Posts Tagged ‘CSX Greenwich Subdivision’

Reminder of a Past ARRC Outing

May 30, 2017

Westbound CSX manifest freight lumbers beneath the eastbound home signals for CP 37 and the water tower in Wellington.

Wellington is one of those places that is not that far away yet far enough that I don’t get there that often.

It is closer than Bellevue, Fostoria or Marion, but not as close to my home as Berea and Olmsted Falls.

Sometimes you just don’t have a good reason for neglecting to spend more time at a place that you really like.

I recently spent a few hours in Wellington and as I sat at the Lorain County Fairgrounds on the west side of the CSX Greenwich Subdivision I was reminded of the one and only Akron Railroad Club outing to Wellington during my time in the club.

That day was not necessarily the best or most exciting ARRC outing I’ve attended over the years, but I still remember it fondly.

It occurred on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009. I no longer remember why we chose to go to Wellington. Maybe at the time we were making an effort to visit what the Bulletin termed secondary hotspots in Northeast Ohio.

The report in the Bulletin indicated that 10 members showed up during the day and 22 CSX trains passed through. The W&LE sent just one train through town.

While sitting in Wellington recently I thought about some of the things that have changed since that 2009 outing.

I was using slide film exclusively then but have since switched to digital photography. Five of the 10 who attended no longer belong to the ARRC with Richard Jacobs among them having passed away.

Marty Surdyk was driving a Dodge Nitro then, but has since downsized to a smaller Jeep Patriot, I think it is.

Despite logging 22 CSX trains, I only made and/or saved eight 10 slides of CSX trains from that day, one of which is strikingly similar to the image that accompanies this article.

I had forgotten until I looked up the report of the outing published in the October 2009 Bulletin that Marty, myself and Rick Houck piled into the Nitro and chased the W&LE hopper train, getting it three times.

We speculated that it was a coke train that the Wheeling had picked up in Toledo from Canadian National. At the time, the W&LE was hauling coke that CN forwarded to Detroit.

I also had forgotten that when the outing began that morning a heavy rain was falling and that kept us in town rather than climbing the reservoir on the east side of the CSX tracks.

That also might explain why I have so few images from that day of CSX action.

The Bulletin report said we had lunch at Subway — where else? — and that by afternoon the skies had turned mostly sunny.

The report ended with the proclamation, “Let’s do it again, soon!” But that hasn’t happened and it probably won’t occur again as an ARRC activity.

Yet that won’t stop me from paying a return visit sooner rather than later. There are more memories there waiting to be made.

The Red Grain Elevator of Wellington

May 19, 2017

A certain member of the Akron Railroad Club is known for his passion for photographing trains and grain elevators.

I know that in particular he likes the red grain facility in Wellington alongside the Greenwich Subdivision of CSX.

It makes for a dramatic  image in late afternoon sunlight. From what I can see, the facility is no longer served by rail.

I didn’t go there on a recent outing just to capture the red grain elevator. As much as anything I went there because Wellington wasn’t being covered  by clouds.

CSX cooperated beautifully by sending a pair of westbounds through town, a stack train and an ethanol train.

The ethanol train shown at top was the second of the pair and I tend to like that image the best of the two.

Stumbling Into a Photograph

May 11, 2017

Nothing about this photograph was planned. At the time that it was made, I was chasing after a Wheeling & Lake Erie train that was leaving the siding at Hiles east of New London.

The case began at the northwest parking lot for the New London reservoir. You can sit there and watch trains on the CSX Greenwich Subdivision.

With a good antenna and radio you can also pick up radio transmissions on the W&LE frequency.

And so that was how I learned that a tank train I had seen earlier in the day in the Hiles siding was reading to go east.

I wasn’t sure that I could catch that train before it got to Spencer. I started to move, then sat back down. There is too much distance.

A moment later I began having second thoughts. The train will be accelerating from a standing start. It won’t be moving all that fast. In a worse case scenario I can catch it at Spencer.

So I drove out of the parking lot and on the spur of the moment decided to take a road that would go south of New London, which I thought would save time as opposed to going through town.

I had been on the road earlier that day when I had a false start trying to chase that Wheeling tank train. In that case, the conversation I heard on the radio was not the crew of the tank train.

I’m racing along eastward on a road I don’t know well but had been on earlier in the day. I make a left turn on a road that I think will lead me to Ohio Route 162.

It did, but it wasn’t the road I wanted. I turned on Chenango Road when what I really needed was Butler Road.

