A fune summer tuesday...

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A fune summer tuesday...

Unread postby Railnut » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:21 pm

Here is a fun read...enjoy!!!
Dave C


Your day starts at 6am..you grab breakfast at a fast food joint and head to the HESR/SJR Port Huron “River yard” (exCSX Boat yard). Here you spot 2 southbound SJR “dinky’s” ready to depart while waiting for passengers to board.
The “River yard” was built by the Port Huron and Northwestern RR in the late 1800’s, the PHNW became part of the Pere Marquette in 1900. The yard gained importance as the receiver of rail cars from Canada by way of rail ferries that crossed the St Clair river between Port Huron and Sarnia.
The ferries had already stopped running by the time the PM was merged into the C&O..but were resumed in the 1960’s as excess height cars would not fit through the GTW/CN tunnel under the St Clair River. Ferry operations officially ended in 1995 during the CSX years. CSX used the yard as a local base for operations until 2005, when the HESR purchased all CSX property between Tappan (Michigan Ave) and the end of track at the “River Yard”.
After the SJR commuter trains depart, a message crackles over your scanner. “YPH6 to Yard Master 32nd St, over.”
“32nd St, go ahead”
“Good morning, YPH6 with HESR 401 and 3(Cars) looking to go the River yard to work the Seaway Terminal.”

Sweet! YPH6 is one of the regular yard jobs based at the HESR/SJR “Tappan” yard and HESR 401 is better known for it’s days as Central Michigan 9209. It is rare to see the YPH6 in the daylight as it usually comes to the Seaway Terminal between 1 and 3 am. You wonder what the delay was for a moment as the yard master gives the train it’s orders but quickly head down towards the Seaway Terminal to set up as it’s nearly 6:40am..and the sun has already risen..getting pictures will be tricky.
The YPH6 arrives at the west end of the “River yard at 6:50. You managed to get a shot of the engine after it cleared the Military St overpass just as the 401 entered the sunlight, not the greatest angle but it will work.
After the train completes it’s work and gets clearance back to the yard, you head to the Amtrak Station on 16th St to see if CN is running anything. Your luck must be pretty good today, you caught 3 trains in a half hour (392, 148, 149) before your hear HESR train M115 get permission from the yardmaster to leave, then call the HESR dispatcher, you decide to head west to catch it.
You get set up at the Allen Rd crossing on the HESR Port Huron Subdivision as GTW/CN dispatcher TD-3 gives the 115 the light to cross the GTW mains at Tappan, it will be a few minutes.
At 7: 49am you see the headlight of the 115 come into view to the east at Tappan and it comes by you at 7:54. It’s consist is HESR 9001 (C36-7E) HESR 2812 (GP38) and HESR 3005 (SD40-2) dragging 52 miscellaneous freight cars west form Saginaw.
HESR train M115 is a daily manifest that runs from Port Huron to Saginaw and consists mostly of cars from the SJR heading to the Saginaw Valley area and points north and west. Its counterpart train is M114.
The sight of the C36-7 on the point nearly made you drop your camera and you decide to give chase west. The HESR has only 3 C36-7’s (received in a trade from the CPMG for 2 SD60’s) numbers 9001-9003. To add to the interest, the 9000’s are usually assigned to coal trains, so seeing one on a manifest is quite rare on the HESR.
You good luck continues..because you remember hearing the HESR dispatcher inform the 115 that it will be going into the passing siding at Yale to clear up for the I16, which was last reported at Vassar. Excellent. another chance to get photo’s of the 9001!
As you come into Yale you spot the 115 coming to a stop in the siding as well as train L526 waiting on the house track with HESRGP9# 100..the HESR’s first engine! The L526 is a local that works between Port Huron and Marlette before returning to Port Huron. You then notice that there is no crew on board and figure they must be off to beans at Mc Donald’s, as the A&W just up the tracks doesn’t open until 11am. You also notice that the L526’s consist includes 5 empty DEEX coal gons. You also note that the M115 had a string of 20 or so DEEX gon’s.
As you try to figure that mystery you hear the I16 whistling for Jeddo Rd north of Yale and the coal gon’s slip from your mind..
The I16 passes you at 9am with HESR 3804 (GP38-2-one of the original HESR GP38-2’s), HESR 8901 (U23B-former CMGN 4502) and 34 intermodal units, most loaded.
I16 is a Toledo to Port Huron intermodal train that runs daily, it’s counterpart is I17.
You then hear, on the scanner, that the 115 will be waiting on another train before resuming it’s trip, train W900 which was last reported departing the Brown City passing track.
That peaks your interest as 900 series trains are MOW work trains and there is no MOW work scheduled on this line, or Port Huron. After a few minutes pondering the MOW train, you hear it just north of town.
W900 comes by you at 9:35 am with HESR 2350 (SD39, exIT) HESR 3102 (U30C) 6 loaded ballast hoppers, 3 flat cars of ties, 2 flat cars of panel track, 2 empty gondolas, MOW crane M03, 2 flat cars (one with rigging and related equipment for the crane) and caboose C1009. You have sever photo’s of both engines already (as well as the other 3 U30C’s from the summer CWR project on the Port Huron sub last summer)..so chasing them was not necessary, oh and the 2350 is only SD39 on the HESR roster.
Soon after, the 115 get’s going again and the chase resumes!
You catch the M115 at Marlette but are unable to keep up with it..catching the tail end of it at Vassar before being distracted by a D&BC train at Vassar and HESR local L520 working the DBC interchange with HESR 5003, a B36-7! The L520 is a local that works between Saginaw and Marlette then returning to Saginaw.
After catching the L520, you hit Mc Donald’s for lunch. While there you view the days pictures on your laptop. You start thinking about those DEEX coal gondolas again, then the MOW train when you look at the time on your laptop. 12:48pm, if you get to Saginaw by 1:15, you can catch the P92, the Marquette arriving at the Potter St station from Ludington.
As you leave Vassar, you hear an extra 5102 calling at Tappan (Port Huron) headed to Saginaw with 1 other engine and 70 cars. You decide to stick around Saginaw for a few hours to catch the extra.
You pull up to the Potter St station at 1:10 just in time, the Marquette is already approaching Mershon and calling to get a track to the depot, they will be at least 3 minutes early if lined up right away. The P92 had HESR 7006 (and F9M, a former Amtrak FL9) and 3 coaches. Most of the passengers will be catching the P91 (the Cardinal) which is scheduled to come into Potter St from Bay City at 3pm, then will head south and hit Durand, Howell, Ann Arbor, Dundee, and finally Toledo. 91’s counterpart is the P90 (same name) which will come into Saginaw around 5pm.
As the P92’s train is emptied and being prepared to head to the coach shop, Lake State train Z126 with LSRC 1164 & 371 head north out of the yard headed for Bay City.
Both the HESR and the Lake State own the former CSX yard in Saginaw (50-50 ownership) but the HESR is the heavier user.
After the Z126 and the P92 clear the station area, HESR train M119 prepares to leave Saginaw for Grand Rapids via the old turkey Trail. The power on this train is HESR 8906 (U23B), HESR 4000 (GP40-2LW, better known as CMGN 9712) HESR 3815 (GP38-2) and HESR 302 (GP18-being sent back to Grand Rapids after getting work at the Saginaw shops) pulling 61 cars.
As it’s going by, you hear HESR train M101 calling Saginaw for clearance into the yard. M101 is a hotshot manifest train that runs from Toledo (Stanely) to Saginaw daily.
It’s now 2:07 pm and not 5 minutes after the 119 cleared Mershon, the 101 growls into the yard with HESR 3604 (SD45-2), HESR 2910 (SD40), HESR 2821 (hi hood GP38!) and 83 cars.
Once 101 got into the yard, things quieted down with HESR YSA7, with HESR 109 (GP9M) and HESR YSA8 with HESR 205 (GP7) working the yard. The YSA 7 was building the M124 (Saginaw to Bay City) and the YSA8 was taking the M101 apart.
At 2:55pm, the P91 calls Saginaw yard for a track into the station. The P91 has HESR 7102 (SD40F-exBNSF) 4 coaches and 1 snack car. The P91 is scheduled to leave Saginaw at 3:30 pm. The reason for the lengthy delay is that 1 (and sometimes 2) of the coaches off the Marquette are put on the rear of the 91 (and taken off the 90) and the switcher that attaches the extra coach(s) also pulls the 91 out to Mershon to avoid turning the power.
The YSA7 does the honors today and after the conductor announces “all aboard”, the engineer in the 7102 gives the okay to the YSA7 to pull them to Mershon, at 3:30pm on the dot! The YSA7 will pull them to Mershon straight west out of the yard then north around the wye so the P91 is pointed south again. When the train is stopped clear of the plant, the YSA7 cut off the P91 who, after confirming that the YSA7 is cut off and clear, calls for the light south. At 3:35pm, the P91 is already southbound. The YSA7 was back in the yard by 3:45pm.
You finally hear the extra 5102 calling Saginaw yard, though they are at Gera, and they have a dimensional load 3 cars back. This gives you time to head to the south end of the yard to set up.
At 4pm, the “extra 5102” enters into the yard with HESR 5102 (C30-7, former HESR 5086), HESR 2807 (GP38) and a bunch more empty DEEX gon’s! The dimensional load was HESR 5107 (C30-7) with damage to the pilot and the under frame and fuel tank.
That’s when it clicks..an empty DEEX coal drag must have derailed the night before!
You then, decided to hit Durand, folks down there may know what happened.
As you near Durand, you hear HESR train M106 calling Durand yard from Vernon, and the L507 calling to head west out of the yard. You get to the north end of the yard with just seconds to spare as the 106 comes in with HESR 5502 (B30-7M-former HESR 4065 with cab added) HESR 2903 (SD40-exGTW) and 45 cars. M106 is a manifest train that runs from Grand Rapids to Durand Monday through Saturday, it’s counter part is M107.
It’s now 4:35pm as the L507 heads west with HESR 351 (SD18) and 12 cars. L507 is a local that works between Durand and St Johns before returning to Durand. I should add that it is rare to catch an SD18 outside of Stanley yard in Toledo..your luck continues to be good!
At the depot, the P95 (Midstate) is preparing to leave the Durand depot (5pm departure), so you set up at Iron Horse Park to catch it as it heads west for Grand Rapids.
It passes you at 5:00:38 as it races west (well..at a max speed of 30 through yard limits) with HESR 7050 (F7) 3 coaches and a snack car. 1 coach came off the P90, the job was done by YDU3, the only yard job on duty during the day at Durand. After the P95 cleared, you spotted the YDU3 working the east end of the yard with HESR 203 (GP7).
P95 is a Durand-Grand Rapids passenger train, its counter part is P94 (same name) wish arrives in Durand at 6am (the snack car offers free coffee and breakfast to passengers!!) in time for the connection with Amtrak’s westbound Blue Water Ltd.
Back at the depot, you catch 2 CN trains (395 and 271) before HESR train A200 calls CN TD2 at Pitt Junc, it pulls by the depot at 5:17pm and heads for Saginaw with HESR 6001 (SD50F, exCN), HESR 3015 (SD40-2W, exCN) and 49 auto parts cars for Chrysler instalations in Marysville. A200 is a Toledo (Stanley) to Port Huron train, its counter part is A201.
Hot behind the A200 is HESR train C304, which comes through Durand at 5:34 with HESR 3904 (C39-8) HESR 5104 (C30-7) HESR 9003 (C36-7E) and 120 loaded DEEX coal gons bound for Port Huron (and then DTE’s Belle River plant). C304 is a Toledo-St Clair loaded coal train for Detroit Edison, C305 is its counterpart (which is what was derailed at Port Huron).
A lul hit after the C304 cleared so you went up to the MichRail offices on the second floor of the depot to ask what happened at Port Huron. Just by chance you run into the MichRail head honcho, David Cenci, as you walk into the secetary’s office.
With a slight studder in your voice, you ask what the deal was with Port Huron that morning.
Mr. Cenci was more than happy to answer your question. “Well, the C305 picked a switch at the east end of Tappan yard in Port Huron as I understand it.” He said “ had a C30-7 dig in and take out 80 or 90 feet of track and a switch or 2. Thankfully no one was hurt. The good thing is that rest of the train remained upright and has already been cleared out. The derailed locomotive is already in Saginaw being evaluated at I speak, hope she isn’t too beat up.”
You thank him and exchange small talk for a few more minutes before he gets a phone call to head to Saginaw, but ask’s for your name and says “feel free, when ever your down this way, to stop by my office, nice to talk trains with some folks that are not management complaining about this or that, plus sitting in an office all day gets pretty boring after a while, anyway, gotta run, nice meeting you!”
You get down to the platform of the station at 6pm and just in time to catch a southbound MRCC freight with a pair of widecab GP40’s on the point. You also see Mr. Cenci pull away from the depot in his 1971’Cuda convertible, no luxury cars here.
After the MRCC freight cleared you head up to Subway for dinner. On your way back into town, you catch the T400 by the bank on the north side of town with HESR 701 & 702 (GP28’s, also know as the “Twins”) and 36 cars headed for Saginaw at 6:24pm, yet another sweet catch!. The T400 is a yard transfer from Durand to Saginaw, its counter part is the T401.
You get back to the depot in time to catch the I14 pull past the depot with HESR 3801 (GP38-2) HESR 3812 (GP38-2) and HESR 3600 (SD45) and 46 units, all loads! The Time is now 6:38pm. The I14 is a Grand Rapids-Toledo intermodal train, its counter part is the I15.
At 7:13pm, the M117 (which had been waiting in the Cohacta siding) pulls through Durand for Saginaw with HESR 3009 (SD40-2), HESR 5111 (C30-7) and HESR 2904 (SD40) and 62 cars. The M117 is a Toledo (Stanley) to Saginaw train, M116 is its counterpart.
Well, it’s been a long day and the light is getting low, so you decide to call it day and head home. It was a pretty good day, ya caught some rare power, caught the clean up moves after a derailment, and met the MichRail’s big cheese. Now it’s time to get home and some sleep!
Last edited by Railnut on Wed Mar 18, 2009 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A fune summer tuesday...

Unread postby AARR » Sun Mar 08, 2009 10:26 am

I read most of it...will have to finish it later. I have enjoyed it so far. :)
PatC created a monster, 'cause nobody wants to see Don Simon no more they want AARR I'm chopped liver, well if you want AARR this is what I'll give ya, bad humor mixed with irrelevant info that'll make you roll your eyes quicker than a ~Z~ banhammer...
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Re: A fune summer tuesday...

Unread postby GreatLakesRailfan » Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:23 pm

Wow. So...with such a lengthy trip report as that (and an enjoyable read as well, by the way), where are the pictures to "prove" you really saw all of that?? :twisted:

Just out of curiosity, why would a Toledo-Port Huron train be spotted in Yale? Does it have to go via Saginaw to get to PH?

Thanks for taking the time to write it all down to share with us.
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Re: A fune summer tuesday...

Unread postby Railnut » Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:49 pm

Pictures..no..except the ones I was painting in my mind as I typed this up..if I could upload those to this site...(sigh)..
All Port Huron-Toledo trains (as of right now) go via Saginaw and Durand..I may re-route them via the SJR..but that will be looked at later as things are pretty crazy for me right now....
I plan on posting an HESR route map sometime today or tomorrow..the map will also inclue the CPMG and SJR..the CPMG's route map will be a whole different monster (East Coast to Chicago railroad...I may even look at pushing further north and west..we chall see as I would like a direct connection between the CPMG and the SPGW).
Glad ya'll are enjoying it thus far!
Dave C
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