Posts Tagged ‘Grand Trunk Western’

Catching it on the Rebound With a Little Luck

August 4, 2021

Back on July 25 Jeff Troutman and I photographed Canadian National 8952, the Grand Trunk Western heritage unit, leading eastbound CSX train K614.

We caught it in Perry just after 7 p.m. The sun angles at that time of the early evening were not ideal. 

Last Sunday, Marty Surdyk and I drove to the Mahoning Valley to visit the Cornerfield Model Railroad in Huntsburg, and watch a Mahoning Valley Scrappers ballgame in Niles.

We also did some railfanning, but the only train we photographed was the local sitting in Perry (bottom photo above) that was probably getting its crew the next day.

We were hoping that we might get lucky and the GTW heritage unit would be returning. But it turned out to be not that day.

Two days later Heritage Units.com showed that westbound CSX train K615 had the GTW heritage unit leading.

What would be the chance it would get into my neighborhood in time before dark? With tons of luck it showed up near the same time as it had on July 25.

It was about 6:30 p.m. and the sun was nearly at the same angle as it had been on July 25th making it absolutely perfect for westbounds. I’m happy.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

GTW Heritage Unit Visits Northeast Ohio

July 26, 2021

I met Jeff Troutman in Perry on Sunday evening to catch CSX ethanol train K614. There were three other railfans there as well. What was special about his train is that it was led by Canadian National 8952, the Grand Trunk Western heritage unit. It passed through just after 7 p.m.

Photograph by Edward Ribinskas

How About a Grand Trunk Geep?

February 28, 2021

The late Mike Ondecker and I found Grand Trunk Western GP9 4544 in Port Huron, Michigan, on April 20, 1976, at the locomotive service facility. It is teamed up with SD40 No. 5917.

Built in March 1957, the 4533 would be retired by GTW in 1991 but go on to serve such short line operations as the Kansas Southeastern Railway, Northern Plains Railway and the Renville Elevator Company.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

 

Pa. Short Line Acquires ex-GTW Steam Locomotive

January 19, 2021

A former Grand Trunk Western steam locomotive that has been on display in Michigan has been sold to a Pennsylvania short line railroad.

The locomotive, 4-6-2 No. 5030, has been on static display for more than 60 years in North Lawn Park in Jackson, Michigan.

The Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust has agreed to pay $50,000 over five years for the locomotive, a light Pacific type built in 1912 by Montreal Locomotive Works.

The trust represents a 9-mile short line railroad, the Colebrookdale Railroad in Boyertown, Pennsylvania.

The locomotive had been donated to Jackson in in 1957. City officials said they agreed to sell it after concluding they lacked the money needed to continue to maintain it.

Colebrooke officials said they have been looking to acquire a steam locomotive for their tourist operations

Moving and rebuilding the locomotive is expected to cost $2 million.

Grand Trunk Memories

December 1, 2020
A Grand Trunk Western train crosses the Conrail Chicago line at Vickers in Toledo on April 29, 1984

With the recent debut of the Canadian National Heritage schemes, I looked back in my photo collection knowing I had examples from years ago.

I found from several photographs of Grand Trunk Western motive power that I made while railfanning with Marty Surdyk in Toledo and Durand, Michigan.

There are, of course several locomotives still wearing Grand Trunk and Illinois Central liveries that are in pretty good condition. 

In this post are some photographs from 1984 and 1985, including images made during a railfan outing on April 29, 1984, to Toledo.

Also shown are excursions sponsored by the Bluewater Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society from Toledo to Durand for the May 5, 1985, Durand Railroad Days.

During that event a caboose train offered train rides.

In addition to Toledo and Durand, some photographs were made in Michigan at Luna, Monroe, Wyandotte and Corunna.

Photographs by Edward Ribinskas

The caboose of the GTW train at Vickers
A Bluewater Michigan NRHS chapter excursion at Toledo on May 5, 1985.
At Luna, Michigan
At Monroe, Michigan
At Wyandotte, Michigan
At Durand, Michigan
The caboose train at Durand
At Corunna, Michigan

On the Grand Trunk Western

March 25, 2020

Flat Rock, Michigan, was the home of the classification yard of the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton.

It became a key terminal for the Grand Trunk Western after it acquired the DT&I in 1980.

GTW was known for its colorful red and blue locomotives with white stripes, numbers and herald.

In the image above SD40 No. 5918 is in Flat Rock on Aug. 11, 1982. This unit was built for the GTW in January 1970.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Looking For the Dead in Durand

July 7, 2018

A westbound Canadian National auto rack train takes the Chicago connection in Durand, Michigan. This line once hosted Grand Trunk Western Steam into 1960 among other ghosts.

