Posts Tagged ‘steam in the valley’

Steam Saturday: 10 Years Ago This Week

September 17, 2021

It was 10 years ago Friday (Sept. 17, 2011) that Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 made its first and only foray to Canton pulling a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train.

Photographer Robert Farkas decided to try a technique that day that had been suggested to him by a friend who said that photographers of automobiles seek to use a dark background in an effort to get better images.

Bob tried that technique several times while chasing the 765 as it pulled what was billed as a total track tour that originated at Rockside Road station in Independence and covered all of the track used by the CVSR at that time.

The top and subsequent images were made in Peninsula. In the third image the 765 and its train are slowing for a stop near North Canton.

The fourth image shows the train leaving North Canton while the bottom image was made as the train ran southward in Canton.

The following year Ohio Central 4-5-2 No. 1293 made a trip that proved to be the last steam excursion to Canton via the CVSR.

CVSR suspended service to Canton in August 2013 and it has yet to return.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

A Fascination With Steam in the Valley

September 16, 2021

Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765 will conclude its visit to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad this weekend with a series of excursions on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

It arrived on the CVSR during the first week of the month and has already pulled several trips that drew hundreds of passengers and spectators.

For many, the attraction of watching the big Berkshire-type locomotive in action is scenes like the one above of the 765 putting on a show for a photo runby.

This image was made on Sept. 14, 2014, at Boston Mill. That used to be where the photo runbys were staged.

Boston Mill has changed in the past two years with the CVSR station having been moved further south and a new visitors center having opened in a former apartment building.

If you’ve been following the story line this week of Ed Ribinskas’ series about steam at Boston Mill you’ve seen and read about those changes.

The 765 will be moving on soon although not before spending some time in Bellevue at the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum later this month.

We probably can expect to see the 765 back in the Valley next year but those things are never guaranteed. Every time the 765 comes back you need to approach its visit as though it might be the last.

But, oh, the memories and photographs you’ll make that will always stay with you.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

A Renewed Fascination With Boston Mill: 4

September 16, 2021

Last Saturday the weather was ideal as I made my way to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad to make the final series of images that would conclude my series on steam motive power at Boston Mill.

I talked with several people who had no idea what was coming and they did wait around for the Nickel Plate Road 765 to arrive.

There were no white chains, no “keep out” or “no parking signs,”; it was just the normal signs that are always up.

Cars were parked at spots on Riverview Road like the old days and they were not bothered.

The top image shows the 765 passing through Boston Mill at 10:30 a.m. The middle image shows the afternoon trip at 2:37 p.m.

Both of these excursions had originated at Rockside Road station in Independence.

The third image shows FPA-4 No. 6777, which provided motive power when the train was operating northbound.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

Steam in the Valley Goes Upscale

July 5, 2019

This year’s Steam in the Valley on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad has gone upscale with some tickets costing as much as $150 per person.

For that price you get a seat in the dome section of the Silver Solarium or Silver Lariat, complimentary alcoholic beverages, and a four-course dinner.

Also available are rooms in the Silver Solarium for $200 per room that must be purchased as a set of four at $50 apiece.

There goes the neighborhood.

Of course you can still ride behind Nickel Plate Road No. 765 for $25 in a coach seat.

You’ll get the same 2.5 hour trip, the same photo runby opportunity and the same thrill of riding behind a steam locomotive as those who forked over the big bucks for what the CVSR is describing as “enhanced ticket options.”

But if you want to ride in the upper dome section of the Silver Solarium, Silver Lariat or Silver Bronco, the least expensive ticket is $65 per person. And those tickets are not available on every trip.

By comparison, a dome section ticket on the National Park Scenic costs $28 per person.

There are other Steam in the Valley ticket options including an open window seat for $35, table seating for $40, first class seating for $50, and lounge seating in the Silver Solarium for $55.

The CVSR has taken a page out of the book used by many entertainment venues that offer stratified pricing depending on the desirability of the event as well as pricey add-on services that include complimentary booze and food.

There is even an add-on service for those who want crafts and activities for their children aboard the train. That will be $40 per person, please.

The priciest enhanced service option is the $150 fine dining ticket for the Sept. 27 trip from Rockside to Akron and back. That train also offers a barbecue dinner for $60 per person.

Other enhanced options include the Zephyr Soirée, which includes complimentary bar service and appetizers. The price is $95 in first class and $100 in the upper dome section. It is available on all 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. trips.

Also available on the 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. trips is the Steam Speakeasy for $65 per person. It includes four “craft cocktails” and appetizers.

