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Sidney - Marion, OH

A self-guiding Frograil railfan tour

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Formerly the Conrail Indianapolis Line, this line forms part of CSX’s route connecting St. Louis with Baltimore, Cleveland, Northern New Jersey, and Boston.

This tour is part of a larger tour effort to detail trackage from East St. Louis, Illinois, to Cleveland, Ohio. The overview of the entire tour is here. Today, this segment is all CSX, but is historically ex-Conrail, exx-Penn Central, exxx-New York Central, exxxx-Big Four (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway). The tour between the west side of Sidney to Marion is complete, is 63.5 miles long, and the completed segments of the overall tour total 242.6 miles.

If you have never taken a Frograil tour before, you are strongly encouraged to visit the Frograil Tour Guide page, which is loaded with good info for you. Following the advice on that page will save you time, effort, and quite probably, some grief.

Contents And Navigation

About This Tour

Other Tours



Site Listing

The Tour

Supplemental And Back-Up Data

Other Tours

For information concerning the other Frograil tours which have been put together, go to the Tour Guide.

Contributors To This Tour

Bruce Bridges. On-the-ground research and all text, Sidney - Bellefontaine.

Dave Bridges.Bruce's Dad -- He helped with the on-the-ground research.

Train Gifs. All train gifs used within this tour are from Ed Bindler's train gifs site, which is here.

Peter Furnee: CSX logo

Sherry Hill: All driving, Bellefontaine - Greenwich. Her patience is truly saint-like

Tony Hill: Frograil Webmaster -- the guy who makes it go. On-the-ground research and all text, Bellefontaine - Greenwich. Any use of the singular, first person pronoun within this tour refers to Tony, unless specifically otherwise mentioned.


If you'd like to contribute to this, or any other tour, please contact me here, and let me know what you'd like to do. We'll work together: You supply the data/info, and I'll do the HTML stuff and upload it. You'll get a chance to review the fruits of your efforts before the general public sees the finished product, so you can let me have your corrections, additions and changes.

Supplemental And Back-Up Data.

Driving warning:You will be passing thru or near Amish countryside, so you must be on the lookout for the familiar horse-drawn buggies. They have all the rights of any passenger vehicle, so be alert.

The Railroad: Geography.The topography of west central Ohio is somewhat hilly and many streams and river valleys have to be dealt with; however, the overall lay of the land is not rugged, as evidenced by the relatively few curves along the line. About 4 miles east of Bellefontaine is Campbell Hill, at 1550' the highest point in Ohio. The railroad builders knew that, of course, and what has been a fairly gentle southwest - northeast route veers sharply in Bellefontaine, and departs the city almost due north, and gradually works less and less northerly, and enters Marion on a dead east - west bias.

The Railroad: Traffic Levels.Traffic has rebounded somewhat from the crushing recession of 2007-9, and averages approximately 15-20 trains per day, mostly manifest freights, with some intermodal, coal, and automobile traffic. The highlight is trains Q106 (eastbound)/Q107 (westbound), dedicated Schneider intermodal trains running between Kansas City and Schneider’s distribution terminal in Marion, OH, in partnership with Kansas City Southern. These trains occasionally feature KCS power on the head end. Union Pacific power is seen occasionally on run-throughs as well, thanks to the connection at St. Elmo/Altamont, IL.

The Railroad:Operations.The line is double track, with the exception of 15 miles of single track between CP-120 and CP-105, and is signaled for bi-directional operation (Rule 261 TCS signaling) on both tracks.

The Railroad:Mile Points. The route thru Bellefontaine is designated as the Indianapolis Line. The mileposts decrease as we head east. Mileposts on the Indianapolis Line carry a prefix of “QI”. You will not see those letters on the actual milepost markers, but you will see them on the milepost indicators on every grade crossing, and they will be referenced in all radio communications.

Mapwork: Much of the tour is not easy if you have no detailed map for back country roads. I definitely recommend you get a DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer, study it before your trip, and copy pertinent pages for your field work. Also, the Google aerials are good enough to be a valuable tool for you as you plan your trip.

Photographic considerations: I use a shorthand rating system for photo accessibility. Using a clockwise rotation from northeast up to northwest, each quadrant of a crossing is rated from 1 (best) to 4 (not accessible). Note that these refer to accessibility, not the photogenic aspects of the location. Therefore, the following crossing: NE4, SE1, SW1, NW2 would be interpreted as follows:There is no access from the northeast quad (fence, building, private, dangerous, etc.); the southeast quad gives you excellent photo access, at least in one direction and perhaps both; likewise for the southwest quad; viewing access in the northwest quad is good, but not excellent. In places where there is no crossing, per se, I use a simple N, E, S and/or W compass location: N1, S4 would be excellent from the north, but there is no access from the south. Note that in locations contributed by folks other than me, the photo rating numbers may not be present.

