RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.
Todd n Denver Todd's Railfan Guide to
Marion OH offers a lot of action considering its small size, and the fact that a lot of the tracks are torn up.
Marion and the depot draws hundreds of railfans a year, mostly for train watching. The depot is situated in the center of three mainlines, and the property is squared off by two double sets of diamonds..... eight actual diamonds! Fostoria offers three sets of four diamonds, but you can not get as close to them as here. So come to Marion and experience the pounding of steel from only a few feet away! The parking is free.
Although the station is surrounded by a fence, it doesn't seem to get in the way of most photographs, as it is a low fence. They have even placed plastic tubing over the fence rails so you have a place to rest your arms when taking pictures. Do not trespass onto railroad property, as there is a Norfolk Southern office across the tracks, and they have been known to come out and chase railfans off RR property. There is little lighting for watching trains at night, and one or two picnic tables.
There is a 7-11 type store nearby with a Subway inside, and for sit down meals, there is the Shovel Restaurant & Lounge next to the station. Fred's Ice Cream is between the NS and CSX tracks to the north of the station.
About 60 CSX and NS freight trains pass through Marion every
day. You may also be lucky to catch some foreign power too, as it is
reported there hardly a day passes that you don't see some. Some
locals may even sport a caboose!
● Norfolk Southern has the most trains coming thru on the ex N&W line, around 40.
● CSX, on the former Conrail/Erie/NYC St Louis line sees around 20 trains a day.
● The former C&O Toledo Line (CSX) line sees the fewest with around 10 trains a day.
● These numbers are all approximate, and will vary.
From some of the pictures that follow, it is easy to see who used to own the tracks, as there are N&W style color position lights, and the very noticeable C&O style signal structures. But I noticed in the newer pictures, that both CSX and NS have replaced the old C&O and N&W with the darth vaders :-(
All traffic past the diamonds is controlled by CSX on the Dispatch frequency. Each train needing to pass the depot will call CSX for clearance. "Track 1" for each railroad is the track nearest the depot. There are also railfanning opportunities elsewhere in Marion. West of the station on 95 is a small CSX (former Conrail) yard. East of the station and just north of OH95 Conrail serves several industries. Just north of Marion, visible from US23, the NS tracks pass beneath the remains of a concrete coaling bunker. Thanks to William Eric McFadden, WD8RIF for this info, from the third link below.
The following information is provided by KD8CJL via the second link below:
CSX Indy Sub: Runs East/West between Cleveland and
Indianapolis. A small yard is just west of the diamonds is visible. Old
Conrail detector at New Bloomington to the west is audible if scanning.
CSX Columbus Sub: Tracks run North/South on the west side of station between Columbus and Toledo. Signals are visible to the north from the station. Also Old C&O Cantilever signal bridge and signals stands next to station grounds.
160.230 Road, 160.320 Dispatcher.
NS Sandusky District: The Busiest line through Marion runs on the East side of the station between Columbus and Bellvue. Old Norfolk and Western Color Position Signals protect diamonds. NS also has a small yard to the north of the diamonds. Also of note is old concrete Coaling tower located to the north of Marion, Visible from SR 23, NS trains still pass underneath.
Other railfan hotspots in the area include Fostoria (about 50 miles north up the CSX), Attica Junction (40 miles north along NS), Willard Yard (10 miles east of Attica junction), and Lima OH (about 50 miles west on 309).
Pictures are 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! Contact info is here
This guide is prepared in collaboration with Denver Todd. Pictures and info are supplied by him unless noted.
CSX Indy Sub: 160.800
CSX Columbus Sub: 160.230 Road, 160.320 Dispatcher
NS Sandusky District: 161.190 Road/Dispatcher.
Looking at the USGS maps below, it is noted that (some of the) railroads that used to come into town are the Pennsylvania RR, the Erie RR, the CCC&L - Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St Louis RR, and the Hocking Valley RR. Later on, the Norfolk & Western Rwy and the Chesapeake & Ohio Rwy came thru, taking over lines from the earlier railroads.
Hugh Jewett became president of the Erie in 1874. His first task was to lead the road through reorganization; it became the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad. On June 22, 1880, the entire system was converted to standard gauge. That same year the Chicago & Atlantic was completed between Hammond, Indiana, and Marion, Ohio, where it connected with the Atlantic & Great Western. Access to Chicago was over the rails of the Chicago & Western Indiana, a terminal road. J ewett also double-tracked the Erie from Jersey City to Buffalo. The road was bankrupt again by 1893 and reorganized in 1895 as the Erie Railroad.
