Posts Tagged ‘Vermilion Mainline Rail’

ARRC Vermilion Outing Set for Saturday

August 23, 2017

An eastbound Norfolk Southern train crosses the bridge over the Vermilion River near the boat launchy during a previous Akron Railroad Club outing there.

The Akron Railroad Club will return to Vermilion on Saturday for another day along the Norfolk Southern Chicago Line. But this outing will feature something different.

In late afternoon we’ll travel to nearby Amherst for a picnic at the restored former New York Central depot.

Vermilion features two NS lines, the busiest of which is the ex-NYC route. Also passing through is the former Nickel Plate Road line that is now the NS Cleveland District.

The Cleveland District through Vermilion isn’t much at present as far as railroad traffic, but that is expected to change once NS completes installation of a new connection from the eastbound Chicago Line to the Cleveland District a couple of miles west of Vermilion.

Intermodal trains 205, 206, 22K and 23K are expected to be regular users of the connection.

But all of that is in the future. The Chicago Line hosts 40 to 50 trains with a traffic mix of intermodal, mixed freights, tanker trains, coal trains and even Amtrak.

We will begin our day at the boat launch located on West River Road between the two railroad bridges over the Vermilion River.

Being summer there should be ample boat traffic on the river to watch between trains.

Photographs of an eastbound on the bridge is the prized shot for this location.

Shooting a westbound these days is tough. You will need your wide-angle lens.

But don’t let that deter you from enjoying some time at the boat launch. It is an enjoyable experience.

After lunch, when the light shifts to a more westerly direction, we will move to the railfan pavilion in town.

This spot sets up well for westbounds with the city’s water tank as your backdrop.

Eastbounds can be shot with the Vermilion station that sits just to the east of the pavilion. This is also a wide-angle shot due to some pine trees along the tracks.

Still, it is a nice place to hang out and watch trains. The crossings in town are quiet zones, so there is no horn blowing.

Train crews know that the crossing protection is working if the “X” at the top of the poles at each crossing is flashing.

In late afternoon ARRC members are invited to head to the depot in Amherst, about 10 miles east of Vermilion, for dinner.

The Forest City Division of the Railroad Enthusiasts is having its annual picnic there that evening and Chef Martè, a.k.a. as Marty Surdyk, would love to grill up some burgers and dogs for you.

ARRC President Craig Sanders, who is also an RRE member, will present a program titled When the IC had a G featuring images taken on the Illinois Central Gulf in the 1970s and early 1980s.

A highlight of the program will be a cab ride aboard an ICG intermodal train from Champaign to Centralia, Illinois.

As with most ARRC activities, the event begins when the first person arrives and ends when the last one leaves. Spent a few hours or the entire day, just plan to spend Saturday, Aug. 26, in Vermilion and Amherst.

To get to the boat launch go into Vermilion on Ohio Route 60. As you enter town and after crossing the single-tracked former NKP tracks, Route 60 will make a right turn at a flashing light.

About a block to the east, Route 60 will turn left but continue straight ahead on South Street to the stop sign at West River Road.

The entrance to the boat launch is a little left of straight across from that intersection. Park at the far end of the lot near the picnic table. You will have both railroad bridges over the Vermilion River in sight.

The Railfan pavilion, known as Vermilion Mainline Rail, is on Route 60 where it crosses the NS Chicago Line at the north end of Victory Park.

From the boat launch, go back west on South Street to Route 60 north at Main Street and make a right. The pavilion is on the right just before crossing the tracks.

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NS Put on Its Usual Show in Vermilion

September 2, 2016
The classic eastbound crossing the Vermilion River on the Chicago Line image.

The classic eastbound crossing the Vermilion River on the Chicago Line image.

Before anyone had left home we missed the Conrail and Monongahela heritage locomotives of Norfolk Southern and the GoRail commemorative unit.

All three had passed through Vermilion before dawn.

But there was plenty of other NS traffic to watch during the Akron Railroad Club’s fourth annual day in Vermilion hosted by ARRC member and Vermilion resident Todd Vander Sluis.

Six ARRC members and guests made the trek to the Vermilion on Aug. 27.

ARRC President Craig Sanders was the first to arrive at 10:30 a.m. and was joined by the day’s host not long after that.

The group soon included Rick Houck and Todd Dillon. We set up folding chairs on the grassy strip near the boat launch along the Vermilion River.

It was a warm, sunny day and there was a steady parade of boats in both directions during the time we hung out by the river.

The NS Chicago Line was its usual self with an array of intermodal and manifest traffic with a few unit commodity trains added to the mix.

We saw just two trains slip through town on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline, both of them eastbounds.

At about 2 p.m. someone noticed on his smart phone that a heavy band of rain and thunderstorms was about to slam Toledo.

It looked like it was headed our way and Todd wanted to go to the barn where he and his sister keep their horses and bring them in.

The four of us piled into Todd’s Dodge Ram truck and off we went.

That gave us a chance to meet Todd’s horse Fancy (registered name: I’m a Fancy Chip) whose stall includes a nameplate on the door.

After Todd took care of business at the barn, we headed west of town to check the status of the connection NS is building between the Chicago Line and the Cleveland District.

When finished, it will enable eastbound trains to diverge from the Chicago Line west of Vermilion and go either east or west on the Cleveland District.

Reportedly, such intermodal trains as 22K and 206 will use this connection rather than the Cloggsville connection in Cleveland to access the former NKP mainline.

The right of way for the connection appears to be finished and track panels were stacked up nearby. But no ballast has yet been laid and it had yet to be brought in.

We had ideas of catching a train on the Chicago Line and started scouting for photo locations.

As we did Marty Surdyk sent Todd a text asking “where are you guys hiding?”

Todd’s truck can link to his cell phone and read out loud a text to him.

Marty’s text triggered a round of joking and laughter about us being underwater in nearby Lake Erie.

I sent Marty a reply text reading, “glub, glub,” which he didn’t get because he wasn’t in (yet) on the inside joke.

With nothing apparently moving on the Chicago Line we headed back into town. Of course that was when something finally moved on the Chicago Line.

We joined Marty at the railfan platform at Victory Park in downtown Vermilion.

That storm that passed through Toledo was approaching Vermilion and Todd and I went to Sherod Park west of town to see in coming in off the lake.

But other than gale force winds and dark clouds, the storm skirted Vermilion.

Back we went to the railfan platform where we hung out until about 6:30 p.m.

There was another storm coming from the southwest that had passed over Dayton and that one did hit Vermilion.

We decided that would be a good time to head over to Quaker Steak and Lube for dinner.

It was dark when we finished, but Marty, Todd and myself spent some more time at the railfan platform where we saw five trains pass by in about an hour’s time.

We had heard a 20E calling signals west of town. Or so we thought. But 20E wasn’t showing up.

It turned out the 20E was stopped near CP 222 where the connection from the Cleveland District joins the Chicago Line.

We were amazed to learn that NS had held the 20E, which carries trailers for UPS and thus is a higher priority train, for the L13, the daily Bellevue to Rockport Yard turn.

The L13 was a very long train for a local and we speculated it had been combined with another manifest freight that goes to Bellevue.

The L13 had been sent west on Track 2, the same track the 20E was using.

Other westbound traffic was running on Track 1 and the 20E was the train that got stabbed.

About 10 p.m. things got quiet on NS and it was time to head for home.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

The only set of all foreign power that we saw was pulling train 23K.

The only set of all foreign power that we saw was pulling train 23K.

The first of two trains that passed through Vermilion on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline. If there were others we missed them.

The first of two trains that passed through Vermilion on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline. If there were others we missed them.

We saw plenty of boats during our day in Vermilion.

We saw plenty of boats during our day in Vermilion.

An NS tanker train probably had barely gained the attention of the boater on the Vermilion River returning to the dock.

An NS tanker train probably had barely gained the attention of the boater on the Vermilion River returning to the dock.

An eastbound auto rack train crosses the Vermilion River on the Cleveland District.

An eastbound auto rack train crosses the Vermilion River on the Cleveland District.

The L13 noses by the railfan platform in Vermilion.

The L13 noses by the railfan platform in Vermilion.

We never did learn the symbol of this one unit wonder that was pulling stacks and racks past the railfan platform in Victory Park.

We never did learn the symbol of this one unit wonder that was pulling stacks and racks past the railfan platform in Victory Park.

Work is well along on the new connection west of Vermilion from the Chicago Line to the Cleveland District.

Work is well along on the new connection west of Vermilion from the Chicago Line to the Cleveland District.

The storm over Lake Erie ended up passing by Vermilion.

The storm over Lake Erie ended up passing by Vermilion.

Fancy does some fancy stepping as she heads for the barn.

Fancy does some fancy stepping as she heads for the barn.

4th Vermilion Outing Set for Aug. 27

August 23, 2016

The Akron Railroad Club’s fourth annual outing to Vermilion to watch Norfolk Southern trains on the Chicago Line has been set for Saturday, Aug. 27.

The host for the day is ARRC member and Vermilion resident Todd Vander Sluis. As at past gatherings, we’ll initially assemble by the public boat launch on the Vermilion River just south of the Chicago Line.

ARRC logo 2The boat launch is located just off West River Road. There is ample parking in the lot above the launch site, although there are usually spaces available along the river to the east of the boat launch ramp.

We might get lucky and get a train or two on the NS Cleveland District, which is the former Nickel Plate Road mainline located south of the boat launch.

Sometime during the afternoon, we’ll move over to the Vermilion Mainline Rail viewing platform in downtown Vermilion in Victory Park between Main and Exchange streets.

As the shadows get long in early evening we’ll then go have dinner at Quaker Steak and Lube on Liberty Avenue (U.S. Route 6) just east of the river.

We can expect to see a wide range of traffic on the Chicago Line, including intermodal trains, manifest freights and unit trains.

With any luck at all, we might even catch an NS heritage locomotive during the day. During the 2013 outing, we spotted the Central of New Jersey heritage unit, but had to go to Avon Lake to photograph it during daylight.

After having dinner that night, we saw Miss Liberty going west on the Chicago Line in darkness.

In 2014, the NS GoRail unit came through in late morning.

In the event of inclement weather, the Vermilion outing will be rescheduled to a later date as occurred last year when it wound up being held in October.

There Was Lots of Dihydrogen Monoxide on Hand at the ARRC Outing in Vermilion Last Saturday

October 13, 2015
We needed some angry beavers to clear those trees blocking our view of the east end of the bridge carrying the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern over the Vermilion River last Saturday.

We needed some angry beavers to clear those trees blocking our view of the east end of the bridge carrying the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern over the Vermilion River.

Four Akron Railroad Club members found nice weather and plenty of rocks, angry beavers, cranes and dihydrogen monoxide to occupy their time during the rescheduled outing in Vermilion last Saturday.

Oh, and we also spotted 24 Norfolk Southern trains on the carrier’s busy Chicago Line to watch and photograph.

Say what? What is all this about rocks, angry beavers, cranes and dihydrogen monoxide? You had to be there, but we’ll try and explain it.

Rick Houck was the first on the scene, setting down his chair at the edge of the Vermilion River in the marina at about 9:30 a.m.

President Craig Sanders joined him at about 11:30, just missing by 10 minutes an eastbound on the former Nickel Plate Road mainline.

That keeps alive his streak of “just missing” something significant during the Vermilion outing.

He blamed the delay on a long line of vehicles stacked up at the exit from the Ohio Turnpike onto Baumhart Road.

If you don’t have an EZ pass you need to go through the single-lane with a machine that takes your ticket and money.

There was an turnpike attendant on duty, but instead of taking tolls she was giving instructions about how to use the ticket machine. Traffic would have moved much faster and smoother had she just taken tolls and handed out change.

Event host Todd Vander Sluis arrived shortly after Craig. As the three of them chatted, they agreed that there were too many trees blocking the view of the east end of the bridge carrying the Chicago Line over the river.

What was needed was a crew of angry beavers to paddle over there and gnaw those trees down. That would open the view immensely.

The beavers might also keep going to remove all of the trees between the river bank and the tracks. That would really provide an open view.

Traffic was fairly steady on the Chicago Line into the early afternoon. Among the highlights was a pair of Union Pacific locomotives leading a westbound crude oil tankers train.

A high hood former Southern Railway GP38-2 led the L-13 on its return trip to Bellevue from Rockport Yard in Cleveland. You seldom see today a high hood leading a train on the main.

Not long after Todd Dillon showed up during the afternoon, a westbound came through town on the former NKP.

At that point, traffic died for a while. We kept busy by watching a crane in the water in front of us fishing for lunch.

However, it turned out that the crane was actually a great egret. It was still entertaining to watch.

About 4 p.m. we relocated to the railfan platform in downtown Vermilion. By then traffic had picked up on the Chicago Line.

At the platform we met a guy and his grandson from Cedar Hill, Ohio, a small town near Dayton.

He makes annual trips to Vermilion to railfan and while there he buys a box of chocolates from a downtown candy store.

He asked if anyone knew how late the chocolate shop was open. No one knew. Although he lives in Vermilion, Todd has never been there.

We joked later that even if the store was closed, you could still get your chocolate fix by throwing rocks through the window to “open” the store.

We later learned that the chocolate shop is open until 7 and the Cedar Hill man returned with his box of candy.

The sunlight was starting to get low when the long awaited westbound coke train that Todd said he’d seen that morning near CP Max finally arrived.

