Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & Michigan Southern PHOTOS!!

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Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & Michigan Southern PHOTOS!!

Unread postby GP30M4216 » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:04 pm

PREFACE: I took good notes for this trip so sorry if I'm a bit wordy.

I began my adventure with a full tank of gas and departure from Ypsilanti at 0700. The sun was up by the western border of Saline and I was on my way! US-12 is a beautiful ride in the early morning.

I arrived at Hillsdale at about 0815. I noted a few Coldwater cars on the scale pocket track behind the Burger King on M-99, in addition to the usual assortment of storage cars on the yard tracks there. At the yard office, I found “Ugly Duckling” GP7u #1500 tied together with GP30 #2185. A crew was just starting the former Reading 30 up as I passed. Also present near the office was GP10 #1073, which returned to service in October. GP9 #1770 has been moved farther east in the yard, and in addition to GP9 #1603 and the hulk of GP30M #4216, there was quite the assortment of power around town today. I went to McDonald’s for some breakfast while keeping an eye through the front windows toward the yard tracks.

As I returned to my car with a nice warm coffee in hand (at sunup it was 9 degrees), I heard a P5 in the distance. I found the crew had uncoupled #2185 from the 1500 and was spotting a cut of three AEX open-top hopper cars north of the pocket track. I think these were cars that had been in storage. The crew then wyed the 2185 and brought it back behind the King, where they tied on to the Coldwater cars. At first I thought they were going to make a run to Coldwater, but then they tied on to the AEX cars too, and were now pointed toward the state line and Montpelier. I got out of town ahead of them to start chasing them south. The Coldwater cars were all from Darling, including 2 covered hoppers and 4 tankcars for tallow. Plus the three AEX cars from Hillsdale and they had 9 to take with them.

My first stop was at the S-curve south of Bankers. I’ve wanted to stop here before but this was my first successful attempt at getting a photo here. While stopped there I ran into a friendly INER crew who were going to repair a separated joint near the crossing. We discussed Nikon camera bodies and lenses while waiting for the train. It’s so nice to be able to talk with friendly railroad employees and not feel like you’re going to be run out of town. They informed me that not only was this train going south today, but there was a northbound underway from Edon, OH with 40 something cars for Reading and Hillsdale. They indicated that grain has really been moving and in general the INER has had several very busy months. After a successful pair of photos here, my next stop was Reading. The Andersons sidings were empty, and I caught the train at the M-49 crossing on the south side of town. The chase was on! The INER goes at a pretty decent clip from there south to the state line, and on the never-parallel roads of southern Michigan, even at highway speed I kept just barely missing them at every crossing. Which is still fine by me!

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S curve south of Bankers

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S curve closeup

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Crossing a creek near Montgomery

I crossed into Indiana and caught them just south of Ray, at the E 750N crossing. While waiting for the train, an Indiana Conservation Officer stopped to see what I was doing. Again, so nice to have a pleasant conversation rather than being hassled. He took off just before the train passed me. With the train going slower in Indiana, I easily beat them to Fremont. It appears the old 76 ball in that town will outlast the venerable Co-op grain silos which are such a prominent fixture along the track. The demo equipment is already being staged. I also noted lots of covered hoppers at the industry just south of SR120 (is this the plastics place?).

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At the E 750N crossing south of Ray

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Passing the soon-to-be-gone elevators at Fremont

The train came by me and I was able to capture a last view of it with the soon-to-be-done grain elevator as a backdrop. This is the first time I’ve not seen them work Fremont. I was expecting to chase them farther into Indiana to the point where they would meet the northbound train. But as the 2185 passed me going south, I was surprised to see the northbound coming under the toll road bridge far in the distance! The meet was happening right here at Fremont.

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Southbound 2185 in the siding meeting northbound 2230, 1601 and 1602 with a mixed freight

The 2185 and train backed into the spur track just south of town to let the northbound roll through. This proved to be quite a good sized train, 48 cars, led by the remainder of the INER’s active roster: GP30 #2230, GP7 #1601, and GP9 #1602. My mind had to completely reset to think about places which would be good for northbound photos in the morning. I got a couple photos of them crossing SR-827 in Fremont before capturing a video of the train crossing SR-120 on the north side of town. Then the chase was on (again)! I beat them up to the E 750N crossing again, beside the historic Duquid homestead of 1836, where I was able to use the zoom to capture them coming through the fields, before tearing off again and crossing back into Michigan. My next stop was just north of the border, at Duquid Road, where I was able to see them descending and ascending the hill there on their northward climb. I just beat them to Wigent Road, another favorite place of mine, for a curve sequence.

