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Modern EJ&S

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 5:59 am
by MQT1223
My new thread details my "What if" scenario on if the East Jordan & Southern in Northern Lower Michigan had kept operating after 1961 despite loosing the East Jordan Iron Works as a customer and the railroad somehow managed to hang on against all odds. This is based on the railroad well after it had become a common carrier and well after its logging days were done.

The year is 1962...

The East Jordan and Southern, despite loosing its largest and primary customer in East Jordan 2 years ago and after nearly being abandoned, has decided to continue operations but on a reduced schedule. To cut back on costs, the railroad has went from operating 3 days a week to 2 days a week (on rare occasions as needed) and reduced the amount of excursions it operates during the year to reduce the wear and fuel costs on the few pieces of equipment it owns and operates. The railroad company owns one steam locomotive, one gas mechanical locomotive, one open air passenger car and a combine it has had since the beginning of operations. 2-6-0 #6 is kept strictly on standby and the crews are certified to operate both locomotives as to not keep specialty employees on the payroll. Also, the station agent works both the East Jordan and Bellaire ticket windows and all flag stops have been eliminated to reduce the amount of maintenance on railroad owned structures (the depot at Chestonia is privately owned and operated for the sake of convenience).

The time table is similar to the previous:
Train No. 1 Departs East Jordan at 11:30 AM, arrives at Bellaire at 12:20 PM pending no delays or flagstops
Train No. 2 Departs Bellaire at 1:00 PM, arrives at East Jordan at 1:40 PM pending no delays or flagstops.

**All trains are mixed and no freight customers are worked until the passengers arrive at their respective destinations. Once the passengers have been delivered to their respective locations then the combine is dropped in the yard and cars are delivered to their destinations.

Current online customers are:
East Jordan Canning Co (Soon to be Burnett Foods) - Receiver of boxcars loaded with crates of metal cans and glass jars for produce
East Jordan Lumber Co - Receiver of boxcars loaded with various lengths and types of wood for residential and commercial use
East Jordan Cooperative (Also known as The Co-op) - Receiver of tank cars loaded with various petroleum based products, coal hoppers for coal fired boilers in homes and boxcars full of Miscellaneous goods
Slough Scrap Yard (Newest Customer on the EJ&S, online since 1959 before the loss of the Iron Works) - Receiver of empty gondolas for processed scrap metal, only customer that ships loaded cars by rail
A transload ramp is also present by The Co-op
The Depot also functions as a freight house and on rare occasions still receives a boxcar of local goods or a specialized shipment for local pickup
On rare occasions a car will be spotted along EJ&S operated trackage in Bellaire for projects, such as the work done on a church in 1959 that required a flat car of Brick to be spotted just south of the river on the siding in town.

Current offline customers are (Defined as having a siding/spur still connecting to the railroad):
East Jordan Iron Works (Also known as EJ or EJIW) - Used to receive inbound hoppers loaded with coal, coke, and raw iron ore for use in manufacture of metal based products, also on occasion was known to ship outbound loads of metal products on flat cars and in box cars. Reason for cease of service, switch to trucks.

Typical operations during this time are as previously mentioned, a two day a week operation with as needed service. 9 times out of 10 the trains will run starting from East Jordan after the empties are picked up and the train staged in the small yard in East Jordan. Once an air test is performed the Plymouth will run a mixed train with the combine and the empties down to Bellaire. Speeds range from 15-25 mph with a few rare occasions seeing trains hit 30 mph. Tie work was last performed in 1959, with the majority of ties being made of old growth oak and have been in the ground since the logging era. Most of the time not every industry will not be receiving cars with every trip to Bellaire, with the Co-op being the most active customer on the line at the current time. The line is mostly downgrade going into East Jordan. Upon entering Bellaire limits the train will enter the south leg of the wye and back up to the Bellaire depot, so that the train is facing the opposite direction for the trip north (an Armstrong turntable is located in East Jordan for turning equipment) Coming back from Bellaire requires a skilled engineer, or risk doubling the train due to the line averaging a 2.5 percent incline. The line is also very curvy with a few sections of decent straight track, and roughly half a dozen bridges over the Jordan River and its tributaries. All of these bridges date back to the construction of the line and are made out of raw tree trunks. If it is known the Plymouth cannot pull the loaded cars to East Jordan in two trips or less, the 2-6-0 is fired up to handle the days' chores. Since the loss of service to the Iron Works, the Plymouth has had little to no difficulty pulling the trains. Prior to this the 2-6-0 handled freight much more often.

Excursion services bring in a little bit of money on the side, with the famed Swan City Express being the bread and butter of the East Jordan and Southern's excursions. The reduced schedule has seen the excursion season cut back to between May and October to avoid the snow, with some occasional specialty trains. Excursions operate with the #6 unless it is unavailable, the Swan City open air car (converted from an old logging flat) and Combine #2. Trains prior to the reduced schedule operated every weekend, but now operate on two weekends a month. Holidays see special trains run, such as Easter, Thanksgiving and the final weekend before Christmas. The 4th of July tradition of Free Train Rides is kept as an appreciation gift for the community, although there has been talk of adding a very small fee to this ride despite public negativity towards the idea.

Locations on the line include:

East Jordan: MP 0.0 - Northern Terminus of the Railroad
Mt. Bliss: MP 4.3 - Former Flag Stop and Logging Camp on the Jordan River located at Webster Bridge Rd
Marble: MP 5.9 - Former Junction/Interchange with the Detroit and Charlevoix Railroad, abandoned during the Great Depression
Chestonia: MP 7.7 - Located at intersection of M-66 and Old State Road, sole remaining flag stop between Bellaire and EJ. Former logging camp, now small settlement
Hitchcock: MP 11.3 - Located at the corner of Kladder and Skinkle Roads, former logging camp, only foundations remain indicating a previous settlement
Section 10: MP 12.2 - Former logging camp, not referenced in previous timetables but still signed
Farmdale: MP 13.0 - Former logging camp and flagstop located on a bend in the road at Eddy School Rd
Wolcott: MP 14.1 - Former logging camp located near Oslund Rd and S Graham Rd on the Cedar River. Not noted as a flag stop or mentioned in later time tables. Still signed but hardly a speck on the railroad much like Section 10
Bellaire: MP 18.6 - Southern Terminus of the EJ&S, connection and interchange with the Pere Marquette / Chesapeake and Ohio located here. Interchange is made up of a long passing siding on the PM / C&O Main and a wye incorporated into the siding leading to the EJ&S Main. Siding also features the Bellaire depot, which sees use by the EJ&S and PM / C&O with connector service to and from East Jordan

This is just the start and laying out the groundwork for the modern EJ&S. Follow this thread for more updates on the newest addition to the Paper Railroads Forum!

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Mon Jul 22, 2019 6:13 am
Looking forward to updates :D

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 3:43 am
by MQT1223
It's 1963...

During a recent excursion, #6 suffered a Mechanical failure hauling a chartered excursion up the grade to Bellaire. The Plymouth was called in to rescue the train, and later return to the locomotive. It was discovered that #6 shattered a piston due to a faulty cylinder cock not allowing all of the water to exit the cylinder. The 6 is slowly towed back to East Jordan to assess the severity of the damage. During this time, the Plymouth takes up the excursion duties. The cost savings of using the Plymouth versus the 6 during this time increase valuable excursion profits by nearly double without a price hike on the ticket fees due to the 6 being sidelined.

Unfortunately the 6's mechanical failure is as bad as it can get, needing a new piston rod machined and a brand new sleeve in order to continue using the 1909 built Alco product. The explosion also bent some of the valve gear due to the excessive force. The EJ&S contacts the C&O to see if they can aid in repairs, since predecessor Pere Marquette was the last one to rebuild the engine in late 1946 (supposedly the last steam locomotive overhauled in Wyoming before the arrival of the E7's). The C&O, steam free for nearly a decade at this point, isn't as accommodating to the EJ&S as the PM was, and refuses to take the 6 DIT in a freight train. Left without the equipment necessary to make this level of a repair, and the issue of a backup locomotive being the primary concern, #6 was put into long term storage inside the roundhouse. Her coal was removed from her tender, her boiler and water cistern drained, and her stack capped...

Meanwhile the Plymouth picked up the slack, hauling passengers and freight and with the expenses saved of not operating 6 the railroad was turning a small profit. However the larger and more heavier rolling stock combined with the extra task of running sold out passenger trains was taking a toll on the Plymouth, and the EJ&S looked to the secondary market as they had years before to acquire their second diesel...

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Mon Sep 09, 2019 12:20 am
by MQT1223
Its 1964...

Rumors start to circulate... about the newest motive power joining the EJ&S's roster. It's their first locomotive purchase in nearly 30 years... excitement is building as the EJ&S is finally able to have a real locomotive on site. This will be their most powerful locomotive to ever grace the 70 lbs rail of the EJ&S Main. Nothing this big has ever made its way to East Jordan. On a big railroad it would be laughing stock, but on the EJ&S its the equivalent of a UP Big Boy.

Leave it to the salesmen of EMD to take and win over the EJ&S with a pair of ex. C&O BL-2's that were recently traded in for new GP30's for the C&O. However due to the C&O requiring all of their units ride on the reconditioned trucks of the trade in units, the pair of BL-2's are riding in on some trucks from scrapped Alco FA units! Two units were picked so that one could be used for parts to keep the other running as both units were in exceptional shape for their age.

EJ&S waited until winter let go in Northern Lower Michigan to make the move, and both units arrived in Bellaire in the spring of 1964. One BL-2 entered service immediately while the other was shoved into the roundhouse next to #6. The Plymouth was parked behind #6, and was kept on Stand-by service as well as the seasonal excursion runs.

The BL-2 proved its worth by saving trips to Bellaire, no more doubling the grades between Bellaire of East Jordan and the reliability of the more popular GP series. The shop crews weren't exactly thrilled on working on it due to the nature of the carbody, but the performance of the unit and the lack of breakdowns kept the crews happy with the purchase management made to suppliment the Plymouth.

Things were looking up for the EJ&S in the mid-60's...

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:46 pm
by MQT1223
The end of the decade is near (1960's)...

The EJ&S is looking for new opportunities to grow their business and increase profits. Continued talks about returning the Iron Works to rail service have received little to no headway, but the occasional car of scrap comes out of the plant for defective material. Management however has decided to use some of the unoccupied tracks for car storage. Sloughs Scrapyard has taken up a contract for the scrapping of retired freight cars, and they will receive cuts of old wooden cars and old steel cars that have been written off for scrap as well as the usual outbound carloads as well.

The roster has seen one change, and that the Plymouth was retired and sent to Slough's Scrapyard after suffering a cracked block during an excursion. The second BL2 was pressed into service after a shipment of parts came in from EMD following the demise of the Plymouth. Its in a rotation with the other BL2 to minimize wear. An additional amenity was added to the Swan City Express, when the EJ&S was donated an old wood caboose from Slough's Scrapyard after it was brought in on a cut of cars destined for scrap. Its of New York Central heritage.

Rumors have been floating around about management looking to restore the 6, but nothing has been set in stone until estimates can be made and a company found to fix the cylinder liner failure. The rest of the work can be done in house.

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:53 am
by MQT1223
Entering the 1970's the EJ&S has entered a period of uncertainty. 2-6-0 #6 is slowly being torn down in preparation for a return to operation as time permits select days when the work load isn't too big. The boiler is sound and will be receiving new flues and some firebox patches. The cylinder liner will be repaired under contract and sent down to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum's Soule Shops. The chassis and running gear will be sent down via truck to receive necessary repairs and other work to ensure the cylinder liners don't fail again. Boiler work will be done in house. Freight business hasn't really picked up or declined. On the passenger side of things a former B&O heavyweight coach was acquired just before the creation of Amtrak and has been pressed into service due to the deteriorating condition of Combine #2. #2 is being evaluated for overhaul and takes priority while the 6's chassis is down in Tennessee.

There has also been rumors floating around that the Chessie System has been wanting to divest themselves of their Northern Michigan trackage and the EJ&S has been monitoring the situation... talks of trackage rights on the C&O to Boardman Yard in Traverse City are ongoing to ensure the EJ&S maintains an outside connection and service for their customers.

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:27 am
there's a large cement plant in Charlevoix that could use some rail service :wink:

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 12:01 pm
by MQT1223
AARR wrote:there's a large cement plant in Charlevoix that could use some rail service :wink:
If trying to keep with actual events and mixing in my fictional, north of Bellaire will still die off as planned. The main focus of the "Modern EJ&S" is maintaining its outside connection before it can worry about customer expansion. Any other alternatives will be explored.

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:45 pm
by MQT1223
The mid-1970's have seen a big shift in the EJ&S operations.

**Some recently uncovered documents have uncovered a complete list of active EJ&S customers in the late 50's, so those will be added into the mix. The customers are:

Standard Oil Co. which receives oil
Diller Lumber Co. which recieves Lumber, wall board, plywood and roofing
The City of East Jordan occasionally receives a load of chloride
Thorsen's Lumber Co. which receives lumber, insulation, brick and roofing
Mt. Clemens Products which receives steel, crates and machinery
Keller Farms which receives corn on a semi annual basis

This does not include miscellaneous loads

On a side note, there are 4 lumber companies that do not receive but ship outbound lumber and another that does shingles. Mt. Clemens ships out scrap as well as raw steel and the Jordan Valley Creamery which does powdered milk and animal feed.

To add to some of my previous posts, these customers in actual history basically were served by the railroad in some way shape or form all the way up until the end. As the EJ&S slowly died, so did the online business. The lumber business on the EJ&S, their original commodity, has all but nearly dried up with the exception of Thorsen's and Diller and one of the outbound shippers. The rest have all switched to trucks due to the few carloads they shipped out. Keller Farms was a small farm that had a spur at Hitchcock, one of the last remaining customers not located at the railroad terminals. They stopped receiving corn in the late 50's but officially told management to remove the spur in the early 60's. The city of East Jordan has now began receiving their chloride by truck, in smaller but cheaper amounts and Standard Oil has reduced their carloads. Mt. Clemens Metal's utilizes an old lumber spur that also once served as a Detroit and Charlevoix interchange, and so far their business is holding well with the auto industry being their main customer and manufacturing partner going into the 1970's. Jordan Valley Creamery has shifted their feed delivery to trucks and has yet to switch their powdered milk but has announced the process is being explored, but also looked at for more local business. They, along with the Canning Company have seen an uptick in business that keeps the C&O local with plenty of cars coming to and from Bellaire.

The 70's are a period of uncertainty for the railroad. An economic downturn is brewing that could see the reduction of business for one of their primary customers and trucks are a continuing problem. The railroad is continuing to pinch their resources and lower shipping rates, while still making a small profit to keep online business. Slough Scrap has relocated in town, and no longer has direct rail access despite still shipping out scrap. Their car counts are down but they are committed to the railroad.

The big fear is that the new Chessie System is desperately wanting to get rid of their trackage in northern lower Michigan. The majority of it is unprofitable and most lines break even on revenue. The old PM between Traverse City and Charlevoix is one of the lines on the chopping block. With the loss of most of the customer base north of Bellaire the Chessie has hardly any online business, and if the EJ&S is severed from the national rail network then the railroad is done for. Service has been spotty and its been upsetting the customers on the EJ&S that demand faster shipping times. Currently, the EJ&S is negotiating with the Chessie System to acquire trackage rights from Bellaire to Traverse City, in exchange that the Chessie Local can be terminated and the line north of the river in Bellaire can be placed OOS and later abandoned if no interest arises. The EJ&S would also pick up any online customers between Traverse City and Bellaire if the Chessie agrees to this. The State of Michigan has been watching the rail scene unfold, and has already come to the EJ&S, saying that they have already approached Chessie and several other operators about purchasing track to ensure economic development in the northern part of the state. The EJ&S, who cannot outright purchase track, has made a request that if the state purchases the track between Bellaire and TC, that they can be made the operator, citing economic reasons for their customer base as well as the tourism aspect. The 6 running excursions between Bellaire to the Depot in Traverse City would be a huge success given the scenic nature of the line and its proximity to Grand Traverse Bay, along with options from EJ to Traverse if everything works out.

Negotiations between the Chessie, EJ&S and The State of Michigan are ongoing, and if they are successful could see the EJ&S grow to be the biggest its been since before the Great Depression.

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:59 pm
by MQT1223
The Mid-1970's for the EJ&S have many ups and downs that really test the railroads resilience.

Around 1974 or so one of the BL-2's blew a traction motor and was pulled out of service. Upon inspecting the unit it was found that not only was a motor blown and another motor was failing, that the frame was cracked in multiple places. This unit was retired and sidelined to be used as a parts source for the other operating BL-2. Management has also considered looking into some replacement units, as the BL-2's are starting to show their age. The Paducah shops in Kentucky, experts in locomotive rebuilds and modification, have been contacted to see if a rebuild program for the BL-2's are feasible, or if something else is necessary.

Back at the shops, the reassembly of the 6 is progressing as funds and time permits, the chassis and repaired cylinder liner have arrived in EJ and the boiler mated to the frame. A test fire should commence very soon as the first flues were rolled onto brand new tube sheets and staybolts installed into new interior firebox sheets. The tender has been rebuilt and the archbar trucks replaced with modified AAR trucks with roller bearings off a scrapped freight car courtesy of Slough's Scrapyard. Combine #2 Recently re-entered service on the passenger side of things and joins the converted spine car, gondola and caboose in passenger service. The B&O combine has entered the shop to receive some body work and paint, along with being converted to one of the first handicap accessible cars ever on a tourist hauler. The brakes are also in need of an overhaul and parts have been acquired from a scrapper in Chicago.

On the freight side of things, business with the cannery, Slough's Scrap and one of the Lumber Yards have remained steady. The cannery has never been busier, and is the core of the EJ&S business with almost daily runs from the yard in town and to the interchange. One lumber yard and the creamery have announced their intent to switch to trucks by the end of the 70's, which further taps into the profit margins of the EJ&S. The Iron Works however have entered into talks of restoring service on a somewhat limited basis, as their growing business means the trucks cannot keep up with the demand for more raw material.

Talks between Michigan, The Chessie System and the EJ&S have hit a standstill. Michigan has agreed to make the EJ&S the new operator if the Chessie relinquishes its control of the line between Traverse City and Bellaire, however it does not want to operate the line north to Petoskey citing fuel expenses, lack of resources and lack of business. The lone customer, pressuring the Chessie to continue service, doesn't want to loose its connection. Headway is being made, but hurdles have to be conquered. Something will have to give, but one thing is clear. The EJ&S is about to expand to a size not seen since the 1920's, and big changes are coming to the line that William Porter once said is "small but just as wide as any other railroad".

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2020 7:02 pm
by MQT1223
Realized I haven't posted here in a while so lets get back to it!

It's 1980...

The Chessie System, and State of Michigan have come to an agreement on a track sale. The EJ&S will operate over state owned trackage on a 10 year operations contract from Bellaire to Traverse City along with the remainder of the track to Petoskey, but will be in charge of the maintenance. This also includes a lease to own clause. The line north to Petoskey is not expected to see huge customer growth, but the RR and officials from the Cement Plant in town and the state officials have agreed to collaborate to maintain a rail connection to Charlevoix, Ellsworth and Petoskey (which along with the then-Michigan Northern will give them two lines). Passenger Excursions on state-owned trackage can commence as long as the EJ&S meets its freight requirements, this includes up to Petoskey, which was not included in original negotiations.

Management also worked out a deal with the State to finance the purchase of some new locomotives to replace their aging BL-2's, as well as some much needed upgrades on the original mainline from Bellaire to East Jordan. This includes the replacement of the ancient 65lb rail to 110lb jointed rail and some bridge work. The work will be done by outside contractors, as the EJ&S has done most of their maintenance by hand up to this point in true shortline fashion. The new locomotives and track work should begin in the summer of 1980. To better facilitate more fluid operations on the freight side of things, a new engine shop to accommodate the freight units will be built in Bellaire, while the excursion end of the railroad maintains its base in East Jordan. Boardman Yard will be used as a base for all northbound freight, with some extra side tracks in Bellaire for some cars.

EJ&S #6 was test fired for the first time in over 15 years in late 1979 and save for some minor maintenance has done well on trials pulling freight. The railroad plans on debuting the locomotive on its regular "Jordan Valley Local" excursion (EJ-Bellaire and return) in the late spring of 1980 and after the railroad officially takes over is working on an all day trip to Traverse City in the summer with a photo run-by along Torch Lake just outside of Alden. More trips are planned to TC depending on the success of these. A couple of leased coaches from the Bluewater Chapter are being brought in to accommodate more passengers and a BL-2 will be used to suppliment the Mogul. An excursion to Charlevoix is planned as well. The railroad is contemplating the establishment of regular excursion service on its new lines depending on the success of these excursions.

To better organize the railroad, it has been organized into 3 Divisions: The East Jordan Division (also known as the "Old Division") is the original mainline from EJ to Bellaire, The Traverse City Division is from Bellaire to Traverse City and the Petoskey Division from Bellaire to Petoskey.

The EJ&S has also been in contact with its new neighbor, the Michigan Northern, which has been given the old C&O Branch to Traverse City from Walton Jct where it meets in with the former GR&I Mainline that they operate from Grand Rapids to Mackinaw City. Given that they will interchange freight with the MIGN and the MIGN maintaining their own excursion program, it will be interesting to see the two railroads work together.

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Sun Aug 30, 2020 8:48 pm
by MQT1223
Should post again soon, realized I haven't in a hot minute!

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 8:32 am
Have you considered overhauling/rebuilding the BL-2's? They're a great fit for your light freight traffic and their historical value would help draw railfans for your excursions 8)
MQT1223 wrote:
Mon Apr 13, 2020 7:02 pm
Management also worked out a deal with the State to finance the purchase of some new locomotives to replace their aging BL-2's.

Re: Modern EJ&S

Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2020 7:06 pm
by MQT1223
AARR wrote:
Tue Sep 01, 2020 8:32 am
Have you considered overhauling/rebuilding the BL-2's? They're a great fit for your light freight traffic and their historical value would help draw railfans for your excursions 8)
MQT1223 wrote:
Mon Apr 13, 2020 7:02 pm
Management also worked out a deal with the State to finance the purchase of some new locomotives to replace their aging BL-2's.
Management has found that the BL-2's are suffering from frame problems and found a 645 prime mover would not fit inside the unique carbody of the units. Old first Generation Geeps are being looked at to supplement the excursions and light freight duties.