Posts Tagged ‘railfanning’

First the Pandemic, Now Soaring Gas Prices. What’s a Railfan to Do?

April 12, 2022

If you’re like me and enjoy the hunt for new photo locations, you have to be feeling down lately. A jaunt out into the countryside to shoot something different is breaking your budget. So you go to a hot spot now instead.

“I’ll let the trains come to me,” you think.

While this is fine in some regards, you quickly find that the shots you are taking are, quite frankly,
boring. Hot spots are great for watching, not necessarily for getting interesting photos.

How do you go about keeping your interest alive without ending up in the poor house?

Everyone has their own answer to this question. Some will take up residence in their easy chair and watch reruns of Leave it to Beaver for days on end; others will find a way to keep the fires burning, whether it be more shots at sunrise/sunset, more low light, or back lighted shots.

In other words, try something different. Try new techniques, different angles;, get a drone, or do whatever it takes.

Railfanning need not die on our watch because of circumstances beyond our control. We have to believe better days are coming, lest we lose faith.

Commentary by Marty Surdyk

They Might Have Been Surprised But I Wasn’t

August 24, 2021

My one and thus far only catch of the Central of Georgia heritage locomotive came in March 2015

Early Monday morning I opened my new email folder expecting to find a message from Edward Ribinskas containing a photograph of the Central of Georgia heritage locomotive of Norfolk Southern passing through Berea.

Ed had told me of his plans to attend a Frontier League baseball game in Avon Lake on Sunday afternoon with Marty Surdyk. They had planned to railfan in Berea before going to the game.

Catching the NS 8101 may have surprised Ed and Marty, but it didn’t surprise me.

On Saturday evening I had checked to see if anything was setting up to come through Berea Sunday morning that they might catch.

I noticed an 11N with the NS 8101 was making its way across Pennsylvania en route to Sterling Heights, Michigan, from Doremus, New Jersey.

On Sunday morning I checked again to see how far west the 8101 had been reported.

The latest report was in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, at 10:54 p.m. on Saturday. Had the 8101 been leading an intermodal train it more than likely would have been through Northeast Ohio hours before Marty and Ed arrived in Berea.

But the 11N works Conway Yard near Pittsburgh and manifest and bulk commodity trains don’t always move expeditiously, sometimes getting held for long periods of time for higher priority traffic and/or a new crew.

On Sunday afternoon I checked and found the 11N was reported at Berea at 11:05 a.m. or 11:07 a.m., depending on whose report you want to believe.

That would have been within the window of when I expected Ed and Marty to be in Berea; hence I was looking for Ed to send a photo of the 8101.

The two of them also caught DC to AC conversion unit 4000, one of the “Blue Brothers” locomotives that are so named because of a blue and gray livery.

You may recall reading in Ed’s report as well as a post Marty had written about his formula for having railfan success that getting the 8101 on Sunday morning completed Marty’s collection of photographs of all 20 NS heritage units.

Marty is correct in saying that success in catching out of the ordinary trains and locomotives hinges in part in doing your homework. Likewise, he is correct in saying that there is a lot of luck involved in being in the right place at the right time to catch something.

Neither Ed nor Marty indicated it they checked before heading for Berea on Sunday. If they had they might have found out as I did that there was a chance they might see the Central of Georgia H unit.

I say might because the latest report on before they actually saw the 8101 was the previous evening in Johnstown. If anyone saw it in Alliance and anywhere else east of Cleveland, they didn’t report it.

Likewise, the most recent report on NS 4000 was at Rochester, Pennsylvania, at 8:19 p.m. on Saturday.

Relying on or other online reports, e.g., Facebook, sometimes can only take you so far in determining what lies down the tracks that is headed your way.

That means Marty is also correct in saying that above all you need to be there if you want to catch something out of the ordinary or, sometimes, anything at all.

By coincidence the Central of Georgia H unit was the last one I needed to complete my check list of NS heritage units. When I finally photographed the 8101 on March 12, 2015, in Olmsted Falls, it was not the first time I had seen it.

I had seen it at least once but had not been in a position to get a photograph. One of those sightings occurred as I drove east on Chester Avenue in Cleveland and it passed in front of me on the Cleveland Line bridge over the street.

