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Flashback - Last Runs

dmir227's picture

For this flashback I scanned a pair of slides that each represent "last runs" in one fashion or another.

First up is 2001 and the final revenue ore train (chips and fines) operated by LTVSMC from Knox to Taconite Harbor. This was
a back-lit grab shot as the train moved past on the eastern fringe of the mine and I always liked it because for this final
run the crew put a big American flag on the nose of 4211 and it was blowing straight with a nice reflection in the window.
For the final "pellet" train a month earlier they had put a small flag on the nose of the F but this time they thankfully
sized-up. There were also small yellow flags along the carbody but those were hard to see. The final ore car had a banner and
broom (I'll save that for another flashback).

The next "last run" was May 15, 2003 as the final pellet train operated from the EVTAC (ETCO) Fairlane plant. This was a
tinder dry spring and the good old Missabe non-turbo SD38s (212, 210, 221) were blowing hot carbon out as the train worked up
to speed out of the plant and along Highway 7. As the train moved along the crew noticed smoke behind the train and wisely
came to a stop once they realized they were starting fires along the right-of-way. There was a strong warm wind blowing east
to west and it didn't take long to whip those embers into a big brush fire. The dispatcher called authorities and given they
were already staged due to the dry conditions they were on the scene very quickly but this still ended up being a big fire.
This shot shows the stopped train at milepost 51 and the growing fire on the left. Going out in a blaze of glory...

Both of these last runs have sequels. For LTV it was the running of additional chips and fines trains under the new ownership
of Cliffs Erie a few years later using the F-units and for EVTAC the good news was the rebirth of the mine and plant around
Christmas that same year under new ownership (Cliffs/Chinese with the new name United Taconite, Cliffs now 100%). Today EMCO
4211 and a B-unit are preserved at the LSRM, United Taconite is still going strong, and 212 continues to work Proctor wearing
a new CN dress.

Dave Schauer
Missabe Railroad Historical Society