Posts Tagged ‘Olmsted Falls Ohio’

Just Like Sunday Mornings With Grandpa

August 18, 2019

Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited is more than four hours late as it passes through Olmsted Falls, Ohio, on a Sunday morning in mid May.

It was a sunny and pleasant Sunday morning in Olmsted Falls as I stood next to the tracks of Norfolk Southern at the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern station that is now owned by a model railroad club, the Cuyahoga Valley & West Shore.

I was waiting for a tardy eastbound Lake Shore Limited that Amtrak predicted would arrive in Elyria at 9:12 a.m. and depart two minutes later.

If that held, that would put No. 48 through Olmsted Falls at about 9:25 a.m.

As I waited, my thoughts flashed back to Sunday mornings in the early 1960s when my grandparents on my mother’s side would come to my hometown in east central Illinois from St. Louis for a weekend visit.

On Sunday morning, grandpa would take my sister and I for a walk of about four blocks that we called “going to the trains.”

On the west side of Mattoon not far from our house was an open area that still had tracks leading to a an abandoned shop building once used by the Peoria, Decatur & Evansville, which was absorbed by the Illinois Central in the early 20th century.

The tracks leading into that long-closed shop were still in place, but rusty and covered in weeds. Cinders were plentiful in the ballast.

This area was located between the tracks of the IC – that former PD&E – and the St. Louis line of the New York Central.

We would walk across those tracks to stand near the Central tracks. Two NYC passenger trains were scheduled to pass through Mattoon during the mid to late morning hours.

The eastbound train was the Southwestern and the westbound train the Knickerbocker. They were all that was left of the Central’s service to St. Louis.

In the early 1960s, both of those trains were still quite grand with sleepers, dining cars and coaches, some of which operated through to New York and all of which operated to and from Cleveland.

Sometimes the motive power for the trains were E units still wearing NYC lightning stripes, but at others times the motive power was Geeps in the cigar band look.

I thought about those trains as I waited for Amtrak No. 48, which had lost time starting with a late departure from Chicago Union Station the night before.

But something happened between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, where the bulk of the lost time occurred.

Amtrak equipment, like much of that used by the Central, is silver-colored stainless steel. The Central had some two-tone gray smooth sided passenger cars that were assigned to the St. Louis trains.

There are some parallels to where the Central’s passenger service was in the early 1960s and where Amtrak is today.

NYC management under the leadership of Alfred Perlman was convinced that long-distance trains had no future and throughout the 1950s the Central had aggressively discontinued as many of those trains as regulators would allow.

There might not have been any NYC passenger trains for myself, my sister and my grandpa to watch during our walks “to the trains” had the Illinois Commerce Commission allowed the Central to discontinue all service to St. Louis as it wanted to do in the late 1950s.

Amtrak management under the leadership of Richard Anderson has been signaling that it wants to transform its network into a series of short-haul corridors between urban points.

That strategy would eviscerate Amtrak’s long-distance network and probably spell the end of the Lake Shore Limited, the only daily train between Chicago and New York.

Those walks “to the trains” did not last long. By the middle 1960s my grandparents were no longer traveling from St. Louis to Mattoon to visit us.

In the meantime, the Southwestern and Knickerbocker grew shorter, shrinking to one sleeper and a couple of coaches. The dining car no longer operated west of Indianapolis.

In late 1967 the Central posted notices of its intent to discontinue its last trains to St. Louis. By then the trains only operated between St. Louis and Union City, Indiana, the NYC having used the “Ohio strategy” to discontinue them between Union City and Cleveland.

The “Ohio strategy” was a rule of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that allowed a railroad to discontinue a passenger train within the state of Ohio without PUCO approval provided it was not the last passenger train on that route.

The NYC and other railroads used that rule to devastating effect in the 1960s.

The Interstate Commerce Commission stayed the discontinuance of the remnants of the Southwestern and Knickerbocker, but after conducting an investigation concluded they were not needed for the public necessity and convenience. They made their last trips in March 1968.

By then they had shrunk to one E unit and one coach.

My grandpa died in 1982, the same year that Conrail won regulatory approval to abandon the former NYC through Mattoon. The tracks were pulled up through town in May 1983.

In the meantime, the IC razed the former shops used by the PD&E. That area where we used to walk remains an open field passed by a handful of trains of Canadian National.

No. 48 was slowly gaining back some of its lost time a minute or two at a time as it made its was east from Toledo. It departed Elyria about when Amtrak predicted it would.

The Lake Shore Limited continues to be an impressive looking train with three sleepers, six coaches, a baggage car, café car, dining car and two locomotives. But the dining car no longer serves meals freshly prepared onboard.

Just like the Central did, Amtrak is slowing chipping away at onboard service in an effort to cut costs.

As the Lake Shore flashed past, I again felt myself going back to the early 1960s and watching the Southwestern rush past also en route to New York City.

I couldn’t think of too many better ways to spend part of a Sunday morning.

Passing the Olmsted Falls depot, now the home of a model railroad club.

All the meals being served in that dining car behind the Amfleet coach were prepared off the train. The chefs were laid off or reassigned to other runs.

Early Morning and a Late Lake Shore Limited

August 2, 2019

The sun is slowly climbing over Olmsted Falls, Ohio, as a very late Lake Shore Limited scoots toward Chicago.

Under normal circumstances Train No. 49 would have passed here in darkness.

The sun angle when this image was made on May 11 made photography tricky but did yield a nice reflection from the lead P42DC locomotive No. 92.

The former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (later New York Central) depot at right is now the home of a model railroad club.

Not Much Breakfast to be had in Diner Dover

May 27, 2019

Amtrak began putting Viewliner dining cars built by CAF USA into service not longer before it stopped offering full service dining aboard the Lake Shore Limited in favor of what it termed “fresh and contemporary” meal service.

