Sunday Afternoon Foray to the Sandusky District

Norfolk Southern train No. 175 seems to be skimming the tops of the corn plants south of Flat Rock on the Sandusky District.

It was mid-afternoon of the Akron Railroad Club’s longest day outing in Bellevue.

Todd Vander Sluis asked Marty Surdyk if there was somewhere else we could go for a change of scenery. I was game to come along.

We had spent all morning and a couple of hours of the afternoon photographing a steady parade of trains through the mini plant.

It’s good to see rail traffic, but the mini plant is not the most photogenic location. After a while, all of your photographs look alike.

Marty said that once train 175 was ready to go east then we would head out on the Sandusky District to chase it and, perhaps, catch another train or two or three.

By then the sun would have shifted to the west of the tracks.

No. 175 originates in Bellevue and terminates in Brosnan Yard in Macon, Georgia.

It left town around 2:30 p.m. although we easily got out ahead of it in Marty’s Jeep Patriot.

The first photo stop was in a small rural cemetery south of Flat Rock where the corn wasn’t too high to prevent an across-the field image.

Marty is an old hand when it comes to railfanning the Sandusky District and he claims to know it like the back of his hand.

As we headed south on Ohio Route 4, we could see the 175 in the distance. It was slowing because there was a train ahead of it at West Attica waiting for a signal to cross CSX at Attica Junction.

CSX was doing track work and had a single-track railroad on both side of Attica Junction. Trains of both railroads faced long waits, with some NS trains waiting more than an hour to get across.

We set up west of the Ohio Route 163 crossing to catch the 175 again, working barns into the shots to give them added interest and a rural feel.

In the meantime, westbound NS train 195, a Linwood, North Carolina (Spencer) to Bellevue train finally had gotten the signal at Attica Junction after a long wait.

We stayed along Route 162 to get the 195 coming north, using an old barn and the fields as photo props. It was one of one of those afternoons of sun and clouds and I sought to emphasize clouds in some of my images.

But those clouds were dense and when a train came past I often got cloud skunked.

After the passage of the train 195, we continued our trek southward with the objective of getting the 175 at the old Attica reservoir at Caroline.

But CSX decided to run some more eastbound traffic, including the “salad shooter,” which we saw from a distance.

As we approached Attica, we saw NS train 29G, a Norfolk to Detroit stack train pass us headed west.

The radio traffic on the NS road channel indicated that the 29G would have to wait at Attica Junction for, it turned out, an eastbound CSX auto rack train. Then it would be allowed to cross.

But the 175, which was waiting at West Attica, would stay put. We surmised that the short length of the 29G enticed the CSX dispatcher to clear the signal for it.

We saw most of the CSX auto rack train while stopped at the crossing in Siam, the hometown of Attica Junction.

Marty wanted to catch the 29G near County Road 24 (Seneca County), but missed the turn. We ended up instead getting it at Township Road 126.

There is a home next to the tracks there and a guy was out on a riding mower cutting the grass. That added a touch of human interest.

After the passage of the 29G, we headed back toward Caroline with a few diversions along the way.

We saw from a distance a westbound CSX manifest freight finally get the signal at Attica Junction to cross the NS tracks. We had seen that train sitting at the signal twice while passing through Siam.

After an hour and 25-minute wait, the 175 finally got the signal at West Attica and Attica Junction.

In the meantime, Paul Woodring had called Marty to report that a potash train had left Bellevue headed for the Sandusky District.

Train 60U, I think it was, caught a break. It was allowed to cross CSX at Attica Junction following the 175.

We photographed both trains at the reservoir in Caroline. My image of the 60U skirting the reservoir would be my favorite image of the day.

After the passage of the 60U it was 5:30 p.m. and time to make our way back to Bellevue to rejoin what remained of the nearly dozen ARRC members who had ventured west for the longest day outing.

Train 175 as seen between a pair of barns along Ohio Route 162 near Omar.

This wold not be out last view of the 175.

I made good use of that old barn, this time to frame westbound train 195.

In the foreground is NS train 195. In the distance on the other side of those trees is the rear of the 175, which is waiting at West Attica.

I wonder why those trees are there as the motive power of NS train 195 passes by.

Working the sky and clouds with NS train 195.

Getting a bead on the 29G.

Saying farewell to the 29G.

A CSX westbound manifest freight has the signal at Attica Junction. NS trains, meanwhile, continued to cool their heels.

This turned out to be my favorite image of the day. The 60U skirts the old reservoir at Caroline.

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