Posts Tagged ‘CSX Indianapolis Line’

It Took 4 Tries to Get This Image

September 22, 2021

The third time is supposed to be the charm or so the sayings goes. In the case of the above image it was the fourth time that proved to be charming.

Three times I sought to photograph a westbound CSX train passing the Union City, Ohio, water tower on the Indianapolis Line. Three times I got cloud skunked.

The resulting images were not terrible yet the lighting was subdued. My luck finally turned late last Saturday afternoon when sunny skies prevailed as CSX train Q631 rumbled into town.

The lighting was mostly right down the nose but slightly favored the north side of the tracks. That gravel path to the left is Railroad Street and it doesn’t see much traffic.

Moving Day in Union City

July 28, 2021

Years of planning and fundraising paid off in Union City, Indiana, on Tuesday when a moving company moved the town’s railroad interlocking tower about a block west to a park.

The brick tower, which closed in 1968, once controlled the crossing of the New York Central”s (Big Four) Cleveland-Indianapolis line with the Pennsylvania Railroad’s (Panhandle) Columbus-Logansport, Indiana, line.

Local interests raised more than $56,000 which was matched by a $50,000 grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency.

Union City, located on the Indiana-Ohio border, had faced a late March deadline to commit to moving the tower or else it would be razed by CSX.

The former Pennsy line through Union City is gone, but the former NYC line is today the Indianapolis Line of CSX.

Three city streets were closed so the tower could be move on dollies by Wolfe House & Building Movers.

The tower is slated to be restored with the lower level being used as a visitor center with restrooms, and the upper level returned to its appearance when the tower was still open.

It is located in the southwest corner of Artisan Crossing park and faces the CSX tracks in the same manner that it did before it was moved. The park is adjacent to the CSX Indianapolis Line and across the street from the restored former PRR passenger station.

In the top image, the tower is being wheeled west on Pearl Street. The bottom image shows the tower in its final resting place.

Indiana City Raising Money to Save Interlocking Tower

February 11, 2021

A westbound CSX auto rack train passes the Union City Tower in September 2019.

City officials in Union City, Indiana, have stepped up their campaign to save a railroad interlocking tower from being razed by CSX.

The tower once guarded a crossing of New York Central (Big) and Pennsylvania Railroad routes.

The “Save the Rail” campaign needs to raise $50,000 by March 25 to have enough funding to move the tower away from its current location next to the Indianapolis Line of CSX, which formerly was a Big Four route extending from Cleveland to St. Louis.

The former PRR route between Columbus and Logansport, Indiana, through Union City has been abandoned.

If Union City interests can meet their goal, the project will receive a $50,000 matching grant.

The city wants to move the brick tower a few hundred feet to Artisan Crossing Park where it would become a multipurpose building.

Thus far the fund-raising campaign has raise about $8,000.

Union City is two contiguous municipalities, one of which is located in Ohio.

One of Those Days

February 29, 2020

The weather forecast called for the day to begin with sunny skies but for clouds to move in during the afternoon ahead of a front that would bring rain on Monday.

Based on that I headed for Union City, Indiana, to railfan the CSX Indianapolis line.

It turns out I should have gone there the day before when it was sunny all day although a little cold.

That’s because the the day I was out turned out to be one of those days where the weather was the opposite of what had been predicted. We’ve all had those days, right?

I remember an Akron Railroad Club longest day outing to Deshler in June 2007 when the forecast was for mostly sunny skies.

But as we made our way west on the Ohio Turnpike, the clouds kept increasing and by the time we made it to Deshler it was overcast with occasional rain.

Railfanning in Union City always is something of a gamble. The Indianapolis Line is moderately busy but moody. If you are patient you’ll get some trains but you will also have long periods of nothing.

I’m still learning the traffic patterns of the Indy Line, but I knew I could count on seeing the Q008 sometime in the morning.

My limited experience with the Indianapolis Line is that it tends to be busier in the morning than the afternoon.

I arrived around 8:30 a.m. Indiana Route 32 runs parallel to the Indy Line east of Muncie and I saw two westbounds as I was driving, including a stack train and a monster manifest freight with a DPU toward the center.

