Posts Tagged ‘steam locomotives’

Getting Acquainted with NKP 755

August 16, 2017

I’ve seen Nickel Plate Road No. 755, a Berkshire steam locomotive, many times during my trips to Conneaut.

I might have photographed it once or twice outside the fence at the railroad museum housed in the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (New York Central) depot.

I finally got a closer view of the 755 during a recent visit to the Conneaut museum, during which time I went inside to take a look around and exited into the small exhibit space of rolling stock that includes the 755.

I have seen its sister Berk, the 765 in action many times. I don’t know if NKP 765 has ever passed NKP 755 on the adjacent tracks of the CSX Erie West Subdivision.

I know the NKP 765 was in town a couple years ago while ferrying from out East to the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. It made a service stop in Conneaut, but the former Nickel Plate tracks are a few blocks south of the museum.

You can go up into the cab of the 755, but a partition limits how much of you can visit.

There are mannequins sitting in the engineer’s and fireman’s seats dressed in railroad work clothing and appearing to be operating the locomotive.

As you around the 755 you begin to realize how much of a job it is to restore one of these engines from stuffed and mounted to operating.

It seems unlikely that 755 will ever be restored to operating condition although I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has talked about it. There are no shortage of people who think they want to restore a steam locomotive.

R&R Article Triggered Reading 2102 Memories

August 9, 2017

If any of you get Railfan & Railroad magazine you probably read about the Chessie Steam Special and Reading 2101.

The article states that work was done on the engine at the Saucon Roundhouse in Hellertown, Pennsylvania.

I pass through Hellertown on occasion and I have photographed the roundhouse over the years. Here are images of it with the roundhouse and coaling tower still standing in 2009, and the last time I saw it in 2014.

I never experienced the Reading 2101 except on the American Freedom Train when it came to New Jersey. I have encountered and ridden behind 2102 several times.

Photographs by Jack Norris

WMSR Head Expresses Regret about Taking on 1309 Restoration

August 3, 2017

The head of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad said steam may return to that line by the end of September, provided that a number of things fall into place.

Speaking during a radio program, John Garner said the cost of restoring ex-Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 has skyrocketed to $1.8 million and if he had been head of the WMSR in 2014 when the the locomotive was acquired he would never have agreed to acquire the engine from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum.

Instead, Garner said he would have favored putting money and effort into rebuilding former Lake Superior & Ishpeming 2-8-0 No. 734, which ran on the WMSR until April 2016 when it was removed from service for its federally required 1,472-day inspection. Restoration of the 734 will cost $1.2 million.

“1309 is a magnificent locomotive; however, I think it is way too much of a locomotive for us. I think I would have restored 734. It’s much more appropriate for us,” Garner said.

“The 1309 project has been a huge project that’s eating us out of house and home,” Garner told Trains magazine. “However unfortunate it may be, that’s the gospel truth.”

Nonetheless, Garner said the WMSR is going to see the 1309 project through.

During his radio interview, Garner said that boiler work has been completed and a hydrostatic test will be performed in the next two or three weeks.

Garner said restoration work was delayed after contractors found corrosion pits on the locomotive’s axles, meaning they will need to be turned on a lathe. Wheel boxes and crank pins will have to be rebuilt as well.

The WMSR is also rebuilding its passenger car fleet to make it compliant with Federal Railroad Administration regulations.

A $250,000 grant from the State of Maryland is helping pay for that work. Thus far six cars have been rebuilt.

“WMSR does not have the funds to do heavy rebuilds on passenger cars,” Garner said during the radio interview. “The days of 14-car trains, 1,000 passengers a train, those days are over for now. We know we can do better, and as time and money permit, we’ll acquire additional equipment and bring more riders to Allegany County.”

Ridership on the WMSR this year has been up by 42 percent from 2016, but is below the 2015 ridership numbers.