An important point is worth mentioning concerning photography along this line:

In many cases, crossings which are in between towns are bordered by agricultural fields. The photo ratings for these will depend largely on what is growing in the field at the time of your visit. Soybeans and wheat won’t cause any visibility problems, but corn is a completely different story altogether. If you visit between October and May, everything may be wide open, but it may also be terrible between June and September, because of tall corn. Best time to visit, as is the case almost everywhere:Cold weather months.

Area Attractions

Bellefontaine.About 14 miles northwest of town is Indian Lake State Park, which offers summer water sports, hunting in the Fall, winter ice fishing and cross country skiing, and lots of other things. It looks like an excellent place to make your base camp while you explore the excellent railfan areas of this part of the country.

Bellefontaine.There are two very interesting places to see something "different" in town. A short distance southeast of the intersection of US-33 and OH-540/Sandusky Avenue is a small "welcome to Bellefontaine"-type park. There is a series of rocks on display. If you look closely at them, you'll discover they are granite, which is a real head scratcher, because there is no granite for many, many miles around. Indeed, these are glacial "erratics", which were carried on the backs of the mighty glaciers that came marching south during the last ice age. More info is available thru , cache number GC26AZH.

The other oddity in Bellefontaine is the existance of a remnant of the first concrete street in America. It's on the south side of the courthouse square downtown. There are descriptive plaques there, also. More info is available thru , cache number GC15CQZ.

Marion:As you come into Marion from the west on Marion - Agosta Road, you skirt the northern boundary of the Big Island wildlife area. I personally saw a big bald eagle sitting in a snag, so keep your eyes open and you might see something neat.

Sidney:Northwest of Sidney is Lake Loramie State Park, which appears to be a pretty sophisticated place, with lots of electric hook-up sites, movie area, game room, etc. This could be a fine place to spend a few days as you explore both east and west of Sidney.

Abbreviations. I try to limit the number of abbreviations to very common terms, such as CSX and NS. However, some terms are Frograil specific, get used repeatedly, and are given here to help you understand them.

AG. "At-grade" -- It may or may not be a railfan location, but you can be assured that the tracks and street/road are on the same level.

CR."County Road". Any road that is not an interstate, US highway, or numbered Ohio state highway is a county road.(See also "TR")

NAG. "Not at grade" -- Usually, a NAG crossing is a poor place to take pix, but not always. However, you should be warned if a crossing isn't at grade, and that's why I try to always clue you in.

NARL. "Not a railfan location" -- In my humble opinion, this location is not worth the visit; indeed, it is probably to be avoided. NARL's result from no photo access, dangerous conditions, or personal security considerations.

NFOG."Not found on the ground" -- A map may indicate a road, crossing, railroad line, etc., but it may have been removed long ago. In some cases, the map may be completely incorrect.

NO."Not observed". During the on-the-ground research for this tour, this location was not observed, so we are going by aerials only, which is risky. Take such observations with a grain of salt.

TR. "Township Road". In this part of Ohio, TR designations are normal for non-Interstate, -US, or -state highways.(See also "CR")

WEBMASTER'S NOTE: I do not recommend or condone walking along the tracks, as this means trespassing and exposing yourself to danger. You will have to be creative, in some instances, to avoid trespassing while getting to the detailed locations included herein, but you will either have to be creative or not visit those sites. At no point in this tour guide, or any other tour which is part of Frograil, is it recommended that you trespass or expose yourself to danger. If you are a fool and have a leg cut off (or worse), don't come crying to me: You have been warned. Trains are big, powerful, and often surprisingly quiet. Don't end up being a statistic.

