Posts Tagged ‘trains and autumn’

Fall Foliage Spectacular Two for Tuesday

November 23, 2021

I was looking in my slide collection earlier this week with an emphasis on images made on the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern in the vicinity of Brady Lake and Ravenna when I ran across the image shown above.

Seeing it brought back a lot of memories of a late October day, Oct. 28, 2005, to be exact.

I was in my first year as president of the Akron Railroad Club. It was a Friday and the October meeting was that night in the Carriage House of the Summit County Historical Society.

Before the meeting Ed Ribinskas and I got in some late day railfanning around Ravenna.

As you can see in this image the fall foliage along the Cleveland Line east of Lake Street was at peak color although some of the trees had already lost most or all of their leaves.

We were there in late afternoon and fortunate to get two westbounds before the shadows completely covered the rails.

As it was, the shadows were rapidly moving in, which turned out to be a good thing by creating some dramatic contrast. Contrast helps to give an image visual tension, which increases its drama and interest.

It is noteworthy that as dramatic as these images are they are not the photographs I remember the most from this outing.

Those images were made several minutes later on the CSX New Castle Subdivision at Chestnut Street.

In the last direct sunlight of the day we caught a westbound with a BNSF leader. I framed it with a Baltimore & Ohio color position light signal and the block sign denoting the end and beginning of the Kent and Rave blocks.

The warm light on a BNSF “pumpkin” was, I thought at the time, the catch of the day.

CSX has long since dropped the use of blocks on the New Castle Sub and the CPLs have been gone for years. So those photos now make nice period pieces.

Curious as to who had the program that night I dug out the October 2005 Bulletin. The program was titled Now and Then with the “now” being presented by Marty Surdyk and the “then” being shown by his father, the late William Surdyk.

The photographs shown were made roughly 40 years apart and used different types of slide film.

Marty’s images were 35 mm slides shown in a Kodak Carousel projector.

He featured the Bessemer & Lake Erie, CSX in the Akron area, Marion, Berea and the Wheeling & Lake Erie around Spencer.

Bill’s images were 2.25-inch format slides shown in a 1950s era Goldie projector that could be fed one slide at a time. In Bill’s show were images from Berea, Marion and Akron among other locations.

The meeting minutes for October reported that a record 18 members went to the Eat ‘n Park in Cuyahoga Falls after the meeting for dessert, a late dinner or an early breakfast.

The next day ARRC members gathered again, this time in Berea to dedicate the Dave McKay memorial.

A week before the meeting, ARRC members had enjoyed an excursion on the Ohio Central between Dennison and Morgan Run. It was supposed to have been pulled by 2-8-0 Baldwin-built No. 33.

But the steamer was sidelined with mechanical issues. Instead, a Montreal Locomotive Works RS18 pulled the trip to Morgan Run while an OC FP7 powered the return trip.

What a month October 2005 was for the ARRC.

The Saluki and a Colorful Tree

November 11, 2021

My quest for fall foliage continued last Sunday with a trip to the Champaign Subdivision of Canadian National, the former Illinois Central mainline between Chicago and New Orleans.

I found some colorful trees next to the tracks in Pesotum, Illinois, and worked with them.

Shown here is Amtrak’s northbound and southbound Saluki, which operates daily between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois, and is funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

For more than a year the Saluki has operated with Superliner equipment and due to a CN-required minimum axle count carries more cars than does the Capitol Limited.

Although the southbound train is shown in the top image, it was the second of the two trains to pass my position.

Fall Foliage and Street Running

November 10, 2021

Hickory Street in Warsaw, Indiana, is famous for two blocks of street running on the Marion District of Norfolk Southern, which many railfans still like to call the Marion Branch.

A street project that wrapped up earlier this year changed the traffic patterns on Hickory for vehicles but not for trains. The street is now one lane northbound only with the other lane devoted to on-street parking.

Last Friday I chased the 13Q from Goshen to Warsaw with the objective of getting some fall foliage and street running. There were no colorful trees on Hickory itself, but a pair of tees with gold leaves were visible on Fort Wayne Avenue. The latter comes into Hickory at an angle on the north end of the street running at the crossing of East Main Street.

The 13Q, which was led by a Canadian National unit and had a CN unit on the rear as a DPU, is shown in the top image. However, the first train I saw run down the street was the 14J, whose rear is shown about to clear the street running in the bottom image.

Note that in theory through vehicles are prohibited on the tracks and in the easternmost lane. But during my time waiting for trains I saw a number of vehicles straddle the rails while waiting at the stop light to make a left turn onto Fort Wayne Avenue.

It Just Looks Like Fall

November 11, 2020

My day of railfanning in east central Illinois was winding down as I drove north on Interstate 57.

As I crossed the Canadian National tracks at Pesotum I looked to the north and saw a headlight of a southbound in the distance on the former Illinois Central mainline.

There was time for one more train. I got off the interstate and drove into town, parking next to a former IC passenger station in a park that is bisected by the CN Champaign Subdivision.

There was still some fall color left, although much of it was muted. Still, that color combined with the fallen leaves gave the appearance of autumn.

Being late afternoon, the some sunlight was being blocked by a line of trees on the west side of the track that resulted in shadows being cast over the rails.

Yet the resulting shadows in their own way showed that it was late day and created visual tension in the scene.

The image above showed the most sunlight on the nose of the lead CN locomotive.

The muted colors, the light and shadows, the leaves on the ground all combine to say “it looks like fall.”

Had this been my last image of the day I would have been quite pleased with it.

But it would turn out that I still had one more train to catch and it would yield what might have been my favorite photograph of a day that had been, overall, quite productive and enjoyable.

You’ll see that image tomorrow.

Still Some Fall Foliage Out There

November 10, 2020

With another 70-degree weather and sunny day I railfanned eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, there was still some fall color to be found. In the top image a Youngstown & Southeastern train climbs south from Youngstown.

In the middle image, a CSX coal train is at Wampum, Pennsylvania, while in the bottom photograph a Buffalo & Pittsburgh coal train is also at Wampum.

Photographs by Todd Dillon

Autumn in the Trench

October 30, 2020

It’s an early November day in Pittsburgh. An eastbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight is passing beneath a dramatic canopy of green and gold gingko tree leaves in West Park.

This section of the Fort Wayne Line is also known as the trench and is a favorite of railroad photographers, particularly when those gingko trees turn colors in the fall.

As nice as this image is, it could have been better. In another week or less all the remaining leaves will have turned gold and the falling leaves will leave a golden carpet on the four-track mainline.

But my window of opportunity to photograph here was limited to the weekend. Still, I was pleased with my results.

2 Heritage Units, a Passenger Train and Fall Foliage

November 2, 2019

It’s not often that you get to see two heritage units operating on the same train but that was the attraction offered in October by The Ohio Rail Experience.

Part of the Cincinnati Scenic Railway, the excursion operator ran weekend excursions with its own former Nickel Plate Road GP30 No. 901 and the visiting Clinchfield Railroad No. 800.

Both units wear their original liveries.

The 800 was built for the Clinchfield in 1948 as an F3A but later rebuilt to F7 specifications that included newer traction motors.

Schedule conflicts kept me from chasing any of the excursion trains until the final weekend of operation, when the Lima Limited operated from Springfield to Lima and return over tracks of the former Detroit, Toledo & Ironton.

The line is now owned by Genesee & Wyoming subsidiary Indiana & Ohio.

I chased the Lima Limited with well-known railroad photographer David Oroszi of Dayton.

I had been emailing Dave about coming over to his house to help him identify photographs from the collection of the late Richard Jacobs, who during the latter years of his life had been active in the Akron Railroad Club and the Orrville Railroad Heritage Society.

In one of those email I mentioned my plans to chase the train on Sunday and asked him for suggestions as to where to photograph it. I am not familiar with the former DT&I.

Dave said he planned to chase the train on Saturday and Sunday and I could ride along with him on Sunday.

Of course I jumped at that opportunity. Not only does Dave know the former DT&I well, but he also makes a great tour guide.

As we drove through western Ohio, he pointed out where various rail lines used to run and had once intersected. He also showed me around Lima, a city I’ve never visited aside from passing through in the 1980s aboard Amtrak.

We started the chase in Snyder Park in Springfield where the Lima Limited was scheduled to depart at 9 a.m.

The cloudy skies turned out to be a good thing. The Clinchfield unit was, to the displeasure of some railfan photographers, on the north end of the train.

Had it not been for the clouds many of the locations where we caught the train would have been backlighted

That included Snyder Park, which boasted some of the best fall foliage we would see during our chase.

Aside from being familiar with the ex-DT&I Dave also had some knowledge of where there was spot color to be had based on what he had observed on Saturday.

Dave had a general plan as to where he wanted to go and how to get there.

His plan worked out as envisioned although we didn’t expect to spend time in two places clearing limbs from the rails from trees that been blown down during Saturday’s storm.

The excursion train had to make a few unexpected stops to remove trees from the rails and as a result arrived in Lima more than an hour behind its noon scheduled arrival time.

It also had to wait on two eastbounds in Quincy where the I&O crosses the CSX Indianapolis Line.

We photographed the Q348 crossing over in Quincy but didn’t get the Q008.

By then we had gotten into position at the north end of the high bridge over the Great Miami River on the ex-DT&I.

In Lima we had lunch with a couple of other railfans at local chain Kewpee Hamburgers, which legend has it was the inspiration for Wendy’s. Like Wendy’s, Kewpee has square shaped burgers.

We heard a couple of CSX trains in Lima on the former Baltimore & Ohio north-south mainline and saw a couple more but were not in position to get any photographs.

We did photograph the southbound Q509 at Troy on the way back to Dave’s house after finishing chasing the excursion train.

The weather forecast had called for sunny skies by 2 p.m. and that turned out to be the case.

Much of our emphasis on the southbound chase was getting the NKP GP30, but we photographed the Clinchfield unit at times, particularly when the tracks were oriented in a northwest-southeast alignment.

Unlike the morning chase, the afternoon chase was a little more freelance, stopping in impromptu fashion to catch the train.

None of the afternoon photo locations had been places we stopped at earlier in the day.

We also didn’t get as much fall color in the afternoon as we had in the morning.

Reportedly, the Cincinnati Scenic Railway’s lease on Clinchfield No. 800 expired at the conclusion of the last excursion and the F unit will be returning to its home at the Southern Appalachian Railway Museum.

It probably won’t sit there indefinitely but who knows when it might get back to Ohio.

The consist of the Lima Limited was a mish mash of colors, liveries and equipment types with two of the cars having a Cleveland connection.

They were the two NKP open-window coaches owned by the Cleveland-based Midwest Railway Preservation Society.

This was one of my favorite images of the day. The Lima Limited is leaving behind Snyder Park in Springfield.

What a nice frame this colorful branch made as the Lima Limited got underway north out of Snyder Park in Springfield.

We cleared branches from the rails at this site west of Tremont City shortly before the excursion train showed up.

A nice stand of fall foliage was to be had along Dump Road north of St. Paris.

On the high bridge over the Great Miami River in Quincy.

Finding color at the Geyer Road crossing south of St. Johns.

Crossing River Road between Uniopolis and Lima.

Crossing the Auglaize River south of Lima on the northbound trip.

Laying over at Lincoln Park in Lima.

Trying to imitate a steam locomotive leaving a city that built plenty of them over the years. The train is approaching East Kibby Street in Lima.

Coming at you just south of Lima at Hume Road.

An expansive view of the entire train across a field north of Uniopolis, Ohio.

A bit of Cleveland in western Ohio was the two NKP coaches owned by the Midwest Railway Preservation Society. They are shown crossing Huffman Creek in Uniopolis.

Crossing Geyer Road north of Geyer, Ohio.

Fall color wasn’t as plentiful on the return trip at our photo locations but was still out there. The image was made at Santa Fe-New Knoxville Road.

About to cross the CSX Indianapolis Line in Quincy.

Passing a former DT&I depot and grain bins in Rosewood.

Clinchfield 800 Wraps up Stay in Ohio

October 29, 2019

Clinchfield F3A No. 800 completed a visit to Ohio last Sunday by pulling the last in a series of excursions sponsored by The Ohio Rail Experience on tracks once owned by the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton.

No. 800 is shown above in Snyder Park in Springfield before departing for Lima with the Lima Limited, which was billed as a fall foliage special.

The F unit pulled the train to Lima’s Lincoln Park where passengers had about a two-hour layover.

Pulling the train back to Springfield was former Nickel Plate Road GP30 No. 901, which has been repainted into its original NKP livery.

Additional photographs and a story about my chase of this train will be posted later this week.

Quest for Keystone Fall Foliage: 3

November 2, 2017

NS westbound 19G approaches the east portal of the Gallitzen tunnels as fall color fills the hillsides of the east slope.

Last of Three Parts

My next destination was Cresson, where I didn’t plan to stay long, but NS had other ideas.

But first I had to find my way out of Lilly. I had no trouble getting onto Pennsylvania Route 53, but I missed a turn in downtown.

I swear there was no sign showing that you have to make a right turn at the intersection where Route 53 juts eastward.

I went straight and wound up on a dead-end street. I had to zig zag my way back.

I had brought maps of all the towns I planned to visit, but hadn’t studied the map of Lilly enough determine how to get out of Lilly other than to stay on Route 53.

There is a large parking lot next to the railfan viewing platform in Cresson. I parked and walked up onto the platform. There was just one other person there and he spotted me and came over.

He was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and we had a nice conversation about railroad operations in Pennsylvania and the highways in the Keystone State.

He been headed toward State College on U.S. 322, but got into heavy traffic of football fans leaving town. Those would have been the fans who stayed overnight after the conclusion of the Saturday night game.

That traffic led him to go another direction on his motorcycle and he wound up in Cresson.

We had plenty of time to talk because NS decided to go on siesta again. My radio was silent for a long time until the 21M showed up around 2:30 p.m.

Across the tracks from the viewing platform were three R.J. Corman locomotives that weren’t going anywhere. At least I got to see some bright color on a locomotive.

Not long before the 21M showed up, the Pittsburgh East dispatcher called the signal gang foreman to report that he couldn’t get switch 11 to show as having been thrown.

There was a good reason for that. The crew that had been digging around that switch earlier in the day inadvertently had severed a cable. They found some spikes and spiked the switch into position.

Think someone on Monday morning was going to have to answer for that one?

After the 21M headed for points west, I bid farewell to the guy from Lancaster and headed for Gallitzin.

As had happened in Lilly, I made a wrong turn coming town and had to zig zag to where I was going. I knew I was going the wrong way when the street on which I was driving went beneath the NS tracks. Had I followed the proper route I would have remained north of the tracks at all times.

I parked at the railfan park at the west end of the tunnels, but my stay here was brief. Nothing was going on so I motored up the hill to an overlook just off Tunnelhill Street.

The overlook offers an expansive view to the east, although it is somewhat obscured by trees and other vegetation.

But it is open enough to get decent photograph of trains on the east side of the tunnels.

By now the temperatures had finally reached the 70s and I no longer needed to wear a jacket.

I looked up to see a jet high overhead. I had my longest telephoto lens on my camera and snapped a couple of image.

When I enlarged the image on the camera screen I could see that it appeared to be a Boeing 747. But I could not make out any airline markings.

The radio came to life with a detector going off to the east and a westbound 19G calling signals. It was what I wanted to hear.

I could make out the outline of a train through the trees and waited until the head end came into an open area.

As much as anything, it was this image that I had driven to Pennsylvania to get. I wanted a photograph of a train grinding along with the mountainsides in the background wearing their palette of autumn colors.

I got it even if the colors were more muted than I would have liked. But the image says autumn and the lighting was good.

Having gotten “the shot,” it was time to slowly begin making my way west toward home.

I spent some time at the park by the tunnels, getting the helpers on the 19G, a westbound helper set and an eastbound intermodal train.

There was one last spot I wanted to check out and it would turn out to be the one with the brightest color.

