-425, and transfer caboose T-14. Places like this just reeked railroad with the sights, sounds, and smells of an everyday working railroad. I feel blessed to have been able to visit places like this on the EL back then, to experience the “real deal.”

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee