Driving Trip -
August 20, 2011
click on the thumbnails for a larger image
overdue for a driving trip, my former co-worker John and I set out to
cover some new territory for both of us in southeastern Ohio. While
these lines would be better searched when the leaves are off the trees,
this was a trip we had been discussing for literally years so we
decided to do it anyway in spite of the full foliage. To aid in our
navigation, we've brought along the invaluable Steam Powered Video
(SPV) map, a GPS, Delorme Gazetteer (just in case), and a set of track
charts from the mid 1980s for our area.
headed down Rt. 23 from Columbus and heard a NS EB train on the radio
following us. Instead of doing a chase, we let the train chase us by
setting up in Circleville at the location of where the diamonds used to
be between NS (ex-N&W) and what's left of the PC (PRR)
The first photo shows how the PC line would have crossed. The grain
elevator in the background is active but the tracks beside it were very
rusty. Eventually the EB arrived at our location. The lead unit's K5LA
whistle sounded like the K5LA should sound - melodious and in tune,
something the newer K5LA whistles do not sound like. Many also sound
overblown which might be affecting pitch.
main sits between the grain elevator and the white building on the
EB train at Circleville. The track to
the right connects with the PC line.
NS had a crane parked by the old PRR station. It looks like it has
received a paint job recently.
Crane on the PC main.
The PRR station is in decent shape but
could use some TLC.
lot of ground to cover, we headed south to Chillicothe and started at
the small yard office on the old B&O main. A mother/slug set
Chessie (B&O) caboose were tied up at the office. Our first
objective was to follow the B&O Parkersburg Sub. main from
Chillicothe to as far as it went which showed on the map as being Red
Diamond. Starting at the yard office, we headed east to JD Cabin where
the CSX (ex-C&O) Northern Sub. crosses the B&O main via
overpass. A fairly steep transfer track sits on the west side of the
C&O main. C&O signals still stand at the control point.
memory serves me correctly the track arrangement here has changed.
atlas shows the B&O main running for another couple miles
ends at Schooleys. After a brief detour to look at Vauces on the
C&O, we somewhat by accident catch back up with the B&O
and cross it at Schooley Station Road. The line here is welded 122 lb.
1979 vintage rail. Here's a look at the line at the Schooley's
B&O main at Schooleys looking
west toward Chillicothe. Track speed was 55 mph here.
B&O main at Schooleys looking
east. Schooley Station Road is on the left.
also find the reason for the line's existence - a rather large complex
with a spur into the property. It appears that nothing has been over
the spur in some time, yet the main didn't look all that rusty. There's
nothing to identify what it is/was, and the satellite maps don't give a
clue, though Google's photos do show cars on the property. Here's a
the spur, first looking back toward the main, then looking into the
property. The spur's 85 lb. rail is over 100 years old.
Spur east of Schooleys looking back
toward the B&O main.
Spur east of Schooleys looking into the
property. Things look abandoned.
The rail on the spur is old!
continued east and found the line just east of West Jct. which, after
crossing it on the overpass, caused us to do a double take as to what
we were seeing. Were we seeing the B&O main or the CH&D
which joins at West Jct.? John thought he saw a RofW about a mile back,
so we circled back and then looked at the SPV map which showed that we
had found the old B&O RofW just east of Vigo. This begins a
of how to pronounce this town's name. Is it "Vigo" with a short "I", or
"Vigo" with a long "I", or "Vigo" with a long "E"? I think we settled
with the short "I", but we surmised that the pronunciation of the town
probably has changed over the years.
the B&O main was abandoned from Schooleys to West Jct. in the
late 1980s (my friend Whit says 1989) in favor of the connection at JD
Cabin and switch at RA Jct. The C&O/CH&D route is a
little shorter and it eliminated a redundant route which supported
minimal traffic. During our short back track to look at the B&O
main we head
and cross the ex-B&O/CH&D main at Richmondale. This
branches off at RA Jct. on the C&O south of Chillicothe. Here's
look at the line in Richmondale. The distant approach is for the
C&O main at RA Jct. U.S. Rail (formerly Great Miami Railway)
interchanges cars at Vauces and operates the trackage from RA Jct.
eastward on the B&O.
CH&D main at Richmondale looking
west toward RA Jct.
