Cuyahoga Valley in steam

John Barnhill Sep 12, 2010

  1. John Barnhill

    John Barnhill TrainBoard Member

    Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad picks up some steam with antique locomotive

    Published: Saturday, September 11, 2010, 8:00 AM

    Marvin Fong / The Plain DealerBryan Porter shows the firebox aboard the 2-8-4 Berkshire locomotive that will be used by the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Porter is a fireman aboard the engine, to keep the fire hot, steam pressure up, and water in the boiler.

    VALLEY VIEW, Ohio -- Bryan Porter shovels coal as an act of love and respect.

    For the rest of the month he and other volunteers will be lavishing that unusual form of affection on a Berkshire 2-8-4 steam locomotive as it chugs along the rails of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. The excursion line tries to borrow steam engines at least once a year to use instead of the diesels that normally work its 51 miles of track.
    A smaller Baldwin 0-6-0 switch engine will supplement the mighty Berkshire, making steam-powered shuttle runs between Brecksville and the railroad's 'Fitzwater Maintenance Yard in Valley View.

    On Friday the Berkshire lounged at the Fitzwater yard. A muscular black plume of smoke reached skyward, punctuated by a spike of white steam as Porter made the locomotive whistle.
    Larry Blanchard, the railroad's 'operations manager, said steam locomotives are never supposed to cool down completely.
    Unfortunately, the Baldwin did exactly that, running out of coal in Independence. Blanchard had to fetch 10 buckets full from the railroad's stockpile, so owner Scott Symans, of Dunkirk, N.Y., could get up enough steam to make the Fitzwater yard.
    The Berkshire is from the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society. Volunteers there rescued the Lima, Ohio-built behemoth (engine and tender weigh in at 404 tons) from a city park, then spent five years in the late 1970s bringing it back to life. After 52,000 excursion miles, they rebuilt it again between 2000 and 2005, to turn out the gleaming black dinosaur that will stalk the Cuyahoga Valley in the coming weeks.
    Porter will focus on "keeping its fire hot, the steam pressure up and water in the boiler -- so we don't blow up," he said, articulating the duties of a railroad fireman. At speed, an augur beneath the floor plate carries coal from the tender into the locomotive's firebox. At a standstill, a fireman must stoke the engine by hand.
    The work is second nature to Porter, of Akron. His regular job is running coal-fired power plants. He is a member of the Fort Wayne society.
    He popped open theBerkshire's firebox for visitors, spreading two doors that hinge apart like the blades of fat scissors, to reveal an even carpet of flame. "Not hot at all," Porter said, noting that at full speed, the scene would be white-hot, and unbearable.
    Kelly Lynch, spokesman for the Fort Wayne group, said its Berkshire was built in 1944 as a dual-purpose engine for the Nickel Plate Railroad, capable of hauling passenger cars but preferred for freight because of its raw power. It ran between Chicago and Bellevue, Ohio, until 1958, Lynch said.

    PDThe engine and tender of the steam locomotive weigh 404 tons.
    By the 1950s, most railroads were swapping out their steam locomotives for diesel-electric engines.

    Lucky steamers got retired to static display. The rest went to scrap yards, which is where Symans found his 1925 Baldwin six years ago. He restored it, returning it to service in 2007.
    For a full schedule of the steam excursions (they begin today), go to or call 1-800-468-4070.
    To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-3905
  2. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

    John, it's always good to see more real steam news here on the board. Thanks for posting that. :tb-biggrin:
  3. Trainman4

    Trainman4 TrainBoard Member

    i know the 2-8-4 is #765 but whats the 0-6-0's identidy?
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I hope a fan or two will be around with a camera and take some action pictures!

    Boxcab E50

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