“We’re hanging in there, but with the additional costs of restoring the locomotive, insurance costs, and maintenance on equipment we have done a boatload of right-of-way maintenance,” he said.

It’s 1973 on the Arcade & Attica

July 24, 2017

Recently you posted photos of the Arcade & Attica. Here are a couple photos from when Mike Ondecker and I visited the A&A on July 23, 1973. These were both taken in Arcade, New York. In the top image, A&A Nos. 14 and 110 sit outside the old wooden engine house. Yes, No. 14 has the orange handrails. In the bottom image, A&A 111 has been making up a train.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

 

Cass No. 11 to Return to Service

July 13, 2017

This weekend will see Cass Scenic Railroad Shay No. 11 return to service after nearly a three-year absence.

No. 11 will participate in the Great Train Race celebration in Spruce, West Virginia, running alongside Western Maryland EMD BL2 No. 82, which has been repainted into the WM fireball paint scheme.

The Shay will also join Shays Nos. 2, 4, and 5 in operation at Cass this season, along with Cass Scenic Railroad Heisler No. 6 in Durbin, West Virginia.

Built in 1923 for the Hutchinson Lumber Company of Feather Falls, California, No. 11 spent much of the mid-20th century at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in San Diego before going to Cass in 1997.

During its downtime, No. 11 underwent a Federal Railroad Administration required Form IV overhaul and the replacement of the locomotive’s left and rear firebox sheets.

Workers installed several hundred new rivets and staybolts and renewed several dozen flexible staybolts.

The locomotive also received a new stack and renewed bearings on the line shaft.

Difference of 21 Years in Springville

July 8, 2017

Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific No. 261 journeyed eastward in 1995 far beyond the historic region served by the company that purchased the Northern Type locomotive from Alco in 1944.

Many in Northeast Ohio were trackside on what today is the CSX New Castle Subdivision when the 4-8-4 locomotive went east on a ferry move to help celebrate the opening of Steamtown National Historic Site on July 1, 1995.

The engine remained in the east for nearly a year before venturing back to Minnesota in June 1996.

I knew a guy who had an “in” with Steve Sandberg of the Friends of the 261 group. For a “donation,” a group of people were allowed the ride the ferry move from Orchard Park, New York, to New Castle, Pennsylvania, on June 15, 1996.

Much of the route followed a former Baltimore & Ohio line that linked Pittsburgh and Buffalo, New York.

Originally, the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway, the railroad in 1996 was owned by the Buffalo & Pittsburgh, a property of Genesee & Wyoming.

I don’t remember the details, but a portion of the ferry run out of Orchard Park was used to publicize an effort at the time to launch rail commuter service in Buffalo.

The group placed its emblem on the drumhead of a former Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) business car that brought up the rear of the train.

Members of the group promoting the commuter rail service rode south a way, maybe to Springville, New York.

My slides show that I briefly disembarked in Springville, which is 20.6 rail miles from Orchard Park.

A large crowd of people gathered at the Springville depot, suggesting that the visit of the steam locomotive must have received widespread publicity. It was my first visit to Springville and I remember little about it.

Just over 21 years later, I made a second visit to Springville. Marty Surdyk, Ed Ribinskas and I were traveling traveling in Marty’s Jeep Patriot on New York Route 39 to Arcade, New York, to chase Arcade & Attica 2-8-0 No. 18.

The B&O station in Springville still stands, but the B&O tracks are gone. The tracks have been gone since at least 2012 and probably longer.

On our way back toward Ohio, we stopped in Springville to photograph the depot, which was built by the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway in 1910 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

A July 1955 issue of The Official Guide of the Railways in my collection shows the last scheduled B&O passenger trains were Nos. 251 and 252, which operated on daylight schedules in both directions between Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

These were coaches only train that used the same Buffalo station as the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western at the foot of Main Street. They carried a great deal of head-end business.

No. 251 was scheduled to stop southbound at 11:30 a.m. while No. 252 came through northbound at 6:11 p.m.

