Chasing Trains, CPLs on the CSX Toledo Sub

The money shot of the day was this classic Tipp City color position light signal image with CSX 509 coming southward.,

As part of its installation of positive train control, CSX has removed vintage block signals on most of its mainlines in favor of modern signals.

That has meant Baltimore & Ohio color position light signals have been removed from the New Castle Subdivision through Akron and Youngstown.

But B&O style CPLs still stand in many places on the CSX Toledo Subdivision between Dayton and Deshler.

I’m not sure why that is. I was told the crew that was replacing the CPLs on the Toledo Sub had their work interrupted when they were re-assigned elsewhere.

Whatever the case, several CPLs continue to provide signal protection on the moderately busy Toledo Sub.

Back in early March I met up with Dayton railfan David Oroszi and we went looking to photograph trains and CPLs on the Toledo Sub.

The first train we saw was a northbound at Tipp City where a pair of CPLs stand at the south end of the siding.

The Toledo Sub is a north-south railroad which means that photographing northbounds is challenging.

The best I could do was get a going away image of the manifest freight with the CPL in the distance.

We heard on the radio that the southbound Q509, another manifest freight, was meeting the northbound at Troy.

So we waited a while in Tipp City and got what I consider my best image of the day with a CPL.

The northbound signal sits next to an old red brick building that casts a shadow on the signal in the morning.

As luck would have it, by the time the Q509 reached Tipp City the shadows had started to give way on the upper half of the signal, including the signal head.

The front and east side of the building was well illuminated. It might have been a better image about an hour or later but trains don’t always show up when lighting is ideal.

After the passage of the Q509, we headed north to Troy where another set of CPL’s sit at the north end of the siding.

The northbound signal is one of most picturesque CPLs on the Toledo Sub because it is mounted on a classic stand that at one time held two signal heads.

Now there is just one signal head and a dwarf CPL signal on the ground is used for the siding.

Dave had a friend who was railfanning in Lima on this Saturday so we knew there were two southbound trains headed out way.

The first of those was the J983, which is a long local. The second was Q143, a stack train.

They were running a few minutes apart which gave me the opportunity to shoot the J983 on the west side of the tracks and the Q143 on the east side.

With the Toledo Sub likely to be quiet for awhile we continued northward to Sidney. We did see another set of CPLs in the countryside, but it’s tough to photograph them without trespassing on railroad property.

It turned out the Toledo Sub wasn’t as quiet as we expected. Two northbounds caught us by surprise and there wasn’t anything we could do with either of them.

Also, it turned out CSX wasn’t done running southbounds. Both northbounds were waiting at the north end of Sidney siding for a southbound parade, all of them manifest freights.

The first of those, Q507, we bagged south of Sidney at Kirkwood. There is a pair of modern signals here and this was the best we could do.

The second southbound was the Q351, which we got in Sidney passing beneath Michigan Street near where the passenger station used to be.

Our plan was to head north to Wapakoneta where there is still a B&O passenger station standing.

But as we were cruising northward we saw yet a third southbound, the Q355.

As luck would have it we spotted this train just before reaching a ramp for Interstate 75.

We made a split-second decision to call off the trip to Wapakoneta and instead try to get ahead of the Q355 and get it passing a CPL in at Tipp City.

We got lucky and made it to Tipp City head of not only the Q355 but also the Q351.

That gave me another chance to photograph a southbound passing the CPL at the south end of the Tipp City siding by the red brick building.

For this image, though, I focused on the milepost markers, including a vintage B&O concrete post that gives the mileage to Toledo on one side and to Cincinnati on the other.

The Q355 we got at the CPL for the north end of the Tipp City siding.

That would be our last CPL image of the day but we were able to get ahead of the Q355 and photograph it one last time coming out of the former Dayton Union Railway bridge over the Great Miami River.

This outing would turn out to be my last railfan photograph outing for awhile.

More than a week later Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine imposed a stay at home order in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dave has suggested we do another trip to get some more CPL images. I’ll be taking him up on that offer but it is going to be awhile.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

On the west side of the tracks for the Troy CPL signal as J983 comes through town.

Here comes the Q143. I elected to capture it on the east side of the tracks in Troy.

The mileposts were a main focus with Q351 in Tipp City, but you can see a CPL in the background.

Our first look at the Q355 would out last CPL photo opportunity of the day.

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