Another from the "WAI" thread...

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Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Mon May 04, 2015 9:31 pm

So I've been having a debate with a few of my peers on the heritage of the trestle over Plaster Creek near Clyde Park and Burton. Was it originally an Interurban trestle or was it built by the PRR or NYC? Where did the tracks go and when were they ripped out? Wyoming has obliterated just about every trace of ROW leading away from this trestle. I also found a small concrete foundation nearby for a small building on the Northeast side of the bridge, was that railroad related in anyway? It's right next to the ROW, as if a tower of some sort used to stand there. That should give a clue to the size of the foundation roughly.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby Michael » Tue May 05, 2015 8:45 am

I am thinking that that trestle was part of the KBE or more likely the GR&I. Based upon this map
http://www.michiganrailroads.com/RRHX/Maps/Counties/41-KentCoMap.htm
And this old USGS Topographic map from 1930
I think the current GDLK line (former GR&I) split as it came into the downtown area and crossed that creek.That is the part that is no longer there.
Image

Those track were not torn out until somewhat recently it would seem. Here is the same area in 1996
Image


I think the Interurban that existed went North-South down what is now Burlingame Avenue SW.
And also SW-NE along what is now Lee Street SW
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Tue May 05, 2015 11:45 am

Michael wrote:I am thinking that that trestle was part of the KBE or more likely the GR&I. Based upon this map
http://www.michiganrailroads.com/RRHX/Maps/Counties/41-KentCoMap.htm
And this old USGS Topographic map from 1930
I think the current GDLK line (former GR&I) split as it came into the downtown area and crossed that creek.That is the part that is no longer there.
Image

Those track were not torn out until somewhat recently it would seem. Here is the same area in 1996
Image


I think the Interurban that existed went North-South down what is now Burlingame Avenue SW.
And also SW-NE along what is now Lee Street SW


I believe its too far west to be the KBE.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby Saturnalia » Tue May 05, 2015 12:10 pm

KBE was the line to Jackson. The line up to Sunnyside was pulled mid-90s at the latest. Ken had some photos in the presentation at Brann's awhile ago that showed the old connections around Godfrey on the CSX/C&O
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby J T » Tue May 05, 2015 1:43 pm

Max, if you look hard enough you can still find rails from this line along Clyde Park, as not all of them were ripped out. I can even see them in the satellite image on my phone. There is also a much larger second bridge over Plaster Creek just northwest of the Grandville/Chicago Drive intersection. That one involves a little trespassing to easily access though. Best to explore on a Sunday morning. :-)
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Tue May 05, 2015 4:55 pm

If these rails connected to the PM/C&O, was this just a long bypass/interchange track to avoid GR back then or were industries served? I remember someone saying something to me about Kelvinator and a scrap yard...

I followed the ROW on Google Maps, and this is the same line that goes over Market St. Alex films from the bridge over CSX all the time, that is the same line. The tower at the trucking company, is located along this line. However JT I'm not seeing where a second bridge is on Plaster Creek as it looks like there are two crossings of Plaster Creek beyond Clyde Park.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby Saturnalia » Tue May 05, 2015 6:00 pm

The interurban ran PARALLEL to the line in question. The IU ran up more on the hill or whatever towards the river, while the steam RR ran along the backside of all those factories. I'm not sure if some of the "steam" RR trackage was from the IU. All I know is that it readily connected with the PM at Godfrey, and that both the PM and GR&I had access to it. The PM could also get to it via the City Market lead from Judd
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby J T » Tue May 05, 2015 7:52 pm

MQT1223 wrote:However JT I'm not seeing where a second bridge is on Plaster Creek as it looks like there are two crossings of Plaster Creek beyond Clyde Park.

You're using the wrong satellite imagery. :) I suppose you can probably access it somewhat legally through Roosevelt Park.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Tue May 05, 2015 8:29 pm

I looked in there but through MapQuest I couldn't see a bridge due to the time the shots were taken. I do see a bridge and I see rails. Anywhere else rails are still in place? Those are the first I've seen. I know a road or two beyond Oxford street still has them in the pavement.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby J T » Tue May 05, 2015 9:58 pm

It's been a few years since I've been to that bridge, but IIRC there weren't any rails on it. However, if you follow the angle of the ROW across the parking lot at the corner of Chicago Drive and Clyde Park and head south, you can see the rail heads in the pavement at the south end of the lot.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Tue May 05, 2015 10:23 pm

J T wrote:It's been a few years since I've been to that bridge, but IIRC there weren't any rails on it. However, if you follow the angle of the ROW across the parking lot at the corner of Chicago Drive and Clyde Park and head south, you can see the rail heads in the pavement at the south end of the lot.


I see. I see. Hmmmm. I'm intrigued now. I will definitely look now for this bridge.

I have also found a network of switches and rails near the corner of (I think if I remember correctly) Clyde Park and London in the pavement of the scrapping business. They are very clear in google maps. Even the indents of ties can be seen in the pavement. However, is their a bridge over Plaster Creek directly west of the intersection of Clyde Park and Hogan, south of Chicago Drive near the scrapping business? I cannot see one still intact via Google Maps but maybe you can. This would be south of the Roosevelt Park bridge.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby J T » Wed May 06, 2015 6:56 am

MQT1223 wrote:However, is their a bridge over Plaster Creek directly west of the intersection of Clyde Park and Hogan, south of Chicago Drive near the scrapping business? I cannot see one still intact via Google Maps but maybe you can. This would be south of the Roosevelt Park bridge.

That's one bridge I have not looked for and something tells me it was removed long ago. I've looked at it from every angle on satellite images and the overgrowth there is too thick to show anything. Locating that bridge in person involves driving back to that spot on that business's property, and I've yet to attempt that (or even contemplate it). Probably a Sunday morning thing. :twisted:
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby ~Z~ » Wed May 06, 2015 8:19 am

J T wrote:Locating that bridge in person involves driving back to that spot on that business's property, and I've yet to attempt that (or even contemplate it). Probably a Sunday morning thing. :twisted:


I'd suggest you and MQT1223 try your bikes over there, easy ride there.. probably a lot easier to check out the area than with your cars. I think I'll be doing the same on my next daytime bikeride.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby trnwatcher » Wed May 06, 2015 9:26 am

This was the PRR lead that ran towards the old Kelvinator plant, continued northwest and crossed Chicago Dr. West of Plaster Creek and went to Wyoming yard. The remnants if thus track is the City market lead. There was a switch near Burton and s second beach of this went behind the scrap dealer and continued east of Clyde Park and entered the Kelvinator plant just north of Griggs St.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby C&O6084 » Fri May 08, 2015 3:12 am

Interesting. The 1990's map shows pieces of the interurban, the 1930's mad does not.

Traveling Southward, the Interurban first crossed Plaster Creek along Godfrey. Double-wide plate girder bridge, and all that's left is heavily grafitti'ed abutments. It "kind of" paralleled the GR&I Plaster Creek Branch, and crossed both the GR&I and what's now 28th street adjacent to the Consumers Power switchyard. The switch stack with lots of cross bracing, rivets, and erector-set-look is, amazingly enough, original equipment that predates the Interurban-- over 100 years old. Steel hot-dipped in zinc-- the don't make stuff like that any more.

1225, you're from Grandville, right? Wedgwood Park is named after Doc Wedgwood, who was severely hurt in a collision betwixt his car and an interurban. on Godfrey, just North of the now-gone bridge. Combination of a silent railcar & a blind crossing. He never recovered. His brother was severely hurt at the same crossing later. Quite a few people were over the years.

Plaster Creek Branch was hardly a "spur" in its heyday. I wish I had seen it before it became the double spur in the modern NYC/PC days. It served Kelvinator, half the carloads of the Furniture District (PM had the other half), and that big building where Chicago Dr curves into Grandville-- THAT was the grinding and kilning facility for an enormous percentage of all the gypsum mined in the area-- not just the Judd St mines. It also served as a frequent shortcut/bypass for PRR passenger trains avoiding congestion through the PRR/MC yards. It joined/crossed the PM at Sunnyside; the old cantilever at Godfrey once held a signal for PRR. You can see the scars in the pavement in front of the new passenger station showing where it rejoined the GR&I main at the north station throat.

When the Interurban folded, NYC bought the stretch from about 52nd/56th North, up to the LS&MS freight house at Fulton. It was assigned to Michigan Central, then merged into NYC (system) in 1930. Official purpose was to connect LSMS & MC properties without having to go through PRR territory (now blue bridge), but it was rarely used that way. MC couldn't get to the line without backing on the PRR main anyway. Plus, all it could handle was an SW-1 and a few cars.

Now, for your original question: Hyman Michaels, professional scrappers out of Chicago, disposed of the line. These guys knew what was worth pulling and what wasn't. Any debate or delay, they just kept going. The line to Jenison remained, albeit a reroute through town, as they had no access to the swing bridge that was just sold to MC. The only unsold bridges that remained were ones that Consumers (then Commonwealth Power and Light) needed for maintenance access. There's one North of Wayland along Old US-131. With the exception of the swing bridge, the ones sold to MC were removed when Conrail came into existence.

I was at the AMtrak station last night; freeway construction reminded me of the industrial spur that went along Century uncomfortably close to the then-new freeway. I was a tiny tot when I saw a NYC switcher being flagged past the Hall St ramps on the Southbound side of the freeway. Also a NYC Geep flagged across 28th Street near Byron Center Ave (LS&MS). I never, ever saw a train on the old swing bridge (interurban/MC/NYC/PC) at Godfrey, though.

The time to check out the interurban is NOW, due to scrub growth, and it might already be too late. But be careful; far more interurban ROW is considered owned by "sensitive property owners" (read: old coots with shotguns) than railroad property tends to be. They believe that Consumers Power deeds are just a legal formality.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby Ben Higdon » Wed May 13, 2015 1:01 pm

Michael wrote:Image


The line with the arrow pointing to the bridge was the GR&I/PRR Plaster Mill Branch. It crossed the PM at Sunnyside and connected back to the main just south of Union Station. Later under Conrail it was called the PK Industrial Track.

The parallel interurban line from Kelvinator northward was called the Grand Rapids Belt by NYC. Interesting thought that it was bought to connect the MC with the NYC. I think its more likely they simply purchased it to access the industrial area west of the PRR and south of the PM. They certainly wouldn't have used a backing move on the PRR main line to operationally connect the two. Didn't the interurban pass over the GR&I on a trestle just south of Burton? It would have been fairly simply to connect the MC to the interurban line east of the trestle, but the grade would've probably been prohibitive.

I've heard the Plaster Mill Branch was the original GR&I main line into downtown, but I haven't seen any solid evidence for that. The alignment of the ROW supports that.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby Ben Higdon » Wed May 13, 2015 1:04 pm

C&O6084 wrote:When the Interurban folded, NYC bought the stretch from about 52nd/56th North, up to the LS&MS freight house at Fulton. It was assigned to Michigan Central, then merged into NYC (system) in 1930. Official purpose was to connect LSMS & MC properties without having to go through PRR territory (now blue bridge), but it was rarely used that way. MC couldn't get to the line without backing on the PRR main anyway. Plus, all it could handle was an SW-1 and a few cars.


Just curious where the info came from that the interurban line was assigned to MC. That would be surprising to me. Was the trackage south to 52nd/56th ever used by NYC/MC? Perhaps the portion south of the PRR crossing at Burton went to MC, and the portion north to downtown went to NYC?

Thanks!
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Wed May 13, 2015 4:42 pm

So I checked out the bridge at Roosevelt Park. Very similar design to the bridge by 131. It amazes me how many bridges cross Plaster Creek in such a short distance. There is no bridge intact near the scrapper although rails are intact across the entire property. I also noticed a short distance beyond the bridge at Roosevelt Park that there are remains of yet another bridge, maybe an earlier alignment of the Plaster Creek Branch. At Godfrey there are abutments next to the bridge where the interurban used to cross the creek and then Godfrey. A lot of crossings over Plaster Creek.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby C&O6084 » Wed May 13, 2015 4:53 pm

"Michigan Railroads & Railroad Companies", Graydon M. Meintz, Michigan State University Press, 1982. The Bible of Michigan railroading, corporate info only, with very little "operating" details. Far more for historians than railfans, but it's a great book. Out of print but well worth looking for.

LS&MS and MC were bitter enemies from the start, even though ultimately owned by the same person, Cornelius Vanderbilt. He only looked at financial reports, and didn't care (or know) how the individual lines "bettered" their reports. So, traffic stealing, one example, was fair game. in 1914, MS&MS joined NYC&HR to become NYC. In 1930, NYC went through a highly complicated consolidation, in steps. MC first consolidated a large list of leased and owned lines, and then merged with NYC, CCC&StL and a few others to create the NYC System. Meints mentions that the task must have been difficult, since they never tried it again.

It makes sense from a >>corporate << view, to assign the ex-interurban in West Michigan to MC. Why add another branch to a corporate tree you're trying to trim? Plus, due to state charters, who gets the line is important, too. Remember, he biggest reasons for the creating of Amtrak was not to 'save' passenger trains, but to remove control of passenger routes and frequencies from THOUSANDS of state charters that people fighting train-offs suddenly remembered, and thus passing control to ONE Federal agency & set of laws.

Actual use of the line South of 28th street? I haven't talked to ANYONE that has even the slightest idea. MYCS owned industrial property in that area, and there was supposedly (I never heard any) of a coal power plant there. NYC did scrap the bridge over 28th street & PRR, removed the dirt ramps and put in switches to cross PRR. Metro Graphic maps show the line well into the 1940's (scrapped for war steel???), but as up-to-date as their maps were, old RR lines remained for a very long time -- not a priority.
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Re: Another from the "WAI" thread...

Unread postby J T » Wed May 13, 2015 10:15 pm

MQT1223 wrote:There is no bridge intact near the scrapper although rails are intact across the entire property.

Mystery solved. Did you ride your bike back there through the scrapper lot?
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