The top image above was made from the crew car that accompanied the 261. It shows the station from the same approximate angle as the image I made last weekend (shown in the lower photograph) from ground level standing a little farther back from the depot.

The tracks have been replaced by a trail that has picnic tables on the former platform, which is not as prominent as it had been 21 years earlier.

The depot has been restored and is well maintained. It is now the home of the Spring Creek Pharmacy, which wasn’t open during our visit.

I found during an online search search an article from the Buffalo Courier Express that the last trips of B&O Nos. 251 and 252 occurred on Oct. 15, 1955, and ended 72 years of passenger service on the line.

The trains were steam powered to the end, pulled by the last two steam locomotives still active in the Niagara Frontier.

The Courier Express article said the B&O lost $247,000 on the trains in the previous year. Engineer Robert C. Sharnock ran No. 251 to Salamanca and took No. 252 back to Buffalo on their last trips. He had worked for the railroad for 51 years.

It may be that that ferry move of Milwaukee Road No. 261 was the last passenger train to ever pass by, let alone stop, at the Springville depot.

If so it means the last passenger train, like the last scheduled train to stop in Springville 61 years earlier, were both steam powered.

Catching Up With Arcade & Attica No. 18

July 6, 2017

Arcade & Attica No. 18 approaches Genesee Road near Arcade, New York, during its last run of the day.

For years the Arcade & Attica has operated its 2-8-0 Alco steam locomotive with its nose facing northward on its excursion from Arcade to Curriers.

The engine runs around the train at Curriers and returns to Arcade with its tender leading.

But on two weekends this year the New York-based tourist railroad has reversed that.

It turned No. 18 on a wye behind its shop in Arcade and ran tender first to Curriers and had the nose pointed southward for the 7.16-mile return trip.

From a photography standpoint, it is better to have the locomotive nose pointed southward because the lighting is better.

One of those weekends when the nose was pointed southward preceded Independence Day. Ed Ribinskas and I piled into Marty Surdyk’s Jeep Patriot to make the trek to Arcade for a day of steam locomotive chasing.

It had been 25 years since Marty had been to the A&A. My last visit had been in September 2012. Ed saw No. 18 pointed southward just over a month ago during Memorial Day weekend.

By the time we caught up with No. 18 it was in Curriers where the A&A excursion train has a layover.

Chasing the A&A is easy because it travels at about 10 miles per hour.

But there aren’t that many places to photograph a train en route because most of the grade crossings are in Arcade.

There is Genesee Road, but not much else. Marty thought he remembered there being two crossings, but other than Genesee Road all other crossings are on private roads outside of Arcade.

Our primary concern in chasing the first return trip of the day to Arcade was cloudy skies. Large, puffy clouds filled the sky and sun breaks were infrequent and short-lived.

Trips leave Arcade at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. After chasing the first of those, we headed for a Subway in a shopping center located next to a Topps grocery store.

Subway is Marty’s official railfanning restaurant so of course that was where we would go. He also got to eat his entire foot-long meatball sandwich.

During the Akron Railroad Club longest day outing in Bellevue Marty had ordered a foot-long meatball sub. He placed half of it on his vehicle as he was eating the other half back at the mini plant.

But the wind blew it onto the ground. In Arcade, we ate inside the restaurant and there was no danger of half of Marty’s sandwich being blown by the wind onto the floor.

Photographing at Genesee Road had reminded me of Genesee beer, a brand I’ve heard about but never tasted.

As Ed and Marty were finishing their sandwiches, I walked over to the Tops grocery store to see if I could buy a couple of “Gennies.” But Genesee beer wasn’t being sold by the bottle there or, or that matter, by the six pack.

I ended up instead buying two bottles of IPA beer from two different Buffalo craft breweries and some large chocolate chip cookies for the guys.

The A&A had already left Arcade by the time we got rolling after lunch.

