The Norfolk Southern New Castle Sub.

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  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • 185 posts
The Norfolk Southern New Castle Sub.
Posted by G Mack on Friday, February 09, 2007 10:35 AM

I am interested in knowing if anyone has advice on railfanning the NS New Castle route through Indiana. I live in Fishers, Indiana which isn't far away from New Castle, yet when I go train-watching, I usually go north to the CSX and NS lines in the northern part of the state as they seem to have more traffic.

Does anyone know the best times for catching trains on the New Castle route?

When trains reach Muncie, IN what route do they take most of the time? Is it east towards Lafayette or do most of them continue north to Fort Wayne or do they go up through Marion to Claypool and on to Goshen?

I would like to know more about the best times and routes to watch in Indiana. I get to go out railfanning occasionally and its disappointing to go and sit for hours only to find out that most of the trains pass through in the middle of the night or that a line has been downgraded to low usage.

Another route I have an interest in is the former NYC (Big Four) line that runs through Muncie, Indianapolis, and on to Terre Haute. Is seems that you can see several trains close together on some days, and then it can be completely dead on other days.

Thanks for any responses and advice, I know there are some railfans who are a wealth of info on any topic here on the forums.

Hope to see you trackside.

G Mack

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  • From: Cedar Rapids, IA
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Posted by blhanel on Friday, February 09, 2007 4:22 PM
I can't help you with the area, but I know of one member who I'm sure can help- Modelcar lives in Muncie.  If you don't get any responses after a couple of days, PM him with a link to this.
  • Member since
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Posted by G Mack on Friday, February 09, 2007 5:17 PM

 blhanel wrote:
I can't help you with the area, but I know of one member who I'm sure can help- Modelcar lives in Muncie.  If you don't get any responses after a couple of days, PM him with a link to this.

After I posted this, I read the fine print under the "Trackside Guide" header and realized I had probably made a mistake in not posting it on the "Railroads" forum. Sigh [sigh]

G Mack

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Posted by Big Ed on Monday, February 12, 2007 9:12 AM

Hello G Mack,

I'm originally from Montpelier, Indiana smack dab at MP 149 on the NS New Castle District.  Although I'm stationed in Virginia now, I can probably help you out at least a little bit. 

Sounds as though you've already been to Indiana railroad "meccas" like St Joe, Garrett and perhaps Butler.  The NCD has nothing on those places as far as traffic levels go, but it's safe to say the Cincy to Fort Wayne line still sees 18-20 trains per day with more between Cincy and Muncie.  Some Cincy trains will take the wye at Muncie to go west either towards Frankfort or catch the Alexandria extension to ride north to Marion and Elkhart.  As far as NS goes, Muncie is great hot spot due to all the traffic from the Frankfort District (which isn't much), but you'll get more coming down from Elkhart via Alexandria.  I believe that line through Wabash and Marion sees around 10 per day.  Of course in Muncie itself, the CSX adds to the total.  They control the interlockings at CP 229 and CP 230 where the NS essentially shares the rail space with them in downtown Muncie for a bit.   From what I know Muncie is best between 7am and noon with Thursdays and Fridays usually as the higher traffic days of the week according to one friend.  CSX like the NS, can run three or four through in 45 minutes then die out for 2 hours or more.  Sorry, don't have much info about the CSX line through Muncie other than what I already said.

To the best of my knowledge, the Frankfort District won't give you much in the way of action between Alex and Frankfort.  Some NS trains do go south through Alexandria on the former Conrail line to Indianapolis' Hawthorne Yard (near your neck of the woods).  Since the Frankfort District has no signals and is dispatched using TWC, it kinda hampers the number of trains that can use it.  Here's pretty much what you have on it right now:

L85 is Muncie to Frankfort and back during daylight
L86 is Muncie to Frankfort and back at night
L89 is Frankfort to Marion and back during daylight
123 and 124 are the through freights between Decatur, IL and Chattanooga, TN

You'll also have many grain extras on it as well.  Much busier though between Alexandria and Muncie with the addition of the 144/143, 174/175 etc.  I believe NS is considering restoring signals on that roughly 15 mile section. West of Frankfort, other than the 123/124, I'm not sure really what runs there other than a local or grain extra. 

Now the NS Lafayette District between Peru and Decatur is as busy as a bee and it's single track.  I was back in the good ol Hoosier state over Christmas visiting friends and family and got to experience that line for the first time ever.  Boy was I impressed.  I caught 9 trains in 3 hours late in the aftrenoon, and before going to sleep for the evening, heard another 10 calling signals on the scanner.  Those passing sidings don't get much rest.  You could also catch much of this action between Peru and Fort Wayne as those same trains re-crew in Peru, then ride the Huntington District to the Fort.

Back to the New Castle District, you just kind of have to be patient.  Sometimes as many as 3-4 hours with no trains, then BOOM...the parade starts.  Have a scanner handy as between Muncie and Fort Wayne you have sidings at Royerton, Montpelier and Kingsland.  All trains will call out signals too, plus you have defect detectors at MP 173.5 (at C.R. 1050N north of Ossian), MP 157.2 ( at Wellsburg Rd North of Poneto), MP 142.8 (around Hartford City), and another at MP 128.6 (one mile North of the North end of Royerton Siding).  If you're lacking patience that particular day...head to MuncieSmile [:)]

As was mentioned here before, I believe there's a few Muncie residents who hang out here who can give more in-depth info.  Hope this helps some!

