Posts Tagged ‘Steam excursion trains’

Pere Marquette 1225 to Pull All-Day Trip in October

July 26, 2017

Pere Marquette No. 1225 will pull an all-day trip in late October.

The 2-8-4 will travel from Alma to Owosso in an excursion named the Curwood Highlander. The Steam Railroading Institute said the Oct. 28 journey would be the first time the engine has pulled an all-day excursion between those two points.

The train is expected to depart from Alma at 10 a.m. Coach tickets are $99 per person and caboose class tickets are $129 per person.


R&N to Offer Diesel, Steam Fall Foliage Trips

July 11, 2017

Reading & Northern will offer fall foliage excursions from Reading, Pennsylvania, this year.

Diesel-powered trains will run Oct. 1, 21-22, and 28-29, while steam-powered trips with 4-6-2 No. 425 will operate Oct. 7-8 and 15.

All excursions will originate at the Reading Outer Station, leaving at 9 a.m. and travel to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, with an intermediate stop in Port Clinton.

Return trips depart from Jim Thorpe at 3:30 p.m. after a three-hour layover.

Tickets for the diesel trips are $39 with options available for Pullman or parlor car seating. Steam trip fares start at $69. All tickets include a meal.

A special will run on Oct. 14 that originates at Outer Station but does not stop at Port Clinton. It will offer an opportunity to ride in an open gondola car for $125. Coach tickets for that trip, which will not use an auxiliary tender or diesel helper, are $99.

NKP 765 Trip Tickets Nearly Sold Out

June 2, 2017

Tickets for the June 17 and 18 excursions in Chicago behind Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 are almost sold out.

The restored Berkshire steam engine will pull trips from Joliet, Illinois, to Chicago’s LaSalle Street Station over tracks owned by Metra and once used by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, which owns the locomotive, said that half of the trips are sold out.

These include both Saturday trips. Earlier this week there were about 100 tickets left for the Sunday trips.

Chasing N&W 611 Out of Roanoke

May 31, 2017

Last weekend I went to Roanoke, Virginia, to chase the Norfolk & Western J class 611 trips. I had hoped to get some of the last remaining N&W signals but the last one was replaced just a week before these trips. Well it’s still a steam engine and there’s many great photo opportunities in this area. I’ve shared a few of them here.

This includes showing the 611 leaving Roanoke and passing the freight car shops; climbing Christianburg grade at Shawsville, Virginia; and passing the coal dock at Vicker, Virginia.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

N&W 611 Trip Changed for May 29

May 22, 2017

The Virginia Museum of Transportation has changed the operating schedule for excursions on May 29 behind Norfolk & Western J-Class No. 611.

The trip between Roanoke and Lynchburg, Virginia, has been canceled in favor of a trip between Roanoke and Walton, Virginia, via Radford.

The new trip will depart Roanoke at 7 a.m. and return at about 12:30 p.m. It will be the first time that a 611-pulled excursion has departed Roanoke westbound in the morning.

Other scheduled excursions will operate as announced.

This includes excursions between Roanoke and Radford on May 27, 28 and 29, all of which have 1 p.m. departure times.

There will be Roanoke-Lynchburg trips on May 27 and May 28, leaving at 7 a.m. and returning at 12:30 p.m.

All excursions will use Norfolk Southern routes that were originally owned by the N&W.

Hickory Creek to run on NKP 765 Excursions

April 29, 2017

Former New York Central observation car Hickory Creek will be part of the consist of the Joliet Rocket, the excursion train to be pulled by Nickel Plate Road No. 765  on June 17 and 18 between Joliet and Chicago.

Tickets to ride in the Hickory Creek are limited and are priced at $219.

The Hickory Creek once operated on the Chicago-New York 20th Century Limited.

The car is being made available through a special charter by Headwaters Junction, Inc.

The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society said some tickets remain in economy coach, deluxe coach and first class on select dates and times for the excursions.

PM 1225 to Pull August Excursions

April 20, 2017

Pere Marquette 2-8-4 No. 1225 will pull nine roundtrip excursions on Aug. 19 and 20 between Owosso and Howell, Michigan.

The hour-long trips are being conducted in conjunction with Howell’s annual Melon Festival.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children. Caboose seating is available for $25 for adults and $20 for children.

The excursions will depart from the Ann Arbor Railroad station in downtown Owosso.

The Lima Locomotive Works Berkshire will be fired up on Aug. 18 for hand on the throttle sessions to allow participants up to 30 minutes to operate the locomotive.

North Pole Express Tickets on Sale

February 27, 2017

Tickets are now on sale for the North Pole Express trips hosted by the Steam Railroading Institute of Owosso, Michigan, to be run later this year.

Steam Railroading InstituteThe trips will be pulled by Pere Marquette No. 1225, the locomotive that was used as the prototype for the steam engine in the 2004 Warner Bros movie The Polar Express.

The four-hour trips begin on Nov. 17 and will operate through Dec. 17. Trains leave from the SRI facility in Owosso and travel to the Country Christmas festival in Ashley, Michigan. The trip includes a two-hour layover in Ashley.

New for this year will be cocoa class tickets ($79), which include unlimited hot chocolate, a souvenir mug and bell, and a 1225 collector’s item.

SRI is also introducing economy plus bi-level class ($49), which provides a seat in a bi-level coach.

Other ticket classes are economy ($39), caboose ($1,500) and coach ($59). To purchase tickets call 989-399-7589 or visit


In Search of Keystone State Steam: 1

November 1, 2016


First in a series

Over the Columbus Day weekend, Ed and Ursula Ribinskas drove to Pennsylvania in search of steam.

The highlight of the trip would be seeing Reading Blue Mountain & Northern No. 425, a 4-6-2 Pacific-type steam locomotive build by Baldwin in January 1928.

The 425 departs from the R&N headquarters city of Port Clinton, Pennsylvania, and takes passengers on a two-hour trip to Jim Thorpe, where it lays over for three hours.

The locomotive was built in Pennsylvania for the Gulf, Mobile & Northern, later renamed Gulf, Mobile & Ohio.

Retired in 1950, No. 425 had a series of owners until it was purchased by Andrew J. Muller Jr., to pull excursion trains on the RBM&N.

Muller later painted the locomotive dark blue, in part because the Reading once had a dark blue steamer of its own.

The 425 was out of service between 1997 and 2008 during which time it underwent restoration. It also underwent repairs in 2011 and 2012.

Ed and Ursula chased the 425 on one of its trips, getting it at Zehners, Haucks, Atlas, Nesquehoning and the Pennsylvania Route 93 tunnel.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas












Chasing That 767: Part 3

October 7, 2016
The chase of Nickel Plate Road No. 767 on Sunday, Sept. 25 began with a new location and a successful venture.

The chase of Nickel Plate Road No. 767 on Sunday, Sept. 25 began with a new location and a successful venture. The train is crossing the Cuyahoga River north of Peninsula.

Unlike the previous two days that I had spent chasing Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 767, Sunday, Sept. 25 dawned sunny and clear.

It was a beautiful day to chase a steam train and have an early autumn picnic in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Twenty-seven Akron Railroad Club members and guests showed up to eat hamburgers and hot dogs along with snacks and desserts.

I began my third day chasing the 767 by walking the towpath trail to the culvert where the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad tracks cross over the trail north of Peninsula.

My objective was to get a shot I’d never done with any steam locomotive.

In 2015, I had photographed the 765 crossing the Cuyahoga from the west side of the bridge. But now I wanted to get the view from the east, something I had done just once with a CVSR train.

That image had been made, by coincidence, on the day of the ARRC’s October meeting.

The east side is a tougher shot than the west side because the angle is tighter. I had it all to myself.

Later, I arrived in Boston Mill just as the train was backing up for its first photo runby.