CH&D main at Richmondale looking
east toward West Jct.
our circle we join back up with the B&O main that we saw
just east of West Jct. where the B&O and CH&D mains
actual West Jct. is in a field not close to the roads but the satellite
maps don't show that there's much to see. We then follow the
eastward. My familiarity of the B&O main is minimal, except
know it was signaled, good for 55 mph freight, and hosted the
Trailer Jet trains. It's also a fairly curvy route in spots. It's
interesting to note how much of it was single
track at the time the line was abandoned in 1987. There are very few
of double track and only a handful of sidings, however the RofW is
broad enough for two tracks in many areas so my guess is that more of
it was double track years ago. Since we picked up the main at West Jct.
the pole line has been pretty much non-existent.
The line has also long been the subject of many
debates as to whether CSX was not thinking long term when they severed
the route in the late 1980s. The route was attractive for cross-country
business because its gateway to the west was at St. Louis. Chicago was
and still is a bottleneck for freight. And while intermodal was
certainly around in the mid 1980s, its revenue stream and profit
margins were significantly smaller than what they are now. Few had the
long term vision of COFC being the new dominant money maker for the
railroads. And probably even fewer ever figured the east coast ports
would become as important for import/export freight as the west coast
ports. In today's intermodal-heavy market, the line makes perfect
sense. But like so many other inventions, its utility was not needed at
the time it was available, and as a result it was discarded.
passing through (Rachael) Ray, we arrive at Byer which I always thought
called "Byers" since the railroad station name is "Byers Jct.". I stand
corrected! The SPV atlas shows that an ex-B&O (CH&D)
breaks off the B&O main to the south towards Coalton. You can
we are in coal mining country! We circled the dinky town but didn't see
any sign of a line, and for good reason. It's nearly impossible to see
on the Google or Bing satellite maps. But the old TerraServer (now MSR)
maps has a 1995 view which faintly shows the line. Click this link
to check it out. The B&O main is in the center running more or
left to right. You'll see a profile change in the trees pulling away
from the line to the southeast of the main, then curving straight south
by State Route 327.
noting the older crossing signals at this location, we soon encountered
our first GPS blunder. The GPS showed that (Hugh) Jackman Road on the
north side of the main parallels and crosses it a few times. So we
start down the narrow but partially paved road. We soon cross the main
and note the rock cut made so the line can pass through.
B&O main east of Byer needs a
weed sprayer train! Date of rail is visible on both rails.
Cut through the rock for the B&O
main east of Byers Jct.
Then we cross
under a deck girder bridge, and then the road becomes gravel with lots
of gravel "pot holes". The road is in a very scenic valley and
parallels a creek which appears to have taken over the road in spots.
The GPS notes a fork in the road and to take a right. Well... that's
not going to happen folks. The fork to the right is overgrown (and no
longer crosses the track), and to the left is a dead end, which we then
both said at the same time, "Why did they wait to put the "Dead end"
sign way back here???". So a quick route reversal puts us back on Rt.
we get back on track and parallel the line to Hamden. Just west of town
is a wye with a line splitting off the B&O main to the
Eventually we'll follow this line south, but our attention is drawn to
the impressive collection of second generation EMD locomotives in
storage at the small yard on the east side of town. Also included in
the mix is a B&O caboose still in its as-delivered B&O
It is stenciled "Owned by Dwight Jones" so it looks like Dwight has
another project on his hands. A few recently spotted freight cars are
also here which will soon prove to be a key observation later on our
Impressive lineup of power at Hamden.
Also note the old BN trailer on the right.
Another view of the power stored in
This unit has a massive fuel tank!
A few 4-axle units were also among those
stored in Hamden.
This caboose is still in its
"as delivered" paint from the factory.
leaving Hamden, John notes that the SPV shows a C&O line
the east side of town. The RofW is nothing but a grass mound, but the
satellite map shows it fairly well. In this image there are three lines
which more or less parallel each other from southwest to northeast. The
far left line is Rt. 93, the middle line is the B&O, and the
line is the C&O RofW. Toward the bottom is Rt. 347 which the
C&O parallels southward. Going north the line will eventually
up with another C&O line at Dundas. http://msrmaps.com/image.aspx?T=1&S=11&Z=17&X=922&Y=10840&W=3&qs=|hamden|oh|
mainline plugged with cars and equipment we question whether there's
anything going on further east on the B&O main. Only one way to
find out, so we continue to follow the line. A mile or so east of town
we pass the first of two potential rail customers. A nice sized lumber
company had a spur on the property but we couldn't tell if it was in
use. Continuing east we reach Dundas where the B&O and the
north-south C&O Pomeroy Subdivision (ex-HV) crossed. This is
line that veers to the south just outside of Logan. The old C&O
RofW is visible but is rapidly fading away.
here the SPV map lists a station name of (Bobby) Vinton but this is not
listed on the old B&O track chart I have from 1984. In fact the
town of Vinton is actually about 10 miles to the south. The track chart
gives no indication of where this might be, though my best guess is
around MP 134 where Vinton Station Road crosses the tracks. It's also
possible this is a SPV map error.
we reach Red Diamond which the SPV shows as the end of the line. The
track ends within the limits of the Austin Powder Company which is some
sort of explosives manufacturer. This is where the observation of the
cars in Hamden comes into play. One of the cars was a covered hopper
with a hazmat placard, so our guess is that they receive cars of
nitrous oxide for the explosives. The area around the plant is fenced
so there is no way to access the last 1/2 mile or so of the track, but
the satellite maps show a switch back of sorts into the plant. The end
of the track would be around MP 136.7. While here we see this young
deer on her own, observing the "No Trespassing" sign. The B&O
sits roughly on the other side of the fence in front of the trees.
This young fawn is observing the "no
trespassing sign". The B&O RofW sits between the fence and the
trees in the background.
head back to Hamden and take a left to follow the line from the wye
previously mentioned south toward Wellston. The old track chart lists
this as the Portsmouth Subdivision. For a location far from anything
major this is a complicated area of trackage. The SPV shows lines from
the B&O, DT&I, and CH&D in this area. There
used to be
several coal mines and the railroads appeared to have done their best
to serve the area. Unlike the B&O main, the branch line has a
of weeds growing on the RofW.
arrive in Wellston which has an annual Coal Festival. This begs the
question - why isn't the Coal Festival held in nearby Coalton? Does
Coalton host the Festival of the Wells? Just
wondering. Anyway, at Wellston the B&O and the C&O
in from the north. The B&O is on the west side of Rt. 93 and
C&O is on the east side, thought it appears the two lines
ran right next to each other through town. This theory is supported by
the rather large depot which still stands with train signal.
This probably was built as a combination depot given the station's
proximity to multiple rail lines, but I believe was built by Hocking
The large Wellston depot still stands
along with its train order signal. The existing main track is on the
left side of the trees on the left. It's likely the DT&I route
ran between the trees and the depot.
The SPV also shows a presence of the DT&I but we found no
it and I struggle to see anything on the satellite photos. Just south
of the station a line diverts off to the southeast with a half dozen or
so coal hoppers on the line which, judging by the rusty wheels, have
been there a while. The track chart shows this as the Buckeye Branch,
and the SPV suggests this is what's left of a B&O
line eastward to access several mine locations. Today the line seems to
be out of service beyond the hoppers though the track is in place. The
satellite photos show the line fanning out to a couple businesses. I
found this photo online which shows the branch and covered hoppers.
biggest employer is no longer coal mining but rather food processing. A
large General Mills plant sits on the south side of town and receives
try to follow the B&O to (Phil) Jackson but make a navigational
miss the entire line from Wellston to Jackson. Even with the GPS and a
human we can still make mistakes! As we drove between the two towns on
SR 788 we noticed bits and pieces of a RofW in a creek valley. Then
when we came into Jackson the active B&O line (or what we
was of B&O heritage but the track chart shows from just before
Coalton to Jackson as C&O trackage) came in from the north and
the right of us. This contradicts what we should have seen according to
the SPV map, but it's clear that the SPV map has a glaring error in
that it shows the abandoned DT&I line we saw in service, and
B&O line from Ironton Jct. to Jackson via Coalton abandoned.
Ironton Jct. is where the B&O and DT&I split on the
of Wellston and went there separate ways towards Jackson.
quite evident that, like Wellston, Jackson probably was a fairly busy
rail town when the coal mines in the area were active. DT&I had
larger presence than B&O did, as can still be seen by the old
DT&I shops which still stand in part on the northeast side of
It looks like the center of most of the action was just east of the
intersection of East Broadway Street and Water Street where the
and DT&I crossed at what probably was a somewhat complex track
arrangement. The SPV shows this as "B&O Jct." which is probably
DT&I name for it since the old Chessie track chart doesn't have
this name listed. The more or less east west DT&I RofW is the
mainline that stretched from Greggs down to the company's namesake town
of Ironton. Today, only the B&O line still is in place, but the
DT&I RofWs are still evident. The DT&I depot is now a
tackle store. A depot built by the Wellston & Jackson Belt
Railway (C&O subsidiary) and a C&O caboose also stand
along the RofW.
