Posts Tagged ‘NS Chicago Line’

Memorial Day Weekend in Indiana: Part 1

June 18, 2018

First of two parts

As Memorial Day weekend approached the brother and I exchanged ideas for how we would spend the weekend. Several good ideas came to light, but as always the weather forecast would dictate where we would wind up.

By Thursday before the holiday, it was obvious that Northern Indiana was going to be the best way to head.

We agreed that Sunday would be a freight train day and Monday would be a day of passenger trains.

Our weekend began with a late Saturday afternoon departure. We were bound for the Super 8 motel in Goshen, Indiana.

After our free breakfast on Sunday morning we were trackside at the cemetery on the west side of town before 7:30 a.m. We were there a good two minutes when 19K called a medium clear at CP412.

The 19K is a Marion Branch train, one that we chased last Labor Day weekend as part of our “chasing air” adventure.

This normally afternoon train was either really early today or this was yesterday’s train. It didn’t matter; it was a train headed in the right direction at the right time of day. We shot it from the cemetery and the chase was on.

Marion Branch trains don’t run real fast, so getting ahead was not a problem.

We had to let the entire train go by at the road crossing at the cemetery and were still ahead by the time we reached the outskirts of town.

Indiana Route 15 is the chase road south out of Goshen. Our next shot was at MP8. This is right at the New Paris elevator.

You can see from here the distant signal for the CSX diamonds at Milford Junction. The 19K was only looking at an approach.

Milford Junction is much like Attica Junction for Norfolk Southern trains on the Sandusky District in Ohio. If CSX has a train within a hundred miles, you’re not getting across.

We again had to let the entire train go by before we could resume the chase, but not to worry, it was slowing down as the last cars passed by us.

After Milford, we looked for the first county road to the left after leaving town to access Old Route 15 Road. Old 15 Road runs right next to the tracks on the west side from Milford to Leesburg.

We were easily ahead and set up for a shot that features a nice white farm house and red barn.

Again, the whole train had to pass, but they were only making 25 mph and the speed limit on the road is 50 mph.

Even without speeding we should make the grade crossing at the north end of Leesburg. Just in case, I did bend the speed limit a little and we made the crossing easily.

This is important if you want to get the Leesburg elevator shot. The road crosses over to the east side of the tracks for a couple of miles.

We got the Leesburg shot and, again, got across the tracks at the south end of Leesburg siding where the road runs out.

Our next shot would be at the street running in Warsaw. This is the earliest in the day that we’ve gotten a train in Warsaw.

The light was fabulous on this morning as the 19K tiptoed down the street and across the diamonds with the CF&E.

We decided to keep going with the 19K rather than sit on our laurels at Warsaw. Route 15 stays with the tracks to Silver Lake, then the tracks cut across to the southeast to North Manchester, where we picked up Indiana Route 13.

We found a nice spot at Rose Hill, a thriving community of four houses and not much else for our next shot.

We were off from here to North Manchester for a shot at the elevator there. The elevator is at the southern edge of town just after the tracks cross the Eel River.

Last Labor Day weekend, Route 13 had a bridge out and we had to detour around it to continue the chase. There were no detours today and we were again in hot pursuit down Route 13.

We got another shot at the fertilizer plant in Urbana and another at the grain elevator in Speicherville (pronounced Spikerville).

The town of Wabash was next. We found the over/under between the Marion Branch and the former Wabash last year, but it was shadowed in and the train never showed. I followed the same route to the over/under that we did before.

Follow Route 13 into town and after crossing the Wabash take the first street to the left and just keep going straight.

The city street turns into Lagro Road. This time we found the over/under bathed in sunshine and we had the right radio channel for the former Wabash (160.380).

The 19K was coming through the connection to the Wabash, known as the NS Huntington District.

As we set up for the shot, horns to the south got our attention. Train 368 was approaching. They stopped just short of Lagro Road where we were.

When the 19K went by overhead the two crews exchanged some chatter. It seems that 369 was coming south behind the 19K and the 368 was getting re-crewed here.

Armed with that information, we gave up on the 19K and returned to the Marion Branch between Wabash and Speicherville.

Finding a spot that could be shot in either direction depended on which train showed up first. We waited and waited . . and waited . . . and waited.

All of a sudden our eventful morning had come to a screeching halt. Lunch time was now upon us and the Subway just down the road was calling me. The sun was getting high in the sky, so we went for vittles.

After lunch we began trolling north, not sure if either train had passed; the radio was suddenly rather quiet. As we got back near North Manchester we began to pick up 368 on the radio.

It was ahead of us. We kept moving north and eventually caught up to the 368 in the siding at Claypool.

The 369 was sitting there as well and had to have been there the better part of four hours waiting for this meet.

More chatter on the radio indicated that a westbound on the former Nickel Plate Road that crosses the Marion Branch at Claypool was approaching.

Train 365 turned north on the Marion Branch. It had a single former Burlington Northern Grinstein green SD70 for its power.

We made a beeline for Warsaw and the street running. While we were on the road the Marion Branch Dispatcher indicated to the 365 that it would be holding at Leesburg for the 200 to run around them.

This made for an easy decision; we just waited at Warsaw for Train 200 and then we would head north and intercept both trains again north of Leesburg.

The 200 is a double-stack train; today it was also a one-unit wonder and not very long. That is inefficient by CSX standards, but NS plays by different rules.

After shooting the 200 in the street we were off for Leesburg, to find that the 365 was gone. Somewhere along the way the plans got changed and the run around was called off.

The 200 was now going into the siding at Leesburg for a meet with something else. Since there are no sidings between Leesburg and Goshen, it would be a while before something would come south.

About now the CSX detector at MP 155 announced a train passing it. The diamonds at Miford Junction are at about MP 166 on CSX. The train was a westbound, the Q137.

According to the detector it had over 15,000 feet of train. That’s almost three miles . . . holy cow!

We set up for its passage at the old grain elevator just west of Milford Junction. While we waited we decided that after Q137 passes we were going to head west along the former Baltimore & Ohio.

We started to do this about 10 years ago, but a line of severe thunderstorms cut our trip short as we headed through the storms to drier areas.

We left off at Nappanee, which just happens to be the next town west of Milford.

The Q137 lumbered by doing about 35 mph. We had to wait awhile for the train to clear the crossing that we were at because my Jeep was on the north side of the tracks and we had shot on the south side.

We did not see any other trains as we headed west through Nappanee. We caught up to the Q137 at Bremen.

They were stopped at a red signal looking into the headlight of an eastbound mixed freight at the Bremen crossovers.

An eastbound double stack was coming past the two trains; Q137 would cross over to Main 2 after the double stack cleared.

Before the eastbound could clear up, the dispatcher changed his mind and let another eastbound intermodal come past before turning the Q137 loose.

He also radioed a westbound that they were crossing over at Nappanee to Main 2 and they were going to follow the Q137 west.

Armed with this information, we continued scouting ahead for decent photo spots. They were few and far between in this part of Indiana.

I had heard from others that the former B&O is not very photogenic in spots, and this certainly was one of those spots.

We found the thriving metropolis of Teegarden to be about the size of Rose Hill.

The CSX right-of-way was heavily treed-in and there was no elevator or anything else worth shooting here.

We headed into Walkerton. Here the former B&O crosses the Michigan City branch of the Nickel Plate at a brick tower.

The tower is still standing and it looks surprisingly good considering it is no longer used.

The lighting for photography was right down the nose, made even worse by the westbounds being on Main 2, the south track. Had they been on Main 1 I think the shots could have turned out a little better.

We shot both westbounds here and then continued west across the Indiana countryside.

The former Grant Trunk Western diamonds at Wellsboro  were the next thing we encountered. An eastbound Canadian National train belonging to the current owner of the ex-GTW was  sitting east of town. They were working the elevator at Kingsbury.

Since it was now late afternoon and almost into evening, we decided to hang here for a while until heading north to Michigan City for the night.

We were rewarded with a CSX train each way and a westbound CN. Wellsboro is not very photogenic but we did the best we could.

As the sun began to set, we were heading north on U.S. 421 bound for a hotel in Michigan City. There is a cluster of hotels just north of the interchange of I-94 and U.S. 421.

We chose the Super 8. They had plenty of rooms and we were at the Texas Roadhouse across the parking lot having dinner a few minutes later.

Article by Marty Surdyk

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Interesting Saturday on the Rails

June 11, 2018

This past Saturday brought a couple interesting trains. First the Norfolk Southern “Honoring Our Veterans” unit led 11K through northern Ohio.

I got it passing the soon to be replaced signals at Huron.

Next we went to Bellevue as there were storms approaching from the west but for a few hours we had sunny weather.

Another railfan said that a grain train was waiting south of town with a Florida East Coast engine leading.

This is one of four FEC engines currently on lease to Norfolk Southern. This train turned out to be 51Q bound for Dwight, Illinois.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

Am I Allowed to Post These?

May 1, 2018

As you can clearly see, the top image features the Interstate heritage unit of Norfolk Southern. You can also clearly see that No. 8105 is trailing in the motive power consist of a westbound stack train passing through Olmsted Falls on the NS Chicago Line.

The bottom image features the Wabash heritage unit in the motive power consist of NS westbound manifest freight 309.

And you know what they say, “trail equals fail.” Maybe so but I photographed them anyway and I posted them anyway. Feel better now?

