Day in Durand: Part 1

The first photo of a train that I made in Durand, Michigan, last July was one of my favorites of the day. A local is coming around the connection from the Holly Subdivision to the Flint Subdivision to head to Flint.

The first photo of a train that I made in Durand, Michigan, last July was one of my favorites of the day. A local is coming around the High Wye from the Holly Subdivision to the Flint Subdivision to head to Flint.

One in a periodic series of images that I made last summer

Back in July we made a trip to Michigan to visit with some of my wife’s relatives in Flint. While she and her cousins went shopping I drove to Durand to spend a day at one of Michigan’s most famous railroad junctions.

Three railroads serve Durand, but there is no guarantee that you’ll see all three on a given visit because two of them are short lines that might have one or two trains a day, if that.

I sort of saw the Great Lakes Central. From the Durand Union Station I saw a GLC locomotive come to the far end of the yard for head room.

But the GLC road job that works in Durand and takes interchange traffic to the Ann Arbor in Howell, Michigan, went north out of Owosso on the morning I was in Durand.

A local railfan told me that meant that by the time that job came through Durand it would be dark. So much for seeing the Great Lakes Central.

The other short line is the Huron & Eastern which shows up pretty reliably on weekdays in the afternoon.

And then there is Canadian National, the primary railroad in Durand. The CN tracks once belonged to the Grand Trunk Western, which actually was a CN property for several decades before the GTW identify began disappearing in favor of the CN brand.

Interestingly, the first train I saw on this day was a local led by a former GTW GP9r still wearing its Grand Trunk colors and markings.

It was leading a local headed for Flint that I was told had originated there last night. The train goes east from Flint, works its way to Detroit via Mt. Clemens and returns to Flint via Durand and the Holly Sub.

I had timed my visit to reach Durand in time to get Amtrak’s westbound Blue Water, which arrived early and had to wait for time to depart.

The local railfan I was chatting with said that typically a westbound intermodal train follows Amtrak into Durand.

There was a westbound not long after Amtrak departed, but it was a manifest freight. The intermodal must have been running ahead of Amtrak and I never saw an intermodal train during my approximately nine hours in Durand.

Because I was in Durand so early, it’s tough to photograph a westbound because of the lighting conditions. I tried to get the westbound CN manifest freight as a side shot with the depot but it didn’t work out that well.

If you’ve spent time in Durand you know the CN traffic is about the same level as that of the CSX New Castle Subdivision through Akron. There are going to be some long gaps between trains.

It would be about two hours before the next train arrived, a Powder River coal train bound for the Huron & Eastern.

It came into view with two BNSF units on the lead. As is standard procedure, the coal train ran east past the westbound home signals and backed up on the Port Huron Connection.

The CN crew tied the train down and cut off the BNSF motive power. The H&E would use its own power to deliver the coal to a utility plant.

The CN crew could either run light to Flint, where they would go off the clock, or they might be directed by the rail traffic controller — CN speak for dispatcher — to make a pickup in Durand.

I’m sure the crew would rather run light to Flint because it would mean less work. But that would not be the case on this day. They had work to do in the yard.

It would be another hour before another train passed the Durand depot, an eastbound CN manifest freight.

Ten minutes later the CN crew that had been picking up cars in the yard appeared on the Port Huron connection and headed for Flint. Another nearly two-hour gap between trains was getting underway.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Former GTW No. 4623 would be the only locomotive I saw on this day in GTW markings.

Former GTW No. 4623 would be the only locomotive I saw on this day in GTW markings. It is coming around the connection from the Holly Sub to the Flint Sub.

Amtrak's Blue Water leaves town en route to Chicago but its next stop will be in East Lansing. It was the first time I had seen those signals beneath P42DC No. xxx in operation.

Amtrak’s Blue Water leaves town en route to Chicago but its next stop will be in East Lansing. It was the first time I had seen those signals beneath P42DC No. 126 in operation.

After going about two hours without seeing a train the sight of a BNSF locomotive, or any locomotive for that matter, was welcome sight. A Power River coal train eases its way into Durand.

After going about two hours without seeing a train the sight of a BNSF locomotive, or any locomotive for that matter, was welcome. A Powder River coal train eases its way into Durand.

Backing up on the Port Huron connection to deliver loaded coal hoppers to the Huron & Eastern.

Backing up on the Port Huron Wye to deliver loaded coal hoppers to the Huron & Eastern.

In case you were wondering where I made this photograph here is a big clue.

In case you were wondering where I made this photograph here is a big clue.

As the coal train crew worked in the Durand Yard an eastbound manifest freight rolled through town on the Flint Subdivision.

As the coal train crew worked in the Durand Yard an eastbound manifest freight rolled through town on the Flint Subdivision.

Coming out of the Durand Yard with a load of freight cars.

Coming out of the Durand Yard with a load of freight cars.

And away to Flint we go.

And away to Flint we go.

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