Posts Tagged ‘Bucyrus Ohio’

Moving From Point B to Point A

March 22, 2020

I know what you’re thinking’ that’s bass ackwards. You go from Point A to Point B.

Well normally you do, but on March 1 the brother and I went from Bellevue to Ada.

How did we get there? Read along and you’ll find out.

I was barely in the door of my apartment on Saturday after work when my phone started ringing.

“Going to be a beautiful day tomorrow; Lisa (my brother’s wife) is off work and I’m itching to hit the road somewhere.”

“Where are we heading?”

“I don’t care, you pick someplace.”

“I’ll text you later with what I decide.”

“Roger, Willco.”

I went about my Saturday chores and then readied myself for church. As I sat in the pew waiting for mass to start “Bellevue” kept coming to mind. So after church I texted the brother “Be ready by 7:30, destination Bellevue.”

I got a text back. “I’ll be ready.”

Our 7:30 a.m. call time found us on the road headed west to Bellevue. As we got to Norwalk the scanner was turned on. Radio chatter from Bellevue began to filter in.

A good channel to listen to is the crew bus channel. They happen to use the same frequency as the Sandusky District, 161.190.

By the time we got to town, we knew that 218 and 234 were in the picture as crews were being picked up at the hotel/dorm for these trains.

Also at this time 12V was nearly ready to leave on its trek from Bellevue to Conway Yard near Pittsburgh. The 12V operates via Mansfield on the former Conrail Ft. Wayne Line.

As we entered Bellevue the 218 was re-crewed and ready to resume its trip.

We shot through town and headed south on Ohio Route 269 bound for one of our morning southbound (timetable eastbound) shots on the Sandusky District.

The 218’s counterpart, No. 217, was the first train we saw. It was approaching Flat Rock and would be stopping for a crew change shortly.

We headed to a county road crossing that features a nice white farmhouse and bright red barn as your photo props to shoot the 218. It wasn’t long before his headlight was on the horizon.

After shooting the intermodal train here, we headed south with it. Often NS trains get delayed at the former Baltimore & Ohio diamonds at Attica Junction. Today that would be the case.

“Take it easy down to Attica, CSX has two to run, before he can take you.” was the dispatcher’s message to 218’s crew.

As we approached the crossing where Ohio Route 4 crosses CSX, an eastbound double stack was going past.

It cleared and the gates went up just long enough for a couple of cars to get across before going back down for a westbound tank train.

This gave us a chance to get ahead of the 218 and shoot it again at the grain elevator in the actual town of Attica (top photograph). After 218 passed, we doubled back north for the other two trains.

The 12V was next and we set up for it at a spot that we like with two red barns to add to the photo (photo two below). The 12V was monster today with 205 cars, four units up front and a DPU 124 cars deep.

It was plodding along at about 25 mph on the normal westbound main. Before it could clear our location, the 234 went by on the other track blocked from our view by the 12V.

About now 234’s crew was talking to the PTC desk. Something wasn’t right and they’d have to stop briefly and reset something.

This gave us just enough of a break to get ahead of both trains. We again stopped at the Attica elevator and shot both trains there (photo three below).

The 12V would be our focus for the next few shots. The lumbering monster train was not only easy to chase because of its slow speed, it had the Conrail H-Unit running third in the consist (photo four below).

Plus when it got to Bucyrus (buck-eee-rus) it would make a left turn onto the former Conrail Ft. Wayne Line.

I wanted to shoot the elevator at North Robinson between Bucyrus and Crestline.

The brother was now driving. I had to change film after shooting 12V at Attica, so he chose a county road crossing north of the end of the double track at Chatfield for our next shot.

We let the whole train go by before resuming the chase. We tried for the north end of Benson siding via Carroll Road but didn’t make it in time.

Not to panic, the Ridgeton detector showed all the wheels hot on the 125th car. That would be the covered hopper right behind the DPU.

The crew on the 12V figured out a spot in Bucyrus where they could stop and not block crossings to inspect their problem car. It was now about 11:45 a.m. so we made a quick lunch stop at a Burger King on the east side of Bucyrus.

We didn’t dawdle which proved to be a good move. When we came out of the restaurant the Sandusky District dispatcher called the 12V for a progress report.

“Conductor’s about 10 cars back heading this way, we should be on the move shortly.”

“Permission to depart from where you stand.”

We arrived at North Robinson to find two younger railfans already set up for a shot. They were from the Dayton area. Before the 12V got to us two more cars of railfans showed up.

“A lot of fans for an H-unit running third out,” I thought.

Everyone except me lined up for a shot of the 12V splitting the position light signals (photo five below). I positioned myself so I could get the grain elevator with the train.

One of the late arrivals said that the 12V would be meeting the 171 at Crestline. The latter is a Conway to Chatanooga train.

And behind the 171 was a Wheeling and Lake Erie train heading to Lima with interchange cars for the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern.

