Lake Superior & Ishpeming
The Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad is a Class III Railroad operating in the vicinity of Marquette in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Formed in the 1890s, the primary purpose of the railroad has always been moving iron ore from the Marquette Iron Range to the ore dock at Marquette.
At its zenith, the railroad operated over 100 miles of railroad, but today it has been trimmed back to just the mainline between Marquette, Eagle Mills, and the Tilden Mine. However, they retain joint ownership between Eagle Mills and Ishpeming, however the line is of no current use to the railroad, with the Mineral Range's recent purchase of the line from Landing Jct to Humboldt, to service the Humboldt Mill, itself serving the Eagle Mine, a nickel and copper operation.
Today's operations are fairly simple, with ore running from the Tilden Mine to the dock, and while the railroad is still a common carrier, it has no other customers besides the Tilden Mine. This makes sense, as the LS&I is owned by Cliffs Natural Resources, the owner of the Tilden Mine and most of the previous mines served by the railroad over the years.
Michigan's highest railroad bridge is the Dead River Bridge, just north of Eagle Mills, at 104' above the river.
All of the ore jennies are ancient restricted stock, with many dating back to the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Spacing on the Dock precludes any wider railcars, so the railroad continues to run their old equipment, with each car being cycled through the car shop every two years.
Main Yard & Shops: Eagle Mills. Additional yard facilities at Marquette.
As of September, 2017
LS&I trains are named by their duties and call time. The call time of 7(am), 3(pm) or 11(pm) is added to the front of the name, such as "7 Tilden" or "3 Yard-Hill".
The Tilden Job is the primary transporter of ore jennies between the yard and shops at Eagle Mills and the Tilden Mine.
The cycle begins when they move 120 empty ore jennies from Eagle Mills to the Mine. There, the train is split in half and loaded, with the first cut then being dragged back to Eagle Mills. The crew then returns lite to the mine for the remaining loads. The second section is then added to the first back at Eagle Mills, to await a hill job. The loads are split in this manner due to the grades on the line between the Empire Mine and Eagle Mills Junction.
Generally running daily as a 7am job, the Weighter is responsible for loading the ore hoppers dropped off by the CN, in an all-rail move between Tilden and the Essar Steel Mill in Sault Ste Marie, Canada. 45 cars in summer, often 70 in winter, these are full size former coal hoppers, as ore jennies would be too heavy for the bridge at the Sault. The Weighter begins by coupling to the train as left the previous night by U745 in Eagle Mills, taking it down to the Tilden Mine. They then babysit the loading process, before dragging the loads up to Partridge, where the CN crew will pick them up later that evening. As this ore moves year-round, this is usually the only job throughout the winter, when the ore docks are shut down between January 15 and March 25 each year.
As the name implies, this job is tasked with taking loads from Eagle Mills to the Dock, and returning with the empties. These run in 120-car trains, and are coaxed down the hill with plenty of air and dynamic braking. When they bring empties back up, they are left in Eagle Mills. However, occasionally and as necessary, the Yard-Hill crew might take empties all the way to Tilden, bring up a set of loads from Tilden, or both.
Additionally, this crew might also perform switching around Eagle Mills at the car shops.
The Dock Job is the only one not called at Eagle Mills, with their power starting the shift at Marquette. Their task is to work with the dock crews to set and dump ore jennies atop the four-track dock, which holds two trains. They're seen most often just before or just after a boat loads up.
LS&I Locomotive Roster
The LS&I Locomotive Roster once featured the likes of ALCO and eventually older GEs. Today, only four LS&I-owned units remain in service, with the CEFX units on long-term lease to the railroad. The CEFX units are favored, but as needed the old Dash-7s and U-Boats will roam about, probably on the 7 Tilden, since they try not to use these aging units on the critical hill jobs.
Click the link to view a picture of the locomotive. Many histories available this way as well.
Former LS&I Locomotives
LS&I Radio Frequencies
The LS&I is a common carrier, and formerly worked a fair amount of industries besides the mines. Since the Gas facility in Negaunee ceased shipping by rail, the LS&I has only served their owners, Cliffs Natural Resources, at the Tilden Mine, and until recently, the Empire Mine.
Back to Michigan Shortlines
Back to Shortlines