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TPR Top 10 for 2016

Here is our Top 10 list for non-ore related news events of 2016.

10. Boxcar Traffic - Trucking company Jeff Foster began receiving boxcars in March at the former Georgia Pacific mill along Duluth’s waterfront. Foster is using the mill as a warehouse and transload facility. It is unknown what material is being shipped in the cars.  

9. Rices Point - BNSF closed its Rices Point yard office in February, with yardmasters normally working out of that location shifted to 28th Street in Superior. 

8. New Tracks - The Port of Duluth completed work on their new multi-intermodal Garfield dock C&D, which has a new rail spur completed by Canadian Pacific. Hallett Dock is adding new tracks to its Dock 6 property in far western Duluth to store rail cars.

7. Lincoln Loan - In May the LSRM was loaned a replica of President Lincoln’s funeral car for display during 2017. The car has proven quite popular and has helped the museum record a very sold year. 

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OreRail Top 10 2016

Here is our annual recap of the top 10 ore-related stories of 2016. I didn’t include Keetac’s announced reopening as that will fall in 2017. We also might see more concrete news about Essar in 2017 so that saga isn’t mentioned here. 

10. BNSF’s ore pool labor agreement changed in March after the last employee working under the “triple pay” agreement retired. This agreement had allowed for ore crews working through Kelly Lake with pellet trains to/from Superior to be eligible for this lucrative pay 

9. BNSF started using buffer cars on its pellet trains. Located in front of the DP locomotives, these older loaded cars with yellow top sills alert the loading operators that the end of the train is near and to stop loading, thus helping prevent taconite from spilling onto locomotives.

8. NSM receives GEs. NSM receive two CEFX AC4400CW units from sister railroad LS&I in June. They operated on mainline ore trains until early October when they suffered flat spots. NSM’s two leased SD9043MACs had their lease extended to fill in for the GEs. This is noteworthy in that the GEs were NSM’s first regular use of that builder’s locomotives (they had tested GEs in the past). 

<--break->7. CN signal and track changes. CN continued to upgrade older searchlight signals on the former DM&IR and also reconfigured the CTC control point at Adolph. Another track change was the removal of many of the short tracks in the “A Yard” at Proctor. Major track improvements were completed on the Iron Range Sub in 2016 as well as strengthening of the Oliver Bridge.

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Collingwood Reconfiguration

CN is starting work on reconfiguring the Collingwood interlocking in Duluth. This is where the ore dock leads connect to the Missabe Junction line at the base of Proctor Hill. They plan to eliminate the double track here and make a single control point that includes the switch to Missabe Junction and a single switch for the west dock lead. This will basically replace five switches with two (eliminating the crossovers within the CTC plant). There will no longer be a north and south Collingwood and the signals will be taken down on the dock by the office.

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Burlington Northern - Portrait of a Railroad

I came across this and remembered how outstanding it was. My experience with this film was first seeing it at a LSTC meeting at the depot in Duluth, likely in the mid-1970s. It came in its reel form from BN in St. Paul and played on a projector common for the day. The color/quality has faded on this version but I remember the powerful film when it was first shown at that meeting many moons ago – it left an impression on this teenager. Each part linked below is lessthan 10 minutes each.

Burlington Northern: Portrait of a Railroad (1973) Part 1

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First Ore for Duluth Blast Furnace

A lithographic postcard of the Zenith Blast Furnace made between 1900 and 1915. (Image: X-comm)

While many think of Minnesota Steel (Duluth Works) as the first steel mill in the area this reminds us of the steel operation on Rices Point that was producing iron well before the turn of the century.

Zenith Furnace. (Image: Duluth Public Library.)

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Bessemer 900s & Plows

Not quite what you are thinking...highway plows. I was able to capture B&LE 903 and 900 at their respective crossings with highway plows in the shot, making for nice seasonal images. Proctor’s truck is yellow while Lake Country matches Bessemer orange.

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Twin Ports Rails Top 10 2013

It is that time of year again to review a list of the Top 10 news items from 2013 as posted on TPR (non ore related).

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OreRail Top 10 of 2013

Drum roll please as we count down the top 10 news items on OreRail for 2013.

10. LS&I tested a rebuilt EMD unit (NREX 3600) but it didn’t compare well to their leased GEs. The leased GEs continue to hold down most assignments but a handful of older GEs (ex-BN) are active and have seen regular service in 2013.  

9. Kirkus Street in Proctor opened during July, affording railfans a new elevated vantage point to view ore trains rolling up and down Proctor Hill.

8. During 2013 the elevated GN dock office and maintenance shed was removed at Allouez and the Soo Line ore dock was removed in Ashland.

7. CN’s planned track, dock and signal work on former DM&IR track was partially completed. Signal work near Wolf was underway in December while switch and tie work was completed in the summer. Siding expansions and work around Largo was not done in 2013 although work was completed on existing track as well as dock No. 6 in Duluth.

6. Ferromex locomotives were a common sight operating on Magnetation and Unitac all-rail ore trains, including a few trains with four Mexican units – making for quite an interesting sight.  

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215 on Proctor Hill

DM&IR 215 used to be a regular on Proctor Hill hauling ore and limestone trains.  Here it is leading the way down the hill in 2006, the way fall should look around here:

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Flashback - Bridge Yard 1960 & 1980

A difference of 20 years in these shots. 

The first was taken by my father on a cool January at sunset. Can't see much given Kodachrome wasn't very forgiving in low light but there is enough here to be interesting. 


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