Author Roland Barthes wrote in Camera Lucida a short book of essays published in 1980 about the essence of photography that making photographs “is a kind of primitive theatre, a kind of Tableau Vivant, a figuration of the motionless and made-up face beneath which we see the dead.”

Photographs are a way of freezing people and moments in time and keeping them alive long after they have passed away.

Writing in The New Yorker, author Louis Menand expounded on that thought by saying that as we look at photographs, “we imagine one day looking at them when the people in them are no longer alive. Even when you look at a photo of some random person, anyone, taken years ago, somewhere in your mind the thought creeps in: ‘And that person is probably now dead.’ ”

Menand was writing about a photo exhibit of an event that occurred 50 years ago and many of those who were there probably are deceased.

I thought about that as I stood around in Durand, Michigan, early last month on a warm afternoon waiting for Canadian National to come back to life.

I was spending time at the restored Durand Union Station, which once served passenger trains of the Grand Trunk Western and the Ann Arbor.

It was not difficult to imagine people standing on these platforms waiting for a train to take them far away.

Given that the last Grand Trunk passenger train halted here 47 years ago, it is easy to conclude that many who boarded those trains from these concrete platforms are now deceased.

But my thoughts went beyond long-ago passengers. Much railroad history has been made in Durand.

The Grand Trunk was the last railroad in Chicago to assign steam locomotives to intercity passenger trains and those would have served Durand through 1957.

But steam powered-varnish through Durand lasted even longer.

The last daily steam-powered passenger trains ran between Durand and Detroit’s Brush Street station until steam bowed out after pulling Nos. 21/56 on March 27, 1960.

That event was celebrated in the Spring 2018 issue of Classic Trains magazine.

As I studied the photographs on Page 28 of that issue I thought about how many of those with cameras or just the merely curious who lined the tracks to witness the last of steam in revenue service must now be just as gone as the trains they watched and rode.

What happened to their photographs? Do people still tell stories about how grandpa used to talk about the last GTW steam trip?

In the late 1960s, the GTW sought to fight back against the decline of intercity rail passenger service by launching a fast Chicago-Detroit passenger train named the Mohawk.

Durand was the first stop westbound and last stop eastbound of Nos. 164 and 165, stopping at 5:06 p.m. en route to Chicago and 8:24 p.m. en route to Detroit.

Durand also saw the Maple Leaf, a Chicago-Toronto train jointly operated by the GTW and parent Canadian National. What was it like in Durand when these trains still ran?

Durand had no passenger trains between May 1971 and September 1974. With the help of the State of Michigan Amtrak started the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water, a train that still runs.

But I have enough of a history of being at Durand to remember when this train was known as the Chicago-Toronto International and had VIA Rail Canada F40 locomotives on the point.

I liked the International because it arrived in Durand in mid-afternoon in both directions.

But I wasn’t around in the early years of the International when it operated with VIA LRC coaches.

Nor was I around in the early years of the Blue Water when Amtrak’s Midwest corridor trains had a variety of equipment and E units to pull it.

Because Durand can be dead for long periods of time, you have plenty of time to imagine the past and what used to look like here.

It was late afternoon by the time the Holly Subdivision to Pontiac and Detroit came back to life.

The headlight coming westward wasn’t a steam-powered commuter train or the Mohawk or even a hot GTW freight train.

It was a CN auto rack train with a cut of general merchandise cars.

I photographed it and watched it go around the Chicago connection to the Flint Sub. What would who stood on this platform 50 years ago, 60 years or 70 years ago think about what they would see today?

Will someone 40 years from now be just as interested in Durand in 2018 as I was of Durand in 1960 or 1970?

Day in Durand: Part 1

November 15, 2016

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.

Amtrak’s Blue Water in Durand

August 7, 2016

The westbound Blue Water is running ahead of schedule as it makes its Durand, Michigan, station stop.

The westbound Blue Water is running ahead of schedule as it makes its Durand, Michigan, station stop.

People pulling suitcases were already headed toward the station as I pulled in. In about a half-hour Amtrak’s westbound Blue Water would be making its station stop in Durand, Michigan.

Durand is a small town yet quite a few people boarded No. 365 on this Wednesday morning.

The Blue Water is funded by the Michigan Department of Transportation and operates daily between Chicago and Port Huron, Michigan.

Like many other Midwest corridor trains, No. 365 leaves early in the morning for a late morning arrival in Chicago. The return train departs Chicago in late afternoon.

