If the Rails Were Still There

Anything pertaining to railfanning in Michigan.
David Lang
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 582
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2005 10:43 am

If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by David Lang »

Hey Guys. I don't post as much as I used to, but I figured this topic could be #9000 on this website.

For a long time now I have wanted to create a topic that is thought provoking, yet fun. I would like to know what you all think about the subject of abandoned railroad grades and "if" the rails were still there, could or would they be used today. Now there is no rules for this topic, but lets begin by saying (just as an example) rail lines that were taken up between now, back to the 1980s. What nearby industries back then, or today, could benefit if the rails were still there? The other thing to note here is your responses would be complete speculation (unless of course you know for sure) and again, I am aiming for something more fun, rather than deep discussion and disagreement. What I want to know is if the rails were still there would it be "possible"?

I will begin with my favorite - the old GR&I between Grand Rapids and Cadillac. The Yoplait in Reed City sits basically on the diamond of the GR&I and C&O. Since they are food manufacturing, and a good sized one at that, I wonder if the rails were still there from either railroad if they would receive/ship by rail.

Let's have fun with this everyone and I am interested what everyone has to say!

--David Lang

User avatar
AARR
Ann Arbor RR Nerd
Posts: 32137
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:39 pm
Location: Washington, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by AARR »

David Lang wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:16 pm
I will begin with my favorite - the old GR&I between Grand Rapids and Cadillac. The Yoplait in Reed City sits basically on the diamond of the GR&I and C&O. Since they are food manufacturing, and a good sized one at that, I wonder if the rails were still there from either railroad if they would receive/ship by rail.
I have a paper railroad called Grand Rapids Northern. It operates ex-MIGN from Grand Rapids to Reed City then east to Evart. It services couple small lumber yards south of Cedar Rapids. Plastics plants in Cedar Rapids and north of Big Rapids. Large grain elevator in Howard City. Yoplait in Reed City and log pulp wood transload also in Reed City. Biggest customer is the Salt/Pot Ash mine near Hersey. And then another plastics plant in Evart. Line started out with several GP7's, later some GP38's but now use SD38's (rebuilt by IC from SD35's).
Last edited by AARR on Tue Jul 28, 2020 3:27 pm, 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...

User avatar
SD80MAC
Ingersoll's Mr. Michigan
Posts: 8394
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2005 5:59 pm
Location: Grand Rapids

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by SD80MAC »

The basis for my model railroad is if the former GTW Grand Rapids sub had never been abandoned and RailTex/Rail America had been able to acquire all of it from Durand to Muskegon. It would be a blend of Michigan Shore, Grand Rapids Eastern, Mid Michigan and Huron & Eastern operations since all were/are under common ownership and is set circa 2010-2015. The Michigan Shore would operate Muskegon to Penn Jct and would run over the Grand Rapids Eastern to Fuller. There they would pick up any CSX-bound cars from the GRE and swing south onto CSX for the run into Wyoming yard. My thinking is that if the GTW had remained in place from Penn Jct to Muskegon, the CSX Fremont sub would've been severed south of Ferrysburg after the 2005 sale to Rail Amercia in order to eliminate the swing bridge over the Grand River.

Meanwhile, the Grand Rapids Eastern would operate Grand Rapids-east (maybe as far as Owosso, with CMGN retaining Owosso-Durand until the sale to HESR), while a Huron & Eastern road switcher out of Durand would work west. They would either meet somewhere in the middle and swap cars, or the HESR road switcher would run all the way to Grand Rapids if needed (the GRE train could also work as far as Durand if necessary). There would also be a local job in Grand Rapids that would handle yard switching and some local customers inlcuding Van's Logistics, the Grand Rapids Press, a couple of lumber yards, Precision Poly and possibly Amway, turning around at Ada. The big online customers would be King Milling and Electrolux (via the MMRR at Lowell), American Bumper in Ionia, a large ADM elevator in Ovid and a large Anderson's facility near St. Johns. I have heard stories of both companies initially having expressed interest in building facilities on the GTW, but that Straits Corp chased them off to CSX instead.

Additionally, the old C&O-GTW interchange in the northeast quadrant at Fuller is still in place, allowing easier interchange of unit trains and some loose carload traffic between Marquette Rail and GRE. CSX unit trains (grain and potash) for the GRE and HESR are also interchanged at Fuller, avoiding Lake State and GLC. MQT also loads an occasional grain train for the NS, which runs up from Toledo via AA-GLC-HESR/GRE. The Essexville coal trains have also run over the GRE to Essexville instead of CSX.
Last edited by SD80MAC on Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Remember, 4 mph is a couple, 5's a collision!"
http://flickriver.com/photos/conrail680 ... teresting/
Image

User avatar
AARR
Ann Arbor RR Nerd
Posts: 32137
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:39 pm
Location: Washington, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by AARR »

SD80, You and I are very close.