Ed

 

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Posted by G Mack on Wednesday, February 14, 2007 1:53 PM

Big Ed,

I thank you for your response, it will be of great help. Thank you for taking the time to reply. I wasn't getting much response to this post and had kind of let it go. So, it was a pleasant surprise to get your message.

I was recently in Montpelier, IN just driving around and seeing Indiana. I believe that its the place with the giant indian standing on the corner, if I recall correctly.

As for the Indiana "mecca" sites you mentioned, yes, I have been to them all. They are always fun to go to, but, I'm beginning to get an urge to see some other Indiana areas also. I went railfanning along the NS line that runs from Louisville, KY to St. Louis across southern Indiana recently. It has some great photo sites with a lot of elevated curves.

I will put the Lafayette District that you spoke of at the top of my list for future trips.

G Mack

 

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Posted by Big Ed on Wednesday, February 14, 2007 4:37 PM

G Mack,

Kinda hard to miss that Indian at the only stoplight in town.  A town of 1,800 souls doesn't have much in the way of attractions you know!  Yeah, when I saw the words "NS New Castle District", I was like hey that's my former backyard and glad to help out some.

The Lafayette District should not disappoint you in terms of traffic levels, types of freight and a variety of head end power.  I've never been to Peru before (only passed through), or really anywhere on the NS Huntington District going NE towards Ft Wayne, but I would just say pick a spot or two or three and have at it.  Someone told me Danville, Illinois (still on the NS Lafayette District) will increase your traffic levels by a good 50% or more since CSX also runs through there on the old CE&I between Chicago and Evansville.  Plus you've got the NS Tilton Yard on the south part of Danville. 

The CSX line in Lafayette will also give you additional trains, but not as many as you'll find in Danville.  Lots of possibilities out there.  I've seen photos of the NS in southern Indiana and it does look like some fabulous shooting opportunities along there.

Fun, fun.....Ed

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Posted by G Mack on Friday, February 16, 2007 10:42 AM

Big Ed,

Do you happen to know anything about the line that runs to Red Key, IN?

According to my copy of the Professional Railway Atlas (Deskmap Systems) this route runs from Hartford City, Red Key, and Muncie with a leg going up to Portland, IN. At Portland it is shown making a connection with the RJ Corman that runs east into Ohio.

I was out in this area last winter and came across the tracks at Red Key.They were well polished as if the line sees regular traffic. Yet, I couldn't see anything in this area that would support rail service. The Corman line east of Portland looked like it was out of service.

G Mack

PS: I apologize for the delay sometimes in my replies. My schedule right now makes it where I get to the forums infrequently.

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Posted by Big Ed on Saturday, February 17, 2007 7:33 AM

G Mack,

I know a little bit about that line.  Norfolk Southern filed for abandonment on the 8.6 mile stretch east of Hartford City (ex-CR rails) in 2005 as they've been using the old Frankfort District east out of Muncie to reach it.  That's why you see the rails so polished as grain trains, especially frequent the route.

Around 2003 the diamond in Redkey between the former Panhandle (PRR/Conrail) and the NKP(LE&W/NW) was replaced with a switch so that locals from Muncie could travel directly to Dunkirk.  After that, NS abandoned the former Panhandle from Hartford City to Dunkirk as mentioned above. 

I haven't been over to check it out, but friends say the NS rails stop at the IN/OH state line.  I believe they use Portland Siding for any run around moves if they have to go that far.  R.J. Corman however operates that section from the state line to Lima, roughly 50 miles.  I've seen their locomotives parked in St. Marys, Ohio before while traveling back home as they have some sort of distribution center in that area.

It's amazing how all these change over time.  I still remember Conrail trains going through Hartford City on that rickety 90lb rail and the cars swaying back and forth.  The State Road 3 railroad crossing is still there and so is the bridge over the New Castle District about a 1/2 mile to the east.  SR 26, someone said has been paved over.  NS runs trains out of Goodman Yard in Marion to service a factory there, possibly Box USA, but I'm not 100% on that.  I believe an ethanol plant is under construction in that area too.

Dunkirk seems to be the main buzz of activity with Anderson Grain having an 85 car capacity and the St. Gobain glass factory also getting some hoppers too.

No problem on your busy scheduleSmile [:)]

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  • From: Indianapolis, Indiana
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Posted by G Mack on Thursday, February 22, 2007 3:50 PM

 

Just got back from a brief tour along the Lafayette District. This IS a busy line! Got to see several trains in about three hours time. And that was with traveling and not sitting in one spot, so I don't know how many I may have missed when out of sight of the tracks. I went up to Peru, IN and then west to Logansport and back, also went over to Wabash, IN for a while before heading back home. It was difficult to find a stopping point. The roads had snow piled up along the edges. Didn't want to get stuck!

Went by the car repair shops at Logansport. This is some privately run facility, not sure what their name is. Must be a booming business right now as they had cars, especially autoracks, lined up everwhere.

I plan to go back up to this line when the snow is gone, would like to travel it from Ft. Wayne across to Lafayette, IN.

G Mack

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Posted by Big Ed on Thursday, February 22, 2007 7:43 PM
Glad ya had fun Greg!  Maybe my next trip back home I'll check out the Huntington District and maybe even the Lafayette District a little more.  It's always nice to venture to new territory.  I don't blame you for being extra careful with all the snow piled up. 

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