Posts Tagged ‘Bucyrus’

Something Out of the Ordinary

June 15, 2016

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Norfolk Southern has nine D8.5-40CW locomotives on its roster. A website maintained by Chris Toth and devoted to NS motive power reports that eight of the units are currently stored, although still active.

They carry roster numbers 8500 to 8509. All of the units were rebuilt in 2015 and in the process received new cabs. And that is how No. 8508 came to took so distinctive.

It was sent out on the system with its new cab in primer paint. At first glance, the primary appears to be a light shade of blue.

I was hanging out in Bucyrus on Easter Eve earlier this year when NS train 194 rolled into town.

No. 8508 was the third unit. An online report said it was bound for Roanoke, Virginia.

My fellow Akron Railroad Club member Todd Dillon had spotted No. 8509 in Bellevue a few days earlier. He wrote that this rebuild program had not been successful and has been suspended.

Although the 8508 isn’t much to look at, I photographed it anyway because it is something out of the ordinary.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

 

Reliving the History of Bucyrus T&OC Depot

June 2, 2016

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Railroad stations have a grandeur about them that is both pleasing and deceiving.

It is pleasing because the rich architectural details found in old train stations are largely lacking in the modern transportation facilities.

Yet it can be deceiving because stations did not necessary serve their communities in their intended functions for as long as you might think given that the depot is more than a century old.

Such is the case with the former Toledo & Ohio Central passenger station in Bucyrus.

Built in 1892, it somehow survived a period of abandonment. The depot is still around due to efforts in the community to save and preserve it.

As you stand outside this magnificent structure, it is easy to imagine how several generations began or ended a trip here.

We often use the phrase “once a busy place” in describing old railroad stations.

That’s because we’ve heard it from our parents or grandparents when they described the era of passenger service when most Americans traveled by train or knew people who did.

The implication is that at about any time of the day or night there were crowds of people at the train station. It might have been that at times the T&O station in Bucyrus was a busy place at train time.

But in reality, few scheduled passenger trains ever served this depot and those trains were gone by the middle 1930s.

Bucyrus was located on the eastern line of the T&OC, which began in Toledo and ran to Thurston in southern Ohio where it met up with the western line, which extended between Toledo and Thurston via Columbus.

South of Thurston, the T&OC extended to Charleston, West Virginia, and had a web of branches that served coal mines in southern Ohio and in West Virginia.

Although construction of the eastern line began in 1869, it was not completed until 1880 and placed into operation in 1881.

Passenger service on the eastern line was oriented to local service and none of these trains operated south of Thurston.

A timetable dated March 22, 1914, showed one roundtrip between Toledo and Thurston, one roundtrip between Toledo and Bucyrus, one roundtrip between Bucyrus and Thursday, and three roundtrips between Fostoria and Toledo.

A scheduled dated Jan. 1, 1918, showed the same pattern with all of the trains operating during daylight hours.

That would prove to be the zenith of passenger service on the eastern line of the T&OC.

By the time of the Sept. 30, 1923, timetable, service had fallen to one Toledo-Thurston roundtrip (Nos. 23 and 24) that operated during daylight hours. There was also a Toledo-Bucyrus roundtrip that departed Bucyrus in the morning and returned that evening.

This operating pattern continued through 1935. By then the Bucyrus-Toledo trains did not operate on Sundays.

I was unable to determine the date when passenger service on the eastern line of the T&OC ended, but it was gone by the timetable change of June 1, 1936.

The Bucyrus T&OC station is 124 years old this year, but it only served as a passenger station for at most 44 years or 35 percent of its life. It must have served a railroad function for several years after the end of passenger service.

Today the Bucyrus depot sits as a reminder of a bygone era and the city’s only surviving train station. The locals have done a good job restoring it, yet I’ve always sensed that more restoration work remains to be done.

I’ve never been inside the depot and it apparently is only open on special occasions.

Still, there is plenty to see on the outside and I’ve looked through the windows to get a sense of the interior.

I can picture in my mind men and women standing on the platform or in the waiting room dressed in their Sunday best awaiting the arrival of No. 123 or 124, which were the numbers of the Toledo-Thurston train in its final years.