I also saw a beautiful sunrise, which was a clue that the morning weather was not going to be what I had expected.

It was beautiful because it illuminate the edge of a cloud cover that extended way back to the west. Sure enough once the sun got over the horizon it was swallowed by the clouds.

I had about an hour wait before seeing my first train, the Q364, a manifest that originates at Avon Yard west of Indianapolis and goes to Selkirk Yard via Cleveland (middle photo above).

Nearly an hour later the detector at Harrisville, Indiana, went off, heralding the approach of another eastbound.

The Harrisville detector gives the direction of travel of the trains as well as the track number and axle count.

I was listening for the Q008 (bottom photo) to call the signal for the west end of the Union City crossovers, but my “warning” that its arrival was imminent was when the crossing gates started going down at the Howard Street crossing.

I was sitting at a former Pennsylvania Railroad passenger station that has been preserved as a community center known as the Arts Depot.

The former PRR tracks, which were part of the Pan Handle route between Columbus and Chicago, are long gone and the CSX Indianapolis Line is former New York Central territory.

I’ve been told that a former Pennsy man who served as superintendent of the Southern Region of Penn Central left behind another PRR tradition.

During the PC era the track numbering of the ex-NYC line between Cleveland and Indianapolis was changed so that the westbound main became Track 2 rather than Track 1 as it had been under NYC control.

The Q008 was on Track 2 whereas all other eastbounds I saw on this day were on Track 1, which in NYC days was Track 2.

Apparently the dispatcher had run the Q008 around another train west of Union City or planned to do so east of there.

I never did hear the Q008 crew calling any signals so they either were not doing it or doing it in such a way that my scanner didn’t pick it up.

After the passage of the Q008 I checked the weather forecast for Union City and found it had been revised to predict sunny skies in the afternoon.

That did happen. The clouds moved out about 1:30 p.m. By then I had seen four more trains, including a pair of auto racks trains in each direction (the Q217 and Q262), the Q348 (top photo) and a local whose symbol I didn’t catch because the crew’s radio calls were barely audible.

The Q348 would be the last train I would photograph. It’s a manifest freight that originates in Avon Yard and runs to Cumberland, Maryland.

About the time the sun came out for good CSX traffic died.

I ventured east of Union City into Ohio to scout for photograph locations.

The good news was that some block signals are located at grade crossings. The bad news was that those signals were dark.

I got as far as Ansonia, Ohio, which at one time was the junction of two NYC routes. Today, only a portion of the north-south route is left.

It goes as far south as Greenville and a no trespassing sign I saw as I crossed that route on a country road indicates it is owned by R.J. Corman.

I returned to Union City where I sat for another hour and a half and got nothing. There was not as much as a peep on the radio.

I was a little surprised by that because last September I had spent an afternoon in Union City and seen a few trains before the dinner hour.

I gave up and headed home at 4 p.m. It wasn’t a wasted day as I had seen eight trains total. But all of them had run under the clouds.

Like I said, it had been one of those days.

Choosing The ‘Marty’ Perspective

November 15, 2019

Late last month I was chasing an excursion train on the former Detroit, Toledo & Ironton from Springfield to Lima, Ohio.

The passenger train had a stop signal at Quincy, where the former DT&I, now the Indiana & Ohio, crosses the CSX Indianapolis Line, former a New York Central route.

CSX had two trains to run. The first was the Q348, which is one of those monsters of the precision scheduled railroading era that had a cut of double-stacked containers, a cut of auto racks and a string of manifest freight.

It would cross over at Quincy to get out of the way of the Q008, which is still an intermodal-only operation and a priority train.

I had to make a decision as to where to photograph the Q348. I could walk a short distance and frame it passing a tree with good fall foliage or I could catch it passing the grain elevator.

“Well,” I said to myself, “what would Marty Surdyk do?”

Marty is known for his affection for grain elevators and you can easily see above how I answered by that question to myself.

Getting it While I Can

October 30, 2019

Interlocking towers once dotted the railroad landscape in large numbers.