Chenango Road crosses the W&LE tracks, but by the time I reached them the tank train was gone. I also realized that I had the wrong road.

OK, I thought, I’ll go north a short distance and then turn east. Except that there were no crossroads.

Maybe there would be one just beyond the CSX crossing. As I was crossing the CSX tracks, I looked to my right and saw the headlight of a westbound train. That gave me a jolt.

Just as or just after I cleared the tracks, the gates started to come down. That gave me another jolt.

At that point instinct and experience kicked in. Something told me I could get a photograph of this train.

There was a dirt road to the right. I pulled in, grabbed my camera and headed for an opening near the tracks.

There was no time to think through the shot. I spotted a puddle and instinct and experience kicked in again.

In retrospect had I been standing back a little further I might have been able to capture the ditch lights and locomotive nose in the heart of the puddle rather than on the edges.

I also had the misfortune of photographing as a cloud blocked the sun. It was one of five times when that happened.

This, like most of the photographs that I made on this day, turned out to be less than ideal. It was that kind of a day.

But at least I didn’t come away from this photo op empty handed as I had earlier when just as I was catching up to the head end of an eastbound stack train on the New Castle Subdivision, I ran out of highway because U.S. 224 was closed for construction east of Nova.

Both Sides Now

May 9, 2017

I look at this photograph and I think of that Joni Mitchell song Both Sides Now. She sings about how clouds can be rows and flows of angel hair and ice castles in the air.

Clouds can add beauty and drama to an image, but they can also, as the second stanza of Both Sides Now reminds us, block the sun.

And so it was as CSX eastbound intermodal train Q010 came along as I stood atop the reservoir at New London.

My objective in making this image was clouds. I got the clouds all right, but at the crucial moment one of them blocked the sun.

Anyone who has spent time trackside has seen clouds from both sides. It is sometimes called getting cloud skunked.

I made the photograph anyway even though the train was in the shadows.

Of course, shadows can be a wonderful thing, too. But like clouds, they, too, are multifaceted. They can be your friend or they can be your adversary. Sometimes they are both at the same time.

So this image didn’t work out as I had planned, but at least I got some nice clouds.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

New Signals Set for Shelby Diamond

March 21, 2016

New block signals have been placed at the diamonds in Shelby where the CSX Greenwich Subdivision (former Big Four) crosses the Ashland Railway (former Baltimore & Ohio).

A field report said that the signals are in place but bags are still over the signal heads.

They are slated to replace color position light signals on the Ashland and former New York Central-style signals on CSX.

Seeking the New Normal on CSX in Greenwich

March 5, 2016
Eastbound Q015 rattles the diamonds at Boyd in Greenwich as it rolls out onto the New Castle Subdivision in Greenwich.

Eastbound Q015 rattles the diamonds at Boyd in Greenwich as it rolls out onto the New Castle Subdivision in Greenwich.

I recently went to Greenwich because I hadn’t been there for quite some time but also to check out how busy CSX is or isn’t these days.

During my recent outings in Berea, it has seemed as though the number of trains on CSX is down.

Greenwich is as busy a CSX hotspot as you’ll find in Northeast Ohio. You’ll see all of the traffic that passes through Berea as well as all of the traffic that passes through Akron.

I arrived in Greenwich in late morning on a Sunday and was surprised to find that I was the only railfan there.

The first hour was pretty quiet with the only trains being a pair of intermodals, one in each direction, on the Greenwich Subdivision.

Although there seemed to be fairly steady radio transmissions, Greenwich didn’t have the feel of activity as it has in the past.

The Willard Subdivision west of Greenwich is known for having trains stacked up waiting to get into the yard.

Nothing I heard on the radio indicated that that was the case on this day.

The IP dispatcher didn’t seem to be facing any “crisis” situations as has often been the case in the past.

Listening to the radio in Greenwich can be deceptive. If you have a good antenna you’ll hear discussions involving trains in the yard and operating west of Willard.

Many of those trains have either already passed through Greenwich or won’t be arriving for a good hour or more.

I had brought along the most recent issue of Trains and had plenty of time to read it.

The news section had stories about the changing nature of railroad freight traffic, including assertions that the future lies with intermodal.

So perhaps it was noteworthy that of the 17 trains that I saw, eight of them were intermodal trains.

Traffic began picking up about mid afternoon and at times the Greenwich of today resembled the Greenwich of yore.

A few railfans drifted in and out of town, stopping for a while to watch trains.

