Posts Tagged ‘NS Sandusky District’

Watch Trains While You Fish

July 13, 2018

I wasn’t at the Attica Reservoir to go fishing, but if I had been I could also have watched some trains on the adjacent Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern.

An eastbound manifest freight gets underway after waiting for a while north of here at Attica Junction for CSX to allow NS to run traffic.

But this train would not be going to much further. NS traffic had halted due to a stuck switch in Bucyrus that a maintainer was working on and traffic was backing up.

On some days railroading, like fishing, calls for an abundant amount of patience.

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Circle Trip of Reservoirs and Railroads

June 5, 2018


My original plan for railfanning on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend was to drive down to New London and “recreate” a memorable Akron Railroad Club outing of 2006.

I remember that outing for a number of reasons, starting with the fact that it was billed as a trip to Greenwich but started out in New London because that is where Marty Surdyk wanted it to begin.

We did get to Greenwich, eventually, but not until mid to late afternoon.

I had never been to either location so I had to rely on Marty for directions on getting there.

My memories from that day include seeing the CSX executive train headed westbound through Greenwich, seeing a caboose on an eastbound manifest freight at New London and catching a BNSF warbonnet leading a train at New London.

There was also the emphatic manner in which the late Tim Krogg suggested that it was time to get some bleeping lunch and how Peter Bowler schooled us in how a flock of buzzards is known as a kettle.

I enjoyed that outing so much that I suggested in 2013 that we do it again. It was scheduled, but I was the only person who showed up.

As I was heading west on Interstate 480 I decided to modify my plans.

I would make this a reservoir circle trip with stops in Wellington, New London and Attica. By day’s end I wanted to have photographs of trains and water at four reservoirs, three of them located above ground.

This would hinge, of course, on the cooperation of CSX, which since the onset of scheduled precision railroading has reduced the number of trains it operates. Those that do run tend to be much longer.

Sure enough, CSX was dead when I arrived in Wellington. I would wait 45 minutes before finally hearing an eastbound stack train calling signals on the radio.

Making images of an above-ground reservoir and trains is a challenge because of the distance between the shoreline and the tracks.

If you feature the shoreline that is closet to the rails, you have to use a wide-angle lens, which guarantees you’ll only get a portion of the water. In proportion to the scene the train will be small.

The latter doesn’t bother me but it does some railfan photographers.

You can also try to shoot across the water with a telephoto lens but you might not get the train. Remember, these are above ground reservoirs.

My first catch of the day in Wellington was an eastbound stack train with a pair of BNSF locomotives running elephant style. Not bad.

It was late morning so I decided to move on to New London. But as I was walking toward my car I heard the westbound Q163 stack train calling signals and decided to wait for it.

I tried a different angle, going for the north shoreline that is perpendicular to the tracks. The downside of this view is that I could get very little of the train into the image. Interestingly, the Q163 also had BNSF motive power.

I arrived in New London during another CSX lull that also lasted about 45 minutes.

I could hear other CSX trains on the radio, but nothing that would be coming through New London.

I also heard a Wheeling & Lake Erie train get track authority from Hartland to Spencer, meaning I would have seen it had I stayed in Wellington.

I finally got a train just before noon, an eastbound crude oil train with three BNSF units.

Hmmmm. I’m starting to see a pattern here. Did BNSF buy CSX and I didn’t know about it? Fat chance of that.

My idea was to shoot this train in the same manner that I did the Q163 at Wellington. It would have worked had I been paying more attention to the water and less to the locomotives.

I managed to create an image that didn’t show any of the water.

That would not be the case with the next train, a W&LE train off the Carey
Subdivision carrying stone in gondola cars and a few covered hoppers.

I heard this train get permission from the IP dispatcher in Jacksonville to enter CSX track at Greenwich at GN Tower.

At the time time, I thought this was fantastic news. I would be getting a Wheeling train after all.

Yet when the train showed up, it’s locomotives were both running long hood forward.

At least I got some water in this image and the lead unit is a former BNSF locomotive still in its BNSF colors. That sort of kept my BNSF motive power streak alive.

That streak was snapped when the Q348 showed up with CSX motive power. It stopped at CP 47 to allow the Q008 to pass.

I got the Q008 passing the manifest freight and some water.

The chatter on the radio indicated that more trains were coming, including the Q010 so I stayed a little longer at New London.

That paid off when a westbound auto rack train came past with a CREX (Citirail) ES44AC in the lead.

I’ve always like the color scheme of these Citirail units, but I’ve seldom been able to catch them leading a train.

The trailing unit of the auto rack train, by the way, was, you guessed it, a BNSF unit, which would be the final binsiff I would see on this day.

After the passage of the Q010, I set out for Attica but distractions along the way kept me from getting to the Attica reservoirs until late afternoon.

First, I stopped in Greenwich to photograph an eastbound CSX auto rack train whose headlight I saw in the distance as I crossed the Mt. Victory Subdivision tracks on U.S. Route 224.

Upon crossing the Sandusky District tracks of Norfolk Southern in Attica, I saw the rear of an eastbound and decided to check it out.

It turned out to be a grain train with three Canadian National units for motive power that I wound up chasing to Bucyrus where I got it going around the connection to the Fort Wayne Line.

I made further stops near Chatfield to photograph across a field a stopped eastbound NS manifest freight and to make some non-rail photographs in Chatfield of a hardware store that is going out of business.

By the time I got to the lower Attica reservoir, the Sandusky District had been turned into a parking lot because of a malfunctioning switch at Colsan in Bucyrus.

I waited a while before catching the eastbound 188 passing the reservoir, which had surprisingly smooth water for a windy day. That yielded a nice reflection image.

I had heard the 20E calling signals and thought I’d get it at the upper Attica reservoir a short distance away.

The dispatcher had told the 188 to stop at County Line Road and maybe the 20E would stop behind it.

I drove up to the top of the upper Attica reservoir, but there was no 20E. It was getting late and I didn’t want to get home too late, so I decided to forgo getting an image from my fourth reservoir of the day.

Although I looked, I never did see the 20E. Either the train I photographed at the lower Attica reservoir had been the 20E or it slipped past me as I was driving through Attica.

 

 

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.

Double Shot of Western Motive Power

March 1, 2018

I was listening to my scanner in Bellevue last Sunday when I heard a train call a signal that indicated it was taking the connection from the Fostoria District to the Sandusky District to head toward Columbus.

At the time, I was sitting across from Wheeling Tower and couldn’t see it.

Curiosity got the better of me and I drove over to Slaughterhouse Road in time to see the last containers on the train coming around the connection.

It was Norfolk Southern intermodal train 218, which originates at Calumet Yard in Chicago and travels to Linwood, North Carolina.

I gave chase, catching up with it just north of Attica Junction. The lead unit was BNSF, making it the second train heading east on the Sandusky District I had seen that day with BNSF power on the point.

The 218 was slowing as it neared West Attica and I could see that it was passing a stopped eastbound intermodal train, the 234.

On the point of the 234, which originates in Chicago (Landers Yard) and travels to Atlanta, was a Union Pacific unit.

It would have been nice to have photographed the two units side by side waiting at West Attica, but the 234 was too far back to get a good shot, even with a telephoto lens.

Both trains were waiting for an eastbound CSX stack train to cross ahead of them at Attica Junction. I spotted the CSX stacker as I crossed over its tracks in Siam, but didn’t wait around for it.

I set up by the former Toledo & Ohio Central depot in Bucyrus for the NS intermodal trains. I did not have a long wait. First came the 218 followed several minutes later by the 234.

No Injuries in NS Sandusky District Derailment

January 24, 2018

No injuries were reported after a westbound Norfolk Southern stack train derailed late Monday near Attica on the railroad’s Sandusky District.

The Chicago-bound train derailed at 10:45 p.m. near Township Road 122. NS and R.J. Corman crews spent much of Tuesday cleaning up the derailment site.

NS spokesman Jonathan Glass said nine rail cars derailed. No hazardous materials were spilled during the incident.  The train had three locomotives and 53 cars. No cause for the derailment has been released.

With traffic backing up on Ohio Route 162 in Attica, the Ohio Department of Transportation set up a detour that was expected to be in place through Wednesday morning.

One lane of the road was blocked during the derailment cleanup.

Pleased to Visit With You Miss Caroline

January 13, 2018

For a short time the water was calm enough to get a decent reflection shot. Shown is NS westbound manifest train 180.

I’ve driven past the Attica resevoirs at Caroline along the Sandusky District of Norfolk Southern many times, but I’d never stopped at the southernmost one.

I had seen photographs that Marty Surdyk has taken over the years at Caroline, but never made any images there myself until last June when we stopped there while chasing trains during the Akron Railroad Club’s longest day outing.

Nearly two months after that outing, I returned to Caroline with fellow ARRC member Peter Bowler.

Our goal was to get some reflection images of NS trains on the water of the reservoir. That was a challenge due to the windy conditions that whipped up the water and that direct sunlight was a hit and mostly miss proposition.

But we had not driven all this way to go home empty handed. We worked with what we had.

We had a situation in which NS had trains backed up waiting to cross the CSX diamonds at Attica Junction.

That junction is controlled by CSX and I can only imagine some of the telephone conversations that went on between CSX and NS officials as they tried to look out for the interests of their respective employers.

It was during the midst of the service issues that CSX was having last summer.

Not only were NS trains getting backed up at Attica Junction, but so were lesser priority CSX trains and/or those that Willard was not yet ready to handle.

In time, trains finally moved even if not as efficiently as everyone wanted.

 

The water wasn’t quite still enough to get a sharp reflection.

Once NS trains got the OK to go through Attica Junction they tended to run in pairs. Here the eastbound 195 passes the westbound 29G.

Detroit-bound stack train 29G cools its heels south of Caroline waiting for CSX to allow NS to run trains through Attica Junction.

At last NS stack train 29G has heard the word from the dispatch to come down to Attica Junction looking for a signal.

A westbound CSX manifest freight has the signal at Attica Junction. The view is looking northward to the east of the diamonds.

Plenty of Action on NS Sandusky District on Longest Day

July 25, 2017

While Marty was out on Sunday morning chasing trains on the Sandusky District, Norfolk Southern ran a steady stream of trains through the mini plant back in Bellevue. Shown is a manifest freight going to the Sandusky District with helpers on the rear. Reportedly, this train will separate into two sections further down the road.

The 2017 ARRC longest day outing took us to the Norfolk Southern capital of Ohio, Bellevue.

My day began about 10 minutes late at 7:10 a.m. I had hoped to be on the road by 7, but not to worry, Bellevue is less than an hour if I use the Ohio Turnpike.

I got to Bellevue just minutes before 8 a.m. I made a pit stop at McDonald’s on the way into town, passing the Kemper Railfan Pavilion at 8:05 a.m. No one else had arrived yet.

Train 12V was heading south on the Sandusky District, so I gave chase.

The first spot I got it was at Frank, which is the second wide spot in the road south of Bellevue. Flat Rock is the first.

It was easy to get ahead this morning as there was no traffic to speak of and the 12V was not going at any breakneck speed.

I was heading for the northerly road crossing at Caroline. This is south of Attica. I saw a shot on Railpictures.net of a morning southbound from this crossing.

It features the train in the dip crossing Honey Creek with the Attica water tower and grain elevator in the distance.

The 12V got hung up waiting to cross CSX at Attica Junction for a few minutes, so I had plenty of time to set up my shot. Alas, 300 mm of telephoto doesn’t quite make the shot; I needed more. I shot the 12V here anyway, just to record the scene.

NS had plenty more action in the works for this morning. The 188 was on the heels of 12V, a 51V grain train and the two hot eastbound van trains, 234 and 218, were coming south.

And if that’s not enough, I got 217 and a 604 coal train going north. A seven train morning in great light on a line with multiple good photo opportunities, what more could you want? I know, eight trains.

By 11:15 a.m. the last of the seven trains was heading off to it destination and I hadn’t been back to Bellevue to see if anyone else had shown up.

I rolled into town about 11:30 to find about a dozen ARRC people gathered in the parking lot across from Wheeling Tower.

