Driving Trip -
October 23, 2016
Note: click on the thumbnails for a larger image
This is the latest installment in the
of myself and my former coworker John. For those familiar with these
trips, we hope you enjoy our latest adventure. For those unfamiliar, we
hope you'll tolerate my ramblings about nothing in
SPV Rail Atlas of Ohio will come in handy for
Our schedules this year seemingly
jive to get a driving trip in. After rescheduling several times, we
finally arrived on October 23rd for our next journey. Coming up with an
itinerary with new places to see in our great state is getting more
difficult. As Johnny Cash once sang, "I've been everywhere..." Well,
we haven't been everywhere in Ohio, but just about every rail line in
state has been followed on one of our trips. The notable exception are
some of the lines in far northeast Ohio which take several hours of
doing nothing but driving to get there. So earlier in the week
John and I discussed
possible options and
he mentioned a spot not far from the Honda plant in Marysville as a
possible spot to see. So taking this as a spot to plan from, I came up
with a trip which started us in Marysville.
picked up John who was still groggy and in disbelief at the Buckeyes'
lost to Penn State the night before. I went to bed at halftime knowing
that if I stayed up I would get very little sleep so I didn't know the
outcome until the morning. I noted to John that it sounded as if Q123
was coming up the CSX (ex-CR) Columbus Line Subdivision which is just a
mile or so from his house. So we drove over and waited about five
minutes to see Q123 fly by us. The Leonardsburg detector said "60 mph"
which at least temporarily reassured John and I that CSX had not
relegated this low traffic line to "branch status" and reduced the
Q123 eastbound passes the signal at CP 111 at track speed on the CSX
Columbus Line Sub.
We then made a bee line straight
west from Delaware to Marysville, picking up another former Conrail
route, the CSX Scottslawn Subdivision (ex T&OC) which runs from
Columbus to Ridgeway where it becomes the Toledo Branch up to Toledo.
We made a quick drive by the elevator in town which was absent of cars
but did show signs of life. A little further north the line used to
cross the CR (ex-Erie) Dayton Branch from Marion to Dayton at Peoria
which has the railroad station name of Gar (more on this later). Today
about three miles of the Erie main exists. To the west of the
main is a couple miles of track that lead to the Honda Marysville
and to the east a mile or so piece of the main that
leads to a large
electric substation. This substation has increased in size since the
last time I drove out here and it appears they use the rail line to
move large pieces of equipment for the substation.
north of this location is the line John mentioned to me - a branch line
that extends from the T&OC and extends to Bellefontaine. I had
driven up here several times but never noticed it. Just north of the
County Road 125 road crossing you can see a tree line at an angle which
denotes where the line used to exist. This line was abandoned by NYC so
it has been gone for quite a while. We followed the line as closely as
we could (the Honda plant was actually built on the right of way) until
we arrived at East Liberty. John noted that he had seen photos of a
depot here so we drove into town to take a look. Sure enough, a very
precarious looking structure still sits today next to the RofW, as well
as an old mill. The book "Railroad Depots of West Central Ohio" by Mark
J. Camp notes that the depot was likely built in 1898 and that the rail
line was abandoned in 1935 (though the "Sampling of Penn Central" book
by Jerry Taylor says from Peoria to East Liberty was abandoned in 1937
and further west in 1932), so it is
amazing the structure still stands. A local feline greeted us to her
A feed mill and old depot still stand in East Liberty. Both have seen
Here is a better view of where the NYC branch line ran between
the two buildings.
The feed mill still has its sign in place despite being abandoned for
In spite being over 100 years old, the depot has weathered well being
The southeast side of the depot is largely overgrown with
Lots of junk, possibly from the old feed mill, litters the inside of
The size of the tree next to the depot gives a clue as to how long the
rail line has been gone.
This friendly feline greeted us while we checked out the depot and feed
the street from the mill is this historical marker noting that John
Garwood had built a mill near this location, and that the first post
office here was known as Garwood's Mills. This probably explains where
the railroad name "Gar" came from!
