Photo Archives: Action On The Toledo Terminal At Vickers Junction – July 1987

Vickers Junction (Conrail CP 285) near Toledo, Ohio was one of my favorite railfan hotspots in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. Conrail’s ex-New York Central Cleveland to Chicago line (Norfolk Southern today) was good for a nearly continuous string of hotshot intermodal trains and the occasional foreign power mixed with Conrail’s blue.

The Toledo Terminal line, owned by Chessie System and later CSX, was not as busy but was certainly more eclectic. While most of the traffic consisted of hoppers going to and from the Toledo docks, the locomotive variety was impressive. The CSX merger had recently occurred and motive power was beginning to run freely throughout the CSX system. It was not unusual to find Western Maryland, Clinchfield, and Chessie System paint schemes in the same locomotive consist.

Exhibits A and B are these two dusty slides from July 1987. In the first, an aging B&O GP-40, still proudly wearing its as-delivered Capitol Dome scheme lugs a string of hoppers south toward Walbridge. In the second, a pair of GP40-2’s, perfectly mated for the merger with one Chessie System and one Seaboard System, lug a string of loaded hoppers toward the docks.

If I only had a time machine to go back to the day these slides were shot! Enjoy!

Locomniac.com
A pair of untouched CSX GP-40-2’s, one Chessie System and one Seaboard System, lead a string of loaded hoppers toward the Toledo ore docks at Vickers Junction near Toledo, Ohio in July 1987. Michael R. Moore photo

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Happy Thanksgiving!

©Michael R. Moore 2016
B&O Color-Position-Light signals guard Butler Street Interlocking in Hamilton, OH 9/19/2016 Michael R. Moore Photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s not forget to pause for a day and remember to give thanks for the important people in our lives and the blessings we have received.

Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

May God Bless You and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photo Archive: CSX “Xpress Railer” at Vickers Junction – February 1987

 

Locomaniac.com
Chessie GP-40-2 leads SB XPress Railer @ Vickers

A CSX Xpress Railer train heads south at Vickers Junction, just north of Walbridge, Ohio in this February 1987 slide. At the time, the Xpress Railer and Norfolk Southern’s earliest incarnation of the Triple Crown Service were operating competing Detroit-Atlanta roadrailer service. CSX often used its former Clinchfield F-units as power for the train but on this day a former B&O GP-40-2 performed the honors.

The Xpress Railer used an inflatable baffle between the trailer underbody and the rail bogey to allow the bogey wheels to be adjusted up for road travel or down for rail travel. This system eventually proved to be unreliable, and the Triple Crown design ultimately won the roadrailer battle.

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Railfan Adventures: 90 Minutes At Blue Island, Illinois [Slideshow]

Locomaniac.com
The grade crossing alignment on Broadway Street in Blue Island, Illinois was complicated enough to require a manned tower to operate crossing gates until 2013. The tower is still there, though now closed. Michael R. Moore photo

One of my favorite railfan hotspots is Blue Island Crossing in Blue Island, Illinois. As you will see in this slideshow of one morning’s activity, this location has nearly everything a railfan could want; continuous action, two of the Big Six North American railroads and run-throughs from the other four, two major regional railroads, lots of commuter passenger action, four double-track main lines, a crossing tower (now closed but still there), a collection of massive through-truss bridges reminiscent of a Lionel Trains Postwar layout, and plenty of easy, safe, and legal public access. About all one could ask for would be a restaurant and public restrooms to make Blue Island the ultimate North American railfan hotspot!

Let’s look at the typical day at Blue Island by focusing on a 90 minute period on the warm morning of July 17, 2010. I set up on the east side of the crossing for the best lighting and to shade myself from the July sun. The first train to appear was an Iowa Interstate manifest from Joliet.

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This train used a cutoff track from Metra’s former Rock Island line to Joliet, Illinois. The track drops from the elevated Metra line to connect with the CSX / Indiana Harbor Belt joint line to Franklin Park, Illinois. As we will see, Iowa Interstate trains often make a reverse move into Indiana Harbor Belt’s Blue Island Yard from this point.

Before the Iowa Interstate train had cleared the crossing, a Union Pacific train of loaded Powder River Basin hoppers appeared on CSX’s ex-B&OCT main line. This train was headed into CSX’s Barr Yard and from there to a distant point power plant or factory on the CSX system.

