dmir227's picture

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.

dmir227's picture

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!

dmir227's picture

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.”  

BN Steam (yes, really!)

There has been lots of talk lately about the paper mill in Brainerd and about the Brainerd Local.  There used to be another interesting industry there – the BN’s Brainerd Tie Plant.  To move raw ties into and out of the treating ovens, they used the fireless 0-4-0 seen below.  The BN owned and ran the tie plant, so in my book that means that they owned the locomotive and hence, BN steam!  The tie plant office was a wonderful wooden/steel underframe open platform observation-parlor car.  It was remarkably intact, including brake rigging and buffers/diaphragms, but on a foundation and without trucks.  The seats had all been stripped out, but the drawing room was still there, though again without seats, and in the main body the wonderful brass individual luggage racks were still over where each parlor seat had been.  It was assumed by all that it would be coming to the museum in Duluth when the tie plant closed which, even then, was known to be fairly imminent – to this day out in the weeds behind the museum you can see a pair of wooden side frame 6-wheel trucks that were gotten from the DMIR in anticipation of being put under the Brainerd car.  Something happened after I left in mid-1978 because shortly (maybe as much as a year) after leaving the plant closed and the car was, if I recall correctly, burned, the BN (and for some reason I recall that it was the Law Department) having decided that they had “already given the Museum enough”.  This makes no sense, of course, as there was zero salvage value of the car so I can only assume that either [1] somehow someone at the museum had p***ed off the BN, or else (and I think more likely) someone at BN had a grudge against Tom Lamphier who was president of BN at the time and a very strong supporter of the museum.  It’s a shame as it was really (or could have again been)  a stunning car.  I’m sure that at this point we will never know the whole story.

dmir227's picture

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.

R.T. Challenger's picture

Proctor Power Play

Last night after delivering a Pokegama transfer into Proctor Yard, we parked our power over at the diesel shop which was full of power, more that I have seen in recent time. So here is a snapshot of what I saw.

DM&IR 403 IC62xx B&LE 909 heading down Proctor Hill with a dock train.
DM&IR 215 and CN 5318 on the E-Lead Switch.
At the shop.

DM&IR 211 still parked in the former Mallet Stall location.
Behind the shop, GTW 54xx still in grey KCS paint.

On the ready tracks in no particular order.
IC 6261 IC 6253 IC 1011
CN 8951 CN 5244 CN 5337 CN 5351 CN 6024 CN 2407 CN 2645 CN 5683 CN 5636 CN 5411 CN 5414
GTW 5937 5934

No idea what was inside the shop but I am guessing the DM&IR 212 was inside finally getting some attention to address the oil leaking issue it has.

dmir227's picture

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.

dmir227's picture

Flashback: May 10, 2004 - Nine Years and Counting

Nine years ago today the papers were officially signed and Great Lakes Transportation became part of CN. For today’s flashback I dug this slide out from my early years of shooting as I feel it reminds me of the classic DM&IR I grew up with – ore trains on Proctor Hill. I vividly recall hearing them pull empties when I lived in east Duluth – the sound would carry along the hillside when the wind was out of the southwest, which was common in the summer.  The Missabe would lug 140 cars up the grade with two, three or sometimes four SDs in notch eight and usually at a fast walking pace but not much more. Today CN still moves trains up and down the Hill and with much more horsepower they breeze up grade relative to the Missabe in the 1980s. The 2004 purchase impacted not just ore trains but how general freight moves around the Twin Ports as well.

dmir227's picture

NSM Notes

With warmer weather NSM has been running DP trains on days other than just Thursday. Last week a 208-car train was operated. They typically leave a little later in the morning than 5:30~ thus making for some nice available shooting near Toimi. The down side is the larger trains mean fewer trains.

dmir227's picture

Flashback - Night Moves

This flashback installment takes us back a little over 10 years to a patented SRG Railfan Weekend at the LSRM. CP loaned a then-new GE to use in static photos and it was positioned next to Soo 2500A. Night shots with slides was a lot harder than digital but if you had good handlers they always seemed to turn out. Thanks Steve and Jeff.


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