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Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway 8/17/2022



by Chris Guenzler



Elizabeth and I awoke at the Best Western Hotel in Poland, Ohio and this morning we stopped at MacDonald's for breakfast as there was not time to go to Perkins which opened at 7:00 and we had a seventy mile drive for a 9:00 train. After our meal, I drove us to the Rockside station of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway and parked the car in their lot. We walked to the train and checked into "St. Lucie Sound" for our trip to North Akron.

Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway history

Based on a track bed and rails originally laid down around 1880, right-of-way ownership transitioned over the years from Valley Railway to Cleveland Terminal & Valley Railroad, to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, to the Chessie System. Currently, the National Park Service own the rails and right-of-way within Cuyahoga Valley National Park. CVSR co-operates with Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway (WLE) on operation of the railroad track south of CUVA to Canton. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad operates their excursion trains in co-operation with both the NPS & WLE.

The history of trains in the Cuyahoga Valley stretches back more than 100 years. In 1880, the Valley Railway began operations, transporting coal to Cleveland, Akron, and Canton from the Tuscarawas River Valley and providing passenger service along the way. After a decade of operation, the Valley Railway became part of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. In the 20th century, competition from automobiles, trucks, and buses caused the decline of both freight and passenger service. Interest in the line was renewed in 1972 as a scenic excursion route and the Cuyahoga Valley Preservation and Scenic Railway Association was born.

Today

Originally known as the Cuyahoga Valley Line, the scenic railroad now operates as Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

From the current CVSR Rockside station, existing tracks follow the West Bank of the Cuyahoga River to along: Valley Belt Road, Bradley Road, Jennings Road, Steelyard Drive, Holmden Avenue, Quigley Road; crossing over the Cuyahoga River on the railroad draw bridge near Quigley and West 3rd, then follow the east bank of the Cuyahoga River to Canal Road near Commercial Road, ending up along Canal Road between Ontario Avenue and West 2nd Street.

Future

Several Ohio and Erie Canal-oriented organizations in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and Summit County are pushing for extension of CVSR operations farther North along the Canal corridor into Cleveland. Some other organizations have been researching the feasibility of commuter rail operations between Akron-Canton and Cleveland.

One of the big issues to be resolved would be scheduling and controlling access since the tracks through Cleveland and Newburgh Heights are used by freight train traffic, and much of the route above is single track with limited sidings.

Schedule

CVSR's schedule varies with seasonal demands. Currently, CVSR operates on Saturdays in January-February, Saturdays and Sundays in March-April, Fridays-Sundays in May and Tuesdays-Sundays in June through October. In November, the scenic train runs on weekends only due to The Polar Express. One train makes daily round-trips from Independence to Akron, which takes about 3 hours round trip.

Steam in the Valley

Typically each year CVSR hosts visiting steam-powered equipment. Examples of such equipment include Ohio Central 1293, Viscose 6 and Nickel Plate Road 765.

St. Lucie Sound 1 history

This car was built by the Budd Company in 1946 for the Florida East Coast Railroad. St Lucie was sold to the Canadian Tower Limited in 1986 where it was refurbished. CVSR acquired the car from the Haslinger family in 1995. In 2014, CVSR raised funds to renovate and restore the car's interior to its original appearance. The colors and concepts were inspired by the historical, 1940s-50s lounge look of the car when it was built. The car features hand-etched glass dividers and display cases that were preserved and highlighted. In 2016, CVSR volunteers, with the assistance of ICA Conservation, dedicated more than 1,000 hours to remove glue from an original mural on the bar area which had been covered with carpet.

We took the last seats and settled in to this unique observation car.





Elizabeth was looking good on her first trip aboard this railroad.





I was making my second trip, the first was during the 2006 National Railway Historical Society convention when we rode one-way to South Akron.





I love the art deco of this Florida East Coast railroad car.





Typical northern Ohio scenery.





The Cuyahoga River that runs through Cuyahoga National Park.





More of the beauty of Cuyahoga National Park.





Inside the dividers of this unique car.





The shops of the Cuyahoga Railroad.





Your author and his most beautiful wife aboard the train, taken by our car host, Neil.





The high bridge at Brecksville.





The Cuyahoga River along our route.





More of that northern Ohio scenery.





As part of the National Park System fallen trees are just left alone.





These dead trees include at least one eagle's nest.





Another view of the Cuyahoga River.







Many different kinds of trees abound in this park.





Not many national parks have ski areas, but this one does.





The Ohio Turnpike crosses high above Cuyahoga National Park.





The train crossed the Cuyahoga River.