Although I’ve forgotten the details I have a hazy memory of having had a few near misses in getting NS 8101 in the weeks and months leading up to finally bagging it.

Alas, I haven’t seen or photographed the 8101 since then.

While researching this article I noticed that had Ed and Marty gone back to Berea or even to Olmsted Falls after the baseball game they could have caught the Monongahela H unit, which came west leading the 25Z.

It was reported at Berea at 7:23 p.m. but that probably was too late for them to still be trackside.

At some point you just have to call it a day, move on to other things, and hope that luck is still with you next time you are trackside.

We all need to remind ourselves from time to time that railfanning for most of us is a hobby and not a job with all of the pressures and demands that come with it. I have met railroad photographers who make rail photography into something akin to work.

They come back with some spectacular images that we all admire and enjoy. Maybe we even wish we could have gotten that image. You could have if you had been willing to do the work required to get it.

Yet is going to work the reason why you go trackside? For some the answer is yes.

As for Ed and Marty, I have a hunch that even if their Sunday in Berea had been just another routine day and the NS 8101 and NS 4000 had never come along they still would have enjoyed themselves and not been greatly disappointed about the two that got away.

Article by Craig Sanders

Cautious Optimism for a Better 2021

December 31, 2020

Well we made it to a day many might have thought would never come. Today is the last day of 2020, a year that few are going to miss once it passes into history tonight at midnight.

It was a year marked by many firsts as in the first time I have not done (fill in the blank) in (fill in the blank) years.

I have a long list of things I didn’t do this year. I didn’t ride any type of conveyance with steel wheels on steel rails.

I didn’t attend a train show, didn’t visit a railroad museum, and didn’t buy any books, timetables or other railroad artifacts to add to my collection.

And then there is the list of things I only did once. I attended one local railfan club meeting and saw just one live slide show. Both of those occurred back in January.

Of course some folks did ride a train, did visit a railroad museum and did patronize the merchants at one of the few train shows that was held during 2020 despite the pandemic.

Some clubs did meet in person or on zoom. Yet I can’t imagine that it felt the same as it did in the past.

Trains continued to operate even if there were fewer of them and I got out several times to photograph some of them.

I got out enough times to have botched a few potential photo opportunities and to see others fail to materialize because a train didn’t operate where I was when I was there.

Of course I also came back with many good photographs that made the day worthwhile and enjoyable.

But those things happen even during years when there is not a pandemic going on.

One of the advantages of railfanning is that it is something you can do on your own and without needing to be in close proximity to others.

I’ve been engaging in social distanced railfanning for years, decades even.

In that sense, railfanning during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic felt somewhat normal. I say “somewhat” because I still had to take precautions at times that in previous years never would have entered my mind.

Another advantage of living through a pandemic – if you want to call it that – is that it provided opportunities to catch up on things I had been meaning to do but never gotten around to doing.

I finished reading some books that had been only partially read for a couple of years

I processed digital images made years ago that had sat virtually forgotten on my backup hard drives.

I scanned more slides and photo negatives than I would have in a more normal year.

And I discovered to my chagrin that I wasn’t as good of a photographer back in the day as I thought I was at the time.

Yet it was satisfying to see the growth I experienced in my photography skills over the years.

And it was a little surprising to discover that my photo collection is larger than I had thought.

So what will 2021 bring? Initially, I expect more of the same. There may be a promising vaccine available to protect against COVID-19 but the pandemic is far from being tamed.

It is going to take some time and it remains to be seen what lasting effects the pandemic will have in the near, medium and long term.

I expect that sometime this year local railroad clubs will resume meeting, train shows will be held again and I just might be able to see or even present a live slide show.

But we don’t know when these activities will resume on the same scale that they occurred in, say, 2019. Nor can we yet say if they will feel the same as before.

There will be those who will try to carry on as if nothing has happened and nothing has changed while others will approach resuming “normal activity” in a tentative manner.

Whatever the case, the new year holds the possibility of having something to look forward to experiencing. Maybe, just maybe, it will feel like old times even if it isn’t.

