Saturday, April 18, 2015

Local Railfanning Excitement

As with other posts covering Norfolk Southern's Heritage Units or Foreign Visitors on the W&LE , I will occasionally share my note worthy railfanning trips or encounters and today was one of those times.

In 1995 the Union Pacific purchased the Chicago & North Western and over the years their snazzy yellow and green locomotives slowly disappeared, painted in to the UP's armour yellow and grey colors.

Now amazingly 20 years later, two C&NW engines still remain in their original paint, left that way on purpose until a major repair forces one of them into a UP shop where it will finally repainted. Or so the story goes on internet forums.

Usually seen around Iowa and the Illinois area, one of the two C&NW engines slipped out of Chicago on a CSX train headed for a rare visit to the eastern side of the U.S. right though Akron, Ohio.

C&NW 8646's trip east on the CSX Chicago mainline through Akron caught me by complete surprise. I work right next to the CSX mainline and even though I am often unable to see what rumbles by, I can listen to a radio scanner sometimes to hear the crew call out a nearby signal with their lead engine name and number. When I heard the crew call out "C&NW 8646", I knew I had missed something special and would have to hope for a return westbound trip a couple of days later.

On Friday it finally began making is way back west from Baltimore, attracting quite a few people trackside along the way. Passing though Akron couldn't have been timed more perfect on a very busy afternoon for me. I was able to catch it with my son Brendan, who managed to get out of school just in time to see it. And that deserves a special thanks to my wife for liking trains enough to speed Brendan straight from school over to my waiting spot so we could share a high five for catching another rare engine together.

C&NW 8646 westbound with CSX Q137-17 at the Exchange signals, Akron, OH 4-17-2015 Chris Ellis photo

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