Whole Lotta Locomotives Rolling Along

April 13, 2018

Last Saturday during the annual Dave McKay Day of the Akron Railroad Club in Berea, all cameras were out as manifest freight 17N approached on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

On the point was the GoRail locomotive. But the rest of the motive power consist held some interest, too.

Immediately behind the GoRail unit was a former CSX locomotive with a line drawn through its markings. It is now a lease unit owned by a locomotive leasing company.

The motive power consist itself was out of the ordinary long, comprised of seven units. Perhaps 17N was ferrying locomotives as well as cargo.

Good Timing

April 3, 2018

One of the the most frustrating things that can happen is when an auto rack trains on a double or triple track mainline and is on the track closest to you.

It means that anything that passes on other track(s) is going to be blocked from view.

It has happened to me numerous times in Berea over the years, particularly when a CSX auto rack train blocks the view of something going by on Norfolk Southern.

You know it is your day, though, when just as the auto rack train clears your position you can see something else coming.

That isn’t quite what happened here, but the auto rack train cleared before the stack train passed the depot in Olmsted Falls on the NS Chicago Line.

Still Some Snow Left

March 16, 2018

There was still some snow left in Olmsted Falls when I made this image of an eastbound stack train rolling down Track No. 2 of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern.

The snow that remained was primarily in area that are cast in shadows for much of the day.

I didn’t catch the train symbol but it might be train 206, which operates via the former Nickel Plate Road mainline between Cleveland and Buffalo, New York.

The 206 originates in Chicago at the 47th Street terminal and terminates in Buffalo.

 

There Will Be a Brief Delay

February 24, 2018

The new crew was on board and ready to head west out of the Berea siding in Olmsted Falls.

They called the Toledo West Dispatcher and got the OK to take ’em west.

There would, though, be a slight delay at CP 197. The dispatcher had given higher priority to a westbound stack train that is shown catching up to the rear of the departing manifest on the Berea siding.

The delay would be brief and the manifest would follow the stack train on Track No. 1.

NS Wants to Remove Bridge in Toledo

January 24, 2018

A bridge over the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern in Toledo that is often used by railfan photographers may be coming down soon.

The railroad has offered to the city of Toledo to remove the bridge at no expense to the city.

The bridge, which is located at the west end of Central Union Terminal, now know as Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, is no longer open to vehicular traffic, but is used by pedestrians.

An NS government affairs officer told the Toledo City Council that the bridge presents a problem if the tracks need repair.

“The underlying track bed that the trains ride on top of is limited for maintenance because you’re unable to do any sort of raising of the underlying track bed at the location because of the tightness of where the bridge is,” he told the council.

Councilman Peter Ujvagi asked that the vote be delayed until he has the opportunity to meet with residents of the neighborhood who use the bridge.

Councilman Tyrone Riley expressed general concerns about NS bridges in the city, saying they need maintenance and are “in very deplorable condition.”

Kristin Cousino, a senior engineer with the City of Toledo, agrees with Riley. “[NS has] been reluctant to do so to the standards that the city will like.”

Looks Like We Got Ourselves a Convoy

January 19, 2018

I was railfanning in Olmsted Falls on a Friday afternoon last year when an eastbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight came rolling by.

Tucked into the consist were several flats cars of military equipment. On occasion you’ll find a dedicated military train, but you also are liable to find military equipment being moved on regular trains as was the case on this day.

I have no idea where this equipment originated or where it was going. Maybe it received special handling and maybe NS treated it as nothing more than another load of freight.

But it made for something out of the ordinary to see amid the usual parade of intermodal trains, unit trains and manifest freights.

NS to Expand Maple Heights Intermodal Yard, Complete New Vermilion Connection in 2018

January 13, 2018

Norfolk Southern plans to expand its intermodal yard in Maple Heights in 2018 and finally finish a new connection in Vermilion.

Those projects are among the capital spending plans for the railroad this year.

Work on the Vermilion connection began a couple of years ago but stalled due to lack of funding.

NS is installing connections between the Chicago Line (former New York Central) and Cleveland District (former Nickel Plate Road) that will enable trains from either line to access the other and go east or west.

There is currently a connection between the two lines, but it does not enable an eastbound train on the Chicago Line to go westward on the Cleveland District toward Bellevue or a train from Bellevue to go westward on the Chicago Line.

NS said it will also increase mainline capacity in Buechel, Kentucky; Charleston, South Carolina; and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Intermodal capacity will be expanded in Kansas City, Missouri; and at Calumet Yard in Chicago.

Tie and rail replacement will remain in 2018 at the same levels of 2017. NS will lay 272.7 miles of dual rail and 177.3 miles of single rail. That equals 86,492 tons of rail of which 88 percent will be new 136-pound rail.

Track gangs are expected to put down 2.48 million new crossties and 2.13 million tons of ballast.

NS officials have could not provide a total capital spending figure because the company has not yet finalized its 2018 capital budget.