Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

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Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 4:34 pm

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Does anyone have a rough idea as to what these rails were used for and when they probably last saw service? My guess is that they were a part of a wye of some sort that linked up with the LS&MS by the coke plant, one of the former main's that are now spurs for Padnos and the bridge over the Grand River/Market St. Can anyone provide any information on these?
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Re: Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby trnwatcher » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:39 pm

If this is along Butterworth north of the river, it's probably one of the tracks that the LS&MS had that ran from where they crossed the Grand River west of here back towards DT GR. There was a lot more industry back in that area 60+ years ago. The Coca-Cola bottling plant had rail access up until the mid-late 70's I think. Much of that track was still there until the early 80's when that area was starting to be brought back from the urban blight that hit in the 60's and 70's.

It looks like you are close the bike path that comes out to Wealthly St west of that sub station. Not seeing it easily on Google Maps but I think your correct about it being LS&MS track. As for being part of a wye...I'd need to see an older map of the area to see where these tracks all connected together.
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Re: Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby J T » Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:11 pm

trnwatcher wrote:It looks like you are close the bike path that comes out to Wealthly St west of that sub station. Not seeing it easily on Google Maps but I think your correct about it being LS&MS track. As for being part of a wye...I'd need to see an older map of the area to see where these tracks all connected together.

The main was somewhere near the bike path or where the rerouted Wealthy Street now resides. This spur off that old main went to something, but I'm wondering how long that power station has existed as the tracks goes right toward it.
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Re: Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:34 pm

trnwatcher wrote:If this is along Butterworth north of the river, it's probably one of the tracks that the LS&MS had that ran from where they crossed the Grand River west of here back towards DT GR. There was a lot more industry back in that area 60+ years ago. The Coca-Cola bottling plant had rail access up until the mid-late 70's I think. Much of that track was still there until the early 80's when that area was starting to be brought back from the urban blight that hit in the 60's and 70's.

It looks like you are close the bike path that comes out to Wealthly St west of that sub station. Not seeing it easily on Google Maps but I think your correct about it being LS&MS track. As for being part of a wye...I'd need to see an older map of the area to see where these tracks all connected together.


J T wrote:
trnwatcher wrote:It looks like you are close the bike path that comes out to Wealthly St west of that sub station. Not seeing it easily on Google Maps but I think your correct about it being LS&MS track. As for being part of a wye...I'd need to see an older map of the area to see where these tracks all connected together.

The main was somewhere near the bike path or where the rerouted Wealthy Street now resides. This spur off that old main went to something, but I'm wondering how long that power station has existed as the tracks goes right toward it.


Its tough to see on Google Maps cause of the overgrowth. This is on Wealthy, and the bike path is to the left. I'm guessing the substation was built in the 80's. Look on google maps and form a triangle with the Padnos tracks. The tracks closest to the river go to the bridge and the western most tracks go south following the powerlines (that go to the substation) over Wealthy. The main is most likely where the path is and the switch for the tracks seen here is just before the driveway for the radio station. Then heading towards the river from there following the rails above you go through the modern day substation to the existing bridge.

That's my theory.
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Re: Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby J T » Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:00 pm

I don't believe that spur was part of a wye. It may have gone to an industry that existed before that power station. The old main crossed at an angle at the intersection of Lexington and Butterworth, and then continued SW across Emperor, Straight (just north of Hemlock) and Indiana. From there it started to curve due west, and that section of Wealthy was built over the old ROW in the last 10-15 years or so. Prior to that, Wealthy ended at Indiana Ave. The rest of the north/south streets all the way west to Garfield are dead end streets because they never had grade crossings over that old line. I'll check my old 1970 Kent County map when I get home in the morning, maybe it shows something.

Trying to find a detailed Kent County or Grand Rapids city map from the 1970s or earlier online is proving to be a PITA. Or else we might be able to find something showing where those tracks led to.
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Re: Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby trnwatcher » Mon Apr 20, 2015 11:15 pm

The sub station (or some smaller version of this) has been there for as long as I can remember. I'm linking to a copy of a 1924 GR area RR map that is on the photo wiki. It is not the greatest quality but you can see that Butterworth St ran north of the LS&MS tracks in 1924.