Sidney - Marion, Ohio -- Railfan Sites:
Alphabetical Sequence Sequential Order:
West to East
------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------
Bellefontaine -- Chillicothe Street Sidney -- Great Miami River Bridge
Bellefontaine -- Columbus and Garfield Avenues Pasco -- Pasco - Montra
Bellefontaine -- Plumvalley Street Pasco -- Ferree Road
Bellefontaine -- Stockyard Road/TR-217 Pemberton -- Johnston-Slagle Road/TR-32
Bellefontaine -- TR-32 Pemberton -- Tawawa-Maplewood Road
De Graff -- CR-11 Pemberton -- Logan-Shelby Road/CR-4
De Graff -- TR-208 Quincy -- OH-235/Carlisle StreetMP 153.5
Gretna -- CR-11 Quincy -- Miami Street
Gretna -- TR-31 Quincy -- Main Street/CR-63
Gretna -- TR-33 De Graff -- TR-208
Gretna -- TR-46 De Graff -- CR-11
Pasco -- Ferree Road Gretna -- TR-33
Pasco -- Pasco - Montra Gretna -- CR-11
Pemberton -- Johnston-Slagle Road/TR-32 Gretna -- TR-31
Pemberton -- Logan-Shelby Road/CR-4 Gretna -- TR-46
Pemberton -- Tawawa-Maplewood Road Bellefontaine -- TR-32
Quincy -- Main Street/CR-63 Bellefontaine -- Plumvalley Street
Quincy -- Miami Street Bellefontaine -- Chillicothe Street
Quincy -- OH-235/Carlisle Street Bellefontaine -- Columbus and Garfield Avenues
Sidney -- Great Miami River Bridge Bellefontaine -- Stockyard Road/TR-217MP 139.2
Bellefontaine -- US-68 Bellefontaine -- US-68
Big Springs -- CR-265 Harper -- CR-57E
Big Springs -- OH-274 Harper -- CR-25N
Big Springs -- TR-110 Rushsylvania -- CR-9/Sandusky Street
Harper -- CR-25N Rushsylvania -- OH-274/Sandusky Street
Harper -- CR-57E Big Springs -- TR-110
La Rue -- Dry Lane Road Big Springs -- OH-274
La Rue -- Front Street Big Springs -- CR-265
La Rue -- High Street Van
La Rue -- Marion - Hardin Road Van -- TR-115
La Rue -- Section Street Ridgeway MP 125.2
La Rue -- TR-247 Ridgeway -- TR-179
La Rue -- Winnemac Pike Mt Victory -- TR-197
Marion -- Bennett Street Mt Victory
Marion -- Campbell Road Mt Victory -- TR-217
Marion -- Kenton Avenue Mt Victory -- CR-245
Marion -- OH-203/Upper Sandusky - Prospect Road La Rue -- TR-247
Marion -- Station Area La Rue -- Marion - Hardin Road
Marion -- West Center Street La Rue -- Winnemac Pike
Mt Victory La Rue -- Front Street
Mt Victory -- CR-245 La Rue -- High Street
Mt Victory -- TR-197 La Rue -- Section Street
Mt Victory -- TR-217 La Rue -- Dry Lane Road
New Bloomington -- Agosta - Larue Road New Bloomington -- Decliff Road
New Bloomington -- Agosta - Meeker Road New Bloomington -- Agosta - Larue Road
New Bloomington -- Decliff Road New Bloomington -- Agosta - Meeker RoadMP 110.1
Ridgeway Marion -- OH-203/Upper Sandusky - Prospect Road
Ridgeway -- TR-179 Marion -- Campbell Road
Rushsylvania -- CR-9/Sandusky Street Marion -- Bennett Street
Rushsylvania -- OH-274/Sandusky Street Marion -- West Center Street
Van Marion -- Kenton Avenue
Van -- TR-115 Marion -- Station AreaMP 101.5
The Tour

As a general note, Sidney is not an easy place to railfan; you're in the convoluted landscape of the Great Miami River Valley, the crossings are almost all NAGs, and no road comes close to paralleling the CSX Indianapolis Line (ex-CCC&StL Railway) we are following thru town. Both this line and CSX’s Toledo Sub (ex-B&O, north-south) pass through Sidney. Both are grade-separated through town, and their crossing is grade-separated (ex-CR over, ex-B&O under) and is completely inaccessible. There is a connecting track (CP-163 on the Indy Line) in the SW quadrant. There is a grand total of one possible place in the entire town to view the Toledo Sub action: a grade crossing at North Street. Bruce didn’t visit it because it’s not the subject of the tour, but on the aerials, even this one spot doesn’t look all that promising.

We will visit one location in town, but you may want to decide to drive out to the Pasco area to start/resume the tour. Read the following few paragraphs carefully, and decide what you want to do. We will write this up as if you will be going to the bridge area.

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Sidney -- Great Miami River Bridge.If you're starting the tour at Sidney, take the Michigan Street/OH-47 exit (#92), and go east. The street will wiggle around somewhat to the southeast and become Court Street. At Ohio Street, take a right to go south (one-way street). This will eventually merge with Main Street (one way northbound), and become a two-way street and very shortly you'll be at the bridge.

If you're continuing the tour from Vandemark Road (approximately MP 165), continue north across the tracks and then take a right onto Campbell Road. At Fair Road, take a lazy left to go northeast. After another lazy left onto Walter Avenue, take an immediate right onto Water Street. At Ohio Street, take a right to go south (one-way street). This will eventually merge with Main Street (one way northbound), and become a two-way street and very shortly you'll be at the bridge.

This is the one saving grace for railfans in all of Sidney, and honestly your only real reason for going into town. This concrete arch bridge built in 1923 is by far the largest bridge on the entire route, and is a must-see scenic highlight! Photo ops are from (west to east) Main Street, the river (from a boat, natch), and Childrens Home Road. It's located in a park-like setting, with many different photographic vantage points available from the north and south.

Pasco -- Pasco-Montra Road.

1. If you're starting the tour at Sidney and wish to skip the bridge, take the Michigan Street/OH-47 exit (#92), and go east. After crossing the river, the street continues straight to the east as Court Street/OH-29. Once you're well into the country, OH-29 will go to the right, but you should continue straight ahead on OH-706. Take a left onto Pasco - Montra Road, and drive north to the crossing.

2. If you're continuing the tour from Vandemark Road and wish to skip the bridge, continue north across the tracks and then take a right onto Campbell Road. At Fair Road, take a lazy left to go northeast. After another lazy left onto Walter Avenue, take a right onto Michigan Street/OH-47 exit (#92), and go east. After crossing the river, the street continues straight to the east as Court Street/OH-29. Once you're well into the country, OH-29 will go to the right, but you should continue straight ahead on OH-706. Take a left onto Pasco - Montra Road, and drive north to the crossing.

3. If you're continuing the tour from the bridge, continue south on Main Street to a left onto Gearhart Road. Go over the Miami River, and continue well into the countryside. At Knoop - Johnson Road, take a left and go over the tracks on a NAG/NARL, and you'll T at OH-29. Take a right to drive east, and after a short distance, OH-29 will go to the right, but you should continue straight ahead on OH-706. Take a left onto Pasco - Montra Road, and drive north to the crossing.

Whew, now we're all in one place!This is the first grade crossing since Vandemark Road in Sidney. This is a decent location (and it had better be as long as we’ve gone without having any access to the tracks!):NE3, SE1, SW2, NW3. This is on a curve with good shots in both directions. There is an AEI reader here.

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Pasco -- Ferree Road.Go back south to OH-706, turn left to head east, and at Ferree Road, take a left to go north to the tracks. There is a defect detector here at MP 159.4. Photo ratings are NE1, SE1 (a few poles to contend with), SW2, NW2. Stay well away from the major substation in the SW quadrant. Immediately north of the tracks, the road bends almost 90º to parallel the tracks closely for a little more than the length of a football field. Might be a good place to get out the lawn chairs and coolers, and just relax for awhile.

Pemberton -- Johnston-Slagle Road/TR-32.Drive back down to OH-706, turn left and drive to Johnson-Slagle Road/TR-32. Turn left and drive up to the crossing. Wide open all around.

Pemberton -- Tawawa-Maplewood Road.Drive north to Dingman-Stagle Road and turn right. At Tawawa-Maplewood Road, turn right and drive down to the village of Pemberton. There are two crossings in town, and this is the first. It's pretty good, at least from the west:NE3, SE4, SW1, NW1. Main Street, a block to the west, gives you fair-good access from the southeast quad, but the others are not worth the drive over there.

Pemberton -- Logan-Shelby Road/CR-4.Backtrack north to Dingman-Slagle Road, turn right and go east to a T at Logan-Shelby Road. Take a right and drive south to the crossing. Ratings are NE3, SE2, SW1, NW1. This road is the county line between Logan County to the east, and Shelby County to the west.

Quincy -- OH-235/Carlisle Street.Go back north to a right onto CR-70, which will somewhere along the way also be signed as Liberty Street. This road parallels the tracks to the north briefly as it enters town. Turn right again onto OH-235/Carlisle Street and drive to the crossing, which is nothing to write home about, but the southeast quad is excellent:NE4, SE1, SW4, NW4.

Immediately to the west is the crossing of CSX and the Indiana & Ohio Railway (IORY); this was once the mainline of the Detroit, Toledo, and Ironton Railroad. The interlocking here is CP-153, and is comprised of the diamond and a set of crossovers in both directions. The mileage at the diamond is MP 153.5.

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Quincy -- Miami Street.Go north to New Street, take a right, and then another right onto Miami Street. The Miami Street crossing is definitely better than that of the previous crossing, but it's still not super-duper at all:NE2, SE2, SW3, NW1. In the southeast quad are the vestigial remains of Railroad Street. South of the street are homes and to the north is a railroad spur/MOW type area, and both north and south are 4's. However, if you stay on the road, you're on public property, and this street only has a few homes on it, so you should be OK.

Quincy -- Main Street/CR-63.North of the tracks via Miami Street, take a right onto Main Street, which will become CR-63 outside of town. There is an overpass over the tracks about a mile east of town; it’s in the middle of an S-curve and is rather tight. But the road parallels the tracks on the south for a short distance east of the bridge.

De Graff -- TR-208.Continue east on CR-63, which will T at CR-63/CR-64. Stay on CR-63 by turning left. Since you left the overpass in the last paragraph, and all the way around De Graff, the railroad makes a serious change in direction -- it is now turning far more steeply northeast, and by the time it leaves the area, it is going all of 65º northeast. The tracks skirt De Graff on the south and east via an elevated alignment. Several roads pass under the tracks in this area, but all are NAG/NARL.

When you reach the T at OH-508, take a left to follow it into town. At Miami Street downtown, take a right and drive out of De Graff. At CR-11, turn left. Take it easy on CR-11, because it's got some major curves. Go straight north thru the TR-43 intersection, and at TR-208 take a left. You'll be glad you did. The crossing is a PRIME PHOTO LOCATION. DO NOT MISS THIS ONE. Wide open all around (1’s, easily). The curve here (from due north to northeast) offers almost limitless photo opportunities. From north of the crossing, the view down the straightaway to the east is to die for!

The crossing is a narrowly compressed, northeast trending X, not a +, so you should be able to get shots north and south all day. MP 148 is here.Defect detector 149.8 is to the southwest.

De Graff -- CR-11.Backtrack south on TR-208 to CR-11, then turn left to go north to the tracks. Another prime photo location. Again, the curve here offers great views in both directions.

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Gretna -- TR-33.Keep north on CR-11 to TR-209, take a right (you are continuing on CR-11, even though you've turned right), and then another right onto TR-33, and go south to the crossing. Photo ratings are NE3, SE3, SW1, NW1.

Gretna -- CR-11.Go back north on TR-33, until a right onto CR-11, which will soon lead to a crossing -- and a fairly decent one. Photo ratings are NE3-4, SE1, SW3-4, NW1.

Gretna -- TR-31.Continue east across the tracks, go thru 4 90º turns, and then run due east to the intersection with TR-31. Take a left to go north to the crossing. It's wide open, except for the northeast quad, which is occupied by a private residence.

Gretna -- TR-46.Backtrack down to CR-11, turn left, and head further east. At TR-46, take a left and drive up to the crossing, which is good from the south:NE4, SE1, SW1-2, NW4. The problem from the north is that Blue Jacket Creek is just north of the crossing, and the land is treed-in and uneven.

Bellefontaine -- TR-32.Go across the tracks to the north, and at OH-47, take a right to go into the Bellefontaine area. The road will become Sandusky Avenue once in the city.[Webmaster's Note:Before you get to the next turn, you will pass the Childrens' Home Cemetery. That might be a good time to spend a moment to appreciate how lucky we have been in life.]At TR-32, take a right and drive to the crossing. Photo ratings range from excellent to nonexistent:NE1, SE2, SW3, NW4.

Bellefontaine -- Plumvalley Street.It is hard to imagine a more lovely name set for a city and street than Bellefontaine and Plumvalley, respectively. Continue south on TR-32 to CR-11, and turn left. At Troy Street take a left to go north, and then turn right onto Plumvalley Street. There is a crossing at Troy Street, but it is NAG/NARL. The Plumvalley crossing is NE4, SE3, SW4, NW1, so it's no great shakes, but will definitely get you trackside if you need to be.

The northwest quad is really wide open, and is a great place to just sit and watch trains. Leave your camera in the car.

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Bellefontaine -- Chillicothe Street.Keep going north on Plumvalley to a right onto Chillicothe Street. Stay alert as you near the crossing. Just west of the crossing, you might note the archeological remains of a Toledo Ohio Central and CCC&StL line going to the northwest. In the area of the crossing itself, the former NYC route to Springfield and Dayton ran straight south; it was removed during the 1990s. The former “BS” Tower still stands in dilapidated condition, with a “141” interlocking designation. There is no longer an interlocking here, as the crossovers were relocated to the east after the Springfield line was torn up.

Photo ratings aren't bad, but the street is quite busy:NE2, SE2, SW1, NW2. At this crossing, the line has abruptly come up from the west-northwest, and now swings up to due north.

Bellefontaine -- Columbus Avenue/Garfield Avenue.Contrary to what the maps might show, there is no crossing on Court Avenue. From the crossing at Chillicothe, go north on Mill Street, which is west of the tracks. The Columbus Avenue and Garfield Avenue crossings are really one big crossing, and the photo angles all around are poor. The world’s shortest street (there are signs in place attesting to that fact) is right along the west side of the tracks here. We include this spot only for those who need to get trackside fast.

Bellefontaine -- Stockyard Road/TR-217.You can continue to the north in this area, but the only other crossing for quite a distance (Sandusky Street/OH-47) is NAG/NARL; therefore, we'll leave the downtown and drive the most direct route to Stockyard Road. Go east on Columbus Avenue to US-68/Main Street. Take a left and drive north out of the city. When you go over US-33, take a left onto Stockyard Road/TR-217. Photo ratings are NE1, SE1, SW3, NW2.

A fairly new crossover is located just north (railroad east) of the crossing; probably CP-139. This crossing is MP 139.17. Somewhere in the crossover area, at MP 138.5, the Indianapolis Line Subdivision ends, and the Mt Victory Subdivision begins, and continues northward to Martel.

Bellefontaine -- US-68.. Drive back up Stockyard Road to US-68 and turn left to go north. There is an AG crossing which is mostly lousy:NE4, SE2, SW1, NW4, but the view to the southwest is quite good. Shoot from the east side of US-68.

Harper -- CR-57E.MapQuest and other Internet map services show a road from just south of the tracks to a crossing northeast; however, the road is NFOG, as the southeast side of the tracks is a very large landfill operation. Therefore, continue north on US-68 to a right onto CR-57E, and continue east to the tracks. Park off to the side of the road, but be mindful of the deep drainage ditch. The crossing is much better than the last, but be aware that plenty of trucks will be going to and from the north entry to the landfill. NE1, SE1, SW3, NW1.

The marker for MP 136 is here.