For the 10 a.m. trips, there is Zephyr Morning Mixers, featuring all you can drink mimosas and bloody Marys. Food, though, is a muffin and not the “chef-prepared appetizers” of the Zephyr Soirée.

Prices for the morning mixers are $68 for lounge or first class seating, and $75 for dome seating.

If you see a pattern here its that by paying more you will board a rolling cocktail lounge.

That the CVSR is offering premium ticket options for its annual Steam in the Valley excursions is hardly surprising. To borrow a real estate metaphor, it owns some valuable real estate in its former California Zephyr dome cars and it is seeking to maximize that value.

I don’t know what the profit margin is on those top dollar tickets, but it might be considerable.

I also don’t know the market size of those willing to pay $100 plus per ticket for a dining in a dome section experience, but it probably is limited.

Eating in a dome car is a novelty experience and once you’ve done it the thrill of the experience might not translate into wanting to it again.

For that matter riding the CVSR at any price is a novelty experience for most people.

Scenery alone won’t keep people coming back or even lure them onboard.

But the size of even a limited market might enough that the CVSR can take enough small bites out of that pie to make the service self-sustaining.

In recent years the CVSR has offered a range of special events and theme trains in its never-ending efforts to maintain and increase ridership.

The CVSR is not just any tourist railroad and hasn’t been for a long time.

It has long relied on corporate and foundation support, and hosted tony fund-raising events targeted at those with means.

It takes a lot of money to maintain a railroad and $15 coach tickets and $5 bike board seats on the National Park Scenic won’t generate enough revenue to meet the railroad’s expenses or enable it to reach its $5 million capital campaign goal by 2020.

So the CVSR has added such premium services as Ales on Rails and the Grape Express that cost between $65 and $95 per ticket, breakfast service aboard the National Park Scenic that costs $40 per person, and special dinner trains ranging from $105 to $115 per person.

The enhanced services being offered as part of Steam in the Valley are merely an extension of what the CVSR has been doing for some time now.

It is also a reflection of how the cost of an experience is linked to a person’s ability and willingness to pay.

So long as there are customers willing to pay for those higher priced experiences that the CVSR has it will continue to offer them.

I’m sure it would be a nice experience to eat dinner in a dome car while watching the Cuyahoga Valley National Park roll by.

But two people can have a great fine dining experience in any number of very good Northeast Ohio restaurants for much less than the $230 that the CVSR charges.

Likewise, I’m not sure that it would be worth it to pay $80 for the experience of two people having breakfast aboard the train while gliding along the Cuyahoga River.

The capital campaign document posted on the CVSR website suggests that the railroad has ambitious plans for dinning aboard the rails.

Among those are rebuilding baggage car Silver Peak into a kitchen car, re-configuring coaches 2914 and 161 into multi-purpose dining cars, transforming an existing ADA compliant coach into an ADA dining car, and purchasing former Pennsylvania Railroad parlor car Paul Revere and making it a dining car.

CVSR also wants to transform Rail Diesel Car M-3 and coach 6217 into executive cars.

Presumably, as the CVSR expands its slate of experiences it won’t forget the little guy who can’t afford to pay more than $100 or even $40 to $60 for a meal aboard the rails experience.

For now their options are limited to buying sandwiches or snacks from the concession car.

CVSR Steam Trip Tickets on Sale July 10

July 9, 2018

Nickel Plate 765 steams into the Rockport Road station to begin an excursion on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad last September.

Tickets will go on sale on Tuesday (July 10) for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s 2018 steam in the valley excursions behind Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 No. 765.

The first trip on Sept. 21 is for the enjoyment of CVSR members and volunteers and will depart Rockside Road Station for an evening outing featuring complimentary hors d’oeuvres, cash bar service and live entertainment.

Public trips will leave from Rockside Road Station on Sept. 22 and 28 at 9:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.

Trips will depart from Akron Northside Station on Sept. 23 and 29 at 11:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.

Tickets are $25 (coach), $35 (open window coach), $40 (table car seating), $50 (lower dome car) and $65 (upper dome level).

Seating will be assigned in all classes except coach and open window coach.

The trips will last for about two hours and include a photo runby at Boston Mill.

Warm Memories of NKP 767 in the Valley

January 28, 2017

Nickel Plate Road No. 765, operating as No. 767, approaches Pleasant Valley Road on Saturday, Sept. 24.

Nickel Plate Road No. 765, operating as No. 767, approaches Pleasant Valley Road on Saturday, Sept. 24.