On my paper railroad, Durand & Grand Rapids, the large yard in Amway handles many more cars than they actually do receiving 27-36 cars per week. Kings Mill receives 3ish 15-25 car blocks per month of various wheat and they ship out 7-10 cars a week of flour. Auburn Bean & Grain (now The Anderson's) built a large elevator in Pewamo. They've expanded several times. Fertilizer dealers opened in the last 10 years in Fowler and Pewamo receiving about 120-150 cars per year each. Agro Culture in St. Johns has expanded several times and now receives 8-10 50 car blocks of nitrogen annually and ships out 400-500 carloads of their special liquid fertilizer blend. In a year or two they expect to ship another 200-250 cars a year of their liquid fertilizer. Precision Poly receives a 3-4 car block every two weeks. There's still a small fertilizer dealer in Ionia that gets about a dozen cars a year. West of Grand Rapids High Grade Materials receives 5-10 cars per week of cement when busy and Standard 1-3 cars per week. No customers exist at this time west of Walker although the line is in place to Coopersville. Unfortunately the line between Penn Jct. and Muskegon was removed as is the line north of Lowell. In Owosso American Drainage (3-4 cars of plastic every 2-weeks), Georgia Pacific (receives a 3-car block 3-4x per week) and Woodard (1-3 outbound box cars of furniture) are serviced. Jobs work out of Durand and Grand Rapids. Motive power was originally a handful of ex-GTW GP9's that were rebuilt to GP9r standards.
SD80MAC wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:59 pm
Meanwhile, the Grand Rapids Eastern would operate Grand Rapids-east (maybe as far as Owosso, with CMGN retaining Owosso-Durand until the sale to HESR), while a Huron & Eastern road switcher out of Durand would work west. They would either meet somewhere in the middle and swap cars, or the HESR road switcher would run all the way to Grand Rapids if needed (the GRE train could also work as far as Durand if necessary). There would also be a local job in Grand Rapids that would handle yard switching and some local customers inlcuding Van's Logistics, the Grand Rapids Press, a couple of lumber yards, Precision Poly and possibly Amway, turning around at Ada. The big online customers would be King Milling and Electrolux (via the MMRR at Lowell), American Bumper in Ionia, a large ADM elevator in Ovid and a large Anderson's facility near St. Johns. I have heard stories of both companies initially having expressed interest in building facilities on the GTW, but that Straits Corp chased them off to CSX instead.
Last edited by AARR on Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:03 pm, edited 2 times 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...

GTW6401
how bout no
Posts: 7505
Joined: Wed Aug 08, 2007 4:07 pm

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by GTW6401 »

Former NYC from Detroit to Bay City prior to 1970. I'm not old enough to see its glory days.

MiRailProductions
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 326
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 6:19 pm
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by MiRailProductions »

David Lang wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:16 pm


I will begin with my favorite - the old GR&I between Grand Rapids and Cadillac. The Yoplait in Reed City sits basically on the diamond of the GR&I and C&O. Since they are food manufacturing, and a good sized one at that, I wonder if the rails were still there from either railroad if they would receive/ship by rail.


--David Lang

I've been extensively working on a project of the MIGN in a modern day setting, through the lens of Trainz Simulator. In my scenario, the MIGN was able to survive after shedding the Bay View-Mackinaw City section of the GR&I, as well as handing the reigns of the former AA between Alma and Frankfort to TSBY in 1984. The C&O between Bay View and Charlevoix was picked up by the MIGN, mainly serving the St. Mary Cement plant there. The state renewed their subsidy in the MIGN (unlike our timeline) and though facing tough times through the 80s and the early 90s, it emerged as a healthy shortline. In 1987, the road assumed control over the former C&O between Reed City and Evart, which gave a much needed boost to its customer base. Yoplait in Reed City in the modern day is a large source of traffic.

The modern MIGN serves largely the same customers north of Cadillac that GLC serves today, and then some. Petoskey Gas, Reith-Reiley Construction and St Mary Cement are all served by rail in this scenario. In addition, much of the traffic in the Cadillac region (Viking Energy in McBain, for example) that goes via GLC/Ann Pere/Lansing/GR is now moved via GLC/MIGN/Grand Rapids using the belt line between Selma and North Yard as an interchange. GLC still exists in this timeline, but it doesn't have the same kind of traffic volume that it does in our timeline.

South of Cadillac, there's a cluster of customers in Reed City, including Reed City Feed + Supply, Kraftube, and Yoplait. On the Evart branch, there is a salt mine and a potash mine near Hersey, and Ventra Evart recieves plastics in hoppers. In Big Rapids, a gas company receives occasional pipe loads and the elevator receives the odd car or two. The Howard City paper plant still receives 6-8 boxcars a week, and the Limestone Pit at Sand Lake produces unit trains bound for CSX. Lastly, at Rockford, there is a distribution plant that receives a few boxcars a week.

