Posts Tagged ‘NS in Marion Ohio’

A Little Serendipity

August 14, 2019

At Summerail 2019 in Marion, Ohio, on Aug. 10 the second program of the afternoon was a look at the history of the Illinois Terminal presented by noted railroad author Mike Schafer.

Later that day the Illinois Terminal heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern came through Marion on the point of train 375.

Coincidence? Probably, but it sure seemed appropriate. NS 1072 is shown about to cross the Mt. Victory Subdivision of CSX in Marion.

Under Normal Circumstances a Pleasing Sight

October 30, 2018

Under normal circumstances, I would be happy to see a Union Pacific locomotive leading a train eastbound on Norfolk Southern in Marion.

I was on this day, too, but . . . the auto racks it was toting would block my view a few seconds later of a westbound train being led by the Norfolk Southern heritage unit.

If its any consolation if I was going to be blocked, at least the image I did get was something other than a run of the mill NS wide cab.

Primer Noses

September 14, 2018

Several years ago Norfolk Southern needed to get some of its new locomotives out on the road so badly that it sent them out in primer paint with the NS initials and a road number.

Eventually, those units were painted black and white and the “primer boats” as some wags called them became a thing of the past.

NS has been power short in recent months and turned to the lease market for help. But apparently the “primer boat” look is back, at least in a modified form.

Chris Toth, who operates a website ( and Facebook page devoted to NS motive power, reported that AC44C6M Nos. 4120 and 4121 were rebuilt by the shops in Roanoke, Virginia, from Dash 9-40C Nos. 8883 and 8864 and released for duty with their electrical cabinets, noses and cabs still in primer paint.

When I caught up with No. 4121, it was the last unit in the daily light power move from Columbus to Bellevue as it passed through Marion.

Chris reported that the units will be painted at the Juniata shops at Altoona, Pennsylvania, but I’ve seen some photographs online of them working in the field in the meantime.

Loose Bolt in Marion

July 20, 2018

Earlier this year I was in Marion when I noticed a loose bolt in one of the diamonds at the intersection of the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern with the Mt. Victory Subdivision of CSX.

The top photo shows the loose bolt. The second image shows an eastbound CSX auto rack train passing over the diamonds and making enough vibration to rattle the bolt out of its position.

Later that afternoon, an NS maintenance of way crews stopped by to put in a new bolt and do other repairs to the diamond (third image)

The bottom image shows the new bolt in place and the old bolt discarded along the tracks.

NS and a 1957 Chevy

March 31, 2018

I usually pay little attention to automobile, buses and trucks because they are not something in which I have a great interest.

But as I sat in Marion during a recent railfan outing a vehicle pulled in next to me that got my attention.

In part that was due to its color but also because I recognized it as being an older model Chevrolet.

I was mildly surprised to see that the occupants were two Millennial generation railfans. I usually don’t associate 1950s era cars with members of a generation born four decades later.

But interest in automobiles, like interest in trains, knows no generational boundaries.

If only late 1950s era locomotives were still running on mainlines such as the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern.

Can you imagine the railroad history that the grill of this Chevy has seen while waiting for trains at grade crossings over the years?

Marion Madness

March 27, 2018

I didn’t catch a symbol on this eastbound NS manifest freight, but it came through with an all BNSF motive power consist right before I was ready to leave.

Not all intermodal trains have the same priority. NS 234 cooled its heels for a couple hours waiting for the work window to expire whereas the tie gang had cleared up to allow the 218 to pass earlier in the day.

The Q008 looked liked it always has with no cuts of auto racks appended to it. But I saw two auto rack trains earlier that had cuts of double-stacked containers in the consist.

The first weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament featured more than its share of March Madness.

Headlining the opening round of the tournament was the upset of overall No. 1 seed Virginia by the unheralded University of Maryland-Baltimore County, the first time in the tournament’s history that a No. 1 seeded team fell to a No. 16 seeded team.

The UMBC Retrievers fell in the round of 32, but not the Loyola University of Chicago Ramblers, a No. 11 seed that knocked out No. 6 seeded University of Miami and then No. 3 seed Tennessee during the opening weekend.

I experienced my own version of March Madness during an outing to Marion that same weekend.

I arrived around 11 a.m. on Sunday to find Norfolk Southern’s Sandusky District strangely quiet.

Eastbound intermodal train 218 rumbled through just after 11:30 a.m. but NS didn’t run anything else for more than two hours.

CSX was being CSX. I never saw any trains on the Columbus Subdivision nor did I hear of any on the radio that were remotely nearby.

The only traffic on the Columbus Sub was a track car that went south.

As for the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision, the Q008 went east a half-hour after I arrived and the Q277 came west an hour after that. Then CSX joined NS in featuring only empty tracks in Marion for more than two hours.

Before I departed around 5 p.m., CSX would send through two more eastbounds on the Mt. Victory Sub, the Q254 auto rack train with its more than 500 axles and the monster-length Q364 manifest freight.

If you’re counting, I saw four CSX trains in six hours.

NS traffic was lulled to sleep by a tie gang working south of Marion. NS traffic picked up once its work window expired at 3 p.m. but was not as heavy as I had expected.

It wasn’t a bad day, but not quite what I’ve become accustomed to in Marion during my past outings there.

Better Than I Initially Recognized

September 9, 2017

There have been times when I’ve given a second or even third look to an image I made and concluded that it had something going for it that I failed to see the first or second time.

Such was the case with this eastbound Norfolk Southern manifest freight cruising through Marion.

I had been walking back to Marion Union Station with fellow Akron Railroad Club member Richard Antibus during the dinner hour of Summerail.

I had a little bit of time before the evening shows were to begin.

This is not the location from which I would have preferred to have captured this train.

Given the position of the sun, I would have liked to have been on the west side of the tracks.

But just as we got near the tracks, the gates started going down. My practice is to not to dash across tracks if the crossing warning devices have activated.

I zoomed in on the train to get it crossing the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision by AC Tower.

I then zoomed back to get a wider perspective, which was what I initially though to be the best image that I made. That image was the one that I posted online shortly after I got home.

Yet while thinning out images from that day and moving them into storage on an external hard drive, I took another look at the image above.

What I saw that time that I had missed earlier was the nice contrast between the light playing on the nose of SD70M No. 2587 and the shadows on both sides of the tracks.

Light and shadows adds tension to an image as well as visual interest.

The contrast extends to the rails that No. 2587 and its train are about to traverse. Ditto for the rest of the train, which can be seen enveloped in shadows in the distance.

The light is also illuminating the heads of the railfans along the fence watching the train pass.

I wouldn’t categorize this as the best railroad photograph I’ll make this year and many might see it as just another train picture.

Maybe so, yet it reminds me that sometimes you have to look at an image multiple times to really see it.

Summerail and Train Watching in Marion

August 14, 2017

Summerail returned to Marion last Saturday and there are indications that it will be back there again in 2018.

Master of ceremonies Ron Flanary announced toward the end of the program that the 2018 event will be held on Aug. 11 at the Palace Theater in Marion, where it was also held in 2016.

Traditionally, Summerail has been held in Cincinnati, but was moved to Marion last year due to construction at Cincinnati Union Terminal.

The move to Marion was expected to be for just two years, but Marion does offer some advantages over Cincinnati, primarily the use of an auditorium with expansive seating.

Past sessions of Summerail have sold out weeks before the event, but the Palace Theater has enough seating to make possible walk-up sales of tickets on the day of the event.

The 22nd edition of Summerail offered 10 multi-media programs with images set to music. Each program was about 45 minutes in duration and featured digital images.

A few programs had introductory commentary and videos embedded amid the usual progression of still images.

None of the programs were presented by Northeast Ohio residents and scenes of railroading from Northeast Ohio were scarce.

I spotted several Akron Railroad Club members in Marion during the day including Peter Bowler, Ron McElrath, Mark Demaline, Jim Mastrommateo, David Mangold, Richard Antibus and Tom Fritsch.

Some of them spent their day watching trains at Marion Union Station rather than viewing the Summerail programs.

The original Norfolk Southern heritage unit led an eastbound NS coal train through Marion in late afternoon, but I missed it because its passage occurred during the last set of afternoon programs.

Some Summerail regulars have a practice of dining at a Skyline Chili restaurant in Cincinnati during the dinner break.

Although Skyline has several franchises outside of southwestern Ohio, there are none in Marion.

Railfan & Railroad magazine arranged a catered Skyline chili dinner at Marion Union Station.

Tickets were $12 with a portion of the proceeds going to the station association.

The dinner was catered by a Skyline franchise in Westerville, a Columbus suburb.

A railfan sits at the operator’s desk in AC Tower as CSX train Q007 passes by.

BNSF motive power leads an eastbound grain train on the Columbus Subdivision of CSX.

Some Summerail attendees spent part of their dinner break watching trains. An eastbound NS manifest freight passes the photo line.

CSX westbound stack train Q007 had a pair of Kansas City Southern “Belles” in the motive power consist.

As westbound Q007 passes AC Tower, NS train 234 waits in the background.

The rear of NS train 234 passes the Erie Lackawanna caboose, which sits at the site of a former Erie Railroad division headquarters building.



NS 961, a light power move from Columbus to Bellevue, passes AC Tower.

Master of ceremonies Ron Flanary introduces a program.

Dishing out the Skyline Chili.

Railfan & Railroad editor Steve Barry dives into a cheese coney in the waiting room of Marion Union Station.

Pair of Uncles Petes Minutes Apart in Marion

July 13, 2017

NS train 175 pounds the diamonds with the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision as it passes AC Tower in Marion, Ohio, on the NS Sandusky District.

NS Train 195 approaches AC Tower in Marion.

Union Pacific motive power is hardly a rarity on the Norfolk Southern lines radiating from Bellevue.

What might be a little out of the ordinary is seeing two trains led by UP locomotives in a span of less than five minutes.

That was the treat for trackside observers in Marion last Sunday afternoon when train No. 175, a Bellevue to Macon, Georgia, (Brosnan Yard) manifest freight cruised through town and past AC Tower with a pair of faded UP units on the point.

The 175 met at South Marion the 195, a Linwood, North Carolina, to Bellevue manifest freight that was led by a newer UP unit.

Minutes after the 175 cleared AC Tower, the 195 came roaring past.

Just Another ‘Routine’ Day in Marion

April 14, 2017

One highlight of my day in Marion in early March was this Kansas City Southern “Belle” helping to pull the Q106.

Every time that I plan a day railfan outing I’m always hoping for something out of the ordinary to occur.

Typically, I hope for something other than the same old, same old in motive power or train consists.

By that standard, my outing to Marion in early March was pretty average. Norfolk Southern didn’t send any heritage or special tributes through town during the nine hours that I was there.

No foreign units led any of the 30 trains that I logged. There were foreign units trailing in three motive power consists, one of which was the Q106, a run-through intermodal train from the Kansas City Southern.

The second unit in the motive power consist of that train was a KCS Southern Belle. I would have liked for it to have been leading. I would liked even more for that motive power set to have gone back west that afternoon, but it didn’t.

Motive power matters aside, I considered the outing to be a success. Train traffic was steady throughout the day. CSX was its usual hit and miss, but it provided 12 trains, although nothing ran west on the CSX Columbus Subdivision.

It took longer than I expected for the temperatures to warm to a comfortable feeling, but the skies were mostly sunny. That alone can make it a good day.

I had not been in Marion since last August when I attended Summerail so I wasn’t aware of a major change that has improved photography there.

CSX has removed the poles on the south side of the Mt. Victory Subdivision. One of those used to block the sight lines of photographs made from AC Tower.

A stub of a pole by the diamonds of the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern with the Mt. Victory Sub holds station identifier signs for NS. It looks kind of funny, but it is what it is.

Here is a selection of some of my better images of the day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The first “foreign” locomotive that I spotted was a BNSF unit trailing a CSX leader on a westbound auto rack train on the Mt. Victory Sub.

An eastbound NS coal train approaches the junction with CSX.

CSX grain train G646 is about to rattle the diamonds as it rumbles eastward on the Columbus Sub.

Without poles along the CSX tracks, the sight lines from AC Tower are now open for shooting eastbound trains passing Marion Union Station on the Mt. Victory Sub. The train is the Q008.

Remember that pole that you used to have to shoot around from the steps of AC Tower? I can’t say that I miss it.

An NS engineer gives a wave to railfans in Marion.