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Reflecting on past steam trips in the Valley at Indigo Lake.

I waited for quite a while to get the NKP 767 crossing the Cuyahoga River north of Peninsula.

I waited for quite a while to get the NKP 767 crossing the Cuyahoga River north of Peninsula.

Now that winter is here and the warm days of summer and early autumn in 2016 are just another memory, how about some warm memories to take the chill out of the air?

Here are three images of Nickel Plate Road 767 — which is actually NKP 765 — when it was running on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad last September.

All were among my favorite images of the NKP 767 in action, but for various reasons they didn’t make the cut when it came time to post those photographs.

But I kept them with the idea of posting them during the winter. Perhaps NKP 765 willl return to the CVSR in 2017, but that remains to be seen. If it does come back as NKP 767?

Even if it doesn’t, we’ll always have our memories and photographs of when it was the 767.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Outside the Fences: The Boston Mill Steam Train Experience For Those Without a Ticket

January 1, 2017

With a telephoto lens, good positioning and anticipation, you can come away with some good human interest images such this one of a young girl being helped off the train.

Combine a telephoto lens, good positioning and skillful anticipation and you can come away with good human interest images such this one of a young girl being helped off the train. Her small stature in contrast to the wheels gives a sense of size and proportion.

Second of two parts

I like photographic challenges. In my previous post, I wrote about how the strict security measures imposed by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad at Boston Mill station during the photo runbys of Nickel Plate Road No. 767 last September limited where photographers could go in ways that had not been the case in previous years.

Unless you had a ticket, you had to contend with orange plastic fences, large crowds and highway guard rails.

The security was designed to keep people away from nearby locations along the tracks that were some distance from the station. That had not been done in past years, but was taken to a higher level in 2016.

I spent time during the September 2016 visit of Nickel Plate Road 767 in the “ticketless zone” in Boston Park and in the ski resort parking lot on the west side of Riverview Road.

I wanted to see what I could do within the limitations that the railroad and park officials had thrust upon me.

The first thing I decided to do was to live with guard rails and a little bit of orange fencing.

It wasn’t ideal, but being in the ski resort parking lot provided a wider perspective than is available to the passengers at the station.

They had to deal with large, dense crowds. I looked for places away from the crowds and found them.

That was how I came up with an interesting angle on the east side of the tracks along Boston Road. I got the nose of the NKP 767 with the crowd of passengers and the ski resort in the background.

That image wasn’t as ideal as I would have liked due to a grade crossing signal control box getting in the way and the tight angle forced by a line of trees to my right.

However, it was a view that few other photographers thought to try and it was better than most anything I could have gotten in Boston Park.

Some of the most promising images to be had at Boston Mill are human interest photographs.

With a telephoto lens, you can zoom in on the engine crew, get shots of the passengers disembarking, and capture those still on the train during the runbys.

My favorite human-interest image of the two weeks that I chased NKP 767 was obtained at Boston Mill in this manner.

I’ve already posted that photo, but it showed a young boy sipping a bottle of soda while seated next to his grandmother in one of the open-window coaches as a look of wonder crossed his face.

Ultimately, what to do with the restrictions at Boston Mill for those outside the ticketed passenger zone comes down to what type of photography you do and how creative you are.

If you are only interested in the train coming at you, then you’d be better off to buy a ticket so you can get a straight-on shot of that.

If you are unwilling to shell out for a ticket, you could go to any number of places in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park to photograph the steam engine as rolls past.

If, though, you are interested in documenting the broader story and the environment that surrounds the annual two-week visit of a steam locomotive to the CVSR, then there are opportunities waiting at Boston Mill. You just have to study the scene and try some things.

Some of your efforts won’t work out quite the way you had hoped, but you might be surprised at how a little creative thinking and working the angles can yield a better image than you might have imagined was possible.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

By the time that NKP 767 ended its time on the CVSR, I had starting to get the hang of photographing across Riverview Road. There are decent to good images to be made there.

By the time that the NKP 767 ended its time on the CVSR, I was starting to get the hang of photographing across Riverview Road. There are decent to good images to be made there.

You look past or over the guard rail, this is a pretty decent photo of the NKP 767 charging past. And the guard rail isn't really blocking anything, just adding a touch of clutter.

You look past or over the guard rail, this is a decent photo of NKP 767 charging past. The guard rail isn’t blocking anything, just adding a touch of clutter.

I had not planned to photography this runby, but couldn't resist getting a portrait of my friend Adam Barr getting a video of the runby with his smart phone.

