Tuesday, April 25, 2017

From the Archives Part 7: Indiana & Ohio Railroad Cars

Abandoned railcars from a bygone era of travel once sitting in Southeast Ohio.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t really remember the circumstances by which I first came across these abandoned rail cars. Like many stories in the From the Archives series, I found these photos sitting on an old DVD backup. According to the metadata, they were made in 2009 with a Canon 40D.

When I was going to school in Athens, Ohio, before transferring, the eastern end of the state offered up some great abandoned things to go see and photograph. In the times I’ve been out that way since, I’ve found it’s still not uncommon to find old or forgotten rail cars to be just lying about the countryside.

- Photo of another set of abandoned train cars in nearby Nelsonville, Ohio, photographed in 2007 about two years before the rest of these.

If memory serves me correctly, these photos were near Logan. I don’t remember the context of these specific photographs or how I came across these cars, but there were a few clues in the images. One caboose sitting out there emblazoned with a Dr. Pepper logo had a piece of paper attached to it stating that someone owned it. Perhaps “Dave” was holding onto it or storing these vehicles there until they could be restored. If anyone knows what ever became of these or if they’re in a museum somewhere, I’d love to know. [EMAIL]

The only other clue in the images was a sign reading “Indiana and Ohio R.R.” Unfortunately, I’m all too familiar with the Indiana and Ohio, and for the wrong reasons. After I made these images in 09, I never thought about the railroad again until December, 2016.

Known today as the Indiana and Ohio Railway, the line itself is operated by Genesee and Wyoming, which is headquartered in Connecticut and acquired the I and O via a series of corporate mergers over the years. While the G and W has roots dating back to 1899, the I and O was founded in 1978 between Valley Junction, OH and Brookville, IN. At one point, the I and O established a tourist operation between Mason and Monroe, OH to the north of Cincinnati. That line still exists today as the Lebanon, Mason and Monroe Railroad - operating tourist excursions such as a Santa Claus train ride, Thomas the Tank Engine experience, and a train that brings passengers to the Cincinnati riverfront for the annual Labor Day fireworks show. Meanwhile, the established freight lines still operate in sections around Cincinnati and to the east of Ohio as part of Gand W’s larger network. Even if someone tells you that the railroad isn’t very active (such as when you’re signing a lease), they’re wrong. While I hadn’t thought about the Indiana and Ohio since I made these photographs eight years ago,  I now hear the sweet sounds of I and O freight trains almost every night outside my window:

Despite a sign stating that trains can’t idle or brake in the area and should proceed to non residential areas ahead, the railroad either doesn’t care or there’s not actually an ordinance against that: just a sign. 

The I and O is alive and well as the residents of Norwood, Pleasant Ridge, and Oakley can tell you. I don't think it would be too bad if I saw some of these classic cars roll by every once in awhile.

Randomly in the folder containing these train photos was this image as well. Independence Day on a 2007 MacBook Pro. Great film.

Over time, a lot of urban exploration content has been featured on QC/D. During the past ten or so years, some photographs and stories from my interest in documenting abandoned, forgotten, or little-known locations have fallen by the wayside. They were either never featured or only had a small mention. Over the next few weeks, this “From the Archives” series will dig up some of those older stories and share more history and exploration of abandoned places across the Midwest. 


  1. Independence Day could have been a great film if they wouldn't have made it a campy mess. Almost as sad as seeing these rail cars rotting away.