Posts Tagged ‘Railfanning in Marion Ohio’

EL Monday: An RS3 in Marion

June 7, 2021

Erie Lackawanna RS3 No. 1044 is in Marion in the late 1960s passing the Marion Union Station. Behind me is EL’s Marion Yard with its diesel shop.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Sampling Marion in Spring 1990

July 31, 2020

A westbound Conrail train on the on ex-Erie on April 29, 1990.

Marion is one of Ohio’s most popular railroad hotspots. At one time four railroads crossed here, the New York Central, Erie, Chesapeake & Ohio, and  Pennsylvania.

Railroad consolidations of the 1970s left just three railroads and today there are two railroads using three rail lines.

Back in 1990, the railroads of Marion included Norfolk Southern, CSX and Conrail.

Here is a sample of some of Ed’s favorites photographs made in Marion in spring 1990.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

A northbound CSX train on the former C&O. AC Tower still stood tall on the north side of the tracks in April 1990.

Riding an excursion train pulled by Norfolk & Western 1218 on NS (former PRR) tracks on May 20, 1990.

An eastbound NS train on former Pennsy, later N&W, tracks passing AC Tower.

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 (www.NSDash9.com) 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.

Now an Oldie But Goodie

September 13, 2018

Conrail has been gone for 19 years, but it doesn’t seem like it because there are so many reminders of it still around.

For starters Conrail still lives in the form of Conrail Shared Assets territories in Detroit and on the East Coast.

Also, there are still numerous freight cars still in Conrail markings running around.

A handful of cabooses still wearing their Conrail colors and markings are also still out there.

One of those used to be assigned to a CSX local in Marion.

This image was made in June 2015 when the local still had a touch of Big Blue. It is shown returning to the yard.

I’ve since seen locals working in Marion, but not with cabooses.

Another Summerail in the Books

August 13, 2018

Steve Barry, editor in chief of Railfan & Railroad magazine, presides at the 2018 Summerail event held at the Palace Theater in Marion.

Thirteen programs highlighted the 2018 Summerail event held last Saturday at the Palace Theater in Marion.

None of the presenters were from Northeast Ohio and as was the case last year images made in NEO were sparse.

Nonetheless, all 13 of the programs were of top quality and it was the strongest program slate I’ve seen at Summerail. OK, so this was just my third time at Summerail.

Throw in some train watching along with socializing and you had an enjoyable day of viewing railroad photographs and video set to music.

My “gold medal” for best program would go to Land of Enchantment by John Ryan and Paul Swanson of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Janesville, Wisconsin, respectively.

It focused on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief on its route between La Junta, Colorado, and Albuquerque.

The program featured video set to a piece of classical music performed by a symphony from London with a vocalist.

The video portrayed the Chief traversing a piece of railroad that has changed little since the days of the Santa Fe and which is now the center of controversy over Amtrak’s proposal to replace the train with buses between Albuquerque and Dodge City, Kansas.

The time frame of the scenes was recent years but the scenery was timeless, filled with wig wag grade crossing signals and semaphore block signals.

Some video was made from a drone, including some footage looking straight down.

Nos. 3 and 4 were shown traveling through high plains, desert canyons, and the stunning beauty of Raton and Glorieta passes. It was enchanting, indeed.

My “silver medal” would go to EL’s West End by Mark Llanuza of Chicago.

Showing scanned slides from his collection and those of four other photographers, Llanuza portrayed the EL primarily in Indiana and the Chicago region during its final years

The closing segment of Mark’s program borrowed an idea from Akron Railroad Club member Roger Durfee. It featured the Moby song One of These Mornings to show a series of then and now scenes.

Roger created a similar music and images program in spring 2012 about the EL, his favorite railroad. Mark had seen Roger’s program and used the Moby song in a similar format with Roger’s permission.

My “bronze medal” is a tossup between Richard Baldwin’s Richard Baldwin’s Greatest Hits and George Pitary’s A Taste of Maine.

Baldwin, an Indianapolis native and resident, had the only program to go back as far as the 1950s and 1960s, showing various railroads in the Midwest, South and West with music recorded during the period portrayed on the screen.

The program took in the end of steam and the early diesel era, showing many liveries and railroads that no longer exist. Richard was a photojournalist by trade before his retirement.

Pitarys is a retired railroader who covered 45 years of railroad operations in Maine.

A Maine native, George covered the major carriers and modern-day short lines. The program also highlighted the scenery of the state in all four seasons.

Ohio wasn’t left out of the programs. Brian Seller presented a program devoted to short-line railroads of the Cincinnati region as well as passenger specials and excursion trains in the Queen City.

Before the programs began in early afternoon and during the dinner break, CSX and Norfolk Southern provided a fairly steady flow of traffic past Marion Union Station.