But the vast majority of them have been closed and their functions of lining switches and signals transferred to a dispatcher’s desk hundreds if not thousands of miles away.

Railroads generally don’t like to let vacant building stand unused next to their rights of ways so scores of former interlocking towers have fallen victim to the wrecking ball or a front end loader.

Somehow the tower in Union City, Indiana, has survived. But it may be living on borrowed time.

At one time, Union City Tower guarded the crossing of the Pennsylvania Railroad (Pan Handle) route between Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, of the New York Central (Big Four) route between Cleveland and St. Louis.

The two railroads crossed at a sharp angle by Columbia Street. In fact the crossing was movable switch points rather than a set of diamonds for the double track mainlines of both railroads.

The tower closed in 1968 and changing traffic patterns led to the abandonment by Conrail of the former PRR line through Union City.

But the tower remained standing. CSX would like to knock it down, but is willing to allow Union City interests to have it provided that they move it at least 50 feet back from the tracks.

The cost to do that is $60,000 and the city doesn’t have that kind of money. There is a fund raising campaign underway but small towns struggle to raise that level of money.

The latest report is that the city hopes to talk CSX into allowing the tower to remain in its current location but be surrounded by a fence.

The railroads is willing for now to give the city more time to raise money to pay to move the tower and its uncertain how it will respond to the fence idea.

Union City has been told that the tower is off the demolition list, at least for now.

But just this past July IU Tower in downtown Indianapolis and railroads, like any other company, can be notorious for doing what they want with their property.

Nostalgia and history don’t contribute to revenues, increase stock prices or help pay dividends to stockholders.

During a recent outing to Union City I made sure to capture a train passing the tower.

The auto rack train is headed westbound on the Indianapolis Line. I hope that it is not the last image I made of this tower, but you never know.

A Nice Sunday With CSX in Union City

August 13, 2014

Westbound Q007 passes the former Union City tower in a view taken at the North Columbia Street grade crossing on the north side of the tracks.

Westbound Q007 passes the former Union City tower in a view taken at the North Columbia Street grade crossing on the north side of the tracks.

Union City is a small town that straddles the border of Indiana and Ohio. It’s a nice place to railfan because it has a restored passenger station that once served the Pennsylvania and New York Central. The interlocking tower that once controlled the crossing of the two railroads also still stands although it closed in about 1969.

The PRR route was the ex-Panhandle between Columbus and Chicago (via Logansport, Ind.). The NYC route was the Cleveland-St. Louis route of the ex-Big Four (via Indianapolis). The Baltimore & Ohio once had a branch from
Dayton to Union City (ex-Dayton & Union) that terminated here.

Major changes began to occur during the Penn Central era when PC created a Columbus-Indianapolis route that involved the ex-NYC west of Union City and the ex-PRR east of there via Bradford, Ohio.

This enabled the PC to downgrade the ex-PRR line between Bradford and New Paris, Ohio., and even the predominantly passenger route between New Paris and Dayton. During the Conrail era there were massive route reductions and when the dust had settled the ex-PRR route through Union City was gone. The last B&O train to Union City ran in 1964.

Also ripped up were both ex-PRR routes that operated through New Paris. I spent part of Sunday morning and afternoon in Union City earlier this week on my return home from a trip to East Central Illinois.

Traffic seemed to be steady during my four hours there with eight trains rolling through town. Five of those trains were headed west. I understand, though, that the Indianapolis Line can have some very long lull periods.

The last passenger trains to pass through here were Penn Central Nos. 315/316, which were predominantly mail and express trains and both former NYC trains. No. 315 was once the Cleveland to St. Louis Gateway while No. 316 was the former Cleveland Special.

In their final years, the head end business had pretty much dried up and few passengers rode the lone coach on the train.

No. 315 would depart Cleveland just before midnight and arrive in Indianapolis just after 6 a.m. Some 3.5 hours later, the train would depart as No. 316 for Cleveland. The Official Guide for April 1971 shows that No. 315 did not stop for passengers in Union City.

