Fort Wayne Line, 06/19/99

Canton, Ohio to Rochester, Pennsylvania

Radio communications recorded along the entire trip, in the RealAudio format. Don't have a RealAudio player? Download it here for free. (Look for the tiny button at the bottom that says "Real Player Free" under "Top Free Downloads".)

Left Canton around 0630, soon as I got to CP-Alliance about 0700, PIEL
came thru just after ENS-401 had tied on to his head end. The lashup was:

PRR 8421
BNSF pumpkin 7079
BNSF pumpkin 8115
BN 6804
BNSF pumpkin 1091
BN 8124
Conrail 5578
N-S 2509
N-S 6102
and an old EMD switcher NREX 31.

Luckily he stopped briefly at Alliance to drop somebody
off so I had plenty of time to get shots of all the locomotives,
so that started the day off nice. People were still there waiting
for Amtrak 30 which is supposed to be there at 5:18 AM.
After PIEL cleared I beat feet for Conway.

Coming across OH 344 into Leetonia, going over the tracks and looking east, I
spot what looks like a Pennsy tower downtown. I've been thru Leetonia dozens
of times chasing trains but never really stopped and looked around, and I never
noticed the tower before. I stopped and checked it out, turns out that in the
early 90’s it was moved to its present location in the parking lot of the Tri-W
Lumber Company from just across the tracks where it originally stood. Tri-W
owns it now and plans on keeping it and is fixing it up. For those that
may not know, the Lisbon Branch of the Erie Railroad crossed the Pennsy right
there, hence the tower protecting the crossing. The armstrong machine
is still in it, but it had been partially dismantled without permission of the
owners by a historical group who thought they should have possession
of it, even though the lumber company owned it and had every intention of
keeping it in the tower, in its original state. So the machine has been saved
and will be put back together.

Special thanks to Shawn Sevenich of Tri-W Lumber, 16 Madison St., Leetonia, who
was nice enough to take me up in the tower and showed me the machine and told me
the story behind how they came to own the tower and moved it across the tracks and
answered all my questions. No trains came by the whole 45 minutes I was there, so
I headed east again.

At East Palestine, there's an eastbound BVPI-4, NS 9208 sitting there right by the station at about MP 49.8,
waiting for a recrew. His engines are just east of an overhead bridge (West St.),
so I get up on the bridge to take pics, well here comes a westbound so I got the
meet on film. I get back down to the next street east of the train (OH 165) to
get some street-level shots of the head end of the idling train and I hear the
incoming cab talking to the crew cause he doesn't seem to know the area and
they're telling him where they are. Well he stops just before the tracks, and
he's not up far enough to see down the tracks at the train and I'm trying to get
his attention and I'm pointing at the train and he finally sees me and heads up
the tracks west to the train (you can see the engineer standing on the side of #1 track). Once the crew is
picked up (there was no recrew in the taxi), I headed east again. A few miles
east of E. Palestine, just across the PA border, at Little Beaver Rd. There's
another eastbound stopped (SFPI-7), and they had separated the train so not
to block the crossing. I stopped there and talked to the conductor who was still
standing there and asked him what his train's symbol was and he said SFPI-7.
Now 2 BNSF pumpkins I caught the week before at Moultrie on the Bayard Branch were pulling
an SFPI, so I asked him if he had any Santa Fe power and he said yeah. So I stood
there and talked to him as I waited for a westbound I knew was coming (a van train
with 6169 on the head end), took pictures of the meet, and beat feet east looking
for the head end of that train. The same taxi picked up the crew of this train
that had got the crew on BVPI. Still no recrew for either one. This was all probably
around 9:30-10:00 in the morning.