I had not planned to photograph this particular runby, but couldn’t resist getting a portrait of my friend Adam Barr doing video of the runby with his smart phone.

My intent was not to capture the train so much as to show how people on the west side or Riverview seek to capture it. The larger environment is part of the story, too.

My intent was not to capture the train so much as it was to show how people on the west side of Riverview seek to photograph it. The larger environment is part of the story, too.

Not everyone disembarks fro the steam train during the photo runby. Watch the windows for you might get a good human interest image of those still aboard.

Not everyone disembarks from the steam train during the photo runbys. Watch the windows and you might get a good human interest image of those still aboard.

Sometimes you can get a clear angle. Sure, the locomotive is not coming toward me, but it is still putting on a show even though it is backing up.

Sometimes you can get a clear angle of the train. Sure, the locomotive is not coming toward me, but it is still putting on a smoke show even though it is backing up. The image was made at the east side of the Boston Road grade crossing.

By standing back and then zooming in with a telephoto lens, you can get the crew at work.

By standing back and then zooming in on the locomotive cab with a telephoto lens, you can get the crew at work.

The angle was tighter than I would have liked, but I was pleased overall with this take made from the east side of the tracks where far fewer people were standing.

The angle was tighter than I would have liked, but I was pleased, overall, with this image that I made on the east side of the tracks where far fewer people were standing.

Chasing that NKP 767: Part 1

October 5, 2016

The northbound ferry move of the steam train meets the southbound Scenic in Peninsula in late afternoon on Sunday, Sept. 18.

The northbound ferry move of the steam train meets the southbound Scenic in Peninsula in late afternoon on Sunday, Sept. 18.

Heavy clouds ruled the skies as I made my way southward on Interstate 271 toward the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Would the overcast conditions keep some photographers away from the second day of Nickel Plate Road No. 765 operating as No. 767?

When the news broke that the 765 would be operating on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad as No. 767 I figured the number of trackside photographers would increase because of the novelty factor.

In recent years many guys seem to have had a “been there, done that” attitude toward NKP 765 on the CVSR. Hard core steam aficionados turned out, but casual photographers stayed home.

There were photographers track side on Sunday, Sept. 18, but not as many as I had expected.

My first stop was Indigo Lake where I sought to duplicate an image I made in 2010 during the first visit of NKP 765 to the Cuyahoga River Valley. It was the first time I had seen the 765 in action other than the time in 1993 when it ran as Chesapeake & Ohio No. 2765.

As I arrived, the clouds were breaking up. It would be sun and clouds the remainder of the day.

From Indigo Lake I went to Boston Mill where it’s tough to get a good image due to the fences and other security designed to keep those without tickets confined to Boston Park south of the CVSR station or on the west side of Riverview Road.

I tried to be creative, getting a view that no one else apparently considered.

I was able to create my top human-interest photo of the day, showing a boy with a bottle of soda sitting next to his grandmother as the train backed up to return to Boston Mill station.

I posted those images on the ARRC blog earlier. The images that accompany this post are my “best of the rest” photos from Sept. 18.

My general strategy was to duplicate my favorite images of past years of NKP 765.

That was an impossible objective given how places I’ve photographed the 765 during its visits in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

After the runbys, I went to Jaite to photograph the train going in both directions. I saw former Akron Railroad Club member John Puda, who I had not seen in a few years.

Every visit of the NKP 765/767 is a little different. A signature trait of the 2016 excursions was how each trip involved meeting the CVSR Scenic in Peninsula twice.

That enabled me to get ahead of the train to Deep Lock Quarry on its return to Akron. If I had to choose one photo location to capture a steam train on the CVSR, this would be it.

The steamer is coming upgrade and working. The sound show is magnificent. It’s also a steep uphill climb from track level to the parking lot

I spent the break between excursions in Peninsula where I would get the steam train meeting the Scenic at 1:45 p.m.

It would be tough – if not impractical – to get the photograph I really wanted, which was a straight-down-the tracks shot of the locomotives nose by nose.

A steam locomotive in Peninsula always attracts a crowd and some daisy picker will jump out in front of you. What I accomplished was reasonably close to what I wanted.

The downside of photographing in Peninsula is that it takes time to get out of town.

The Scenic has you blocked, the route out of town is circuitous, and there is heavy traffic to navigate.

I was able to get one of the photo runbys at Boston Mill. I was even able to sit just inside the guardrail on the east side of Riverview beyond the fenced off area.