“That’s why the crowd; they’re all here to chase the W&LE. Now it all makes sense,” I thought to myself.

After shooting the 12V, I walked west of the elevator to see if there was a shot there.

Not finding anything to my liking because of too much clutter and derelict truck trailers, I chose a spot that I could get a couple of the houses in town in my photo. Again the rest of the photo line was shooting those signals.

The 171 would be held for one train on the Sandusky District before it would be let around the corner to head south for Cincinnati.

We headed to the diamonds at Colsan in Bucyrus for the 171. We were the only ones there.

If indeed the Wheeling was behind the 171 we were going to chase it west on this former Pennsylvania Railroad trackage.

This is new territory for us. Trains out on this line on weekends are few and far between.

We waited at Colsan for the headlight of the Wheeling to appear before we barreled out of town.

I didn’t want to repeat an episode we had in Indiana a few years back where we chased air for a couple of hours.

The Wheeling indeed was on the move west and would get right across the diamonds at Colsan.

An elevator on the west side of Bucyrus was our first possible shot but we couldn’t find a good angle so it was on the road to Nevada (the city in Ohio, not the state).

Here we found a nice elevator shot in town at the Main Street crossing. The Wheeling train had three units up front, a black, yellow and another black.

They were making about 25 mph on jointed rail. Forgot how good that sounds.

After shooting it here we were off heading west. Using U.S. 30 to get around Upper Sandusky (both elevators there sit along the former C&O), we stopped at Kirby.

Here we found an elevator on the south side of the tracks and a garage that was painted to look like a red barn on the north side. We could frame the train between the two. We liked it and waited a few minutes for the train (photo six below).

Forest is the next town and never having been there we didn’t know what to expect.

Turns out Forest has two elevators along the tracks. We shot at the easterly one, a classic ceramic tile structure that was painted white at one time. The peeling paint on the elevator added some character to the scene.

It was then back on the road toward Dunkirk where the Ft. Wayne Line crosses the former New York Central (Toledo & Ohio Central Western Branch), now the CSX Toledo Branch Subdivision.

Dunkirk Tower still stands at the southwest corner of the diamond. It is shootable on the north/south line, because I have done it in the past while railfanning the Toledo Branch in Conrail days.

We rolled into town to find that the tower is shootable for a northbound/southbound and eastbound. You guessed it, no westbound shot. Off to Dola we went.

Dola is the next town to the west. The elevator in town is visible from Dunkirk.

I had hoped for a better photo op there but Dola disappointed. The elevator is only accessible on the east end, so it can only be shot eastbound. Oh Well, on to Ada.

Ada is a college town, the home of Northern Ohio University. I knew from some friends that went to NOU that the depot still stands and a caboose is displayed outside of it.

As we found in the last two towns the depot was not shootable for a westbound train when the sun is as far south as it is on March 1. It might be shootable from the north side of the tracks in the summer for a westbound.

We continued two blocks further west to the grain elevator in town. It is shootable westbound (photo seven below).

Actually, there is a large open area west of it with some siding tracks that could hold grain cars when the harvest season is in progress. They also have a critter to switch the facility.

We parked the car and waited about five minutes for the W&LE to arrive. I finally got a chance to count the cars that the Wheeling had today: 96 empty sand cars, an empty trash hopper and another covered hopper not like the sand cars.

This would be our last shot of the train and of the day. It was now after 3:30 p.m. and we were due home for dinner at 6 p.m.

Lisa was making chicken paprikash and you don’t want to miss that. Using Ohio Route 235 north out of town to access U.S. 30, which is now a four-lane divided highway all the way back to Interstate 71, we made good time.

The brother drove the U.S. 30 section of highway. A gas stop and crew change at Ashland put me back at the wheel for the last miles home. We pulled into Robert’s driveway at 5:58 p.m., two minutes to the good.

What a day! We did not expect to be in Ada but we were glad we that we were.

Article by Marty Surdyk, Photos by Robert Surdyk

Relic of the Toledo & Ohio Central

May 11, 2018

The Toledo & Ohio Central route through Bucyrus at Colsan has been gone for several years, but traces of it remain.

The view is looking down what would have been the T&OC tracks back in the day.

The rails would have crossed the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline and then crossed the PRR’s Sandusky-Columbus line.

The bridge in the background carried the T&OC over a street below.

Other reminders of the T&OC in Bucyrus include the former passenger station, which has been saved and is undergoing restoration.

Also still in place is a short section of track on the northwest side of town.

The Norfolk Southern train shown here is heading railroad eastward toward Columbus. NS now owns all of the tracks visible here except, perhaps, that orphan section in the foreground.

Double Shot of Western Motive Power

March 1, 2018

I was listening to my scanner in Bellevue last Sunday when I heard a train call a signal that indicated it was taking the connection from the Fostoria District to the Sandusky District to head toward Columbus.

At the time, I was sitting across from Wheeling Tower and couldn’t see it.

Curiosity got the better of me and I drove over to Slaughterhouse Road in time to see the last containers on the train coming around the connection.

It was Norfolk Southern intermodal train 218, which originates at Calumet Yard in Chicago and travels to Linwood, North Carolina.

I gave chase, catching up with it just north of Attica Junction. The lead unit was BNSF, making it the second train heading east on the Sandusky District I had seen that day with BNSF power on the point.

The 218 was slowing as it neared West Attica and I could see that it was passing a stopped eastbound intermodal train, the 234.

On the point of the 234, which originates in Chicago (Landers Yard) and travels to Atlanta, was a Union Pacific unit.

It would have been nice to have photographed the two units side by side waiting at West Attica, but the 234 was too far back to get a good shot, even with a telephoto lens.

Both trains were waiting for an eastbound CSX stack train to cross ahead of them at Attica Junction. I spotted the CSX stacker as I crossed over its tracks in Siam, but didn’t wait around for it.

I set up by the former Toledo & Ohio Central depot in Bucyrus for the NS intermodal trains. I did not have a long wait. First came the 218 followed several minutes later by the 234.

Memorable Last Train of the Day

April 12, 2017

The last train that I would photograph during an all-day outing to Bellevue and the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern last Sunday would be memorable for a few reasons, not all of them positive.

While in Bellevue around mid-afternoon, I spotted a train sitting on the Fostoria District awaiting clearance. It had a BNSF unit on the point so I waited to see where it was going.

I thought it was waiting to get into the yard, but it went to the Sandusky District and would follow the 194 and the 12V.

It turned out to be the 44G, a grain train probably headed somewhere in North or South Carolina.

The Sandusky District dispatcher had planned to have the 44G meet a 188 at Harvey just north of Marion, but those plans changed after I turned off my scanned and got out my car to await the arrival of the 44G in Bucyrus.

I met a railfan from Columbus who had a portable scanner and said the radio chatter and signal indications he had seen suggested a meet at Benson, the siding north of Bucycus.

That is, in fact, what happened. He was curious what the view on the west side of the tracks close to the diamonds with the Fort Wayne Line.

We found that it offered a straight-on view of the through truss bridge carrying the Sandusky District over the Sandusky River.

The lighting was ideal and the bright orange of the BNSF “pumpkins” was eye catching. It was my best series of images of the day.

We watched the train go by and we started to leave I reached into my pocket for my lens cap.

But it wasn’t there. I searched all of my pockets and no lens cap.

The other railfan and I looked over the area where I had been photographing but found nothing. I traced my path three times but the lens cap was nowhere to be found.

My best guess is that I put it back on my lens after shooting the 188, but didn’t attach it firmly enough to the lens.

The vibration of my moving must have jarred it off and it was difficult to find in the thick grass. It’s there somewhere but I couldn’t find it.

I can buy a new lens cap, but was bummed out about not having been more careful with my equipment.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Waiting for Some Money and TLC

August 9, 2016

Bucyrus caboose 2-x

Bucyrus caboose-x

It sits by itself on a track to nowhere awaiting restoration in Bucyrus.

Built in February 1969 by International Railway Car Company in Kenton, Ohio, this model M930 caboose once carried Norfolk & Western roster number 518541.

Norfolk Southern gave it number 555541 and it remained in service through at least 2004.

At some point, it was donated to the Bucyrus Station Association, which would like to restore it. The car has been in Bucyrus since at least late summer 2012.

Although I didn’t see it during my visit, an online report indicated that there is a sign on the caboose seeking donations for the restoration project.

That seems to be the way it is with railroad restoration. There is always an ample supply of restoration opportunity and not enough money to make it happen.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

Larger Than They Might Appear

June 21, 2016
No longer standing tall, but still tall nonetheless.

No longer standing tall, but still tall nonetheless.

Weeds are now growing up through the signal head.

Weeds are now growing up through the signal head.

One of the amber lights. It could have been used to signal clear block or an approach indication.

One of the amber lights. It could have been used to signal clear block or an approach indication.

The red lights only displayed a stop indication.

The red lights only displayed a stop indication.

Railroad block signal heads don’t look all that large when viewed from ground level or a distance. Unless you are willing to trespass or else you work as a signal maintainer chances are you’ve never stood next to a signal head as it sat on its support pole.

The size of the heads of Pennsylvania Railroad style position light signals seem small when viewed from ground level.

But stand next to one of those head when it is lying on the ground and you might be surprised at how large it is.

There was a former PRR position light signal lying on the ground in Bucyrus when I paid a visit there a while back.

Aside from its size, I was amazed at how beat up and rusty that it was.

Granted, this signal might have been out of service for several years, but still, it looked like it had not been painted in more than a decade.

Countless train crews depended on this signal to safely guide them home or to their destination terminal. But now its work is done and I presume it will be cosmetically restored and displayed at the small railroad museum that is part of the depot in Bucyrus.

This town used to be, after all, a major junction point on the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders