2012 Longest Day in Fostoria

A westbound CSX container train nears the Findlay Street overpass on the west side of Fostoria during the Akron Railroad Club’s longest day outing on June 24, 2012.

So, how many trains did you see in Fostoria? Hmmm. Let’s me see. I photographed 31 CSX trains and eight Norfolk Southern trains. That adds up to 39.

But there were two NS trains that I didn’t get because we were out shooting CSX trains on a bridge on the west side of town. But we saw their headlights waiting to cross CSX. That makes 41.

Then there were, I think, three CSX trains that I didn’t see or shoot because I was photographing the former Toledo & Ohio Central depot. But I heard their horns. That makes 44.

But, wait! How about the two NS trains that I heard on the radio getting permission from the dispatcher to leave town? I didn’t see them or photograph them. Do those count?

That makes 46. Oh, I forgot. There was another NS train that came into town to work the yard or the mixing center that I didn’t see or photograph. How about that? Make that 47.

My memory must be going bad. I seem to recall yet another NS train also coming in that I missed. Could be 48.

And what about the CSX light power move I saw during the morning. I counted it twice, but is that OK?

I forgot again. We saw this headlight in the NS yard but it never got out our way. I didn’t photograph it, but I did see it. Now we’re on the verge of 50.

Marty, Todd and I went to lunch at Subway. While Marty was putzing around town trying to find the place we might have missed another train.

All right, that does it. There were at least 50 trains in Fostoria on Sunday, June 24 for the Akron Railroad Club’s annual longest day outing. Fifty sounds like a nice round number.

The problem is that no one kept a detailed train log and even if we had there surely would have been some missed trains. Fostoria is like that.

Not in dispute is that seven ARRC members make the trek to Ohio’s Iron Triangle for a day of train watching.

I was the first to arrive, getting there at 9 a.m. A CSX auto rack train was moving from the former Baltimore & Ohio to the former Chesapeake & Ohio. I didn’t see the head end because it had already crossed Columbus Avenue.

Interestingly, this maneuver enables a train to cross Columbus Avenue twice at the same time. As I looked in my rear view mirror, I could see the same train that I viewed out my windshield.

Also making the trip were Paul Wooding, Rick Houck, Bill Kubas, Marty Surdyk, Todd Vander Sluis and Eli Akerib.

The action was pretty steady throughout the day. Not surprisingly, the heaviest action occurred on the ex-B&O mainline. Although most trains on that route went straight through town, a fair number also turned at F Tower to go onto the ex-C&O route either north or south.

Conversely, several trains turned off the C&O onto the B&O. During our time in Fostoria, we saw trains use the connecting tracks in all four quadrants.

Foreign power was fairly scarce. There was none on NS and just three CSX trains carried foreign leaders. This included two trains with BNSF power and one with Union Pacific power.

The latter was the eastbound salad bowl express, an expedited twice-weekly service that carries reefers filled with fresh produce from California and Washington state to a distribution center near Albany, N.Y. This train always has UP power and is handed off to CSX in Chicago.

We had seen this train during the 2011 longest day outing in Deshler. It seems to reliably operate east on Sundays in the afternoons in western and central Ohio.

An HLCX rent a wreck was a trailing unit on a westbound CSX train. Otherwise, the motive power scene was a steady diet of wide cabs and a few standard cabs on CSX.

Both railroads sent through a high number of intermodal trains. On NS this included the RoadRailer, which most of us missed because we were on the bridge carrying Findlay Street over the former B&O on the west side of town.

Most of the intermodal trains on both railroads were container trains. Only one train on CSX carried predominantly trailers.

That is not surprising for CSX because its new North Baltimore intermodal terminal is located a fairly short distance to the west. That facility handles containers.

The best sighting of the day, though, was a former Santa Fe caboose on the rear of eastbound Q383. The caboose carried the markings MCRX 999822. The caboose still had its Santa Fe livery.

We spent much of our time at the Fostoria Railfan Park. Although the park is said to be under construction, little has been done thus far. On the day of our visit, the park was nothing more than a portable restroom, a lone picnic table and a cleared field.

The field was filled with weeds and other vegetation, although there were fairly unobstructed views of the ex-B&O mainline. None of us were brave (or stupid?) enough to venture through the weeds to get a closer shot of the B&O mainline.

The park offers an excellent view, though, of the crossing of the C&O and former Nickel Plate Road.

We made a few forays to the parking lot adjacent to the B&O passenger station. A few other railfans passed through during the day, including guys from New York and Pennsylvania. The latter guy was on his way home from the NRHS convention that had just been held in Iowa.

Todd and I ventured up the C&O to photograph two trains passing one of the remaining C&O signals in town. While there, we noticed the old T&OC depot and make it a point to go photograph it.

The building is in decrepit condition. No longer used, it seems to be an arson waiting to happen. The former T&OC line through Fostoria is long gone.

Just after 7:30 p.m., we called it a day and all seven of us went to the Bob Evans restaurant in Fostoria for dinner.

It had been warm most of the day and all of us were quite thirsty. We kept the server busy refilling our water glasses.

During dinner we decided that next year’s longest day will be in Marion. See you there.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

It’s a rare sight these days to see a caboose on the end of a freight train. But it happened during late morning of the ARRC longest day outing. The train is headed eastward on the former B&O mainline and is crossing the ex-C&O line. The view is looking south from the Columbus Avenue crossing.

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