February 15, 2009 driving trip
        Today I set out to view some rail lines I've missed in previous trips. Unfortunately many of these are in the far northwestern part of Ohio so just getting there takes 2-2.5 hours. It doesn't make much sense to make this trip in winter when there's less sunlight, but by doing so I can find abandoned RofWs more easily, and there's generally less traffic on the roads. For those who wish to follow along a SPV Rail Atlas and a Delorme Gazetteer are helpful. For those not interested the "delete" button is available.

        I started in a town called Metamora just south of the Ohio-Michigan border, about 25 miles west of Toledo. The SPV shows that the Ohio & Morenci once moved east-west through this area. I had never heard of them but if you do a search online several references pop up. I drove on state route 120 west and noted a barely discernable RofW on the north side of the road. What gave it away was the extra space between the road and the sidewalk in spots, plus a very slight hump in the land. Just ahead is a spot on the SPV called Champion where the O&M crossed the newer alignment of the I&O (GTW, DT&I). A grain elevator sits on the north side of the road. Also on the property is a small engine house for the grain elevator switcher which very well could be sitting on the RofW of the O&M. Several cars were sitting at the elevator.

        I then followed the I&O south. This is the newer alignment for this line which was completed I believe in the mid to late 1920s. At one time, Henry Ford intended to electrify the line all the way to Springfield, but it never went further than Flat Rock. I stopped at a road crossing at MP 67 where the line was welded 112 lb, 1936 vintage rail. Overall the line looked to be in decent shape (probably 40 mph max). I also noted a distinct architectural touch to the bridges along the line.



        The I&O crosses the NS (CR, NYC, LS&MS) "Water Level Route" on a fill at Delta. An interchange track exists between the two lines. I've ventured to Delta on a previous trip so I won't repeat everything (eventually I'm going to post all of my trips on my web page, but that's another project). I drove on Rt. 2 to the north side of Wauseon (also visited on a previous trip). I then headed north to follow the original alignment of the DT&I north. Finding the RofW was a bit difficult as it has been plowed over in most spots, but on occasion it does resurface. The SPV states that this line and the O&M cross at Denson, but the actual junction I think was a bit north of Rt. 120.

Here's a link to a view of the old DT&I near Denson.


        A bit west of Denson is Fayette which was an endpoint of a NYC route (ex-LSMS). This joined up a few miles north of here with the Lenawee County Railroad, another railroad I've never heard of but again an internet search yields several sites with information. Fayette is also the end point of the dinky Pioneer & Fayette Railroad which was in existence up until 1992 (more on this later). In Fayette, the NYC RofW is barely discernable on the north side of town and cut through on a NE/SW tangent. The SPV doesn't clearly state if the P&F and the NYC route met each other in Fayette, but if they did it would have been on the west side of town on what is now U.S. 20. In fact it looks like the P&F RofW sat on the north side of U.S. 20.

        I also got this photo of the fire station in Fayette. It certainly has shades of "train depot" in its construction.


        A little further west is the NS (ex-Wabash) line which originates near Detroit. I took a look at this line last year  on a previous trip. The road crossing I encountered was at the the control point East End Alvordton which is the signal for the east end of the siding. The main track here is welded 115 lb, 1949 vintage rail, and is governed by searchlight signals. A north-south Penn Central (CCC&STL) line also crossed the Wabash somewhere around here. It kind of looks like the Wabash/PC lines crossed at the East End Alvordton signal but this is up for debate. Here is a view of the location. The trees on the right might be where the PC line crossed.


        Right about the middle of the Alvordton siding is a road crossing which will take you to what was the last remaining piece of the P&F. The P&F joined the NS line at Franklin Jct. which is marked on the SPV map. Wikipedia has a nice blurb about the P&F. Here are a couple views of what is left of the P&F RofW.



        A little further south is West End Alvordton control point, also governed by searchlight signals. The rail here is welded 115 lb., 1953 vintage rail.


        I continued to zig-zag the Wabash line southwest. Just beyond Kunkle is a hand-throw switch off of the main. The second track simply looks like a siding, but following it leads you to a massive distribution center which the line goes right into. This is a Menards distribution center which was just recently opened. My coworker John indicated that he had a car go there but the billing was messed up because the customer stated it was in Holiday City, OH, but NS said it was Montpelier, OH (Holiday City is correct). I couldn't see any cars on site but the spur looked shiny. A bit further south is Mode which is a control point from single to double track. The sign "Mode" still is painted on the doghouse at the location. Certainly is an odd name.


        A bit further south is Montpelier, again a city I documented in a previous trip. At the east end of the NS yard was NS 6161. A quick trip through town revealed that additional work had been done to the large depot in town. I also expected to see lots of cars stored in the yard in town but there was nothing other than a few grain cars and a handful of auto parts cars. A few auto parts cars were in storage on a small piece of Wabash trackage on the east side of town but that's it.

        The Wabash line splits about a mile west of Montpelier at an unnamed location on the SPV. The southern route heads to Butler, IN, the northern route heads basically due west into Indiana and doesn't really hit any larger locale. Interestingly, the "distant approach" signal for the line split has the name "West Pergo" on the signal doghouse. This is not marked on the SPV. The site http://www.fwarailfan.net/iner.htm has some good information about the operator Indiana and Northeastern Railroad.