With a healthy customer base, especially in the summer with cement production, and a good flow of overhead traffic, the MIGN is a thriving road in the 2010s and early 2020s. If anyone is interested, I'd be open to posting updates on how this project develops.
"If you are ever chasing trains, you're bound to end up on a 2-lane, double-striped road with a slow poke in front of you." -Danny Harmon
YouTube - Michigan Rail Productions
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPPgdn ... wZHDIyfk_Q

User avatar
AARR
Ann Arbor RR Nerd
Posts: 32137
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:39 pm
Location: Washington, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by AARR »

I like your scenario MRP.

I also have a paper railroad to Charlevoix to serve the cement plant however it comes from the south to avoid the draw bridge over the canal between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix. The NIMBY's forced the railroad to shutdown the drawbridge so the line was kept in place from Williamsburg to the cement plant. In addition to outbound cement the plant also receives 30ish cars a week of fly ash. At this time there are no other customers between Williamsburg and the cement plant. All the online canning plants ship by intermodal/truck. There are no other large on line businesses. Howe and Howe Trucking in Ellsworth my be a possible transload customer in the future. At one time they transloaded drilling mud at Cadillac but now that all comes by ship/truck. I'm working on a scenario where they transload up to 8 cars per week of pulpwood logs for mills down south.
MiRailProductions wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 12:24 pm
The C&O between Bay View and Charlevoix was picked up by the MIGN, mainly serving the St. Mary Cement plant there.
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...

MiRailProductions
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 326
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 6:19 pm
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by MiRailProductions »

AARR wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:04 pm

In addition to outbound cement the plant also receives 30ish cars a week of fly ash. At this time there are no other customers between Williamsburg and the cement plant.

I'm working on a scenario where they transload up to 8 cars per week of pulpwood logs for mills down south.
I didn't think about fly ash! That comes in open hoppers or gondolas, correct?

I like the logging transload idea, I wonder if there's somewhere on the MIGN where I can place one.
"If you are ever chasing trains, you're bound to end up on a 2-lane, double-striped road with a slow poke in front of you." -Danny Harmon
YouTube - Michigan Rail Productions
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPPgdn ... wZHDIyfk_Q

User avatar
AARR
Ann Arbor RR Nerd
Posts: 32137
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:39 pm
Location: Washington, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by AARR »

Fly ash is usually transported in covered hoppers but occasionally in gondolas/open hoppers covered with tarps. TSBY had proposed a sand movement to the cement plant (perhaps from Yuma?) but it didn't materialize.

GLC/MIGN has had pulpwood log loading sites over the years including Cadillac, Manton, South Boardman, Kalkaska, and perhaps other locations I'm not aware of. South of Cadillac they loaded logs at Ashton and other locations.
MiRailProductions wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:58 pm
I didn't think about fly ash! That comes in open hoppers or gondolas, correct?

I like the logging transload idea, I wonder if there's somewhere on the MIGN where I can place one.
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...

MiRailProductions
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 326
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 6:19 pm
Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by MiRailProductions »

AARR wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 4:34 pm
GLC/MIGN has had pulpwood log loading sites over the years including Cadillac, Manton, South Boardman, Kalkaska, and perhaps other locations I'm not aware of. South of Cadillac they loaded logs at Ashton and other locations.
I did think about utilizing the spur just south of Manton where logs were transloaded. It seems like that ended about 6-8 years ago or more now.
"If you are ever chasing trains, you're bound to end up on a 2-lane, double-striped road with a slow poke in front of you." -Danny Harmon
YouTube - Michigan Rail Productions
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPPgdn ... wZHDIyfk_Q

User avatar
AARR
Ann Arbor RR Nerd
Posts: 32137
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:39 pm
Location: Washington, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by AARR »

Richmond, Romeo & Rochester (theme of my model railroad).

Acquired ex-GTW Romeo sub from Richmond to just east of I75 late 90's when CN abandoned the line.

Operate with an ex-GTW GP9 and GP38ac (in GTW bicentennial colors).

Small elevator on the Richmond Wye currently owned by Star of the West receives 12-15 cars per year of fertilizer.

Ford engine plant in Romeo ships 3-5 box cars each weekday, 3-5 gondolas per week of scrap aluminum cubes and receives 2-3 tank cars per week.

Washington Elevator (DBA Capital Fertilizer) receives 50-60 cars per year of fertilizer and 20-30 of Egyptian salt.

A plastics plant under its 3rd owner in Shelby Twp. receives 1-2 cars per week of pellets.

Pfizer in Rochester receives a tank car of ammonia every 3-4 weeks.

Letica also in Rochester receives 3-5 cars per week of plastic pellets. Letica's spur can hold 11 cars and unload 8 so sometimes it requires some extra switching to locate the correct cars at the right docks.

Church's Wholesale in Auburn Hills receives 1-5 cars per month of lumber.

Peninsula Plastics also in Auburn Hills receives usually 1 but sometimes 2 cars per week of plastic pellets at the end of the line via long tubes between mainline and their plant.

Operations consists of daily turn between Romeo and Richmond to interchange Ford Engine traffic with CN and once a week service between Romeo and Auburn Hills.

Prospects includes a limestone yard east of Romeo that would receive up to 3500 cars per year from a pit in MI's thumb (west of Pigeon) or from the pit in Alpena. Limestone from Wallace would arrive daily in 15-22 car blocks (during busy season) via HESR/CN. If from Alpena it will arrive in 50 car blocks via LSRC,CSX then using trackage rights on CN into Port Huron. If the 50 car block option develops I'll probably have to acquire a 3rd engine.
Last edited by AARR on Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:58 pm, edited 2 times 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...

User avatar
AARR
Ann Arbor RR Nerd
Posts: 32137
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:39 pm
Location: Washington, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by AARR »

Imlay City Central.

Acquired ex-GTW Cass City Sub in 1983/84 when GTW abandoned the line.

Operates with a pair of ex-D&TS GP7's.

Gravel pit east of Oxford is largest customer shipping 30-45 cars per week during busy season.

There's a small plastics plant in Leonard that gets 1 and sometimes 2 cars of pellets every week or so and a truss builder in Dryden that gets 1 and sometimes 2 cars every week or so.

The pickle plant in Imlay City used to be a steady shipper but the moved the spur to connect directly with the CN mainline in the mid 2000's so we no longer service them.

There's a pair of elevators in North Branch that were owned for many years by a small private operator and was a small but steady shipper. However, they were acquired by Cooperative Elevator around 2006 and greatly expanded. They receive about 12-15 cars of fertilizer each year. Outbound consists primarily of a 25 car block of corn each month or so for the ethanol plant in Caro which is interchanged with HESR in Clifford. Occasionally they ship small carloads of other grains to CN in Imlay City.

During busy season operations is 2x per week from Oxford to Clifford and back. A block of 20ish gravel cars will be set out in Imlay City for CN and 15ish cars in Clifford for HESR. During the slow season operations is once a week to serve the other three customers as necessary.
Last edited by AARR on Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:05 pm, 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...

User avatar
AARR
Ann Arbor RR Nerd
Posts: 32137
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:39 pm
Location: Washington, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by AARR »

Pigeon & Michigan Thumb.

Acquired Cass City - Caseville in 1983 when GTW abandoned the line.

Operates with an ex-D&TS GP7.

Star of the West has a bulk elevator at the end of line in Cass City that ships a 5-25 car block once or twice a month and also receives 12-15 cars of fertilizer a year.

Millennium also in Cass City receives 1-2 cars a week of plastic pellets.

Star of the West just took over the old Wrubel/Merchant Grain elevator in downtown Cass City. They ship on average 2 box cars a week of bagged beans.

Cooperative Elevator in Gagetown receives 8-10 cars a year of fertilizer.

The huge Cooperative Elevator in Pigeon ships 1500-2000 cars a year of grain. HESR sets out the cars on our mainline then we shuttle them around for loading and set them up for pick up by HESR. CE also has a decent sized dry fertilizer terminal that receives 40-50 cars a year and also about a dozen or so liquid fertilizer cars.

At the end of the line in Caseville Cooperative Elevator has a large bean plant that ships on average 3 box cars a week of bagged beans and one covered hopper of bulk beans.

Service is usually once a week starting with shuttling the covered hoppers at the large elevator in Pigeon for loading (averages a 15-50 car block per week) then running up to Caseville and down to Cass City switching the other customers as needed. It gets a little hectic around Pigeon lining up the cars for pick up.

I'm considering adding a second passing siding to ease the congestion but will hold off for now due to expense. Occasionally a second day of service is required when a hot grain load needs switching.
Last edited by AARR on Sun Aug 02, 2020 12:06 pm, 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...

chapmaja
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 798
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2008 3:02 pm

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by chapmaja »

Wixom, South Lyon and Jackson - operates the ex-GTW Jackson subdivision. Line's eastern end if at M-5. A few occasional customers remain on this end of the line who get a couple carloads per year of product. These include Elsey Construction, ASA Building Supply, Great Lakes Powder Coating and Armaly Brands. These customers get just enough service to keep the tracks (and yard) in Walled Lake open. The biggest customer east of Wixom is American Plastic Toys who gets a carload or two of plastic each week. The diamond has been removed in Wixom, so the train has to operate around the wye tracks (old and new) to access the line west of Wixom. Interchange is with CSX / Lake State in Wixom Yard. Customers west of the CSX line in Wixom include occasional car loads for Michigan Solar Solutions, T&M Asphalt Pavings, GVC Commercial and Industrial Painting, Continental Aluminum. In South Lyon, there would be a small interchange track for interchange between CSX and the WSL&J. Continuing west, there would be a section of street running in South Lyon where the 10 mile Rd bypass was built on the old ROW. A major customer would be Michigan Seemless Tube, who never stopped shipping on the line in the first place in this situation. They get served 5 times per week with inbound aluminum and steel, and outbound tubes. One of the more interesting operations on this line would be the operation of the prison to prison trains for MDOC. These trains would carry supplies (mainly food products) between the Woodland Correctional Facility and the the Jackson Prison and it's associated prison farms (see more on this later). Just west of Hamburg Rd, the rails would be consolidated onto the GLC tracks between this point and Lakeland. This would also be the location of a small interchange yard, allowing for interchange between the GLC and WSL&J. Continuing west, the joint trackage would end just east of Kress Rd. The GLC would continue north and the the WSL&J continues west. Lakeland would be the site of small depot and its associated access to the chain of lakes and Zukey Lake Tavern. (more on this later). In Pinckney, the railroad would would have built a spur to Fyke Sand and Gravel. In addition, the lot near the old freight station would be purchased and converted to a stone yard / woodchip yard / landscaping business. The Pinckney Lumber would still be in place as well, getting an occasional carload of lumber, cement blocks or bricks. West of M-36 and M-106 in Gregory would be the home of a grain elevator. The elevator would handle 64 car unit trains, but would require cars to be loaded in only 8 car cuts. It would replace the now shuttered Chelsea Grain Company on the Amtrak Michigan Line. There would be a small yard west of the elevator to handle the remainder of the cars for the unit trains. The elevator would also get liquid fertilizer. Heading into Stockbridge, Stockbridge Manufacturing would get an occasional carload. Munith would have a small fertilizer dealer that would get a few carloads per year. The next customer would be the Michigan Department of Corrections. MDOC has reactivated their prison farms in Jackson, and food grown on the farms is shipped by rail to the Woodland Correctional Facility in refrigerated MDOC owned boxcars. Additionally, the prison system has developed additional manufacturing capabilities (to teach prisoners eligible for release new job skills) and ships out product from the manufacturing facilities via the railroad. The GTW yard in Jackson has been removed, but a railroad car re-manufacturing company has taken its place, so tracks remain in to serve the customer. The WSL&J runs via trackage rights over the JAIL to the NS Yard in Jackson. Additionally, JAIL and WSL&J jointly switch Modern Tube in Jackson.

The railroad was run out of a small yard in Walled Lake, but when Ford closed the Wixom plant and tore down the plant, the railroad purchased the former yard within the plant (west of where the plant was). this 5 track yard allowed plenty of space for the switching needs of the small railroad. When they purchased the yard they also picked up Angelo's Wholesale supply, as a small customer. The railroad used the existing yard, but built a small engine house on the area that was formerly the loading tracks of the Wixom plant. They also are in the process of helping a couple other potential customers develop on the remaining property of the plant, which has not yet been redeveloped. When the railroad assumed the Ford plant's yard as its base of operations, they were required to gain trackage rights from the yard over CSX (now Lake State) into Wixom Yard and run north to the wye to head east or west on their mainline. The former Walled Lake Yard remained intact and is used as a run around siding for trains serving the east end. Getting to their main comes with some significant challenges however. All trains leaving the yard pull forward out of the yard, then have to back up through Wixom Yard before heading onto the wye tracks to access the mainline (both wye tracks are north of where the diamond used to be).

As previously stated, the WSL&J interchanges with multiple railroads. Lake State / CSX in Wixom, CSX in South Lyon, GLC in Hamburg / Lakeland, and NS / JAIL in Jackson. The railroad began operations and pair of ex-GTW end cab switchers. As newer power became available, the railroad purchased several of the former Ann Arbor Railroad Alco's, at one time owning both RS1's and RS2's. As those units were retired, the railroad purchased three former GP7's. Among them are #47, which is a former D&TSL locomotive. The railroad is seriously considering adding some GP-35's and is looking at possibly purchasing the GLC's remaining ex-AA GP-35's if they actually end up on the market.

The railroad also has one other operation. The former yard in Wixom became home to an summer excursion service in the mid-2000's. The train (which is a division of, but a separate entity from the freight railroad), which initially operated with the freight locomotives, purchased a 2-8-2 light mikado and now runs the Zukey special. The Zukey special is a weekend only train, running from Walled Lake to Lakeland. Travelers get to take a roughly 1 hour train ride, to the Lakeland, where they exit the train and get to spend the day on the chain of lakes using boats rented from the company owner Zukey Lake Marina. After a day on the lakes, travelers return to the marina and are treated to a meal at the internationally known Zukey Lake Tavern, before returning to Walled Lake in the evening. The railroad also runs occasional special event trains during the rest of the year behind the locomotive.

chapmaja
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 798
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2008 3:02 pm

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by chapmaja »

There is one other, much more far fetched railroad I would have. The Elberta and Lake Michigan. This railroad would have spent millions of dollars to turn the car ferry operation on its head. Specially built for the railroad would be several 1000's foot car hauler ships. These ships would be specially designed with two levels of interior loading tracks. Each level would have 5 tracks of 700 feet in length. This would allow for a total of 7000 feet of train to run per ship. Special loading docks would be required for the ships, and trains would be automatically loaded and locked in place, rather than requiring hand loading and tying down of the cars. The ships would serve Elberta on the east end of the lake and the BNSF (who purchased it from GBW) on the west side of the lake. Operations of the Elberta and Western would consist of two parts. The first would be the cross lake operations, while the second would be operating the trains from Boat Landing to the GLC. Once they reach the GLC in Yuma, they would run with GLC crews to either CN in Durand, CSX in AnnPere, or NS (via the AA in Toledo). Power would be 12 SD40-'s purchased from the lease market for the road trains, as well as 4 GP38-2's used for moving the train cars into the loading and unloading system at each end. The railroad would also have a few local customers who remained infrequent rail users but that like the option of rail service to this day.

User avatar
AARR
Ann Arbor RR Nerd
Posts: 32137
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:39 pm
Location: Washington, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by AARR »

You beat me to it chap 8) I like your detail.

My paper railroad is Pontiac & Western.

It operates from Pontiac to Pinckney. Orchard Lake to Pinckney was acquired from GTW in 1984. Pontiac to Orchard Lake in late 1990's.

Engine is a single ex-D&TS GP7.

Customers are AKZO in Pontiac which gets 5-7 cars a week of chemicals, resin and talc.

Cadillac Brick in Sylvan Lake gets 1-2 cars a week of brick.

Maverick Building System receives 1-2 cars a week of lumber.

ASA Building gets a carload of lumber/plywood every other week or so.

American Plastic Toys receives 2-3 cars per week. Michigan Tube in South Lyon (railroad McMunn) receives several carloads of steel billets every two to three weeks, a carload of acid once a month and ships out 3-5 drilling tubes a week.

The final customer is Pinckney Plastics between Lakeland and Pinckney which also receives 2-3 cars of pellets a week.

Operations is twice a week. Interchange is with CN in Pontiac, LSRC in Wixom (nothing presently), CSX in South Lyon and a few carloads every now and then with NS in Lakeland (via AA/GLC).
chapmaja wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 1:48 pm
Wixom, South Lyon and Jackson - operates the ex-GTW Jackson subdivision.
Last edited by AARR on Sun Aug 02, 2020 7:00 pm, edited 2 times 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...

User avatar
AARR
Ann Arbor RR Nerd
Posts: 32137
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:39 pm
Location: Washington, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by AARR »

Very well done Chapman. This is a similar paper railroad I developed (even though I developed it years ago I've never named it :oops: ).

The line from Yuma to Elberta was acquired in the late 1980's when TSBY abandoned it. It was pretty much dormant other than an occasional inspection ride until the late 1990s when two things happened. An oil refinery was built where the old ferry "staging yard" was in Elberta. All the crude oil is shipped in by boat (an attractive feature) but some inbound ingredients and a fair share of outbound product goes by rail. They average 10-15 cars per day, seven days per week.

Around the same time a trash incinerator was built near Thompsonville. They burned 500 tons per day, seven days per week. Up to 100% of the trash arrived in high-side open-top hoppers (covered with tarps) from Canada. About 24-36 cars per week. Brand new cars were acquired by the trash plant for this service (imagine that, brand new cars to haul trash :shock: ). However, due to state regulations this closed around 2010. There have been attempts to convert this area into a trash dump and inbound intermodal cars of trash for dumping but the NIMBY's have been successful stopping any action.

Frack sand became a hot commodity around 2010 and in 2013 Sergeant's reopened their long dormant sand pit in Harlan (it had been closed for nearly 30 years but the equipment was still there). They quickly refurbished the equipment and in short order were shipping 50-75 cars per week. At first they would ship 4-5x per week. Now, they seem to prefer shipping 20-30 car blocks 2-3x per week.

There are a few other small customers such as PETS in Frankfort which gets a carload of sweetener 2-3x per month.

There's a pulpwood log yard at the old ferry docks in Elberta that on several occasions has tried shipping inbound logs from MI points which is loaded on a small barge and shipped across the lake to WI. Even though they were pleased with service we can't compete with trucks for this business.

At this time there are no other prospects so we are essentially a two customer line.

Engines are three ex-AA GP35's. 386 was acquired at the lines purchase but sat for 10 years before the refineries opening led to it being reconditioned and put into operation. 387 was acquired after a wreck on TSBY in the late 1990's, rebuilt and put into action. 388 was acquired in the early 2000's again after a wreck on TSBY, rebuilt and entered into service. All three units were rebuilt without their turbocharges and are rated at 2000 hp. They are essentially GP38-3's.