However, many photographers, myself included, got hosed on the highlight of the day, the original NS heritage unit leading a westbound auto rack train that came through town as an eastbound auto rack train also was passing through.

You got both trains if you were on the east side of the NS Sandusky District tracks, but I, like most railfans, was on the west side. Specifically, I was standing at the top of the steps of AC Tower, which was open all day.

Our consolidation prize was the Union Pacific unit leading the eastbound auto rack, which carried symbol 288.

Another prize was a Florida East Coast SD70M-2 No. 105 trailing in the motive power consist of westbound stack train 25N, which originates in Columbus and terminates at Corwith Yard in Chicago.

It was my first spotting of one of the FEC units that NS is leasing to cover a motive power shortage. Heck, it is the first FEC unit of any kind that I’ve ever photographed.

Shortly after I arrived at Marion US during the dinner break, CSX sent a sulfur train eastbound on the Columbus Subdivision. It had a Canadian National leader and a UP trailer.

ARRC member Richard Antibus said it was the sixth train he had seen on the former Chesapeake & Ohio line since arriving in Marion about mid morning.

Antibus and ARRC Secretary Jim Mastromatteo spent the day railfanning at the station while Ron McElrath manned his table at the train show at the Palace Theater.

I also spotted ARRC members Steve Heister, Dennis Tharp and Tom Fritsch in the crowd at the Palace Theater.

For the second year there was a catered Skyline Chili dinner in the waiting room of the depot that was arranged by the Marion Union Station Association and White River Productions.

This year’s Summerail was dedicated to Joe Slanser, who died earlier this summer. Mr. Slanser, a well-known Marion railfan, played a key role in preserving Marion Union Station after it sat vacant for more than a decade after closing after the last passenger trains stopped there on April 30, 1971.

Steve Barry, the editor of Railfan & Railroad, magazine served as the emcee for most of the day during the programs.

Summerail 2019 will return to Marion on Aug. 10. I’m already looking forward to it.

For me, at least, this was the highlight of the day while railfanning in Marion during the 2018 Summerail event.

NS train 101 trundles through Marion during the dinner hour.

NS eastbound auto rack train 288 is about to cross the CSX Mt. Victory Subdivision. It would block the NS heritage unit on the westbound 27V.

Q008 was the last CSX train that many Summerail attendees saw before heading for the Palace Theater and first session of programs.

This westbound auto rack train must be empty if it only needs a single locomotive to pull it.

An eastbound CSX sulfur train is led by a Canadian nation al unit as it approaches Marion Union Station on the Columbus Subdivision.

CSX manifest freight Q651 heads into the lay day light in Marion.

Jerry Jordak enjoys a dish of Skyline chili while checking out the latest news in the world of railroads and railfanning while eating at Marion Union Station during the dinner break of Summerail.

Photographers get their photographs of a westbound NS light power move passing AC Tower in Marion.

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.

The Tables Were Bare

September 7, 2017

In my experience, you can count on a CSX intermodal train to roll through Marion anywhere between late morning, say after 11 a.m., to very early afternoon, say by 1 p.m.

With its UPS trailers train Q008 is one of the hottest things on rails. Typically, the Q008 and the Q010, a train from Chicago with a similar consist, will come through Berea in late afternoon.

But on a Sunday visit to Marion in early July, the Q008 seemed to be uncharacteristically late. Furthermore, it was following the Q254, an auto rack train

The Q008 finally got to Marion shortly after 3 p.m. There was nothing out of the ordinary about its passage.

But on the end was a long string of bare tables. I’m not sure if “bare table” is a railroad jargon term or something that railfans made up. More to the point, these are empty well cars.

More Reflections of CSX

September 1, 2017

CSX train Q254 passes AC Tower in Marion. With the pole line gone, it is easier to get reflection images such as this one.

You go your way and I’ll go mine. An eastbound manifest freight on the CSX Columbus Sub is about to bang the diamonds of the Mt. Victory Sub in Marion.

During a trip to Marion on a Sunday earlier this year I was surprised to find that traffic on the CSX Columbus Subdivision was heavier than on the Mt. Victory Sub. Usually it is the other way around.

Chalk it up to the dispatcher on the Columbus Sub bunching up the traffic as well the precision scheduled railroading plan of the CSX CEO E. Hunter Harrison.

One strategy of the plan is to take commodities that once ran in dedicated trains and add them to manifest freights.

This has been particularly the case with auto racks and aggregates. Earlier in the day, the Q363 came through with what in the past would have been the consists of two trains.

Aside from the usual array of manifest freight, the Q363 had on the rear a very long string of auto racks.

Whenever I see an auto rack train these days on CSX I wonder why it is still running and how much longer it might be running as a single-commodity unit train.

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.