That perspective would not be available the following weekend due to a heavy police presence, so it was good that I took advantage of it on this day.

I chatted with fellow ARRC member Todd Dillon who would be the only current club member I would see all day. A few other ARRC members were trackside, but I didn’t see them.

After the runby, I motored to Brecksville, getting the coming and going of the train at the Chippewa Creek bridge.

I had enough time to get to Indigo Lake, but had to park in the trailer park because the Indigo Lake lot was filled.

The conditions on this day were among the best I’d seen with the water calm  enough to produce a nearly perfect mirror image.

I guessed the steam train would deadhead to the CVSR’s Fitzwater maintenance facility after unloading passengers at Akron.

I was correct and my last photo op of the day was the meet with the Scenic in Peninsula, the fifth time during the day that that occurred.

I stuck around to photograph the Scenic leaving and spotted former ARRC member Gary Spencer in the vestibule of a car on the Scenic.

A day that began with unfavorable weather ended with nearly ideal conditions. Somehow the rain in the region stayed away during the afternoon.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Well, of course, I had to get an image of NKP 767 with the iconic Ohio Route 82 bridge in the background at Brecksville.

Of course, I had to get an image of NKP 767 with the iconic Ohio Route 82 bridge in the background at Brecksville.

The onlookers are along the fence on the trail to Deep Lock Quarry as the NKP 767 approaches.

The onlookers are along the fence on the trail to Deep Lock Quarry as the NKP 767 approaches.

A wave from one crew member as the train made its ways south at Jaite.

A wave from a crew member as the train makes its ways south at Jaite.

Passing through Jaite.

Passing through Jaite.

I liked how the engineer and fireman were visible in this image at Boston Mill during a photo runby. Getting closeups like this often the best photo ops available there.

I liked how the engineer and fireman were visible in this image at Boston Mill during a photo runby. Getting closeups like this is often the best photo op available there.

My first look at NKP 765 as NKP 767 was at Indigo Lake. I chose this location because this was where I had photographed NKP 765 in action on the CVSR for the first time back in September 2010.

My first look at NKP 765 as NKP 767 was at Indigo Lake. I chose this location because this was where I had photographed NKP 765 in action on the CVSR for the first time back in September 2010.

NKP 767 leaves Indigo Lake behind in a cloud of coal smoke.

NKP 767 leaves Indigo Lake behind in a cloud of coal smoke.

Getting Up Early to Chase NKP 767 Ferry Move

September 27, 2016

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On Sunday morning I chased the inbound ferry move of Nickel Plate Road No. 767/765 to Akron. I first set up at Peninsula where the sun was just hitting the treetops and filtering through in a couple places.

It was a bit on the chilly side, about 55 degrees, but that is good for producing steam. When 767 did come through it was belching steam and smoke as if it was hauling a hundred cars of a manifest freight.

One photo of the sequence is my favorite of the entire two weeks of steam in the valley 2016 as the sun hit the locomotive just right.

After that I chased it all the way to Akron getting, some grab shots along the way. Most weren’t very good but one at the farmers field across from Salzays market did turn out well.

I caught it a few more times but the spots weren’t very good for photos so I tried the video function on my camera instead.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

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The Meaning of Pleasure

September 21, 2014

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I’ve always enjoyed watching the reaction of those who are trackside watching the Nickel Plate Road No. 765 or any steam locomotive pass by.

Because the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad passes through a well-patronized national park, many people who knew nothing of the 765’s visit wound up seeing it and, maybe, riding behind it.

Last Sunday’s one-hour trips out of Boston Mill were well suited for an impromptu decision to ride the train. Many were seeing a steam engine in action for the first time. It is particularly interesting to see the responses of small children.

Will they remember what they saw on this day? Were they fascinated? Were they afraid? It might be a combination of these things. But their reactions to seeing a big steamer in action are quite pleasing to see.

The top two images were made during the northbound trip past Deep Lock Quarry back to Boston Mill.

The train included two former Nickel Plate open window coaches. I spotted this woman and her son leaning out the window to view the passing scenery.

I had to get these images on the fly and they are a little softer than I wanted. But I liked the human interest element of a mother and her son enjoying what may be their first trip behind a steam locomotive.

As for the third photo, I had made the images that I wanted of the 765 coming into Peninsula. I turned to watch the train go past when I noticed two small children covering their ears.

At the time, the 765 engineer was blowing its whistle and, yes, it was quite loud. Mom and dad are shown helping their young tykes muffle the sound. The parents were probably amused by their kids’ response.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders