Posts Tagged ‘trains and snow’

After the Storm

December 2, 2020

Winter storms that dump six to 12 inches of snow are not unusual in Northeast Ohio. If you can get out of your driveway today the sunshine that will grace the region will lead to opportunities for some dramatic winter railroad images.

This photograph was made Jan. 16, 2012, following a storm that buried Lake County in more than a foot of snow.

Ed Ribinskas and I ventured out to Perry to photograph trains on CSX and Norfolk Southern. Shown is an eastbound CSX intemodal train kicking up the snow as it charges along.

Within about a day or so the passage of trains at track speed will likely blow most of the snow off the rails and diminish the blowing show effect.

Until then some memorable photographs are waiting to be created.

 

Yes, Where Was Spring?

July 8, 2016

An eastbound tanker train on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Olmsted Falls.

An eastbound tanker train on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Olmsted Falls.

A meet between an eastbound grain train and a westbound stack train.

A meet between an eastbound grain train and a westbound stack train.

Yes, where was spring?

Yes, where was spring?

With some very hot and humid weather having taken hold in Northeast Ohio in the past few days, I thought I would remind everyone of how it wasn’t that long ago that snow was falling.

I was out of town on the Sunday morning in May when snow fell on Northeast Ohio and even accumulated enough on the east side to cover some of the grass.

But I was very much on hand in early April when show covered the ground. For a winter that was unusually mild, the winter of 2016 sure had a way of hanging around.

In case you’ve forgotten, here is what spring looked like earlier this year. All of the images were made in Olmsted Falls.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

Sitting Duck at Edwards Road on the Carey Sub

March 18, 2015

WE Edward Road 1a

The barn at left and the tractor tire tracks in the foreground made this image compelling.

 

A simple cross buck and snow covered fields are hallmarks of rural Ohio in winter.

A simple cross buck and snow covered fields are hallmarks of rural Ohio in winter.

Looking down the tracks. Was the crew looking back?

Looking down the tracks. Was the crew looking back?

A few low hanging branches of a big old tree help frame the motive power consist, which itself shows some variety.

A few low hanging branches of a big old tree help frame the motive power consist, which itself shows some variety.

Had I not glanced to my right I might have missed it. But I look around a lot while I’m driving and as a result I spotted the covered hopper cars on the nearby Wheeling & Lake Erie’s Carey Subdivision west of Greenwich.

I started looking for the motive power, which was stopped a little west of Edwards Road. So I made a right turn off U.S. Route 224 and drove toward the tracks.

It was a grain train that I presumed was stopped to wait for CSX to give it permission to enter its line at GN Tower in Greenwich.

Because the train was sitting still, I was able to photograph it from multiple angles, including the usual angles of looking down the tracks and shooting from the side at about a 45-degree angle.

Photographing this train was a challenge. Although a cloud cover had moved in, there was just enough sunlight coming from the southwest to create some back lighting.

It was late in the day so the ambient light was diminishing. Add to that a snow cover on the surrounding fields and you don’t have ideal lighting conditions.

Yet in other ways the scene could not have been more ideal. There was more going on here than a stopped train on a single track line that doesn’t see much rail traffic on any given day. There was a story to tell with images.

There was personal interest in the lead unit, No. 6989, an SD40-2 that still wears a BNSF livery even if the lettering of the former owner has been painted over.

I had photographed this locomotive back in January on a very cold morning in Akron. It had been sitting by itself in Brittain Yard in the engine service area. Now, it was sitting in front of me just like it had been on that frigid January day.

That January portrait also had been the result of a fortuitous glance at the right time. Do you think that the 6989 wants me to find it?

I noticed some tracks in the snow heading toward the tracks before making a sharp right turn and running parallel to the railroad tracks. The tire tracks appeared to have been made by a tractor.

Those tire tracks intrigued me. They show winter and give the image some movement. The viewer’s eyes naturally follow the tractor tire tracks toward the railroad tracks and then toward the train.

The tractor tire tracks also lead the viewer toward a weathered barn on the other side of the railroad tracks.

This might have been a nice image even without the barn, but it makes for a left framing object and reinforces the sense of place. The fields, the barn, the stubble of last year’s crops poking through the snow, and the open space work together to show that this is farm country.

It is slumbering now, but soon the snow will gone and it will be time to get back into the fields to plant this year’s crops.

Some of the original images were dark so I had to work them in Photoshop. I’m still not sure that I’m happy with the results, but I got what I wanted, which was to draw out the tractor tire tracks and the clouds of an approaching front.

There is just enough light showing through the clouds to give the sense that it is late day and sunset would come in another hour or less.

I didn’t notice until I began to work with the image that there is another set of tracks in the top image, too. There are footprints that cross the tractor tire tracks and lead somewhat toward the train.

Those footprints add a sense of mystery. Why would someone have been out walking in this field?

It is the type of image that I may never be able to replicate here again because I might not have the same combination of factors that came together to make this image what it is, namely the snow cover, the tire tracks and a sitting train.

I didn’t want to spend much time here. I faced a long drive and I wanted to get home. Had I been willing to spend more time working the scene I might have come up with something even better.

Still, I was quite pleased with what I was able to make. a winter day series that started with a simple glance to my right.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

Mission Accomplished in Frozen Vermilion

March 5, 2015

An eastbound train of coal hoppers rattles the bridge over the Vermilion River in the river's namesake city. Or is the city named for the river?

An eastbound train of coal hoppers rattles the bridge over the Vermilion River in the river’s namesake city. Or is the city named for the river?

Zooming in on a westbound intermodal train. The river was frozen enough to walk on and snowmobilers and ATVs were racing along as can be seen by their tracks.

Zooming in on a westbound intermodal train. The river was frozen enough to walk on and snowmobilers and ATVs were racing along as can be seen by their tracks.

An R.J. Corman boxcar adds some bright red to the scene of white.

An R.J. Corman boxcar adds some bright red to the scene of white.

Several years ago Marty Surdyk showed a slide of a Norfolk Southern train crossing the frozen and snow-covered Vermilion River at the boat launch site in that community on the shore of Lake Erie. The image was made on a sunny day.

I was impressed with the scene and made a mental note to put creating my own winter scene at Vermilion on my “to do list.”

As I said, that was several years ago. My objective of photographing in Vermilion in the winter on a sunny day got put on a shelf and several winters passed by.

There were several reasons for that. More than likely, I would only be able to get to Vermilion on a weekend day and how many  of those would have the combination of sun, snow and ice that I needed?

Last Saturday all of the necessary components fell into place and I made my way to Vermilion. I parked in the upper parking lot, turned on my scanner and waited.

I missed the first train that got to the bridge much faster than I expected after calling the signal west of town where the connection to the former Nickel Plate Road mainline is located on the Chicago Line.

I  missed the second train because it took  longer than I expected to walk down the steps and trudge through deep snow to the river’s edge.

Finally I got smart and decided to park below next to the water even though the parking lot down there still had quite a bit of snow in it.

When the third train came along I was ready. Check another one off the list.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Snow in the Valley

March 2, 2015

The sunlight through the trees casts an interesting shadow pattern on the undisturbed snow as the northbound afternoon CVSR Scenic train approaches Brecksville.

The sunlight through the trees casts an interesting shadow pattern on the undisturbed snow as the northbound afternoon CVSR Scenic train approaches Brecksville.

There’s snow and then there’s deep snow. No sooner had I set out from the parking lot in Brecksville toward the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad tracks when I found myself ankle deep in it.

It wasn’t that long of a walk so I trudged ahead with the objective of photographing the northbound Scenic train crossing Chippewa Creek.

The snow was even deeper on the other side of the creek. I fell once when my mind was going in one direction but my body in another.

But it was worth it because the snow had not been spoiled by human footprints or other activity. It was as pure a scene as I could expect to find in Northeast Ohio and with little imagination reminiscent of being in an isolated spot in the woods of Minnesota, Michigan or Canada.

Another photographer also hiked through the snow, but he chose to photograph from the creek whereas I wanted to be able to get coming and going shots.

It was getting to be late afternoon and the sun was low enough that much of the track was in shadows. Yet the sun streaming through the trees created an interesting effect of shadows across the rails.

The bridge over Chippewa Creek was in open sunlight, which is probably why that other guy chose to go down to the water level. He would get a nicely lighted side view.

During the winter the Scenic doesn’t stop at Brecksville station, so I had to guess as to when it would arrive there. The only scheduled stop between Akron and Rockside Road in Independence is Peninsula.

I was happy to see a spot of yellow when the Scenic came into view. That meant that the black LTEX 1420 would not be on the lead. Try photographing that locomotive in shadows.

Instead, the 1822, an RS18u that had been built in May 1958 for Canadian Pacific, was on the point. The trailing unit was No. 800, the FPA-4 built in March 1959 for Canadian National, and painted in a Baltimore & Ohio livery.

I can only hope that this motive power consist combination will continue to run a little longer.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Seeing the 1822 on the point was a most welcome sight.

Seeing the 1822 on the point was a most welcome sight.

The 1822 passes a snow-covered hillside just before crossing Chippewa Creek. The horn is sounding and the bell ringing for the crossing at Brecksville station.

The 1822 passes a snow-covered hillside just before crossing Chippewa Creek. The horn is sounding and the bell ringing for the crossing at Brecksville station.

Crossing Chippewa Creek on a sunny day that made it feel warm.

Crossing Chippewa Creek on a sunny day that made it feel warm.

The Ohio Route 82 bridge looms in the background as the 800 brings up the rear of the northbound Scenic at Brecksville.

The Ohio Route 82 bridge looms in the background as the 800 brings up the rear of the northbound Scenic at Brecksville.

The Scenic rounds a curve at Brecksville, thus enabling a side view of the entire train. Not the deep ruts cut by the train as it rolled through the snow.

The Scenic rounds a curve at Brecksville, thus enabling a side view of the entire train. Not the deep ruts cut by the train as it rolled through the snow.

 

 

Miss Liberty Dodging Snowflakes in Vermilion

February 22, 2015

The snow is flying as the NS 65V with the Central of New Jersey heritage unit in the lead passes through Vermilion. The former New York Central station is the right.

The snow is flying as the NS 65V with the Central of New Jersey heritage unit in the lead passes through Vermilion. The former New York Central station is the right.

The wind-angle perspective of NS 1071. The Vermilion railfan platform is the far right.

The wind-angle perspective of NS 1071. The Vermilion railfan platform is the far right.

My friend Adam and I were doing to get in some railfanning before attending a banquet Saturday night in Berea.

As we drove out that way we saw an online report that the Central of New Jersey heritage locomotive was leading a westbound 65V and getting a new crew at CP Ram in Cleveland.

Our plan was to intercept this train in Olmsted Falls. It was snowing steadily and traffic on I-480 was slow. As we were passing by Cleveland Hopkins Airport Adam saw an online report that the NS 1071 had just passed trough Berea.

We would never make it to Olmsted Falls in time. Plan B was to drive to Vermilion. We easily got ahead of hit despite the snowy conditions.

Much to my delight the snow continued to fall as we waited beneath the overhang of a shop on the north side of the NS Chicago Line.

After waiting longer than expected, the headlight of the NS 1071 came into view to the east. That gal looked good in the snow.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Sunday Snow Showers and 4 Railroads

March 5, 2013

A Wheeling & Lake Erie stone hoppers train sits near Summit Street in Akron on Sunday morning. I liked the beauty of the snow-covered rails.

A Wheeling & Lake Erie stone hoppers train sits near Summit Street in Akron on Sunday morning. I liked the beauty of the snow-covered rails.

This past Sunday I met up with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee at about 8 a.m. and we hit the road for a day of train chasing. It was snowing and we would encounter snow showers for most of the day. It was RAD weather!

Our plan was to track down the Erie heritage locomotive. But by the time I got to Roger’s house he had learned that NS had taken this unit off the coal train bound for Wisconsin to which it had been assigned on the Mon Line in southwestern Pennsylvania and put it on another coal train bound for Norfolk, Va.

This meant that it would be coming through Ohio on the Fort Wayne Line via Canton, not the Cleveland Line via Ravenna. In its original assignment, the Erie unit had been the leader. Now it was trailing. So much for that.

Instead, we turned out attention to hunting NS 1070, the Wabash heritage locomotive, which was leading an eastbound 14N out of Elkhart, Ind., and would be working Rockport Yard in Cleveland en route to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh. I’d photographed the NS 1070 before but Roger did not yet have it on the point in the wild.

