C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

Any historical questions can be posted here. Answers would certainly help as well :)
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C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

Unread post by C&O Dispatcher »

A couple of years ago, a FB friend asked me to do a write-up on the Elmdale Sub for the Lowell historical society. Since it was meant for the general public to read, I tried to stay away from too much "railroad" lingo, like train order operations and such. I'm cognizant that many rail fans may not find these types of writings their "cup of tea" -- but perhaps some will! I'm sure the evidences of this line in Elmdale are fast disappearing! I know some of the right-of-way is now rail trail.

https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/h1xdbsw5 ... i17nbhtmz2

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

Unread post by Doktor No »

A rather nice short overlook of operations there Doug. Well done.
I only got to ride up that way once and worked a saturday morning extra at Greenville once. We pulled and placed at Gibson warehouse, parked the outbounds for pickup and went home. Nice days pay for a few short hours of work!
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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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Thanks, Dan! The mobile-agent job I worked a few times out of the depot at Lowell mainly handled Ionia. That local came up from Ensel and there was quite a bit of traffic generated in Ionia at that time. I think I had to drive over to Clarksville once to pick up a waybill in the phone box. Otherwise I got sent to Edmore one time only and worked St. Louis for a few week's stints while the regular agent was on vacation. The chemical plant was still in operation then. For some reason, I never worked Greenville off the extra board, but did visit there a few times on dispatcher "review" trips. I did find humorous a time they sent one of our extra board operators over to work Lowell. He went outside to look over an eastward train and was watching compass west for it to show up and was startled when it came up behind him from the east instead. Turkey Trail!

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

Unread post by jrgerber »

Would love to hear about the customers in Ionia back then for Grand Trunk. Ionia was an interesting rail town with the C&O and Grand Trunk basically side by side through most of the mid town.

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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jrgerber wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 6:31 am
Would love to hear about the customers in Ionia back then for Grand Trunk. Ionia was an interesting rail town with the C&O and Grand Trunk basically side by side through most of the mid town.

Unfortunately, I can't really offer anything on which customers the GTW served in Ionia. I think C&O had the majority of the business based on what I saw. I know we switched General Tire and a place that made some kind of auto parts. Seems there was a grain elevator and some other customers, but it's been 45 years ago now! The regular mobile-agent out of Lowell was off on sick leave, so the Saginaw Chief sent me to work the job. The "control" agent, Morris Blazo, was a tad skeptical of me at first, but once he discovered we shared similar RR interests we actually became pretty good friends. On the first day, the regular mobile agent came in and rode with me in the company car to Ionia so he could get me oriented. I remember I made a "cheat sheet" with the track layout and customers, but I can no longer locate that map! I remember I would call Ensel first off to find out what was on the train that day, then make the first trip to Ionia to check the tracks and pick up Bills of Lading from the customers. I would drive back to Lowell to type-up waybills and a switch list, then return to Ionia in the early afternoon and meet the crew at the diamond with all the paperwork.

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

Unread post by jrgerber »

Thanks the auto parts was American Bumper. I think Standard Lumber was a customer as well.

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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American Bumper is on the GTW line east of town and shipped by rail until about 2006
jrgerber wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 6:43 am
Thanks the auto parts was American Bumper. I think Standard Lumber was a customer as well.
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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

Unread post by joeyuboats »

When I was a lot younger, I remember hearing about American Bumper in Ionia. At least once a year, someone was badly injured or killed there.

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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I don't believe I've ever posted this here and it may only be of interest to those who have interest in train order operations. This is kind of how a typical day would go on the Elmdale Sub back in the 70's. There's also a link to a rough diagram that maps out the overlapping limits of authority as described in the narrative. If nothing else, you can perhaps appreciate the inherent complexity of train order operation as opposed to today's verbal EC-1, TWC, Form D (DCS), etc. operations with widespread and dependable radio communications. This same desk in Saginaw also dispatched the train order Pt Huron and Bad Axe Subs and the CTC Ludington Sub. The "south end" to Toledo was always a separate job unto itself! "Hello Mershon and Pleasant Street -- train order, copy 3."

https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fi/7i3jz5s0 ... k1tmcyyelh
https://www.dropbox.com/s/5x8yo6ucp8mur ... 7.jpg?dl=0

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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I moved to Ionia with my family in 1972 and, with the exception of 1979-1986, have lived here ever since.

During the 70's the C&O's main customer was General Tire, taking out loads in assigned 86 footers (Return empty to C&O Ionia Mich). I remember there were also bulkhead flats of fiberglass covers that were interchanged to the Trunk in Ionia. I don't recall Standard Lumber getting rail shipments but they certainly might have. Wright-Way Lumber did get occasional lumber deliveries via the C&O. They were located between the Trunk and the C&O east of M-66. Before the spur was built to the main American Bumper plant off the Trunk east of town in 1986, I believe that Bumper operated a paint facility in the old meat packing plant at the end of Jackson Street. They loaded boxcars on the C&O via a loading dock at the NW corner of Jackson & Railroad Streets. I remember seeing the dock new and in a dilapidated state after abandonment.