Behind it was a westbound crude oil tanker train with Canadian Pacific motive power. Crude oil trains on the NS Chicago line with CP power are not common sights.

Alas, no heritage units made an appearance and, in fact, none were even in the region.

With the sun sinking, we made a visit to the Vermilion lighthouse on the shore of Lake Erie and then adjourned to Quaker Steak and Lube for dinner.

As for dihydrogen monoxide, you’ll have to come to the October ARRC meeting and watch Todd’s program to get a complete explanation of what it is.

But here is a hint. All four of us enjoyed a glass of it spiked with some alcohol while at Quaker Steak.

Photographs by Craig Sanders

There was a hint of color in the trees lining the bank of the river opposite of the Vermilion marina. Our crew of angry beavers will make short work of those trees once they show up.

There was a hint of color in the trees lining the bank of the river opposite of the Vermilion marina. Our crew of angry beavers will make short work of those trees once they show up.

A pair of Uncle Petes lead a crude oil train westward.

A pair of Uncle Petes lead a crude oil train westward.

Mostly sunny skies greeted us during the Vermilion outing. It was a little cool, but still quite pleasant conditions for watching trains on the Chicago Line. We even saw a few boats and some waterfowl.

Mostly sunny skies greeted us during the Vermilion outing. It was a little cool, but still quite pleasant conditions for watching trains on the Chicago Line. We even saw a few boats and some waterfowl.

I missed the eastbound, but not the westbound crossing the Vermilion River on the former Nickel Plate Road bridge. It was the first train I've ever photographed crossing this bridge.

I missed the eastbound, but not the westbound crossing the Vermilion River on the former Nickel Plate Road bridge. It was the first train I’ve ever photographed crossing this bridge.

A high-hood geep leading a manifest freight caught us by surprise. These units are not common sights on the Chicago Line.

A high-hood geep leading a manifest freight caught us by surprise. These units are not common sights on the Chicago Line.

A westbound stone train was something a little out of the ordinary. The dispatcher told the crew to take it easy down to CP 234 for there was traffic ahead that needed to get into Sandusky.

A westbound stone train was something a little out of the ordinary. The dispatcher told the crew to take it easy down to CP 234 for there was traffic ahead that needed to get into Sandusky.

Your next photograph of an NS RoadRailer might be your last. NS will end the service except on one route next month. That route will not pass through Vermilion or anywhere else in Northeast Ohio.

Your next photograph of an NS RoadRailer might be your last. NS will end the service except on one route next month. That route will not pass through Vermilion or anywhere else in Northeast Ohio.

The long-awaited coke train finally showed late in the afternoon.

The long-awaited coke train finally showed late in the afternoon.

A candy apple red Canadian Pacific unit put the cherry on a day of railfanning in Vermilion along the Chicago Line of NS.

A candy apple red Canadian Pacific unit put the cherry on a day of railfanning in Vermilion along the Chicago Line of NS.

The setting sun catches the sides of the tank cars of a westbound tranker train.

The setting sun catches the sides of the tank cars of a westbound tanker train.

Vermilion Eyes Creating Railfan Park

May 19, 2009

A Vermilion group is seeking to establish a railfan park that it hopes will attract the region’s railroad enthusiasts. The proposed park would be located near downtown Vermilion within the city-owned Victory Park.

The north end of Victory Park is located adjacent to Norfolk Southern’s busy Chicago Line, which sees about 60 trains per day. The park is currently separated from the tracks by a row of trees that would have to removed or thinned out. A viewing platform with electrical outlets would be built next to the tracks.

Leading the effort to establish the railfan facility has been Vermilion Main Line Rail, which has approached the city for support. The group hopes to establish as many as five railfan friendly parks in the Vermilion area.

The head of the group is Coletta Kubik, who has served as a director of All Aboard Ohio, a rail passenger advocacy group. Kubik, who is affectionately known as Vermilion’s “train lady,” has also pushed for commuter train service on the former Nickel Plate Road route that runs through Vermilion to Cleveland and for making Vermilion a quiet zone for train horns.

Vermilion Main Line Rail is seeking cash donations, which can be sent to the group at 685 Main Street, Vermilion, OH 44089. The group also is asking for donations of building materials, signs, a web camera and speakers for a built in scanner. All would be used to construct the viewing platform at the railfan park. Vermilion Main Line Rail is in the process of setting up a website.

For an article about railfanning in Vermilion, see the Vermilion page on the Akron Railroad Club blog. The page is listed at right under the heading “Ohio Railfan Hotspots.”