Operations has been fairly consistent from the time freight traffic started in the late 1990's. Each weekday the crew reports at 7am and switches the refineries yard (the refinery uses ex-L&N SW8 for inhouse switching). They run to Yuma switching along the way as necessary local customers. At Yuma they meet a GLC train at the extended siding south and east of the sand plant. They exchange trains and head back to Elberta switching local industries along the way. Typical day is 6-9 hours on duty.
chapmaja wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 2:05 pm
The Elberta and Lake Michigan.
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...

GreatLakesRailfan
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 4718
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 12:28 am
Location: Marysville, Michigan

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by GreatLakesRailfan »

Just out of curiosity, did the paper railroad part of this site go away?

It's not exactly a paper railroad and it's not what I'm actively modeling, but I do have a working theory about the Detroit Caro & Sandusky that resulted in painting a couple locomotives for what it's modern day equivalent could be.

The DC&S was the successor of the Detroit Bay City & Western, which was built by the Bay City bases Handy brothers. The DBC&W connected Bay City and Port Huron via a line that cut through the Thumb, via Caro and Sandusky. Eventually the DBC&W, or the Handy brothers went bankrupt, the east and west ends of the route were abandoned and the DC&S shuttled sugar beets from Roseburg (literally in the middle of nowhere) to Caro until shutdown and liquidation in the early 1950's. Interestingly, the company didn't go bankrupt- the owner shut it down instead of running it into bankruptcy.

Of course most of you already knew that. You also know about the Handy's much more successful railroad in the Port Huron area. The Handy's apparently had a fascination with Detroit, although they didn't quite manage to build a railroad that actually reached Detroit.

In my working theory, the agricultural shippers along the DC&S purchased the line from Col. Gray just before shutdown, to preserve their railroad connection. Specifically, the elevators in Snover, Hemans and Peck. (The elevator in Sandusky was served by the Pere Marquette.) The new owners kept the DC&S name and had interchange connections with the PM/C&O at Sandusky and the Michigan Central at Caro. The new company quickly realized that continuing to operate the DC&S fleet of antiquated steam locomotives would consume any potential profit that the road might produce and splurged on a single brand new RS-1 shortly after startup. Proceeds from scrapping the tea kettles and dismantling the service facilities for the steam locomotives went towards paying for the diesel locomotive.

The young company quickly realized that in order to better serve its owners, it needed another connection. Through a mix of bonds and loans the abandoned DBC&W right of way to Port Huron was reacquired. It took about 10 years to reacquire and rebuild the connection to Port Huron. The bridge over the Black River was built to much higher standards than the DBC&W bridge had been and is still in service today.

Connecting to Port Huron wasn't the only investment the new company made in its infrastructure. New ties, better drainage, and better ballast were installed across the entire system. The right of way west of Sandusky was completely rebuilt, from the subroadbed up, to deal with the damage inflicted by an underground fire rumored to have been a factor in the shutdown of the real DC&A in the '50's. The improvements in the track allowed the train to move along the railroad faster, and allowed more frequent service between the system's endpoints. During harvest season the railroad ran around the clock, moving grain cars from interchange connections to each of the elevators the line served. Cars were spotted at each elevator with either a tractor or a truck, depending on what was available to push cars around with at each elevator.

After a couple seasons of running the RS-1 (#1) virtually around the clock setting out and picking up grain cars along the line, the company purchased a second locomotive, a new RS-2 (#2). #2 is still in service, although it was renumbered to #84 several years ago.

As construction on the Port Huron connection ramped up it became apparent that a better/cheaper source of ballast was needed. Sidings were built into a couple gravel pits along the line to load rock ballast for forwarding to the new construction. Most of these sidings remain in place, although some of the gravel pits they initially served are gone. Two of these sidings have been used to unload windmill assemblies for windfarm projects in the Thumb.

The right of way for the west end of the line was reacquired in the '70's and new connections with the C&O, GTW and Detroit and Mackinaw were built. Customer service was very important to the DC&S management/ownership, and as a result, the company saw traffic levels increase year after year, even as parallel lines saw decreases in traffic.

Growing traffic required additional investments in locomotives and freight cars. 4 secondhand GP9's were purchased in the 1970's to supplement the two Alco roadswitchers. A handful of MP15s were also acquired, primarily to serve as switch engines in the 4 main yards- Port Huron, Sandusky, Caro and Bay City.

In the 1980's the road saw massive growth. The 3 elevators that had originally purchased the company merged in the late 1970's, along with the elevators at Decker and Sandusky, and formed the Sanilac County Co-Op Association. The co-op invested in a massive new elevator in Snover and downsized the existing Decker, Hemans and Snover facilities. The Hemans facility retained its siding into the '90's when a fertilizer facility was built next to what remained of the elevator. All shipments from the Hemans, Decker and Snover facilities were transferred to the new Snover facility.

In the late 1970's/early 1980's, DC&S management learn that the other remaining Handy-built railroad was going up for sale. One thing led to another and on January 1, 1985, the DC&S added another 20 miles or so of railroad to their system. 3 Alco switchers, 2 cabooses and hundreds of leased blue boxcars were also added to the company's roster.

4 used GP38s were acquired shortly afterward. The Alco switchers were reassigned to switching assignments in the Thumb (2 were sent to the new Snover elevator, the 3rd was sent to Sandusky to replace the MP15). The GP38s were assigned to the road trains between Port Huron and Bay City, and three of the GP9s took over the yard switching/local work at Bay City (2 GP9s) and Caro (1 GP9). The 4th GP9 was sent offline for a complete rebuild, upon it's return a second GP9 was sent for rebuild, followed by the 3rd and 4th units. Once the GP9s were rebuilt, the RS-1 and the RS-2 were also rebuilt. The displaced MP15s replaced the Alco switchers on the line south of Port Huron. Once the rebuilds were complete, the "extra" GP9 and the Alco road switchers were sent to supplement the MP15s.

Prior to the 1985 acquisition DC&S diesels were painted in a localized rendition of CN's Maple Leaf paint scheme. Following the acquisition, the GP38s were delivered in a modified version of the acquired company's very attractive dark/light blue paint scheme. Each rebuilt locomotive returned painted in this scheme and at least 2 of the MP15s have since been painted in it as well.

Primary traffic on the original portion of the railroad is agricultural- grain and fertilizer. Secondary traffic includes steel (to Sandusky, for culvert manufacturing), plastic pellets (Sandusky, Caro, Akron and Bay City), lumber (Caro, and a small distribution facility in Sandusky for a local lumberyard chain), peat (transloaded from trucks in Sandusky), scrap metal (Snover, Caro, Akron, Bay City), road salt (Sandusky, Caro) and various aggregates. Occasional additional commodities can also be observed moving over the line.

Primary commodities on the line south of Port Huron include petroleum products, salt and plastic pellets. Occasional carloads to the power plants south of St. Clair can also be observed once in a while.

For a nominal fee you can also charter a passenger excursion on the line south of Port Huron. Excursions are powered by one of the Alco locomotives (switcher or road switcher, depending on availability) pulling one or more converted gondolas. Excursions run from Port Huron to Marine City, where your train will travel around the wye and return to Port Huron. You will not stop at the bar- alcohol is strictly prohibited on these excursions.

I had considered running an RDC for the excursions, but the gondolas behind an Alco seemed like a more authentic experience, based on some pictures I've seen.



If it weren't for some complications in the space I have for modeling, I'd probably have taken a shot at modeling at least part of this. I have 2 MP15s, the RS-2, a GP38 and a GP9 all painted in the two tone blue scheme, in addition to an S-1 and an S-2. There is an alternative beginning to how the DC&S became shipper owned, but for the time being I prefer this version. In both versions the railroad in Sandusky wasn't abandoned/removed in the early '90s.

User avatar
AARR
Ann Arbor RR Nerd
Posts: 32137
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 8:39 pm
Location: Washington, MI

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by AARR »

Paper Railroad Thread is still there but not many posts any more :(

Great detail in yours, GLR. Enjoyed reading it.
GreatLakesRailfan wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:54 am
Just out of curiosity, did the paper railroad part of this site go away?

It's not exactly a paper railroad and it's not what I'm actively modeling, but I do have a working theory about the Detroit Caro & Sandusky that resulted in painting a couple locomotives for what it's modern day equivalent could be.
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...

Steve B
Railroadfan...fan
Posts: 454
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 8:03 pm
Location: East Lansing

Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by Steve B »

AARR wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 7:27 pm
...
The line from Yuma to Elberta was acquired in the late 1980's when TSBY abandoned it. It was pretty much dormant other than an occasional inspection ride until the late 1990s...oil refinery was built where the old ferry "staging yard" was in Elberta...387 was acquired after a wreck on TSBY in the late 1990's...
chapmaja wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 2:05 pm
The Elberta and Lake Michigan.
Some interesting concepts! Though, I don't see how an oil refinery on the Elberta waterfront would have gotten approved on any government level. There indeed was a pulpwood loading operation there for a bit. I remember reading about the proposed incinerator and trash train to Thompsonville. However, your timeline might need adjusting a bit, since Frankfort-Thompsonville was ripped up in about 1994. The state called all the shots on the end of service up there; TSBY might have remained OK with the occasional trip to Frankfort but the state didn't want to maintain that long stretch anymore. Also, both 387 and 386 were unserviceable by the end of 1982 at the latest.

Post Reply