Sunday, July 26, 2015

Chasing the NKP 765 Steam Excursion from Ashtabula to Youngstown

I spent Saturday afternoon, July 25, 2015, chasing the NKP 765 excursion from Ashtabula to Youngstown. I did not ride it even though I need the approximately 5 miles from I90 to the NKP connection (I got from there south on the Good Morning America Train in 2008). I had planned to chase the train south and then meet Steve Miller (who was riding) at Youngstown and go see the Mahoning Scrappers (Cleveland, Short Season A) play the Brooklyn Cyclones. Then I suggested to Steve that he join me chasing back once he had the mileage and that is what we did.
I left home around 11am and hit Boardman, OH at almost exactly noon. Along the road I saw a highway sign for a Steak and Shake and decided to stop for a take-out lunch. While I was waiting for my order, I heard someone behind me call my name. It was a friend and his wife from the Boston area who were also out to see the train. They had just driven up from the Pittsburgh airport and had stopped to dine at an old reliable. I made some suggestions for where they could see the train along the way (they are riding tomorrow) and then left them to head up to Ashtabula.
I reached Ashtabula by 1:30 but had some trouble finding the train. I reached trainside at about 2:15 … a few minutes ahead of its scheduled 2:30 departure. I had spent some time on Friday mapping out where each road crossing of the line was on Pocket Earth (a great GPS application for the iPhone and I presume Android) and then used the information in Google Earth and eventually Google Streetview to see what each crossing looked like. I was able to identify 14 likely locations between Ashtabula and Youngstown and about 6 nice ones. I had preprogrammed all of them into my GPS. We went to four of them.
Dorset was the first of the nice ones. When we got there (next to a manure farm as far as I could tell) there were two youngish fans there already, and shortly we were joined by pair of daisy pickers, shown below.

We had a long wait for the train but eventually he showed--just as the sun went behind a cloud.

Even Steve, who rode, was surprised by the trailing unit. The line from Youngstown to Ashtabula has essentially no curves and since NS doesn’t let people open dutch doors and there are no runbys….

The next stop was at Kinsman, about 9 miles further towards Youngstown. We got there, out of my car, and in position, just ahead of the train.

Then it was on to a spot at the 84 Lumber on the Warren-Sharon road where again we arrived just minutes ahead of the train.

Our final photo location was on Hubbard Rd, in Youngstown. Again we had little time to wait after we arrived. This would have been a better shot without the jerk with the head lights.

As my friend Alex Mayes pointed out (and illustrated by the below) with digital photography it really isn't a problem!

One final shot at Hubbard shows a young couple admiring the train and one of Iowa Pacific Holding's dome cars as the train passes.

After the train reached Youngstown we said hello to a couple of friends who had ridden and then Steve and I headed to the ball park, Eastwood Field, in Niles. Eastwood Field is a very nice minor league park, nicer than most of the current cookie cutter parks. The food was decent and decently priced. The play was definitely single A but enjoyable never the less. Because I had a 90+ minute drive home I left after the 5th inning.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable day.

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