I had been told by a guy at Cassandra that the color by the Pennsylvania Route 53 bridge over the NS tracks between Cresson and Gallitzin was particularly good. It was.

Shortly after I arrived, an eastbound trash train came along. I photographed it from both sides of the Route 53 bridge.

I noticed that an abandoned bridge abutment would offer a better place to stand on the south side of the tracks.

I walked over there and caught an eastbound intermodal train. A couple of young railfans joined me and we talked some.

What I really wanted, though, was a westbound. The light favored westbounds and there was good color at the bend where the five-track mainline curves as it heads into Gallitzin.

I had planned to leave for home at 5 p.m. NS had about a half-hour to send me a westbound. But the railroad wasn’t cooperating.

As I walked to my car I heard a scratchy voice on the radio say something like “3 west.” Was it west of Cresson or somewhere east of Gallitzin?

I thought about going back, but the day was getting late and I had a long drive ahead of me.

As I got on U.S. 22 at Cresson, I saw another eastbound coal train passing below.

The skies began clouding up the further west I went. But shortly after cresting ridge of the Laurel Highlands in Jackson Township of Cambria County, I looked to my right at the open view of the valley below and saw the best autumn color I had seen all day.

I was going too fast to pull over, so I found a ramp to reverse direction. I then had to go up and over at an exit to head westbound again.

This time I was able to pull over, put on my flashers and get out for some photographs of color on the hillsides.

Dinner was at a burger and beer joint in Murraysville named Crave.

By the time I left it was nighttime. I had entered Pennsylvania in the dark and I would leave it the same way.

But at least I didn’t have to contend with any more “highway robbery” incidents at the state line.

One of Pennsylvania’s many quirks is that you pay through the nose to enter the state on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Ohio, but they let you leave without paying a dime.

Come back soon Buckeye and don’t forget to bring $7 with you to get in.

A broader perspective of the east slope as the 19G makes its way uphill toward Gallitzin.

Westbound intermodal train 21M splits the old signals and the yet to be turned on new signals in Cresson.

The helpers on the rear of the 19G in Gallitzin.

A westbound helper set running light is about to emerge from Gallitzin Tunnel.

An eastbound stack train casts shadows in the late day light as it passes through Gallitzin Tunnel.

An eastbound empty trash train in the first of a seven-image sequence. The view is looking west off the Pennsylvania Route 53 bridge just outside of Cresson.

 

Last train of the day in a four-shot sequence. The view is near the Pennsylvania Route 53 bridge at Cresson .

Quest for Keystone Fall Foliage: 1

October 31, 2017

Eastbound stack train 20A would be the first train that I photographed at Summerhill, Pennsylvania, but actually the second train that I saw there.

First of Three Parts

My quest for color began in pitch black. It was just before 4:30 a.m. as I backed down the driveway of my home for a one-day trip to central Pennsylvania in a quest to photograph trains and fall foliage.

The VisitPA.com website reported that foliage in the area around Cassandra was at 80 to 90 percent peak.

The weather forecast for Oct. 22 was promising with high temperatures in the region expected to reach the low 70s. The following days would see clouds and rain moving in.

I needed an early start in order to catch Amtrak’s eastbound Pennsylvanian.

No. 42 is due out of Pittsburgh at 7:30 a.m. and I figured it would take about four hours to get to my first photo location in Summherhill.

The trip down the Ohio Turnpike was uneventful. Ditto for my journey on the Pennsylvania Turnpike other than a highway robbery incident at the state line.

No, it was robbery in a legal sense. I was shocked that nowadays it costs $7 to get into the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

When we traveled through here last summer I thought the toll was about $2 less, but the toll booth attendant insisted it has been $7 at least since he began working there last April.

So I entered the Keystone State $11 lighter, counting the $4 toll I had paid to get out of Ohio. I got off at the U.S. 22 exit east of Pittsburgh. Dawn’s early light had yet to break and I already had paid $15.75 in tolls.

I had stopped at the turnpike service plaza at Oakmont, Pennsylvania, to stretch my legs. I needed to refuel but the price of gas there was sky high so I ended up getting gas at a Sheetz in Murraysville shortly after exiting the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

It wasn’t cheap there either, some 30 cents a gallon more than what I last paid in Ohio.

