Sunday, December 27, 2015

Traffic Flow

My last post focused on the grain industries found online. As I still await borrowing my in-laws truck to go get the rest of the items I need to finish off the room and base for the benchwork, I focused on the traffic flow. One thing I know is that my current roster is going to need to be overhauled. When I was focusing on Harrisburg, I bought a lot of intermodal items. When I changed to West Virginia Secondary, I loaded up on coal cars. Now, obviously, those cars aren't going to be needed so I'm going to start jettisoning them shortly. But I needed to research the traffic flow across the prototype.

The Ft. Wayne Line in this area really was the cut-through for trains and goods form Conway and points east it served with the South and Southwest gateways in Cincinnati and on the way to St. Louis (through Columbus and Indianapolis, respectively). In order to help with the research, I turned to what every Conrail modeler should when doing traffic flow/source research, Conrail Commodities. While it gives a general overview, one can deduce certain movements from it. Using grain as an example, as export grain (usually to Baltimore) dwindled, grain shipments became short hauls in Ohio and Indiana to southern markets. This would mean many would go towards Columbus for points south to NS and CSX. Auto parts traffic is another interesting development. Conrail used Columbus and Toledo for parts and vehicle distribution networks, however, parts also flowed to Indianapolis. The plant on my modeled portion was a GM plant which sent parts to Lordstown assembly but, in looking through the Automotive section of the book, quite possibly sent part to an assembly plant in Indiana as well as potentially GM plants Shreveport, La., and Arlington, Tx, as well as one in St. Louis. These parts would be forwarded to Avon (Indianapolis) for sorting into the 2 or 3 originating trains there for the westward connection. The one item I can take away from that is this plant could have a mix of Auto Part boxcars, mostly CR, but could conceivably have UP or predecessor road cars to offset per diem charges on their end. The results of this research can be summed up in the image I drew up below:

So with the above information in hand, I have an idea of the cars and road names I would need for cars coming online for delivery/shipment as well as "over the line" blocks.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Grain Movements and Industries on the Line

As I slug through the semi-room prep and benchwork base, I've been using my time to evaluate my freight roster versus the industries on the line right now targeted to be modeled. Being in Northeast/North Central Ohio, the grain industry is to be heavily represented. In looking at the "elevators" on the modeled line, I came up with the following list:

  • Sun Mark Limited in Mansfield, Oh (now Town & Country Co-Op)
  • Agri Mark Farmers Co-Op (now also Town & Country Co-Op) in Loudonville, Oh
  • Conagra Mills (now part of Ardent Mills) in Loudonville, Oh
  • Cargill Feeds in Wooster
  • Land O' Lakes/Landmark in Wooster
Of the five modeled, according to NS's grain customer site, all but the Agri Mark Co-Op is rail served, however, I think the Land O' Lakes one is also no longer rail served, at least directly. Because the grain industry is so diverse, I decided to delve into each industry and using the power of the internet try and determine what each of these industries really did. 

I'll start with the largest one first, Sun Mark Limited in Mansfield. 

This is a terminal elevator which, even during Conrail's time, was a source for grain for use in a unit train.  In looking at Town & Country's site and Norfolk Southern's customer page one can see it's still a terminal elevator to originate loads out (and maybe some in). Needless to say, this should be a major customer on the line. One note is that on the NS page you can see that the Ashland Railway is indicated as the switcher. This might make the ASRY local that comes into Oak Street yard from staging have a little more play value then simply a out and back operation.

The next one to look at is the one that's probably most mysterious in this, but that may be because I'm expecting what it is to be larger. That is the Conagra Mill which, according to Wikipedia, is a flour mill.

NS's customer page also lists them as Wheat Flour Mills. While wheat isn't a main crop in this part of Ohio, it is grown. What I'm not sure is whether this collects or produces flour. The history I can find on this location is that it looks like it produces flour and based on the pneumatic trucks seen in the map above, it must still (I can't imagine wheat being transported in those trucks). This leads me to believe that it is a producer and receives both local and, more likely, rail wheat for operations.

The next one is also in Loudonville, however, it is no longer rail served., the Agri Mark Farmers Co-Op (as outlined in the ZTS I have read), now part of Town & Country, on the east side of Loudonville.

Looking at Town & Country's site again, it looks like this is an animal feed facility, although it is also listed in the grain storage/delivery page as well. This would mean that the ingredients for feed would come in by rail and truck and feed would be delivered to local customers. According to the ZTS, this had both a loading spout and a unloading hopper so it is conceivable that it might ship some feed or byproduct out or even perhaps local grain shipped out since there appears to be some separation where the loading/unloading could occur as well as the facilities for each.

As we travel further east, we enter Wooster where two of these industries are located. The first is relatively easy to identify, the Cargill Animal Feed elevator on the south side of town.

This is still served by NS and has a capacity of 5 and is labeled under Animal/Poultry Feed. You can go to street view and see the truck loading building so it's I'm going to guess that feed or feed ingredients come into the facility and are packaged up and delivered to local customers by truck.

The last one in Wooster, Land O' Lakes (now Land O' Lakes Purina Feed), is the interesting one.

According to NS, it is still rail served, although they may be listing the office only as you can see no rails go into the facility. It is listed as an elevator but further searching indicates it is a storage only feed elevator. So perhaps, unlike the Cargill facility, this facility receives feed loads only and stores them for distribution by truck to customers.

The main take away from this for me is that I need to invest in covered hoppers and the resulting products in and out can help with how the cars will be routed on which trains and ultimate destinations.


Welcome to the my Conrail Model Railroad site. I will document the research, design, construction and operations of my N-scale model railroad based on Conrail's Ft. Wayne Line in Ohio.

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