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Shooting In Greencastle

August 16, 2009

One of the great things about the internet is getting to meet people you would never meet otherwise. Meeting people like this can lead to being places you otherwise wouldn’t go. It’s a wonderful thing when you think about it, really.

So it was that I found myself along the rails of the CSX near Greencastle, Indiana. Greencastle is best known as the home of DePauw University; which just happens to be the employer of a friend I met online. She had to go into the office for several hours, which led to this railfan from an adjacent state having some time to kill.

Which led to me standing in the shadow of Hudsons, Mohawks and Mikados.

The main CSX line through Greencastle is the double track line from Indianapolis to St. Louis. The portion in Indiana once was a part of the Big Four, a subsidiary of the New York Central, which later became part of Penn Central and Conrail. Reflections of the line’s past are still evident. For example, Conrail style signs still abound. Current owner CSX is also making its presence known, as evidenced by the new signs around the old Big Four passenger station in town.

Standing alongside the tracks east of town, I couldn’t help but think of the line’s past. How fascinating would it be to have been standing here sixty years ago as a high drivered Hudson bore down at track speed, preparing to slow for a passenger stop two miles away. Or for a mile of freight behind a Mohawk? Those days are gone of course, as steam gave way to diesels before the New York Central disappeared entirely. Two successors have come and gone since then.

And now? The scanner in the car crackled to life.

“CSX 4722. Clear signal. 32.1. Track 1. Out.”

Before long a westbound train for St. Louis rounded the curve, riding the dynamic brakes as it descended the grade into Greencastle.


Eastbound for Indianapolis, a Union Pacific ES44 leads a train at the crossing immediately to the east of the bridge the previous train was shot from.


A tad later and on the west side of town, a pair of CSX units and three leased units head up another eastbound train for Indianapolis. The train is less than forty miles from the end of its run in Avon Yard.


Early the next morning, a westbound train for St. Louis looms out of the morning sunlight with ripples of heat erupting from the dynamic brake grids.


Before too long another westbound appears, this one a stack train headed by the same Union Pacific ES44 that made an appearance the day before.


Later that afternoon, the first of three trains descends upon Greencastle. A westbound with Union Pacific power slows as it is about to pass an approach signal under the overpass. This train is going to be held at the west end of the Greencastle yard for an eastbound as a work project has track one out of service to the west.


Shortly, the eastbound train arrives with another Union Pacific locomotive leading.


As we waited for the eastbound to appear, a westbound CSX local arrived from Avon and stopped short of the red signal. As the eastbound passes, the local is still waiting for a signal.


Shortly, the local gets a signal and eases ahead toward the Greencastle yard.


Copyright 2009 – Mary Rae McPherson

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