Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Today's Train of Thought- Glengarry Glencoe, May 13, 2014

Today's Train of Thought takes us to the land of 10,000 Lakes (give or take) and features one of the Midwest's few remaining independent shortlines.

Originally built by the Hastings and Dakota Railway in the 1870s, the former Milwaukee Road line west of Minneapolis- also dubbed the Ortonville line. Prior to the 1977 abandonment of all Milwaukee Road lines west of Miles City, MY, the Ortonville line was a key line for the Milwaukee Road, linking the Midwest with the Pacific Northwest. However, the Ortonville line became redundant a few short years after Soo Line's 1985 takeover of the remnants of the Milwaukee Road when the Soo had a number of parallel lines.

In 1991, the Twin Cities & Western began operation on the Ortonville line with an assortment of former Santa Fe CF7s and ex Illinois Central GP10s [products of those railroads Cleburne, TX and Paducah, KY shops respectively- NANESB!]. By the mid 1990s, they began operating rebuilt Caterpillar Generation II locomotives that were operating the EMD locomotive's original chassis. With the expansion of Minnesota route 55 along the TC&W right of way and the Hiawatha light rail line, getting into the Twin Cities from the west was less than straightforward for the TC&W. Since the late 1990s, the TC&W has used a temporary connection along a bicycle trail in Hennepin County before operating over BNSF's Wayzata subdivision. While this was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, it remains in use as the TC&W and local transportation officials are at an impasse over how best to re-route TC&W trains out of the Minneapolis area.

Further west along the former Ortonville line, the logistics are far less complicated. Like many other towns throughout the upper Midwest, Glencoe, MN features a grain elevator adjacent to the railroad tracks that run through town.

Here, rrpicturearchives.net contributor Todd Reineccius caught TC&W GP20CAT #2004 leading another GP20CAT, a GP15CAT and a GP10 from affiliated railroad Red River Valley & Western through Glencoe, MN with a short train in July 2011.

The Ortonville line also frequently plays host to Milwaukee Road #261, who can sometimes be seen returning to 'home' rails during shakedown runs or hauling excursions with original varnish from the Milwaukee's Hiawatha- but this is first and foremost a freight railroad.

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