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Bonus Photos Of The Ashtabula Special: Ashtabula, OH
  One week before the Erie Limited, Nickel Plate #765 would be operating two excursions from Youngstown, OH to Ashtabula, OH to be named "The Ashtabula Special". This of course involved a ferry move from Indiana to get the train to Youngstown. On a completely unrelated note, I had booked a road trip to go to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH before this excursion was even announced. On Thursday, July, 23rd, 2015, #765 had spent the night in Cleveland (having began its ferry move in Indiana) and would be making the rest of the run to Youngstown and would have to pass through Ashtabula to get there. It turns out that I would be driving through Ashtabula on the way to Sandusky that same day, so just by what can be described as nothing other than dumb luck, I was in the area to see the ferry move of this incredible train! I had planned to photograph it in Ashtabula while on the way home from Cedar Point on Saturday, July 25th so these photos would be a huge bonus!
  The Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society has an app available for your iPhone that has a link to their Twitter feed along with a neat GPS that helps show where the train is during an excursion! I had followed their Twitter feed and while at a rest stop on I-90 in Conneaut, OH, I found out they had departed Cleveland. I realized I just might actually see the train at that point so I first decided to go find a spot on the the NS Youngstown Line (Former New York Central/Conrail line that the train would use to get to Youngstown as well as for the excursion). I drove to a dirt road in Jefferson, OH, south of Ashtabula, that crossed this mainline as it really doesn't have any roads that follow it close-by like the Southern Tier Line in New York so I decided to just pick a spot and wait. The FWRHS posted a tweet saying the train had now left Painesville and considering my location, I wanted to try to get a photo of it somewhere closer to my route to Cedar Point, so I began looking on my phone for a location on the NS Buffalo-Chicago main (Ex-Nickel Plate) that the train would use to get to Ashtabula before turning south. I found a paint store on Woodman Avenue in Ashtabula and drove over there! There were a bunch of railfans already there so I knew I didn't miss the train though I heard it on the radio (they were symboled "NS Train #957"). With just minutes to spare, #765 arrived and very much to my surprise, would actually stop here for a crew change. YES!!!!
   Within minutes, there must have been 50 or more people there to see this train, and with absolutely perfect light for photography, I took a bunch of photos! What a great day this turned out to be! You'll see a selection of those photos here along with photos taken in Ashtabula on Saturday, July 25th, the first day of the actual excursion itself. These photos were actually the first ones I took this year of this wonderful Berkshire and would only help get me so excited about my eventual ride on this train myself that you've seen here in this travelogue. Check out the photos below...
Approaching the Woodman Avenue crossing, #765 arrives with the passenger cars located behind several hopper cars loaded with coal, thereby
bringing the "coaling tower" if you will, along for the ride! Gotta love the smoke from a real coal-burning beast like this in 2015!!!
Two views of #765 "letting off some steam" literally!!! When the steam pressure release valve opens,
it sends this geyser of steam 50ft or more in the air! What a sight to see, and hear!!!
The train stopped here for a crew change, and I guess, to put on a show for all of us railfans by just being here!!!
A side view of the cab on #765 along with the massive trailing truck! An endless maze of wires and pipes on this mighty Berkshire!!!
A view of #765's very impressive running gear!!!
An overall roster photo of this 1944-built Lima Locomotive Works product!
Let's not forget, this is an active freight railroad!!! Here we have NS Train #145 with EMD SD70ACe #1069 leading. This unit is one of NS's Heritage Units,
this one painted up for the Virginian Railway which was a railroad that later merged with the Norfolk & Western before eventually becoming part of NS.
This train went into emergency just east of here and had to get by #765 before she could leave, so once the issue was resolved (it was an air hose
separation), this train continued west. Check out the once-in-a-lifetime photo below to see how that all worked out!!!
Train #145 passes Nickel Plate #765! Someone please pinch me to make sure I'm not dreaming!!! To modify a line from the movie "Field Of Dreams",
"Hey, Is this heaven?" - No, It's ASHTABULA (but there is a car in the consist named "Iowa")!!!!
Now departing Ashtabula on its way to Youngstown, yes, she put on a show when departing, featuring a mini "rain/coal cinder storm", AWESOME!!!
Fast-forward to Saturday, July 25th, 2015. #765 and the Ashtabula Special recently arrived in downtown Ashtabula. The train is seen here before
backing out of here to be stored nearby during the picnic lunch as it was blocking a mainline and NS needed to get trains through the area.
Front view made possible by the train being parked near the Main Avenue road crossing.
Now backing up onto the wye track with the Youngstown Line to take a "nap" while passengers enjoy a picnic lunch nearby.

See ya in a little bit #765!
Yes, NS had trains to get through the area, here we have Train #206 with GE C40-9W #9034 leading, heading eastbound.
Another NS intermodal went through Ashtabula, this time with Union Pacific AC4400CW #7226. Both this unit and the NS #9034 were
likely built at GE Transportation Systems in Erie, PA not far from here!
With lots of fans looking on, #765 rounds the bend, coming back to the "station" to load passengers before heading back to Youngstown.
Welcome back to Ashtabula #765!
Now parked at the "station" if you will, which is on the other side of the train, the Ashtabula Special will now receive passengers for the return trip.
Another view of that awesome running gear!
Back at the station, #765 has some minor servicing done before departing.
And with that, we say goodbye to the Ashtabula Special as she backs out of town and will eventually take the wye back to the Youngstown Line
and head back to Youngstown. And with that, I would call it a day and head back to Buffalo, what a great day!!!
  Well, what can I say, this trip, and the chance to see the train the weekend before in Ohio were experiences I'll never forget! A train ride like this can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I hope I've captured the excitement and fun that was had, in this travelogue. My thanks goes to the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society and Norfolk Southern Railway for bringing mainline steam back to Buffalo for the first time in 22 years! Also thanks to FWRHS for help with some of the historical information used to create this travelogue. I've been very fortunate to have taken so many great train trips over the years, and this one is no exception! There's something very special about a train ride pulled by a steam locomotive. At 37 years old, I'm too young to have experienced the steam era in American railroading myself, so I'm so glad to have experienced this, both as a passenger and a railfan! Several of the fonts used in this travelogue are available at including "Gotthard", "Grand Central", "NickelPlateRoad", "NPacific", "PRR1930", "RRRoman", "Seaboard", and "Zephyr". Until my next trip, back on Amtrak again, Happy Railfanning!!!