Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General
Getting Here
 USGS Maps


In General

Fostoria, like Deshler, is one of those towns, that if you have never been here before, you ask yourself, "why did I not get here sooner?"  Situated about 40 miles south of Toledo OH, some say it is the busiest railfan spot east of the Mississippi.

The big attraction to Fostoria are the three diamonds the town sports, along with almost non-stop activity somewhere along one of the three main lines.  CSX has two lines, and NS has one. 

As for the F Tower, there is no access to it, so you need to shoot it from a distance... please don't wander into the diamond area at the tower! (people have tested the policy and have not liked the outcome).  There are plenty of other legal photo ops.  F Tower was closed in March of 2015, and control was transferred to Indianapolis.  There is an article in the July 2015 issue of Trains magazine.

Train frequency is about 100 trains a day, with CSX having the lions share at about a 3:1 ratio.  There are about 30 or so hotshot intermodals going E-W on the CSX.

Thanks to Denver Todd for many of the tidbits of info on this page.

As the pictures below show, there is a lot more going on than action at the diamonds, so be prepared to spend many, many hours in Fostoria.


Listening In

Radio freqs for CSX are: 160.230, 161.520, 160.320.  NS's main frequency is 161.250.

CSX has a detector 5 miles east at Bascom (MP 31.1).  NS has two: 6 miles east at Ilers (MP 273.9)(275.4 is listed on the Google reference below), and 5 miles west at Arcadia (MP 285.5).

Here is a "Google Guide" prepared by a railfan for people who want to listen in but are unfamiliar with the radio callouts:
If you are the person who did this and want credit, pls contact me via the contact page, link at the bottom of this page.....

A Little History

Fostoria is named for Charles Fostoria, the 35th governor of Ohio.

So what came before the Norfolk Southern and CSX? 

Well, until the "major" mergers started in the 60's, Fostoria hosted the Nickel Plate Road (NKP), the Baltimore and Ohio RR (B&O), and the Chesapeake and Ohio Rwy (C&O). 

Online accounts of who reached Fostoria when differ, and I don't have any books outlining the history of any of the affected railroads.... So here goes with what I can find. 

The first railroad to come thru was Lake Erie & Western RR in the 1850's.  The railroad was taken over by the NYC in 1899, and then the NKP in 1922.

The C&O came thru Fostoria in 1872, originally as the Columbus and Toledo RR, then the Hocking Valley RR. 

The B&O reached here the following year in 1873. 

In the 1880's, the New York, Chicago, & St Louis Rwy came thru, this eventually became the NKP. 

There is one other railroad mentioned: the Mansfield, Coldwater, and Lake Michigan RR, which paralleled the B&O, but nothing else can be found about when it came to Fostoria, or when it disappeared or got absorbed by someone else.....

The NKP line was the southernmost of the two western routes out of Bellevue, and heads over to Lima, and parallels I-75 as you near Lima.  This is now the Norfolk Southern line thru town.  The line is NS's Fostoria district between Bellevue OH and Ft Wayne IN.  It was originally part of NKP's mainline to Chicago.  Six miles west in Arcadia, the line splits with the Lima District line heading south to Lima.

The B&O east-west line is on the mainline to Chicago, and is the CSX Willard Sub-Division.  This is the old "traditional" B&O line that originated in Philadelphia, and went thru Baltimore and Pittsburgh.  It is now CSX's gateway to the entire east coast from Chicago.

The ex C&O line is now CSX's Columbus Sub-division.  Northbound coal from Kentucky and West Virginia head up towards the Toledo docks via Walbridge Yard.  North of Fostoria, it's double track, south to Columbia it is mostly single track.

According to a 2006 Trains Magazine online article about Fostoria, about half of the trains coming thru Fostoria change directions.

More history is here at:

Getting Here

From the north, come down I-75 if convenient, take exit 167, and head east on OH18.

From far west points, like MI or upper IN/IL, take I-80 till you meet up with I-75 and then head south as above.

