NS Put on Its Usual Show in Vermilion

The classic eastbound crossing the Vermilion River on the Chicago Line image.

The classic eastbound crossing the Vermilion River on the Chicago Line image.

Before anyone had left home we missed the Conrail and Monongahela heritage locomotives of Norfolk Southern and the GoRail commemorative unit.

All three had passed through Vermilion before dawn.

But there was plenty of other NS traffic to watch during the Akron Railroad Club’s fourth annual day in Vermilion hosted by ARRC member and Vermilion resident Todd Vander Sluis.

Six ARRC members and guests made the trek to the Vermilion on Aug. 27.

ARRC President Craig Sanders was the first to arrive at 10:30 a.m. and was joined by the day’s host not long after that.

The group soon included Rick Houck and Todd Dillon. We set up folding chairs on the grassy strip near the boat launch along the Vermilion River.

It was a warm, sunny day and there was a steady parade of boats in both directions during the time we hung out by the river.

The NS Chicago Line was its usual self with an array of intermodal and manifest traffic with a few unit commodity trains added to the mix.

We saw just two trains slip through town on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline, both of them eastbounds.

At about 2 p.m. someone noticed on his smart phone that a heavy band of rain and thunderstorms was about to slam Toledo.

It looked like it was headed our way and Todd wanted to go to the barn where he and his sister keep their horses and bring them in.

The four of us piled into Todd’s Dodge Ram truck and off we went.

That gave us a chance to meet Todd’s horse Fancy (registered name: I’m a Fancy Chip) whose stall includes a nameplate on the door.

After Todd took care of business at the barn, we headed west of town to check the status of the connection NS is building between the Chicago Line and the Cleveland District.

When finished, it will enable eastbound trains to diverge from the Chicago Line west of Vermilion and go either east or west on the Cleveland District.

Reportedly, such intermodal trains as 22K and 206 will use this connection rather than the Cloggsville connection in Cleveland to access the former NKP mainline.

The right of way for the connection appears to be finished and track panels were stacked up nearby. But no ballast has yet been laid and it had yet to be brought in.

We had ideas of catching a train on the Chicago Line and started scouting for photo locations.

As we did Marty Surdyk sent Todd a text asking “where are you guys hiding?”

Todd’s truck can link to his cell phone and read out loud a text to him.

Marty’s text triggered a round of joking and laughter about us being underwater in nearby Lake Erie.

I sent Marty a reply text reading, “glub, glub,” which he didn’t get because he wasn’t in (yet) on the inside joke.

With nothing apparently moving on the Chicago Line we headed back into town. Of course that was when something finally moved on the Chicago Line.

We joined Marty at the railfan platform at Victory Park in downtown Vermilion.

That storm that passed through Toledo was approaching Vermilion and Todd and I went to Sherod Park west of town to see in coming in off the lake.

But other than gale force winds and dark clouds, the storm skirted Vermilion.

Back we went to the railfan platform where we hung out until about 6:30 p.m.

There was another storm coming from the southwest that had passed over Dayton and that one did hit Vermilion.

We decided that would be a good time to head over to Quaker Steak and Lube for dinner.

It was dark when we finished, but Marty, Todd and myself spent some more time at the railfan platform where we saw five trains pass by in about an hour’s time.

We had heard a 20E calling signals west of town. Or so we thought. But 20E wasn’t showing up.

It turned out the 20E was stopped near CP 222 where the connection from the Cleveland District joins the Chicago Line.

We were amazed to learn that NS had held the 20E, which carries trailers for UPS and thus is a higher priority train, for the L13, the daily Bellevue to Rockport Yard turn.

The L13 was a very long train for a local and we speculated it had been combined with another manifest freight that goes to Bellevue.

The L13 had been sent west on Track 2, the same track the 20E was using.

Other westbound traffic was running on Track 1 and the 20E was the train that got stabbed.

About 10 p.m. things got quiet on NS and it was time to head for home.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The only set of all foreign power that we saw was pulling train 23K.

The only set of all foreign power that we saw was pulling train 23K.

The first of two trains that passed through Vermilion on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline. If there were others we missed them.

The first of two trains that passed through Vermilion on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline. If there were others we missed them.

We saw plenty of boats during our day in Vermilion.

We saw plenty of boats during our day in Vermilion.

An NS tanker train probably had barely gained the attention of the boater on the Vermilion River returning to the dock.

An NS tanker train probably had barely gained the attention of the boater on the Vermilion River returning to the dock.

An eastbound auto rack train crosses the Vermilion River on the Cleveland District.

An eastbound auto rack train crosses the Vermilion River on the Cleveland District.

The L13 noses by the railfan platform in Vermilion.

The L13 noses by the railfan platform in Vermilion.

We never did learn the symbol of this one unit wonder that was pulling stacks and racks past the railfan platform in Victory Park.

We never did learn the symbol of this one unit wonder that was pulling stacks and racks past the railfan platform in Victory Park.

Work is well along on the new connection west of Vermilion from the Chicago Line to the Cleveland District.

Work is well along on the new connection west of Vermilion from the Chicago Line to the Cleveland District.

The storm over Lake Erie ended up passing by Vermilion.

The storm over Lake Erie ended up passing by Vermilion.

Fancy does some fancy stepping as she heads for the barn.

Fancy does some fancy stepping as she heads for the barn.

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