Posts Tagged ‘Wellington’

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.



The Sun Finally Shined on Wellington

October 1, 2009
A CSX genset unit brings up the rear of a light engine move late in the day at Wellington. (Photograph by Richard Thompson)

A CSX GenSet unit brings up the rear of a light engine move late in the day at Wellington. (Photograph by Richard Thompson)

Nine Akron Railroad Club members and one guest trekked through inclement weather to Wellington on Sunday (September 27, 2009), but were rewarded with some 25 CSX trains and mostly sunny skies late in the day. Action on the Wheeling & Lake Erie proved elusive, however.

Rick Houck was the earlybird, showing up about 7:30 a.m. His “reward” was overcast skies and rain, including heavy showers around mid-morning. Given the conditions and the prospect that the grass on the sides of the town’s above-ground reservoir would be slippery, we decided to gather in a city parking lot downtown.

The dark skies precluded photography for most of the morning, so we did roll-by inspections of the CSX intermodal, ethanol and mixed freights that came our way. In the meantime, Craig Sanders, Marty Surdyk, Richard Thompson and Cody Zamostny had joined Rick trackside. Richard and Cody set off on foot for the reservoir.

About noon, the only Wheeling train we would see come through Wellington made an appearance. Marty, Rick and Craig intercepted it at a grade crossing on the edge of town and then chased it to Spencer. The train of coal hoppers with locomotives on each end, received a track warrant to go to Shorbs, located at the west end of  Brewster Yard.

That assured that nothing would be coming our way from the southeast for a while. We had hoped to catch the scrap metal/coke train that W&LE sends to Cleveland. But it apparently did not operate on this day.

We chased the W&LE train to the crossing of River Corners Road. The sun had been popping in and out of the clouds, but was mostly hiding when we got our shots. On the drive back to Wellington, the sun came back out again.

During the return trip, we talked about excursions past and Marty observed that he’d had days when the sun would come out in time for the train all day, but he’d had other days when it was hiding every time a train came past.

During our absence, the CSX action had picked up at bit. Two more ARRC members, Drew Deneher and Kurt Schuttenberg, had arrived at the reservoir. The sun had become more reliable and within another hour or two the skies had diminished to patchy clouds.

Marty, Craig, Rich and Cody went to Subway for lunch. We got a cell phone message from Richard Jacobs that he and Barbara were going out for lunch and planned to stop in Wellington afterwards. When we finally saw Jake, he was hanging around the diamonds, looking to get a particular photo angle.

It wouldn’t be Sunday on CSX in northeast Ohio without at least one major disruption and we learned of today’s edition shortly after returning from lunch. The IG dispatcher called the Q299, an auto rack train that we had just missed, to inform him that he would be held at CP 47 (formerly known as Hiles in New London) for an hour because of a broken rail at CP 54 (Greenwhich).

It didn’t take long for trains to begin stacking up, including the L110, a hot intermodal train with UPS trailers. Behind it was the Q108, another intermodal train.

We spent the lull talking and listening in vain for signs of life on the W&LE. But there were none. Craig and Kurt discussed how their respective mothers had attended the same high school at the same time in St. Louis. One of Craig’s uncles was in the same graduating class as Kurt’s mom.

The L110 finally got the go-ahead to come through Greenwich and over the next half-hour CSX had a mini-burst of activity, including the westbound L279, another auto rack train. Unfortunately, the Q108 blocked getting a good shot of the auto rack train for those of us on the reservoir.

The light was beginning to favor the other side of the CSX tracks and we relocated to the Lorain County Fairgrounds. Marty noted that he’d only been to that side of the tracks once. Usually, he explained, by late afternoon there is a Wheeling train out there somewhere and he would be chasing it. But the W&LE continued to be quiet.

Ordinarily, if there is a Wheeling train on the former AC&Y line, you hear it on the radio getting track warrants. But we came up empty today.

It took awhile, but CSX action finally picked up around 4:30. A pair of westbound intermodals came through along with an eastbound coal train pulled by a pair of Union Pacific locomotives.

The highlight of the afternoon was the Q090, a dedicated UP-CSX train with reefers that rush fresh produce from California to a terminal near Albany, New York. Aside from its distinct symbol on CSX, we knew it was the produce train when the engineer of Q109 announced on the radio, “you look good there salad shooter.”

Peter Bowler arrived as the “salad shooter” was passing through Wellington. He had come in hopes of getting a good sunset shot. One of his images, a westbound empty hopper train returning to the Powder River Basin and headed by a two UP units.

Most of the ARRC members who had been in Wellington for the day had to return home as the dinner hour approached. Those who stayed were rewarded with a few more trains and warm, late day sunlight. A prize shot was a light engine move featuring a GenSet switcher.

There was a W&LE train in Spencer, but no one wanted to run over there to check it out

Article by Craig Sanders