The light was still on this side of the tracks for photography. Craig’s car was there but he wasn’t. I found out a few minutes later that he and Todd Vander Sluis had walked down the street looking for the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

As noon approached, lunch sounded like a good idea. So we were off to Subway for its foot-long sub of the day, a meatball sub. As I told the gal making my sandwich, “We are what we eat.”

Alas, I was only able to eat half of the sandwich. I had placed part of it on my Jeep Patriot, but the wind blew it off and onto the ground.

Traffic past the ARRC assembled faithful in Bellevue had been steady all day so far. The longest lull was just 15 minutes, plus they got the W&LE going into the yard.

The afternoon began much like the morning ended, busy.

Another coal train came north off the Sandusky District. Two trains came in off the Toledo District. A nauto rack train came off the Toledo District and headed out on the Fostoria District. Its destination was the Mixing Center just outside Fostoria.

The L11 bound for Blair Yard in Fostoria went past behind two SD 40s.

Craig and Todd wanted to spend some time south on the Sandusky District in the afternoon. I told them to be patient and we’d pick out the right train at the right time.

About 1:30 p.m. a 194 went south. It was a little too early for this one; the sun was still too high. We’ll wait for 175 in about another 45 minutes to an hour.

Besides we might see the 194 again. CSX was doing track work on its No. 2 main around Attica Junction and the 194 might get delayed there.

The 175 left about 2:30 p.m. and Craig, Todd and I were in hot pursuit. Our first shot was at Schriver, although the corn was getting a little high. In another week this shot won’t be doable.

We went Omar for the 175, shooting it framed between two barn-like structures on the farm near the Ohio Route 162 crossing.

We continued south to find the 194 cooling its heels at West Attica. CSX had the diamonds and wasn’t giving them back. The 194 was delayed an hour and 25 minutes waiting to get across Attica Junction.

The 194 finally was let loose and  we headed toward the old reservoir at Attica. Normally the calm water makes for a nice reflection, but it was so windy today that there were white caps on the water.

We heard a northbound train as we were going to shoot the 194. It was train 25G, a one-unit wonder and a very short stack train.

The CSX dispatcher let the 25G across, because it was short, but the 175 with its almost 9,000 feet of train would have to wait.

We went north of Omar for the 25G, shooting the train while watching one of the locals cutting his grass on a riding mower.

Paul Woodring OSed to me another southbound, a potash train with symbol 60U. We shot the 175 again at the old reservoir and waited there for the 60U.

It was time to head back to Bellevue, where we arrived about 6 p.m. In our absence the rest of the gang that had stayed there had seen one of the NS green “echo” units come by, albeit trailing, off the Fostoria District.

We decided that 7 p.m. would be our curfew. Dinner would be at the Bob Evans on the north side of Norwalk.

NS had two trains for us in the 6 o’clock hour, the last being the 12Q. It passed just minutes before 7 p.m.

When it passed, we wrapped things up and headed for dinner. It had been a fantastic day in one the busiest places for NS action around. We did not see any heritage units, but if we had stayed until after dark, we would have seen the Interstate H unit pass through.

That is the only H Unit I have not SEEN. Hopefully that changes sometime soon.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Sunday Afternoon Foray to the Sandusky District

July 4, 2017

Norfolk Southern train No. 175 seems to be skimming the tops of the corn plants south of Flat Rock on the Sandusky District.

It was mid-afternoon of the Akron Railroad Club’s longest day outing in Bellevue.

Todd Vander Sluis asked Marty Surdyk if there was somewhere else we could go for a change of scenery. I was game to come along.

We had spent all morning and a couple of hours of the afternoon photographing a steady parade of trains through the mini plant.

It’s good to see rail traffic, but the mini plant is not the most photogenic location. After a while, all of your photographs look alike.

Marty said that once train 175 was ready to go east then we would head out on the Sandusky District to chase it and, perhaps, catch another train or two or three.

By then the sun would have shifted to the west of the tracks.

No. 175 originates in Bellevue and terminates in Brosnan Yard in Macon, Georgia.

It left town around 2:30 p.m. although we easily got out ahead of it in Marty’s Jeep Patriot.

The first photo stop was in a small rural cemetery south of Flat Rock where the corn wasn’t too high to prevent an across-the field image.

Marty is an old hand when it comes to railfanning the Sandusky District and he claims to know it like the back of his hand.

