This was the only “foreign power” that I saw all day leading an NS train. I wound up seeing CSX after all.
One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer
The downside to spending so much time railfanning in one location is that you might lack the motivation to move on.
Last July, I spent the morning in Olmsted Falls next to the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern. My plan was to drive to Berea about noon so that I could catch some CSX action. I wouldn’t miss anything on NS.
But as noon drew near, I found myself putting off heading for Berea. In part that was because I wanted to photograph aircraft landing at nearby Cleveland Hopkins International Airport where making their final approaches over the Falls. I was enjoying photographing aircraft about as much as I was photographing trains.
In looking back at my 2016 railfan activities, I’ve probably spent more time with NS than with CSX. In part that is due to the erratic nature of CSX traffic these days.
An operating plan implanted within the past year has sought to have regular trains leave on a schedule of something like every 26 hours rather than every 24 hours.
Some symbol freights have been combined, others abolished and trains have become much longer.
During my times in Berea this year, it has seemed as though NS traffic – though still subject to lull periods – has been steadier than CSX traffic.
But I haven’t conducted any empirical studies of that so at best I am conveying an impression than a conclusion based on hard evidence.
On this July day, NS did go through some long lulls during the afternoon hours, particularly in late afternoon. But it didn’t seem so empty because I had airplanes to watch.
I kept putting off my time to relocate to Berea until a car pulled in that didn’t look familiar, but the driver did.
It was Marty Surdyk and his brother Robert. The car belonged to the girlfriend of Marty’s brother John.
Once Marty arrived, my plans to move over to Berea vanished because we started visiting and talking trains.
The model railroad club housed in the former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern depot in Olmsted Falls was open and Marty and I spent some time talking with club members and checking out their HO scale layout.
That also effective ended my keeping a log of the trains that we saw because my log book was in my camera bag, which was in my car on the other side of the tracks.
There was shade next to the depot, but not in the parking lot on the north side of the tracks.
The afternoon traffic mix was not as diverse as it had been earlier in the day.
Intermodal trains predominated, but there were two auto rack trains, a couple of tanker trains and a couple of manifest freights.
The auto rack train was a one hit wonder with a CSX locomotive. It might have been the CSX train that uses NS trackage rights between Cleveland and Toledo.
It would be the only train I would see all day that did not have an NS unit leading.
Marty had to take Robert home around 5 or 5:30 p.m. but said he’d be back for the evening.
We ended up sticking around until just after 8 p.m. As luck would have it, the only trains we caught after 5:30 were westbounds.
That was a good thing because the light favored westbounds over eastbounds.
By 8 p.m. the shadows were growing long and I began thinking about getting home to fix dinner.
And so ended my all-day NS marathon in Olmsted Falls. I probably won’t be doing anything like that again until next year’s Dave McKay Day in early April.
Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders
Going green with a bit of orange thrown in.
After sitting in the Berea siding for quite a while, this train got a new crew and headed westward.
I’ve always enjoyed stack trains of a nearly uniform consist. All of this train fit into the frame.
I’m pretty sure this was an NS auto rack train.
Train L13 came in from Bellevue running light. Between the time it arrived and departed nearly two hours later, just one train would pass by.
Train L13 had a cut of brand new tank cars.
Bellevue-bound L13 passes the Olmsted Falls depot.
I had a pair of tanker trains in the morning and another pair in the late afternoon.
I managed to work in a landing plane at Hopkins passing over this westbound tanker train. And I got the sun in the image to boot.
A Union Pacific until that is trailing in this consist was the only Western Class 1 unit I saw.
The late day light was really sweet.