Seeing Blue on a Sunday Morning

Sometimes reports posted to HeritageUnits.com get it wrong. We’ve all seen reports posted to the site that we just know can’t be correct as to where a locomotive of interest was purportedly sighted.

But for the the most part HU is a good source of information about what might be coming down the track.

So on Sunday morning as I sat in Muncie, Indiana, and checked HU I saw that NS 4000, the blue DC to AC unit was reported leading a train in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The report said the 4000 was on the point of the 32N, which NS gets in Madison, Illinois, from the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, and wheels to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh.

Well that is one I wouldn’t be seeing. In fact, the vast majority of sightings reported on HU won’t affect me during any given railfan outing.

Later that morning I spotted an NS train come around a curve on the joint Frankfort/New Castle districts and stop.

That suggested it would be leaving town on the New Castle District to heard toward Cincinnati.

The 189 was stopped a little further back than NS trains normally stop when waiting for a signal to cross the CSX Indianapolis Line.

As it turned out, CSX had one train in each direction that had the diamonds before the 189 got a clear indication.

I waited for the NS train to start moving before chasing it out of town. My plan was to get it in Springport, using my longest telephoto lens to make an image of the train on the undulating profile of a former Nickel Plate Road branch line now turned NS mainline.

The gates went down at Hackley Street near where I was parked. As the locomotive approached the crossing I got a surprise.

Leading was NS 4000, the unit that was supposed to be going east of Fort Wayne on the Chicago District toward Bellevue and Pittsburgh.

I was so stunned I didn’t think to make a grab shot with my camera.

Instead I started the car and headed out of town. I was easily able to get ahead of the train and made my first images at the first crossing south of CP Noell, the north end of a long siding for the New Castle District south of Muncie.

This is where NS likes to park trains as they await a crew change before continuing north on the New Castle District toward Fort Wayne or east on the Frankfort District.

There was a westbound tank car train parked there with two Union Pacific locomotives. I had heard the dispatcher talking to this train earlier, which was, if I heard correctly, was the 60T. One of the UP motors was having mechanical difficulty.

I got to the crossing with just enough time to make several images of the 189 and the NS 4000. However, the skies at that point were mostly cloudy with occasional peaks of sunlight. I wasn’t there during one of the latter.

I then headed south on Indiana Route 3 with the idea to shoot the 189 just north of where the New Castle District crosses that four lane highway.

There is a road just north of the crossing that is closed at the tracks and I parked there. But upon getting out I discovered that the signal was lined for a westbound move.

That turned out to be a gondola only train whose symbol I never heard. But it might have been the 61T, a steel slab train I’ve seen at least once before.

The gondola train was moving slowly so I thought I might be able to get to Springport just ahead of it. I did, sort of, but the head end was just about to cross Main Street as I pulled up so there wasn’t any time to get a coming shot.

I was able to get a going away image of the gondolas on the sawtooth profile of the track north of town.

The passage of the 61T meant that the 189 was stopped at York Point, the south end of the aforementioned siding south of Muncie.

So I waited in Springport for the 189 to arrive. By now the clouds had begun to break up and there was nice sunlight as the 189 came south (railroad east).

I got my photographs, two of which are posted above. I would see two more trains later that day in New Castle. It was still mostly cloudy during the afternoon so I just watched those trains pass.

Then traffic died and after waiting around about two hours it was time to leave. Even though the day had a slow ending, the outing was already a success.

I had not seen NS 4000 since Aug. 22, 2016, in Bedford when it led the 11K west on the Cleveland Line.

As that erroneous HU report, my guess is the reporter got the wrong train symbol. Whatever the case, it worked out for me in the end.

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