The business recession of the 1950s prompted Erie to explore the idea of cooperation with Delaware, Lackawanna & Western. The first results were the elimination of duplicate freight facilities at Binghamton and Elmira, and in 1956 and 1957 Erie moved its passenger trains from its old Jersey City terminal to Lackawanna's newer one at Hoboken. The discussions of cooperation turned into merger talks, at first including the Delaware & Hudson. An agreement was worked out with the Lackawanna, and the two roads merged as the Erie-Lackawanna on October 17, 1960
Disclaimer note: The following info comes from Wikipedia, so it may be less reliable than other stuff found on the internet.... Marion was also served by an interurban line, the CD&M Electric Co (originally the Columbus, Delaware, and Marion Railway Co). They operated from 1903 to 1933, and provided both passenger and freight service. The Columbus, Delaware and Marion Railway, or CD&M, provided interurban service connecting Columbus, Delaware, Marion, Worthington, and Bucyrus, Ohio. It also provided local street car service in Marion and Delaware. The CD&M provided local and interurban service on 60 miles (97 km) of track as The Columbus, Delaware and Marion Electric Railway Company. It operated service to Bucyrus through the Delaware, Marion and Bucyrus Railroad on an additional 20 miles (32 km) of track. At Bucyrus the railway met the Cleveland, Southwestern and Columbus Railway for connecting service to Cleveland. The CD&M also generated electricity for Marion and sold power to the Middle West Utilities System. As a means of increasing off hours riders, the company developed Glenmary Park north of Worthington to attract interurban passengers with playing fields and picnic areas, and provided partial funding for Crystal Lake Amusement Park north of Marion, OH.
The Ohio Railway Museum in Worthington operates on about one mile of former CD&M right-of-way. The museum's collection includes a preserved CD&M parlor car numbered 501. Until 1969, another 5.2-mile (8.4 km) segment of CD&M track, leading to a power plant, was used in Marion.
More history below in Floobydust.
Marion is about 40 miles north of downtown Columbus OH, and between I-75 and I-71.
US 23 will get you here from Columbus.
From I-77, it looks like exit 151 may be your best choice via OH 95, passing thru Mt Gilead.
From I-75, you have several choices from either Lima or Findlay, choose the best one for you according to your GPS.
Cleveland is about 90 miles slightly to the NE, and Toledo is about 70 miles slightly to the NW.
The above map in PDF form is here
1 Marion Union Station and Museum
The Marion Union Station was once a busy train station serving the New York Central RR, the Erie RR, the C&O Rwy, and the Norfolk & Western Rwy. The picture above comes from the Marion Union Station Association's webpage on Facebook.
The station is now owned by the Marion Union Station Association, who operates a museum inside the train station. The station museum has a limited schedule, but the property is available for train watching 24-hours a day, every day of the year. Also on the site is former Erie-Lackawanna caboose #C306 and AC Tower. The tower has been restored by the museum, and they also relocated the tower from across the tracks, and now sits next to the train station.. There is also a model railroad layout is open for members.
The website for the model railroad layout is here.
The museum also hosts a train show, held in the August time frame (if the info from a 2010 post is still good).
The address for the museum is: 532 W. Center St, Marion OH 43302. Their phone number is 740-383-3768. Hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 10am till 2pm. Admission is one dollar.
Denver Todd photo
This is a picture of the NW corner of the station. Denver Todd photo
Denver Todd photo
Denver Todd photo
More info and pictures on the Marion Tower can be found at Zach's page here
2 at the Diamonds
Denver Todd photo.
NS 6767 heading up a freight crossing the east diamond between the Norfolk Southern and CSX.
The following 8 pictures are courtesy
3 Coal Tower
It's not too often in today's day and age, that a structure such as this is left "along" the right-of-way for mainline trains to pass through. Good pictures of NB freights can be had from US 23.
4 ex Erie RR Yard
5 ex N&W Rwy Yard
1 Abandoned Bridges at the west end of the ex Erie Yard
The upper set of three bridges would have gone into the west end of the Erie Yard. Not sure who owned the single bridge.
Marion seems to be well signaled, and all of the crossovers & diamonds appear to be signaled.
Unfortunately, the signal scene in Marion today is almost all standard color light signals, where as, a few years ago, you could have gotten N&W style CPL's (color position light), C&O style color lights along with their unique style cantilever structures, and "trilight" style color light signals. Darn.
1 CSX EB Crossover Interlocking
2 CSX EB Interchange Interlocking Signal
This signal controls movements coming from the SB side of the N-S CSX line onto the E-W CSX line.
3 CSX SB Diamond Interlocking
4 CSX EB Diamond Interlocking
Looking across the diamonds at the CSX signals protecting the diamond. This map also supports the WB interlocking signals for the crossovers. In the background, you can see the EB signals for the crossovers.
Denver Todd photo
5 CSX (ex C&O) NB Diamond Interlocking
6 NS NB Diamond Interlocking
7 CSX WB Diamond Interlocking
Near as I can tell, these are "trilight" style color light signals. Judging from the second picture below, it seems these have been replaced by standard "Darth Vader" type color lights.
8 NS SB Diamond Interlocking
With the new Color Light signals in place, time is short for the N&W CPL signals.
9 Former N&W CPL Signals - SB Diamond Interlocking
Denver Todd photo
Rob Schreiner photo
10 Former N&W CPL Signals - NB Diamond Interlocking
Aerial shot is above.
Denver Todd photo
Richard Thompson photo
Looking NE from the station, we catch a SB NS freight. Denver Todd photo
This shot is looking South from the same NE corner of the property. The stairs belong to an interlocking tower that was moved to the location from across the tracks a number of years ago. The tower and the caboose that you see here show very well in the Bing Bird's eye view. Denver Todd photo
Looking South down the CSX tracks from the NW corner of the property. Denver Todd photo
Looking NW at CSX tracks that run E/W just north of the station.
Taken from the space between the Station and the Freight House. Denver Todd photo
The following pictures were hijacked from RailPictures.net, the photographers names are on each photo.
In the above photo, you can see the tower and the Shovel Restaurant to the left. We're looking north.
Nice time exposure of one of the N&W CPL signal sets.
Located to the north west of Marion, is this "unique" arrangement for loading center-flows.
I found this picture, labeled as being taken in Marion, but after looking at Bing's Birdseye view, can not match it up with anything around.
While searching the internet for info and
history, I came across this one historic account of things from the late
1800's, found here:
History of the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Rwy
(From here) The Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway, (Big Four Route / the CCC&StL), was formed by a consolidation of four Midwest regional railroads serving the principal cities of Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and St. Louis. It's major through lines were from Cleveland through Columbus to Cincinnati, Cleveland & Indianapolis to St. Louis, Chicago & Indianapolis to Cincinnati, and Cincinnati to Detroit. It also served as a starting railroad for Florida trains, The "Royal Palm", The Ponce de Leon" and the "Florida Sunbeam" from Chicago, which completed their runs on the Southern, Seaboard and/or the Florida East Coast Railroads. In 1941 a fast streamliner train the "James Whitcomb Riley" ran from Chicago to Cincinnati behind both streamlined steam and new diesel-electric motive power. The Big Four became part of the New York Central System, and served as the NYC's portal to reach Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and St. Louis from New York and Buffalo.
Its primary routes were in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. At the end of 1925 it reported 2391 route-miles and 4608 track-miles; that year it carried 8180 million net ton-miles of revenue freight and 488 million passenger-miles.
The Cleveland, Columbus & Cincinnati (CC&C) was chartered in 1836, broke ground in 1847, and opened in 1851 between Cleveland and Columbus. In 1852, it teamed up with the Little Miami and Columbus & Xenia railroads to form a Cleveland–Cincinnati route.
In 1848, the Indianapolis & Bellefontaine (I&B) and the Bellefontaine & Indiana (B&I) railroads were incorporated to build a line between Galion, Ohio, on the CC&C, and Indianapolis. The I&B and the B&I amalgamated and became known as "The B. Line". They were absorbed by the CC&C when it reorganized as the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis in 1868. The nickname of the new railroad was "The Bee Line." The Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis reached Cincinnati with its own rails in 1872; that same year it opened a line from Springfield to Columbus. By then the Vanderbilts owned a good portion of the railroad's stock.
The Terre Haute & Alton Railroad was organized in 1852, its backers were certain that with a railroad to Indiana the Mississippi River town of Alton, Illinois could easily outstrip St. Louis a few miles south. It soon combined with the Belleville & Illinoistown Railroad as the Terre Haute, Alton & St. Louis. The Indianapolis & St. Louis was organized to build between Indianapolis and Terre Haute, Indiana. It leased the St. Louis, Alton & Terre Haute, successor to the Terre Haute, Alton & St. Louis, and came under control of the CCC&I in 1882.
