Greenfield Village "Railroad Days" of yore...

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GP30M4216
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Greenfield Village "Railroad Days" of yore...

Unread post by GP30M4216 »

Does anyone remember the "Railroad Days" weekends Greenfield Village put on in the 1990s? Long before "Day Out With Thomas" took over the loop railroad, for several years in the 90s the Village would host a special summer weekend dedicated to real railroading. The village would typically run two or sometimes three trains at a time around the loop railroad line. If the weather was favorable, the museum would shuffle several pieces of typically "indoor only" equipment out the double doors and over to the village for display. And real railroads would contribute equipment for touring and inspection parked on the connection track from Conrail's Michigan Line. Before Tommy brought the scores of families out to the Village, Railroad Days inspired railfans both young and not so young.

I grew up in Dearborn and my parents thought the annual event was a great opportunity to see the big trains right up close, so we went for several years. I recall one of the Conrail OCS E-units parked during one of the years. Amtrak provided a display for at least a few years allowing visitors to tour their equipment. Later in the 90s, Conrail provided one of their shiny new blue-and-white SD70MACs (or was it an 80MAC?) which seemed to sparkle in the sun. You could tour the cab! I think a few other pieces of mainline railroad equipment also was on hand. The Edison led a looooong version of the circulating passenger train, while the Torch Lake headed up a neat freight consist; I recall the wood-sided ice reefer which typically was parked in the museum, along with the 3-Dome tankcar, stock car, N&W hopper, and other equipment from year to year, typically with the D&M wood caboose carrying the markers. I think the diesel made at least one appearance, too.

Meanwhile, various pieces which typically were kept inside the Museum came out in one year or another. I remember seeing the CP snowplow, Bessemer steamer, D&M passenger cars, and Henry Ford's private Fairlane car out in the sun at one time or another. The Plymouth got dizzy being used for regular turntable demonstrations. A hand car from somewhere would give short rides. One exhibit I wish I paid more attention to was the lifting demonstration put on periodically by Detroit River Tunnel Co. crane No. 1, which powered by steam from D&M #8 would lift and set boilers and other components on one of the spur tracks. The open side of the crane meant you could see a lot of the inner workings and the guy at the controls.

What else do people remember? What equipment am I forgetting?

My parents were very patient with me in my special requests for photos of specific equipment. I've recently been scanning some old prints and came upon a small set of the Amtrak exhibit from the July 1994 edition of Railroad Days. At this time the Superliner II's were pretty much brand new and Amtrak provided a Diner and Sleeper trimmed out in the newest phase IV with silver trucks, along with a phase III Superliner I coach for visitors to explore. I think this was my first time on Superliner equipment. Leading the way was F40PH 318, and for some reason they tacked on an MHC car to the consist, too. Here are some photos. Enjoy and share your own if you have them!
Greenfield Village Amtrak 318 and Edison July 1994.jpg
Amtrak 318 Greenfield Village July 1994.jpg
Greenfield Village Amtrak 32087 July 1994.jpg

GP30M4216
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Re: Greenfield Village "Railroad Days" of yore...

Unread post by GP30M4216 »

Here's the rest of the Amtrak set. They may not be hustling over the mountains out west, but I'm glad I have these roster shots to share and enjoy. The "Do Not Hump" placards on the end of the Superliners are an interesting detail I've never noticed before.
Greenfield Village Amtrak 38053 July 1994.jpg
Greenfield Village Amtrak 34075 July 1994.jpg
Greenfield Village Amtrak 1508 July 1994.jpg

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Re: Greenfield Village "Railroad Days" of yore...

Unread post by Man o' War »

I remember the "Railroad Days" well. In particular, I do remember that new Conrail SD80MAC. Got to go up into the cab with my brother (who got a kick out of blowing the horn) and had a lengthy conversation about desk top controls vs standard control stands with the CR pr man. One of those years, after the place closed and all of the visitors left, we (the late Bob Russell from Lansing) and a few others got to ride the speeders around the circuit for hours - I personally went around 13 times ! Many good memories of RR Days and the many people I met at them. I was quite surprised when they chose to discontinue them as it seemed that they were quite popular and drew large crowds. Glad I was able to experience those events...

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Tim
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Re: Greenfield Village "Railroad Days" of yore...

Unread post by Tim »

This was the second highest draw behind, IIRC, the Civil War one. I'm told that the girl behind this event retired and that was the end of it.
As to the SD80MAC, it almost didn't make it to the event. After setting out it's train at Wayne at night, the inexperienced crew, thinking they were on the main rather than the Tail Track, ran it off the end of that track.

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M.D.Bentley
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Re: Greenfield Village "Railroad Days" of yore...

Unread post by M.D.Bentley »

After the roundhouse and turn table were opened A.K.A. as Railroad Junction. The Village said that every day is railroad day now. And no need for a special event anymore. And the Civil war remembrance will never happen again. Way too many people BUTT HURT! We had been members for over 25 years and were always there with the kids and grandkids. They are attempting to cater to people who find history offensive. When they replaced good old American hot dogs for hummus which the kids won't eat, we were done. :-(

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Re: Greenfield Village "Railroad Days" of yore...

Unread post by Garry K »

I quit giving any of my money to Greenfield Village/Henry Ford Museum way back in 2005. There used to be a monthly contra dance (it's sort of like square dancing) at Lovett Hall. But then in 2005, some idiot in management at the museum canceled the contra dances, thinking they could make more money renting out Lovett Hall for banquets on the days we used to dance. Needless to say, the dances used to draw around 300 people, and for the first year and a half after they canceled the dances, they rented out the hall on the former dance days exactly ZERO times. So then they made less money and disappointed hundreds of dancers.

And the kicker is that Henry Ford himself had Lovett Hall built *specifically* for contra dances! If Mr. Ford was still in charge and found out that one of his employees had canceled the dances, that employee would have had about 5 minutes to be off the property (and obviously out of a job). But even writing a letter to Ford's family didn't sway them to restore the dances.

It's a pity to see establishments like GV/HFM ruined by idiotic management.

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Re: Greenfield Village "Railroad Days" of yore...

Unread post by GP30M4216 »

GVRR-3 Conrail 4022.jpg
GVRR-1 Plow.jpg
Here are two shots from the 1992 edition of Railroad Days. I found many of the prints I had been looking for! A big thanks to my parents who were so supportive of my interest (infatuation?) with trains. And for standing in front of equipment over here and equipment over there for photos. Here we have a lineup with my dad and brother in front of Conrail Executive Fleet E8A 4022. Did any other Conrail Executive Fleet equipment "attend" the event this year, or just a lonely E unit? 4022 was built for the Erie Railroad in 1951.

In the second frame, the Canadian Pacific Russell snowplow of the museum's collection gets a day or two out in the sun (clouds, at this particular moment) and some fresh air away from its usual parking spot inside Henry Ford Museum. That's Detroit & Mackinac wooden caboose W 52 in the background.
Last edited by GP30M4216 on Mon Jan 23, 2023 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Greenfield Village "Railroad Days" of yore...

Unread post by MQT1223 »

Wish they would do this type of event again, but unfortunately management doesn't seem to care. Seem to remember seeing a photo from way back that even on one or two occasions 1601 was even brought out.
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GP30M4216
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Re: Greenfield Village "Railroad Days" of yore...

Unread post by GP30M4216 »

This is one of my favorite Railroad Days photos, the 1914-built Industrial Brownhoist crane from the Detroit River Tunnel. The lifting demonstrations didn't capture my interest as a kid like they might now, but it's something you really can't find too many other places. D&M switcher 8 provided the steam for many years.
GVRR-1 Crane.jpg
Apparently the crane has continued to be used after the end of Railroad Days, which I guess I didn't realize. This video shows the lifting demonstration in 2015 on a Thomas the Tank Engine weekend, from our good friend J32885.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pui03H189tM

Has anyone seen it operate since 2015?

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