And Now For the Rest of the Story

October 6, 2019

On Saturday on this blog I posted a photograph made by Robert Farkas of Norfolk & Western 4-8-4 No. 611 crossing the Tye River Trestle in Lynchburg, Virginia.

I had been holding that image for a few weeks and thought it would make a nice follow-up to a two-part series of photographs made by Ed Ribinskas of N&W 611 during its visit to the Strasburg Rail Road in Pennsylvania.

Opportunities to photograph N&W 611, or for that matter just about any mainline steam locomotive, in action are scarce these days.

Here is some more of the story behind that photograph of 611 made in September 1982.

Paul Woodring, who was with Bob on that day photographing the 611, sent along this scan of an image he made of the crowd waiting for the steam train to appear.

He said from where he was standing he could see most of the crowd, including Bob with his Nikon Fs around his neck.

“All of us were standing up to our knees in Kudzu,” Paul wrote.

The late Jim Boyd was made a group photo that was published in Railfan and Railroad, where Jim was an editor.

In looking at this image through 21st century eyes, Paul observed, “you’ll notice there is not a video camera or digital camera to be found.  Lots of Super 8 and even 16 mm movie cameras, and check out the guy with the 4 x 5 Speed Graphic press camera.  How the hobby has changed in 37 years!”

If this image looks familiar it might be because you’ve seen it before.

Paul included it in a program he did for the Akron Railroad Club member’s night that revolved around the theme of the 30th anniversary of Norfolk Southern.

Photograph by Paul Woodring

Railfanning Vickers Described in Newspaper Article

September 12, 2019

The popular railfanning hot spot of Vickers on the east side of Toledo was recently featured in a story published by The Blade of Toledo.

Written by Blade reporter and well known Ohio railfan David Patch, the article gave an overview of railroad operations at the crossing of the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern and the former Toledo Terminal route now owned by CSX and also used by Canadian National.

Four Amtrak trains a day also pass through Vickers, which sees about 100 train movements per day.

The story notes that Northwood police occasionally enforce a city ordinance that bans parking on raised roadways, a reference to two bridges over the tracks built in the vicinity in recent years.

Those bridges led to two roads ending as dead ends near the tracks, which has worked to the advantage of railfans.

You can read the story at

Ham Radio Operators Start Railfan Net

June 26, 2018

If you enjoy listening to “nets” on the ham radio band, you might want to tune in Fridays to a railfan oriented net being hosted by a Cuyahoga Falls Radio Club.

Nets are a place where licensed ham radio operators can check in to hear or share news, events, activities and club meetings pertaining to the radio hobby. From time to time members share their other hobbies along with their radio hobby.

Early this month a rail net was established for the purpose of sharing information, stories and anything railroad related, including railfanning, model railroads, museums and the railroads themselves.

You don’t need to be a member of a club or a ham operator to listen but you do need to be a licensed ham operator to talk and share your stories with the net.

If you are a licensed ham radio operator, you are invited to check in.

The Cuyahoga Falls club is using its tower and repeater system for the railfan net.

The net is held every Friday at 7 p.m. on the club’s frequency of 147.270 megahertz on the 2 meter ham radio band. Net control is provided by KE8HNK

Information provided by Gary Laurenzi, N8OHV

Maple Grove Park on the NS Cleveland Line

November 14, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, I had a few minutes to kill before leaving for work. I checked out former Akron Railroad Club member Richard Thompson’s Flickr page. A couple of photos on Rich’s page intrigued me.

The captions said they were in a park between Hudson and Macedonia. I quickly visited Google Maps to see if I could find the spot.

Indeed I did. Railroad west of Hudson on the Cleveland Line of Norfolk Southern between the Hines Hill and Twinsburg Road crossing is a hiking trail that comes up next to the tracks for about a quarter of a mile. The identifier on the park said “Maple Grove Park.”

I had to leave for work, so when I got home I googled “Maple Grove Park” and found it listed in the Hudson Park District’s site.

It features a hiking trail of just over a mile in a triangular shaped piece of land and not much else.

Since the trail is west of the tracks, I figured afternoon light would be best. On a recent sunny Sunday afternoon, I headed to the park to see what it was all about.

