A Nice Sunday With CSX in Union City

Westbound Q007 passes the former Union City tower in a view taken at the North Columbia Street grade crossing on the north side of the tracks.

Westbound Q007 passes the former Union City tower in a view taken at the North Columbia Street grade crossing on the north side of the tracks.

Union City is a small town that straddles the border of Indiana and Ohio. It’s a nice place to railfan because it has a restored passenger station that once served the Pennsylvania and New York Central. The interlocking tower that once controlled the crossing of the two railroads also still stands although it closed in about 1969.

The PRR route was the ex-Panhandle between Columbus and Chicago (via Logansport, Ind.). The NYC route was the Cleveland-St. Louis route of the ex-Big Four (via Indianapolis). The Baltimore & Ohio once had a branch from
Dayton to Union City (ex-Dayton & Union) that terminated here.

Major changes began to occur during the Penn Central era when PC created a Columbus-Indianapolis route that involved the ex-NYC west of Union City and the ex-PRR east of there via Bradford, Ohio.

This enabled the PC to downgrade the ex-PRR line between Bradford and New Paris, Ohio., and even the predominantly passenger route between New Paris and Dayton. During the Conrail era there were massive route reductions and when the dust had settled the ex-PRR route through Union City was gone. The last B&O train to Union City ran in 1964.

Also ripped up were both ex-PRR routes that operated through New Paris. I spent part of Sunday morning and afternoon in Union City earlier this week on my return home from a trip to East Central Illinois.

Traffic seemed to be steady during my four hours there with eight trains rolling through town. Five of those trains were headed west. I understand, though, that the Indianapolis Line can have some very long lull periods.

The last passenger trains to pass through here were Penn Central Nos. 315/316, which were predominantly mail and express trains and both former NYC trains. No. 315 was once the Cleveland to St. Louis Gateway while No. 316 was the former Cleveland Special.

In their final years, the head end business had pretty much dried up and few passengers rode the lone coach on the train.

No. 315 would depart Cleveland just before midnight and arrive in Indianapolis just after 6 a.m. Some 3.5 hours later, the train would depart as No. 316 for Cleveland. The Official Guide for April 1971 shows that No. 315 did not stop for passengers in Union City.

The last Pennsy passenger train to serve Union City was the Chicago-Columbus Ohioan, which was discontinued on Dec. 31, 1958.

Union City briefly served as the eastern terminus of NYC passenger trains 312 and 314, the Southwestern and Knickerbocker respectively.

In late 1967, the NYC discontinued the trains in Ohio, which made them St. Louis-Union City, Ind., trains. In practice, the equipment ran empty between Union City and Bellefontaine, Ohio, where at the latter there were service facilities . The trains made their final trips on March 18, 1968. By then they were one E unit and one coach.

Although I’d like to get back to Union City, it’s a long trip from the Cleveland-Akron area. Chances are my next visit to Union City will occur during another trip through this region for other purposes.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

On the south side of the tracks is a McDonalds with a parking lot that backs up to the railroad. I was standing on the edge of that lot when I took this photo of this westbound with a load of boxcars. I think its symbol was Q233.

On the south side of the tracks is a McDonalds with a parking lot that backs up to the railroad. I was standing on the edge of that lot when I took this photo of this westbound with a load of boxcars. I think its symbol was Q233.

Union City tower is partly visible in a telephoto shot taken from the North Howard Street crossing. The Q131 had a load of all Pacer Stack Train containers.

Union City tower is partly visible in a telephoto shot taken from the North Howard Street crossing. The Q131 had a load of all Pacer Stack Train containers.

Safetran signals have yet to replace the NYC/Conrail style signals at CP 198, which is a set of crossovers located just west of the Union City tower. But, no doubt, these signals will not be around much longer. Shown is eastbound Q008 splitting the signals and crossing North Walnut Street.

Safetran signals have yet to replace the NYC/Conrail style signals at CP 198, which is a set of crossovers located just west of the Union City tower. But, no doubt, these signals will not be around much longer. Shown is eastbound Q008 splitting the signals and crossing North Walnut Street.

The restored union station is now known as the Arts Depot. It now houses offices and galleries of the Art Association of Randolph County.

The restored union station is now known as the Arts Depot. It now houses offices and galleries of the Art Association of Randolph County.

A westbound coal hoppers train passes the depot in a view taken from the west end.

A westbound coal hoppers train passes the depot in a view taken from the west end.

CSX crews were out doing track work on Sunday. A work "train" rolled past carrying cars containing ties that the gang was dropping from Track No. 2 from milepost 199 on west. Although these are ex-NYC tracks, the numbering follows the PRR custom of Track No. 1 being the traditional westbound track and No. 2 being the eastbound track.

CSX crews were out doing track work on Sunday. A work “train” rolled past carrying cars containing ties that the gang was dropping from Track No. 2 from milepost 199 on west. Although these are ex-NYC tracks, the numbering follows the PRR custom of Track No. 1 being the traditional westbound track and No. 2 being the eastbound track.

I had heard this "train" get an EC-1 and then receive verbal permission over the radio from a foreman to enter the work limits from MP 199 to MP 204. The "train" originated at Ansonia, Ohio, and as it rolled into town its horn sounded a lot like a diesel's air horn. So imagine my surprise to see the power for this "train" being a Brandt truck.

I had heard this “train” get an EC-1 and then receive verbal permission over the radio from a foreman to enter the work limits from MP 199 to MP 204. The “train” originated at Ansonia, Ohio, and as it rolled into town its horn sounded a lot like a diesel’s air horn. So imagine my surprise to see the power for this “train” being a Brandt truck.

This transfer caboose is on display at the depot. I am not sure if these are true Penn Central colors because most PC equipment that I remembered seeing was painted in a shade of green that differed from the NYC's jade green. I'm not sure it is true Pennsy Tuscan red, either. I am quite sure, though, that the PC logo is not quite historically accurate because the "mating worms" are too squat.

This transfer caboose is on display at the depot. I am not sure if these are true Penn Central colors because most PC equipment that I remembered seeing was painted in a shade of green that differed from the NYC’s jade green. I’m not sure it is true Pennsy Tuscan red, either. I am quite sure, though, that the PC logo is not quite historically accurate because the “mating worms” are too squat.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: