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Champaign/Urbana, Illinois to Marion, Ohio and Summerail 8/12-13/2021

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I woke up at the Ramada Inn in Urbana and after doing our Internet duties and checking out, we went to Perkins Restaurant for a delicious and filling breakfast. After that meal I drove us to Crawfordsville for two stations.

Terre Haute, Indianapolis and Eastern Traction Company station in Crawfordsville. The Terre Haute, Indianapolis and Eastern Traction Company, or THI&E, was the second largest interurban in the Indiana during the 1920s height of the interurban era. This system included over 400 miles of track, with lines radiating from Indianapolis to the east, northwest, west and southwest as well as streetcar lines in several major cities. The THI&E was formed in 1907 by the Schoepf-McGowan Syndicate as a combination of several predecessor interurban and streetcar companies and was operated independently until incorporation into the Indiana Railroad in 1931. The THI&E served a wide range of territory, including farmlands in central Indiana, the mining region around Brazil, and numerous urban centers. Eventually it slowly succumbed, like all of the other central Indiana interurban lines, to competition from automobiles, trucks and improved paralleling highways.

Monon Railroad Crawfordsville station built in 1926. From here we headed east toward Ohio.

The state line of Ohio as we entered the state and I drove us to Springfield.

Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Springfield station.

Detroit, Toledo and Ironton freighthouse. Elizabeth drove us over to Marion, changing time zones from Central to Eastern, to the Best Western University Inn where we set up the room. After that we went to Subway for dinner before going over to Marion Union Station for train watching. For Summerail weekend, the station and tower were open all day. I climbed the stairs of the tower to see it for the first time.

The track layout at Marion Union Station.

The levers in the tower that controlled the railroad here.

The CSX local came to a red signal and had to wait for space in their yard.

CSX 3108 East went to the line to Toledo.

CSX DPU 3198 in the mid train of CSX 2108 East.

Norfolk Southern 9597 West came through the complex. Our friend from Bluffton, South Carolina, Doug Scott, then joined us as previously arranged. Conversation was almost impossible while the trains were passing through since the rythmic clattering of the wheels over the double diamonds on both sides of the station were quite loud.

Still a red signal for the local. Another CSX train from Toledo entered the CSX yard.

The local finally had a yellow signal.

The CSX local with CSX 6408 and 2694 came through the complex.

Norfolk Southern 4389 West was the final train of the day to photograph. There were many railfans here this evening, some regulars and out-of-towners here for the Friday evening event.

Summerail Friday Night Slide Show

Charles Bogart started off the evening with his "CSX Queensgate Yard" program. That was followed by Mike Raia presenting "The Rock Island from Chicago to Joliet" mostly taken by his father, Bill but some by him, then "Belle Bottom Blues" by James Dubose, an Alco tribute. "Everyewhere West" by Scott Lindsay was the last program we stayed for as we were both tired so returned to the hotel for the night.

Summerail History

Summerail is an annual railroad themed multimedia exhibition held on the second Saturday of August. Summerail began in 1995 as a joint project of the Cincinnati Railroad Club and Miami Valley Railfans. For the first 20 years it was held at the magnificent Cincinnati Union Terminal. Due to renovations at Union Terminal and the growth of the audience exceeding the theater capacity in Cincinnati, Summerail moved to the historic Palace Theater in Marion in 2016. This magnificent venue provides ample seating and is conveniently located within walking distance of the Marion Union Station and the heavy railroad traffic it has to offer. The Marion Union Station Association has excellent train watching facilities and historic displays at the station, including the restored AC interlocking tower.

8/13/2022 Elizabeth and I awoke and following our morning routines, went to Bob Evans for another excellent meal before driving over to the Palace Theatre for Summerail. We parked behind the theatre and walked around and entered the vendor show. After paying at the door, we went in and had a good look around and found some items that we had to add to our respective collections. For me, it was an Ontario Northland schedule from 1989, "Amtrak at 50" DVD, "Southern Pacific Cab Forward Collection" DVD and CSX Albany Division Timetable No. 6. For Elizabeth, it was "Canadian Pacific Motive Power in Colour volume 1 - The Switchers". I talked to Steve Barry, the editor of Railfan and Raiload Magazine (and one of the presenters) for a few minutes and later joined Elizabeth who had unexpectedly met Carl Jensen, a fellow National Railway Historical Society member. The three of us had a good chat and were also joined by Doug Scott.

After that, Doug and I went upstairs and he went to get some lunch from the food trucks that were in front of the theatre for this event. At 12:10, we walked downstairs and into the Palace Theatre which was incredible. The three of us talked until the show announcements were made. Steve Barry was the acting afternoon MC. The first show was "The Photography of Jim Boyd" by Craig Willett and Mike Schafer which we had seen at Winterail a few years ago and it was good to see it a second time. That was followed by "Yellow Box Moments" by Bruce Barrett before a twenty-minute intermission. The next show was "Country Roads" by Charles Dischinger, then "The Chicago & North Western Show" by Jeff and Andrew Nelson. Another twenty-minute intermission ensued before "Evolution on the FEC" {Florida East Coast} by Michael Harding and "Ann Arbor Railroad - The Final Years" by Jeff Mast. We had seen this particular show at Winterail in March which was good for filling in gaps in our memories. That concluded the afternoon programs.

During the 4:30 to 7:00 dinner break, Doug, Elizabeth and I went to Red Lobster for a good meal then drove over to Marion Union Station where we had one westbound CSX train clatter over the double diamonds. We returned to the theatre parking lot and showed our wristbands to re-enter the theatre. The evening programs started with "Alco Heaven" by Steve Smedley and was followed by "Big O's Shorts 1970's by Dave Oroszi (the Summerail organizer), after which we had a fifteen-minute intermission. The penultimate show was "Cancel All Plans - How I Foamed The Pandemic" by David Patch, which was both entertaining and just showed what one could do in the local area from a railfanning perspective during the pandemic. The final show of the evening was "Pennsylvania Steam by Steve Barry, which concluded about 9:45. All were excellent and Elizabeth and I thoroughly enjoyed our first Summerail. There were also some 'commercials' and comical aspects scattered between the programs which made for some hilarity among the audience.

The two of us said our goodbyes to Doug and Carl and drove back to the Best Western where we called it a night.