The last Pennsy passenger train to serve Union City was the Chicago-Columbus Ohioan, which was discontinued on Dec. 31, 1958.

Union City briefly served as the eastern terminus of NYC passenger trains 312 and 314, the Southwestern and Knickerbocker respectively.

In late 1967, the NYC discontinued the trains in Ohio, which made them St. Louis-Union City, Ind., trains. In practice, the equipment ran empty between Union City and Bellefontaine, Ohio, where at the latter there were service facilities . The trains made their final trips on March 18, 1968. By then they were one E unit and one coach.

Although I’d like to get back to Union City, it’s a long trip from the Cleveland-Akron area. Chances are my next visit to Union City will occur during another trip through this region for other purposes.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

On the south side of the tracks is a McDonalds with a parking lot that backs up to the railroad. I was standing on the edge of that lot when I took this photo of this westbound with a load of boxcars. I think its symbol was Q233.

On the south side of the tracks is a McDonalds with a parking lot that backs up to the railroad. I was standing on the edge of that lot when I took this photo of this westbound with a load of boxcars. I think its symbol was Q233.

Union City tower is partly visible in a telephoto shot taken from the North Howard Street crossing. The Q131 had a load of all Pacer Stack Train containers.

Union City tower is partly visible in a telephoto shot taken from the North Howard Street crossing. The Q131 had a load of all Pacer Stack Train containers.

Safetran signals have yet to replace the NYC/Conrail style signals at CP 198, which is a set of crossovers located just west of the Union City tower. But, no doubt, these signals will not be around much longer. Shown is eastbound Q008 splitting the signals and crossing North Walnut Street.

Safetran signals have yet to replace the NYC/Conrail style signals at CP 198, which is a set of crossovers located just west of the Union City tower. But, no doubt, these signals will not be around much longer. Shown is eastbound Q008 splitting the signals and crossing North Walnut Street.

The restored union station is now known as the Arts Depot. It now houses offices and galleries of the Art Association of Randolph County.

The restored union station is now known as the Arts Depot. It now houses offices and galleries of the Art Association of Randolph County.

A westbound coal hoppers train passes the depot in a view taken from the west end.

A westbound coal hoppers train passes the depot in a view taken from the west end.

CSX crews were out doing track work on Sunday. A work "train" rolled past carrying cars containing ties that the gang was dropping from Track No. 2 from milepost 199 on west. Although these are ex-NYC tracks, the numbering follows the PRR custom of Track No. 1 being the traditional westbound track and No. 2 being the eastbound track.

CSX crews were out doing track work on Sunday. A work “train” rolled past carrying cars containing ties that the gang was dropping from Track No. 2 from milepost 199 on west. Although these are ex-NYC tracks, the numbering follows the PRR custom of Track No. 1 being the traditional westbound track and No. 2 being the eastbound track.

I had heard this "train" get an EC-1 and then receive verbal permission over the radio from a foreman to enter the work limits from MP 199 to MP 204. The "train" originated at Ansonia, Ohio, and as it rolled into town its horn sounded a lot like a diesel's air horn. So imagine my surprise to see the power for this "train" being a Brandt truck.

I had heard this “train” get an EC-1 and then receive verbal permission over the radio from a foreman to enter the work limits from MP 199 to MP 204. The “train” originated at Ansonia, Ohio, and as it rolled into town its horn sounded a lot like a diesel’s air horn. So imagine my surprise to see the power for this “train” being a Brandt truck.

This transfer caboose is on display at the depot. I am not sure if these are true Penn Central colors because most PC equipment that I remembered seeing was painted in a shade of green that differed from the NYC's jade green. I'm not sure it is true Pennsy Tuscan red, either. I am quite sure, though, that the PC logo is not quite historically accurate because the "mating worms" are too squat.

This transfer caboose is on display at the depot. I am not sure if these are true Penn Central colors because most PC equipment that I remembered seeing was painted in a shade of green that differed from the NYC’s jade green. I’m not sure it is true Pennsy Tuscan red, either. I am quite sure, though, that the PC logo is not quite historically accurate because the “mating worms” are too squat.