The Cleveland Terminal and Valley station in Peninsula, which was built in 1967 after the original 1880 one was destroyed in a fire, and was re-located from Boston Mills. The Cleveland Terminal and Valley, or the Valley Railway, was a shortline railroad which operated between the city of Cleveland and small town of Zoarville, Ohio. The railroad was founded in 1871, but the first segment of track did not open until 1880 and the line was not completed until 1884. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad obtained a controlling interest in the Valley Railway in 1890. The railroad went bankrupt in 1895, at which time it was reorganized as The Cleveland Terminal and Valley Railroad Company. The B&O took over operation of the CT&V in 1909, and the company was merged with the B&O in 1915.





Elizabeth at the her seat in this wonderful car. I took a walk to take a picture.





The decorative bar area of St. Lucie Sound.





The Cuyahoga River was now on the west side of the train.





The train recrossed the Cuyahoga River.



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We made our way to North Akron where some passengers would disembark and others join us. We stopped for fifteen minutes before the return trip started.





The Cuyahoga River returned to the west side.





The Ohio and Erie canal.





An outdoor sculpture of an Indian carrying a canoe.





A sewer pipe follows our route part way.







The Cuyahoga River.









The Baltimore and Ohio Peninnsula station.





The Ohio Tollway crosses our route.





Interstate 271 also crossed our tracks.





The Cuyahoga River.





Wildflowers were in bloom along our journey.





The bend in the Cuyahoga River.





That pond scum was a unique view on our trip.





We came into Becksville, where my 2006 trip started, and Neil took me to the vestibule of the car and opened the door.





The High Bridge at Brecksville and our train.





The lock gate of the Ohio and Erie Canal.





Two bridges across the Cuyahoga River. We returned to Rockside and both of us took photographs of the consist as we had been unable to do so earlier.





Cuyahoga Valley Railroad Point St. Lucie Sound 1.





Cuyahoga Valley Railroad dining car 2914 "A.A. Augustus" was built in November 1946 by the Budd Company for the New York Central Railroad (NYC). It was numbered as 2914 and was a 56-seat coach. On February 1, 1968, the NYC and Pennsylvania Railroad merged to form the Penn Central Transportation Company. 2914 was transferred to the company and retained its original number. The merger from day one was disastrous, and soon after, on June 21, 1970 Penn Central filed for bankruptcy. Passenger service was discontinued until Amtrak began on May 1, 1971. 2914 was purchased by Amtrak in 1974 and was renumbered as 5650. In 1988 it was sold to Kenneth Bitten and was renumbered back to 2914. The coach was used on the Northern Central Railway, Inc.'s Liberty Limited dinner train in New Freedom, PA. CVSR purchased the 2914 in May 1999 and it was named after Albert A. Augustus, CVSR's second board president from 1977-1988. Augustus later served as a board member and was made a Trustee Emeritus for his many years of service. He passed away on July 19, 2013. In the fall of 2018 the car was converted into a multi-purpose dining car, as a part of CVSR's Powering Ahead Capital Campaign.





Cuyahoga Valley Railroad George Washington Cooper 165 was built by Budd Company in 1949 for Pennsylvania Railroad as part of a fleet of 21 roomette sleeping cars. It was rebuilt in 1963 as a 76-seat coach. In 1991 it was rebuilt by MARC to current 80-seat configuration. In 2000, it was owned by Akron Metro and leased to Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Ownership was transferred from Akron Metro to CVSR as an in-kind contribution on October 29, 2013. Car 165 was renamed in late September, 2018 as the "George Washington Cooper" car by Doug Cooper, CVSR former President & CEO as well as the great-great-grandson of George Washington Cooper.





Cuyahoga Valley Railroad 8283 built as a 21-roomette sleeper car in January 1949 by the Budd Company for the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). In 1963 PRR renumbered the car to 1521 and converted it to a 64-seat coach-12 seat smoker car. In 1968 the car was transferred to Penn Central after the PRR and NYC merged. The car was transferred again to Conrail in 1976 and later sold to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJT) in 1963 and renumbered to 5414. In 1989 the car was sold to Maryland Area Regional Commuter Rail (MARC), where it received 162. MARC also upgraded the cars seating capacity to 80. It was sold in December 2000 to Akron Metropolitan Regional Transit Authority (METRO) and subsequently leased to CVSR. METRO donated the car to CVSR on October 29, 2013.





Cuyahoga Valley Railroad 8704 built by Budd Company in 1949 was originally built for the Burlington & Quincy Railroad as a Parlor Car. It was rebuilt in 1968 as a 44-seat Snack Bar Coach. CVSR acquired the car in 2007. Car 8704 also has a generator and can be used on smaller trains as a power source for the train. Car 8704 is used by CVSR for as a concession car for special events and excursions.





