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Friday Flashback - Patiently Waiting

This image was an afterthought given the primary target was the Schnabel car with a high-wide load out of the port. C&NW’s transfer (with light engines after dropping off at the Soo Line) was caught behind the slow moving load and patiently followed it to BN Rices Point until it could ease by on the double track.

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Friday Flashback - Ore SD45s

When most fans think of ore trains behind SD45s the WC comes to mind but two other railroads used those big burners locally on ore.  One was BN, which assigned SD45s to the ore pool in the mid-1980s (many ended up on WC) and the other railroad was C&NW on then-new all-rail moves to Geneva Steel. They didn’t last long in that service but I happened to catch four together on loads at the old Boylston in 1983. They were impressive.

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Welcome Back LS&M!

Although gloomy and humid weather was the norm today spirits were high for volunteers of the LS&M as their first revenue passenger train in over a year departed West Duluth. Here the train rolls over BNSF’s new bridge just west of the LS&M’s loading area across from the Zoo. Gus wanted to play in the sand and rocks so I told him he had to wave to the train when it went by. This shot is on my list for this fall when there is some color and lower sun (the railroad runs through October 13).

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NSM GE Update

Photo by Nick Smith -

Mel reports that the GEs NSM is leasing have not yet departed KC as of this morning but are in the process of being inspected by BNSF. Here is a shot of one of the three that NSM will be receiving for a 4-month test (as noted here previously on OreRail). NSM expects them to be on the property later this month. Numbers will be 1201, 1203 and 1204 (as they now sit at Mid-America Car). Not a bad paint scheme and it would be neat to see two on the point and one DP on the longer mainline trains. Given tight budgets and production cutbacks at Cliffs I doubt these are longer term players but who knows given the fact these have sat unused in KC for a long time and Citi might be interested in a very attractive lease.

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Flashback - Alcos in the Ice Box

This shot was taken 20 years ago this past June and shows two the MD&W Alcos at their office/shop. I was there on business and the sun was high but the sky was blue and clear (the weather almanac says the high temp on June 4, 1993 was 72F with a dew point at 37F and the humidity 57% - a nice high pressure system). Credit SRG for the “Alcos in the Ice Box” moniker courtesy of an article he did for Trains. The “Ice Box” has been more like an oven this past week.

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Flashback - Rebirth at Babbitt

When Reserve Mining closed in the late 1980s due to the bankruptcy of some of the steel companies that owned Reserve many of us felt the mine and plant would never operate again. The trustee did make sure the facilities were winterized and that enough equipment was left so that mining could resume at a lower level should the operation be sold. Reserve ceased production in July 1986 but two possible buyers emerged in 1989 (Cyprus of Denver and Cleveland Cliffs). Cyprus, although with a lower bid, was awarded the former Reserve Mining property and operated its first train on January 5, 1990. Eventually Cliffs would buy the property when Cyprus decided to sell and concentrate on their core coal business.

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DM&IR 403 Update

Based on an observation this morning DM&IR 403 is out of its usual road service rotation on the Iron Range Sub and was teamed up with DM&IR 212 on the E-Lead Switch at Proctor. It is facing south in the set so it is tough getting decent shots of it. I haven’t seen maroon SD38-2 215 in the past few weeks – it is likely in for work (hopefully, versus retirement). Now if only CN would team up the 215 and 403 on the switch job!

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PDM Closes in Proctor

I happened to drive by Proctor today and noticed an auction sign on the fence around the former DM&N back shop buildings along 2nd Street. A quick check of the Proctor Journal web site brought disappointing news that the growing steel fabrication business that had used the building abruptly closed last month and their equipment is being auctioned off. There was no note of this on the PDM (based in Eau Claire) web site and it still included this info: “In 2010 PDM acquired Dynamic Structural Steel in Proctor, MN, amodern structural steel fabricator. Our Proctor plant has since added bridge work to their repertoire, incorporating their technology and efficient straight-line fabrication process. Located just 150 miles north of Eau Claire, Proctor has its own trucking fleet, which allows for streamlined shipping and easy collaboration with our Eau Claire plant on bridge components.”  

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Memories of Missabe 145

Burlington Northern - and later BNSF - always seemed to like their fleet of SD9s, which is probably one reason they stayed on the roster as long as they did. In a somewhat odd move, in 1989 BN bought eight second hand SD9s and rebuilt them for regional freight and transfer service. Two of those were former DM&IR units acquired through ILS, ex-132 and 145 (the other six were ex-B&O).  I always kept an eye out for these two and on a nice summer day in 1994 I came across the 145 (BN 6241) leading a transfer out of Dayton’s Bluff for Northtown. A trio of SD9s was fairly common power on these moves for a number of years well into the BNSF era.

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Soo Line Ore Dock in Ashland

I think the city was in negotiation with CN to keep the base as a fishing pier but not sure where that ended up. That was such a dominate structure along the waterfront it is sad to see it go. This shot shows a portion of the dock taken in 1997 during the WC era.


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