Historical marker in East Liberty, OH about John Garwood.
here westward State Route 292 basically is built on the RofW until
where it splits just south of Zanesfield. The line curves to
south on the southeast side of town and parallels County Road 5 under
Rt. 33 before it curves north into the rolling hills. This is an
topographically as to the north is hilly while to the south is a nice
wide valley where the Mad River flows. In spite of its ferocious name,
the Mad River is nothing more than a wide creek in this area.
of following the meandering RofW, we followed the Mad River valley into
West Liberty. The old CCC&STL depot has been moved from the
RofW to just off of
Rt. 68 on the north side of town and is now a business. We drove
through the grain elevator
area which is the original alignment of this former CCC&STL
The elevator was active but no cars were present. A little further west
is the relocated main which is welded 127 lb. 1954 vintage rail. Here
is the view:
Looking north on the existing G&W (ex-CCC&STL) RofW at
West Liberty, OH
Looking south on the G&W RofW at West Liberty, OH.
the north side of town we find where the old alignment of the
curves into town. The rail here is jointed 90 lb., 1915 vintage rail.
The old CCC&STL alignment looking south toward West Liberty, OH
The old CCC&STL alignment looking north toward Bellefontaine,
The grade crossing identification marker is from the Conrail era
we arrive in Bellefontaine, a town whose name is often
mispronounced by those not familiar with the area. No, it is not "bell
fontaine" (fontaine as in Vince Fontaine, the DJ in the movie
"Grease"), but rather "bell fountain." I know, how do you get
"fountain" out of "fontaine", right? Anyway, there is no disputing that
this is one of the more interesting railroad spots in Ohio today due to
relatively rugged terrain in the area. Bellefontaine is just west of
the highest point in Ohio which officially is Campbell Hill at 1,550
ft. Eastbound trains on the CSX (ex-CR, CCC&STL) Mt. Victory
Subdivision into Bellefontaine have
to face the uphill grade of up to 0.75% as well as an almost 90 degree
curve in town (I believe the westbound grade east of town is closer to
1%, however the line is fairly straight).
branch line we followed from Gar comes into Bellefontaine on the south
end of town and
meets what is left of a G&W (ex CR, CCC&StL) line from
Springfield up to Bellefontaine at a spot called Gest. Here the track
is welded 127 lb. 1952 vintage rail. We stopped here
and took a few photos of the area which now serves as a
Looking north on the existing G&W (ex-CCC&STL) RofW at
Gest (just south of Bellefontaine, OH
Looking south on the G&W RofW at Gest (just south of
Bellefontaine, OH. A rail-trail is on the right side of the tracks.
the west side of downtown Bellefontaine, all of the rail lines
converged at the aforementioned sharp curve. A large station used to
sit just north of the curve and two branch lines radiated to the
northwest, one for the T&OC line we followed from Gar, and the
other another former CCC&STL branch. Both show abandoned by
Central on the SPV map. BS Tower, a non-descript cinder block building
slowly being taken over by vegetation, still stands at the former
junction point at what is now known as CP 141. The first time I was
here was in 1997 and the north-south track seen at Gest ended just
south of the tower and still had an active NYC style signal even though
the track was physically disconnected from anything else! Here are some
photos of the area.
southwest in Bellefontaine, OH, BS Tower is in the center of the photo
behind the trees. The north-south line came in between the tower and
the building on the left. This was once a very busy place.
northwest in Bellefontaine, OH, the other T&OC and
lines would have radiated north where the trees are on the left side. A
large depot once stood where the trailer and containers are.
The trees around BS Tower are now taller than it! The north-south line
went to the left of it.
we drove into town we heard an eastbound train approaching. So we set
up at the curve in town and waited... and waited... and waited. Did the
Nope, it turns out it just was gravity doing its best to pull it back.
We hear the squeal of the wheels and then seen the locomotives which
were laying down as much sand as they had to give it traction. The
sound was awesome, but John mused it would have sounded better if it
been a quartet of GP38s in Run 8 pulling the train (I
Here are some photos of
the struggling eastbound doing something between five and 10 mph. The
third unit was not pulling so just the two lead units were doing all of
An eastbound CSX train struggles up the grade into Bellefontaine, OH.
The 3rd unit was not online
This photo shows the sand being released by the locomotive to help gain
traction on the curve and uphill grade
what seems like an eternity, the head end finally arrives at the road
crossing. The train is moving at a jogger's pace through town.
After the rear end passed
by, we heard the
eastbound give a good roll by of a westbound. As loud as the eastbound
was, the westbound sprints into town like a cat as it descends down the
hill through town.
A CSX westbound empty hopper train effortlessly glides through
We pile into the car
only to hear another meet, this time it is another eastbound struggling
up the hill. Though not quite as slow as the first train, this one also
wasn't moving very fast, either.
Another CSX eastbound fights the grade and curve as it heads into
A going away shot of the train as it heads toward the Rt. 47 overpass
trip plan had us now following the Indy Line west for a while which is
what we did. By the way, the road crossings a couple miles west of
Bellefontaine offer some of the most scenic views in the state. The
terrain is hilly, the few curves are broad yielding beautiful photos of
the RofW and surroundings. It reminds me of some of the scenery shown
in the western states. We passed through the town of De Graff which had
some cars spotted at the local agri-business. Little did we know at the
time that the spur leading off the main is the original alignment of
the RofW. It is well documented that the CCC&STL realigned the
further west in Sidney which is what yielded the infamous Big 4 bridge,
however it appears a second realignment was done between De Graff and
Sidney. The satellite maps show the old RofW hugging the south shore of
the Great Miami River then diverging south back to the current
alignment about 1/2 mile east of the diamond with the DT&I (now
G&W). Eagle-eyed John spotted the old RofW as we came into
Our guess is that this was realigned around the same time as the work
From Quincy westward to Sidney, CSX
reworked the signals to be bidirectional as part of the work done to
put in the new connector between the Indy Line and the ex-B&O
Toledo Subdivision. Just west of Quincy we hear someone calling signals
and see this eastbound train at Pemberton.
We catch this fast eastbound intermodal train at Pemberton, OH
We cris-crossed the line a few times
coasting into Sidney. We first payed homage to the massive Big 4
bridge built in 1923. I noted this on a previous trip write up that I
once worked with a guy from Sidney who said he and his
friends tee-peed the bridge in high school. Given the size of the
bridge, that would have taken a boxcar of toilet paper to accomplish!
We then drove into town looking for the original alignment of the RofW
which we found on the north end of the downtown area. The old bridge
abutments over Great Miami River are still in place.
driving the wrong way on a one-way street for a block (I apologize to
drivers who honked at me, and to my passenger John), we found the old
feed mill that has a marooned Western Maryland boxcar placed at the
building. In spite not turning a wheel in probably decades, the car
still looks pretty good.
continued to follow the line west through towns much smaller than other
cities or countries with the same name (Houston, Russia and
Versailles). At Dawn (the city, not the time reference), we did a quick
stop to look at the grain elevator at this location. John notes that
appears in one (or more) railroad books. The elevator is still there
but any remnants of a spur are long gone.
while out here in rural Ohio, John mentions that almost every house has
a Trump-Pence political sign. Little did we know that this was
indicative of how the Ohio vote would go - rural Ohio heavily in favor
of Trump and the large metro areas for Clinton. Who says the rural vote
we arrive in Ansonia where the CSX rail line used to cross a PC
(ex-CCC&STL) north-south line. Today the PC line exists south
the CSX main where it heads toward Greenville. This line is operated by
RJ Corman. CSX has a small yard just west of where the diamonds used to
be and a transfer track exists in the southwest quadrant. The train
station, in poor shape, also still stands where the diamonds used to
be. While circling
the area we hear an eastbound train approaching and watch it by.
view east at Ansonia, OH. The north-south PC line crossed where the
depot is standing. The transfer track on the right heads to Greenville.
eastbound mixed freight heads east through Ansonia, OH. The class
lights are a give-away that this is a former Conrail unit leading.
then follow the PC line south. A few miles south is where this line
crossed a branch of the CR (ex-PRR) Panhandle line at Meekers which was
abandoned in the mid-1980s. Nothing more than a tree line suggests that
this one busy line existed.