From the east, like NY, PA, or MD, come out the Ohio Turnpike, I-80/90, and take exit 91, which is OH53... head south on it.  Take US 6 west (it's also OH53) before getting into Fremont, and follow it as it circles the town.  US 6 will leave you at Hayes Road, but stay on the highway as OH53 till you hit OH12, which heads off to the SW.  OH12 enters Fostoria as Sandusky St. from the NE side.  Along the way in Bettsville, you'll pass a RR crossing with an interesting approach signal.

From due east, it's OH18 and US224.

From due west, take OH18 east from, say, Deshler, or exit 167 off of I-75 (which is 28 miles south of Toledo and I-80/90).

If you're in Bellevue, I usually head out of town to the SW on Killbourne St, which is OH18, and follow it to Fostoria.  Maybe not the quickest route, but it takes you thru Tiffin, which is on the main CSX E-W line.  Be careful in Republic where OH18 takes a right turn, the intersection is well marked however!



the above map in a PDF is here



From Columbus Ave at the CSX Crossing

          Looking West across the diamonds, with the depot on the FAR left

     Looking East

A Safetran type CLS-20R (4) color light dwarf signal guarding the NE Transfer

  Crossing gate at Columbus looking south across the tracks

From Columbus Ave and the NS Crossing

    A couple of EB freights crossing Columbus Ave

        F Tower and a NB CSX freight crossing the E-W CSX Main

  CSX engines west of the tower

  Looking north up the C&O line, can you tell from the cantilevered signals?

From Town St and the NS Crossing

            Photos looking east from Town 

An NS freight in the NS-CSX interchange track and the no turn signal - you don't see a "no left turn" and a "no right turn" on the same pole very often

          More photos looking east from Town   

      Grade Crossing at the NS tracks, Buckley, and Bulger, and a cute little store adjacent to it

From North St

    Looking south towards the diamond, looking at the signals from Columbus is at the right

Findlay St Crossings

  Looking west on the NS from Findlay St


  Looking west on the CSX from the depot, Tiffin St in the background going over the tracks....




The "C&O" going over Lytle St



    1       ex B&O (& Amtrak) Depot

GPS Coordinates: 41.152688, -83.413800



    2       F Tower and CSX/CSX Diamond

GPS Coordinates: 41.151891, -83.406351



    3       ex NYC Depot

GPS Coordinates: 41.159006, -83.409310



    4       ex C&O Depot

GPS Coordinates: 41.161568, -83.410035


    5       ex NYC Jackson St Tower

GPS Coordinates: 41.167221, -83.411182



    6       NS Blair Yard


    7       CSX B&O Yard

    8       CSX C&O Yard


    9       CSX C&O Yard Office


    10       Railfan Park

GPS Coordinates: 41.152720, -83.411334 (entrance)
Fostoria RailPark:  499 S Poplar St, Fostoria Ohio

Fostoria's long awaited Railfan Park opened on November 15th, 2013.  It is billed as the biggest and best railfan park for watching trains in the United States.

For more info and pictures, visit: http://fostoriairontriangle.com/railpark.htm



          Photographer credit on pictures....


    11       ex LE&W Depot

GPS Coordinates: 41.158536, -83.415282
128 W. North St, Box 421, Fostoria OH 44830

Located on W North St near N Wood St, this old depot is now the HQ for the Fostoria Rail Preservation Society.
Their website is: http://fostoriairontriangle.com/
In the bottom picture, you can see how the LE&W line influenced the layout and buildings of Fosotria.


CSX/NS Diamond - East

GPS Coordinates: 41.154152, -83.406907





Two railroads, two different styles of dwarf signals on the NS-CSX interchange track by the commercial building at the diamond (the D&N Building). 
It is owned by the FRPS and they may use it at some point in the future for a museum.....
For now, it is a good place to park.


CSX/NS Diamond - West

GPS Coordinates: 41.153070, -83.415090



    The parking lot in the middle of the two sets of tracks gets another no left and no right turn signal, the one on the right by Denver Todd


  Looking east from the depot on the NS

  Looking west on the NS from Main St, looking across the diamond


Historical USGS Maps

Courtesy of the University of Texas Library, click here for their index page.




    1      EB

There is

    2      WB




I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.  My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place.  There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages.  Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like.  I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion).  If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.  Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations.  I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area.  Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature.  While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!  

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


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NEW 12/17/2011
Last Modified 29-Dec-2015