Bryan, Ohio, located on Conrail’s ex-NYC main line in western Ohio, was a regular place to visit in the mid to late-1980s.
Together with friends who volunteered on the Southern Michigan Railroad at Clinton, Michigan, it was common for us to set out after train service ended at 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday. We’d drive down to Bryan, first have dinner at Lester’s Diner*, and then drive to the parking lot of the Amtrak station to watch the trains passing until midnight. There would be one train after another, and about 10 p.m. there would be a visit by Amtrak’s eastbound “Lake Shore Limited”.
It was a great opportunity to talk with friends and other railfans, and also with John Marquis, who was Amtrak’s station caretaker as well as a railfan and owner of the wooden LS&MS depot across the tracks. The trains hadn’t stopped when midnight arrived, and it was time to go home.
After I left the SMR in 1988, it was a few years before I visited Bryan again, due to moving several times, ending up in Ann Arbor.
In August 1990, my friend Tom Beauvais suggested a return visit, and we hopped in his white Mustang and went back down to Ohio. A productive afternoon of train watching followed, in Byran and east and west of the town. Some of the photographic results of that afternoon are presented below.
It turned out to be my last visit to Bryan, as in April 1991 I moved to Iowa, and later to St. Louis and then to Poland. Looking at these photos nearly 20 years later, I can see what a great place it was for railfanning, and how much diversity existed in terms of motive power and train types.
Conrail GP38 #7700 (built for Penn Central in 1969) and caboose #18499 (class N11) sit by the former-New York Central freight house in Bryan, OH on 25 August 1990.
Conrail #1962 (a GE B23-7 built in 1978) leads westbound train TOEL-5 at Bryan, OH on 25 August 1990. The train is on the running track, having stopped to do some switching in the Bryan yard.
CP Rail #5553 (an SD40 built in 1967) leads an eastbound train on Conrail at Bryan, OH, 25 August 1990. My slide says this was a detour train.
Conrail #3311 (a GP40-2 built in 1977) leads westbound train TV-1 past the Bryan, OH freight house on 25 August 1990. Conrail #7700 on the Bryan local sleeps away the weekend on the house track.
Passing the Bryan, OH feed mill, Conrail #5024 (a B23-7 from 1983) leads train TV-7 westward. 25 August 1990
Taking a little break from Bryan, we drove over to Wauseon, OH, where we caught Conrail #6557 (a GE C30-7A of 1984 vintage) leading train TV-200 eastbound past the ex-LS&MS depot. 25 August 1990.
Another excursion this day was to the Melbern road bridge, west of Bryan, OH. There we photographed Conrail #6790 (EMD SD-50, 1985) leading train #BUEL-5 westbound. 25 August 1990.
West of Edgerton, OH, we caught Conrail #3381 (GP40-2, built 1979) leading a westbound Trailvan train. 25 August 1990
At the time, capturing foreign power on the Conrail main was a treat. Here C&NW 5097 (GP50, built 1980) leads two Union Pacific units on a westbound freight west of Edgerton, OH. 25 August 1990.
Back in Bryan, we caught a solid Burlington Northern train taking coal empties westward. BN 5581 (a GE C30-7 built in 1979) leads the train on 30 August 1990. My notes say this was a UDM train, which means it was a Detroit Edison train.
*Lester’s Diner in Bryan, OH