Before setting out for the NS tracks, we found another “Erie” heritage unit. We made a pass by the Wheeling & Lake Erie tracks at Summit Street in Akron. Sitting in a siding known as Rock Cut was a train of empty stone hoppers. This train was unlikely to move until Sunday night.

Based on information that Roger received from a friend in Toledo, we decided to intercept the 14N at Olmsted Falls rather than venture further west on the Chicago Line.

While waiting for the 14N, we observed the westbound manifest freight that we had seen sitting at CP Max as we crossed over the NS tracks on I-480.

We had a report that the 14N had passed Sandusky shortly after 10 a.m. and estimated this would put it by us around 11.

In the meantime, we chatted with some railfan friends, one of whom said that the 14N had nothing behind him and the intermodal trains ahead of him were well ahead. This suggested that no traffic would be impeding his movement.

Roger was talking to a guy on his cell phone when one of our friends began waving. The 14N was on the approach. Time to move into position – quickly.

The snow as coming down steadily as the 14N with the Wabash heritage unit in the lead passed through Olmsted Falls. It was the second time I’d caught the NS 1070 and both times had been during a snow shower.

We were able to get over to Eastland Road and into position to catch the 14N passing beneath the intermediate signals on the signal bridge near MP 192.

The 14N worked Rockport, setting off 20 cars and picking up five. It was ready to head east by about 1 p.m. We got our final images of the NS 1070 leading this train near CP 107 just north of Motor Yard in Macedonia.

With our main mission accomplished, I suggested checking out the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, which runs twice a day on Saturday and Sunday during the winter.

We found the northbound CVSR train coming into Peninsula and then moved on to Boston Mill to photograph it again.

As the northbound train came into Boston Mill, it had begun snowing again. That must have pleased the owners of the ski resort across the road.

After getting the CVSR, we motored back to Akron where we heard a CSX train calling signals on the radio. We set up at Arlington Street where we got two eastbounds, the Q394 and the Q296, before calling it a day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A westbound manifest freight rumbles through Olmsted Falls, the first moving train of the day that we photographed.

A westbound manifest freight rumbles through Olmsted Falls, the first moving train of the day that we photographed.

A westbound NS intermodal kicks up some snow on the Chicago  Line at Olmsted Falls.

A westbound NS intermodal kicks up some snow on the Chicago Line at Olmsted Falls.

NS 1070, the Wabash heritage unit, rolls past the depot in Olmsted Falls. Also on hand was ARRC member Dennis Taksar.

NS 1070, the Wabash heritage unit, rolls past the depot in Olmsted Falls. Also on hand was ARRC member Dennis Taksar.

Another view of NS 1070 leading the 14N through Olmsted Falls.

Another view of NS 1070 leading the 14N through Olmsted Falls.

The 14N passes CP 107 just north of Motor Yard in Macedonia. The train would later take the Bayard line out of Alliance.

The 14N passes CP 107 just north of Motor Yard in Macedonia. The train would later take the Bayard line out of Alliance.

A westbound NS stack train approaches the signals at CP 107 just before the 14N rolled eastward.

A westbound NS stack train approaches the signals at CP 107 just before the 14N rolled eastward.

A former Santa Fe GP30 running long hood forward wheels a CVSR train into Boston Mill where it paused to drop off a passenger going to the ski resort. The locomotive is now LTEX 2436.

A former Santa Fe GP30 running long hood forward wheels a CVSR train into Boston Mill where it paused to drop off a passenger going to the ski resort. The geep is now LTEX 2436.

Roger doesn’t like LTEX 1420, a GP15-1 painted all black with some white trim. Because he wouldn’t photograph it, I decided that as a public service I would do so and post this image so that you all could see what power is on the south end of the CVSR these days.

Roger doesn’t like LTEX 1420, a GP15-1 painted all black with some white trim. Because he wouldn’t photograph it, I decided that as a public service I would do so and post this image so that you all could see what power is on the south end of the CVSR these days.

The Q394 splits the B&O style color position lights at AY just west of Arlington Street in Akron.

The Q394 splits the B&O style color position lights at AY just west of Arlington Street in Akron.