Remember the early 1970's?

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  • Member since
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Remember the early 1970's?
Posted by 3rd rail on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 10:28 PM

Sure, it was a rough time for the R.R.'s , but it was the last bastion for the "Low traffic, under-maintained, money-losing branch lines. After Conrail and De-Regulation, They all disappeared. Now just a faint trace on the landscape.  I remember those lines, Do you?   Let's talk about it. 

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Posted by 3rd rail on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 10:53 PM

I remember the old "G.R.& I. as they called it, ( the ex-PRR line from Ft. Wayne Ind. to Mackinaw City MI.) In the early '70's it was pretty much moribund from Ft. Wayne to Kalamazoo MI. North of there it was the route Penn Central chose to Grand Rapids. North Of G.R. it was also out of favor.  Another old favorite was the old "Valley" as they called it. The line from Jackson MI. to Grand Rapids MI. When I was a young kid, I recall seeing a local freight in Nashville MI. when we were up there for the annual Maple Syrup Festival.  A few years later, the track was gone. 

As a final observation, I'll mention the old "Air-Line"  That was an old moribund route origionally between Niles, MI. and Jackson MI. In the 1930's, the section between Niles and Three Rivers was torn up. The rest was a sleepy branch line until about 1957 when NYC under the control of Alfred Perlman, rebuilt the stretch of the airline between Three Rivers and Jackson with CTC and heavy rail. It was the Expressway from Detriot straight to the new NYC Elkhart yard.    Fast Forward to 1982........   Conrail dumped that perfect raceway, and today it is barely traceable in the tree lines of southern Michigan. BTW, I remember standing trackside in Union City with my Dad watching 100 car Auto hot-shots cooking by at 65 mph.  So, yes, I remember these old forgotten lines.. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 12:16 AM

The Putnam Division of the NYCentral between the Hudson Div. and Harlem Div. from The Bronx to Brewster.   Only the wye on the Harlem at Brewster remains.


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Posted by Backshop on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 7:14 PM

I remember seeing PC GP38 #7820 up in Mackinaw City, MI back in the mid 70's.  On an opposite view, I remember going to the old PC Shire Oak yard in the mid 70's when it had a decrepit roundhouse and was almost totally abandoned.  Years later, it was hopping due to the coal boom.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 9:34 PM

I grew up near the Putnam Division an saw the line before much of the North end was abandoned in 1962, and the Carmel stub about 1970.  The south end did not last much longer.

Most of my adult life I lived near the ex-GR&I.  First in Kalamazoo in the early 1970s, where I saw trains both north and south of town.  The line north of Kzoo to Grand Rapids is now the Grand Elk RR.  In the mid 1970s I moved to Cadillac, when the Michigan Northern ran Grand Rapids to Mackinaw City and the ferry.  I rode an excursion train from Cadillac to Mackinaw in the early 80s.  By the mid 80s the MN was out, and TSBY was given the consession from the state.  TSBY also had the Ann Arbor consession, and the ex-GR&I south of Cadillac to GR was abandoned.  The state started to build a tug-barge to replace the Straits ferry, but the project was caught up in the Wedtec scandel, and the ferry connection ended along with the line north of Petosky.  The ex-AA line also lost its carferry and rail service beyond the Yuma sand quarry about 20 miles west of Cadillac.  A bright spot is the occasional steam visit by NKP #765 and PM #1225.  The other line in the NW Lower Peninsular of Michigan was the C&O ex-PM line to Petosky.  In the early 80s the line was abandoned north of Manistee, except for a short segment that connects to the ex-GR&I Traverse City branch.

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Posted by Savage Tunnel on Thursday, May 31, 2018 5:10 PM

3rd rail

Sure, it was a rough time for the R.R.'s , but it was the last bastion for the "Low traffic, under-maintained, money-losing branch lines. After Conrail and De-Regulation, They all disappeared. Now just a faint trace on the landscape.  I remember those lines, Do you?   Let's talk about it. 



I was a young teenager, living in Frostburg,MD. close to the Western Maryland's Connellsville Subdivision. The "New Line" not built until 1912, made a large horseshoe around the north side of town. This main line of the WM still saw up to 15 or so trains/day then, with a fleet of hotshots running on the "Alphabet Route", along with coal,grain, and ore extras, and local freights. There were also numerous helper movements as the line westbound from Cumberland, MD. had a 1.75% grade for 22 miles. 
Through the 1970s, Chessie System gradually made the lines of the Western Maryland a memory. The end for the Connellsville Sub. came in early 1976, as the last through train was switched over to the B&O.
18 miles of the main was kept in place, serving a coal loader at Borden Tunnel, and 2 brick yards at Zihlman and MT. Savage on the former Cumberland & Pennsylvania (C&PA) trackage.
Today, this line is the Western MD. Scenic, which uses 14 miles of the former WM main, along with 2 miles of the next line I'll mention.

By 1972, the 2-mile stub of the former C&PA into Frostburg was about to die. This line had been cut 1/4 mile south of the Frostburg tunnel in 1954, and there were only 3 customers left by the 1970s. The cement plant closed, the lumber yard stopped rail service, and the WM converted a siding down the hill at the mainline station site so the city could get its road salt/sand.
The tracks were taken up and for over 15 years, the roadbed slept. Then in 1988 the tracks were relaid,  a turntable was installed at the north end of the Frostburg Tunnel, and in 1989, the Allegany Central started hauling tourists and rail enthusiasts to the restored 1892 C&PA depot in Frostburg. Today, the WMSR uses these tracks which were originally laid in 1852. 
While this partial rebirth of these hometown lines is gratifying, I feel 2 opportunities were lost:
1. Retention of the C&PA switchback line down to MT. Savage, this old shop town has been virtually ignored. The rails were removed in 1983, and parts have moldered back to nature since.

2. Reinstallation of the main line up to the east portal of Savage Tunnel. The view looking east from this point is awe-inspiring, but look out for the rattlesnakes.

Users of the GAP Rail-trail can experience the Connellsville Sub for its entire length, and for the first 14 miles share the roadbed with WMSR trains. There is even a connecting trail at Frostburg to go 500ft. up the hill and check out the C&PA depot. Yes

The westernmost counties in Maryland are crisscrossed by empty roadbeds of the B&O, WM, PRR, C&PA, and at least 6 other shortlines. When the coal mining died here, so did the shortlines, and the other roads' coal branches.





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