The train was pulled by a steam locomotive and probably had a couple of heavyweight open window coaches along with head end cars.

There were no dining cars, no air conditioning and no sleeping cars. It was basic transportation designed to take people a relatively short distance.

In the end, though, the combination of the effects of the Great Depression as well as an expanding network of highways combined to doom passenger trains on the eastern line of the T&OC.

Other forces would later work to doom the eastern line itself except for a short segment in Bucyrus.

In that sense, the Bucyrus T&OC depot is a monument to a railroad that no longer was needed, yet is still worth remembering.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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Bucyrus Railcar Repair Shop Sold

March 8, 2016

A company that specializes in the sale of rail service and supplier companies has announced the sale of Transco Railway Products of Bucyrus to Bucyrus Railcar Repair. The latter is a subsidiary of T&C Rail Holdings.

Transco provides freight car repair, modification and rebuilding services to the rail transportation industry.

It has been located for more than 30 years in a facility located along the former Toledo & Ohio Central.

Switching is performed by the Chicago, Ft. Wayne & Eastern and the facility is adjacent to the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern.

The facility is set on 33 acres with 165,000 square feet under roof, 28 repair spots and blast/paint capabilities.

TCRH is a rail-focused holding company. The Bucyrus facility is its first railcar repair acquisition in North America.

Hanging Out with NS in Bucyrus

February 13, 2016
A pair of bright red Canadian Pacific units lend some to an otherwise black crude oil train rolling eastbound through Bucyrus.

A pair of bright red Canadian Pacific units lend some to an otherwise black crude oil train rolling eastbound through Bucyrus.

In an earlier post, I described how I spent a day in Bucyrus last fall searching for the ultimate shot that would combine the former Toledo & Ohio Central depot with a train on the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern.

That quest remains a work in progress, but the station that once served New York Central System passenger trains was not the only object of my photograph efforts.

I caught a crude oil train on the Fort Wayne Line and a move going from the Sandusky District to the Fort Wayne Line.

The latter caught me by surprised because I wasn’t sure if anything comes up from Columbus anymore and heads toward Pittsburgh.

NS is not the only user of the Fort Wayne Line. The Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern also uses the route to interchange with CSX at Crestline.

Or so I was told a few years ago. The Wheeling & Lake Erie even has trackage rights over the Fort Wayne Line through Bucyrus.

But I didn’t see anything from those two regional railroads and, frankly, I was not expecting it.

Bucyrus is about as good a place as any to catcher NS heritage locomotives, but none were in the region on the day that I visited.

The most colorful locomotives I saw were the Canadian Pacific units leading an eastbound crude oil train through town on the Fort Wayne Line.

Like any other hotspot, Bucyrus can have it lulls and one of those broke out around midday.

It did not last too long, though.

More trains were on their way, but I had to leave about mid-afternoon. I’ll have to add making a return trip here to my list of things to do in 2016.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A container train crosses the Fort Wayne line en route to Columbus. Have stack trains ever operated on the Fort Wayne Line?

A container train crosses the Fort Wayne line en route to Columbus. Have stack trains ever operated on the Fort Wayne Line?

Back in the day, the Toledo & Ohio Central crossed the bridge in the foreground over the Lincoln Highway and then crossed the Pennsylvania Railroad branch from Columbus to Sandusky. The T&OC is gone, but a small portion of it still exists on the northwest side of town to serve some industries.

Back in the day, the Toledo & Ohio Central crossed the bridge in the foreground over the Lincoln Highway and then crossed the Pennsylvania Railroad branch from Columbus to Sandusky. The T&OC is gone, but a small portion of it still exists on the northwest side of town to serve some industries.

After crossing the Fort Wayne Line, eastbound trains on the Sandusky continue around a curve.

After crossing the Fort Wayne Line, eastbound trains on the Sandusky continue around a curve.

A manifest freight up from Columbus on the Sandusky District make the turn to go east on the Fort Wayne Line.

A manifest freight up from Columbus on the Sandusky District make the turn to go east on the Fort Wayne Line.

