The Early Bird Gets the ‘Glow Worm’

“You sure that there’ll be trains running today?”

That was the question posed by Lakeshia, my mom’s caregiver, as I readied myself to head to Berea for the annual Forest City Division/Railroad Enthusiasts turkey shoot.

“Yeah, they will; maybe not as many as usual, but something will be moving,” I replied.

My answer was confirmed as I walked out the door; I could hear a horn off in the distance. At least one train was moving somewhere.

Seeing a high green westbound at CP 17 from I-480 westbound was encouraging. CSX had ideas of running a train.

But the big surprise was waiting for me as I traveled the airport freeway on the way to Berea.

Holy cow!

A Norfolk Southern westbound, which I later learned was the 11T, had the Illinois Terminal heritage unit up front. It was moving slowly past the airport and approaching Eastland Road.

Initially, I went to Sheldon Road to see it, figuring the early morning light might be better there than at Berea.

I also figured there would be less chance of being blocked by another train.

I quickly scuttled those plans as the 20R was rumbling along on Track No. 2 and likely to block a view of the 11T and I settled on the cul-de-sac under the Front Street overpass in Berea for my photo of the “glow worm.”

It almost didn’t work there, either, as another eastbound intermodal was coming fast through CP 194 as I shot the 11T.

If I’d had been using a telephoto lens instead of a normal lens, I could have recorded the meet.

After both trains cleared my position, I moved on to the traditional hang out for Berea, the parking lot for the Berea Union Depot Taverne.

I was joined by Jerry Jordak, who had photographed the “glow worm” at the far west end of the interlocking in order to avoid being blocked by the intermodal train.

Things were quiet for only a few minutes before a westbound CSX intermodal train, led by a BNSF unit, came past.

It was followed by the L091, the salad shooter, with a quartet of Union Pacific locomotives.

Behind that was a stone train featuring some battered hoppers of Wisconsin Central and Algoma Central heritage.

NS was not quiet either, with several more trains passing by for our viewing pleasure.

At 9:55 a.m., we had our first two at a time with westbound intermodals on NS and CSX. The NS train was the 205 and was led by a UP unit.

The second highlight of the day was on the heels of the 205. The 67X, an empty crude oil train, was heading west behind a rather filthy Kansas City Southern de Mex “Southern Belle” with a BNSF unit trailing. That passed by around 10:10 a.m.

Just before 11 a.m., the NS 15N headed for a re-crew at Lewis Road behind an old high hood GP38-2, No. 5120, as the third unit.

At 11 a.m., I checked the scorecard and found it tied at 11 apiece. Not bad.

Other RRE members had arrived and at the high point 16 of them were patrolling the grassy strip along Depot Street.

The last four trains of the day belonged to NS. The final one for me was the 65K, another westbound crude oil train.

This one had an NS unit leading a CSX locomotive. It came through at 12:10 p.m.

I had to get back home and relieve Lakeshia, who was working only until 12:30 p.m. All in all, it had been a great day with great weather.

There was a November bite to the wind in the early morning, but overall it was party sunny to partly cloudy with temperatures up near 60.

Article by Marty Surdyk

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