Posts Tagged ‘tracks’

Here Comes Amtrak

June 20, 2017

This time I didn’t miss. More than a week ago I told the story of how I was railfanning with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler in Willoughby when a very late Amtrak No. 48 came charging through town.

We had no inkling the eastbound Lake Shore Limited had yet to come through because we had not bothered to check to see if it had.

A week or so later I decided to make amends for that during a planned trip to North East, Pennsylvania.

I left home to get to Bort Road in plenty of time to catch Amtrak, which was running about 45 or so minutes late.

Here it is passing through the vineyard country near the shore of Lake Erie along the Pennsylvania-New York border.

What We’ve Lost over Time on the EL in Kent

February 18, 2017

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Sometimes when a railroad becomes a fallen flag, much of the rails and other infrastructure disappear and only memories are left. Compare this view of the Erie Lackawanna trackage in Kent in the late 1960s with what the Wheeling & Lake Erie operates now. We are looking toward West Summit Street and into downtown Kent. What a difference almost half a century makes.

Article and Photograph by Bob Farkas

 

A Place Time Forgot on the Toledo District

February 16, 2017

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One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer.

I wound up at this rural grade crossing on the Toledo District of Norfolk Southern by happenstance.

We were checking out potential sites to photograph a train even through there were no trains that we knew of to photograph on this line.

The crossing is near Williston, Ohio. I immediately liked this location because it had that quality of a place that time forgot.

The block signals in the distance guard the east end of Williston siding and are the search light type signals once common on the Nickel Plate Road.

Off to the side of the tracks is a pole line. Yes, the wires don’t seem as connected as they once were, but along many mainlines the pole line has been removed altogether.

Searchlight signals and pole lines remind me of another time. I have memories of riding in the backseat of my Dad’s car going and the road running parallel with railroad tracks.

I remember seeing searchlight signals and pole lines. You can still find those in some places, but they are not as common as they used to be.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Silent Monuments to the Valley’s Industrial Heritage

February 14, 2017
This bridge over the Cuyahoga River once led to the Jaite Paper Mill, but has not been used since the middle 1980s.

This bridge over the Cuyahoga River once led to the Jaite Paper Mill, but has not been used since the middle 1980s.

I’ve long known that there was a paper mill in Jaite that was served by a spur off the Baltimore & Ohio’s Valley Line between Cleveland and Akron.

Maps at such online sites as Google, Mapquest and Bing still show the rail spur diverging from the Valley Line, which is now owned by the National Park Service and used by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

But I always thought that those maps were in error and that the rail spur had been removed years ago. It turns out that I was mistaken and not the maps.

While doing research for my CVSR book, I was able to determine where the paper mill had been located. I thought it had been west of the Cuyahoga River, but it was east of the river and southeast of Jaite.

I also discovered that the spur to the paper mill, which had been established in 1909 and closed in 1984, crossed the Cuyahoga on a through truss bridge.

That this bridge existed at all was news to me. I’d never seen a photograph of it and no railfan I know who is a native of Northeast Ohio has ever talked about it.

In reviewing satellite images, I discovered the bridge and most of the railroad spur still exist. I wanted to find them and the best time to do that is during the winter when there is less vegetation to deal with.

Saturday, Jan. 21 turned out to be an ideal day for railroad archeology in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

There was no snow on the ground, no precipitation was likely to fall and the temperatures rose into the lower 60s.

After having lunch with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Peter Bowler at the Winking Lizard in Peninsula, we drove to Jaite, parked in the lot of the CVNP headquarters and began walking southward along the CVSR tracks.

The switch for the paper mill spur has been removed, but its location was easy to find because there are still long cross ties that once held the diverging rails.

The spur has been cut a short distance from the Valley Line and it was apparent that it is used as a trail by fisherman and bird watchers.

As we made our way through the brush along the spur, we talked about how this location would make a good place for a nighttime ghost walk.

The spur is a virtual continuous curve and I could hear in my mind the shrieking and squealing of flanges combined with the low rumble of a Geep’s prime mover as it moved boxcars in and out of the paper mill.

Given the layout of the spur switch, the paper mill must have been worked by a northbound B&O local that backed cars in and pulled them out.

In short order we reached the bridge that carried  the single-track spur over the Cuyahoga.

I’ve always had a fondness for the visual aesthetics of through truss bridges.

Online background information about the bridge indicates that it was built between 1907 and 1909 and known as B&O Bridge No. 451/1.

The spur has not been used since the paper mill closed and the switch connecting it to the Valley line was removed in 2002, probably during a track rehabilitation project.

I’m not a bridge expert or structural engineer, but I could see that although the bridge appears to be in good condition, much work would need to be done to enable rail operations over it again.

Of course there is little to no likelihood that that is going to come about.

The paper mill spur and the bridge are silent monuments to the industrial past of the Cuyahoga Valley.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Still spanning the Cuyahoga River decades after the last train rolled over it.

Still spanning the Cuyahoga River decades after the last train rolled over it.

No way would I walk across this bridge to the other side although I'm sure some people have done so.

No way would I walk across this bridge to the other side although I’m sure some people have done so.

Come spring the vegetation covering the rails on the bridge will turn green again.

Come spring the vegetation covering the rails on the bridge will turn green again.

Nature-made tunnel

Nature-made tunnel

Some rail has started to disintegrate.

Some rail has started to disintegrate.

Rails amid the weeds and trees.

Rails amid the weeds and trees.

The vegetation covering the spur is quite high in some places.

The vegetation covering the spur is quite high in some places.

Today, the Jaite Paper Mill spur is used as a trail by some.

Today, the Jaite Paper Mill spur is used as a trail by some.

Where they cut the rails of the Jaite Paper Mill spur.

Where they cut the rails of the Jaite Paper Mill spur.

Long ties mark the spot where the switch for the Jaite Paper Mill spur was located on the B&O Valley Line.

Long ties mark the spot where the switch for the Jaite Paper Mill spur was located on the B&O Valley Line.

Very Old Rails Without a Doubt

January 20, 2017

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You showed new rail. Here is some very old rail. In an old industrial site next to the Erie Railroad Bergen County Line in Fair Lawn, New Jersey lies some 80-pound rail made in 1912. The yard once served a coal company among other things. The tracks are still pretty much intact, complete with switches. The 1960 Erie employee timetable still listed the main line connecting switch as active. The site is being redeveloped. I don’t know the future of these rails, but so far they have survived for 105 years.

Article and Photographs by Jack Norris

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Autumn on the (Former) Erie

January 13, 2017

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Several years ago I made an image of a maple tree next to the former Erie Railroad mainline near Kent at Lake Rockwell Road.

That was back in the days when I was making images with slide film.

I liked that image and wanted to try it again as a digital image. But for various reasons it didn’t work out once I went to digital photography in 2011.

I couldn’t get down there, I got there too early, I got there too late. If you’re a photographer you know the reasons why something doesn’t get done.

It wasn’t a high priority on my autumn “to do” list but it was still there.

Last autumn everything finally lined up. I went down to Kent to walk on the Portage Hike and Bike Trail, which runs parallel with the lone track that is left of the ex-Erie.

That tree that I remembered at the Lake Rockwell Road crossing was at its peak fall colors. It was a mostly sunny day.

So, here it is along with a couple other images of the tracks, fall foliage and a few utility poles left over from the days when they had wires used to communicate and provide power for the signal system.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A Study in O.W.L.S.

January 4, 2017

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I love the acronym O.W.L.S., which stands for one way low speed diamond frogs. It is not some type of bird.

These are the O.W.L.S. in Durand, Michigan, at the crossing of two Canadian National lines. The double track belongs to the Flint Subdivision while the single track is the Holly Sub.

With an O.W.L.S. diamond the trains on the high-traffic line cross at a level crossing in a tread bearing mode.

But trains on the lightly-used line must slow to or below 10 mph because its wheels must cross over the flangeway gap for the high-traffic line in flange-bearing mode. There is no flangeway gap for the low-traffic line.

Although these tracks are owned by CN, another user of the Holly Sub at this diamond is the Great Lakes Central.

The advantage of an O.W.L.S. is that trains on the high-traffic line can cross another rail line without a speed restriction. There is less chance of a wheel jumping the flangeway gaps as there is with a conventional crossing.

But from a railroad management standpoint a primary advantage of an O.W.L.S. is less maintenance costs. Now that is something that would make an accountant smile.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Then and Now at Voris Street in Akron

December 13, 2016

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At times this year we’ve reported here on the changing face of Voris Street in Akron. For decades it has been a favorite hang out for railroad photographers.

At one time you could see trains of three railroads, the Erie (later Erie Lackawanna), Pennsylvania (later Penn Central and then Conrail) and Baltimore & Ohio (later Chessie and now CSX).

Voris Street is still a nice place to watch trains, but it doesn’t look the same as it once did.

A construction project has wiped out the buildings that stood on the north-northwest side of the tracks. Workers are building a new ramp that will connect Interstates 76 and 77 with Broadway and Main streets.

Both of these images were made from the original exit ramp from the interstate. The top image was made in early November this year whereas the bottom image was made in July 2011.

That is only a difference of five years, but much can change quickly.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Changing Face of Voris Street in Akron

November 11, 2016

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For decades, photographers who hung out at Voris Street in Akron, made photographs featuring the former Akron Brewing Company building in some of their images.

Trains of the Erie, Pennsylvania and Baltimore & Ohio railroads passed here for decades.

Construction of the Akron Brewing facility began in 1903, but the building’s function as a brewery was short-lived with Prohibition putting it out of business.

The building took on a variety of functions over the years, including housing such companies as Beatrice Foods, Sumner Butter and Tasty Pure Food Company.

Planners working on a new interchange determined that the building was in the path of a planned new interchange with Interstates 76/77 and South Main and South Broadway streets.

Demolition of the building began in April and work on building the new interchange is well underway.

The Voris Street crossing of the CSX New Castle Subdivision is officially closed although the gates and flashing lights are still in operation.

The top photograph was made in July 2011 from the ramp leading from the interstate to South Broadway and shows a westbound CSX tanker train.

The bottom photograph was made from the same ramp on Nov. 6 and shows that the site where the Akron Brewing Building once stood is now being reworked to become a highway ramp.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Sunset on the NS Toledo District

August 31, 2016

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You could sit trackside for hours on the Toledo District of Norfolk Southern northwest of Oak Harbor and not see a train.

Although an important route to NS, it is not the railroad’s major traffic artery in and out of Toledo. But it is the only route into Toledo used by the Wheeling & Lake Erie, which has a pair of trains each day on the line that interchange traffic with Canadian National.

That the route is important to the Wheeling seems appropriate because it is part of the original W&LE route between Toledo and Wheeling, West Virginia.

It fell into the hands of the Nickel Plate Road when that railroad acquired the W&LE in 1949. Of course the NKP was acquired by the Norfolk & Western which evolved into Norfolk Southern.

For a few days in July, the sun sets right down the Toledo District tracks near Oak Harbor. But you need to know when that is in order to gt it.

Photographer Peter Bowler was a little late this year, but he still came home with a very nice image.

Photograph by Peter Bowler