In the late 1840s and early 1850s, several railroads were completed, forming a route from Cincinnati through Indianapolis and Lafayette IN to Kankakee IL, connecting there with the Illinois Central Railroad north to Chicago. In 1880, these railroads were united as the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis & Chicago – considered to be the first "Big Four". Heading the company was Melville Ingalls, and on its board was C. P. Huntington, whose Chesapeake & Ohio Railway formed a friendly connection at Cincinnati. The Vanderbilts had invested in the first Big Four, and they were firmly in control of the new Big Four, the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis, which was formed in 1889 by the consolidation of the old Big Four (Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis & Chicago) and the Bee Line (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati & Indianapolis).
In the late 1880s, Ingalls and the Vanderbilts gathered a group of railroads between Cairo and Danville IL, added to them the St. Louis, Alton & Terre Haute, and then added them all to the Big Four. The line from Danville north to Indiana Harbor was a comparatively late addition to the system. It was built in 1906 and became part of the NYC rather than the Big Four.
The Peoria & Eastern was formed in 1890 from several small railroads. At one time, its predecessor briefly included the former Mad River & Lake Erie and a line from Indianapolis east to Springfield, Ohio, before settling down to be simply a Peoria-Bloomington-Danville-Indianapolis route. In 1902 the Big Four bought the Cincinnati Northern, a line that had been proposed in 1852 and finally constructed in the 1880s from Franklin OH (between Dayton and Cincinnati), to Jackson MI. In 1920 the Big Four acquired the Evansville, Indianapolis & Terre Haute, a castoff from the Chicago & Eastern Illinois in southwestern Indiana. The New York Central Railroad leased the Big Four starting in 1930.
The railroad was headquartered in Indianapolis IN, in the Chesapeake Building at 105 S. Meridian Street. The building was constructed for the railroad in 1929 and was also known as the Big Four Building. In 2007 this multi-story structure became a Hampton Inn hotel.
The railroad once operated a terminal at Bellefontaine OH which included the largest roundhouse in use at that time between New York City NY and St. Louis MO. Conrail closed the Bellefontaine terminal in 1983, and its roundhouse was dismantled.
A large yard facility known as Big Four Yards is located in Avon IN (just west of Indianapolis) along the line's tracks, now owned and operated by CSX.
In 1895 the railroad acquired what became known as the Big Four Bridge across the Ohio River at Louisville KY, thereby giving it access to that city. Use of the bridge for railroad purposes ceased by 1968, and it sat abandoned until work began by 2006 to convert it to use by pedestrians and bicyclists.
Additional History of the lines that made up the Big Four
Early history of the
Cleveland Cincinnati Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (Big Four
1889 - Merger of (1) Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railway, (2) Cincinnati Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway, and (3) Indianapolis and St. Louis Railway, formed the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, the Big Four.
1890 - Control of Indiana Bloomington and Western Railway is obtained
1906 - The Big Four was acquired by the New York Central Railroad.
1968 - NYC and Pennsy merge into Penn-Central
1976 - Penn-Central merged into Conrail
1998 - Most old NYC lines (Conrail) merged into CSX
History of the Cleveland Columbus Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railway (CCC&I)
1851 - Cleveland Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad builds line from Cleveland to Columbus
1853 - Columbus and Springfield Railroad builds from London and Columbus
1862 - Springfield Mt. Vernon & Pittsburgh acquired (line from Springfield through Marysville to Delaware, Ohio)
1868 - Bellefontaine Railroad acquired. (Line to Indianapolis) Name changed to Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railroad
1872 - CCC&I gains control of Cincinnati & Springfield and Cincinnati Sandusky and Cleveland Railroads, completing Cleveland to Cincinnati line
1872 - Columbus and Springfield becomes part of CCC&I closing gap to Columbus, and making Marysville line a secondary.
1889 - CCC&I merged into CCC&SL (Big Four)
History of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway
1846 - Indianapolis and Cincinnati Railroad founded, initially, 1850-1853, as the Lawrenceburg and Upper Mississippi Railroad
1850 - Lafayette & Indianapolis Railroad founded
1861 - Cincinnati and Indiana Railroad founded
1867 - Above three roads merged as Indianapolis Cincinnati and Lafayette Railroad. Line operated from Cincinnati through Indianapolis to Lafayette, Indiana
1880 - After foreclosure reorganization name changed to Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway
1880's CISL&C controls several other smaller railroads in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois
1889 - CISL&C merged into CCC&SL (Big Four)
History of the Indiana Bloomington and Western Railway
1866 - Indianapolis Crawfordsville and Danville Railroad incorporated
1866 - Danville Urbana Bloomington and Pekin Railway Incorporated
1869 - Above roads merged as Indiana Bloomington and Western Railway
1869 - IB&W opens Pekin, llinois to Indianapolis
1879 - IB&W foreclosed and reorganized
1881 - IB&W merged with Ohio Indiana and Pacific Railway, but retained it's IB&W name.
1883 - Line extended from Indianapolis to Springfield
1887 - Foreclosure and reorganization as Ohio Indiana and Western Railway.
1889 - Foreclosure again. Line west from Indianapolis goes to Peoria and Eastern Railway, while newer eastern track, from Indianapolis, goes to CCC&SL (Big Four).
History of the Hocking Valley Railway
At the end of 1925 HV operated 349 miles of road
on 881 miles of track; that year it reported 2614 million
ton-miles of revenue freight and 25 million passenger-miles.
The earliest predecessor of the Hocking Valley was the Mineral Railroad, incorporated in April 1864 to build from Athens in the rich Hocking Valley to Columbus. The company changed its name to the Columbus and Hocking Valley Railroad in June 1867, shortly after construction began at Columbus, and the line opened for business from Columbus to Lancaster on January 20, 1869, Logan on August 28, 1869, Nelsonville on September 17, 1869, and Athens on July 25, 1870. The first branch, from Logan east to New Straitsville, was completed in January 1871, and the railroad completed a cutoff from Nelsonville north alongside Monday Creek to the Straitsville Branch in 1880. Several more branches reached additional mines in the Logan-Nelsonville area, including along Snow Fork (initially incorporated in July 1875 as the Snow Fork Valley Railroad) to Orbiston (1877), Murray City (1882), and Coalgate (1893), and along Brush Fork to New Pittsburg (1877-78).
The Columbus and Toledo Railroad was incorporated in May 1872 to connect its namesake cities on an eastern route through Delaware, Marion, Upper Sandusky, and Fostoria. Construction, delayed by the Panic of 1873, began in August 1875, and the line was opened from Columbus to Marion on November 1, 1876, and the rest of the way to Walbridge, outside Toledo, on January 11, 1877. Trackage rights were acquired over the Toledo and Woodville Railroad (a Pennsylvania Railroad subsidiary) to reach Toledo, including a dock on the Maumee River to handle Hocking Valley coal and iron ore.
The final piece of the system was incorporated in March 1870 as the Gallipolis, McArthur and Columbus Railroad, which would build from Gallipolis on the Ohio River to Logan. It acquired part of an incomplete roadbed graded in the 1850s by the Scioto and Hocking Valley Railroad between Hamden and Logan, but was unable to survive the Panic of 1873. The Columbus and Gallipolis Railway, incorporated in July 1876, tried to complete the line on an extended route to Columbus, but ran out of funds, and yet another company, the Ohio and West Virginia Railway, was incorporated in May 1878 to continue construction. The north end was moved back to Logan a year later, and construction began in July 1879, now allied with the Columbus and Hocking Valley. Operation over the full route commenced on October 15, 1880, and a branch alongside the river to Pomeroy was completed in January 1881.
The three companies merged in August 1881 to form the Columbus, Hocking Valley and Toledo Railway, which stretched across the state from Toledo to Pomeroy. A short extension near Toledo was built in 1890, connecting to the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway (a New York Central Railroad subsidiary) at Rockwell Junction. The new company entered receivership in February 1897 and was reorganized in February 1899 as the Hocking Valley Railway, which came under the control of a syndicate in December 1902. The stock was distributed among several railroad companies in June 1903, with one-third going to the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway (Pennsylvania Railroad) and one-sixth each to the B&O RR, the C&O Rwy, Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway (New York Central Railroad), and Erie Railroad. The C&O gained control in March 1910, and initially used the Kanawha and Michigan Railway to make the connection from Charleston, but in 1917 it opened the first piece of the Northern Subdivision, which joined the main line at Limeville with Norfolk and Western Railway trackage rights to Columbus, and in 1927 a separate line to Columbus was completed. When the C&O acquired control of the Pere Marquette Railway in 1929, the Hocking Valley served as its connection to the rest of the system. Finally, the Hocking Valley was merged into the C&O in April 1930.
A small branch railroad was organized in 1903 as the Athens, Amesville and Chauncey Railway. Its trackage was 3.65 miles in 1907, and 5.99 miles in 1908. It was built expressly to service coal mines in the Sugar Creek valley north of Athens, Ohio, and connected to the Hocking Valley Railway mainline just northwest of Athens. It was built by coal interests, but operated by the Hocking Valley Railway, and was merged into it in 1911. This line never ventured anywhere near Amesville or Chauncey, and did not even technically connect to Athens. After the merger, it was known as the Sugar Creek Branch.
Disclaimer: 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, 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!!!
Last Modified 05-Dec-2013