The New Buffalo Yard

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The New Buffalo Yard

Unread postby atrainguy60 » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:16 pm

I was wondering, what was the purpose of the train yard that is currently used for storage in New Buffalo? I'm assuming it had more purpose some time ago, and it looks like it was a decent sized yard, around 15 tracks, but I don't see any major industry or major junctions aside from the flyover to the north over the Michigan Line. What was it's use back when it was used for more than just storage?
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Re: The New Buffalo Yard

Unread postby SD80MAC » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:58 pm

Up until 1980 or so, the Lacrosse branch went southeast out of New Buffalo. This line crossed the B&O and GTW at Wellsboro, the PRR at Hannah, the NKP at Thomaston, and ultimately wound up at the C&O's Chicago Line in Lacrosse. It was the PM's only direct connection to the C&O outside of Toledo, and no doubt there was interchange at some of the other junctions as well. New Buffalo was always used for block swapping between trains coming to and from Chicago, and the Lacrosse branch. The interchange a few miles south at Michigan City with the South Shore and the Monon was also probably based out of New Buffalo. In the steam era, westbound PM trains would swap engines at New Buffalo, and later in the steam era would always stop for coal at the large tower above the mainline, as PM always wanted company coal for their locomotives rather than what could be found offline in Chicago. The roundhouse still stands, most recently being used as a gym. The turntable is now at the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, who extended it to fit PM Berkshire 1225, as the Berks were too big for it. That's just what I know about New Buffalo, others here I'm sure know much more!

Another thing to consider is that in the first part of the 20th century, the PM had a large amount of business in southwest Michigan in the form of perishables. Grapes, strawberries, blueberries and other fruits were big money crops and had to be moved quickly. There were dozens (if not more) of loading facilities between New Buffalo and Hartford which got very busy during harvest season. There's a great story in the book "Pere Marquette Power" by a retired PM fireman about being dispatched west from Grand Rapids with a 2-8-2 and a caboose, picking up reefers along the way down the coast of Lake Michigan. The crew was gone for nearly a week ferrying empty and loaded reefers between Holland, Benton Harbor and New Buffalo! They slept in the caboose or on the floor of the cab, or at a RR bunkhouse if they happened to outlaw at a place that had one. Can you imagine that now?
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Re: The New Buffalo Yard

Unread postby trnwatcher » Thu Aug 10, 2017 3:15 pm

In the pre-PM days this line was the ONLY connection the RR had to Chicago. Paul Ivey's book on the PM goes into some detail on the financial reasons as to how some of these pre-PM lines came into exsitence and how they got put under the PM umbrella after the bancruptcy\reorganization of 1901. There is a free e-book version on this on Google I believe.
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Re: The New Buffalo Yard

Unread postby atrainguy60 » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:05 pm

Interesting stuff. I didn't realize that perishables were once a big part of the traffic over on the west side. Thank you for all the info!
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Re: The New Buffalo Yard

Unread postby SD80MAC » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:30 pm

To build on what a Steve said, the original pre-PM main was the Lacrosse line south of New Buffalo. New Buffalo to Porter wasn't built until sometime after 1900.
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Re: The New Buffalo Yard

Unread postby MRC_Andrew » Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:34 pm

trnwatcher wrote:In the pre-PM days this line was the ONLY connection the RR had to Chicago. Paul Ivey's book on the PM goes into some detail on the financial reasons as to how some of these pre-PM lines came into exsitence and how they got put under the PM umbrella after the bancruptcy\reorganization of 1901. There is a free e-book version on this on Google I believe.



To save time searching:

https://books.google.com/books?id=OvNMA ... te&f=false
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