After grabbing an
average tasting lunch at Burger King (our preferred
location, Wendys, was jam-packed with
the Sunday post-church crown), we drove into Greenville to check things
out. Along with the RJ Corman line, Greenville used to also have
another ex-PRR east-west branch and a B&O (ex-D&U)
northwest-southeast line thread through town. The now RJ Corman line
crossed both lines, first the B&O on the
and then the PRR line on the southwest side where the two lines look to
have run on common trackage for a mile or so before splitting. The RJ
Corman line ends where this common trackage once existed. A switch
allows it to access a mile or so piece of the east-west PRR line that
runs to the east side of town. The east end of the PRR line is
also where RJ Corman's operations are. A nice depot still exists a
little north of the aforementioned switch which is now occupied by an
antique store. We stopped to take a few photos.
View looking north in Greenville, OH. The depot, now an antique shop,
sits next to the RJ Corman main (ex-CCC&STL).
doing a reconnaissance through town, we then followed the B&O
northwest to Union City, Ohio / Union City, Indiana. There also used to
be an interurban route which basically followed the same route to Union
City. Here are a few
photos of the trackage and tower.
view east at Union City, IN. The Ohio - Indiana border is a
east of here. The land where the signal box is once had more
The tower in Union City, IN still stands but needs a new roof.
followed the Ohio/Indiana state line road north until we met up with
another RJ Corman line (ex LE&W). The track, jointed 115 lb.,
1965 vintage rail, has a thick coating of
rust but appears to be in good shape. The line has been paved over on
the state route road crossing and vegetation covers the track so it
isn't passable in its current state. We take a few photos to document
east into Ohio (the concrete post marks the state line), the line is
overgrown. The track has been paved over at road crossing in the
Looking west into Indiana the line is rusty but looks to be in good
We then follow the line back eastward
Ft. Recovery which has a large grain elevator but no spur exists. A
little further east we find a string of tank cars in storage.
east we arrive in Celina where the RJ Corman line once crossed the PC
line mentioned in Ansonia, as well as a long gone CH&D
line. A few NKP style signals still stand along the RofW of the RJ
Corman line. The last remnant of the north-south CH&D line used
serve a grain elevator on the north end of town but it appears the
route has recently (within the past five years) been abandoned. Here is
a view where the line snakes into town.
northeast toward Celina, a NKP style signal still stands at what used
to be where a remnant of the CH&D breaks off to the north (the
cars are on the CH&D alignment)
Looking southwest away from Celina, the former LE&W line
appears to be getting some use
follow the RJ Corman line east which hugs the north shore of Grand Lake
St. Marys. The lake is a man-made body of water created to support the
canal system. It is a large lake which has developed a very large
problem within the past 10 years - algae blooms. The water is now a
dark green and swimming is not allowed. I won't get into the politics
of the matter, but I will say that hopefully people will come to their
senses and work together to fix the problem so that the locals can once
again fully enjoy the lake.
of Grand Lake St. Marys on the eastern shore. The lake's algae bloom has resulted in fewer tourists visiting the area.
side of the lake in St. Marys a wye and small yard exist. This is where
RJ Corman stages cars for local industries including the former
LE&W branch line
that extends south from here to Minster. The depot for St. Marys also
used to be at this location but was demolished several years ago. John
and I decide to follow
this line south. It looks like there used to be 3-4 customers in
Minster which is the end of the line, but today only one customer
remains. The track looks to get some use as the flangeways are still
clear. Note the sharp curve in the photos below. John believes this is
an add-on to the original end of the track.
is the end of the line in Minster. The track makes a sharp curve and
ends on the customer's property. A grain elevator just out of view on
the immediate left may have been the original last customer, then this
extension was built to serve the industry on the right.
Looking north toward St. Marys the line runs along side a large
building which used to have an active spur
on light, we headed back east crossing the CSX ex-B&O Toledo
in Anna, then following the G&W ex-DT&I line from
down into Qunicy to pay homage to the large steel bridge over the Great
Miami River. Here are some photos from April 21, 2010.
We then retraced our steps to confirm the sighting of the
old RofW just east of Quincy. Back in De Graff, we see a CSX westbound
over the state route 508 viaduct.
A CSX westbound heads into De Graff, OH. The original RofW breaks off
just to the right of this photo.
With nothing else close we head back home after racking up another
365.6 miles on the car.
Back to Trains