Just an Average Longest Day in Marion

The highlight of the 2016 longest day in Marion was seeing the Monongahela heritage unit trailing in the motive power consist of train No. 376.

The highlight of the 2016 longest day in Marion was seeing the Monongahela heritage unit trailing in the motive power consist of train No. 376.

If I had to sum up the 2016 Akron Railroad Club longest day outing in Marion in one word, I would describe it as “average.”

It had its moments, but it also provided yet another lesson in how CSX operations these days can be erratic due to falling traffic and an operating plan that concentrates traffic on longer and fewer trains.

CSX traffic died in early afternoon and stayed comatose for four hours.

One contributing factor for that might have been that CSX was virtually shut down in parts of West Virginia due to flooding. Traffic that we might normally have seen on the Columbus Subdivision was being held elsewhere.

The highlight of the day was catching the Monongahela heritage unit of Norfolk Southern, which came through town westbound in late morning as the second of three units pulling train No. 376.

The appearance of No. 8025 was a surprise. The last sighting of it reported on HeritageUnits.com had been two days earlier in Kentucky.

We also spotted three other locomotives that are tracked on HeritageUnits. These included CSX No. 12 (the Spirit of Louisville), NS Operation Lifesaver No. 9252 and a former Chicago & North Western unit still in its original colors but with a Union Pacific patch.

Of the four “feature” locomotives that we spotted, only NS 9252 was leading its train. It was that type of day.

During the nine hours that I was in Marion, NS provided what you would expect. It put 16 trains through town with seven headed west and nine going east. NS traffic was fairly even throughout the day despite some lull periods.

After an NS track gang cleared up about 3 p.m., three eastbound trains rolled through Marion in succession, with two of them nearly running on the block of the train ahead.

It was a good thing because CSX had gone into a slumber. After the 1:30 p.m. passage of the L132 from the Mt. Victory Sub to the Columbus Sub, CSX went dormant.

I left at 6:20 p.m. and the CSX train count was 11 with three trains having gone west on the Columbus Sub and none going east. The Mt. Victory Sub had seen three westbounds and five eastbounds.

It was a hot, humid day with temperatures reaching into the upper 80s. Both railroads had heat patrols out. CSX also had a work zone on the Columbus Sub south of Marion.

Aside from two Union Pacific units on the L132, we did not see any other foreign power.

Nine ARRC members made the trip and our party swelled to 15 if you count former members and guests who were on hand.

The Marion Union Station Association opened the depot around noon and Pete gave tours of the signal collection and AC tower.

We spent much of our time in the station’s breezeway, which, thankfully, had shade and a southerly breeze for much of the day.

The day started out mostly sunny, but by late afternoon it had become mostly cloudy with dark clouds gathering to the northwest that never developed into a storm. We did briefly get some light rain.

We filled the lull periods with stories about past excursions and railfan outings. We also decided that next year’s longest day will be held in Bellevue.

For more photographs from the 2016 ARRC longest day outing, click on the link below:


Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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One Response to “Just an Average Longest Day in Marion”

  1. Marty Surdyk Says:

    CSX had a late day flurry of activity to bring our totals for the day to 16 NS, 11 CSX (Big Four) and 4 CSX (C&O) You can read more about it in the July ARRC Bulletin.

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