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The coal train cleared the crossing while the Iowa Interstate continued its journey. Meanwhile, a light Indiana Harbor Belt (ex-Burlington Northern) SD38-2 appeared on the CSX/IHB joint line, headed for Blue Island Yard.

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As the IHB SD38-2 disappeared into the distance, the end of the Iowa Interstate freight appeared, sporting another ES44AC on the tail. The presence of this locomotive was to facilitate long reverse moves, such as the one we would see later.

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Then, for the first time since my arrival, silence. There were no trains on the crossings and no horns in the distance. No worries, though. I knew from past experience that Blue Island did not remain silent long, and after only ten minutes, the rumble of distant diesels found my ears.

This time it was a set of Canadian National light power running on the former Grand Trunk Western double-track main line. The trio of diesel-electrics included a CW44-9, one of CN’s unique C40-8M’s , and an SD75I. Not a bad catch!

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Before the CN units had completely cleared, the sound of another horn split the morning calm. The rumble of high-horsepower diesels was heard, and I knew something else was coming quickly. Caught out of position because of the CN units, I was only able to fire off a single head-on shot of the approaching train, an empty Powder River train on the B&OCT led by a BNSF “Executive” SD-60.

 

Locomaniac.com
A BNSF SD60 leads an empty Powder River coal train on the B&OCT at Blue Island Crossing, Illinois. 7/17/2010 Michael R. Moore photo

 

Shortly after the BNSF train cleared, a Metra commuter train en route from Joliet to La Salle Street Station passed over the top on Metra’s ex-Rock Island line. In this case, the Power Car led the train with a MP36PH-3S on the rear of the train. Now, I had seen at least one rail movement on each of the lines in Blue Island, but more was still to come.

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Next, to my surprise, the Iowa Interstate again made its presence known, as a pair of GP38-2’s pushed a cut of cars out onto the connector track to the IHB / CSX joint line, then stopped. The IAIS is one of the reasons I like to railfan at Blue Island, as it adds variety to the nearly-exclusive CSX and NS trains I see in Ohio. And here, I had caught two IAIS runs in only an hour!

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To make things even better, the next move to appear was the first Iowa Interstate train, now backing up on the IHB / CSX joint line and into Blue Island Yard. I had two Iowa Interstate trains in sight at once!

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It was only then that CSX, the owner or co-owner of the majority of the tracks at Blue Island, made an appearance. First was a manifest freight on the IHB / CSX joint line, headed for the B&OCT Barr Yard. Next came an intermodal freight out of Barr Yard on the B&OCT main line.

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So, in about 90 minutes I had seen two Iowa Interstate trains, Union Pacific, BNSF, Canadian National, Metra, and two CSX trains. I had seen a GP-7u, a C40-8M and other unusual power. I had a great time. Unfortunately, I had an appointment to attend to in Downtown Chicago, so I had to leave. But not before one parting shot of the Iowa Interstate.

Locomaniac.com
Iowa Interstate GP38-2 #700 (Originally Penn Central #7940) switches some cars at Blue Island, Illinois on July 17, 2010. Michael R. Moore photo

This is why I love Blue Island. Now, go watch some trains!

 

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RVOTD: Steamer Sunday – A 4-4-0 on the Wilmington And Western

It is Steamer Sunday again on the Railfan Video of the Day. Today’s video features one of only two operating 4-4-0 American-type steam locomotives in the Eastern United States, Wilmington And Western #98. Videographer Jason Schaedler was on hand in October 2016 to capture and share this video of a Halloween Steam Excursion as the Wilmington And Western train meandered along the Red Clay Creek Valley in Delaware.

The Wilmington And Western operates both heritage and freight trains over some 10 miles of former Baltimore And Ohio trackage between Hockessin and Landenberg Junction, Delaware. Excursion trains depart from the station in Greenbank and travel to various destinations along the line. The WWRC also serves one freight customer, providing interchange with CSX at Landenberg Junction.

Wilmington And Western #98 (ALCO 1909) is one of only two operational 4-4-0 steam locomotives in the Eastern United States. The locomotive was delivered to the Mississippi Central Railroad, where it served until 1944. The locomotive then changed ownership several times before eventually landing at the Wilmington And Western in 1964. The WWRC rosters several other steam locomotives, including 0-6-0 #58 (Bladwin 1907) and 2-6-0 #92 (Canadian Locomotive Company 1910) , neither of which is operational at this time. The railroad also rosters two EMC SW-1 diesel-electric switchers and a gas-electric “Doodlebug” motorcar.

