Railfanning on Norfolk Southern's
West Virginia Secondary
by William Eric McFadden

revised January 13, 2004

While Norfolk Southern's West Virginia Secondary doesn't have a large amount of traffic, it is the only remaining railroad passing through Athens County, Ohio.

Norfolk Southern's West Virginia Secondary extends from south of Charleston, West Virginia, to Buckeye Yard in Columbus, Ohio. The road crosses the Ohio River at Point Pleasant, West Virginia near Middleport, Ohio. Just south of Middleport is Hobson Yard, where crew changes take place and the helper locomotives are added to the rear of north-bound coal trains.

Much of the traffic on the West Virginia Seconday consists of coal from the West Virginia's Gauley River coal fields destined for the industrial regions in northern Ohio and Pennsylvania. A fair amount of traffic consists of chemical tank cars from the the chemical plants along the Kanawha River.

Prior to June 1, 1999, the West Virginia Secondary was part of the Conrail system. On January 1, 2000, the West Virginia Secondary became part of the NS Pocohontas Division. It is expected that dispatching will eventually be moved to Bluefield, WVa.

The former-PRR line which runs between Zanesville and New Lexington, Ohio has beeng rebuilt and reactivated by the Ohio Southern Railroad with a $2 million grant and a $3.5 million loan from the Ohio Rail Development Commission. This road interchanges with the West Virginia Secondary in New Lexington. About a million tons of low-sulfur coal will move annually from a new mine north of Glouster to American Electric Power's Conesville power plant in Coshocton. The new mine is being operated by the Buckingham Coal Company and is now operational. A conveyor belt carrie the coal across Ohio State Route 13 to the railroad tracks, where it will be loaded into the rail cars.

A new forum, NSLakeDivisionRailfans was started in January '04 and is dedicated to discussions concerning Norfolk Southern Lake and Dearborn Divisions.

Trains Symbols, courtesy of Dan Innis:

NS Symbol NS Number Origination Destination Days of the Week Loads
CODI 44N Columbus Dickinson Tuesday - Saturday tank car empties
DICO 45N Dickinson Columbus Tuesday - Saturday tank cars
NS600 600 Dickinson Ashtabula
NS601 601 Ashtabula Dickinsen
coal empties
NS602 602 Dickinson Middletown
NS603 603 Middletown Dickinson
coal empties
NS604 604 Dickinson Toledo
NS605 605 Toledo Dickinson
coal empties
NS606 606 Dickinson Buffalo
NS607 607 Buffalo Dickinson
coal empties
NS608 608 Dickinson Baltimore Terminal, MD
NS609 609 Baltimore Terminal, MD Dickinson
coal empties
NS610 610 Dickinson Shamokin Dam, PA
NS611 611 Shamokin Dam, PA Dickinson
coal empties
NS612 612 Dickinson Strawberry Ridge, PA
NS613 613 Strawberry Ridge, PA Dickinson
coal empties
NS614 614 Dickinson New Haven, PA
NS615 615 New Haven, PA Dickinson
coal empties
NS616 616 Dickinson Martins Creek, PA
NS617 617 Martins Creek, PA Dickinson
coal empties
NS618 618 Dickinson Indian River, DE
CORO 148 Columbus Roanoke daily
ROCO 147 Roanoke Columbus daily

NS608-617 are trains that originate at Dickinson and go south to Mullens or originate in Mullens and go north to Dickinson. NS618 operates over the Columbus & Ohio River between Columbus and Mingo Junction. CORO and ROCO haven't been seen yet on the Secondary.

A list of NS trains symbols and alpha designators is maintained by Chris Toth at http://www.ohio.net/~ctoth/alphagrps.html. Another list is maintained at Norfolk Southern Train Symbol List by Kevin Burkholder.

The NS locomotive roster is available at http://www.ole.net/~rcraig/NS.HTML, the NS portion of the Motive Power Roster.

Train Frequency

Train schedules can be found at On Track On Line

Radio Frequencies

Road Road Freq. EOT MoW
Conrail 161.070 457.9375 161.055

Trains are controlled by use of the Movement Permit Form D.


Map of Armitage siding Armitage Siding, northeast of Athens, Ohio. The south end of the siding is at MP 82. To drive to the siding, follow Armitage Road off of SR 682. Please note that the wye depicted on this map is gone, and the former C&O right-of-way is now a bicycle path.

Maps Copyright 1997 GeoSystems Global Group
Map of Hobson Yard Hobson Yard, south of Middleport, Ohio. The tracks south of the Ohio River are CSX.

Maps Copyright 1997 GeoSystems Global Group
Map of Ohio River crossing Crossing the Ohio River at Point Pleasant, West Virginia.

Maps Copyright 1997 GeoSystems Global Group

Glouster Detector

According to Mike Hansgen, the Glouster, Ohio detector is near the Tom Jenkins dam; it is 3.6 miles south of the junction of State Route 13 and State Route 155 in Corning. It is 1.0 mile north of the grade crossing of State Route 13 at the Tom Jenkins dam. The detector is just off Cornstill Road.


MP City Facility Description
250 Zela, WV

JONES siding
246 Drennen, WV

243 Lockwood, WV

238 Koontz, WV

234 Omega, WV

232 Swiss, WV SWISS siding
230 Beech Glen, WV

223 Gauley Bridge, WV GAUL
221 Glen Ferris, WV

216 Alloy, WV

214 Harewood, WV

212 Cannelton, WV SMIT
208 Hugheston, WV

206 Midwest, WV

204 Glasgow, WV

203 Cedar Grove, WV

202 Monarch, WV

201 Shrewsbury, WV

199 Dickinson, WV DICKINSON Dickinson Yard
197 Witcher, WV MAX
196 Belle, WV

191 Port Anherst, WV

189 Snow Hill, WV

186 Charleston, WV

178 Dunbar, WV

175 Institute, WV

NITRO siding
168 Putnam, WV

163 Bancroft, WV

161 Courtney, WV

159 Red House

157 Eleanor, WV

155 Rumer, WV RUM
150 Buffalo, WV

147 Robertsburg, WV

143 Arbuckle, WV BUCK siding
140 Leon, WV

137 Beech Hill, WV

129 Point Pleasant, WV

126 Kanauga, WV CONCO
116 Hobson, OH KING Hobson Yard
110 Meigs, OH

108 Langsville, OH

103 Dexter, OH

97 Carpenter, OH

90 Albany, OH

81 Athens, OH

ARM siding
76 Chauncey, OH

73 Millfield, OH

69 Trimble, OH

67 Glouster, OH

60 Corning, OH

CORN siding
54 Moxahala, OH

48 New Lexington, OH

44 Junction City, OH

36 Bremen, OH

32 Rushville, OH

26 Pleasantville, OH

20 Baltimore, OH

11 Pickerington, OH

6 Brice, OH BRICE siding
3 Truro, OH

BANNON junction


Possible photography locations:

  • The tunnel at milepoint 102 near the crossing of Township Road 27 north of Dexter, Ohio. This tunnel is a bore through living rock.
  • Langsville tunnel in Meigs County, Ohio.
  • The overlook just north of Dexter on County Road 4.
  • Along County Road 10 south of Albany, Ohio.

Itinerant railfan Ed Lenio (Edward.Lenio@mci.com) says the West Virginia Secondary is his favorite road and is great for photography because the scenery is so nice. Ed suggests the following locations:

  • Langsville tunnel, south portal. He doesn't know if CODI still leaves at 8:00am from Columbus, but if it does the sun should be on the train as it exits the tunnel.
  • Dexter, Ohio; has small town quality. Conrail has a blue DEXTER sign north of town which, with the homes, could be framed with train as the train travels north.
  • (Ohio) State Route 13 crossing near the Tom Jenkins dam at Burr Oak State Park; wedge shot at a northbound as it crosses the highway with forest in the background. The Hatfield detector is one mile south.
  • New Lexington Tunnel at MP 40; it about a half-mile walk beside the tracks to the beautiful rough hewn portal; morning sun would be best.
  • Pickerington, Ohio; good shot by the still-existing station, both directions; photos of northbound trains can include the depot and an old gas station.

Maps courtesy of MapQuest Interactive Atlas.