Things seemed to return to “normal” when two westbounds became stacked up east of town on the New Castle Subdivision.

A Q263 sat for a while at the home signals for CP54, a.k.a. Boyd, waiting for a pair of trains to come up the single-track Mt. Victory Subdivision from Crestline.

And it wouldn’t be a day in Greenwich without at least one problem bothering the dispatcher.

A Q163 arrived on the Willard Sub with an hour left to work and a bad order car to set out. There was quite a bit of chatter about that, primarily involving how far west the train would go before getting a new crew.

Aside from the eight intermodal trains, the day’s count included a crude oil train, two auto rack trains, one coke train, three manifest freights and two Wheeling & Lake Erie trains.

It has been quite a while since I’ve seen a coal train on CSX in Northeast Ohio. Maybe that traffic has dried up. Do any more Power River Basin coal trains still run on CSX through Northeast Ohio?

All in all, it had been a good outing from a railfanning perspective with most of the traffic coming in the final two hours of my five-and-a-half-hour day.

I haven’t kept records of how many trains I’ve seen in Greenwich during past outings so I can’t draw any definitive conclusions about CSX traffic being significantly down.

Still, I came away with the feeling that things are not quite what they used to be. What I observed on Sunday seems to be the new normal for CSX in our region.

There remain many trains to watch and photograph, but not quite as many of them as there used to be.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Here comes the Q163 off the Greenwich Sub and onto the long connection in Greenwich.

Here comes the Q163 off the Greenwich Sub and onto the long connection in Greenwich.

There are still a few crude oil trains left to see, including this eastbound.

There are still a few crude oil trains left to see, including this eastbound.

The head end of the Q010 is passing the tail end of the Q113 on the connecting tracks in Greenwich.

The head end of the Q010 is passing the tail end of the Q113 on the connecting tracks in Greenwich.

That's quite a colorful motive power consist that the Q004 has. The dominant color is red.

That’s quite a colorful motive power consist that the Q004 has. The dominant color is red.

The Q375 was able to highball on through Greenwich without waiting. It is shown passing the home signals for Boyd on the New Castle Sub.

The Q375 was able to highball on through Greenwich without waiting. It is shown passing the home signals for Boyd on the New Castle Sub.

I don't know if that rail is old or new, but it sure looks rusty. The Q263 is headed onto the single track toward Crestline.

I don’t know if that rail is old or new, but it sure looks rusty. The Q263 is headed onto the single track toward Crestline.

The L017 is taking the long connection today off the Greenwich Sub.

The L017 is taking the long connection today off the Greenwich Sub.

The K182 had to wait awhile east of Greenwich before getting a signal at Boyd. The coke train is shown in the growing shadows of late afternoon transitioning from the New Castle Sub to the Willard Sub.

The K182 had to wait awhile east of Greenwich before getting a signal at Boyd. The coke train is shown in the growing shadows of late afternoon transitioning from the New Castle Sub to the Willard Sub.

The Little Guys Wins One in Greenwich

March 3, 2016

Feb28 Greenwich 01-x

Regional and short-line railroads that have trackage rights on a busy Class 1 mainline are not always a top priority on someone else’s property.

No one knows that better than the Wheeling & Lake Erie, which must use CSX tracks to get between CP47 in New London on the CSX Greenwich Subdivision and GN Tower in Greenwich on the Willard Subdivision, where the W&LE line to Carey diverges.

So when I heard a W&LE train key up the CSX IG dispatcher last Sunday to get permission to enter the Greenwich Sub at New London, I expected the Wheeling train would have a long wait.

The dispatcher, though, seemed to indicate that the wait would be short. “Watch for a signal” after a UPS train passed by. That would be the Q010, which was already through Greenwich.

Not long after that, though, what had been a relatively quiet Greenwich Sub sprang to life with a parade of eastbound traffic, including the Q008, Q004 and L382.

Also in the mix was a Q263, which pulled up and stopped at the home signal for the connecting tracks from the Greenwich Sub to the Willard Sub.

The Q263 had to wait for the Q008 and an auto rack train to come up the single-track Mt. Victory Sub from Crestline.

It had been more than two hours since I had heard the Wheeling train talking with the CSX dispatcher and it was getting to be late afternoon when I finally heard the W&LE 6354 calling signals as it made its way west on the Greenwich Sub.

The Q353 was still waiting and as I saw the headlight of the W&LE train come into view I expected to see it stop next to the CSX train.

But it kept going and went around the Q353. Was the W&LE getting dispatching priority?

