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TPR Top 10 for 2016

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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. 

6. Tank Derailments – UP had two incidents that involved tank cars with hazardous materials. The first happened at Itasca yard during switching operations while the other involved tanks cars derailing on the connecting track at BN Saunders. No injuries were reported in either derailment but they caught the attention of local media.

5. Interesting Visitors - Milwaukee Road 261 visited in early June while BNSF tested two EMD SD70ACeP4-T4 Tier 4 locomotives (1603/1604) between Minneapolis and Superior this fall. UP heritage units 1995 (C&NW) and WP (1983) also paid visits to Superior. On a lighter note, Thomas the Tank Engine also was in town over the summer. CN’s DM&IR-painted SD40-3 No. 403 paid a visit to LSRM and NSSR on September 30 as part of a special passenger extra operated for the Lexington Group (noted as a top 10 item on sister list OreRail).  

4. Reprieve - LS&M, Duluth’s first tourist railroad, received a reprieve for another year after pollution work near the former U.S. Steel plant in western Duluth was delayed until late 2017. The railroad’s future after 2017 is in doubt. 

3. Coal Declines – Coal continued its downward spiral in 2016 with MERC expecting to handle between 10 and 11 million tons, off significantly from peak tonnage of over 22 million tons in 2008. In late 2016 MERC did start receiving coke from Montana, a cargo that had been shipped through Hallett Dock earlier in 2016. Coke from St. Paul continues to be routed through Duluth-Superior on CN for transshipment out of Thunder Bay, business MERC might be able to secure in the future. 

2. Roundhouse Removal - The former LST&T roundhouse near Belknap Street in Superior was removed in October, leaving just the two former DM&N roundhouses in Proctor as remaining examples of that once-common structural design in the Ports (CN still has plans to remove the newer roundhouse). In better news, the former Omaha roundhouse in Spooner was sold to the city for preservation. 

1. Ashland Line - Heavy rains in July washed out a portion of CN’s line to Ashland, forcing the railroad to embargo service north of Park Falls. The line remains mothballed and unrepaired, leaving this once busy railroad hub void of rail service. 

Dave Schauer

Duluth, MN