Rails & Trails Pages

Monday, February 27, 2012

Brushing Durand Line

In the winter of 2011-12, a group of Chippewa Valley Motorcar members decided to open more of the speeder line south of Durand. They started brushing from Highway 35, near the Mississippi River, north towards Durand.  Following are pictures I have taken during some of these adventures.

Today, Tuesday January 10, 2012, I participated in brushing the south end of the Durand speeder track.  Don and Brenda Schoeb and I spent a day clearing brush and we couldn't have picked a nicer day!
Temperatures were in the 50s with clear sky and no wind.
Here is a view looking north from Highway 35.  I hadn't had a chance to work on this section but the 'crews' have done a great job opening this up.

 We used Don and Brenda's new motorcar to haul us and all our supplies (and snacks) northward.  Here's what we encountered up the line:

Here are Don and Brenda about to dig in (oops--cut into that mess!!)

 And, after a day of hard work, here's what that mess from 2 pictures ago looks like:

 From as far as we went, looking back south towards Highway 35:

Don and I took a little walk further north and it looks like there's still some work to do:

Maybe we could hire the 'guys' who did this to help us:

 Just ahead we see water, and a trestle if you look closely.  This is as far as we walked.  (We want to take a speeder over this trestle soon!!!)

 At the end of the day, as we headed back close to Highway 35, we spotted this beaver swimming:

I tried to get ahead of him for a better picture but we heard his tail "slap" as he dove under water.  We next saw him swimming under the ice into his house which is right next to the railroad trestle.

We then took a "joy ride" down and back again.  Can you believe that on the 10th of January we would be speeder riding with temperatures in the 50s and NO SNOW????

The "sections crews" that have been working on this section so far are doing a GREAT job.  The track is in very good condition and makes for a smooth ride.  This will be a fun ride as more of the line is opened.

Following is from the next time I went brushing:

 The Chippewa Valley section gang was at it again last Saturday.

 Fred Hoeser, Don Schoeb, Larry Gottschalk, and I went brushing.  With a temperature of 36 (above zero!!), bright sun, little snow, and NO WIND, we made good progress.  We cleared about 3 more miles.  OK--that's a stretch, it just seemed like 3 miles by the end of the day!!  Actually we did clear out about another half mile.  We went past Milepost 6 to the next trestle.

Here's Don with his brush hog.  It works great to clear all the small stuff.  Fred and Larry manned chainsaws while I used the loppers to handle medium-sized stuff.

Unfortunately, with the good weather, I shed my coat with the camera in the pocket and it was way back down the line when I wanted to take more pix.  Next time, more pix.

Then, just as we finished and Don drove his motorcar onto the trestle--IT QUIT!!     1.7 miles of track has now been cleared and I was visualizing a 1.7 mile hike, while pushing a motorcar and dumpy, back to Highway 35 when we were already tired.  But, master mechanic Don got his vehicle running, that is rolling, again!!!

With predictions of rain and snow the next few days, we MAY not be able to brush for a while.  (Maybe Harvey could build us a snowplow!!)

We are putting a speed restriction of 40 MPH on this new raceway until the snow and ice melt!!!  This is another beautiful stretch of good track for us to ride.  Now, just imagine, running from Durand to Highway 35 and back!!!   It CAN HAPPEN!!!

These pix were taken by Larry Gottschalk and I just put them together into one email.

First, here is Milepost 6 which we passed.  Looks like Terry will have to get some more of his nice MP markers like we have on the north end.

Arlyn and Fred are clearing the last of the brush before crossing Bridge M20.

Here's a Track Chart of the area we are going through:

Notes from 1920:

 Don runs his motorcar onto Bridge M20--the first train to cross this trestle since 1977!!!

 From Larry:

I was going through my notes when we moved the Beast to Savoy.
The washout that we are coming to is approx. 2 miles in from HWY 35 from the DNR Trail.
This distance was taken from my odometer on my Suburban.
This means we are getting close since we were at 1.7 miles in on Saturday.
I attached three photos I took of the washout in December.
It should be fixable.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

French Lick Scenic Railway

My daughter Allison was married in Louisville, Kentucky on June 19, 2010.  A couple of days before that she got her friend Byron to organize a "train day" for us.  Along with his 2 boys we had an exciting day of a train ride and layout tours.  I took so many pix but will try to cut back on the number I send.  They are greatly reduced resolution for faster loading.  (I noticed that some are a little blurred because they are saved at such a low resolution but you will get the idea).

The train trip was the French Lick Scenic Railway which is part of the Indiana Railway Museum.


Here is the depot.  The trackage beyond the depot was MONON track and the train we will be riding was Southern trackage.

The engine we are using today is an 80-tonner.  It was owned by the Navy who completely upgraded it and installed 2 caterpillar engines for power.

OK, let's take a ride.

I didn't actually take a cab ride.  They don't allow riders but that worked out better.  The host/guide was one of the engineers and he's worked for tourist railroads for 39 years including this line for the last 25.  Talk about a dream job!!!!  I learned more about this railroad and how they run it than I would have riding the engine.  Here are some pix taken on the trip. We rode in the baggage car so we had big open doors to look out.   As we leave town we pass the big hotel which has been expanded to be a casino.

And then we pass Larry Bird's boyhood home!!!!  (For those of you who don't know who Larry Bird is, he was one of the greatest professional basketball players and played for the Boston Celtics.  He make French Lick famous, at least that's where I had first heard of it.  Bet he doesn't live in a house like this anymore, the little one on the left!!!)

At the top of the hill is a 2200-foot tunnel.

This is Milepost 71, which means we are 71 miles north of Evansville.

They have dozens of old 40-foot box cars that they use for storage.

 French Lick is famous for their "mineral springs."  They bottled Pluto Water.

On their shove moves they have ditch lights, "head lights," and a flasher that they use in town at the busy crossings to further alert automobile drivers.

This is the Indiana Railway Museum and there are lots of old cars, but nothing is open for looking at.  The only "Museum" is the depot where there are some artifacts.  But we can walk around the grounds so here are some pix:

There was going to be a BIG Model A or T Convention in French Lick with thousands of old automobiles coming to town.  Here is one.

A GREAT way to spend a day in southern Indiana--riding a train!!!