View Full Version : Another 'mini' trip

06-25-2005, 04:13 AM
The other post titled "Mini Trip" inspired me to share my own little four hour evening trip, so here goes part one...

For me, there's always concern that my stuff is going to get stale, or I'm going to get bored shooting in the same place and at the same angles. So, on my last outing I decided to shun my stomping grounds on the NS Sandusky and Dayton districts in Columbus where the traffic is a-plenty to see some other areas around town where I might find some interesting new angles. This of course, comes with a price; potentially less traffic.

Ever since I can remember, I've always wanted to get the Columbus skyline in a shot. After much thought and preparation, I figured that the best place to do this was on the CSX (ex-C&O) Columbus Subdivision just west of downtown. The C&O shared this area with the NYC and PRR some time ago, and I've read that it was very busy back in the passenger days. Today, it just sees a mild amount of traffic; the CSX Columbus Subdivision and the NS Buckeye Line are all that remains.

Well, wouldn't you know, one fine, sunny, June day finally presented itself when I had no other obligations. So, I headed down to the Arena district (that's where the Bluejackets Hockey team plays) parked my car, and went to find a good spot. After a 15 minute walk, I excitedly reached the area that I've been told was quite impressive in the past, only to find it to be nothing more than a few tracks in a large amount of brush.

Undeterred, I found my skyline photo spot. I framed it from several vanatge points, and finally decided on one. The skyline sort of curves around the Scioto River that it parallels. The CSX line does this too, so I though it would be nice to get a shot of a train on a bend for once. I was just about ready. The anticipation was killing me!

Then I waited. And waited. Two hours passed, and nothing. Not a single train in any direction.

So I decieded to check out more of the area. The junction with the NS Buckeye Line was close by to my spot, so seeing what's left of once a very busy junction was interesting to view. As a matter of fact, while I was waiting, an Ohio Central eastbound that finished up its work at Buckeye Yard came through on the Buckeye Line. Though the sun was not at any angle to get a good shot, it was a nice interlude nonetheless. With camera at my side, I spotted 2 ex-UP SD40-2's still in their yellow paint along with an ex-Amtrak F40PH in OC colors.

Another half hour or so passed, and still nothing on my CSX line going westbound. It was getting pretty hot, so hanging out under the I-670 overpass in the shade was nice. It was rush hour, so there was quite a bit of traffic pounding overhead making it difficult to hear the scanner, but I listened as best as I could. I think the inhabitants I spotted under this bridge would agree that the rhythmic sound of tires going over the bridge seams and joints was kind of relaxing. At any rate, I found an old railroad tie next to one of the cement abutments and sat down in the dirt.

Well, wouldn't ya' know, before I knew it I thought I heard the familiar sound of a GE faintly in the distance under the roar of the traffic overhead. Great, I thought- until I spotted the lights coming around the curve!! It was a lot closer than I expected. I knew I shouldn't have been lulled like that; now I was under pressure to fire off a shot in a hurry. Damn! How did I miss hearing this train?? Luckily, I followed the Boy Scout motto and was ready. I sprung to my feet and scurried to the scrap piece of rubber mat I found that marked my spot. On the way there, I noticed that the train was moving pretty quickly for a coal drag. I was in a pinch now, not only did I have to recompose myself, the sun was also at different angle than it was more than two hours earlier! As I reached my spot, I fumbled with the camera, found the "on" switch, did some last minute focus point adjusting, and tried to take a deep breath. I could tell that the crew was in a rush and they weren't fooling around. As they beared down on me, they blasted the horn a few times which made my hands sweat. I knew I had to fire off the shot, or I was going to miss it! Here it comes, I thought, but where will the train's best position be as it moves throught the viewfinder? Here? Here? Am I waiting to long?? Bang! I pressed the shutter release. No more than a few seconds later, the pair of roaring GE's were upon me. I quickly hopped out of harm's way while giving a friendly wave to the crew. The only thing I received from them was an understandably stern look.

I felt badly, but that wore off quickly because I got the shot I wanted! I was excited about it, and I hope you like it...


Part 2-

After this train went by, I was happy with my day. If nothing else came, I would have been satisfied. On the way back to my car, I thought maybe I would have time check out an area that is referred to as "Dennison..."

