20W Has Been My Lucky Number of Late

The NS 20W had a myrian variety of hot intermodal shipments as it saunters through Olmsted Falls on Sunday afternoon.

The NS 20W had a myrian variety of hot intermodal shipments as it saunters through Olmsted Falls on Sunday afternoon.

It’s too bad that the Ohio Lottery doesn’t allow players to choose letters with the numbers that they pick. If so, I would have bought tickets on Sunday with the number 20 and the letter W.

On Norfolk Southern, 20W is the symbol for an eastbound intermodal train with UPS and FedEx trailers, among other cargo. Two weeks ago the 20W enabled me to break a heritage unit drought that extended back to last October.

It was in October 2013 that I photographed my last heritage unit leading a train. Technically, the Reading unit that I photographed wasn’t even leading the train. It was the DPU on the rear of an eastbound crude oil train with its nose facing westward.

So if y0u want to pick nits, my previous H unit sighting leading a train that I photographed was the Norfolk & Western unit leading an intermodal train a week earlier.

In the intervening eight months, I saw an H unit on occasion, but it either was trailing — the Wabash twice — or I wasn’t able to get a photograph.  OK, so I saw the New York Central heritage unit at the National Train Day event in Toledo, but it was a sitting duck and not pulling a train. Ditto for the Reading H unit that I saw in Avon Lake on the wye by the power plant.

My drought finally ended two weeks ago when I bagged the original Norfolk Southern H unit leading the 20W.

Yesterday, I saw a report that the 20W had the Nickel Plate Road heritage unit on the lead. I was headed for Olmsted Falls anyway to get a very late running Amtrak No. 49, so I hoped that I could get the NKP unit, too.

The 20W came through again, passing through the Falls at 12:27 p.m., about a half hour after I arrived. Maybe my heritage unit luck is changing for the better.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Passing the Olmsted Falls depot.

Passing the Olmsted Falls depot.

There was a slight danger of getting blocked, but I was standing at a grade crossing and could see that the 20W would arrive before the westbound stack train.

There was a slight danger of getting blocked, but I was standing at a grade crossing and could see that the 20W would arrive before the westbound stack train.

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