Maple Grove Park is located at the end of a dead end street called Farnham Way. I parked at the cul-de-sac at the end of the street and walked into the park.

The hiking trail is a loop and the shortest distance back to the tracks is to take the trail going to your left. It is about a quarter of a mile from your car to the tracks.

When I got to the tracks, I found the spot to be just as Rich had it in his photos.

A split-rail fence separates the trail from the tracks for a short distance then the trail dips down into a low area and rises back to track level before turning back into the woods.

Within 10 minutes of my arrival, NS ran two trains. The 24M went east and the 21Q went west.

It was now about 2:45 in the afternoon. The lighting was great for these trains, but the tall trees that surround the area combined with the low sun of October meant it wouldn’t last very much longer.

I was right and by 4 p.m. I gave up my vigil at the park because shadows now enveloped the area. Summertime may offer a longer window to shoot here. It didn’t help matters that NS did not have any more trains to run from 21Q’s passage until I left.

If you check out the park, eastbound trains can be heard calling the signal at CP 102. They do not blow for Twinsburg Road crossing; it is a quiet zone. Westbounds blow for Hines Hill Road, so you get some warning that they are coming.

The parking area for the park is on a cul-de-sac, with houses on both sides. Respect the residents’ property and we should be able to railfan at Maple Grove Park for many years to come.

Article by Marty Surdyk

Chasing NS and Air

October 16, 2017

The remnants of Hurricane Harvey made our plans for Labor Day Weekend easy; go west or get wet.

The brother and I decided to head for Indiana for the weekend on the Thursday prior. Kind of a late decision, but we wanted to be sure that the weather was going to be sunny wherever we went.

Our main goal was to catch some action on the Norfolk Southern’s Marion Branch. We did this a couple of years ago and had a good day.

The only catch was that besides the holiday weekend the Notre Dame football team was home on Saturday and hotels within 100 miles of South Bend were either booked or majorly expensive.

I started the hotel search at Goshen. They showed a half dozen chain motels. The first five I tried were either booked or they only had a single room.

The Hampton Inn had a single room for only $299 plus tax. For that much it better come with a hooker.

The last place in town was the Super 8. They, to my surprise, had rooms available. They were a bit more pricey than I’m used to at an “Eight Ball,” but I took it.

* * * * *

We arrived there Saturday night and were up and out the door after breakfast just after sunrise.

The first spot we staked out was the cemetery at CP 412 on the Chicago Line in Goshen. This is where the Marion Branch begins. It runs alongside the Chicago Line for 0.3 miles until it turns south through a residential neighborhood in Goshen.

The first train we saw was Amtrak No. 29. It sailed past us shortly after we arrived at the cemetery. It was followed by an empty DEEX coal train. Intermodal trains were coming east so we had plenty of action to watch and shoot.

We noticed a green signal at CP 412 for a northbound to come off the Marion Branch. The Toledo West dispatcher called the train and said it was OK to head his way.

We relocated to the residential neighborhood to shoot it. While it’s not street running, there are houses on either side that face the tracks that you can use as photo props.

After shooting the northbound, we went back to the cemetery. Amtrak No. 49 made an appearance upon our return.

Horns to the west, but not like the fast moving horns we had gotten used to, caught our attention. Could this be a Marion Branch train?

It was. A single BNSF GE was leading about 75 auto racks. They were going to make the turn south and head into the wilds of Indiana.

So were we. We shot it at the cemetery and headed out of town. Our next spot was the grain elevator at New Paris. This sits right next to Indiana Route 15; you can’t miss it.

Neither of us could understand what the crew member of the rack train was saying when calling signals. It did not get stabbed at the CSX diamonds at Milford Junction so we were off to the farm fields between Milford and Leesburg.

We shot it here with a red barn in the shot and again at the elevator at Leesburg. A northbound was in the siding here awaiting the arrival of the rack train.

But the rack train did not have a signal to proceed south. Could there be another train coming north?

There was, a junk freight led by Canadian National power showed up about an hour later. By the time the northbound came by we were firmly planted along Hickory Street in Warsaw. This is actual street running for two city blocks. Houses front the east side of the tracks while a bank and a drug store occupy the other side of the street.

After the northbound went by, we headed to a Subway about three blocks away to grab something for lunch. We figured we had time for the northbound to get to Leesburg and our southbound then had to come to us.

We saved lunch for after the passage of the rack train. We would end our chase here and wait for more action on the Marion Branch this afternoon.

We didn’t have to wait long before our quarry made its way past us.

After the last car passed, we dug our sandwiches out of the bag and began to enjoy them.

The brother said out of the blue, “wouldn’t it be great to see a train on the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern now?”

They run on the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline that the Marion Branch crosses just south of the street running.

It wasn’t a minute after he said that that we heard horns to the east. A CF&E train was approaching the diamonds.

“Holy cow?”

I was only two bites into my sandwich so I kept on eating. We were not in position to photograph the CF&E train so I settled on watching it.

The brother eats 100 times faster than I do, so he was done long before me.

“Wanna chase the CF&E?”

By now he had about a 10 minute head start on us. I glanced at the map and noticed U.S. 30 roughly follows the tracks to the west.

“If you drive so I can finish my lunch.”

We quickly changed seats and were off. I guided Robert out of town using a county road that parallels the tracks to the south for a couple of miles west to the town of Atwood. Here we would cross the tracks and pick up U.S. 30. Hopefully, it would be a quick way to get caught up to the train.

The road I picked up to get across the CF&E tracks goes under them. There was no sign of our train above as we continued on.

We accessed new U.S. 30, a four-lane divided highway, and began rolling west.

We did not see any signs of our train nor did we hear any radio chatter. But we continued on convinced that we were still behind it.

By the time we got to Grovertown, about 40 miles west of Warsaw, I had to make a pit stop. So we pulled off onto a side road that crossed the tracks to check for any signs of life.

It was obvious that nothing had been across the tracks here. The light coating of rust on the rail from rain showers on Saturday had not been disturbed.

Armed with this knowledge that we were, indeed, ahead, we began to track back. This time we used old U.S. 30, which stayed closer to the tracks, but goes through all the towns along the way.

This allowed us to check out potential photo spots just in case we did encounter the train. We saw several promising spots and made mental notes as to their whereabouts.

We found the former PRR depot in Plymouth still standing but much the worse for wear. I thought they may have stopped to switch here or to work an interchange with NS. The CF&E crosses the former Nickel Plate Road’s Michigan City branch here.

Sill no signs of a train so we continued back east, checking at Inwood, Bourbon, Etna Green and finally back at Atwood. Nothing.

“Where the heck did they go?”

We found them. After crossing the Marion Branch in Warsaw, they went about another three-quarter of a mile and pulled into a siding. The power was now shut down and the crew was long gone. We had been out chasing air. Almost two hours of chasing air. Now what?

“Back to the Marion Branch; maybe we can get something moving there.”

As bad luck would have it, nothing was moving there, either, at least for now. We trolled north looking for something moving.

At Millford Junction we stopped for a leg stretch at the first crossing west of the diamonds on CSX.

Here you can shoot a westbound with the old grain elevator in the photo.

We killed some time. Robert called home to check in, scanned the news wires for what players the Browns were cutting and signing for the upcoming season opener with Pittsburgh, and checked in case any were in the area.

“Lehigh Valley at Goshen a little over two hours ago on 19K. Trailing.”

Wonderful. While we were chasing air the 19K had slipped by us.

About now an EOT on the radio got our attention back to the business at hand.

A headlight to the east on CSX heralded the approach of the westbound. It was a K182 coke train.

We shot it with the old elevator here at Milford Junction and began to head north toward Goshen.

“Hey! There’s an NS sitting at the home signal waiting to go south.”

The power was behind a stand of trees but we saw freight cars standing on single track. As the road got closer to the tracks, the southbound began to move.

I quickly turned around and the chase was on. When the power cleared the trees, we got a good look. A CSX dark future, an NS and the Lehigh Valley. This was the 19K.

We headed to the farm fields north of Leesburg. Since the road is on the west side of the tracks, we were able to get two views of the 19K before it reached the siding at Leesburg.

“Clear, Leesburg.”

No meets this time; they were heading right through.

We were off to Warsaw and the street running. We would make it with time to spare. The train  must be down to restricted speed before it enters the street. Even in moderate city traffic you can make it into town before the train.

After shooting the 19K here, we were still in hot pursuit. We got right out of town and after getting far enough ahead we began to look for another photo spot.

Not finding anything we liked in the countryside, we headed into Claypool. Here the Marion Branch crosses the former NKP main to Chicago. Since we weren’t sure where the 19K was headed, we could also check its routing through town. There are connections at Claypool that are used by some trains.

Claypool is not overly photogenic and the 19K was running on clear signals so we assumed, correctly, that it was heading straight through town.

We were off toward Silver Lake, the last place where you can easily follow the Marion Branch in this area.

After Silver Lake, the tracks head in a southeast direction. The road grid is north-south, east-west. You can lose some time along this stretch unless you hustle.

We made it to North Manchester ahead of the 19K. We saw a spot in town that looked good and only had to wait a minute until the train showed up.

Indiana Route 13 follows the tracks south of North Manchester to Wabash, but there was a bridge out just outside of town. We detoured around the bridge using side roads and got back to the tracks in time to see the last cars passing by.

Getting ahead was easy as the train’s speed was about 40 mph and the state highway was 55 mph. We ended up getting a shot north of Speicherville across a farm field.

The 19K is an Elkhart, Indiana, to Decatur, Illinois, manifest freight. It would use the connecting track at Wabash to access the former mainline of the Wabash Railroad for the remainder of the trip to Decatur.

We arrived at the over/under where the Marion Branch goes under the Wabash and found it shadowed in. The connection is just to the east where the two lines come up side by side.

I thought we were ahead and I still to this day think we were ahead. But we could not find the 19K anywhere. It’s like it was swallowed by a sink hole.

I have since found out that the former Wabash has a radio channel that I was not aware of that they use: 161.380. We did not have that in the scanner so we missed an important radio conversation.

Following the tracks through town to the west, we found a rural crossing and waited for a few minutes. The sun would soon be gone for the day.

We discussed what to do tomorrow. I threw out the idea of heading to Fort Wayne. Or we could head back to Goshen. The forecast for the Monday holiday was sunny in the morning with some showers moving through in the afternoon.

Back to Goshen it was. We would hang around the Marion Branch until the weather arrived then we would head home.

We arrived back at the Super 8 in Goshen to find the same gal working the desk. She gave us the same room as we had had last night.

* * * * *

I hopped out of bed when the alarm went off and looked out the window. Oh no, the weather was already upon us with dark skies to the west and blue skies to the east.

This made it easy to decide what to do today. We would head east along the Chicago Line trying to stay ahead of the weather.

Our first stop was at Ligonier, Indiana. Here a grain elevator sits on the outside of the curve that takes the tracks from an east-west alignment to a northwest-southeast alignment. The lighting was good for an eastbound.

We waited awhile and were rewarded with an eastbound mixed freight that we thought was a Canadian Pacific train. It had a CSX leading a CP.

After it passed, we continued on, our next stop being Waterloo where the former New York Central depot has been moved farther west and used as a waiting area for Amtrak passengers. We found no passengers or trains in Waterloo this morning.

Our next stop was for lunch in Stryker, Ohio. A Subway restaurant sits right next to the Main Street crossing with the Chicago Line one block east of the grain elevator and depot.

We could get NS to run only two westbounds while we were there. The shot is OK, but not as good as for the eastbound.

Our last stop for the day was at Swanton. NS is installing a staging yard for Detroit Edison coal trains here. It looks like a four-track intermodal facility because of the distance between the tracks. But it is for coal trains.

A new control point will be in service at the west end to be called CP 309.

We walked around the park that includes a former Wheeling & Lake Erie caboose before calling it a weekend and hitting the Ohio Turnpike for the miles back to Cleveland.

It was an enjoyable trip in spite of our misadventure with the CF&E. Next time it may pay to check for signs of life a little sooner before you go running off into the Indiana countryside.