I made a few images, but got nothing of note. I walked to the east side of the crossing of Boston Mills Road with the idea of getting the 767, the Boston Mill station and the ski resort in the background. It worked out all right.

It was too early to do the goldenrod field shot, so I went to Jaite for a going away image that I ended up liking better than what I had made here the week before.

While at Jaite, I met ARRC member Steve Heister. I would see several ARRC members on this day and the number of photographers trackside on Sept. 24 and 25 was greater than what I had seen on Sept. 18. It must have been the good weather.

After Jaite, I went to Brecksville, which was quite crowded. I had to park on the access road, which wasn’t a bad thing because it would enable me to get a faster getaway. I would need that in order to get to Deep Lock Quarry in time.

My objective in Brecksville was to get the 767 and its train along the Cuyahoga River from the Old Station Road bridge.

There were dozens of people with cameras staking out their photo spot when I arrived at Brecksville station.

The woman standing to my immediate left had two dogs. She had arrived around 7:45 a.m. just as the ferry move to Akron was passing beneath her as she drove over the Ohio Route 82 bridge. Steam and smoke from the 767 below had risen to road level and it was quite foggy.

I immediately wished I had made my way to the Valley much earlier. I had not because I had been out all day on Saturday and got home late. I didn’t want to leave home early on Sunday.

Fog can make for some dramatic images. It was cool and that meant lots of steam. I should have gone for it.

I’ve seen some images made by other photographers of the ferry move and they were pretty good.

As I stood on Old Station Road bridge, it began sinking in that I would not be able to do all of the locations with the 767 that I had envisioned. There wasn’t enough time and opportunity.

The image I had gone to get at Brecksville turned out so-so. The better image was the wide view showing the river, the Route 82 bridge and the train. I wished I had stayed with that image longer than I did.

There was plenty of time to get to Deep Lock because the 767 made an unexpected stop north of Jaite when some daisy pickers ran across the tracks as the train neared their position.

The images I made at Deep Lock met my expectations. It was time to get to the ARRC picnic.

Marty and I had planned the picnic about two weeks before it was held. We had a complication when we gave the wrong name of the picnic site and the September meeting was moved back a week due to parking lot resurfacing at New Horizons Christian Church.

Helped by good weather and the lure of a steam locomotive, the turnout exceeded our expectations. We set up a photo line to catch the northbound move of the afternoon excursion out of Akron.

Many ARRC members stayed at the picnic site to get the southbound return to Akron about two hours later.

I photographed the first Boston Mill photo runby, but skipped the second one. Instead, I drove north on Riverview.

I saw Kyle Ori standing with his wonder pole next to the road near the Columbia Run Picnic Area.

The pole enables him to gain elevation of as much as 30 feet with his camera. He uses his smart phone to control the camera.

I decided to catch the northbound run of the steam train here rather than trying for the goldenrod field.

As the train went by, my camera lens began malfunctioning. It would not zoom past about 85 mm.

I twisted it a few times and finally got it out to 135 mm. But the auto focus wasn’t working properly and all of the images I made at my maximum focal length were blurry.

The same thing happened at the Chippewa Creek bridge where fellow ARRC members Ed Ribinskas and Jeff Troutman were already set up when I arrived.

This time the 135 mm images came out all right, but the wide angle images of the 767 crossing the bridge were blurry. This was not a good thing.

The remainder of the ARRC picnic gang was standing with their cameras in hand by the side of Riverview as I drove past.

My intent was to drive into Akron and get the train at milepost 43 in the Merriman Woods housing development. Riverview Road is closed south of Bath Road and the detour pointed west on Bath.

I’m unfamiliar with the roads west of the tracks so I decided to stay at Bath Road and go for the sure thing.

I had not photographed south of Indigo Lake during the two-week stay of NKP 767 and wanted to get something on the southern end.

I saw a small clump of wild black-eyed Susans next to the tracks and placed those in the foreground as I got a low angle of the 767. The autofocus function worked fairly well.

