Posts Tagged ‘NS Sandusky District’

Neither Flipping nor Flopping in Bellevue

April 28, 2017

Of course the highlight of the day, or any day for that matter, for me is catching an Illinois Central unit. It is leading train W08 on the Toledo District into the mini plant.

OK, so what did my trip to Bellevue in early April have in common with Marty Surdyk’s venture there last winter that he wrote about this week in the Akron Railroad Club Bulletin and the ARRC blog?

Actually, very little. The soles on both of my shoes stayed firmed in place and I did not do any flipping or flopping while waiting for trains. I’m still laughing about that story.

I didn’t get any NS heritage units as Marty did in catching the Lehigh Valley H unit on northbound train No. 174.

But I did chase No. 194 southward (railroad eastbound) and my catch of the day was a former Illinois Central SD70 leading a train into town on the Toledo District.

I posted a photograph earlier of the IC unit along with a few other highlights of my day, so here are a few more images from my day in Belleveue, which also involved a chase down the Sandusky District.

The first train that I saw was a monster Wheeling & Lake Erie manifest freight sitting outside of town.

A railfan who goes by the screen name of Camcorder Sam on, said that the W&LE didn’t come into Bellevue on Saturday so the Sunday train was extra long.

I would get it creeping around the Brewster Connection at Center Street.

If it wasn’t such a great day for heritage locomotives, it was a good day for western foreign power. Two trains had Union Pacific power sets leading them. BNSF power led the 44G, a grain train that came in on the Fostoria District and west south on the Sandusky District.

The crew putting together the 12V had the mini plant tied up for a good half-hour to 45 minutes, causing three trains to have to sit and wait before they could leave town or come into town.

The dispatcher used a term to describe this that I’ve never heard before. It sound like “shopping” but it could have been “chopping.” Whatever work it was had an “op” sound to it.

The crew of L14 toured the mini plant as they spun their motive power set because the original lead unit had some type of issue.

ARRC members will be going to Bellevue in June for our annual longest day outing and Bellevue will be the subject of the cover story in the June ARRC eBulletin.

Just remember to wear a good pair of shoes that day.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Union Pacific No. 4012 leads train into town as another one leaves town. They are passing at Southwest Street.

A trio of UP units leads a train out of town.

The W&LE always seems to have to wait before it gets into the NS yard in Bellevue. An inbound train is shown on the Brewster Connection.

It’s all about steel wheels on steel rails. Shown are the wheels of a car on the W&LE train.

The L14 maneuvers around the Mad River Connection in the background as seen between two auto rack cars on an inbound train coming off the Fostoria District.

After spinning its power the L14 finally got underway. It is passing the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum on the Mad River Connection.

As the 12V was being assembled and had the mini plant tied up, it operated as symbol L07.

Train 194 had to wait for the 12V to finish its assembly work before it could leave town. The 12V picked up a Mansfield Crew near Flat Rock and the 194 went around and out ahead of it. The 194 is leaving Bellevue with a CSX unit tucked behind lead locomotive 2661.

The 194 had to wait for a CSX intermodal train at Attica Junction before it could resume its journey. It is shown on the south edge of Siam (Attica Junction)

The 12V saunters through Attica in a view made from the cemetery along the tracks.

Tank cars bring up the rear of NS train 188 as it crosses the Fort Wayne Line at Colson in Bucyrus. The 44G was waiting for it to clear.


Flip-da-Flop, Flip-da-Flop. Chase of the ‘Valley Girl’ on the Sandusky District Had Plenty of Sole

April 26, 2017

This particular Sunday dawned sunny with unseasonably warm temperatures. The sunlight through the stained glass windows at church had a special glint to it today. It was going to be a memorable day. Little did I know in what way.

My plans for the day were set, at least for the early hours. I was to attend the birthday party for my great nephew Griffen in the morning. Yes, in the morning, actually, 11 a.m.

The Grif had a hockey game later in the afternoon. Yes, beside trains, cars and trucks, the Grif is a hockey puck. (Hard to believe he’s 6 already)

I thought I might head out trackside in the afternoon, depending on what the weather was doing and/or if any Norfolk Southern heritage units were around.

I was the first from nephew Henry’s side of the family to arrive. We went to the basement to inspect the work he’s done on his new HO scale train layout.

The bro and his clan arrived shortly after I did. The first thing Robert said wasn’t, “Hi,” it was, “Lehigh Valley at Columbus coming north on No. 174.”

“Wonderful.” I thought to myself. “One of the units I’ve never seen close by and a nice weather day . . . figures.”

As lunch was served and the party progressed, the progress, or lack thereof, as it turned out, of the Valley Girl was tracked via the Heritage Unit app.

“Lewis Center at Noon.”

Didn’t look good; we still had cake to cut and presents to open. I was hoping for a miracle, maybe, just maybe, it would get delayed somewhere.

As the gathering broke up about 1:30 p.m, the Valley Girl was still shown at Lewis Center at noon. Could this be our miracle or just no one reporting it today?

Robert was game for heading to Bellevue to see if we might catch it. Henry got sprung from parenting duties to join us. Grif, unfortunately, had to get ready for his hockey game.

We were off to Bellevue shortly after 2 p.m. We used the Ohio Turnpike to make the best time. You can make Bellevue via the Turnpike from my house in less than one hour.

Upon arrival in Bellevue, we found no railfans in position to catch an imminent move of a heritage unit. Either it was already by or still a long way off.

We stopped for a leg stretch at the south wye to watch two westbounds go by on the Fostoria District.

To my surprise, while driving out to Bellevue the sole of my right shoe came about two-thirds of the way off. When I walked it made a flip-da-flop noise.

I tried to attach it, but it didn’t hold. The noise didn’t bother me, but Robert and Henry didn’t care for it.

So I walked around as much as I could . . . flip-da-flop . . . flip-da-flop.

Since it looked like it hadn’t arrived yet in Bellevue, we continued south in search of the Valley Girl.

We would occasionally pick up a train calling signals as we rolled south. We were behind train No. 194, but gaining on it.

No. 194 was routed into the Benson siding north of Bucyrus. No. 194 would sit here for several hours before continuing on.

The Sandusky District dispatcher finally cleared up the situation as he explained to No. 194 what his plans were.

He had five northbounds between Columbus and Marion. The last one was an 11,000 foot monster. No. 194 would be held at Benson for all five to pass. One of them had to be No. 174 with the LV.

Henry found a post about the No. 174 and the Valley Girl that said that it was leading a long train with mid-train DPUs. “That must be the 11,000 foot monster the dispatcher was talking about.”

We stopped south of Bucyrus to shoot the second of the five northbound trains. The first one got by us as we tangled with traffic in Bucyrus.

This was a grain train, the lighting was not very good, but we did the best we could. The search was on now for a suitable photo spot for the 174/Valley Girl.

Late afternoon, in the dead of winter, with a northbound train? Not a good set up, but it was all we had to work with.

The third northbound, we shot closer to Monnet. Again, not great light. We continued on.

The spot we settled on was at Tobias. There are some spots here that you can get back enough to get some side lighting on a northbound.

The fourth northbound was fast approaching. Tobias is north of the U.S. Route 23 overpass on the northern outskirts of Marion. The coaling tower at Harvey can be seen in the distance.

We had a chance to get a “test shot” of the 195 as it passed. This should work for the Valley Girl, as its headlight was right on the block of the 195.

As we waited, I made sure to walk around as much as I could. Flip-da-flop . . . flip-da-flop . . . flip-da-flop.

As train time approached, two more cars full of railfans showed up. This was more like it. Show time was now upon us.

The gates went down at the crossing we were at. The Valley Girl was leading a Canadian Pacific GE. About three-quarters of the way back, there were two NS black DPUs.

The chase was on. I had Robert drive due to my shoe malfunction. I didn’t want the flap of my shoe to get caught under the brake or gas pedal and cause a serious safety issue, especially in the heat of the chase.

No. 174 and the Valley Girl weren’t setting any speed records; the trains ahead kept their pace in check.

We got through Bucyrus and headed for the north end of the Benson siding.

The rear end of No. 194 was clear of the crossing when we went by earlier. This would be the best lighted shot we would get. The tracks turn a little to the northwest here.

We had a couple of minutes to wait. I passed the time flip-da-flopping . . . flip-da-flopping.

Finally the train showed up. Film and pixels were exposed and we were off again.

“Let’s go for the Attica Reservoir,” Robert said. Since he was driving, he calls the shots.

We arrived to see the last cars of No. 195 passing by. The 174 better hurry, the sun was getting very low. Thankfully this is flat country and the sun stays up a lot longer than in the mountains.

We also had to hope that they didn’t get stabbed by CSX at Attica Junction. If 174 has to stop our day was over.

All things worked out and the 174 passed by us while the sun was still up.

If we were to get another shot, we would have to beat it to the Ohio Route 4 crossing north of Attica Junction. Otherwise, we would have to wait for all 11,000 feet of train to pass.

Just enough traffic and a red light in Attica cost us any chance of getting one more shot. I was able to count 48 cars behind the DPUs, as we waited for the train to cross Route 4.

By now both Robert’s and Henry’s wives were on the phone, wondering if we’d be home for dinner. The chase was called off at this point and we headed for home, satisfied with our results.

What do the Grif and the Valley Girl have in common? They were both the star of the show on the same day.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Let’s Get Behind the Horses

April 19, 2017

Many years ago when I was a kid we were on a family vacation out east. We saw a billboard that read, “let’s get behind the birds,” making a reference to the Baltimore Orioles Major League Baseball team.

The billboard had a team photo that was taken from behind the players, not in front of them.

The vast majority of the time, railroad photographs show the nose of a locomotive approaching the photographer.

This Norfolk Southern light power move — symbol 967 — is headed from Columbus to Bellevue.

With the exception of DPU units, it is not often that the rear of a locomotive is also the rear of the train.

Memorable Last Train of the Day

April 12, 2017

The last train that I would photograph during an all-day outing to Bellevue and the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern last Sunday would be memorable for a few reasons, not all of them positive.

While in Bellevue around mid-afternoon, I spotted a train sitting on the Fostoria District awaiting clearance. It had a BNSF unit on the point so I waited to see where it was going.

I thought it was waiting to get into the yard, but it went to the Sandusky District and would follow the 194 and the 12V.

It turned out to be the 44G, a grain train probably headed somewhere in North or South Carolina.

The Sandusky District dispatcher had planned to have the 44G meet a 188 at Harvey just north of Marion, but those plans changed after I turned off my scanned and got out my car to await the arrival of the 44G in Bucyrus.

I met a railfan from Columbus who had a portable scanner and said the radio chatter and signal indications he had seen suggested a meet at Benson, the siding north of Bucycus.

That is, in fact, what happened. He was curious what the view on the west side of the tracks close to the diamonds with the Fort Wayne Line.

We found that it offered a straight-on view of the through truss bridge carrying the Sandusky District over the Sandusky River.

The lighting was ideal and the bright orange of the BNSF “pumpkins” was eye catching. It was my best series of images of the day.

We watched the train go by and we started to leave I reached into my pocket for my lens cap.

But it wasn’t there. I searched all of my pockets and no lens cap.

The other railfan and I looked over the area where I had been photographing but found nothing. I traced my path three times but the lens cap was nowhere to be found.

My best guess is that I put it back on my lens after shooting the 188, but didn’t attach it firmly enough to the lens.

The vibration of my moving must have jarred it off and it was difficult to find in the thick grass. It’s there somewhere but I couldn’t find it.

I can buy a new lens cap, but was bummed out about not having been more careful with my equipment.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Massively Overshadowed

February 21, 2017




One in a series of posts of photographs that I made last summer.

The driver of this Norfolk Southern track car had authority on the Sandusky District as far as the mini plant in Bellevue.

That wasn’t the driver’s final destination. As I recall, the track car needed to get into the yard, but the dispatcher had traffic to run so the truck sat and sat and sat.

One of those trains was an outbound move with a pair of Union Pacific units in the motive power consist.

Those UP engines also overshadowed an NS high-nose GP38-2 that was trailing them.

I wondered what it would be like to be sitting behind the wheel of a track car and seeing this massive train coming at you.

It must have made for an interesting site provided, of course, that it was on another track and stayed on that track.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

A Sense of Urgency to Catch NS 9-1-1

July 23, 2016

Reprinted from the July 2016 Akron Railroad Club Bulletin

“Papa, you want to come see the train?” was the question I overheard when the bro answered his phone while we sat at the picnic table in Alliance.

“Uncle Mart and I are in Alliance right now, Grif.”

Grif was referring to the Norfolk Southern 9-1-1, the First Responder’s Tribute unit. It was coming north on train No. 178. It was sighted at Columbus shortly after we arrived in Alliance.

A few minutes later, it was reported at Lewis Center, a northern suburb of Columbus. I figured we wouldn’t make Bellevue before it did, so we stayed put in Alliance.

Our quarry for the day was either a westbound on the Ft. Wayne Line or an eastbound going down the Bayard Line that we could chase.

In the meantime, we had plenty of intermodal trains to shoot moving from the Cleveland Line to the Ft. Wayne Line.

Henry, Grif’s father, decided to go after the 9-1-1. He, Grif and Nicole, Henry’s wife and Grif’s mother, were heading for Bellevue in hopes of intercepting the colorful NS unit.

We wished them luck and waited patiently for NS to run something in the right direction.

It wasn’t long before I heard the switch roll over west of the diamond. The bro walked east to see if the crossover near the Amtrak platform was also lined. It was.

It looked like our westbound heading for the Ft. Wayne Line was nearing. The Cleveland Line Dispatcher confirmed our sighting.

“580, OK into Alliance”

580 was a westbound loaded coal train, most likely loaded on the former Monongahela in southwest Pennsylvania.

We headed out of town to the cemetery in Maximo for our first shot. The tracks are heading south here, so a morning westbound can be done in good light. Although on this morning high clouds were obscuring the sun.

The 580 had NS 3603 up front, a new unit in fresh black paint. Two additional units trailed.

They were rolling right along, so we couldn’t dawdle if we were to stay with the train.

From Maximo, we made our way west to US 62 West, a four lane divided highway and a 70 mph speed limit until you get to the outskirts of Canton. Then it is 50 mph with numerous traffic lights and lots of congestion. If we were ahead, we soon lost our edge.

US 62 runs with I-77 for a ways through Canton. When we went over the tracks, the 580 was going by underneath.

We picked up US 30 on the south side of Canton and decided on Orrville for our next shot.

We should beat him there because he has Buck Hill west of Massillon to slow him down.

Our arrival in Orrville was slowed by the last few cars of a Wheeling & Lake Erie westbound that was crossing Ohio Route 57 on the south side of Orrville.

We alighted on the south side of the tracks across from the depot and tower. I figured we had a few minutes to kill, so I broke out my sandwich and started to eat lunch. It was a few minutes after noon.

I took about two bites, when the 580 called the distant signal for CP Orr and horns were heard to the east. Time to drop the sandwich and get to my photo spot.

So much for having some time. Buck Hill must have seemed like a speed bump.

We shot the 580 and thought about heading onward, but the Pittsburgh West Dispatcher came on the radio and informed 580 that their re-crew at Mansfield was not on duty until 2 p.m.

We decided to finish our lunch here and regroup. Henry was on the phone seeing if we had any news on the whereabouts of the 9-1-1. It was not in Bellevue yet and they were heading south looking for it.

We were again headed west in a few minutes and the 580 should be nearing Mansfield by now. If we stayed with the 580, we had time to kill or should we continue on US 30 west to Bucyrus and try to intercept the 9-1-1?

Henry and company made it all the way to Marion without a 9-1-1 sighting. Some fans were trackside waiting for it, but no one had seen it yet.

A check of still showed the last sighting at Lewis Center over four hour ago. What the heck happened to it?

With this news to go on, we committed ourselves to the 9-1-1. As we approached Bucyrus, Henry called and OSed 9-1-1 on train 178 at Marion. They and the 9-1-1 were coming north.

We decided to head for Ridgeton, a few miles north of Bucyrus for a shot.

Ridgeton used to be one of my favorite grain elevator shots in Ohio until the elevator was demolished.

I went to the spot where I used to shoot the elevator with a train and did a “what’s missing from this picture?” shot.

The bro stayed on the other side of the tracks. He wanted to stay near the Jeep, so we could get out of town faster after the train passed. The only problem was that I had the keys.

Henry, Grif and Nicole shot the 9-1-1 at the next crossing north of Ridgeton. They missed the road to Ridgeton.

We had our sights set on the new reservoir at Attica for our next photo spot.

Henry got there first; we were about a minute behind. At first I thought we wouldn’t make it; we were not catching and overtaking the 9-1-1 very quickly.