By now the weather had much improved with the clouds breaking up and ushering in mostly sunny skies.

There had been a pack of railfans chasing and photographing No. 18 earlier in the day, but they were mostly nowhere to be found during the afternoon trip when the locomotive was bathed in sunlight.

We got to Curriers just ahead of the train and got photographs of it coming and going.

Then it was off to do some across the field shots from along Curriers Road.

That was followed by stops at Genesee Road, the Arcade fire station and the street south of the depot where we caught No. 18 going back to the shop.

It was an easy chase that yielded some quite pleasing images.

The train was in the station at Curriers when we first encountered it.

The first photo op at Genesee Road occurred as the sun hid behind a cloud.

Crossing Cattaraugus Creek in Arcade during the return trip.

Doing the runaround move in Arcade. After getting this image it was Subway time.

Patrons are lined up to make a visit to the cab of No. 18 during the layover in Curriers.

A baggage cart load of flowers, a depot and a steam locomotive make for a pleasing sight.

Getting underway at Curriers to return to Arcade while blowing the whistle for Chaffee Road.

Leaving behind a trail of smoke.

Yonder comes a steam train in a view that could have been made several decades earlier.

Skirting the driveway of the fire station.

The train at Curriers as seen in the sunglasses of a trainman wearing a Penn Central conductor hat.

Watching the tracks ahead from the engineer’s seat.

Back in Arcade the locomotive has cut away from its trains as passengers disembark at the station platform.

Heading back to the shop at the end of the last trip.

Yes, it’s an Alco.

At the end of the day at the shop in Arcade.

 

Works Continues on Restoring C&O 1309

June 27, 2017

Trains magazine reported on Monday that workers have begun installing the tubes into Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 at the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad shops.

The magazine said other work included workers applying firebox patches and conducting laser scans of the frame.

The locomotive is expected to return to operation later this year although no firm date has been set for its first public excursion.

Once operational, No. 1309 will be among the largest operating steam locomotives in the United States.

SRI Will Restore 2-8-0 to Operating Condition

June 14, 2017

The Michigan-based Steam Railroading Institute said this week that it will restore a 2-8-0 locomotive built by Baldwin in 1920.

The locomotive served the Mississippian Railway and the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway. It was built, though, for short-line Jonesboro, Lake City & Eastern.

It last served the Mississippian, where it carried roster number 76 and remained on the motive power roster until the late 1960s.

Since then, the locomotive has had a series of owners until its acquisition by SRI in spring 2005.

Once restored, No. 76 is expected to pull excursion trains.

In its announcement, SRI said the restoration, which is expected to cost $500,000 and take five years, will be conducted largely by the group’s younger members.

“As young volunteers working on restoring a steam locomotive, we are at a crucial point,” said Logan Schupp, project manager of Project 76. “Most of the first generation of steam preservationists are passing on and with them their knowledge.”

Based in Owosso, the SRI owns and operates Pere Marquette 2-8-4 No. 1225.

Rowland Pushing Steam Tour to Aid Veterans

June 10, 2017

Steam impresario Ross Rowland is once again pushing his idea to operate a national steam locomotive tour to be called the Yellow Ribbon Express.

Ross Rowland

Trains magazine reported that Rowland wants the touring train to visit 125 cities and raise money for injured veterans, particularly those who have been wounded since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Rowland proposed the three-year tour in 2015 and told the magazine that he is seeking corporate sponsors to fund the construction and operation of the train.

He has dubbed it “the American Freedom Train 2.0.”

The costs of operating the Yellow Ribbon Express are expected to be $100 million, Rowland said. All money raised exhibit ticket sales will go to veterans charities.

Rowland was hesitant to name a date for when the veteran’s charity train would hit rails. Two years ago he had said he wanted it operating by 2017.

Motive power for the Yellow Ribbon Express will be two main line steam locomotives, including his own Chesapeake & Ohio 4-8-4 No. 614.