It was nearly 4:30 p.m. and I was feeling discouraged due to my camera issues. I still didn’t have the goldenrod shot but there was time to get it during the ferry move to the Fitzwater maintenance facility from Akron.

I elected instead to head home. I had done the goldenrod shot with the 765 and with my camera lens on the fritz I might not get the 767 in focus or get the focal length I desired.

I was tired and having a beer and a snack while watching the rest of the Sunday afternoon football games sounded enticing.

The next day I took my camera to Dodd Camera in Cleveland. The store manager removed the lens and shook it. We could hear something rattling inside. The lens was broken.

But this story has a happy ending. The estimated repair cost was $200 to $300 if the camera could be economically repaired. A comparable new zoom lens would cost between about $400 to $600.

I was elated when Dodd sent me an email with a repair cost of $177. The lens has been fixed and is back on my camera.

I didn’t know how my camera saga would end on that late Sunday afternoon of the last day of the NKP 767 in the valley.

I had the same thought that I always do after making my last images of the day. Will this be the final time that I see NKP 765, 767 or whatever they choose to number it on the CVSR?

Thus far the Berkshire-type 2-8-4 has returned every September since 2013. But one of these years it might not.

As was the case in 2015, I ended my 2016 chase feeling slightly unfulfilled. I had missed the goldenrod field shot along with a few other locations. I still regret not going for the ferry move on the last Sunday morning.

But if the NKP 765 never returns to the CVSR again, I’ll be satisfied with the body of work that I was able to produce of that locomotive running through the Cuyahoga River Valley.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

I ended up liking this shot at Jaite better than a similiar image I had made at this spot a week earlier.

I decided that I like this shot at Jaite better than a similar image I had made at this spot a week earlier.

Passing the south switch of Jaite siding.

Passing the south switch of Jaite siding. It almost looks like the locomotive is leading rather than trailing.

I ended up liking this "preliminary" image of NKP 767 along the Cuyahoga River in Brecksville than I did the image I set out to create here.

In the end, I thought this “preliminary” image that I made of NKP 767 along the Cuyahoga River in Brecksville is better than I the image I set had out to create here.

The opening between the trees and brush growing alongside the Cuyahoga River at Brecksville was smaller than I expected and not all of the NKP 767 fit in that opening.

The opening between the trees and brush growing along the Cuyahoga River at Brecksville was not quite wide enough to fit all of the NKP 767.

 Crossing the Cuyahoga River south of Peninsula in a duplication of a image I've made a few times with NKP 765. Oh, wait, this is NKP 765 but with a different number.

Crossing the Cuyahoga River south of Peninsula in a duplication of an image I’ve made a few times with NKP 765. Oh, wait, this is NKP 765 but with a different number. This location never gets old with me.

The towpath trail is just off the nose of NKP 767 as it nears Deep Lock Quarry.

Getting the wide angle view near Deep Lock Quarry. The towpath trail is just off the nose of NKP 767, which is crossing over the trail.

The light at the ARRC picnic site was not as favorable as I expected when the NKP 767 and its train went north for the afternoon trip out of Akron. So I got creative with the nearby leaves.

The lighting conditions at the ARRC picnic site were not as favorable as I expected when the NKP 767 and its train went north for the afternoon trip out of Akron. So I got creative with these leaves.

NKP 767 runs backwards alongside Riverview Road near the Columbia Run Picnic Area. This shot turned out fine, but a malfunction of my zoom lens meant that the telephoto shots I made here were blurry.

NKP 767 runs backward alongside Riverview Road near the Columbia Run Picnic Area. This shot turned out well, but a malfunction of my zoom lens meant that the telephoto shots I made here were blurry.

Fortunately, the autofocus and zoom functions of my lens both worked for my last image of the NKP 767 on the CVSR. The train is approaching Bath Road.

Fortunately, the autofocus and zoom functions of my lens were working when I made my last image of the NKP 767 on the CVSR. The train is approaching Bath Road. It was a good way to end my chase of the 767.