Article by Marty Surdyk

My First Railfan Outing of 2017

January 17, 2017

My first train of 2017 had a few things in common with my first train of 2016.

My first train of 2017 had a few things in common with my first train of 2016.

It had been more than a month since I had been trackside. Holiday activities, bad weather and other factors had kept me at home.

The stars finally lined up on Sunday, Jan. 15. I drove to Painesville to meet with Ed Ribinskas to take care of business related to the transfer of the Akron Railroad Club’s treasurer duties.

It was a sunny day and we moseyed over to Perry where the Erie West Subdivision of CSX and the Great Lakes District of Norfolk Southern run a block apart.

Let the record show that the first train of 2017 that I photographed had a few things in common with the first train that I photographed in 2016.

Both were short, headed eastbound, captured in January and there was no snow on the ground.

But the first train of 2017 was a CSX intermodal whereas the first train of 2016 had been an NS local.

Does this mean anything? Not really, but it is of passing interest.

We arrived in Perry around 11:30 a.m. and by the time we left at 4:30 p.m. we had logged 12 trains.

Three of them were on NS, all eastbounds. Interestingly, the NS traffic came within a 45-minute window.

Otherwise, NS was quiet the rest of the day and there was not so much as a peep of a westbound.

CSX offered some moderate variation. Six of its nine trains were intermodals with a seventh being the Canadian Pacific run-through train that is mostly stacked containers with some manifest freight tacked on.

The CP train had CP motive power and an eastbound crude oil train had a pair of BNSF pumpkins. NS train 206 had a Union Pacific unit trailing. That was the day’s foreign power.

CSX also ran a westbound auto rack train, but we never saw one of those 500 plus axles of a monster manifest freight that CSX has become known for within the past year. In fact, we never saw a manifest freight of any length on CSX.

We also seldom heard the dispatcher of either railroad on the radio. Most dispatcher transmissions had to do with speaking to maintenance of way personnel. Only once did the dispatcher give operating information to a train.

As the afternoon wore on the clouds began thickening although it never reached overcast conditions. The sun continued to pop through even if it was filtered light.

All in all it was a nice way to kick off the 2017 railfanning season.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Eastbound NS 22K was the first NS train that I photographed in 2017. The leader is one digit off from being the bar code unit.

Eastbound NS 22K was the first NS train that I photographed in 2017. The leader is one digit off from being the bar code unit.

That's the Perry nuclear power plant blowing off steam behind a westbound CSX stack train.

That’s the Perry nuclear power plant blowing off steam behind a westbound CSX stack train.

NS train 206 passes a westbound CSX stack train. Twice CSX sent a westbound intermodal train past as we waited for an eastbound NS intermodal train.

NS train 206 passes a westbound CSX stack train. CSX twice sent a westbound intermodal train past as we waited for an eastbound NS intermodal train.

The lead of NS train 310 reflected in a pool of water in a drainage ditch. It was the only manifest freight we saw in five hours of railfanning.

The lead unit of NS train 310 reflected in a pool of water in a drainage ditch. It was the only manifest freight we saw in five hours of railfanning.

Another short intermodal train. Is this about giving better customer service or was the business handled by the train way down?

Another short intermodal train. Is this about giving better customer service or was the business handled by this train way down?

Bright colors for the motive power of an eastbound crude oil train.

Bright colors for the motive power of an eastbound crude oil train.

A westbound auto rack train cruises along on Track No. 1

A westbound auto rack train cruises along on Track No. 1

The day ended as it started with an eastbound CSX intermodal train.

The day ended as it started with an eastbound CSX intermodal train.

Hi Train!

October 17, 2016


Whenever I’m track side I’m always looking to create human interest images. Children can be a great subject in that regard.

I was standing in the parking lot on the north side of the Chicago Line tracks in Olmsted Falls last July when I noticed that a father and his young son were watching an approaching westbound Norfolk Southern train.

The boy was waving at the train and maybe the engineer tooted the horn in response.

Chances are it is Dad who is the railfan. He and his wife and son had come to the depot to have lunch and watch a few trains.

This boy may share his father’s interest in trains and may someday become a railfan himself. It all starts here.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders