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CN Ashland and White Pine Photos

madsek01's picture

The White Pine Copper Refinery is schedule to close in 2010. This will be a major blow to CN traffic east of the Twin Ports on the Ashland and White Pine Subdivisions. Of course many of the lines in that area are already gone. You can already drive east of the Twin Ports on Highway 2 and not cross a railroad until Saxon, WI. Unless something unexpected happens, it would seem the White Pine Sub. will suffer the same fate. Whether the Ashland line can survive without the copper remains to be seen, but to me north of Glidden or Park Falls the long term prospects can't be good.

For now, one of the main jobs Ashland train is to deliver the White Pine copper boxcars to Marengo Jct. three times per week. The other is to gather the pulpwood business out of Ashland and take it south towards Mellen. Even though it is only an hour east of the Twin Ports I have not shot the Ashland Job much. Once I was in the area and interested in shooting the job the trackage on the waterfront of Ashland was gone. The CN only goes to the pulpwood landing south of town, so since I missed the cool trackage I have kind of ignored the line. It didn't help that the motive power (at least when I was in the area) seemed to be gray ghost 6900s my least favorite CN engines of all time. Once they got rid of those I heard big Dash 9s/SD75s when I was passing through, so I tended to go after the geeps on the White Pine.

This April on my way to shoot the pair of WCs on the White Pine, I made stop south of town to finally shoot the the Ashland Job. A single Dash 9 running long hood forward is strange to see for my first train on this line this far north. That is the standard power however now. But I am glad I caught it as it is Class I branch hauling pulpwood may not be there forever. Through the great information provided by list member Tom Tardiff I knew right where to be as they head north of Mellen on Tues, Thurs, and Sundays.

CN 2689 North L-583

My next shot on the Ashland Line was last week. My wife wanted to visit a friend in Poplar. I asked if she wanted to go on a Tuesday and she agreed. Last Tuesday was clear, hot, and sunny once you got away from the Lake fog so we made the visit. Once I dropped her off I had a few morning hours to play around with near Ashland. I heard CN 2628 arrive town sometime before 1000. It was light power so not long after it got there, they headed south on the former Soo Line with eight log loads. Not a ton of photo spots on the line, but a bit south where the power line peels of the roadbed a bit I got my first digital shot of L-583 after a couple of broadsides further north. They seem to move at a pretty good clip and the track is in decent shape even though there is not much RR business left in Ashland. The only other stop I thought they might make was "new" connection to the CNW ore yard and tie chipper. But that nice line seemed to be rusted over. Too
bad there is not more business in this once busy RR town. Still a train comes close 3 times per week, modern CN power or not. A better fate then other towns in northern Wisconsin, at least for now.

L-583 Ashland Job

Was a steamy northern Wisconsin morning with temps. in the mid-80s already. The RTC came on and gave the 2628 a hot weather restriction after they passed me. Not sure what that means, but she also gave the WC 3024 one too for the White Pine Sub. Not sure how much slower they would go on that 10 MPH branch. The White Pine was having a slower trip than normal towards Marengo Jct. (and that is saying something) with three impassible sections near Saxon being worked on by CN section gangs. This meant that the Ashland Job would be stopped for quite some time north of Marengo Jct. as the White Pine pick-up is on the main and would have to be pulled before the 2628 could continue on to Mellen. Usually both trains seem to be around Marengo Jct. in the 1030-1100 range, but it sounded like things were backed up by about 90 mins. on this day. With the sun getting higher and the wife in Poplar, I headed back west.

Rewinding back to April again, here is the White Pine Job north of Marengo Jct. pulling their outbound train off the Ashland Sub. The mainline is to the left and the WC is pulling into the north leg of the wye for the White Pine Sub. Moments after the WC 3017 pulled past the barn and over the crossing, the CN 2689 passed south with 3 pulpwood loads out of Ashland. I believe it would be possible somedays to get both trains in one frame at Marengo, but it was not to be on that day. Still 2 WC GP40s in 2009 on the White Pine Job was clearly acceptable.

All WC in Wisconsin

Just east of the wye at Marengo Jct., the 3017 was on the DSS&A trackage heading east.

CN L-581 Departs for White Pine

East of Marengo Jct. we are getting kind of east of the TPR land as we head into the U.P. With the copper refinery's demise coming in 2010, I have put together an album of White Pine "chases." Lots of that WC duo from Spring Break in April, but a few from 2006-07 also. Here is the album if you are so interested.

I am sure I will return to the Ashland and White Pine lines later in the summer or fall as who knows their long term future.

Thanks for looking.

Kevin Madsen
Superior, WI