Thanks again to Jason Schaedler for capturing this excellent video. Enjoy!

Join the conversation! Add a comment, question or suggestion in the “Leave A Comment” section. Also, show your appreciation to our video contributors by LIKING and SUBSCRIBING to their videos.

Now, go watch some trains!

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RVOTD: Snow Saturday – Southern Pacific Battles The Snow 1951-52

Maybe you awoke to a Winter Wonderland. Maybe you awoke to a Winter Horror Show. Whatever your opinion of snow, with much of the country experiencing the first major winter blast of the season, we are considering how snow impacts the railroads on today’s Railfan Video of the Day.

Imagine running a railroad through a mountain pass that often receives as much a 5 feet of snow in a day! That is what the Southern Pacific faced in the 1950’s. In this public domain film, we see the Espee’s strategy and equipment for the task of battling snow during the winter of 1951-52. See classic steam-powered rotary plows, plus 1950’s locomotives at work. I am personally partial to the “Black Widow” scheme on the EMD F-units.

Enjoy this classic film, and stay warm today!

 

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Iowa Interstate #700 – Blue Island, Illinois 7/17/2010

Locomaniac.com
Iowa Interstate GP38-2 #700 (Originally Penn Central #7940) switches some cars at Blue Island, Illinois on July 17, 2010. Michael R. Moore photo

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RVOTD: NS And CSX Action At Berea, Ohio

Today’s Railfan Video of the Day takes us to one of the busiest railfan hotspots in Ohio. In Berea, Ohio, one can view the two major east-west railroad arteries north of the Ohio River parallel to one another. Throw in a classic tower, a historic passenger depot, and easy public access, and you have the hotspot that is Berea. Videographer alcheng1000 visited Berea in June 2016 and captured and shared today’s great scenes with us. In fact, this is only a portion of the action he captured that day!

Once upon a time, Berea Tower was a crossroads of the New York Central System. Here, the Buffalo to Chicago “Water Level Route” met the Big Four Route (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago And St. Louis Railroad) with access to all of its namesake cities and more. In addition, another track converged into the junction providing access to the Pennsylvania Railroad’s line between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. [NOTE: Some sources suggest that this track was originally built as part of the Cleveland Union Terminal Railroad and only later connected to the Pennsylvania line]

The Penn-Central merger of 1968 made this a single railroad junction, as both the NYC and Pennsylvania lines became the Penn Central. As the PC fell into bankruptcy and Conrail took over operations in 1976, the Pittsburgh line became more important as managers saw the value of routing many Pittsburgh to Chicago trains off the old Pennsylvania mainline through Fort Wayne by routing them over the Pittsburgh Line through Berea and to the old NYC to Chicago.

In 1999, Conrail was absorbed in a roughly 60-40 split between Norfolk Southern and CSX. The old New York Central route between Berea and Chicago became a Norfolk Southern property, along with the old Pennsylvania Railroad Pittsburgh Line. This is now NS’s main east-west route between the East Coast and Chicago. Meanwhile, the old NYC Berea to Buffalo line became the property of CSX, along with the Big Four line. This route serves as CSX’s primary route to Western New York and New England, while its main east-west route is the former Baltimore And Ohio main line, which connects to the Big Four at Greenwich, Ohio.

Today, there are essentially two main lines through Berea. The northernmost tracks are the Norfolk Southern lines (NYC to Chicago and PRR to Pittsburgh) while the southernmost tracks are the CSX lines (Big Four and NYC to Buffalo). There are several crossovers to allow traffic to pass between the lines as necessary. Also, the Wheeling And Lake Erie makes an occasional visit using trackage rights on the Big Four line from Greenwich. Amtrak service through Berea is in the form of the Capitol Limited and the Lake Shore Limited, each appearing in the predawn hours.

So, if you are looking for lots of mainline action on the two biggest railroads in the East with easy access and historic railroad structures, Berea is your place. Thanks again to alcheng1000 for sharing! Enjoy!

Join the conversation! Add a comment, question or suggestion in the “Leave A Comment” section. Also, show your appreciation to our video contributors by LIKING and SUBSCRIBING to their videos.

Now, go watch some trains!