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Harper -- CR-25N. Continue east on CR-57E, and it will bend 90º at the entrance to the landfill, and come to a crossing with CR-9. Take a left, and then another left onto CR-25N. The crossing isn't bad:NE4 (poles), SE2, SW1, NW2. A dragging equipment detector is just to the north, at MP 134.8.

Rushsylvania -- CR-9/Sandusky Street.Retrace you route back to CR-9 and take a left to continue to the northeast. The tracks will come in from the left, and you'll zig-zag over the crossing: NE1, SE1, SW3, NW4. Not a bad crossing for photos, but the road is pretty busy.

Rushsylvania -- OH-274/Sandusky Street. Continue northeast into Rushsylvania, where OH-274 joins Sandusky Street. There are crossings on Bank and Euclid streets, but they are NARL because of very limited public access. Sandusky will cross the tracks just past Railroad Street. There is a crossing on the latter, but it's NARL because of a lack of public access. Photo ratings on Sandusky Street are: NE1, SE4, SW4, NW1. There is an old mill in the southeast quad that can act as an excellent photo prop. The shot on the northwest is from a grassy area that seems to be public accessible.

Big Springs -- TR-110.Continuing further northeast on OH-274/Sandusky Street, turn left onto TR-110. This is a very good location, at NE1, SE1, SW2, NW1.

Big Springs -- OH-274.The next location is very close to this one, but differs considerably. At TR-110, the crossing is close to a +, with the tracks going southwest - northeast. The OH-274 crossing just north of the intersection of TR-110 and CR-274 is a rather tight x, with the road and rails coming together to essentially parallel each other to the northeast.

Photo ratings are: NE1, SE2, SW1, NW3, and there are intermediate signals numbered 130.2 just north of the crossing. Other differences between this spot and the former one are that the road is a good bit busier here, and it crosses the tracks on a zig-zag.

Big Springs -- CR-265. Just as OH-274 veers away from the tracks, CR-265 is a short connector to CR-12. The crossing on CR-265 is poor, with 4's all around, except for the southeast quad, which is no better than a 2. However, the shot is up an embankment, and I think a good photographer could do something nice with the location.

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Van.Go back to OH-274, and take a right to go north. At the intersection with CR-40 take a right. The crossing is a very much squished x, to the point that this is almost such a place as to warrant only north and south photo ratings, so I won't give any ratings, except to say that between the road to the east and the tracks to the north, you have good photo access. Most other areas are poor; however, walk around a bit, and you may be rewarded.

Intermediate signals are to the southwest, and are numbered 127.2.

Van -- TR-115.Continuing east on CR-40, there is a crossroads with TR-115, so take a left to drive north to the tracks. This spot is much better than the last, at NE1, SE1, SW1, NW2, and the road is not as busy.

Ridgeway.Drop back down to CR-40, take a left, and at OH-292, take another left to drive into the town of Ridgeway. As you enter the town, you also enter Hardin County. Photo ops are pretty good:NE1, SE2, SW1, NW1-4. The problem in the northwest quad is that CSX apparently stages ballast and other materials there, so the view might be great or cluttered. The crossing itself is at MP 125.2.

Ridgeway -- TR-179.Looking east from the OH-292 crossing in Ridgeway, you'll notice lots of signals and tracks. There is a crossing of the CSX Columbus - Toledo (ex-Toledo Central) line less than half a mile away, and both the northeast and southeast quads of the crossing have tracks connecting the two lines. There is, however, no public access.

Head back down OH-292, and turn left onto Hales Street/CR-240. When you get to TR-179, take a left and drive north to the tracks. Another good crossing, at NE1, SE1, SW3, NW1. If you walk back down TR-179 south of the crossing, the view to the southwest becomes a solid 1, and nice photos can be had of AM northbounds. The MP 124 marker is just east of the crossing.

Mt Victory -- TR-197.Return to CR-240, turn left, and the road will T with TR-197. Go left and drive up to the crossing. Photo ratings are 1's all around, with the exception of the southwest quad which offers no opportunities.

Mt Victory.Keep going north on TR-197 to a T with OH-273; turn right and enter Mt Victory on what will become Taylor Street. In order, west to east:West Mansfield Road has a crossing, but it is NARL, because of private property; Williams, Elm and High streets have all been cut, and there appear to be few remnants of the crossings that offer public access. At Main Street, there is a crossing that has decent public access, but it's not very good (NE3, SE3, SW4, NW2). If you have to get trackside in a hurry, this will do for you, but other than that, it is not recommended.

Continuing west to east:Washington and Hale streets have been cut, and there is limited public access on the north from the latter, but it isn't recommended; Wheeler Street has a crossing, but it is NARL with no real public access.

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Mt Victory -- TR-217. Your best bet is to get out of Mt Victory, and find some places that are much more open for fanning. From the corner of Taylor and Wheeler streets, take a right onto Wheeler, and go south to Marion Street/CR-230. At Marion, turn left to go east, and drive a good ways to TR-217 on the left. Take the left to drive up to the tracks. Photo ratings of NE2, SE1, SW1, NW1 will make you glad you left Mt Victory!

Just southwest of the crossing is CP-120, where the two tracks we've been following go down to one main track for the next 15 miles to the northeast.

Mt Victory -- CR-245.Head back south on TR-217 to a T with CR-230. Take a left and then another left at CR-245, which will take you to a crossing, which is good from the north, but not from the south:NE1, SE4, SW4, NW4. Viewing at both southern quads is blocked, and even if you walk further south on CR-245, you won't be rewarded.

La Rue -- CR-202/CR-247.Stay on CR-245 northbound, and shortly you should turn right onto CR-202. You will gradually get closer and closer to the tracks, and the last 1/8th mile or so gives very nice viewing to both southwest and northeast -- you'll want to shoot from the north side of CR-202. Just before you reach Marion - Hardin Road, CR-247 comes up from the south and crosses the tracks and then ends at CR-202. There is very good viewing from the southwest quad if you walk aways south of the crossing on CR-247. It is out over an open field, and you should be able to do very well with morning northbounds.

La Rue -- Marion - Hardin Road. Very shortly past the junction of CR-202 and CR-247, the former swings 90º to the north to join Marion - Hardin Road coming up from the south. The road gets its name because it is on the boundary of its two name-sake counties. My notes are unfortunately incomplete here, but I believe the shots from the north side of CR-202 should be good, as would those from the south on Marion - Hardin, after walking past an obstruction (tower and adjacent buildings), and shooting across the field. Cannot comment on any views east of the county line, as nothing is in my notes, and the visuals are not definitive.

La Rue -- Winnemac Pike.Head north on Marion - Harmon Road to your first right onto La Rue - Mt Victory Road. There is a crossing on LR-MV Road shortly after Clark Road goes off to the left, but it is NARL, as the sight lines are all via private property. When you get to Winnemac Pike, take a left and drive north to the crossing. Viewing from both quads north of the crossing is excellent, but both southern quads are very tight. The southwest quad is marginally better than the southeastern.

The marker for MP 115 is here.

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La Rue -- Front Street.Once back down on La Rue - Mt Victory Road heading east, you'll soon cross the Scioto River, and there will be an immediate turn to the left onto Front Street. As you approach the crossing, there is parking on the right. Rankings are NE1, SE1, SW4, NW4; the 4's are due to private property.

La Rue -- High Street.Turn around to go south on Front Street, and take the first left south of the crossing, which is an un-named, gravel alley. It hugs the tracks and there are plently of spots that give good viewing. In the vicinity of High Street (the first street you encounter via the alley), find a place to park. As far as photo fields at the High Street crossing, they're all over the place:NE4, SE3, SW2, NW1. Besides having good sight lines, the northwest quad is a city park, and is quite inviting looking. It is, perhaps, a lawn chair and cooler spot; one at which you can just sit and relax and let the big dogs come to you.

La Rue -- Section Street.Continue north on High Street, cross the tracks, and turn right onto Half Street. This crazy street will do two 45º turns to change from east- to northbound, and intersect with School Road. Take a right and then another right at Section Street. Section Street's crossing of the CSX line rates:NE1, SE1, SW4, NW2. Because of private property concerns, all of the quads should be shot from the road only, but the results will be fine. The southwest quad has your sight line blocked.

La Rue -- Dry Lane Road.Keep on Section Street south of the tracks to a left onto Market Street. This will take you out of town and become La Rue - Prospect Road. At Dry Lane Road, take a left and go up to the crossing. This really isn't one of the better viewing areas around, at NE2, SE4, SW4, NW1, but it will get you trackside if necessary.

New Bloomington -- Decliff Road.Drop back to La Rue - Prospect Road, take a left, and continue to the east. Just east of Dry Lane Road, the railroad bends to become a flat east - west railroad, and continues as such all the way into the west end of Marion. Therefore, the sun will be your enemy when trying to shoot from the north, but it is what it is. At Decliff Road, take a left and drive up to the crossing (but do not drive over it -- park off the Agosta - Larue Road, which goes east just before the crossing), which has photo ratings of NE3, SE1, SW1, NW1. The crossing itself is at MP 112.1.

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New Bloomington -- Agosta - Larue Road. Keep eastbound on Agosta - Larue Road. This road offers excellent views along the way, and all of them are shooting to the north. This is a place to find a spot that works for you, and then, just find a place to sit and enjoy what the guys in Jacksonville are providing for us railfans. Along the way, you'll pass the MP 111 signals.

New Bloomington -- Agosta - Meeker Road.When you get to the village of New Bloomington, the street will take a 90º turn to the right and another immediate 90º to the left and become Buell Street. At North Main Street, turn left, go over the tracks (NARL -- private property and sight line distractions), take a right onto Union Street, and then another right onto Carey Street. Carey suffers from the same faults as does Main Street. Immediately past the tracks, turn left onto Railroad Street. This will give you a few places to shoot a train. At Agosta - Meeker Road, another 90º turn will take you north and over the tracks, which, in turn, is followed by another 90º turn which will take you east towards Marion via Marion - Agosta Road. Park after this last 90º turn, and walk back to the Agosta - Meeker Road crossing.

