Marion Railroading 001

Once every month, I am able to get up to the railroad diamond in Marion, Ohio. Due to the impact of Covid-19 for the first four month of 2020, traffic has been down by a significant percentage, according to sources.

But as I am writing this, the economy of the U.S. has begun to reopen, thus reopening small, and large corporations for business. And you know that, as long as businesses are up and running, they are going to need an inflow of supplies to satisfy the ever evolving demands of their patrons. Enter trucking, and Intermodal transportation.

Intermodal Transportation is simply a fancy term for using multiple methods of transportation (i.e. ship, train or truck) to move containers of freight from one place to another.

For example, let’s say you own a large business in Huntington, West Virginia, and you need a significant quantity of a product that comes from inland Japan. When you order the product, the manufacturers or suppliers of that product would send your order to the coast via rail or truck. Once it arrives at the coast, the freight would then be loaded onto a ship bound for North America. Upon arriving at a North American port, it would then be unloaded on to rail cars, which would then be transported across the continent to either an intermodal trucking facility to be shipped to you by way of truck, or directly by rail, should you have a receiving facility for trains.

As the title suggests, trains and railroads are our main focus in this article, so let us get right to the point.

We had originally intended to get up with the cows, but due to some of us being night owls, we didn’t roll into Marion Station until around noon. We hadn’t been there for ten minutes when 008 From St Louis came along.

When 008 had passed, I started playing around visually with some station compositions. I had just perceived an intriguing perspective of the Station Building when I heard a horn in the distance.

Quickly putting back on my telephoto lens (I had removed it to shoot photos of the station) I hurried to the other end of the observation area, just in time to catch this Southbound Intermodal rolling stock.

When I came back to my previous study of the station, I found that the previously overcast sky in my composition had now turned into harsher, broad daylight, so I gave it up.

By this time, my father wanted a coffee, so we jumped down the road a little ways to get one. It so happens that down across the street from the place where we usually stop for refreshment when we are in town sits a CSX yard. On this day, they had parked on the premises a lone locomotive, which is not unusual. Yet there was something interesting about this one that intrigued me so I went to investigate.

After my dad had grabbed his coffee, he pulled me into the yard parking lot for a better perspective.

We then returned to the station, waiting for more action. Nothing happened for about twenty-five to thirty minutes, so we sat in the car and read for a little while. At around one fifteen, I heard a horn in the distance. Judging by the sound and not the direction, I, in all my knowledge of train horns, thought it was a CSX Southbound. By the grace of God, direction overruled sound, and I changed direction quickly enough to snag this unsullied courier.

With the passing of this, it was nearly the space of an hour before our final prize of the day came along, so we resumed our pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. I had not done my morning devotions, so I was sufficiently able to take care of my spiritual needs during this interval.

In the end, our last catch was an oddity for us, but not unusual for railroading. When I heard it coming, and saw lights to the west, I had expected another long haul freight train to roll on by, but I was surprised when it turned out to be a duo of diesel locomotives only.

The events following this encounter were most curious. This arrangement pulled into the CSX yard mentioned above, stopped, then switched to the opposite locomotive, pulled out of the station, going in the opposite direction, on the opposite track (the set just left of the locomotive in the picture). Whether this locomotive was headed to pick up a brand new train, or just to do a simple switching job, I may never know. What I do know, is that it had to be moving on, and so did we.

To close the day out, we stopped on our way back home in a little place called Caledonia, where I was able to get a picture of the seemingly endless stretch of railroad ties. The neat thing about tracks, is that they always leave you with an imagination as to where they go. They almost can create a sense of adventure and excitement in the typical bystander. They ignite in ones soul, a yearning to discover the unknown, and that which is beyond what is already seen. Though this particular photo does not have a sunset to spruce it up, the message is the same. Veritably similar to the rainbow analogy, tracks imply that no matter what today or yesterday has brought, there is always the opportunity for a better tomorrow.

So my friends, that is all for this one. Press on, never giving up on your dreams. Thank you for sticking around, and until next time, God Bless.

Keenan Smith

At Rails End

I’ve been shooting photos since May 2019, and in the short time that has elapsed between then and now, I’ve learned a whole lot of diverse things about photography, such as how to judge for myself what would make a good picture, how to revise my photos in post, and little practical skills such as setting a tripod or a background up and understanding a histogram. And I’m still learning. Never be ashamed to admit that you could still learn, whether you’re twenty five or eighty five. Being a lifelong learner can prove to be very beneficial when you least expect it.

Another thing that I am still struggling to figure out is my niche. There are a lot of possibilities for subjects in photography, and it can be difficult to find a few to concentrate on and begin to market.

Among one of my favorite subjects is rail photography. As a kid, you see trains and are fascinated by them, wishing that you could be up there with the engineer, flying by and seeing the world from their perspective.

One thing is for certain, you will never completely comprehend how large a diesel locomotive is until you are practically standing right next to it. This is truly one of the biggest thrills I’ve ever had opportunity to partake of. Marion, Ohio, where I have gotten my start with rail photography, is an excellent place to go if you want to see a lot of traffic. The station is like a peninsula, surrounded by track on three sides. To the west, a CSX North-South Line, Running from Toledo to Portsmouth and beyond Ohio’s border, to the east, a Norfolk Southern artery snakes down from Sandusky, after paralleling Ohio’s border with Lake Erie. The East-West CSX line coming from Indiana, and running to Cleveland and beyond Ohio slides in to finish it all off with a tip top triple interlocking of three sets of double tracks. Amidst all this, Marion Station is not a quiet place. On an average day, approximately sixty trains pass through this point on all three lines, classifying this as a major hub.*

The trouble with rail photography is that it can involve a lot of travel, depending on where you live, and there may not be a lot of financial profit from it, unless you’re Brian Solomon for Trains Magazine. The flip side is is that rail photography can be very rewarding to the casual observer who wants to see if they can get a nice picture to remember their visit.

CSX Eastbound Train 008 Passes through Marion Station, April 18, 2020, 11:27 A.M.
Vintage Conrail Caboose on a CSX siding in Crestline, Ohio, March 6, 2020, 3:37 P.M.

*Due to this current situation, Rail traffic has been down significantly. There is no saying for how long this may continue.


Hello, Everyone, My name is Keenan Smith, Alias, Albatross Island.

I’m a Christian Homeschool Grad who has an aspiration to have a business in photography, and possibly integrate in cinematography and filmmaking later.

“Why?” you may ask.

Because I’m a firm believer in pursuing your passion. God Himself has put inside of each one of us natural abilities and talents to be used for His glory. If God is in whatever you’re doing, You are bound to succeed.

This is my passion.

Shooting interesting persons, places, or things. Meeting new people and experiencing new locations and situations.

I am free spirited on the inside. For me a home is just a base of which I come back to to eat, and crash. I view the world as a place full of opportunities that God has created so that we may exalt Him by tapping into and taking advantage of all of these we possibly can.

Think it’s impossible for you to do something great? Let’s take a look at what some of the great men in history say:

  • “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” – Jesus Christ
  • “Success is not final, Failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
  • “No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities. Always see them, for they are always there.” -Norman Vincent Peale
  • “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” – Dale Carnegie

The objective of My blog is to inspire people through my photography, and my pictures, to help them to see that everything’s going to be okay, despite it seeming like sometimes that nothing is moving, and to ultimately point them to the Father in heaven who loves them and desires to have a personal relationship with each of them.

There will be times, when you will feel distraught, discouraged, and like you’ve accomplished, absolutely nothing in life. But press on. If you have faith in yourself, and that God will move you to success in whatever area or field of work you are in, you will excel in life.

So go on! Follow Christ. Be bold, not timid. Try new ideas, think independently, live your own life, not society’s status quo. Who cares what others think any way. God made you a divine original. Don’t die a cheap copy. Work toward your dreams, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Open up your mouth with a mighty decree; I will fulfill it now, you’ll see! The words that you speak, so shall it be! (Psalm 81:10 The Passion Translation)