The book "Ohio's Railway Age in Postcards" has a picture of this depot.
What's interesting is that it appears the existing track is actually
the old interurban RofW!
This depot in Jackson was built by the
Wellston & Jackson Belt Railway, an electric interurban
subsidiary of the C&O. The Jackson water tower in the
background pays homage to the town's apple heritage.
This C&O extended vision caboose
was built in July 1970 and retains its "as delivered" factory paint
south of the depot a switch splits off to the east. The track chart
shows this as "Huron Switch" but doesn't give any other information.
The SPV shows the line but has it abandoned. Obviously the SPV is wrong
(again) since we can see that it isn't so we follow it and discover
that it is in place to serve a stone company. John notes that this is
relatively new business which is confirmed by the new rail and switch
to the plant and newer crossing gates at a nearby road crossing. What's
also interesting is that the part of the main that serves the business
is actually the old DT&I main to Greggs. This is a rather
circuitous route to get to this customer considering the old main RofW
through town is a much more direct route, but this branch line was
probably still in place thus it got the funds.
Cars with power spotted at customer in
Jackson. This spur is on the northeast side of Jackson on the
getting some grub, we check out the main just south of the Rt. 32
overpass. Two manufacturers sit on the south side of the road along the
B&O main. One company, a cabinet manufacturer, is in business
does not appear to have a switch into the plant, the other company is
not open but does have a switch. Go figure! On the east side of the
main, a spur breaks east toward a warehouse. John and I note this
caboose, but more importantly see a 60' hi cube boxcar spotted. It
appears this is an outside warehouse for the cabinet company.
This caboose was spotted at a warehouse
on the east side of Jackson. It does appear to get used, though it also
gets abused judging by the broken window.
map shows this line in place to Fire Brick. Years ago when we both
worked for a logistics company we actually traced a car which either
went to or came from Fire Brick, so we decided to see if this the map
was accurate. The answer is, "Yes, but...". Yes the line is in place to
Fire Brick, but there are no active customers along the line. In fact
the roadbed is starting to get compromised in a few locations by the
creek that parallels it in a few spots. An interesting note is that
from Jackson south to Fire Brick (and beyond) the SPV map shows this as
joint B&O/DT&I trackage. Here's a look at the line a
couple miles south of Jackson.
Here's the main a few miles south of
Jackson looking south. Track is in place but hasn't seen a steel wheel
in a few years.
Here's the main a few miles south of
Jackson looking north toward Jackson. Weed sprayer train
town of Oak Hill the line parallels Rt. 93 through town. The town keeps
the RofW mowed and the track looks like it is in service, but once you
get south of town it becomes overgrown again. A red caboose also sits
near the main in a small park. Continuing south on Rt.
140 we eventually find the end of the track at a small business. The
main is basically the spur to the business. Just south of the business
the track is gone but we can see where the RofW used to cross Rt. 140
to something called "York's Switch" on the track chart. Here is the end
of the line.
This is the last customer at the end of
the track in Fire Brick. The track may extend a bit beyond this
building but it is heavily overgrown.
at Bloom Jct. splits with the B&O heading west to Portsmouth,
the DT&I continuing south to Ironton. We decided to follow the
B&O RofW to Sciotoville via Rt. 140 which more or less
the RofW for most of the way. While we didn't follow it, the
line eventually ducks under the CSX (C&O) Northern Subdivision
south of a point called MP3 on the C&O. The B&O then
west into Sciotoville and ends in town which we did take a look at. I
think at one time there may have been some truck to rail transfers
taking place but the line looked quite rusty. This MSR link shows the
B&O going west to east with the C&O moving north to
Limeville bridge is just out of sight at the bottom. http://msrmaps.com/image.aspx?T=1&S=11&Z=17&X=843&Y=10731&W=3&qs=|sciotoville|oh|
reached the beautiful Ohio River (which is redundant since "Ohio" means
"beautiful river"), the scanner, which had been silent for most of the
past couple hours, came to life as we heard a train call a signal at
Limeville. It sounded like it was a westbound so we headed to the river
up close to the massive Limeville bridge. The Summer 2011 issue of the
C&O Historical Society Magazine has a neat article about this
area written in 1975 by the late Gene Huddleston. Several of his
photos, mostly from the steam era, accompany the article. He also
mentions the B&O line in Sciotoville that we noted above still
As we drove down the narrow
road next to the river we see the westbound begin to cross the bridge
so we quickly set up for a photo. As the train exits the north end of
the bridge, I press my camera shutter but nothing happens. I quickly
resize the shot and do it again. Nothing. Hmmm... why it is not
working? Upon further investigation, I discover that somehow
timer function got turned on. Argh! So I turned it off and took a photo
of the train moving away from us.