For the longest time, when I would listen to the crews and dispatchers over the radio, they would frequently mention this place. I knew of a Dennison Ave., but there were no tracks around the Dennison Ave. that I knew. It's whereabouts was a mystery to me for a while until a fellow on a Yahoo group shed some light on the matter. He explained that some time ago in the past, the roads in the area existed in a way that this street was in fact located near this switch. This switch allowed C&O passenger trains to reach Union Station via the PRR. Today, the streets have been realigned, and most of the tracks are gone, but this manually thrown switch still allows CSX trains to head up the former Conrail (NYC) Columbus Line Subdivision.

On my way to this spot, I heard the Parsons Yardmaster talking to the crew on V962 who were getting ready to depart for my direction. This was fine by me; I will finally get to see the switch thrown "live" and in person. As far as getting a shot on V962, it would be doubtful to get a good one, since the sun would be shining on the train as it headed away from me. This is the problem with this location- the trains always run east, and the only time I can get there to get a shot is in the evening! Regardless, I was having fun.

Not much time passed, when I heard the yardmaster on the radio tell V962 that its pushers (Y210) were getting ready for an assist. It may seem odd, but it's not uncommon to see helpers on this line. Columbus may not have the reputation like the coal fields of West Virgina, or Horseshoe Curve, but there is a pretty steep grade east of the former Union Station located along the Columbus Line. I just thought, "COOL, I may get a shot on some power after all!!"

Soon the crews were in communication with each other and the train was headed for my location.

I heard the crew call, "Clear, River." They were getting closer.

Next I heard them call out,

"Clear, LM."

"Wow," I thought. "They made it through that bottleneck pretty quickly."

"Clear, Yard A."

They were almost on top of me. Moments later two big Dark Future CW44ACs were rounding the curve from behind some buildings into view. They stopped just like I thought. One of the crewmembers opened the cab door and headed up to the switch. He opened it up, got back in the cab and told the dispatcher that they had "opened up Dennison", and were ready to head east.

It didn't take as long as I thought for the train to gain momentum. Before I knew it, there was car after car of B&LE hoppers streaming past me. The shot that I wanted of course, was the helper set on the rear, so I had to watch the train going away from myself AND shoulder check for the units on the rear. Since the train was coming from around a curve and I couldn't see the end, it was a bit tricky.

I kind of guessed when the end was coming, so I stopped shoulder checking and squared myself. I judged this a bit early, so I stood there almost frozen for what seemed like an extraordinarily long time. For me, freezing up isn't the best way to get a shot. At any rate, I stood there anyway and fired a couple of practice shots. Very soon after, over the repetitive clanging of the cars over the switch, I heard the familiar rumbling I recall from my youth of an EMD GP40-2.

"Here it comes...," I thought. It brushed past me, then only silence as the slug trailed past. It felt like I was watching a movie in reverse. CLICK! I think I got the shot. CLICK! For good measure. CLICK! Just in case. "I think I got it!" Pretty soon they were out of view. I thought, "That was fun!"


I waited patiently for the helper set to return, as the light was getting really nice. I was really hoping to get a shot while they were stopped and as they closed up the switch. Much to my dismay, they came back, but it was too dark. I saw them close up the switch anyway, and who knows, maybe next time I'll get another chance. It gives me some time to buy a tripod!!!

bnsf sammy
06-25-2005, 05:04 AM
thanks for sharing! sounded like a cool trip! Good photos too! :-)

06-25-2005, 05:42 AM
Thanks for the story Chuck. Just remember, its not the destination, its the journey. :grin:

06-25-2005, 06:49 AM
Just remember, its not the destination, its the journey

Which begins with a broken fan belt and a leaky tire, per Murphy's Law :lol:

Those are some very nice photos, Chuck. And all this time I thought central Ohio had absolutely no elevation change. :-D

06-25-2005, 07:10 AM
And all this time I thought central Ohio had absolutely no elevation change.

Common phrase overheard in Indiana: "Oh look, a hill"!

06-26-2005, 04:15 AM
Thanks a lot, guys! I really enjoy this sort of thing, and being able to post it where others with the same interests can view and enjoy it, makes it all the more worthwhile. :)