The photo ops aren't too inspiring, at NE1, SE4, SW2, NW2, but it's the best in the immediate area. There is a dragging equipment detector just to the east, at MP 110.1.

Marion -- OH-203/Upper Sandusky - Prospect Road.Continue east on OH-95/Marion - Agosta Road. There are off again/on again poles between Marion - Agosta Road and the tracks, and that, plus the fact that the tracks are dead east - west, makes photos tough. There are several private crossings that allow you to get across the tracks, take your picture, and scoot, but the best you'll get are wedge shots, which could be taken in a yard anywhere on the system. All maps and satellite imagery I've seen shows a crossing at Espyville Road, but I completely missed it. I will say that the aerials are not too encouraging. So...when you get to OH-203/Upper Sandusky - Prospect Road, take a right and park in the vicinity of the tracks -- actually, the crossing is so close to Marion - Agosta that you're just as well off to park on the latter.

The crossing is quite good, at NE1, SE4, SW1, NW1. The southeast quad has trees, but the southwest quad is beautiful for photos. Just to the east, the single track that began back in Mt Victory 15 miles ago ends, and it's double track from here eastbound. The interlocking is CP-105. The two northern quads are probably best shot from Marion - Agosta Road.

Marion -- Campbell Road.The next right off Marion - Agosta Road to the east is Campbell Road. Take a right, cross the tracks, take a left onto Bennett Street and park. Your best shots from the shoulder of Marion - Agosta are between the large power poles that (thankfully) are set fairly far back. I'd rate the quads as follows for the Campbell Road crossing:NE3, SE3, SW2, NW2. The much better location is straight ahead via Bennett Street.

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Marion -- Bennett Street.Continue east via Bennett Street towards Marion. This road parallels the tracks into town, and the power poles are south of the street, so you've got a clear shot north to the tracks. Find a place to pull off, get out the lawn chairs and coolers, and let the parade come to you.

Marion -- West Center Street.As you get into Marion proper, the tracks will peel away from Bennett Street, so take a left onto Nye, which will curve around to parallel the tracks. As it curves around, it becomes Curve Street, and then will join Center Street. Find a place to park before getting to Center. These tracks to your left are the CSX (ex-Conrail, exx-Penn Central, exxx-New York Central, exxxx-Big Four) that we've followed all the way from Avon Yard west of Indianapolis. North of them was the Erie Railroad's line between Ravenna and Chicago, and Erie had a huge yard in the area. You can still plainly see the yard area on the aerials, including the outlines of what was obviously an impressive roundhouse. Today, the yard is still in use by CSX, albeit on a much more limited scale than in days gone by, but the big thing happening there is that Schneider has established a logistics center in the former yard area. There is a daily train off the Kansas City Southern from Kansas City to Marion that is a dedicated Schneider domestic intermodal train, and the containers and pigs are distributed from this location.

To railfan the crossing, my advice is to simply walk around to find a place that works for you, based on street traffic, private property, sun, etc. You are out of the country and into the city, and fanning has just gotten more difficult.

Be mindful that Center Street, just to the east of this location, becomes one-way westbound all the way thru town.

Marion -- Kenton Avenue.Take a right onto Center (it is not yet one-way) and drive about 5 blocks to a very hard left onto Kenton Avenue. Park wherever you can. The crossing here has four tracks, with the southern pair being the ex-Big Four mainlines, the northern track the lead into the ex-Erie yard, and the track south of that the connector between the ex-Big Four and ex-Erie.

Viewing is OK both north and south of the crossing area, but Kenton is very busy, so be alert. The next location is a premier central Ohio railfanning spot, so you might be better off just continuing on.

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Marion -- Station Area.Parking is a bit of a problem here, expecially on weekends, as fans from all over congregate here to see the action. It is one long block from the Kenton Avenue crossing to the station, via Center Street. You will cross two sets of north - south tracks, with the first being the CSX (ex-C&O, exx-Hocking Valley) Columbus - Toledo main line, and the second the NS (ex-PRR) Columbus - Bellevue main. Both crossings are double tracks. Between the two sets, on the north, is the station area. There is a large station, a tower, and other structures in the area. Park anywhere you can. Immediately north of the tower are the twin tracks of the east - west CSX line we're fanning.

North of Center Street to the east of the NS crossing, there is a gravel area that offers very good viewing of the NS/CSX (ex-Big Four) crossing. People park in that area, but it looks like railroad property to me. You will want to explore the areas on your own, and pick your spot. My best advice is to find a local, knowledgeable fan, and pick his brain for fan locations, train numbers, etc. You won't get broad, panoramic views here, but you will see upwards of 100 trains in a 24-hour period.

This concludes the Sidney - Marion segment of the East St Louis - Cleveland tour.