April 25, 2014

Elyria
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Vermilion railroads to be showcased for ‘railfans’

VERMILION — A group promoting the growing hobby of “railfanning” hopes to capitalize on the city’s legacy of railroading by developing a series of photo-op spots around town where railroad buffs and others can snap great photos of passing trains.

The series of picture spots is a first step to what members of the Vermilion Main Line Rail committee hopes will be permanent train-viewing platforms.

“Railfans tell me there are a lot of unique (train) engines that come through here,” Coletta Kubik said. “That’s why they come in, set up their tripods and watch.”

Kubik heads the Vermilion Main Line Rail committee, an offshoot of Main Street Vermilion looking to cash in on what is expected to be a steadily increasing number of trains rumbling through town.

“It goes back to the merger in 1999,” Kubik said, referring to the merger of freight carriers CSX and Norfolk Southern. “We’ve got more and more goods shipped by rail on truck trailers.”

Vermilion sees more than 100 trains pass through town a day on its multiple tracks. That number is expected to climb to around 200 trains a day in the next decade, Kubik said.

Plans call for train-viewing spots to be established on Main Street near Victory Park, Vermilion Road, at the city boat docks off West River Road, near Centennial Park and Perry Street. The spots were chosen for their picturesque characteristics, as well as the photogenic views they afford of curving and straight train tracks passing through town.

One train that has drawn interest locally is the Barnum & Bailey circus train that normally travels through Vermilion on its way west from the East Coast, and annual stops in cities, including Cleveland where the storied circus performs each autumn.

Train-viewing spots overlooking sizable sections of straight track should afford good pictures of trains stretching into the distance.

Most of the spots initially will be marked by signs, and offer benches to sit on. The Main Street site, located off state Route 60, will be more elaborate, with flower-filled planters, a model train engine and caboose, and a bulletin board offering information on all the train observation sites.

“The bulletin board will also have information about local events, attractions, shopping and restaurants,” Kubik said.

All materials and manpower for the train-viewing spots will be donated. The rail group will refurbish wrought-iron bench-es obtained from the city that were replaced by newer ones at various points around town, Kubik said.

Each spot will offer something a bit different, according to Kubik. At Vermilion Road, CSX and Norfolk–Southern trains come together on tracks that cross in an X-pattern. The photo spot at the city boat docks off West River Road “will have fantastic shots because you can get boats winding through the curve of the (Vermilion) river with the train trestle overhead,” he said.

Other photo spots will be designated near tracks along Joppa and Coen roads west of town.

The group plans to hold fundraisers and seek grants for permanent viewing platforms.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.