Next east road crossing: McRoberts Rd (MP 46.8). The head end of SFPI was there,
4 engines and a couple of cars over the crossing and blocking it. Immediately in
front of it was the rear end of another train, whose head end I was to find out
was at CP-Enon (MP 45.3). Never got the symbol on that train. Well the taxi had
just gotten there, picked up the engineer, and left. Still no recrew. The power
on the SFPI-7 was: Conrail SD50 6824, a BNSF C44-9W War-bonnet, a green/black BN SD40-2
and a blue/yellow Santa Fe SD40-2. I got my pictures, and here comes another
westbound, SPL-701 with just a handful of flatcars with auto frames. Not too
long after, TV-207 comes by. So then along comes an N-S policeman in his sharp
white unmarked Chevy Suburban, asks me how long I'd been there, I said
about 15 minutes, and he asked me if there was a crew on the train and I told
him the limo had just taken them away. So then he says "that train shouldn't be
blocking the road like that", (I was kinda surprised too, since they had
split the train once already) and got on the radio and called the Cleveland
Line dispatcher to let him know. (I would come back thru there in the evening
heading home and it was still blocked by the same train, but that's another story
I'll get into later). I asked him if he was here to watch the unmanned engines and
he said he was watching all the trains. He said they were stacked up into Conway,
and I asked how many and he showed me his legal pad with the trains' engine
numbers jotted down, and it looked to be 8 to 12 trains! I asked him where the
head end of this next train here was and he said over at CP-Enon, so away I go
(The Amtrak special snuck thru before I got there).

I head over to Enon, and I see the head end of the parked train across a field from
Anderson Rd just west of the interlocking, There's 1 Conrail C40-8W in the lead, a primer-gray N-S -9,
an N-S GP38-2 and a Conrail B23-7. Walked across the field (with permission of the owner
who was out in his yard) and got pics of them, looked across route 551 at the east end
of the interlocking, and there's the rear end of yet another idling train! So
off to find his head-end.

I head east on PA 351, and stop at the 351 bridge over the Ft. Wayne Line. I
always wanted to get a picture of the old signal bridge still standing just west
of the 351 bridge, so I thought I'd get that and the mid-section of the parked
train at the same time. Well finally here comes Amtrak 30 so I got it all in
one shot. So I head east still looking for the head end of the parked train
and spot it at a little piece of road that connects Haggerty Rd. and Wallace
Rd. An old man who stopped there and talked for a bit said it was known as
McCowin's Crossing (originally not a public road), but the tracks go right
smack thru it. Power on this train was a pair of N-S -9's. As I stand there and
talk to this old guy, I saw a parade of eastbounds on track 2 going around these
stopped trains.

First one was TV2H 6205 (note the "rail-rail crossing" sign),
2nd was STPI-7 3003,
3rd was TV20T with an SD80MAC (4128) and an SD70 for power.
4th was TV2M, with 6795 in the lead,
and 5th was ELPI-8X, 6208 in the lead followed by NS C40-9 8798 and CR SD40-2 6478.

Also saw a couple ex-Penn Central box cars on the ELPI. There was no more than 10 minute
intervals between these trains, no sooner than one would go by, I'd hear the
E. Palestine detector going off, signalling another. After ELPI, I head
east again.

I beat ELPI to New Brighton, PA, caught him again at 2nd St., just west of
the Fallston bridge, right along the Ft. Wayne Line and Youngstown Line where
the street's level with the tracks. Also, on the way in to New Brighton going over
the Beaver River on PA 18, I saw a train sitting idle on the Youngstown Line.
After not too long comes RR-282 on the Ft. Wayne Line with an N-S Operation Lifesaver unit
trailing, and then a northbound on
the Youngstown Line, train 63W, with CR 6592 in the lead and LMS 713 trailing. Then things
died! I sat there for a good 2 hours at least, and the only other train that
came along was ML-417 PRR 8387/5501. So I decided to go over to CP-Rochester,
at least things would be quieter there (less auto traffic) and I'd have the
sun behind me. On the way over, Amtrak 43 came thru.