At the time that service launched in June 2018, no hot meal offerings were offered. Everything served was prepared off the train.

Since then hot food had made a sort of comeback on the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited.

Breakfast now includes a breakfast sandwich of ham, egg and cheddar cheese served on a ciabatta roll that an attendant can heat for you in a microwave oven.

I imagine that one or more passengers were having that sandwich as the westbound Lake Shore passed through Olmsted Falls, Ohio, near Cleveland on the morning I made this image.

It wasn’t a hot, freshly prepared meal created by a chef aboard the train, but I suppose it was better than the alternative of breakfast bars.

Dover, like most of the Viewliner diners, is named after a state capitol city. Like many of those capitols, Dover is not on the Amtrak route map.

In Its Customary Position

May 21, 2019

An Amtrak Viewliner baggage car brings up the rear of the westbound Lake Shore Limited as it cruises through Olmsted Fall, Ohio, en route to Chicago.

The next stop for Train 49 will be Elyria, Ohio.

The typical operation of Nos. 48 and 49 has the Boston section at the front of the train. Only the New York section still has a baggage car and it is always on the rear.

And that’s for good reason, too. You would not want passengers walking through a baggage going to and from the Boston and New York sections.

Ahead of the baggage cars are a pair of Viewliner sleepers and Viewliner dining car Dover.

A Little Out of the Ordinary

May 18, 2019


Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited usually has two P42DC locomotives pulling it over most of its route, but on May 16-17, it had three.

The lead unit may have been added at Albany-Rensselaer, New York, as online reports indicated that No. 145 was leading the train out of Boston.

No. 48 was running more than three hours late when I photographed it charging through Olmsted Falls, Ohio, on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

Aside from the trio of P42DCs operating elephant style another out of the ordinary feature of this train was a second Viewliner sleeper in the Boston section.

For those wondering, the train had P42DC Nos.  95, 145 and 28 in that order. The Viewliner dining car was the Dover, which seems these days to be regularly assigned to an equipment set of Nos. 48 and 49.

Seeing the Sunrise in Ohio

March 4, 2019

Your train didn’t get out of Chicago Union Station until 12:33 a.m., making it just over three hours late when its wheels finally began to turn.

So maybe you wanted to sleep in a little the next morning.

By the time you pulled back the curtains from the windows in your Viewliner sleeping accommodations on Train No. 48 it was just after 8 a.m.

The skies were mostly cloudy, but a bit of sunlight was peaking through as the Lake Shore Limited roared through Olmsted Falls in suburban Cleveland.

No. 48 has made some of the time lost leaving Chicago, but not much.

By the time it halted at the Amtrak station next to Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland No. 48 was 2 hours and 51 minutes late.

It would not get much better the rest of the way, reaching New York City at 8:09 p.m. The scheduled arrival time at Penn Station is 6:23 p.m.

Around Utica, New York, No. 48 had dropped down to 3 hours, 15 minutes off the published time card.

As it the practice these days, a continental breakfast is available in the dining car just ahead of the two New York sleepers.

Today’s train has one of those new Viewliner dining cars that are named for state capital cities.

This one is named after the capital of Ohio, Columbus, a city that has not seen a scheduled Amtrak train since the last National Limited snuck out of town on May 1, 1979, on its last day of operation.

Not a Good Restart for No. 48

February 2, 2019

First there was the severe cold that sidelined Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited for two days.

Although other long distance trains out of Chicago were to resume operations on Thursday night (Jan. 31), the restart of the Lake Shore was held until Friday.

Make that Saturday morning. No. 48 left Chicago Union Station 6 hours and 28 minutes late.

It managed to gain back some time en route but was still 5 hours, 35 minutes down when it reached Cleveland on Saturday morning.

It is shown passing through Olmsted Falls, a Cleveland suburb, just before 11 a.m. on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

Rough Day for No. 48

November 15, 2018

Thursday was a rough day for Amtrak’s eastbound Lake Shore Limited.

The woes started on Wednesday night when the scheduled 9:30 p.m. departure from Chicago slipped to 1:50 a.m. the next morning.

And you know what happens with late trains and how they just get later.

After leaving Chicago 4 hours and 20 minutes late, No. 48 continued to lose time as it made its way east.

It lost 24 minutes between Chicago and South Bend, Indiana, seven minutes between South Bend and Elkhart, Indiana, and another 15 minutes between Elkhart and Waterloo, Indiana.

And so it went that by the time it left Toledo it was 5:25 down, and more than six hours late leaving Sandusky and Elyria, Ohio.

It had picked up some time when I photographed it rushing past the Olmsted Falls station just after 11 a.m.

Amtrak reported that No. 48 arrived in Cleveland 5:41 late. It pretty much held that pace to Erie, Pennsylvania, but began losing time again, arriving in Buffalo, New York, 6 hours late.

By the time No. 48 reached Syracuse, New York, at 6:37 p.m. it was 7:14 down.

Things improved somewhat east of there. As Amtrak Julie reminds callers, trains can gain or lose time en route.

In this case, No. 48 picked up an hour by the time it left Albany-Rensselaer, New York, and arrived in Penn Station in the Big Apple at 12:41 a.m., six hours and 18 minutes late.

I hope no one had reservations last night for dinner and a play in Manhattan.

Today No. 48 was a mere 39 minutes late arriving in Cleveland.

Very Late No. 29

September 17, 2018

A very late westbound Capitol Limited charges through Olmsted Falls, Ohio, in July 2017.

I’m not sure why the train was behind schedule, but it should have come through here about eight hours earlier.

There will be a lot of missed connections today in Chicago.