Posts Tagged ‘reservoirs’

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.

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.

 

 

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.