Well, maybe not. The Q263 still had to wait a while longer for an auto rack train to come up from Crestline and go east on the New Castle Sub.

The auto rack train reached Greenwich 16 minutes after the Wheeling train took the short connection to the Willard Sub. So either the dispatcher or a computer decided that a 36-car Wheeling train could move on through quick enough not to delay any CSX trains.

Still, I’d like to think that seeing a W&LE train go around a CSX train was a victory for the little guy for once.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders

CSX and Late Fall Colors

November 13, 2015
An eastbound coke train on the New Castle Subdivision approaches an isolated rural crossing. I just the trees to frame the locomotive nose.

An eastbound coke train on the New Castle Subdivision approaches an isolated rural crossing. I just the trees to frame the locomotive nose.

I recently spent time near New London looking to make some images of CSX trains and late fall colors.

The browns and dark reds of late fall are not as compelling as the vivid gold, red and orange of the peak of fall foliage in October. Yet I’ve always found something warm and comforting about late fall.

On this day, traffic on CSX was not as high as I’ve seen in past visit. I parked in a lot next to the New London Upground Reservoir and waited. It has been quite a while since I had been out this way.

The Greenwich Subdivision was in front of me and the New Castle Sub was a mile away.

Here is selection of what I was able to get on a sunny day in November.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Coming west toward Greenwich East Townline Road.

Coming west toward Greenwich East Townline Road.

Tucked into the motive power consist of this westbound manifest freight are two new ET44AH locomotives that are Tier 4 compliant.

Tucked into the motive power consist of this westbound manifest freight are two new ET44AH locomotives that are Tier 4 compliant.

The Q010 was the only intermodal train that I saw all day on the Greenwich Sub. That seemed unusual.

The Q010 was the only intermodal train that I saw all day on the Greenwich Sub. That seemed unusual.

Looking north on Greenwich East Towline Road at an eastbound on the Greenwich Sub.

Looking north on Greenwich East Towline Road at an eastbound on the Greenwich Sub.

Playing Autumn Foliage Small Ball

October 15, 2014
Here is my Sunday "winner" in the quest for trains and fall foliage. Note the lone cattail plant to the right. Not all fall foliage has to be brilliantly colored leaves.

Here is my Sunday “winner” in the quest for trains and fall foliage. Note the lone cattail plant to the right. Not all fall foliage has to be brilliantly colored leaves.

My quest for fall foliage continued on Sunday. Of late, my Sunday railfan outings have begun with waiting to photograph a very late running Amtrak train.

This time it was the eastbound Lake Shore Limited, which rolled through Olmsted Falls at 10:49 a.m., 5 hours late.

I had hoped to get No. 48 amid some fall color, but two things worked against me.

The leaves in the Falls were still mostly green and a westbound auto rack train on Track No. 1 blocked the tree that had some color that I planned to use as a background.

Getting dramatic fall foliage in Northeast Ohio is a challenge. That’s ironic because in many places there are more than an ample number of trees lining the tracks.

It’s just that it seems like many of the trees trackside don’t produce dramatic colors. There are a lot of rust-colored leaves, but not so much gold, orange or red.

I have learned to seek not so much the stunning fall foliage images found in calendars as the representative image that says “autumn” when you look at it. In short, I’ve learned to play small ball.

My next stop after departing Olmsted Falls was Wellington. There is a small forest on the west side of the CSX Greenwich Subdivision and just south of the Lorain County Fairgrounds.

Upon reaching the top of the reservoir, I was pleased to see some color in that forest. Alas, the reddest of the reds were located away from the tracks and encased in shadows.

But the color was promising so I set out to see what I could do with it.

It was apparent that if I wanted to get some “from above” images that I would have to contend with a pole line and wires on the east side of the tracks.

The only way to get rid of the wires was to get beneath them, which, of course, meant ground-level shots rather than overhead ones.

The lighting favored westbound trains and I came away with some decent images. The yield was not, great, but what some of it was satisfying.

I probably waited too long to head for my next photo spot, which is an isolated grade crossing on the CSX New Castle Subdivision south of New London.

I’ve been here in past years and still haven’t created that money shot that I want.

There was good color here although on Sunday it wasn’t quite at its peak.

The good news was that as I arrived at the crossing I saw a distant headlight. The bad news is that it belonged to an eastbound train when I needed a westbound.

I work with it and came away with something even if it was not quite what I wanted.