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Re: Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:42 am

Could this be whats left of a spur that went into the old Butterworth Landfill? Did the NYC run trash trains?
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Re: Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby Standard Railfan » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:59 pm

I cannot tell from your photo exactly where this track is located. I gather from the other comments that the photo was taken in GR facing east just south of Wealthy St. across from the Kent County recycling facility.

If this is the location, the substation in the photo is the Consumers Energy westside sub, then I may have an answer. Consumers Power Co. owned and operated a coal fired power plant at this site until the 1970s :?: . There was rail service to the plant. You can view the 1960 aerial photo of the plant here: http://www.historicmapworks.com/Map/US/67343/Page+7+++12+++35+++Walker+Township++Grand+Rapids++Sec++35+++Aerial+Index+Map/Kent+County+1960+Vol+1+Grand+Rapids/Michigan/

Trash trains are for the most part, a 20th century phenomenon.
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Re: Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:40 pm

Standard Railfan wrote:I cannot tell from your photo exactly where this track is located. I gather from the other comments that the photo was taken in GR facing east just south of Wealthy St. across from the Kent County recycling facility.

If this is the location, the substation in the photo is the Consumers Energy westside sub, then I may have an answer. Consumers Power Co. owned and operated a coal fired power plant at this site until the 1970s :?: . There was rail service to the plant. You can view the 1960 aerial photo of the plant here: http://www.historicmapworks.com/Map/US/67343/Page+7+++12+++35+++Walker+Township++Grand+Rapids++Sec++35+++Aerial+Index+Map/Kent+County+1960+Vol+1+Grand+Rapids/Michigan/

Trash trains are for the most part, a 20th century phenomenon.


My phone is not agreeing with the picture, but yes these rails are directly across from the first cul-de-sac on the eastern side of the recycling facility. A coal fired power plant makes a lot of sense.

Did you mean to say trash trains are a 21st century phenomenon because the 60's and 70's are in the 20th century.
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Re: Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby Standard Railfan » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:00 pm

MQT1223 wrote:Did you mean to say trash trains are a 21st century phenomenon because the 60's and 70's are in the 20th century.


Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) the technical term for trash began to be shipped long distances in the 1980s and 90s as older poorly designed landfills were closed as a result of the passage of Resource Conservation and Recover Act in 1976. These older landfills, often called dumps, were not built with liners and monitoring systems like a modern landfill.

The Not-In-My-Back-Yard (NIMBY) mindset and the cost of constructing new landfills (over $1 million per acre) have caused the shipment of MSW across county, state, or even international boundaries.
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Re: Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby trnwatcher » Wed Apr 22, 2015 3:43 pm

The Butterworth "dump" was closed back in the late 70's and was closed to due to toxic run off seeping into the Grand River. That is way nothing is building on it due to it's unstable nature and the fact that is was the toxic landfill for all dumping from the westside for decades. Some city "father" had the hair brained idea to to build a stadium\arena on the site 20A+ years ago but the cost of the cleanup put the project way out of the ball park. Now it's a large green area for bicyclists and dog walkers.
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Re: Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby MQT1223 » Wed Apr 22, 2015 4:51 pm

trnwatcher wrote:The Butterworth "dump" was closed back in the late 70's and was closed to due to toxic run off seeping into the Grand River. That is way nothing is building on it due to it's unstable nature and the fact that is was the toxic landfill for all dumping from the westside for decades. Some city "father" had the hair brained idea to to build a stadium\arena on the site 20A+ years ago but the cost of the cleanup put the project way out of the ball park. Now it's a large green area for bicyclists and dog walkers.

I heard about the stadium idea. Why someone would build out in that industrial area is beyond me. Look over the river and a giant smokestack and rundown buildings line the river. Yeah the Butterworth Landfill will just be a green pasture unless someone has an idea as to where they are going to dump the "dump".

As for the map, you can see a faint line that shows the spur going into the power plant. I would say that the tracks above are the remains of the power plant spur.
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Re: Gonna bring this over from the "WAI?" thread...

Unread postby J T » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:49 pm

MQT1223 wrote:As for the map, you can see a faint line that shows the spur going into the power plant. I would say that the tracks above are the remains of the power plant spur.

Without any doubt they are. Mystery solved. :)
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