Once the route of the Broadway Limited, the Fort Wayne Line is now the home of eastbound crude oil trains from the west.

Once the route of the Broadway Limited, the Fort Wayne Line is now the home of eastbound crude oil trains from the west.

NS and the T&OC Station in Bucyrus

January 30, 2016
An eastbound container train passes the former Toledo & Ohio Central depot in Bucyrus, Ohio.

An eastbound container train passes the former Toledo & Ohio Central depot in Bucyrus, Ohio.

Marty Surdyk introduced me to the restored Toledo & Ohio Central station in Bucyrus several years ago.

He was showing me the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern when we went into Bucyrus to take a look around.

I was impressed with that station the first time I saw it. I might have exposed a slide film frame or two, but I made a mental note that I’ve got to get back here someday to see what I could do with that station and the trains on the adjacent Sandusky District.

NS logo 2Bucyrus is one of those places that is not too far away, yet just far enough to be somewhere you don’t get to all that often.

Marion is nearby and if you are going to drive that far you might as well go to a place that features more rail traffic.

Bucyrus has crossing rail lines, too, but one of them is the NS Fort Wayne Line and it doesn’t’ have that much traffic.

I did get to Bucyrus once on an outing with Peter Bowler, but we didn’t hang around there all that long.

In July 2012, I was in Bucyrus when the Nickel Plate Road 765 was pulling NS employee appreciation specials that turned on the wye.

But during none of those trips did I have the opportunity to hang out and try to make the T&OC station the focus of my photography efforts.

That changed last fall when I drove to Bucyrus on a warm, sunny day with the priority of getting images of the station and NS trains.

I had noted during a previous trip that that might be more difficult to do than it might seem because the T&OC station is not right on the Sandusky District or the Fort Wayne Line.

In the old days, the T&OC tracks were on the east side of the station. The Sandusky District, which used to be a Pennsylvania Railroad branch, had its own station that is now long gone.

Bucyrus is not a bad place to spend a day. There is ample parking right by the depot and the Sandusky District has a high level of traffic.

The Fort Wayne Line, which used to be the rail route in Bucyrus, remains a lightly-used rail line, although I did see three trains on it during my visit.

As I suspected, it is possible to make images that include the T&OC station and NS trains on the Sandusky District, but it takes some work because of the tough photo angles.

I’ll have to get back to Bucyrus sometime this year and try it again. Some things just take multiple efforts to work out.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

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The Incredible Shrinking Fort Wayne Line

June 8, 2009

Mergers and acquisitions can be tough on a railroad line. Many a line has been wiped off the map after being deemed surplus as a result of a merger. While that fate has not befallen the Fort Wayne line that passes through Alliance, Canton, Massillon, Orrville, Wooster and Mansfield, the former Chicago-Pittsburgh mainline of the Pennsylvania Railroad isn’t what it used to be.

After the Conrail breakup, which resulted in the Fort Wayne line east of Crestline becoming Norfolk Southern property, traffic diminished preciptiously. Now the Fort Wayne line has just one pair of daily manifest freights that travel the route daily through northeast Ohio.

Until early May, 12V and 15V operated between Columbus (Buckeye Yard) and Pittsburgh (Conway Yard), using the Sandusky District between Columbus and Bucyrus and the Fort Wayne line east of there.

But NS temporarily closed Buckeye Yard on May 4, citing the downturn in traffic resulting from the current recession. Columbus area traffic will be marshaled at Watkins Yard, a former Norfolk & Western facility on the southeast side of Columbus. NS expects to reopen Buckeye Yard once the economy and its business picks up.

The 12V and 15V now operate between Pittsburgh and Bellevue. The trains continue to use the Sandusky District and to make the turn onto and off of the Fort Wayne line at Bucyrus.

The trains also have a new schedule. The 12V is now slated for a middle of the night departure from Bellevue and should reach the Canton-Alliance area by 8 a.m. The 15V is set to leave Conway at approximately midnight with a mid-morning arrival in Bellevue. The new schedule means that the trains are less likely to operate over the Fort Wayne line west of Canton in daylight hours.

