New Short Line to Operate in Michigan’s UP

A new short line operator plans to begin operating in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to provide service to a new copper and nickel mine.

The Mineral Range Railroad has purchased 12 miles of track from the Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad and also bought 1.9 miles of ex-LS&I right-of-way. The latter had been removed in 2005 and the route rail banked, but Mineral Range will rebuilding the line.

The route will serve Lundin Mining, which is opening the Eagle Mine and is trucking the mined materials to a mill processing facility near Champion, approximately 25 miles south of the mine. This mill is being established on the site of the former Humboldt Mine, once served by LS&I ore trains.

The mill will crush and process copper and nickel ore into concentrates and ship it over the short line. Mineral Range will interchange the cars to Canadian National at Ishpeming.

Mineral Range got its start in 2002 when it began switching a 3-mile industrial track near Ishpeming. Some railfan made the trip to see that company’s former Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal SW1.

Mineral Range quit this operation in 2003 and another company handled the switching for the next decade before Mineral Range resumed the switching operations on June 1, 2013. It also acquired some of the industry track and began operating it as its Pluto Subdivision.

Mineral Range uses an NW2 to switch the line about three days per week.
The Humboldt Mill is expected to open late in 2014 and Mineral Range will begin operations over its new 12-mile line at that time.

At present, only Canadian National’s L’Anse Local uses the 12 miles of line, which Mineral Range calls its Blueberry Subdivision, between Landing Junction near Ishpeming and Humboldt Junction, where the rebuilt track will connect.

About half of the track from Humboldt Junction to the mill has been put down. The rest will be laid in the spring.

Most of the shipments will be outbound copper and nickel concentrates moving in covered gondolas. Mineral Range officials told Trains magazine that they expect to switch the plant five or six times a week.

The railroad also expects to run trains to Ishpeming three days a week run that will have 15 to 20 car.

Mineral Range has acquired former Erie Mining/LTV Steel Alco C420 No. 7222 for its operations, and plans to obtain more locomotives. The railroad will construct an engine house this summer at a location to be decided later.

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One Response to “New Short Line to Operate in Michigan’s UP”

  1. Brad DesRochers Says:

    Hello, My name Brad DesRcohers and am curious to what you want to accomplish here in our UP. I had worked for a family business in the metal industry my whole life, currently 36 and would like a opportunity to join your team. Please let me know if any employment opportunities become available.
    Thank you, Brad

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