Cuyahoga Valley Railroad 105 was originally built by the Budd Company in May 1952 for the Boston Maine Railroad as an RDC-3 with a Railway Post Office section, a baggage room and passenger seating area. CVSR purchased the car in 2008 from Georgia Southwestern Railroad, and the RDC-3 was de-motorized and turned into a regular coach in 1982. Its end doors were not converted into ADA standards until CVSR had it rebuilt in 2009 by way of a grant from the National Park Service.





Cuyahoga Valley Railroad 167 "Simon Perkins" was built for Pennsylvania Railroad as part of a fleet of 21 roomette sleeping cars. It was rebuilt in 1963 as a 76-seat coach. In 1991 it was rebuilt by MARC to current 80-seat configuration. In 2000, it was owned by Akron Metro and leased to Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Ownership was transferred from Akron Metro to CVSR as an in-kind contribution on October 29, 2013.





Cuyahoga Valley Railroad 8244 "Beaver Falls Inn" was built for Pennsylvania Railroad as part of a fleet of 21 roomette sleeping cars. It was rebuilt in 1963 as a 76-seat coach. In 1991 it was rebuilt by MARC to its current 80-seat configuration. In 2000, it was owned by Akron Metro and leased to Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Ownership was transferred from Akron Metro to CVSR as an in-kind contribution on October 29, 2013. In March 2021 the car was renamed to its original name and number that it received when it was built in 1949. The car is preserved in honor of CVSR.





Cuyahoga Valley Railroad 169 "Culver Inn" was built for Pennsylvania Railroad as part of a fleet of 21 roomette sleeping cars. It was rebuilt in 1963 as a 76-seat coach. In 1991 it was rebuilt by MARC to current 80-seat configuration. In 2000, it was owned by Akron Metro and leased to Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Ownership was transferred from Akron Metro to CVSR as an in-kind contribution on October 29, 2013. The car is preserved in memory of John Lahoski who made many contributions to the historic railroad and helped shape it into what the community knows today. He was the driving force behind the growth of the North Pole, the destination for families on board CVSR's North Pole Adventure.





Cuyahoga Valley Railroad baggage car was built for the Pennsylvania Railroad as part of a fleet of 21 roomette sleeping cars. It was rebuilt in 1963 as a 76-seat coach. In 1991 it was rebuilt by MARC to its current 80-seat configuration. In 2000, it was owned by Akron Metro and leased to Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Ownership was transferred from Akron Metro to CVSR as an in-kind contribution on October 29, 2013. In 2020, the car was renamed to its original name and number. The car is preserved in honor of Ruth Renner Percy by the Renner Foundation. Percy was an attorney, artist, journalist, world traveler and a dedicated CVSR volunteer with 2,535 hour served. She passed away in 2010.

Since we could not access the locomotives, I had the idea that as we never saw them, why not go out on the line and find a spot to take pictures of both ends of the train as it was making its next trip. Elizabeth agreed wholeheartedly so we drove over to the Hillside Road grade crossing and we did not have long to wait.







Cuyahoga Valley Railroad FPA-4 6771 built by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1958 as Canadian Pacific 8779. It was rebuilt in September 1984 by CP's Angus Shops when it received its low hood and 1822 number. In 1998, 1822, along with sister unit 1812, were serving as shop switchers in Montreal and were the last active RS-18's on the Canadian Pacific Railroad. CVSR purchased 1822 in 1998 was on the south end of this train.







Cuyahoga Valley Railroad RS-18 365, built by Alco in 1965 as Seaboard Air Line 124. It was re-numbered to 1226 following the July 1, 1967 merger with Atlantic Coast Line that formed Seaboard Coast Line. In April, 1976 it was leased to the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, who then purchased the locomotive on July 31, 1977 and re-numbered it to 1365. Indiana Hi-Rail purchased it in 1982 and re-numbered it to 365, later they declared bankruptcy and 365 was sold to Indiana Boxcar leasing company. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad leased 365 in September 1998 to finish season. CVSR later purchased 365 in December, 2001 from Indiana Boxcar. In 2012, TRIP Funding provided by the National Park Service allowed for the conversion of 365 to Green Technology which was completed in 2015. This reduced exhaust emissions by 90%, reduced fuel consumption by 60%, eliminated oil waste, and reduced Cuyahoga Valley National Park's visual and noise pollution. The project extended the life of the engine for another 25-30 years.

Elizabeth and I then drove to Shaker Heights and the Green Road RTA station but alas, that is the subject of the next story.



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