Mainline Tour: Hidden Gems of Columbus Railfanning

Mainline Tour: Hidden Gems of Columbus Railfanning

By Giles Kennedy

Chief Editor The Ohio Railroader Website

Founder of Ohio Valley Rails FB Page


There are many places people do not utilize or seek out to catch Columbus rail traffic.


I will highlight my recent findings.


Scioto Audubon Metro Park

6:30am to 10pm April through September
6:30am to 8pm October through March
Phone: 614.202.5197

Just south of Downtown Columbus; off Front and Whittier Streets, sits Scioto Audubon Metro Park.

The really nice thing about this park; it is not just for railfans at all. It was developed shortly after the demolition of what was once the Lazarus and Company’s large warehouse facility.

You can very easily pack up the family, get a picnic lunch, and camp out the portion of the park to see CSX and NS trains roll by.

If you are an average hiker, bicyclist or runner; you make this easily a fitness and railfan stop as well.

The park has a nature center, several trails linking to the Scioto Mile, a climbing rock wall area, playground, and several wetlands pond areas.

So, where’s the best place to catch the trains?

Panoramic views can be caught via the recycled Lazarus Water Tower with observation decks.

Two closest views to the mainlines can be found either near the dog park before the I-70/I-71 overpass (less scenic). Also, the hiking trail between the Obstacle Course and the Park Office on the eastern side of the park is a great vantage point and a great view of Downtown.


Hidden Westside Spots

Manor Park Drive; which resides between Fisher Road and Hillard Rome Road; is right next to the Norfolk Southern Dayton District line.

Be mindful that is an industrial area. Please ask business owners along the road before parking.

Please let business owners know what you are doing there prior to parking. They do not have a lot of railfans there. Also; with crew changes nearby, NS Police and Columbus Police patrol due to that fact. Be careful and mindful.

A less restrictive spot and able to wash your vehicle is the Leap Road Car Wash in Hilliard.

Many railfans do camp out there from time to time along the CSX mainline.

Speaking of the Westside; another Metro Park few railfans have used is Battelle Darby Creek.

It is on the far west end, south of West Broad Street/US 40. The Camp Chase Trail goes right along the Camp Chase Industrial Railroad’s right of way. From either  vantage point; you are not far from eateries as well as my favorite Westside haunt, Toney’s Coneys West Broad.


North Columbus

Park and Ride anyone? This was for mentioned in an article I did a few years back. The NS Sandusky Division/CSX Columbus Subdivision goes by two COTA Park and Rides.

The Indianola COTA Park and Ride is right next to the mainlines plus Indianola Car Wash offers the best vantage point. Wash your car while you are there.

The Crosswoods Park and Ride; east of US 23 near Marcus Crosswoods Theatre and several restaurants and hotels, has a great view of the mainlines on the far east end of the lot.


Franklin Park

Again a twofer here…..Have the rest of the family visit Columbus’ iconic conservatory while a short walk down to Broad and Nelson is the famous N&W overpass.

Once you are done, head back to see the great floral and paint life inside. And yes, they do have a garden railroad still running inside.


If you look hard enough; you can find a place to find great train traffic and more.8th Anniversary Daytrip Columbus 016 8th Anniversary Daytrip Columbus 020 8th Anniversary Daytrip Columbus 024 8th Anniversary Daytrip Columbus 025


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