But as it neared the Honey Creek crossovers, it slowed way down. CSX had the diamonds at Attica Junction and he was going to be held for a few minutes.

This gave us time to catch up with the family. Grif was sporting a digital camera of his own. How many 5-year-olds have their own camera? But Nicole had her camera out, so everyone was shooting today.

The 9-1-1 whistled off and resumed its journey to Bellevue. We lensed it and made tracks out of town.

“Papa, come with us!” yelled the Grif. Papa declined, his camera gear was in my Jeep and he might want to change lenses at the next spot, wherever that may be.

The 9-1-1 made good time until it got close to Bellevue. They were going to be held out of town to let some other traffic clear before they would be allowed into the yard.

This gave us a chance for a shot at Shriver south of the town of Flat Rock. He stopped at signals that are called “Flat Rock” on the railroad and waited his turn.

We arrived at the Kemper Railfan Park in Bellevue in time to view an eastbound coming in off the Toledo District, led by a Canadian Pacific unit. Then one came in off the Fostoria District. The 178 with the 9-1-1 was next.

Everyone scattered to their photo spot as the 9-1-1 approached.

Afterwards, Henry and family were going to try for one more view at the Ohio Route 4 overpass in the yard and then head for home. The bro and I were going to hang out here at the platform for a while before calling it a day also.

Behind the 9-1-1 were two more trains. The 866 that made the turn onto the Fostoria District. The 217 did the same. A 28N auto rack train came in off the Fostoria side.

Things got quiet for a few minutes, so we checked out the new connection on the north side of the yard that lets trains access the Sandusky District directly from the yard. Previously, they would have to back out of the yard and reverse directions in order to head to Sandusky.

The trip home on the Ohio Turnpike as quick and uneventful.

I’m glad Grif called his grandfather and let us know that the 9-1-1 was coming. It was had been an interesting day.

Heritage units sometimes just pop up in the darndest places sometimes.

Article by Marty Surdyk

And There Was the CNJ Heritage Unit

July 3, 2016
Norfolk Southern train 52V passes the grain silos in Attica with the Central of New Jersey heritage unit in tow.

Norfolk Southern train 52V passes the grain silos in Attica with the Central of New Jersey heritage unit in tow.

There are few things more pleasing when railfanning than lucking into a find you weren’t expecting, particularly when it involves a Norfolk Southern heritage unit.

It hasn’t happened to me often, but it occurred late on a Saturday morning in Bellevue.

I had seen at a distance a pair of trains that appeared to be waiting north of the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum, so I went up there to have a look.

One of the trains was a grain train — the 52V it turned out — and there was some color behind the lead locomotive.

Upon closer inspection I realized I had just stumbled onto the Central Railroad of New Jersey heritage locomotive.

I walked along a city street to get a closer view when the train started moving. That was all right because I had made all the photographs I wanted to make of it in Bellevue.

Fellow Akron Railroad Club member Todd Dillon was railfanning in Bellevue with a friend and he waved at me as they drove off.

Was the 52V going out on the Sandusky District or the Fostoria District?

I had to wait for the 52V to clear before I could cross the tracks, get in my car and give chase. While crossing the Ohio Route 269 bridge over the NS tracks I could see the train taking the Sandusky District.

I gave chase and my first effort to get it ended in failure at Flat Rock. There was not enough time to get out to make a photograph at the crossing where I was.

I was able to catch up and get ahead of it, turning down a rural road and getting it at a crossing. I’m not sure of the name of the road, but it is just south of milepost 88.

I resumed the chase and caught a break because the train had to wait for a signal at West Attica. That enabled me plenty of time to go into Attica and scout photo locations.

I finally settled on an across-the-field shot from the grass parking lot at the fairgrounds.

The dispatcher told the crew of the 52V that it would meet one at Chatfield. That turned out to be a rolling meet.

Satisfied with what I had, I broke off the chase and went on to other pursuits.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

What's that color behind the lead unit of NS train 52V? Why, it's a heritage unit.

What’s that color behind the lead unit of NS train 52V? Why, it’s a heritage unit.

Here comes the 52V at milepost 88 on the Sandusky District.

Here comes the 52V at milepost 88 on the Sandusky District.