As we headed south on Ohio Route 4, we could see the 175 in the distance. It was slowing because there was a train ahead of it at West Attica waiting for a signal to cross CSX at Attica Junction.

CSX was doing track work and had a single-track railroad on both side of Attica Junction. Trains of both railroads faced long waits, with some NS trains waiting more than an hour to get across.

We set up west of the Ohio Route 163 crossing to catch the 175 again, working barns into the shots to give them added interest and a rural feel.

In the meantime, westbound NS train 195, a Linwood, North Carolina (Spencer) to Bellevue train finally had gotten the signal at Attica Junction after a long wait.

We stayed along Route 162 to get the 195 coming north, using an old barn and the fields as photo props. It was one of one of those afternoons of sun and clouds and I sought to emphasize clouds in some of my images.

But those clouds were dense and when a train came past I often got cloud skunked.

After the passage of the train 195, we continued our trek southward with the objective of getting the 175 at the old Attica reservoir at Caroline.

But CSX decided to run some more eastbound traffic, including the “salad shooter,” which we saw from a distance.

As we approached Attica, we saw NS train 29G, a Norfolk to Detroit stack train pass us headed west.

The radio traffic on the NS road channel indicated that the 29G would have to wait at Attica Junction for, it turned out, an eastbound CSX auto rack train. Then it would be allowed to cross.

But the 175, which was waiting at West Attica, would stay put. We surmised that the short length of the 29G enticed the CSX dispatcher to clear the signal for it.

We saw most of the CSX auto rack train while stopped at the crossing in Siam, the hometown of Attica Junction.

Marty wanted to catch the 29G near County Road 24 (Seneca County), but missed the turn. We ended up instead getting it at Township Road 126.

There is a home next to the tracks there and a guy was out on a riding mower cutting the grass. That added a touch of human interest.

After the passage of the 29G, we headed back toward Caroline with a few diversions along the way.

We saw from a distance a westbound CSX manifest freight finally get the signal at Attica Junction to cross the NS tracks. We had seen that train sitting at the signal twice while passing through Siam.

After an hour and 25-minute wait, the 175 finally got the signal at West Attica and Attica Junction.

In the meantime, Paul Woodring had called Marty to report that a potash train had left Bellevue headed for the Sandusky District.

Train 60U, I think it was, caught a break. It was allowed to cross CSX at Attica Junction following the 175.

We photographed both trains at the reservoir in Caroline. My image of the 60U skirting the reservoir would be my favorite image of the day.

After the passage of the 60U it was 5:30 p.m. and time to make our way back to Bellevue to rejoin what remained of the nearly dozen ARRC members who had ventured west for the longest day outing.

Train 175 as seen between a pair of barns along Ohio Route 162 near Omar.

This wold not be out last view of the 175.

I made good use of that old barn, this time to frame westbound train 195.

In the foreground is NS train 195. In the distance on the other side of those trees is the rear of the 175, which is waiting at West Attica.

I wonder why those trees are there as the motive power of NS train 195 passes by.

Working the sky and clouds with NS train 195.

Getting a bead on the 29G.

Saying farewell to the 29G.

A CSX westbound manifest freight has the signal at Attica Junction. NS trains, meanwhile, continued to cool their heels.

This turned out to be my favorite image of the day. The 60U skirts the old reservoir at Caroline.

But is He a Railfan?

June 27, 2017

Marty Surdyk, Todd Vander Sluis and I were out chasing Norfolk Southern trains on the Sandusky District south of Bellevue on Sunday during the Akron Railroad Club’s annual longest day outing.

CSX was single tracking in the vicinity of Attica Junction and had trains backing up. Norfolk Southern ended up paying the price.

The 29G, though, got lucky. The CSX dispatcher agreed to let it across between CSX traffic without much delay, but NS train 175 on the other side of the crossing would have to wait at West Attica.

We elected to chase the 29G and catch it somewhere north of Attic Junction. That turned out to be at a crossing along a township road where there was a home next to the tracks.

The homeowner was out mowing the grass. The guy has a great view of NS operations here, but I wonder, is he a railfan? He hardly looked up as the 29G came past. It was just another train.