I get to Rochester, and here comes PIBV-9 creeping up to the signal at CP-Rochester,
where he's going to be held for awhile. Power is NS 9369/NS 5085/NS 8867. It’s amazing
what they did with the former site of the Rochester tower, you’d hardly know it was there. Sad.
So while PIBV’s waiting, along comes TV12, after which PIBV heads west.
Next is RR261 5624/2566. Next one was NS train number 557 (bunch of NS coal hoppers)
with NS 9039/NS 9108 for power that had come off the Cleveland Line. Soon as he clears here comes
another westbound. So then comes PRPI and as he's creeping along, here comes
another westbound (PIEW) but since PRPI is barely moving, I'll never get to
see the power of PIEW. But I could see enough thru the cars of PRPI to tell
that it had a UP unit, and a Rio Grande unit, with the large speed lettering.
Curse the luck! Well I wasn't letting it get away that easy, I got in my car
and was determined to intercept him somewhere between there and back home in
Canton. Beat him to New Brighton, but I wanted to get on the south side of
the tracks so I could get the sun behind me and get a nice well-lit shot. So
I went down into the park at New Brighton that sits right on the Beaver River,
and figured I'd climb the hill to the tracks and get a good shot from the south.
All of a sudden, the Beaver Falls detector goes off on track 1, signalling
an eastbound which I knew would get there before the PIEW, and block my shot!
So I go all the way to the end of the park, which goes under the bridge that
carries the Ft. Wayne Line over the Beaver River, to get a shot from the north,
into the sun, but it's better than nothing I guess. Well here comes the train,
I'm shooting up into the sky, but it doesn't seem like it's going to be that
bad of a shot. I click off first picture of the CR unit on the head end, then
comes the Rio Grande unit, I frame him in, press the button------and--------nothing.
In the excitement I hadn't realized I had only one picture left on that roll
of film. I had blown my last picture on the lead Conrail unit.
Messed up yet one more time! So back on the road west to try and beat him again.

Don't know if you've ever driven thru New Brighton and Beaver Falls on PA 18, but it takes forever!
(25 mph speed limits and many traffic lights).
But it turned out I got real lucky, they held PIEW east of CP-Enon for awhile. Sitting right at
Enon was PIBV again, waiting on an eastbound van train. Got that meet on film,
and headed farther west and figured I'd go back to McRoberts Rd. and see if
the SFPI was still sitting there blocking the crossing. It sure was. I was
there 5 minutes though, when the new crew finally showed up for the SFPI.
They told me they were a "dog-catcher” crew, called out just to take the train
into Conway. A couple of real nice guys, the engineer even invited me aboard
the lead unit (the CR SD50 6824) and follow him back thru the 3 other units as
he took them out of isolation and released their hand brakes.
Also got to ride on the 6824 while they doubled back to the rest of
their train that was on the other side of Little Beaver Rd. So while all
that was happening, along comes PIBV, and then another westbound, and then
finally PIEW (with conductor Willie Brown), with the Rio Grande unit which I shot
from the front deck of the SD50. After SFPI pulled out, I headed west again.

Additional pictures of SFPI-7:

Engineer Jeff Opsatnik on the front deck of the 6824

Condutor Paul Vukas and Engineer Jeff on the 6824. I know it's blurry, but I liked it so I put it on.

Conductor Paul Vukas in front of the 6824

View out the back from the Conductor's seat on the 6824

Cab signal in the 6824

Engineer Jeff at the controls of the 6824.

Control stand of the 6824. Note the telemetry unit on the top-left (giving the air pressure on the rear end, 76 pounds)

Road Railer westbound going by the 6824, view from the cab

Jeff on the side of the 6824

Control stand of the BNSF 4704. It was nice and cool in there, too! (on a hot summer day)

View down the side of the 4704

Jeff taking off the hand brake on the 4704

Nose of the BN 8008

Control stand of the 8008

Jeff on the side of the ATSF 5047

Control stand of the 5047

Conductor Paul in front of the 4704

SFPI-7 pulling out and headed into Conway

Conductor Paul going by on the 6824

Thanks a lot, guys!

Going thru E. Palestine, the BVPI from the morning was finally getting
recrewed too. Only about 12 hours or more since the original crew outlawed!

Caught one more eastbound (Mail-8M) in Columbiana at Pittsburgh St., and headed on home.
Don Narris--Canton, Ohio

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