One of Those Days

The weather forecast called for the day to begin with sunny skies but for clouds to move in during the afternoon ahead of a front that would bring rain on Monday.

Based on that I headed for Union City, Indiana, to railfan the CSX Indianapolis line.

It turns out I should have gone there the day before when it was sunny all day although a little cold.

That’s because the the day I was out turned out to be one of those days where the weather was the opposite of what had been predicted. We’ve all had those days, right?

I remember an Akron Railroad Club longest day outing to Deshler in June 2007 when the forecast was for mostly sunny skies.

But as we made our way west on the Ohio Turnpike, the clouds kept increasing and by the time we made it to Deshler it was overcast with occasional rain.

Railfanning in Union City always is something of a gamble. The Indianapolis Line is moderately busy but moody. If you are patient you’ll get some trains but you will also have long periods of nothing.

I’m still learning the traffic patterns of the Indy Line, but I knew I could count on seeing the Q008 sometime in the morning.

My limited experience with the Indianapolis Line is that it tends to be busier in the morning than the afternoon.

I arrived around 8:30 a.m. Indiana Route 32 runs parallel to the Indy Line east of Muncie and I saw two westbounds as I was driving, including a stack train and a monster manifest freight with a DPU toward the center.

I also saw a beautiful sunrise, which was a clue that the morning weather was not going to be what I had expected.

It was beautiful because it illuminate the edge of a cloud cover that extended way back to the west. Sure enough once the sun got over the horizon it was swallowed by the clouds.

I had about an hour wait before seeing my first train, the Q364, a manifest that originates at Avon Yard west of Indianapolis and goes to Selkirk Yard via Cleveland (middle photo above).

Nearly an hour later the detector at Harrisville, Indiana, went off, heralding the approach of another eastbound.

The Harrisville detector gives the direction of travel of the trains as well as the track number and axle count.

I was listening for the Q008 (bottom photo) to call the signal for the west end of the Union City crossovers, but my “warning” that its arrival was imminent was when the crossing gates started going down at the Howard Street crossing.

I was sitting at a former Pennsylvania Railroad passenger station that has been preserved as a community center known as the Arts Depot.

The former PRR tracks, which were part of the Pan Handle route between Columbus and Chicago, are long gone and the CSX Indianapolis Line is former New York Central territory.

I’ve been told that a former Pennsy man who served as superintendent of the Southern Region of Penn Central left behind another PRR tradition.

During the PC era the track numbering of the ex-NYC line between Cleveland and Indianapolis was changed so that the westbound main became Track 2 rather than Track 1 as it had been under NYC control.

The Q008 was on Track 2 whereas all other eastbounds I saw on this day were on Track 1, which in NYC days was Track 2.

Apparently the dispatcher had run the Q008 around another train west of Union City or planned to do so east of there.

I never did hear the Q008 crew calling any signals so they either were not doing it or doing it in such a way that my scanner didn’t pick it up.

After the passage of the Q008 I checked the weather forecast for Union City and found it had been revised to predict sunny skies in the afternoon.

That did happen. The clouds moved out about 1:30 p.m. By then I had seen four more trains, including a pair of auto racks trains in each direction (the Q217 and Q262), the Q348 (top photo) and a local whose symbol I didn’t catch because the crew’s radio calls were barely audible.

The Q348 would be the last train I would photograph. It’s a manifest freight that originates in Avon Yard and runs to Cumberland, Maryland.

About the time the sun came out for good CSX traffic died.

I ventured east of Union City into Ohio to scout for photograph locations.

The good news was that some block signals are located at grade crossings. The bad news was that those signals were dark.

I got as far as Ansonia, Ohio, which at one time was the junction of two NYC routes. Today, only a portion of the north-south route is left.

It goes as far south as Greenville and a no trespassing sign I saw as I crossed that route on a country road indicates it is owned by R.J. Corman.

I returned to Union City where I sat for another hour and a half and got nothing. There was not as much as a peep on the radio.

I was a little surprised by that because last September I had spent an afternoon in Union City and seen a few trains before the dinner hour.

I gave up and headed home at 4 p.m. It wasn’t a wasted day as I had seen eight trains total. But all of them had run under the clouds.

Like I said, it had been one of those days.

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