Bluewater Michigan Chapter NRHS: A Fallen Flag

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Bluewater Michigan Chapter NRHS: A Fallen Flag

Unread post by R.E.A.P.E.R. »

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The Bluewater Michigan Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, well-known throughout the Midwest for its fleet of passenger equipment, is going out of business, President John C. Moore Jr. announced over the weekend.

Headquartered in Royal Oak, the chapter was chartered in 1982 and had more than 900 members at its peak, but is now down to about 30 people. It operated excursions trains throughout the Midwest and even in British Columbia and overseas. It maintained an fleet of quality passenger equipment for its trips as well as for lease to other groups.

Moore cited the shutdown of the Norfolk Southern steam program 25 years ago as the beginning of the end. Even the limited return of the NS steam program in 2015 did not help. Despite shifting its emphasis to regional and shortline railroads, changes in insurance and railroad ownership meant passenger trains were no longer welcome. The chapter's operating and maintenance base in the former CSX yard in Saginaw was no longer available, and locations for safe storage of equipment became limited.

The group has disposed of its collection of rolling stock and is now down to its last two cars, a former Grand Trunk Western buffet-club and a former Seaboard Air Line round-end tavern-observation. Both are leased at present, but the chapter plans to sell them to qualified buyers soon. Three boxcars of parts in Saginaw will also be sold.

Any funds remaining after the sale will be divided between the car owners and the NRHS Rail Camp program, Moore says is a prepared statement. A farewell banquet is planned for November, with the final meeting of the chapter to be held in December.

Trains News Wire is awaiting additional information from the organization. ... nd-of-year

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Garry K
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Location: Livonia, MI

Re: Bluewater Michigan Chapter NRHS: A Fallen Flag

Unread post by Garry K »

Sad news about Bluewater. I was a Bluewater member from 1984 through around 1992 or so, and I was a volunteer car host for most of their train trips in that period, especially for all of the N&W steam trips. Lots of memories, although not a lot of photographs as club members weren't supposed to be taking pictures when working on a trip.

I agree that what really killed the enthusiasm of members was when the railroads required exorbitant amounts of insurance, so much so that the trips were financially uneconomic to run. With no trips to run, many of us found other activities to pursue.

Most of the passengers on the trips were happy travelers, although there was one woman I would have liked to have set off the train. She and her five kids boarded and took up 6 window seats. When the train started rolling, I asked her if she and her kids could sit together in three rows of seats so that other passengers could ride together. She (arrogantly) said, "We paid for our tickets and we can sit wherever we want!" So then I appealed to her kids, and the kids then doubled up without a problem. As it was, the kids were hardly in their seats. But then that woman kept staring daggers at me during the rest of the trip. And that was the May 14, 1988 trip on CSX from Livonia to the Holland tulip festival--the day that train hit a car and killed three teens in Sunfield, just west of Lansing. During the three-hour delay after the accident, Bluewater gave out free coffee to passengers. That woman complained that her coffee was cold. I said, "Ma'am, sorry your coffee is cold, but that's not much of a problem compared to the three grieving families who just lost a family member." She didn't care about the three who were killed. And that's not even mentioning the several times she tried to smoke a cigarette at her seat and I had to order her to put out the smoke.

But then there were highlights (on other trips) like the small boy who wanted to keep showing everyone his Thomas the Tank Engine toys. And I could get the car singing along to tunes like I've Been Working on the Railroad while I played the harmonica. Fun times.

In the late 1980s, I would try to get up to the SEMTA yard in Pontiac once a month to help work on the cars. That's why I never tried to get a job on a real railroad--EVERYTHING on a rail car is HEAVY! Used to change out brake valves underneath the coaches, also helped replace windows, seats, repaired the dutch doors and stairs. Nothing was easy (or light!). But it was all worth it, because when you worked the trips you got to ride trains for free!

Garry K

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