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Twin Ports Rails Top 10 2013

dmir227's picture

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).

10. Crude oil trains begin rolling through the Twin Ports on CN. First loaded train from Canada made its way through in mid-February. While not a frequent occurrence, these trains are expected to increase as more oil is tapped. In addition to the CN oil trains BNSF operated a lengthy high-wide shipment from Duluth to Canada in December. These trains are less frequent since clearances were improved into the port of Thunder Bay. CP has also handled special loads this year from the port.  

9. The former Koppers tie plant at Ambridge has found new life as a tie recycling facility. While that facility saw a rebirth the loss of the Wausau Paper Mill resulted in BNSF’s Brainerd Local making its final run over unique street trackage in that city. The paper industry continued to struggle as Boise in International Falls cut back productions, leading to less activity for the MD&W.  Also news worthy was the demolition of the rustic feed mill in Askov, a favorite photo prop for photographers.  

8. Tourist railroad Wisconsin Great Northern opened a new depot just north of Sooner alongside Highway 53. WGN also continued to store freight cars along its line for additional revenue as did the NSSR (coal sets).  

7. Earlier in the year BNSF ran a number of diversion trains through the area designed to bypass congested yards. One such train in March brought Norfolk Southern “Heritage” unit 1072 to Superior (NS 1072, Illinois Terminal). This was the first, and only, visit by one of the special NS locomotives to the Twin Ports, although many have toured Minnesota on oil trains operating west of Minneapolis to North Dakota.  

6. CP continued to retrench from the Twin Ports with a number of regular jobs cancelled and crews called as-needed. Trains 482 and 482 now run just twice a week between Superior and Duluth.

5. Motive power was interesting during 2013 as new GEs for CN, new EMDs for BNSF, and rebuilt SD and GP ECO units for CP brightened the rail scene.  Also adding color were DM&E and Indiana Railroad units on CP as well as freshly painted CN second hand SD60s. BNSF continued to operate SD60Ms and on a few occasions even ran four-unit sets of the former BN units.

4. Big steam power returned with the arrival of Milwaukee Road 261 in Duluth during May after being out of service for a few years undergoing a major overhaul. Soo 2719 finished its season in September and will likely be down for a number of years pending an overhaul. D&NE 28 continued its restoration at the Cloquet Terminal shop with an anticipated return to steam in 2014.

3.  Cloquet Terminal received its first new locomotive in over 40 years when GenSet 2608 arrived in late November. The railroad is prepping it for service.

2. BNSF replaced a washed out culvert by the Zoo with a new bridge, which opened for trains in March. They also rebuilt a wood trestle near Riverside Junction. This critical bridge work allowed the LS&M to resume operation after missing most of the 2012 season.

1. The Lake Superior Railroad Museum dedicated the fully restored former DM&N business car Missabe in September.  This car had been under restoration for over 20 years and Tom Gannon did a stunning job that is well deserving of top story billing.  

Dave Schauer

Duluth, MN