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At the SR-827 crossing in Fremont

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High hoods in consist

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Back at E 750N, this time northbound

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Grinding up the hill at Duquid Road

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Grain hoppers still coming around the curve

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Approaching the curve at Wigent Road

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Video INER leaving Fremont:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EK5-ZuOavbM

The train arrived into Reading at around 1115. I watched while they cut off the power and spotted the 1602 at the elevator. As the sun was creeping across the sky, I realized that the photo opportunities were limited at best for a northbound through mid-day. I could have waited to watch them set off the grain cars and then continue north with the Hillsdale portion, but I elected to end my INER chase here and continue westward. Still, it seemed likely that the INER would run to Coldwater today, as I had seen them do in the past. I decided that if I could not find the MSO, which normally runs Mon-Wed-Fri, then I would head back east on 12 to see if I could find them.

Going west along US-12, I checked in on Sun-Gro Industries at Quincy, a shipper on the Old Road. They had two covered hoppers on their siding, an ATSF one at the unloader, and a BN airslide out near the main in full Cascade dress. Rolling stock wise, this is perhaps my favorite industry on the INER. They always get covered hoppers from the BNSF, and they’re almost always still in BN or Santa Fe paint. Star of the West in Quincy had several tankcars, a pair of covered hoppers, and a pair of gondolas on their siding.

After a lunch stop in Coldwater, I continued west. I checked in on the historic 4-way GE traffic signals in Coldwater, and then made a spur-of-the-moment detour off the highway to Burr Oak for another old traffic signal check-in. Burr Oak is home to the last remaining single-bulb W.S. Darley Company 4-way porthole beacon left operating in the state, a real rare light from ca. 1928! I had never actually seen this little relic, so I decided to find him, presiding over this very silent little town. In the process, I’m sad to report that the road commission has done chip-and-seal road resurfacing at at least two crossings in town and paved right over the out-of-service part of the Old Road. This could certainly be undone, but it’s just one more nail in the coffin for this portion of the line.

Video of ca. 1920s Darley signal doing its thing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F3mpZV2nik

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My next stop was at Sturgis, the home of voice legend Tom Bodett, now looking for the MSO. When I was last here in December, the sidings in Sturgis were packed full of storage cars and boxcars for International Paper. Today, only a few storage cars were present, and no boxcars were to be seen. No cars were present at the International Paper loading dock on the south side of the building, along the Old Road. Absolutely no sign of the MSO here. I continued on to White Pigeon. The first thing I noticed about White Pigeon was that it too was devoid of most storage cars. In December there had to be nearly 2 dozen boxcars in lines which were all of the type which go to International Paper. This day there was a single car. Only a few other covered hoppers and tankcars were scattered on the various tracks in town. I spied the Alco RS3m #7804 still outside the shop near the depot where it had been in December, and of course the RS2u #466 and S2 #66 still dead at the west end of the yard. I also found the real MSO, chugging east through town. Knowing that they don’t “cruise” very fast on their mainline, I decided to take a circle loop around the west side of town. 1 slurry tankcar was present at the unloading track for White Pigeon Paper. It appears there really is a transload operation going on on the old north leg of the wye, NW of the MSO engine house. Three covered hoppers were parked on its length, one with an unloading conveyor parked beside it. I’m not sure what they’re transloading here. This is the site where the lumber used to be cut up. At the end of this track is MSO’s old cupola caboose.

I jumped on US-131 to see if there were any interchange cars present at White Pigeon Junction. Which there were: two covered hoppers and two 50’ boxcars, one of them a red CP Rail car. I don’t understand this interchange. I’ve seen the Grand Elk set off cars here in addition to ones that are already on this track, but the MSO goes to Sturgis without getting any of them. Maybe these were cars which the MSO had just put out for the GDLK to pickup, but this is a westbound trailing switch, which the Grand Elk works on their southbound run with job 501. Today they were working in White Pigeon but didn’t bother to retrieve the interchange cars either. Who knows. I also took a look at that new place just west of the junction that gets reefer cars – but there were none parked on their siding. I went back over to the yard and found the MSO completing their train – two tankcars and a single 63’ NS hi-cube boxcar. I almost didn’t notice the new unit leading the train – PREX GP16 #1616! This is the one that came over from the West Michigan RR back in December sometime. Last time I saw the MSO around Christmas they were still using the GP9 #907, and the 1616 was nowhere to be seen. Now I found the 1616 and the 907 was nowhere to be found. Nevermind the unaccounted for presence of RS3 #977, and the recent reappearance of RS3m #7804. THIS LINE MAKES NO SENSE. Either way, they took off toward Sturgis and I was in slow pursuit.

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Building the train at White Pigeon Yard

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Profile crossing Kalamazoo Street on the way toward Sturgis

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At the Huff Road crossing eastbound

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Video of MSO eastbound at Huff Road:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKejghts0iI

There aren’t many crossings that are good for shooting eastbounds on this segment of the Old Road, but I did manage to get shots of them at Huff Road and again at White School Road. I took some photos of them switching beside the restored Sturgis depot, while they ran around the boxcar, then set off around the NW wye with tankcars leading, then the 1616, then the boxcar. They left the boxcar on the “mainline” and went into Abbot to switch. I wasted some time until they returned south with one tankcar. Then they switched International Paper. They may have only had one boxcar to setoff, but they picked up 4 of them!: All 50’ standard size boxcars, which run the full length of the unloading track inside the building. Two of these were NS cars, one had EEC reporting marks, and one was still lettered for the Southern, with “Super Cushion Service” lettering on each side. The 1616 then shoved the whole train back around the wye over to the yard, where they assembled their train to take west. Since Sturgis Iron & Metal closed, I think there are only a couple places that still get service – very occasional service – on the old PRR going south from town. It’s too bad.

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Rearranging at Sturgis

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Shoving carefully around the wye toward Abbot

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Having picked up 4 empties from IP (boxcars behind locomotive), 1616 sets off one boxcar in the loading dock

They picked up two additional tankcars and departed to the west, with three tankcars and the four boxcars total. I caught them again at White School Road. I then made my way east back down US-12, stopping in Coldwater, where I found the INER had in fact ran a Coldwater Turn, as the 2230 was tied down near the depot. No sign of the 1601 or cars from the morning train. No matter. It was a great success of a day that was full of awesome first and second-generation EMD road power!  And I also got to check out the architecture of quite a few small town post offices. Once again, a tip of my hat to the INER track crew and Indiana Conservation Officer who improved my railfanning day!

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1616, heading home at White School Road

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Car consist back to White Pigeon. That's all folks!!
Last edited by GP30M4216 on Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:04 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & MSO

Unread postby AARR » Wed Mar 09, 2011 8:17 pm

I like your detailed reports gp30. Looking forward to the pictures. I am running out of time tonight otherwise I would answer a few of your questions. If they are still open I will respond tomorrow.
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Re: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & MSO

Unread postby GP30M4216 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 12:49 am

As an early follow up question - there was a decent line of Canpotex covered hoppers on that northbound INER road freight - I've never seen these before. What do they carry? Where do they go?
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Re: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & MSO

Unread postby AARR » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:30 am

GP30M4216 wrote:As an early follow up question - there was a decent line of Canpotex covered hoppers on that northbound INER road freight - I've never seen these before. What do they carry? Where do they go?

Fertilizer for the place west of Coldwater. Canpotex is a Canadian pot ash company.
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: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & MSO

Unread postby AARR » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:09 pm

I also noted lots of covered hoppers at the industry just south of SR120 (is this the plastics place?).

I think this is Letica. A manufacturer of plastic pails. All of their plants receive rail service including the one in Rochester until it closed in 1999 They are a steady customer for IN.
Last edited by AARR on Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & MSO

Unread postby A No.1 » Thu Mar 10, 2011 8:54 pm

Im just asking, Does DARLING get any covered hoppers?
GT HOG

Es sind 80 meilen nach chicago, mein tank ist halb voll sprit, ein six pack , es ist dunkel und ich hab meine sonnenbrille auf , LOS GEHTS!!

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Re: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & MSO

Unread postby railroadchoad » Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:18 pm

Darling ships out a lot of loaded covered hoppers full of either blood or bone meal.
Lookin' and smellin' darn GOOD!
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Re: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & MSO

Unread postby AARR » Fri Mar 11, 2011 9:44 am

railroadchoad wrote:Darling ships out a lot of loaded covered hoppers full of either blood or bone meal.

And the tank cars are filled with Tallow. Many years ago I was watching MSO pull three tank cars from the plant on a cold windy Jan day. As it came closer it looked like the skin of the cars were moving. When it got close I noticed that "skin" was millions of tiny bugs swarming around the tank cars. With the chill and wind they did not last long but I shudder to think what it must be like in the summer :shock:
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Re: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & MSO

Unread postby SW » Fri Mar 11, 2011 11:19 pm

Finally got a chance to read this. Great report!
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Re: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & Michigan Southern PHOTOS

Unread postby GP30M4216 » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:12 pm

Thanks for the compliments all. I've added most of the photos. Hope they add a bit to my novel. :D
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Re: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & Michigan Southern PHOTOS

Unread postby AARR » Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:24 am

I hear business at Darling in Coldwater is picking up. Averaging 5-8 cars per week with about a 1/3 being covered hoppers with blood or bone meal or something like that.
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Re: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & Michigan Southern PHOTOS

Unread postby GP30M4216 » Wed May 18, 2011 4:13 pm

I added the last of my MSO photos from this trip, for those who like to MSO or want to see what their consist looked like. :wink:
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Re: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & Michigan Southern PHOTOS

Unread postby ryno4494 » Sat Feb 01, 2014 4:18 pm

at the time the alco 977 was in the little river barn, drained and out of the weather. that's why the 7804 re emerged from the the LR barn. 907 was in the KZOO barn. crews prefer the 1616, for creature comfort reasons. but the 907 still runs good.

chances are if the mso does not pick up the jct, they don't need those particular cars that day,(all mso customers choose what cars they want brought in) so the mso let the gdlk shove more new cars on them until they are either needed -OR- need to be pulled in to the yard to make room for the outbound gdlk cars.
if the customer does not specify, the oldest cars are spotted.
they are switched out and delivered as needed, so If they don't need the cars they avoid double handling.

there also for awhile the gdlk had the bad habit of not picking up their cars, and shoving the mso inbound cars on what should be gdlk's pick up.

service from the gdlk has been horrible over the recent/last 7 months,(late '13) and there right now isn't much consintancy at all. both companies, and their corporate holding companies have been hashing out a consitant pattern. the mso shifts service on the delivery of the gdlk, and gdlk has been choking on its own food as of late.

the way it should work, and will again soon ,hopefully, is the Gdlk delivers in early/mid morning 5 days a week, the mso then starts runs late morning M-W-F.
(since the mso is not normally scheduled on tues and thurs, those cars are left where gdlk puts them. so wed and fri setouts will be shoved on the previous days. more cars more stops, this is why wed and fri are busiest.)
the mso ALOMST always pulls in the jct first thing switching log cars if any, they then sort cars and switch WP customers. Put the Sturgis train together leaves town, switches all Sturgis customers, and returns. most of the time all the WP work is done, and it will runaround it outbound/gdlk cars and shove them to what should be a clear jct for gdlk to pick up the next morning. so the gdlk is supposed to setout 5 days a week, but usually will only have to pick up mon,tues, and thurs. all in am. again the mso generally pulls the jct everytime they run, and spots the oubounds before they tie up.

im not even going to try to describe the present gdlk inconsistancies. but it should be getting better.

mso has 8 current active customers, including the salt guy on the south side of Sturgis, which the more snow we get the more trips we make to him-(hes very busy now) again normal start times are between 0900 and 1200, tieing up 1600 to 1800, M-W-F. the newly painted caboose see often use, and is usually on the rear westbound. I hope this helps confusion.
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Re: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & Michigan Southern PHOTOS

Unread postby AARR » Sat Feb 01, 2014 4:54 pm

ryno4494 wrote:mso has 8 current active customers, including the salt guy on the south side of Sturgis, which the more snow we get the more trips we make to him-(hes very busy now) again normal start times are between 0900 and 1200, tieing up 1600 to 1800, M-W-F. the newly painted caboose see often use, and is usually on the rear westbound. I hope this helps confusion.

Excellent report about MSO. Thanks for posting! Can you list the 8 customers? Does White Pigeon Paper get service? In Sturgis there are International Paper, Ross Industries, and the salt company. Who are the other four?
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: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & Michigan Southern PHOTOS

Unread postby ryno4494 » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:51 pm

so not to name names (other than those known) in WP: log loading guy, cow feed guy,(transload- covered hoppers-tip of the west wye), car cleaning guy, and WP paper. there's also fertilizer transloading guy dormant for awhile now.
in Sturgis: IP, Abbott, salt guy (south of town), and a plastics outfit west edge of Sturgis.
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Re: Indiana Northeastern 3/7/2011 & Michigan Southern PHOTOS

Unread postby Notch 8 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:58 pm

Penquin Plastics is the plastics company.
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