An Afternoon on the NS Sandusky District

I set up to get the coal train at the County Road 32 grade crossing. Trains crest a crown here and come around a slight curve after passing through Flat Rock.

I set up to get the coal train at the County Road 32 grade crossing. Trains crest a crown here and come around a slight curve after passing through Flat Rock.

The Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern has long been one of my favorite pieces of railroad. It is not as busy as the Chicago Line and its distance from my home means that I don’t get out there as often as I’d like.

Yet I’ve long been attracted to this line because of its rolling terrain and its passage through the farm territory of north central Ohio, which reminds me a lot of where I grew up in east central Illinois.

Recently, I was able to get out to the Sandusky District for the first time since 2012. I’ve railfanned the route in Bellevue a few times, but that’s not the same as getting out and chasing trains on the line.

My objective for this day was to show some of the key features of this territory.

The line has a north-south orientation even if NS refers to trains as eastward or westward. Consequently, I tend to favor photographing southbounds, which are railroad east.

My usual strategy is to sit in Bellevue along Slaughterhouse Road and wait for a train to come out and go down the Sandusky District or for one to come off the Fostoria District and take the connection to head for Columbus.

In fact, the first train that I saw, an empty coal hopper train, came off the Fostoria District. But I knew another train would follow because although the coal train had a clear signal, the other signal for southbounds that can be seen south of Slaughterhouse Road displayed an approach indication.

As it turned out, the Sandusky District had a resemblance to the Chicago Line with northbounds parked in various places between Flat Rock and Attica Junction. I don’t know why that was the case.

The Sandusky District still resembled a parking lot when I left later in the day as the sun was setting. Indeed, the only moving northbound trains on the Sandusky District that I saw came into Bellevue shortly after I got there around noon.

So here is a selection of what I captured during my afternoon out with the Sandusky District. I came away pleased with it.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

I had a photo that was more of a close-up view of the locomotive nose, but I opted for this one because of the sliver of farmland visible to the right.

I had a photo that was more of a close-up view of the locomotive nose, but I opted for this one because of the sliver of farmland visible to the right.

I caught up with the coal train south of Caroline, but I didn't have time to get to the crossing in time to get out and set up. Instead, I got this grab shot out the window of my car. I would have liked to have been a little closer to the tracks, but the wider angle does well in showing the farm territory through which the Sandusky District passes.

I caught up with the coal train south of Caroline, but I didn’t have time to get to the crossing in time to get out and set up. Instead, I got this grab shot out the window of my car. I would have liked to have been a little closer to the tracks, but the wider angle does well in showing the farm territory through which the Sandusky District passes.

My last shot of the coal train was of it rounding the curve in Chatfield.

My last shot of the coal train was of it rounding the curve in Chatfield.

After breaking off the chase of the coal train, I heard the dispatcher tell a track car headed north that he would meet two at West Attica. Then I heard the first of them call the signal at West Attica and then at Attica Junction. I barely was able to get into Attica and set up by the cemetery and fairgrounds to get this auto rack train.

After breaking off the chase of the coal train, I heard the dispatcher tell a track car headed north that he would meet two eastbounds at West Attica. Then I heard the first of them call the signal at West Attica and then at Attica Junction. I barely was able to get into Attica and set up by the cemetery and fairgrounds to get this auto rack train.

The in-your-face shot of the auto rack train in Attica.

The in-your-face shot of the auto rack train in Attica.

It's the train of the day! I was driving north on Ohio Route 4 and saw this train sitting at West Attica. I turned around and returned to Attica where I caught it while standing on the edge of the cemetery so I could get some height. It was idea that I was able to work in the field to the right because, well, it's a grain train.

It’s the train of the day! I was driving north on Ohio Route 4 and saw this train sitting at West Attica. I turned around and returned to Attica where I caught it while standing on the edge of the cemetery so I could get some height. It was idea that I was able to work in the field to the right because, well, it’s a grain train.

Ordinarily, I am not big on roster shots, but its a Santa Fe warbonnet and the lighting was good and here goes. I rather liked the results.

Ordinarily, I am not big on roster shots, but its a Santa Fe warbonnet and the lighting was good and here goes. I rather liked the results.

I had seen this train leave Bellevue and on a whim I decided to chase it on the chance there would be just enough daylight left. It had a head start on me and it wasn't enough to just get ahead of it. I had to get enough ahead of it to get to a grade crossing. That turned out to be County Road 46 near Frank where the train was stopping as I arrived. Another southbound manifest was parked just south of CR 46. A northbound had this approach signal but was parked. The Sandusky District here was looking like the Chicago Line had this summer and early fall.

I had seen this train leave Bellevue and on a whim I decided to chase it on the chance there would be just enough daylight left. It had a head start on me and it wasn’t enough to just get ahead of it. I had to get enough ahead of it to get to a grade crossing. That turned out to be County Road 46 near Frank where the train was stopping as I arrived.

A different angle of the same train seen in the above image. From this perspective, you can see the consist, which shows that it is a relatively short train.

A different angle of the same train. From this perspective, you can see the consist, of this relatively short train. Another southbound manifest was parked just south of CR 46. A northbound had this approach signal but was parked. The Sandusky District here was looking like the Chicago Line had this summer and early fall.

The last train that I photographed on the Sandusky District was a northbound manifest freight sitting just short of County Road 46. This train had an approach signal indication as seen in the previous sequence. But I don't know why it wasn't moving. But that worked to my advantage in creating this sunset images.

The last train that I photographed on the Sandusky District was a northbound manifest freight sitting just short of County Road 46. This train had an approach signal indication as seen in the previous sequence. But I don’t know why it wasn’t moving. But that worked to my advantage in creating this sunset images.

SD01-a

One more view of the parked northbound as the sun sinks in the western sky to end a productive day of chasing trains on the Sandusky District.

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One Response to “An Afternoon on the NS Sandusky District”

  1. James L.Leasure Says:

    Craig, Very nice photos,lets say that you had a good day!!!
    Jim

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