Sunday, September 6, 2020

The Boyne City Gaylord & Alpena Railroad

Boyne City, MI's railroad operations began in 1893 with the creation of the Boyne City Southeastern Railroad, running 7 miles east to Boyne Falls. The line was owned by the W.H. White Lumber Company to tap into northern Michigan's logging industry.

Image: Detroit Public Library
In 1905, the Boyne City Gaylord & Alpena Railroad was chartered to succeed the line and extend it to Alpena, MI, 91 miles east of Boyne City. (Right-of-Way)

Image: Railroad Michigan
While expansion took longer than expected, the railroad finally reached Alpena in 1918. Included in the expansion were three branch lines, each of which was used to expand the WH White Lumber Company's land holdings.

The land was purchased, cut down, and then marketed to farmers once cleared, who would then benefit from having the BC G & A as a transportation system to the rest of the US railroad network.

Unfortunately, Michigan's short growing season, and the lack of fertile soils along the route would prove too much for the line to bear, and the company faced bankruptcy in 1935, abandoning most of the route in the process.

The original 7 mile line persisted however, under the flag of the Boyne City Railroad post-bankruptcy. This allowed Boyne City to connect with the PRR at Boyne Falls.

Image: "Boyne City Railroad Company 70" November, 1966. Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places photo collection.
This line remained in service until 1976. For two years afterwards, the Boyne Valley Railroad operated a heritage operation along the line.

Formal abandonment took place in 1982.

Thanks as always for reading!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Airports With Railroad Crossings

Almost every railroad crossing in the entire world is meant for either cars or pedestrians to cross railroad rights of way. But there have been a few railroad crossings across the world where a rail line crosses an airport runway. In Wynyard, TAS, Australia, the Far Western Railway of TasRail once crossed the north end of a runway at Burnie Airport.

Imagine the runway delays for this. Image: Airways Museum
The railway was constructed along Tasmania's north coast in the early 1920's. "During the late 1930s when the aerodrome at Wynyard was constructed, it was built on the only flat land in the area - the flood plain of the Inglis River. When properly formed runways were constructed, Runway 05/23 was built over the railway line." (Airways Museum)

This arrangement was not without precedent in Australia, or in other parts of the world, as Sydney's Airport had a similar crossing before the tracks were relocated. Chicago's Midway Airport also had a similar situation early in its life, "A passenger aboard a TWA Skyclub plane noticed a snail-like image crossing the center of the field. Upon landing, he learned that it was a freight train. Bewildered, the passenger left the depot wondering whether Chicago will have one useful airport or two useless ones." (Chicago Tribune)

An aerial view of the Chicago Municipal Airport shows the old and new field bisected by railroad tracks. Chicago Tribune Historical Photo
These Belt Railway of Chicago tracks were relocated around the airport in 1941, and remain in use today.

Chicago Tribune Historical Photo

The "Golden Spike" ceremony of the newly re-aligned Belt Railway Tracks around Midway airport that allowed it to expand. Chicago Tribune Historical Photo

Obviously, as trains and planes occupying the same space is not a good idea in any situation, almost all of these situations have involved the railroad relocating. That said, there's at least one active rail line through an airport remaining at Gisborne Airport in New Zealand.

Image: Unusual Places

Ultimately, the Far Western Railway closed between Burnie and Wiltshire in 2003, removing the runway crossing at Wynyard in the process. Thus, the line never had to be relocated around the airport.

Thanks as always for reading!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Milwaukee Road's River Division Abandonment

Like roads, many railroad lines have been realigned and improved over time, and thus there are many examples of railroad abandonments that do not result in any loss of railroad service. Typing in "original alignment" onto our map will display all of the re-alignments we have found, although many more exist across North America.

One example of this was the Milwaukee Road's River Division between Hastings, MN and Red Wing, MN. The original alignment of the road lay along the Vermilion River on swampy land, and was thus prone to flooding and track washouts.

Image: "Red Wing's leading quarry owner G.A. Carlson built this 1882 Barn Bluff limestone kiln near the Milwaukee Road's tracks. He wished to facilitate shipments of lime and cement. The kiln, pictured about 1885, still exists."

In 1908, this roughly 13 mile section of line was abandoned in favor of a straighter, more easterly grade on higher ground.

The 13.1 mile original alignment in Blue, and the 12.4 mile re-alignment on higher ground. Image: Google My Maps.
Nonetheless, the stations of Etter and Eggleston on the old alignment of the tracks were closed down; two new stations replaced them on the new line.

Despite being abandoned over 100 years ago, the right of way can still be traced on satellite imagery, although HistoricAerials helps out a ton, for this line and pretty much every line!

A bridge of the former alignment of the River Division still exists, albeit completely abandoned. The new alignment is still in service today, run by the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Image: Jeff Streiff, Flickr. "CP train 2-198 has a surprise GP38-2 leading" at Red Wing, MN.
Thanks as always for reading!

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Medway Branch Railroad

The Medway Branch Railroad was, as the name suggests, a short branch line from the Norfolk County Railroad at North Wrentham, MA (present-day Norfolk), running northwesterly toward Medway, MA, beginning in 1853. (Right-of-Way)

The road offered passengers round trips between Medway to North Wrentham, where they could connect to Boston and points east. If a train wasn't running, passengers could traverse the route via a handcar.

Passenger traffic did not sustain the line, and governmental funding did not come for the venture. In 1863, it came under the umbrella of the Boston Hartford & Erie, along with the Norfolk County Railroad.

Just one year later, the line was abandoned, making it one of the earliest railroad abandonments in Massachusetts.

Image: Boston Hartford & Erie Locomotive “Hooksett” [Medway Historical Society]

Monday, August 10, 2020

The Wild Mouse at Eagle Amusement Park

Eagle Park was an amusement park located in Cache, OK, opening in 1957. It sat on land from an earlier amusement park known as Craterville Park.

At its peak, it had numerous rides, shows, and events, and had ample campground land as well. The signature attraction was Wild Mouse, a roller coaster type of the same name.

The park closed in 1985 amid rising insurance costs, and the owners not wishing to raise prices for entrance. Despite last operating in 1985, a few of the rides still stand today, most notably the Wild Mouse roller coaster.

Image: Wild Mouse by Ricky Summersett, 2020. (RCDB)