I hung around for another 45 minutes or so but no westbound showed up. That’s not a surprise given the long lulls that characterize the New Castle Sub.

I could hear locomotive horns to the north on the much busier Greenwich Sub. But those didn’t do me any good.

A large sheet of clouds was approaching from the west. The day’s good weather was ending. Time to head home.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Maybe some day those trees to the right of the eastbound NS stack train will be filled with color. The view is on the Chicago Line in Olmsted Falls.

Maybe some day those trees to the right of the eastbound NS stack train will be filled with color. The view is on the Chicago Line in Olmsted Falls.

Seeing the bright colors of autumn in these trees brightened my day. The wires to the left of the tracks put a slight damper on it.

Seeing the bright colors of autumn in these trees brightened my day. The wires to the left of the tracks put a slight damper on it.

The locomotive nose of this eastbound stack train was in shadows, but the trees were nicely illuminated in Wellington.

The locomotive nose of this eastbound stack train was in shadows, but the trees were nicely illuminated in Wellington.

I'm still looking for the "money shot" that I know is out there at Seven Hills Road near New London. For last Sunday, the rear of an eastbound auto rack had to do.

I’m still looking for the “money shot” that I know is out there at Seven Hills Road near New London. For last Sunday, the rear of an eastbound auto rack had to do.

Pretty Locomotive Pulling an Ugly Train

September 2, 2014
A KCS "Southern Belle" leads a westbound beneath the home signals for CP 37 in Wellington early last Saturday afternoon. Seeing this unit was a nice surprise.

A KCS “Southern Belle” leads a westbound beneath the home signals for CP 37 in Wellington early last Saturday afternoon. Seeing this unit was a nice surprise.

In years past, the top of the reservoir at Wellington had been one of my favorite places to watch and photograph trains. The CSX mainline (former Big Four) route passes between the reservoir and the Lorain County Fairgrounds and the elevated view gives the aura of seeing a model railroad.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie tracks pass to the north although photographing W&LE operations from atop the reservoir is far from ideal.

It has been a while since I’d been to the reservoir. In fact, the last time that I was there with a camera was back in the days when I was making images on slide film. I’ve been digital since July 2011.

Last Saturday I decided to go to Wellington and the reservoir. It was a warm, humid day and a strong wind was whipping the water about.

I got a later start than I had hoped due to waiting in Olmsted Falls for two hours longer than I expected for a late Amtrak train.

By the time I got to Wellington, it was high noon. I hung around for more than an hour and was rewarded with steady traffic on CSX, two eastbounds and three westbounds.

The westbound fleet included a train of garbage containers that was pulled by a Southern Belle locomotive of Kansas City Southern.

I almost wasn’t ready for the Belle. An eastbound auto rack train was passing through and its rear had just cleared the home signal for the CP 37 interlocking when there was the Belle and its train.

Behind the garbage train was the L091, the run-through train of reefers bound for Union Pacific and an all UP motive power consist.

Seeing these foreign units reminded me of the early years following the Conrail split when foreign power of various railroads was plentiful on CSX.

Being on the reservoir also brought back pleasant memories of past trips to the reservoir and I decided that I need to not let so much time pass before I make a return visit. Next time I’ll get there earlier.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The L091 saunters through Wellington having been slowed by an approach signal.

The L091 saunters through Wellington having been slowed by an approach signal.

It was surprising to see a string of five cars that were free of graffiti. These cars must be new. Will they still be pristine when they make the return journey?

It was surprising to see a string of five cars that were free of graffiti. These cars must be new. Will they still be pristine when they make the return journey?

This eastbound train probably originated on Union Pacific given the consist of the freight cars. Several of the boxcars still bore Southern Pacific markings.

This eastbound train probably originated on Union Pacific given the consist of the freight cars. Several of the boxcars still bore Southern Pacific markings.

The Q371 rounded out the westbound trains that I saw during my time in Wellington. The Lorain County Fairgrounds in the background were largely quiet.

The Q371 rounded out the westbound trains that I saw during my time in Wellington. The Lorain County Fairgrounds in the background were largely quiet.

I made a brief side trip to New London and its reservoir. En route, I encountered a parked eastbound Wheeling & Lake Erie manifest freight just west of the Ohio Route 162 crossing. The train might have been waiting for a track car to clear up.

I made a brief side trip to New London and its reservoir. En route, I encountered a parked eastbound Wheeling & Lake Erie manifest freight just west of the Ohio Route 162 crossing. The train might have been waiting for a track car to clear up.