Posts Tagged ‘steam locomotives’

Chasing NKP 765 Was Easiest in Youngstown

July 27, 2015
The 765 trails on the backup move to Hubbard on Saturday. This is my favorite photo of the two days as it reminds me of the many photos Dave McKay used to take in the Youngstown area.   Taken from an overpass just east Covelli Center

The 765 trails on the backup move to Hubbard on Saturday. This is my favorite photo of the two days as it reminds me of the many photos Dave McKay used to take in the Youngstown area. Taken from an overpass just east Covelli Center

In chasing the Nickel Plate Road 765 Ashtabula trips last weekend I discovered two things.

First, it is not very easy to chase this line.  Second, the majority of good photos were in Youngstown.

Yes, there are some nice locations along the line but at the speeds that the 765 was travelling it was difficult to keep up.  No four lane highway directly parallels the Youngstown Line as ws the case for the Indiana trip chase.

However, in Youngstown there were several good spots in close proximity.  Even better, the train made several reverse moves to access the loading facility at the Covelli Center.

In the afternoon, the sequence was as follows.  The train would pull in from Ashtabula with the 765 leading.  Then it would back in on the line to unload.

After unloading, the 765 would pull east. The train would reverse to Hubbard where a wye is located.

The train would turn here and then back into the Haselton Yard to stay overnight.  An SD40-2 was provided to assist with these and stayed with the train to help at Ashtabula.

All these moves were at slow speed and provided many good opportunities for photographs and video.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Heading north at Bell Wick Road at Hubbard on Sunday morning.  The railroad turns east west for a distance here with good sun in both directions.

Heading north at Bell Wick Road at Hubbard on Sunday morning. The railroad turns east west for a distance here with good sun in both directions.

Pulling out of Covelli Center after unloading on Sunday.

Pulling out of Covelli Center after unloading on Sunday.

Leading Sunday's train into Youngstown.

Leading Sunday’s train into Youngstown.

A coal train followed shortly after.

A coal train followed shortly after.

The 765 charges out of town Sunday morning.

The 765 charges out of town Sunday morning.

The steam locmotive wasn't the only thing of interest this weekend.  Rick Rowlands showed up with this old hi-rail truck lettered for Conrail.

The steam locmotive wasn’t the only thing of interest this weekend. Rick Rowlands showed up with this old hi-rail truck lettered for Conrail.

NS 3479 leads the backup move to Hubbard on Saturday

NKP 765 Assaulting Carson Hill in Ashtabula

July 26, 2015
Hearing the seeing the Nickel Plate Road 765 work up Carson hill in Ashtabula was quite an experience. This is my favorite photo of the day.

Hearing and seeing the Nickel Plate Road 765 work up Carson hill in Ashtabula was quite an experience. This is my favorite photo of the day.

While photographing Nickel Plate Road No. 765 on Thursday in Ashtabula as it made a service stop, I heard Rich Melvin of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society talk about there being a “hell of a hill” on the Youngstown Line of Norfolk Southern leaving town.

On Saturday afternoon I decided to check it out as the 2-8-4 Lima-built Berkshire assaulted the hill with a load of passengers on the return leg of a public excursion between Youngstown and Ashtabula.

I decided to forego going into town to look for the train in favor of scouting photo locations. I liked Plymouth Road because the tracks curve to the south here and the location is fairly open and parking would not be difficult.

A handful of other fans were on hand, including Drayton Blackgrove, a Michigan college student I had met while chasing the 765 last year on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. He runs an outfit named Delay in Block Productions and posts videos on YouTube.com.

This year he had a drone and it was the first time that I got to see someone up close operate one of those things. I was amazed at how quickly that thing can take off.

Although I heard the 765 talking on the radio when it was ready to leave, what I was really listening for was the sound of a steam locomotive working upgrade.

I was not disappointed. Melvin was at the throttle as the 765 ascended Carson hill, putting on a show that was a pure delight for the eyes and the ears alike.

I later caught the 765 just south of Dorset, although I got there a little too late, and again at the U.S. 322 crossing at Wick. With that I decided to head for home. It had been a most enjoyable day chasing the 765.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Coming into the curve on Carson hill near the hamlet of Plymouth Center.

Coming into the curve on Carson hill near the hamlet of Plymouth Center.

Blowing the whistle for Plymouth Road. Until about five to 10  minutes before the train arrived, two NS signal maintainer were working to get the grade crossing flashers back in working order.

Blowing the whistle for Plymouth Road. Until about five to 10 minutes before the train arrived, two NS signal maintainer were working to get the grade crossing flashers back in working order.

NKP 765 and its train are 26 miles out of Ashtabula on a former New York Central line that now known as the Youngstown Line of Norfolk Southern. The train is approaching Wick.

NKP 765 and its train are 26 miles out of Ashtabula on a former New York Central line that now known as the Youngstown Line of Norfolk Southern. The train is approaching Wick.

About to cross U.S. 322 at Wick en route back to Youngstown.

About to cross U.S. 322 at Wick en route back to Youngstown.

Easing past the cemetery south of Dorset. Cloudy conditions were a challenge here.

Easing past the cemetery south of Dorset. Cloudy conditions were a challenge here.

The crew of the helper locomotive greets the locals as the train rolls through Wick.

The crew of the helper locomotive greets the locals as the train rolls through Wick.

Night Photo Shoot Planned for 0-6-0 Steamer

July 26, 2015

A night photo shoot of former Canadian National 0-6-0 No. 7456 will be held on Aug. 8 at Heritage Village in Sidney, Michigan.

The locomotive, which is on static display, is a Class O-18-a built by the Grand Trunk Railway in its Pointe St. Charles Shops in 1920.

The event, sponsored by Railyard Productions, will feature lights, simulated steam and actors.

Grand Trunk built 50 of these locomotives between 1919 and 1921 and designated them the F9 Class. Lima built another 24 locomotives for Grand Trunk in 1920.

CN, which took over ownership of the Grand Trunk, reclassified the homebuilt locomotives O-18-a and the Lima-built F9s became the O-18-b class.

Tickets for the night photo shoot are $30 per person. Gates open at 6 p.m. and the event begins at 7 p.m. For more information, go to www.railyardproductions.com.

Heritage Meet in Ashtabula: NKP 765, NS 1069

July 24, 2015
The engineer of the 765 waves at the crew of the 145. The two locomotives then exchanged whistle greetings.

The engineer of the 765 waves at the crew of the 145. The two locomotives then exchanged whistle greetings.

Nose to nose in the image that I really wanted to make.

Nose to nose in the image that I really wanted to make.

The nose of NS 1069 reflects on the tender of the NKP 765

The nose of NS 1069 reflects on the tender of the NKP 765

In the back of my mind I knew it was possible, although it seemed unlikely. The Virginian heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern was leading the 145 westward on the former Nickel Plate Road route between Cleveland and Buffalo, New York.

NKP 765 would use that line between Cleveland and Ashtabula, Ohio, on Thursday as part of its ferry move to Youngstown for a pair of weekend excursions.

But with the 26R, 22K, 206 and 310 immediately preceeding the 765 ferry move eastbound — which carried symbol 958 — the 145 was marooned in Conneaut, Ohio.

For that matter, the 23K was stuck in the siding in Unionville waiting for all five trains to pass.

After shooting the 765 crossing the Grand River on the trestle in Painesville, fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler and I gave chase, but were unable to catch the 958 until right before Ashtabula.

We heard on the radio that the 958 would re-crew at Woodman Road and that it was going into the siding.

As we drove down Woodman, the 145 was talking to the Youngstown Line dispatcher. Maybe there was a chance. As it turned out, the 958 would wait for the 145 to pass before proceeding toward the connection to the Youngstown Line.

The 145 went into emergency about half-mile to the east, a separated air hose the culprit. After everything was repaired, it was on its way.  It was the photo opportunity of the day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Reading 2100 to be Shown Off at Open House

July 17, 2015

The public is being invited to come see Reading 4-8-4 No. 2100 during an Aug. 15-16 open house at the roundhouse of the Midwest Railway Preservation Society in Cleveland.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no admission or parking fee, but a ride in a caboose will be available for $5 a person. The roundhouse is located at 2800 West 3rd Street.

The 2100 was moved to Cleveland in April by the American Steam Railroad, which plans to restore it to operating condition.

The group said that it will make a special announcement on Aug. 15 about its Fire Up 2100 campaign.

Since arriving at the former Baltimore & Ohio roundhouse after a 2,300-mile journey on a flatcar from Richland, Washington, mechanical contractors and volunteers have begun a mechanical inspection of the locomotive.  The cost of restoration has been put at less than $700,000.

For more information, go to www.fireup2100.org.

Aug. 25 Eyed for Steam to Return to Steamtown

July 7, 2015

A Baldwin-built 0-6-0 steam locomotive is expected to begin operating at Steamtown National Historic Site by Aug. 25.

Once No. 26 is fully operational it will pull the park’s yard shuttles.

The date that service is expected to begin will coincide with the 99th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service.

No. 26 will be the first steam locomotive to operate at Steamtown since 2012.

The rebuilt locomotive passed a full-scale pressure test last December and Federal Railroad Administration inspectors allowed Steamtown to operate the Baldwin after another trial in the spring.

The locomotive, which will have a green livery, still must complete shakedown runs in the Steamtown yard.

Supervising exhibit specialist Barbara Klobucar said Steamtown discovered that olive drab green was the locomotive’s original color.

No. 26 was built by Baldwin in 1929 and used as a switcher at Baldwin’s Eddystone Plant until it was sold in 1948 to Jackson Iron & Steel of Jackson, Ohio.

There it switched cars at the plant and to interchanges with the Baltimore & Ohio and the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton railroads.

Sold in 1979 to a private owner, it remained in Jackson until June 1983, when it moved to Grand Rapids, Ohio.

Then it transferred to the Mad River & NKP Museum in Bellevue where it sat until 1986 when it was acquired by the former Steamtown Foundation in trade for Canadian National 4-6-0 No. 1551. It arrived in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the home of Steamtown, in January 1990.

“All of the railfans are just champing at the bit,” Dawn Mach, Steamtown assistant superintendent, said of the long-awaited return of the engine to service. “People are excited, especially since we are starting to wrap up the work.”

N&W 611 Completes 2015 Excursion Slate

July 7, 2015

More than 5,000 passengers rode on the final weekend of scheduled trips behind Norfolk & Western J Class No. 611.

The locomotive will return to its home at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke.

The 4-6-4 returned to service in May after a nearly year-long restoration in North Carolina at the Spencer Shops of the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

This past weekend’s schedule included six sold-out excursions, all departing from Roanoke.

Adam Barr reporting seeing Akron Railroad Club members Don Woods and Dennis Taksar trackside photographing the 611.

The 21-car consist for the excursions included a Norfolk Southern test car No. 32, which was there to help determine how powerful the 611 is.

Researchers are still analyzing the 611’s tractive effort and horsepower, but they compared tts performance to that of Class J No. 604, which was tested in 1945.

On Photography: What to Make of a Mediocre Image? At Least I Can Say That it is My Image

July 6, 2015

611 photo runby

You’re looking at the first photograph that I ever made of Norfolk & Western No. 611.

OK, so technically, it isn’t the first image that I made on this day of the fabled J Class steam locomotive. That would have been an image that I made aboard the train.

But in that image you can hardly tell that the locomotive up front is the 611.

It is Sunday, May 21, 1989, somewhere in Indiana during a round-trip excursion between Chicago and Fort Wayne that was part of the original Norfolk Southern steam program.

It was my first experience with the 611, whether riding behind it, photographing it or just seeing it.

I ran across the negative for this photo last December while looking for images to scan and post online.

As you can tell, the 611 was executing a photo runby. This is, to my knowledge, the first photo runby I ever experienced.

When I ran across this photo last year my initial thought was that it is, well, mediocre.

I don’t like having all of those people cluttering up the image and blocking the view of the train. The running gear is obscured in shadows. The locomotive nose is not sharp and crisp.

Of course, having people in the photo is a byproduct of the event. The shadows resulted from the time of day and location at which the photo runby was held. The lack of sharpness is a result of the camera equipment I had and the film I used.

There was little to nothing I could do about those factors. At least the locomotive nose isn’t obscured by the spectators and there is a glimpse of the countryside just beyond the locomotive nose.

I would later ride behind and photograph the 611 on other excursions, the last of which occurred on July 30, 1994, on a trip from Erie to Rocky River during which the 611 was added to the train in Conneaut.

That would be the last time that I saw the 611 in steam. The next time I saw it was in May 2011 on display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

All of my photographs of the 611 in action were made on color negative film so I went through my albums to find a better photograph of the 4-8-4 than the one that I had made in May 1989.

Much to my dismay there weren’t any. I didn’t make all that many photographs of the 611 and it turned out that that May 1989 image probably is my best.

There was much that I didn’t know about photography back then, particularly about how to photograph a steam locomotive in general and the 611 in particular.

It is possible to get good images of a steam locomotive during a photo runby, but it can be a supreme challenge.

There will always be people around and photo runby locations are chosen more on the basis of crowd control and safety considerations than for the aesthetics of the scene.

The time of day chosen for the runby has more to do with operating considerations than it does with maximizing lighting conditions for photographers.

In short, photo runbys during excursions are a series of compromises. You have to rely a lot on the cooperation of others to not mess up your photographs.

The August 2015 issue of Trains magazine has a story about the return of the 611 after its restoration that is illustrated by two of the best images I’ve ever seen of the locomotive in action.

Neither was made during a photo runby. The photographer chose a location to maximize visual impact and lighting conditions. He didn’t have to live with compromises made by others.

There are no bystanders in either image, just a locomotive and its train steaming through the countryside. There is an aura of authenticity and drama to those photographs that tends to be lacking in a staged photo runby shot.

As flawed as my May 1989 image of the 611 may be as a photograph, though, I still see some value in it.

It tells a story of life on the photo line during a photo runby. It is my photo, my story and evidence that I was there.  I have many memories of that trip and this photograph helps to bring those back.

And it has the quality of showing me where I was as a photographer at one moment in time.

At this writing, there are no plans to bring the 611 to Ohio in 2015 as part of the Norfolk Southern 21st Century steam program.

Maybe the 611 will never run in Ohio again and I’ll never have the opportunity to photograph it in action.

But if that opportunity comes, I’ll be ready for it. I’ve learned a few things since 1989 about how to photograph steam locomotives and how to make better quality images generally.

Photographing the 611 will still be a challenge, but I’ll be looking forward to it.

Photograph and Commentary by Craig Sanders

N&W 611 Looking Good on Last Weekend

July 5, 2015

ADB_4004

ADB_4040

Norfolk & Western J Class No. 611 pulled a series of trips this weekend out of Roanoke, Virginia. They were the last scheduled runs for the 4-6-4 locomotive for 2015.

The 611 returned to steam this past May after a nearly year-long restoration at the Spencer Shops of the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

Owned by the Virginia Museum of Transportation, the 611 returned to Roanoke after its rebuilding and pulled a series of excursions in Virginia.

We’re not aware of any Akron Railroad Club members who traveled to Virginia to catch the reincarnated 611 in action, but Adam Barr sends along these images.

The J Class locomotive that once pulled N&W passenger trains on the route between Norfolk, Virginia, and Cincinnati was looking mighty fine indeed.

Photographs by Adam Barr

Hocking Valley Close to Operating Steamer No. 3

June 18, 2015

The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway in southern Ohio is working to have an 0-6-0 steam locomotive in operation by the end of summer.

The 12-year-restoration effort of former Ohio Power Company No. 3 reached a milestone on May 9 when the locomotive was steamed up and tested.

Last Saturday visitors to the railroad located near Nelsonville saw No. 3 moving around the yard under steam.

No. 3 was built by Baldwin in 1920 for Beech Bottom Power Company as No. 13. It was used in Power, West Virginia, to transfer coal from mines to a power plant in northwestern West Virginia.

No. 3 was sold to Ohio Power Company and had been dormant for several decades before arriving on the Hocking Valley in 1982.

Restoration work began about 2001 with volunteers from Ohio, West Virginia and elsewhere coming together the first Saturday of each month to work on the engine.

Once the No. 3 enter service, it will become the only regularly operating standard gauge steam locomotive in Ohio.

For more information on the project, visit the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway Steam Locomotive No. 3 Restoration Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hvsr3 or go to http://www.hvsry.org.


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