Both the C&O and Grand Trunk brought occasional single cars of coal into town in the early to mid 70's, probably as fall & winter approached. The only other business I remember on the Trunk was grain shipped from the elevator in small groups of 2-3 cars. They were the blue GTW Pullman-Standard 54 footers.

It's interesting to learn Ionia was served by the mobile C&O agent out of Lowell. I always assumed the agency work would have been handled by the Grand Ledge agent since that is where the Ionia Subdivision originated, but it certainly makes sense to have the Lowell agent do the work. It was a lot closer to Ionia than Grand Ledge.

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

Unread post by jrgerber »

There looks like there was a coal fuel facility on the old C&O you can see it off the trial. It's a vacant lot off Bayard St. You can still remnants of the silos

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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I don't recall silos at the spot along Bayard. All I ever saw was the concrete compartments similar to what you see at landscape material dealers. There were silos along East Adams Street near Weber Court. I never saw those used and they were eventually razed.

The few hopper cars the C&O brought into Ionia were set out near downtown between the C&O and the Grand Trunk. A portable conveyor was used to unload them. The Trunk had a more formal unloading system on the side track south of the main track near the depot. It consisted of a trench like opening under the track leading to the south side of the track. There was also an arm that normally sat parallel to the track but could be moved perpendicular to the track over the car. I'm not sure what it's purpose was. Maybe a shaker?

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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Thanks for all of the comments. I think it's good sometimes to tap our collective memories!

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

Unread post by Tim »

When I worked as a block operator from '66 to '68, the Ionia Local out of Ensel would frequently have a load of Mustangs from the Metuchen, New Jersey, plant for Shelby conversions at the A. O. Smith plant in Ionia. I think this only lasted for about nine months.

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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Tim wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:16 pm
When I worked as a block operator from '66 to '68, the Ionia Local out of Ensel would frequently have a load of Mustangs from the Metuchen, New Jersey, plant for Shelby conversions at the A. O. Smith plant in Ionia. I think this only lasted for about nine months.
That would have been an interesting sight! You could even see them back then in the wide-open auto racks. Did you work as an operator at Ensel? Any other places?

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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I worked the night Tag End Relief job for most of the time. Mon-Tue at Delray as they had two levermen at the time, then Wed at Rougemere, Thur at Plymouth and Fri at Ensel. For several months I did this without a drivers license while attending MSU. I'd catch #12 in Lansing at 4:12 pm and then ride the power back from FSUD to Rougemere Yard where there was an old Troop Sleeper for out of town extra men. I'd then walk the little over two miles to Delray or across the street to Rougemere Tower. On Thur the same as Plymouth also had a Troop Sleeper available. I lived in Lansing a mile and a half from Ensel so that was an easy walk. I'd come back to Lansing after work each day on #11 with a city bus to MSU. One time I made the return on the GTW Mohawk although I no longer recall why. Also once I missed #12 and rode the head end of a freight from Lansing to Rougemere by having the operator at Ensel hand up a message to slow down to pick me up at the depot. Gone are the days when one could do this!

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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Wow! That's quite a relief job for sure! Doubt you'd find that kind of dedication to a job anymore! I didn't hire out until 1970 and worked Kearsley for a time, then several years at Carleton before moving to Saginaw and working extra board there for 5 years, some operator work but mainly dispatching until I got a regular dispatching job in 1981 after enough people retired. I think the most spread-out relief job I remember on our side was one that worked Lincoln, Wayne and Carleton. I never had to work it. I did have to travel quite a bit after I first went to Saginaw. It was cool that you could still deadhead on the passenger trains! Sounds like you got your exercise as well!

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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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C&O Dispatcher wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 2:43 pm
Wow! That's quite a relief job for sure! Doubt you'd find that kind of dedication to a job anymore! I didn't hire out until 1970 and worked Kearsley for a time, then several years at Carleton before moving to Saginaw and working extra board there for 5 years, some operator work but mainly dispatching until I got a regular dispatching job in 1981 after enough people retired. I think the most spread-out relief job I remember on our side was one that worked Lincoln, Wayne and Carleton. I never had to work it. I did have to travel quite a bit after I first went to Saginaw. It was cool that you could still deadhead on the passenger trains! Sounds like you got your exercise as well!
I know Wayne and Carlton well but where was Lincoln?
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Re: C&O Elmdale Sub Operations 60's-80's

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Lincoln = Wixom
ns8401 wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:03 pm
I know Wayne and Carlton well but where was Lincoln?
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