"North Portage Crossing"
An Excerpt from Railroading In America Magazine, Edition 8
Once again, my good friend, Evan Cihlar, and I found ourselves deep in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. September 28th marked the kickoff of the second and final weekend of Steam in the Valley, featuring the famous Nickel Plate Road 765. The 1944 graduate of the Lima Locomotive Works has been operating these trips and delighting thousands of passengers for seven years now, and 2018 wasn’t any different. The Berkshire was in great shape, as she was fresh out of a rebuild. Our Saturday excursion came to be uneventful, except for the companionship of another friend of Evan’s, named Kaden. Upon boarding, our group chatted about everything, from the latest in the rail industry to what we were going to have for lunch. Soon, the time photo runbys had come. As usual, the Nickel Plate veteran shot steam and cinders high into the atmosphere, and she produced enough noise to shake the heavens. After the runbys, the four of us (Kaden, Kaden’s father, Evan, and myself) continued to engage in random discussion while on board. Evan is quite knowledgeable of the area, so he served as our “tour guide”. Something different, however, was that a quartet of gentlemen sang for the enjoyment of passengers. The group sang several classic songs and each member wore a fine red and white suit. Soon after, we arrived back at Rockside Station, the four of us enjoyed each other’s company for the duration of the evening.
Fast forward to Sunday morning. Evan and I elected to chase the ferry move south to Akron, since Sunday’s departures originate from Akron instead of Cleveland. Our original plan was to catch the train at Jaite and Indigo Lake. As I know, plans often change, and we ended up getting to the crossing at Ira Road just in time, as the very second I stepped out of the car, a golden headlight lit up the railhead. I scramble to get my camera settings adjusted, and start releasing the shutter like a madman. The very second the gates go up, we’re back on the road and wound up in Portage, which served as more of a commercial setting. Again we arrive in the knick of time, and we get our photos and meet the train again at the Akron Northside station, and participate in discussion with several railfans and engine crew members. From all of the action that unfolded in the last two days, being able to observe the engine up close and simply idling was quite calming. As we were enjoying the time machine in all her glory, when we had gotten word that 765 would need to pull forward to make room for those riding the normal scenic train to board. I figured this would be an appropriate time to leave, so Evan joined me in my walk to the station, where we purchased some merchandise before heading home.
Overall, Steam in the Valley 2018 proved to be extremely memorable, as always. I would like to give my utmost gratitude to the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, and all of their respective volunteers and other associated parties for choreographing such an event for the public to enjoy.