A crew member is either striking a pose or trying to see if he can get me to fall for the old "look over there" trick.

A crew member is either striking a pose or trying to see if he can get me to fall for the old “look over there” trick.

One Saturday Afternoon at Attica Junction

June 18, 2016
At the time I made this photograph I thought it would be a one and done deal. It wasn't, but that is how unpredictable railfanning can be.

At the time I made this photograph I thought it would be a one and done deal. It wasn’t, but that is how unpredictable railfanning can be.

I was driving south on Ohio Route 4 while chasing a Norfolk Southern train on the Sandusky District when I spotted a waiting eastbound CSX manifest freight at Attica Junction.

The NS train was well behind me and didn’t have the signal yet at Attica Junction, so I stopped, snapped a few photos of the CSX train and moved on.

At least I’d be able to say that I photographed one CSX train today.

I got my photos of the NS train I was chasing and then puttered around some more along the Sandusky District before heading back to Bellevue.

As I came into Attica Junction — which on a highway map is the village of Siam — I saw another CSX train sitting at the eastbound home signal.

As I crossed the tracks I saw another CSX train waiting at the westbound home signal. It had some color on its nose so I circled back to get a look.

I determined through my telephoto lens that the westbound had a BNSF unit on the lead. My thinking was to photograph the westbound as it crossed the NS tracks.

In reviewing my photos taken here earlier in the day, I determined that the eastbound was the same train I had photographed an hour and a half earlier.

NS trains crossed the CSX tracks in each direction and I expected both CSX trains to get a clear signal momentarily. It didn’t happen.

After awhile I gave up on this CSX photo opportunity and started to resume my trip to Bellevue. But shortly after leaving Siam on an impulse I turned west.

The eastbound CSX train had the first grade crossing west of Attica Junction blocked so that seemed like a good place to wait it out until the westbound with the BNSF unit came along.

Not long after I arrived, the dispatcher told the eastbound — whose symbol I didn’t record — that it would go behind another train into the yard at Willard.

Could it be that both trains were waiting not for NS traffic but for a third CSX train?

I was hearing a train calling signals over the radio in the distance and then a nearby defect detector went off.

Sure enough, an eastbound stack train came along on Track No. 1, passed the eastbound manifest sitting on Track No. 2 and then crossed over in front of it and the westbound coal train with the BNSF power.

The intermodal train had a new ET44AH locomotive on the point.

Shortly after the stack train passed, the manifest freight and the coal train each began moving. The BNSF unit I had seen from a distance turned out to be an SD70ACe built in August 2014.

For two of the trains I had just seen, the motive power was still fairly new.

I wasn’t quite done with Attica Junction just yet. An eastbound NS train was waiting at West Attica for a signal and I decided it get it splitting those signals.

Two more CSX trains passed by before the NS train could go. And with that I finally was ready to leave for Bellevue. Or so I thought.

The gates for the NS tracks started going up, but then came back down again. A westbound NS train was in the circuit, so I photographed it out the window from the driver’s seat.

When it cleared, I really did leave and drive to Bellevue. It was seven trains later than I expected, but what a story that turned out to be.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

More than an hour later this eastbound has turned a wheel.

More than an hour later this eastbound CSX manifest freight had yet to turn a wheel.

NS crosses at Attica Junction while CSX waits. Later it would be the other way around.

NS crosses at Attica Junction while CSX waits. Shortly after making this image, another NS train came past in the opposition direction, passing each other on the diamonds.

The lead unit of this eastbound stack train is compliant with the Tier 4 emission standards of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The lead unit of this eastbound stack train is compliant with the Tier 4 emission standards of the Environmental Protection Agency.

A pair of BNSF units lead a loaded coal train westward. My guess is this coal came from southwestern Pennsylvania, perhaps from a mine along the former Monongahela.

A pair of BNSF units lead a loaded coal train westward. My guess is this coal came from southwestern Pennsylvania, perhaps from a mine along the former Monongahela.

I waited for NS to clear for CSX. Now I'm waiting for CSX to clear for NS. Such is life at Attica Junction.

I waited for NS to clear for CSX. Now I’m waiting for CSX to clear for NS. Such is life at Attica Junction.

The clouds gathered and they threatened, but they never developed into thunderstorms. A westbound passes the eastbound home signals at West Attica.

The clouds gathered and they threatened, but they never developed into thunderstorms. A westbound passes the eastbound home signals at West Attica.


NS and the T&OC Station in Bucyrus

January 30, 2016
An eastbound container train passes the former Toledo & Ohio Central depot in Bucyrus, Ohio.

An eastbound container train passes the former Toledo & Ohio Central depot in Bucyrus, Ohio.

Marty Surdyk introduced me to the restored Toledo & Ohio Central station in Bucyrus several years ago.

He was showing me the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern when we went into Bucyrus to take a look around.

I was impressed with that station the first time I saw it. I might have exposed a slide film frame or two, but I made a mental note that I’ve got to get back here someday to see what I could do with that station and the trains on the adjacent Sandusky District.

NS logo 2Bucyrus is one of those places that is not too far away, yet just far enough to be somewhere you don’t get to all that often.

Marion is nearby and if you are going to drive that far you might as well go to a place that features more rail traffic.

Bucyrus has crossing rail lines, too, but one of them is the NS Fort Wayne Line and it doesn’t’ have that much traffic.

I did get to Bucyrus once on an outing with Peter Bowler, but we didn’t hang around there all that long.

In July 2012, I was in Bucyrus when the Nickel Plate Road 765 was pulling NS employee appreciation specials that turned on the wye.

But during none of those trips did I have the opportunity to hang out and try to make the T&OC station the focus of my photography efforts.

That changed last fall when I drove to Bucyrus on a warm, sunny day with the priority of getting images of the station and NS trains.

I had noted during a previous trip that that might be more difficult to do than it might seem because the T&OC station is not right on the Sandusky District or the Fort Wayne Line.

In the old days, the T&OC tracks were on the east side of the station. The Sandusky District, which used to be a Pennsylvania Railroad branch, had its own station that is now long gone.

Bucyrus is not a bad place to spend a day. There is ample parking right by the depot and the Sandusky District has a high level of traffic.

The Fort Wayne Line, which used to be the rail route in Bucyrus, remains a lightly-used rail line, although I did see three trains on it during my visit.

As I suspected, it is possible to make images that include the T&OC station and NS trains on the Sandusky District, but it takes some work because of the tough photo angles.

I’ll have to get back to Bucyrus sometime this year and try it again. Some things just take multiple efforts to work out.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Bucyrus 02-x






Late Afternoon on the NS Sandusky District

November 28, 2015
Sandusky District Chatfield-x

An eastbound NS manifest freight is stopped north of Chatfield waiting on a signal on the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern.

The same train shown in the image above captured earlier south of Attica.

The same train shown in the image above captured earlier south of Attica.

Crossing the Wheeling & Lake Erie in Chatfield.

Crossing the Wheeling & Lake Erie in Chatfield.

It doesn’t have mountain or any hills to speak of other than some mild rolling terrain. The tracks don’t pass any large bodies of water. In short, the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern between Bellevue and Bucyrus is a bit, well, nondescript.

Yet, it is one of my favorite places in Ohio to railfan. Maybe that is because it reminds me a lot of east central Illinois where I grew up.

I had just finished photographing a Wheeling & Lake Erie train in Monroeville. It was almost 3:30 and I had less than a couple hours of daylight left.

I headed for the Sandusky District, taking a route I’d never traveled before.

I was going to Bucyrus and keeping an eye out for trains. Just south of Attica I saw a headlight behind me on the NS tracks.

I raced down Township Road 44 and did an across the field shot.

The train slowed to a stop north of Chatfield, presumably for a meet. That enabled me to get it a second time.

I continued to Bucyrus, seeing a second train stopped north of town, but I couldn’t find a road to the tracks that would come out by the head end of the train.

After taking care of some business in town, I headed back north. Clouds were moving in, the first sign of a front that would bring winter weather to Ohio over the next couple of days.

I stopped to photograph the grain elevator in Chatfield that sits next to the Wheeling & Lake Erie (ex-Akron, Canton & Youngstown) tracks.

As I got out of my car I heard the rumbling of locomotives. It was that train I had caught earlier finally getting the signal to proceed.

I wanted to get a down-the-W&LE tracks image. The locomotives had already passed before I could get into position. So I took what I could get.

It was time to head back east and it was getting dark. The chase had been short, but productive.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders