• Car Storage on the DSS&A

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in the American Midwest, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas. For questions specific to a railroad company, please seek the appropriate forum.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in the American Midwest, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas. For questions specific to a railroad company, please seek the appropriate forum.

Moderator: railohio

  by mtuandrew
While driving on M-28 the other day in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I noticed a long string of cars being stored on the abandoned-in-place Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic main. Starting at Sidnaw, MI, the line went at least as far as Covington - nine miles of cars!! The largest group of the cars were covered hoppers, with large numbers of spine cars, boxcars and a few assorted gondolas and tanks. Would this be the Escanaba and Lake Superior storing these cars, or CN? Both have connections to the abandoned portion of extant line, the E&LS at Sidnaw off their ex-Milwaukee Road branch, and the CN at Nestoria.
  by jimnorthwood
Escanaba and Lake Superior owns the track from the junction with CN in Nestoria to Sidnaw. They use it only for car storage, although it was used a few times in recent years for pulpwood loading. E&LS at one time had plans to operate the ex-Soo Line trackage north of Baraga, through Chassell to Houghton, Hancock and either Dollar Bay or Lake Linden. Houghton County would have let the operating contract, and E&LS would have used the track between Sidnaw and Nestoria, then access on the then-WC to Baraga, to access Baraga to Houghton and beyond. But the deal to revive the ex-Soo north of Baraga fell through, and so E&LS mostly used Sidnaw-Nestoria for car storage. When WC was formed they ran a few test trains across the former DSS&A to the White Pine Mine in White Pine, but they abandoned the track between Nestoria and Bergland in favor of running the White Pine Mine trains out of Wisconsin. E&LS bought Sidnaw-Nestoria, and Sidnaw-Bergland trackage was pulled up.
  by mtuandrew
Huh, that is surprising. There's no traffic base north of Baraga anymore, except possibly for Peninsula Copper Industries in Hubbell. There was pretty serious talk about reopening Centennial #6, but that's a dead issue as far as anyone is concerned. Michigan Tech has long since switched to non-coal heating, and the forest product producers were always mostly on the Copper Range Railroad south of Houghton. Not to mention, the right of way has some serious encroachment issues between Chassell and Hancock - it's intact, but there'd be hell to pay to rebuild it anymore, given that it runs through many backyards. If the E&LS had taken it on, it probably would still be in use, but it's not coming back now.

Looking back, I wish Michigan and Wisconsin had attempted to set up a joint venture to operate the full South Shore, if Wisconsin Central wanted no part in it. I believe it would have saved both states money in the long haul, on improvements to US 2 and M-28, as well as providing employment bases in chronically depressed areas.
  by jimnorthwood
The final Soo Line train to Houghton, indeed the last train to operate north of Baraga, was in Fall, 1982. The proposal to revive Baraga-Houghton took place about eight years later. Proposals were sent out to a variety of prospective contract operators, and I believe three responses were considered, including E&LS. The then city manager of Houghton was adamantly opposed to the restoration of rail service through his city, and with that the proposal died. The track is still in place from Baraga to just short of the U.S. 41 crossing in Chassell. A Houghton county snowplow neglected to raise its plow a number of years ago while plowing U.S. 41 and destroyed the grade crossing in the process, so the track beyond the crossing was removed. There has been talk of establishing a pulpwood transload operation in Chassell near the former U.S. 41 grade crossing, but nothing has ever come of this. There is as you note, much right of way encroachment in Houghton, and trains will never operate beyond U.S. 41. For years there was talk that a large paper mill would be established in either Dollar Bay or Lake Linden, and the line was railbanked by the state in anticipation of this. No more.
  by mtuandrew
Update: the cars are still in place on the South Shore main, and there's another string of cars on the E&LS (former Milwaukee Road) line from Republic to somewhere north of Channing, MI. It looked like there were some being stored on the E&LS old main as well, but I didn't get a very good look.

As for a few other cars which are waaaaay past the storage stage...
Erie 2393 - 1.jpg
Erie 2393 is the car in the worse shape, but neither one will ever ride rails again.
DM&IR 31 - 1.jpg
DM&IR 31 - 2.jpg
Both Erie 2393 and Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range 31 were in use on the Marquette and Huron Mountain Railroad, a tourist operation using Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad rails from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s. The DM&IR car's trucks look surprisingly good (considering their last COT&S is from 1952!!) - kind of curious why no museums have tried to swipe them. The cars are in the backyard of the old Presque Isle station in Marquette, at the Lake Superior and Ishpeming yard.
  by jimnorthwood
Car storage fees are a good source of revenue for the E&LS. And with the (hopefully temporary) shutdown of their largest customer (the paper mill located at the end of their former MILW line in Ontonogan), these stored cars take on increased importance. Most of the work on the railroad now involves the retrieval of storage cars, either as they are called back or for movement to the railroad's contract repair shop in Wells.