There isn’t much time to spend in Chicago for a day trip, but if all goes well the schedule enables passengers to connect with western long distance trains and other Midwest corridor services.

The return schedule, though, is less favorable for connecting from the western trains, particularly if your train is late.

No. 365 arrived in Durand several minutes early and had to wait for time before departing.

I’ve seen and photographed Amtrak trains in Durand in the past, but this would be my first time to get the Blue Water in Durand.

I had photographed the Chicago-Toronto International, which was scheduled through Durand in both directions in mid-afternoon.

That schedule didn’t afford passengers the opportunity to make a Chicago day trip nor did it connect with many other Amtrak trains.

The tracks used by the Blue Water are today owned by Canadian National, but were originally part of the Grand Trunk Western.

The GTW was controlled by CN so many Grand Trunk passenger trains interchanged with CN at Sarnia, Ontario, to and from Toronto.

The Blue Water began in September 1974, using the GTW between Port Huron and Battle Creek, Michigan, but then using Penn Central into Chicago on the same route as Amtrak’s Chicago-Detroit trains.

At the time, Nos. 364/365 operated as the Blue Water Limited. It became a Chicago-Toronto train in October 1982, initially operating as the International Limited.

The name was shorted to International in June 1983. Border crossing issues ultimately led Amtrak to suggest that the train be shorted to Chicago-Port Huron operation and put on a schedule similar to that of the Blue Water Limited.

Michigan agreed and in April 2004 the change was made and patronage greatly increased.

I don’t know if any of those who boarded the Blue Water on this day know any of this history or, for that matter, any history of GTW passenger service in Durand.

Most of those boarding were younger and probably know little if anything about the Grand Trunk or CN in general.

They probably were pleased that their train departed on time for its next station stop in East Lansing and, ultimately, to Chicago.

Article and Photographs by Craig Sanders

Passengers are lined up to board Amtrak train No. 365 in Durand. Most of them are probably headed for Chicago and some might be going via Amtrak beyond there.

Passengers are lined up to board Amtrak train No. 365 in Durand. Most of them are probably headed for Chicago and some might be going via Amtrak beyond there.

Right this way and to your left.

Right this way and to your left. The Blue Water consist is the standard Midwest corridor train offering of Horizon fleet coaches and an Amfleet cafe car offering business class service.

Two gentlemen sit on benches in the foreground and watch the last passengers board Amtrak's westbound Blue Water.

Two gentlemen sit on benches in the foreground and watch the last passengers board Amtrak’s westbound Blue Water.

The conductor chats with the Durand station caretaker and two railfans along the fence as No. 365 waits for time before it can depart from Durand.

The conductor chats with the Durand station caretaker and two railfans along the fence as No. 365 waits for time before it can depart from Durand.

A portrait in black and white of Amtrak train time in Durand.

A portrait in black and white of Amtrak train time in Durand.

Crossing the CN Holly Subdivision as Amtrak train No. 365 departs on time from Durand.

Crossing the CN Holly Subdivision as Amtrak train No. 365 departs on time from Durand.

The Blue Water operates with a locomotive on each end to avoid having to turn the train in Port Huron during the overnight layover.

The Blue Water operates with a locomotive on each end to avoid having to turn the train in Port Huron during the overnight layover.

Efforts Started to Stop Deterioration of Grand Western Coaling Tower in Grand Haven, Michigan

August 25, 2015

The city of Grand Haven, Michigan, is working to stabilize a former Grand Trunk Western coal dock.

City engineers have created a plan to preserve the structure, which closed in 1958, and a fund-raising campaign has begin.

Plans are to slow the deterioration of the coaling tower by treating steel reinforcement bars that are exposed to the weather in an effort to slow or stop corrosion.

City Councilman Mike Fritz said that if the treatment process works, it make the structure easier to maintain.

“The whole thing is that we want to preserve it,” he said. “We don’t want to restore it – it will lose its identity.”

A U.S. Department of Interior guide to historical preservation says that deterioration occurs because of corrosion of embedded reinforcement bars.

Corrosion and rust cause the steel to expand, which leads to cracking and spalling of the concrete.

Repeated freezing and thawing can also result in concrete cracking, and scaling and micro cracking can extend into the concrete.

Portions of the structure’s interior were cleaned in January 2014. Screens were placed on the coaling tower to prevent animals from nesting and depositing waste inside.

Pere Marquette 2-8-4 No. 1223 is on display next to the structure. Recently, the site has received new picnic tables, benches, a paved walkway and educational signs.