One that got away thanks to my haste to
get the camera set up. Train is heading north and has just crossed the
main span of the Limeville bridge.
paying homage to the Limeville bridge (and envying the guy who has a
front row seat of the river and the bridge... from his in-ground
pool!), we head east to Portsmouth to check things out. We drive by the
yard which had a couple UP units mixed in with the NS power. We also
notice a long string of QTTX heavy duty flats, presumably in long term
storage. We then follow the line through town which is still mostly
governed by N&W position light signals, though one of the
in the yard had been converted.
nothing pending, we fuel up the car and decide to follow another
dormant piece of track - the NS (N&W) Peavine route. This line
been blocked at the east end just north of Portsmouth for a number of
years as a through route. I believe the big bridge over the Scioto
River has some structural issues as well but I cannot remember if this
true. I followed this line a few years ago on one of my driving trips
back on 11/14/2008, but John has not seen it up close.
Here's the big bridge over the Scioto
River valley just north of Portsmouth. This carries the NS
(N&W) Peavine route which is out of service at this end of the
line. Photo taken 11-22-2008.
So we parallel
it as closely as we can which at times is easy, others is not. Most of
the signals and pole line are still standing along the route. In fact
if you didn't notice the heavy layer of rust on the rails you would
think the line was still in service considering how good of shape it is
still in, and it is absent of any weeds or other vegetation. NS must
use super-industrial strength weed killer!
Things have not changed in McDermott,
Ohio since this photo was taken on 11-22-2008. The pole line is still
in place as is the heavy welded rail mainline track. Will it ever see a
revenue train again?
Signals still stand at several locations
along the Peavine, waiting to be used again. Photo taken 11-22-2008.
miles east of Peebles is a decent sized quarry operation but it does
not appear to have rail access. Thus it appears the furthest east
online customer is a railroad tie maker in Peebles. A siding between
the quarry and Peebles is used to run the power around the local's
cars. As we drive further west one thing I notice that is missing from
my previous trip to see the Peavine is the lack of railcars stored in
the sidings along the route. Last time every siding had something in
it, mostly intermodal spine cars. Today everything was empty. Finally,
the last spot we looked at on the Peavine was in Winchester where a
grain elevator has a spur on to their property. The elevator and spur
are deep on the property so we can't see if they have any cars, but
John points out the small switcher or trackmobile they have to switch
cars on site.
head towards home but make a few stops along the way. First, we stop in
Hillsboro which used to have a N&W and B&O reach it
west. The N&W line turned south to Sardinia, and the
turned northwest to Blanchester. The B&O line is long gone and
N&W line was pulled up around 1980 or so. We struggled to find
remnant of either line, but do eventually find a grassy mound on the
west side that curves into town and ends at an old abandoned lumber
yard. As it turns out where we found the mound is where the B&O
N&W lines met as they entered the town. There are still two
in place inside the lumberyard everything else is gone.
getting a quick bite to eat for the trip back we continue north and
encounter the western half of the B&O mainline across southern
in Leesburg. The line is active here and serves the a candle maker in
town. It's probably the most pleasantly fragrant location in this part
of the state! Several tank cars were spotted at the plant so things are
looking good here. For a few years this was the furthest east customer
on this line but now no longer is now that Johnson Controls is back
online in Greenfield.
continue north and make a quick stop in Washington C.H. to see if
anything of interest was going on. Other than a few cars spotted in
town nothing was happening. This is one of the few times we've stopped
through and not seen any power sitting by the diamonds.
that we were officially out of light and headed back home. When we got
back to my house, John and I guessed how many miles we had driven
(according to the GPS). His guess was 392, mine was 420. The GPS said
398. Good thing I didn't bet him any money.
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