It was a slow start, both in train count and weather conditions, but the 20 Akron Railroad Club members and their guests who meandered to Marion on Sunday for the longest day outing came away pleased with the results.
Members saw 32 trains of CSX and Norfolk Southern in this central Ohio community that lies at the junction of three rail lines. This was far from the record of more than 40 trains set on an earlier longest day outing at Marion, but also exceeded the low count of 28.
Traffic on Sunday was a mix of manifest freight, intermodals and coal trains. Nothing out of the ordinary passed by. A CSX westbound auto rack train had a former Conrail unit still in blue in the lead, but foreign power was scarce.
Only one train, a westbound CSX manifest freight, had any foreign power in the motive lashup. That train had a pair of Union Pacific units. The lack of foreign power was, perhaps, not surprising given that the class I railroads have sidelined thousands of locomotives due to traffic being down during the recession. They hardly need to borrow power from another road to help get their trains over the road.
Marion area residents who visited the station during the day said that traffic counts were down due to the economy, particularly on NS.
Volunteers from the Marion Union Station Association opened the depot and AC tower in the afternoon. A former operator was on hand to explain the workings of the tower and simulate tower operations by lining signals as trains approached. Of course he had to use radio transmissions intercepted by the tower’s scanners to know of approaching trains.
Many ARRC members witnessed a near miss between a southbound NS train and two bicyclists who crossed in front of it at the first grade crossing just north of the diamonds with the former Big Four/Erie, now owned by CSX. The engineer had already begun sounding the horn and the gates were down when the cyclists ran around the gates and crossed about 20 or so feet in front of the train. Had one of them gotten a wheel caught in the rails we no doubt would have witnessed a catastrophe.
Another notable occurrence played out just after 2 p.m. A CSX crew had readied the locomotives parked in Marion yard that are used by a local that originates there. A CSX dispatcher told them he had two CSX trains and an NS train lined up to cross the former Big Four/Erie diamonds before the local could come out and head east on the ex-Big Four to do its work.
At one point the crew told the dispatcher that they had been told to work as far as Crestline, but were not qualified all the way there. After the passage of the opposing traffic, the dispatcher came back on the radio to tell the crew to take its power back into the yard and tie it down.
Some 10-15 minutes later, another dispatcher came on the radio to ask the crew about their original work orders, saying there was some confusion in the office about what was happening or not happening.
The crew explained it was to go Galion, do some switching there, do more switching at Shelby and do more work at Crestline before returning to Marion. They expressed concern that due to traffic and the amount of time needed to get done what they had been assigned that they would not make it back to Marion before outlawing and their power was needed the next day for another job out of Marion.
The dispatcher consulted with a supervisor who apparently decided that the local was to go ahead and do the work it had been assigned, getting as much done as possible. By now, though, the crew had backed the engines back into the yard and placed the derail back into place. They finally got out on the main just after 3:30 and even then had to wait east of Marion for a pair of auto rack trains to clear before they could get on the single mainline track and head for Galion.
The day got off to a slow start. Members Rick Houck and Jerry Dietry were the first to arrive at 7:30 a.m. They saw two trains pass before Marty Surdyk, Tim Krogg and Richard Thompson pulled in at 8 a.m. But it would be nearly 9 a.m. before another train arrived and it did not go past the station, instead taking the connection from the former Chesapeake & Ohio to the ex-Big Four line to Indianapolis.
It would be more than a hour before another train appeared and it, too, took the connection, going from the ex-Big Four to the ex-C&O. The next train to pass the station, where most ARRC members spent the day, was a northbound NS intermodal just after 11 a.m.
During the lull, ARRC members hand spent time listening to the constant radio chatter of an NS work crew, which was tending to a project to install new rail through Marion. The members also spent considerable time grousing about the weather, which was overcast with occasional sprinkles, and wondering if the sun would come out.
By noon, though, the clouds had begun breaking up and mostly sunny skies prevailed for the remainder of the day. The temperature was nearly perfect, warn, but not hot and the humidity was low.
Traffic picked up about the time the weather began improving, with seven trains appearing between noon and 1 p.m. A lull of an hour and 20 minutes enabled members to go get lunch or have lunch on the station grounds. Rail traffic picked up just before 2:30 and was fairly steady the remainder of the day.
Other ARRC members attending the outing included Craig Sanders, Bob Redmond, J. Gary Dillon, Paul Woodring, Rich Antibus, Jim Mastromatteo, Blaine Hayes, Tom Ward and Matt Ward.
Some members had left by late afternoon but many remained at the station until 8 p.m., the unofficial quitting time. Three members decided to stick it out until 9 p.m.
Following the passage of two NS trains just after 8 p.m., which included a meet near Center Street, seven members ventured to Bucyrus for dinner at the Bob Evans restaurant near the intersection of Ohio Route 4 and U.S. 30.
The following is the list of trains in Marion on Sunday with the time, train symbol (if known), lead engine number, type of train and rail line it traveled. EB and WB CSX trains used the former Big Four/Erie whereas NB and SB trains used the former C&O.
7:44 NA CSX 841 auto racks WB CSX
7:53 NA NS 2586 light power NB NS
8:53 Q359 CSX 7512 manifest SB to WB CSX
10:04 Q358 CSX 8729 manifest EB to NB CSX
11:04 217 NS 9484 intermodal NB NS
11:19 Q216 CSX 5321 auto racks EB CSX
12:19 179 NS 7635 manifest WB NS
12:26 Q123 CSX 9036 intermodal WB CSX
12:35 Q108 CSX 7711 intermodal EB CSX
12:40 218 NS 9832 intermodal SB NS
12:58 18M NS 9027 manifest SB NS
2:22 854 NS 9957 coal NB NS
2:29 NA CSX 7388 stone cars NB CSX
2:38 Q637 CSX 5205 manifest SB CSX
3:35 C935 CSX 2752 local EB CSX
3:47 Q377 UP 5951 manifest WB CSX
3:50 Q348 CSX 684 manifest EB CSX
4:00 180 NS 8782 manifest NB NS
4:10 375 NS 9621 manifest SB NS
4:30 Q227 CSX 8759 auto racks WB CSX
4:56 Q279 CR 7358 auto racks WB CSX
5:07 305 NS 2687 manifest NB NS
5:47 V358 CSX 263 coal NB CSX
5:59 857 NS 9017 coal hoppers SB NS
6:10 Q636 CSX 832 manifest NS CSX
6:28 889 NS 8455 coal hoppers SB NS
6:58 E809 CSX 338 coal hoppers SB CSX
7:16 Q268 CSX 4743 auto racks EB CSX
7:37 116 NS 9275 manifest NB NS
8:04 851 NS 2698 coal hoppers SB NS
8:05 854 NS 9722 coal NB NS
8:30 G204 CSX 567 light power EB CSX
NOTES: The NB NS power move had 16 units . . . CSX Q377 had Union Pacific No. 7065 as the trailing unit. . . CSX Q348 terminated at Marion. . . NA denotes that we were unable to determine the train symbol.