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RVOTD: Throwback Thursday – CSX Y-101 on the Hamilton Belt Line – 2008

Today’s Railfan Video of the Day takes us back to 2008 when CSX train Y-101 still made regular trips to the Champion Paper mill in Hamilton, Ohio. Today, the mill is closed and the rails are gone. The City of Hamilton is considering turning the old right-of-way into a recreational trail.

It was late Summer 2008 when I found myself on Hamilton’s west side with a digital camcorder, a little time, and the luck of knowing that train Y-101 was en route to Woods Yard, where CSX interchanged cars with the Great Miami Railway, and later US Rail, which switched the Champion Paper – later Smart Paper – Hamilton Mill along the Great Miami River. The Hamilton Belt Railway was incorporated in 1896 and shipped its first railcar from the Champion Paper Mill, the line’s largest customer, in November 1898. The Baltimore And Ohio officially took over operations from the Cincinnati, Hamilton And Dayton Railroad in 1926.

The Hamilton Belt Railway traveled 2.9 miles from Belt Junction on the B&O Indianapolis Subdivision (near the intersection of Millville Avenue and Edgewood Avenue) to the Champion mill on the west bank of the Great Miami River. The line originally served numerous other customers, including Butler County Lumber and American Frog And Switch, but by the late 1980’s Champion was the line’s sole remaining customer.

On this summer day in 2008, I parked at the former Wilson Pool site on Cleveland Avenue and hiked up the tracks toward the small trestle over Two Mile Creek, about 150 yards west of the Cleveland Avenue grade crossing, and waited. This section of the line bordered on the Cliffview Outdoor Education Center, essentially a protected wooded area owned by Hamilton City Schools and used for hiking and naturalist field trips. Therefore, even though it is within city limits, it feels like one is in the desolate woodlands.

The lead unit was CSX GP-40-2 #6105, which likely ran this line in Chessie System days as #4206. The second unit, GP-40-2 #6038, sporting the newer “Yellow Nose 3” CSX scheme, was also a likely veteran of the Belt Line as Chessie System as #4138. As Y-101 approached Cleveland Avenue it stopped, giving me a chance to reposition my shot.

I scampered down the embankment and into the shallow waters of Two Mile Creek itself to shoot the next segment. It took great discipline for me to maintain this shot as I became a popular target for mosquitos and flies! Oh, the sacrifices we make for our art! At the end of the train was ex-Seaboard Coast Line GP-38-2 #2519, ex-SCL #519, wearing the earlier “Yellow Nose Touch-Up” scheme. Three EMD’s – three CSX paint schemes. An additional locomotive was not uncommon as Y-101 was required to make numerous reverse moves, including the long run from Woods Yard back to the east side of the Great Miami River.

The train stopped again briefly, so I climbed out of the creek bed and back to the tracks briefly before exiting the woods. I hoped to get close to the front end before the train resumed, but it was not to be. I was left with only a distant shot as the train disappeared into Woods Yard. This was the last time I would catch a train on this segment of the Hamilton Belt Railway.

Enjoy!

Join the conversation! Add a comment, question or suggestion in the “Leave A Comment” section. Also, show your appreciation to our video contributors by LIKING and SUBSCRIBING to their videos.

Now, go watch some trains!

 

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RVOTD: Hump Day – Union Pacific Bailey Yard Time Lapse

It has become a tradition on Railfan Video of the Day to feature switching and yard activities on Wednesdays – “Hump Day”. Since our audience has grown more than tenfold since this first “Hump Day” post [Thank You!], we thought it would be appropriate to revisit this one today in honor of achieving our best day ever in terms of page views, Facebook views, “Likes” and blog subscriptions yesterday!


What could be more appropriate for the “hump day” edition of Railfan Video of the Day than a hump yard? And specifically, the largest railway yard in the world: Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard in North Platte, Nebraska.

Arejay54 shared this incredible footage he captured with a time lapse camera. Enjoy!

According to Union Pacific, Bailey Yard covers 2,850 acres and is eight miles in length. An average of four cars per minute traverse one of the yard’s two “humps” and roll into one of the yard’s 114 bowl tracks for sorting and classification into trains.

An average of 139 trains per day pass through the yard, and Bailey Yard’s on-site repair and maintenance facilities handle 9,000 locomotives per month and replace more than 10,000 rail car wheels annually.

Truly amazing!

Now, go watch some trains!

By Ammodramus (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Golden Spike Tower and Visitors Center, Bailey Yard, North Platte, Nebraska. By Ammodramus (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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