Another change in recent weeks on the Fort Wayne line was the abolition of a pair of locals that operated between Mansfield and Bellevue. Local C37 had originated at Mansfield and hauled auto parts that were made at a General Motors stamping plant near Mansfield and taken to Belleveue for forwarding to GM plants via other trains. For now, this traffic will be handled by the 12V and 15V. However, the future of the GM plant in Mansfield does not look good as the company restructures and downsizes in bankruptcy proceedings.

NS continues to opeate a local between Canton and Massillon that runs during daylight hours, and a local that originates in Mansfield and runs to Wooster before returning. This train does work in Orrville, dropping off tank cars for the J.M. Smucker plant that is located on the former Cleveland, Akron & Columbus branch on the north side of Orrville.

Otherwise the only traffic on the Fort Wayne line is the occasional coal train or load of empty cars.

Two ARRC members inspected the Fort Wayne line between Bucyrus and Upper Sandusky last Saturday.  While in Bucyrus we were told that the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern, which operates over the line west of Crestline, hopes to build traffic over the next few years and even land some bridge traffic coming out of Chicago. A connection from the Fort Wayne line to the Sandusky District in the southwest quandrant of Colsan might be built.

The CF&E was fairly quiet last weekend. The only “train” we saw was a pair of CSX locomotives that CF&E reportedly uses to haul grain trains. Those ran light from Crestline to Lima in late morning.

The Fort Wayne line is mostly a single track railroad west of Crestline and looks more like a branch line than a mainline that once hosted such fabled trains as the Broadway Limited, Pennsylvania Limited, Admiral, General, Trail Blazer and Manhattan Limited.

The line still has Pennsy style position light signals and the defect detector is  still in operation at Robinson (“Robbins”) east of Bucyrus. The train called signals over the radio as it made its way westward.

The Fort Wayne Line remains an intriguing line to photograph even if traffic is slight. The position light signals are still intact on the NS portion of the line west of Alliance. There is the famous Tuscarawas bridge at Massillon that is built on a curve. Just west of the bridge, there is nice photo vantage point of the former Mace interlocking from the bridge carrying Cherry Road NW over the tracks. Although the tower is long gone, this junction sees trains of NS, R.J. Corman and Ohio Central (using trackages rights over the Corman).

There is a nice restored depot and block tower at Orrville. At Bucyrus, work is well underway to restore the former Toledo & Ohio Central station, which is located just south of the junction of the Fort Wayne line with the NS Sandusky District. The group restoring the station has opened a souvenir shop adjacent to the T&OC depot. There is ample parking there.

Given the paucity of traffic on the Fort Wayne line, its future in the NS system would seem to be uncertain. NS probably only kept the route because of its on-line traffic at Mansfield, Wooster, Orrville, Massillon and Canton. The line certainly has little other reason to exist in NS’s eyes other than perhaps serving as a safety value or backup route for traffic moving between Bellevue and Pittsburgh that now goes via Cleveland.  At some point NS might decide that it has more to gain by turning the route over to a short line or regional railroad.

Indeed NS is doing just that this summer with a lightly used branch in Cleveland.  The former Erie line that once ran between Cleveland and Leavittsburg, Ohio, is being leased to the Cleveland Commercial Railroad on or about June 15.

The Cleveland Commercial, which currently leases a Wheeling & Lake Erie branch between Falls Junction and Cleveland, will operate the NS Randall Secondary between Broadway Avenue in Cleveland and milepost 27.5 in Aurora Township — a distance of 25 miles. Currently, the line is out of service east of Harper Road in Solon.

The agreement calls for the Cleveland Commercial to use the former Erie Van Willer Yard in Cleveland. Interchange with NS will occur on a connecting track between East 65th Street in Cleveland and Erie crossing, where the NS Cleveland line (former Pennsyslvania Railroad) crosses the former Erie route.

The Cleveland Commercial can access the Randall Secondary directly without having to use NS trackage by using a connection that passes through the Ferrous Metals scrapyard. This will enable the Cleveland Commercial to offer its customers on the Randall Secondary an interchange with the W&LE