Aside from high tolls, no trip on the Pennsylvania Turnpike is complete without construction zones. I was not disappointed, but at least I was able to cruise at 70 mph for most of my time on the self-described “America’s First Super Highway” which is perpetually under construction.

The sun began rising somewhere east of Blairsville and I pulled over to get a photograph of a better than average sunrise.

I tried to judge how much fall color was on the adjacent hills, but that was tough to do in the dark.

As the sky got brighter I got a better feel for the autumn leaves and they looked promising.

Few people were out and about in Summerhill as I arrived, parked and walked up the bridge that spans the Pittsburgh Line of Norfolk Southern.

This is former Pennsylvania Railroad territory and the PRR-style position light signals in Summerhill just east of the bridge are still standing.

But probably not for much longer. Just behind the U.S. 219 overpass to the west an NS crew was at work putting in new signals. Another signal crew was working in Cresson.

I had not come to Summerhill to get the PRR signals, but it occurred to me this might be the last time I see them.

It was quite cooler in Summerhill than it had been at home when I left. The foliage was nice, although not quite as colorful as I would have liked. Many trees had already lost their leaves.

I chose Summerhill rather than Cassandra to photograph the Pennsylvanian because at the latter the train would be coming through a narrow cut that was likely to be in shadows. Besides, I’ve already photographed Amtrak at Cassandra.

As it turned out, the cut in Summerhill west of the bridge was also in shadows due to the low sun angle. Gradually the sunlight began creeping over the trees.

A westbound stack train was going through town as I arrived and it had helpers on the rear. It would be the only intermodal train I saw all day with rear-end helpers.

I had arrived in Summerhill shortly after 8 a.m. and other than the stack train, NS was as sleepy as the town.

I thought there might be some early morning fog, but that wasn’t the case other than a thin layer to the east. There was in the air the scent of wood smoke and maybe that was what I was seeing.

The signal heads on the east side of the bridge were lined clear for Track 1 and displayed a stop indication for Track 2. There is no eastbound signal for Track 3. I didn’t see it, but as I waited on the bridge the signal for Track 2 went to clear.

I heard a horn to the west and a headlight came around the curve belonging to intermodal train 20A.

About 10 minutes later a set of helpers went west and 10 minutes after that eastbound manifest freight 38Q came grinding past.

Amtrak No. 42 is due out of Johnstown at 9 a.m. and a couple of railfans from New Jersey said it usually comes through Summerhill about 9:30.

Another set of helpers went west on Track 3 at 9:28 and No. 42 showed up two minutes later barreling along on Track 2, having left Johnstown six minutes off schedule.

With Amtrak gone, I strolled down to ground level to get an image of a train passing beneath the PRR signal bridge.

It was not a long wait. Twelve minutes after Amtrak went shooting past came an eastbound loaded coal train on Track 1.

I got the images I wanted and decided it was time to head for Cassandra.

But not before stopping at the Sheetz in Portage to get a tuna salad wrap, potato chips and a set of Tastykake cupcakes to have for lunch.

No visit to Pennsylvania is complete without Tastykake, which traces its heritage to the Tasty Baking Company that was founded in Pittsburgh in 1914. Today, though, Tastykake is based in Philadelphia.

I also bought a copy of the Altoona Mirror and learned that Penn State had defeated Michigan the night before in Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley.

I had watched part of that game on TV and listened to some of it on the radio after going to bed. But I turned it off in order to get more sleep.

I had bought a copy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at the Sheetz in Murraysville, but it was the early edition and didn’t’ have the Saturday college football scores.

I was most pleased to learn the Nittany Lions had bested the Wolverines 42-13.

A closer view of the eastbound 20A.

Helper sets coming (above) and going (below)

Here comes the 38Q in the first of a two-shot sequence.

Another set of NS helpers and the PRR signal bridge.

This could be the last time I see, let along photograph, this PRR signal bridge in Summerhill. Is that fog or smoke clinging to the hillside in the background.

An SD80MAC leads a coal train past the PRR position light signals in Summerhill.