        I continued to head west through Edon which has a nice sized grain elevator and finally to the Ohio-Indiana state line. Since I was so close I checked out Butler, Indiana where the southerly Wabash route crosses the NS Water Level Route. I'm guessing this junction was modified as a part of the Conrail split so that trains out of Detroit could take a right turn toward Chicago at this junction. The diamonds are fairly accessible and looks to be a decent place to watch the action. I was lucky enough to catch a train heading south off the Wabash to the NYC line.


        Butler also has the distinction of being the western end of what used to be the longest tangent mainline trackage in the country (Toledo is the eastern end). The tangent trackage is just short of 69 miles long!

        I then started back east following the NYC line, one of my primary objectives on this trip. I first stopped at the Ohio-Indiana line to photograph the state line marker on the railroad (MP 355.2).



        After passing through Edgerton, I came across an overpass around what's called Mina on the SPV. There are two sets of bridge abutments over the road thus showing that the line used to be three or four tracks wide. Next to the RofW are a couple structures which kind of look like railroad buildings, but then again I could not tell. An old mobile home trailer was also trashed at this location. The online satellite images are not very clear here so I can't tell exactly what's going on here, and due to the local residents nearby I decided not to stop. A little east of here I saw the first of many trains on this busy line. It's also incredible to see just how wide the RofW is here. Just imagine the amount of traffic needed to have a four track mainline!

        The structures in question above are on the far left side in the first photo below.



        Continuing east I saw at least two more trains before I reached the city of Bryan which has the nickname of "The Fountain City". Bryan is also the site of the historical marker noting that the North American railroad land speed record was set at this location in 1966 at 183.85 mph! Check out http://www.midwesthsr.org/pdfs/M-497online.pdf for a document detailing the event.


        Near where the speed record was set is an "Amshack" station, old freight station, and small yard for local traffic. The rail in front of the station is welded 140 lb., 1971 vintage rail. A couple GP38-2s were tied up by the freight house.






        While here I saw at least another 2-3 trains pass, including a westbound pig train which seemed to be attempting to set their own speed record (actually probably was going 70 mph). Can anyone confirm if NS allows the pig trains to run 70 mph on this route?


        Just east of the station by 1/8 mile is where the PC line mentioned earlier crossed the NYC line. Two "transfer" tracks make a wye of sorts on the south side of the tracks. More cars for local freight were parked on the wye and siding tracks. I followed through town what was left of the PC line. Rail on the "main" was jointed 105 lb., 1923 vintage rail, with 90 lb., 1918 rail on a spur track. This line extends for about 1/2 mile ending at the Titan Tire plant.
        Just east of Bryan is the site of a horrible train collision which occurred just over 10 years ago in the very early morning hours of 1/17/1999. A westbound pig train had slowed down due to seeing an approach indication, and because the fog was so thick the crew could not see the next signal indication until right on top of the signal so they slowed down expecting to proceed at restricted speed. A westbound mail train behind this train sped west rear-ending the other train at 58 mph (the other train was moving around 8 mph). An eastbound train was also sideswiped in the incident. The crew of the second westbound train died in the accident. For those who want to refresh their memories, check out http://ncsp.tamu.edu/reports/NTSB/ntsbHarzard/RAR0101.pdf which has the entire accident investigation, along with a couple incredible collision photos. The trains involved were operating in thick fog, and it was believed that had all crews been calling signals that the accident may have been avoided (at the time Conrail did not require that crews call signals over the radio). When NS took over the line as a part of the CR split, crews were immediately required to call signals on the line.

        Here's a photo of the 338 signal. This is approximately where the first train's head end was when it was rear ended by the other train. The collision took place about a mile east of here.


        A little further east is Stryker which has a nicely preserved depot next to the main tracks.





        Continuing east the next sizeable town is Archibold. This is the home of Souder wood products which I'm sure most people have either bought or received second hand a piece of Souder furniture. The massive factory on the east side of town I'm sure receives and possibly generates a sizeable amount of traffic for NS. Continuing east eventually I hit Wauseon again where I stopped at the train station to watch an eastbound train and plot my next course.


        Traveling south out of town on state route 108 I headed towards Napoleon, again paralleling the original alignment of the DT&I. Same as before, the RofW is barely visible in spots, but if you look hard enough can be found. Once I reached Napoleon I decided to save some time and bypass town on U.S. 24. At the exit for Okolona I got off the road and crossed the Maumee & Western in Okolona. This is the third time I've crossed the line here, and I think the track has looked worse each time I've crossed it.

        After paralleling the flooded Maumee River for a bit, I checked out the Maumee & Western in town again. The main objective was to check out the diamonds with CSX and verify the type and their condition. After documenting this and the fact that the MAW trackage is still extremely crappy (how they stay on the track is beyond me).




        On the east side of Defiance are a couple of large customers, one looks like a steel mill and the other an autoparts supplier. A small yard also parallels the B&O main. An unknown CSX locomotive was coupled to caboose CSXT 900001 on the spur into the plants. Further east is Holgate where the B&O crossed a N&W (ex-NKP, Toledo St. Louis & Western) line. A depot/freight office sits on an angle at the former diamond location and is used by CSX MofW.


        Continuing east I passed a couple westbound trains, and was between one eastbound which I already saw, and another which I would end up playing leap frog with for some time.



        Eventually I reached Hamler where the B&O and the current alignment of the I&O (DT&I) crossed each other. This used to be the end of double track as you move west on the B&O, but the second main was restored when the route was rebuilt in 1998 and 1999. The CSX parade of trains continued as I drove east, and eventually ran out of useable light when I reached Deshler. At this point I called it a day and headed home.


        Comments, questions welcome.

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