Rails & Trails Pages

Friday, September 16, 2011

Durand Line - South End

In the fall of 2010 Terry Yust, Dave Linderud, Carl and Pat Morsbach, and I checked out the south end of our speeder line.  None of us had been on this section of track and we were anxious to see what it looked like.  It was a perfect day for walking, about 40 degrees with no wind.  We parked our cars on Highway 35 and started walking north.  Here is what we faced:

 Right away we came upon trestle M18:

Shortly after we found a small washout:

No train has run on this track since 1977 so here is what happens:

We saw lots of evidence of wildlife but the only animal we actually saw was a muskrat.  But there was lots of evidence of beavers.  Here's one of their dams:

To build the elevated roadbed over this swampy area (officially called the Tiffany Wildlife Area), the original builders scraped ground from alongside the track:

We walked about 2 miles north until we came upon a major problem--think I could make it across in my speeder??

I did walk around it and got this shot of Terry, Carl, and Dave:

We could have gone further, but walked back.  Supposedly there are a couple more washouts beyond the one above.  We adjourned to the Bar-B-Que restaurant in Nelson.  I had a SUPER pulled pork sandwich.  Try this place sometime, you'll like it and all the antiques on display.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cannon Falls Bike Trip

On Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 a group of 4 rode the bike trail from Cannon Falls, Minnesota to Red Wing.  The group included 2 of my daughters Allison and Ellen, friend Joe Lewis of Bloomer, and myself.

The trail is only 20 miles long but probably long enough for me after my recent ankle surgery.  The trail is on an abandoned CGW (Chicago Great Western) Railroad roadbed.  We rented bikes and had the owner transport us back from Red Wing to Cannon Falls.  This saved a lot of hassle transporting bikes and getting back to our starting spot.  Rain was predicted for the afternoon and the morning started with overcast but the sun broke out and with a 70 degree temperature, it was a perfect day for riding.

Here is our group--left to right:  Allison, Joe Lewis, yours truly, Ellen.

At the trailhead is the old depot in Cannon Falls, quite in poor shape.

Much of the trail is overgrown with vegetation with trees making a neat canopy over us.

One of the "critters" we encountered.  Lots of songbirds and a woodchuck.

The trail closely followed the Cannon River although with the heavy foliage, it was hard to see most of the time.

One of several creeks we passed over on a short bridge.

The original trestle work under one of the bridges.

The trail is part of the railroad that ran from Red Wing and Mankato.  If you are interested in a little history of this line, use this link:

Here is one of the railroad mileposts still in place.

 The railroad was on the edge of a bluff and the rock face had to be cut back for building the track.

 About halfway through is Welch Village, a popular downhill skiing site in the winter.

 Where the railroad went under Highway 61, a telltale pole still exists.  These poles would warn the workers riding on the top of the train cars that an obstruction was ahead, like a bridge or tunnel.

 Near the end of the trail we are almost down to the Mississippi River level.  Here is one of the lowlands.

 At the trailhead in Red Wing I was calling back to Cannon Falls to have our ride pick us up when a Canadian Pacific train on the mainline suddenly went by us--with Soo Line engines.  With phone in one hand and trying to get the camera up quickly, I just caught them:

 I hope you enjoyed the little trip.  If you enjoy biking, this would be a good trail to explore!!