Sunday Afternoon at the Garfield Sag

The money shot of the day was the westbound 25T coming out of the Garfield sag. A portion of the rear of auto rack train 18N is visible in the distance.

The money shot of the day was the westbound 25T coming out of the Garfield sag. A portion of the rear of auto rack train 18N is visible in the distance.

Marty Surdyk and I were discussing Akron Railroad Club matters by phone on a Saturday evening when I mentioned that I wanted to go east of Alliance on Sunday and photograph at the Garfield sag.

Did he want to meet me in Sebring? He didn’t say yes, but didn’t say no, only to keep my cell phone on.

We exchange a few text messages on Sunday morning and he said he would be coming after he finished some errands.

By the time Marty got to Sebring it was nearly 1 p.m. and I was just finishing the tuna salad wrap I had gotten at Sheetz.

We chatted a bit with fellow ARRC member Dennis Sautter who was on his way to a meeting of the Sebring Model Railroad club, which is based in the former Pennsylvania Railroad depot in Sebring.

Then it was time to head for the sag. I’ve only been there once and it was back in the days when I was still using slide film. I was with ARRC member Roger Durfee and we stood on the rear of his Jeep to get a little more elevation.

I caught just one train, which made a nice photo, yet it was a little soft. I’ve wanted to get back to the sag ever since but wasn’t sure I could find it.

Marty pulled into an access road on the north side of the crossing of the Fort Wayne Line of Norfolk Southern and Ellett road and we waited for what seemed like an hour before a train appeared. Although named for the hamlet of Garfield and the sag is located just east of Beloit.

A westbound manifest freight showed up about 2:30 p.m. We didn’t catch its symbol, but by the time the head end reached our position at Ellett Road, the sun was behind a cloud.

We didn’t have to wait long for the next train, the eastbound 18N, an auto rack train that would be involved in a three-train meet at CP Murph.

The Cleveland Line dispatcher told the 18N it would be stopping at Murph to allow the 24M to run around it.

The dispatcher later told the westbound 25T that it would be waiting at Murph for the 24M, a hot intermodal train that carries UPS trailers.

Although the feature attraction where we were hanging out was the Garfield sag, the crossing of Ellett Road is at the top of crown that features sloping terrain in both directions. Hence the images we made of the 18N and 24M show those trains it climbing a grade out of Beloit.

The Garfield sag, though, is impressive for how with a good telephoto lens you can see the train descending and ascending.

The rear of the 18N was stopped just beyond Smith Goshen Road, the next crossing east of Ellett Road.

The 24M was not long so I was able to get the entirety of it in the sag with its head end passing the rear end of the 18N.

We elected to remain at Ellett Road and wait for the 25T. It, too, was a short train and I got all of it in the sag and all of it in sunlight.

With the three-train meet concluded, we headed to Salem. The NS executive train was coming and we would get it at Salem because the lighting would be better there.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The stretch version of the 25T approaching Ellett road. Notice that the rear of the 18N is now out of sight.

The stretch version of the 25T approaching Ellett road. Notice that the rear of the 18N is now out of sight.

The sun decided to hide behind a cloud just as the motive power of the first train we saw reached Ellett Road.

The sun decided to hide behind a cloud just as the motive power of the first train we saw reached Ellett Road.

The rear end of the 18N is covered in shadows, but the rest of the train is in the bright afternoon sunlight.

The rear end of the 18N is covered in shadows, but the rest of the train is in the bright afternoon sunlight.

The head end of the 24M is about to overtake the rear of the 18H. The profile of the 24M sh ows that it has containers and UPS trailers.

The head end of the 24M is about to overtake the rear of the 18H. The profile of the 24M sh ows that it has containers and UPS trailers.

The head end and the rear end of the 24M both fit into this view.

The head end and the rear end of the 24M both fit into this view.

Here comes the 24M. Two trains were stopped to await its passage.

Here comes the 24M. Two trains were stopped to await its passage.

The 18N climbs the grade leading up to Ellett Road just east of Beloit.

The 18N climbs the grade leading up to Ellett Road just east of Beloit.

The rear of the 18N is just beyond Smith Gosen Road. The grain silos above the train are located in Garfield.

The rear of the 18N is just beyond Smith Gosen Road. The grain silos above the train are located in Garfield.

The visual drama of trains traversing the Garfield sag is not as pronounced when photographing them with a wide angle lens.

The visual drama of trains traversing the Garfield sag is not as pronounced when photographing them with a wide angle lens.

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