Rails & Trails Pages

Monday, August 19, 2013

North Shore Scenic 2013

I was invited to a special train ride on August 17, 2013 from Duluth to Two Harbors, MN and back.  Gerry Welke of Richfield (Minneapolis) regularly rents a train to make this trip and invites his railroad friends.  I was invited "second hand" and am really glad I was!!!

Our train was a special 2-car train pulled GP30 #700.  GP30s are my favorite engine and this was is especially special as I got to run this unit a few years ago, before it got repainted.

There were actually 3 different trains running behind each other that day.  First train out was the regular Lester River Tourist Train which runs a short distance north of Duluth to the Lester River and back.  Second train was another tourist train pulled by Soo Line steam engine #2719, which I worked on when years ago doing such things as boiler washes (a very dirty job).  Last out was our special train. Here is the 2719 train, picture taken by Fred Hoeser.

Gerry Welke is a retired Soo Line clerk and his good friend Stu Nelson is a retired Soo Line dispatcher.  I didn't know he was going to be riding along but glad he was!  Stu gave me LOTS of information and pictures for my Blueberry Line book.  Stu on the left and Gerry on the right:

I rode most of the trip on the observation deck of the Northland car (more on that later).  Going north we were coupled directly to the engine.  At Two Harbors the engine switched to the other end and we had open viewing.

As we left Duluth we paralleled the walking/biking path which is very popular.

Lester River is a photogenic place to catch trains and this is the view from the train down to the river.

The Lester River train has taken the siding to let the other 2 trains pass by.

Crossing the "Unknown" River.

Reminiscent of by-gone days, the orders are handed up to the conductor.  The orders detailed the operation when our two trains get to Two Harbors.

Late summer is very good for pretty flowers.

Crossing the French River.

I spent most of my time riding the back platform of the open-end Northland car.  This car was built in 1916 and was the last Duluth, Minnesota and Northern business car.  It hosted King Olaf of Norway and President Calvin Coolidge (and Arlyn Colby!!).  It was used as James J. Hill's private car in the movie Iron Will.  Picture by Fred Hoeser.

 View of the lounge of the Northland.

 The dining room.

And how would you like this private compartment on your business trip???

The other car was Triple Combine W24, here crossing the Knife River.  Picture by Fred Hoeser.

Here we cross the Knife River, train view.

The Knife River depot has fallen into disrepair!!

We had been running on track owned by St. Louis County.  To enter Two Harbors, which is on Canadian National track, we need to get a Track Authority (Warrant).  To save time getting two different authorities for the two trains, we couple together to make one track, necessitating only one authority.

We cross under a CN track to the yard.

The Two Harbors yard next to the ore dock.

We enter the Two Harbors yard.  In this pic, note the old style ore cars, now carrying taconite.

And the new style taconite cars.

To get to the depot, we must make a back-up move.  2719 shoves our long train down towards the lake.

Entering the depot area.  The DMIR engine will assist 2719 uphill out of the Two Harbors yard, then cut-off for the trip back to Duluth.

Here are the friends who invited me along on this trip.  L to R:  Dave Burke, Brad Sawyer, and Dave Stromeyer.  Thanks a BILLION men!

Friend Fred Hoeser of Durand was in Duluth for 3 days riding this line, visiting the museum, and today taking pics of the trains.  

And he chased us to get the great ground level pics I've included in this blog.

 2719 has run-around the train and will now shove us back to the mainline, with an assist from the DMIR.

On the return trip, there is no engine on the back of our open-end obs.  Enjoy a little northland scenery.

It is tradition that Gerry has the train stop at this Candy Store on the return trip for chocolate and ice cream.  Here Fred Hoeser and Dave Burke cool off with ice cream.

As we get back to Duluth, we see the Lift Bridge sentinel, the symbol of Duluth.

King Olaf and President Calvin Coolidge had nothing on Stu Nelson and Arlyn Colby!
 A great day, great friends, a great ride.  What more could a guy ask for????

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Louisville 2013

In August, 2013, I flew to Louisville to see my first grandson, Christopher Paul Hawley, born the previous week.  My wife Margie had driven down two weeks previously.  Louisville is a great city and I try and see new sites each time I visit the Cardinal town.

We went to a Louisville Bats baseball game.  Louisville is the AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.  The League is one-step from the major leagues.  The team plays in Louisville Slugger Field which was just voted the number 2 minor league stadium in the entire country.  From the outside:

Inside the front gate at the ticket booth:

The Color Guard for the game was one of the most interesting I have ever seen at any game:

How do you like my seat???  Actually our seats were way down the 3rd base line but the usher let me take this picture through the net right behind home plate.  I told him we were from Wisconsin and what could we do to sit behind home plate?  He told me to come back in the 4th inning and we would have seats but we sat in our "new" seats behind 3rd base where we didn't have to look through the net.

 It was Billy Hamilton Night at the Ball Park and the first 2,500 fans got Billy Hamilton bobbleheads.  I had no idea who Billy Hamilton was (is) but turns out he set the stolen base record last year with 155 steals!!  He got a double this night and stole third base without a throw!  I was using my wife's camera this night and the battery now went dead so no night shots!

I had lined up a cab ride in the engine at the Kentucky Railway Museum in New Haven for Sunday.  I was anxious to do this as they use a CF7, a very rare engine.  Just as I was leaving Louisville I got a phone call from them saying the engine had broken down the previous night during their Murder Mystery Train and they would not be running on Sunday!  (Their backup engine had issues also).  They were very apologetic but it probably didn't hurt their business as this is their slow time of year and they didn't have many reservations for a ride.  (Do you have any idea how hot and humid Kentucky is at this time of year????)

So I drove down to the Ohio River Riverfront to see some industry action.  Sunday mornings are always good for railfanning as there is no traffic around and a person can drive anywhere there is no gate.  I found that the RJ Corman Railroad does the switching at many industries here.  They connect to the CSX mainline for interchanging cars.  Here their engines at the left are at a Sand & Gravel facility and they load sand into gondolas (some sand besides frac sand must be valuable!)  The engine on the right is the one they use for switching and interchanging cars.

Their track at this location could use the equipment they have right now on the Barron sub replacing the ties they didn't get in last summer.  The track is actually worse than this picture shows.

 It was impossible to drive into all the industries so I snapped one pic of one facility.

On Monday morning I walked across the Big Four Bridge.  This is an abandoned railroad bridge and named after the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, & St. Louis Railroad that used it.  It has sat abandoned since 1969 and both approaches were removed so it just sat up in the air (like the CNW bridge at Winona, only much bigger).  Finally funding was figured out to rehab it for use it part of a walking/biking path between Kentucky and Indiana.  

In this shot you see several bridges.  First is the Big Four Bridge.  Next is the I65 Bridge, the main artery between Indiana and Kentucky.  This bridge backs up for MILES at rush hour.  Behind the I65 Bridge is the Clark Memorial Bridge which goes downtown, and behind that the CSX Railroad bridge which crosses right at the "Falls On The Ohio."  There should be some good railroad photos here as it is in a neat park.  (When I tried that last time the bridge was closed for repairs!!!)

To get up on the bridge, they constructed a spiral walkway.

You can almost imagine yourself an engineer on a train about to enter the bridge:

The two most interesting things I found about the bridge is that 42 men were killed during the construction of the first bridge and this "new" bridge was built inside the original structure and then the original one was removed.

 There are a lot of barges on the Ohio River.  I thought it was neat that this coal barge had 2 tugs and then the one on the left dropped off right after I snapped the picture.  Must have been a booster through the locks or by the bridges.

Since there is so much traffic on the I65 bridge, they are building a new bridge right beside it so they will have 2 bridges allowing traffic to proceed better through "spaghetti junction."  They are also building a new bridge a few miles east so traffic will be improved in a few years.

The approach on the Indiana side is not finished so the bridge is closed at the north end.

And this is the reason I went to Louisville--Christopher Paul Hawley with sister Catherine Elaine, mother Allison, and father Josh. 

Another fun visit to Loooville!  Already looking forward to the next trip!!!!