Dec 09-07

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2007: December: Dec 09-07
Wreck of the 709    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo from HCHS
Handling the details    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo from HCHS

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 06:50 am:

Not the best way to start your day... especially if you were the engineer at the controls when the 709 jumped the tracks, covered with just a little too much Copper Country snow. We can only imagine what he was thinking as the Iron Horse flopped on its side: This is going to be a bear to set back on these tracks... and Where did I put those Defective Car tags? More likely he and his crew were preoccupied with survival at that traumatic moment.

I couldn't find much on the Internet about the 709, besides these photos from the Houghton County Historical Society. But as always, the old photos tell us alot about the people, the times, the technology and even the styles of the day.

You'll notice the date on the report card says "191_". Guess the printer must have thought they'd all be used up by 1920.

I hope your day goes better. We're having a busy weekend here at Pasty Central. Every year, the last couple of weeks before Christmas become a bigger avalanche of pasty orders than the year before. Yesterday the crew worked for hours on boxes, insulating foam, and space blanket in preparation to pack hundreds of bundles of fresh frozen pasties for shipment this week. Each year it becomes a bigger logistical challenge. The kitchen is baking as much as possible each day, and the FedEx drivers are scrambling to keep up.

Just a word of caution if you're ordering pasties for Christmas: the only remaining day to schedule a shipment is December 19. If the weather gets rough, it could delay their departure until after Christmas. And as you know, the weather can get rough here in the Copper Country.

Have a good week :o)

By joanne sherick (Shedoesnails) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 06:54 am:

good morning.

By Paul Oesterle (Paulwebbtroll) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 06:55 am:

The train doesn't look very long! The caboose is only a couple of cars back.

By Brian R. Juntikka (Polkatime) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 08:28 am:

Actually this appears to be Engine 709 of the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railway. The Copper Range Railroad Company never had an engine "709" in their rostor, but the DSS&A did, and from what I've read it did indeed wreck at or near Calumet many years ago. That is probably what this photo is about.


Brian Juntikka

By Charles Pomazal (Cpomazal) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 08:38 am:

Is that a caboose back there or a plow?

By kay Moore (Mskatie) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 08:55 am:

There's no date or anything telling about the incident? Nothing in the local paper? Just the idea of righting this machine is hard to fanthom. Wow!

By Richard L. Barclay (Notroll) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 09:07 am:

I remember as a kid seeing hot journals smoking and sometimes with flames on the ore trains heading for the docks in Marquette from the mines. We'd be waiting for the train to pass outside of Marquette on the Big Bay road. Sometimes the whole train would be drafting a cloud of smoke as the caboose went by. Either heavy braking or poor grease job could cause it. I was amazed either way to see the flames.

By Mel, MN (Mehollop) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 09:28 am:

One of these days, Charlie, I'll get in an order for some of the pasties made up there at the Hut. Better yet, I'll come in and order one as a side to a Danwich. :)

Those old iron horses were no small piece of work... can't imagine how they got her righted again, without the help of the machinery we seem to not be able to do anything without these days.

Car thermometer hit -23 F this morning here on the west end of the Range in MN... Brr!

By Eddyfitz (Eddyfitz) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 10:08 am:

Would like to give my thanks for all the hours of great polka music I have heard here in "trollland" as provided by Brian R. Juntikka (Polkatime) Now that I am retired Is there a website where up to date info can be found.

By Barbara Diette (Madamediette) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 11:06 am:

I think this is a great wreck but I too am curious how they righted this engine back on track. Did they use oxen or what. Have a great day.

By Marianne Y (Marianne) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 11:31 am:

That's a big "Oops"! Well, if you could bring an engine on the other side, ie, in front of the derailed engine, you might be able to use the second engine for power, and you could use oxen off to the side to help with direction, possibly. (I don't know how the tracks ran UP there, back then, if you could get the second engine in front of the first.) I thought they had plows on the front of the engines back then?

The good news is that the engine is not completely over on his side, and he is not very far from the tracks, unlike some of the train derailments that we have seen in recent years, around the country!

By dan belo (Djbelo) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 11:36 am:

He was going down the tracks
going 90 miles hour
when the whistle broke into a scream
he was found in the wreck
with his hand on the throtle
and scalded to death by the steam...wreck of the old
97--Lynchburg , Va. old song

This also happened in Hubbell about 1945 near my
home by Linwood st.The steam blew up.

By David Hiltunen (Davidcorrytontn) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 11:38 am:

Two things I get excited over. Train wrecks and short skirts. Wow !!!

By Paul H. Meier (Paul) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 12:02 pm:

My guess is the 709 was a victim of ice rather than snow. The right of way looks like it had been plowed. Especially in very cold weather, ice filling the flangeways at crossing or track switches could get hard enough to derail equipment. The sectionmen were supposed to keep the flangeways clear. Yes, some of the trains ran with a plow on the front end; 709 may have had a pilot plow installed, but we can't see the pilot in this photo. They also used a special car called a flanger when there was light snow on the track, this would normally be coupled right behind the locomotive. This train has just a couple of rockcars, a boxcar, and a caboose.
All the folks in the photo, judging by all the shovels, are sectionmen who cleared the way for the wreaking crew. That next bunch would use a crane, block & tackle, jacks, cribbing, or whatever to put 709 back on the tracks. Such was railroading in the UP.

By Richard L. Barclay (Notroll) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 02:34 pm:

The railroads had wreck trains with all the gear to clear wrecks. Some pictures of the wreck cranes can be found at:

and a wreck train at work in 1909 in Illinois:
another at:

There is a lot of info out there on train wrecks and i would imagine since the start of steam locomotives there have been derailments/wrecks/collisions and the need for equipment to right them.

By Michael Du Long (Mikie) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 04:28 pm:

In 1923 my grandfather John Stanton while working on the DSS&A train was killed. He was killed because a milkman made a road across the tracks with snow and Ice causing the train to flip over on my grandfather. I never got to know this man, but from reports I am sure he was a wonderful man. If you google John Stanton you can read about him on my brothers site.

By Barbara Diette (Madamediette) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 06:45 pm:

Thanks for answering my questions on righting this engine. So much weight to move. Glad they had the right stuff both machinery and men. Good Evening

By Gary W. Long (Gary_in_co) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 07:24 pm:

I'm not an expert on trains or train wrecks, but I wonder where or what the photographer was standing on when he took this photo since it looks like it is taken from a fairly high perspective. Perhaps he was on top of another engine or piece of equipment that was brought up the tracks to assist in getting old #709 back on the right track, so to speak.

By Ken ja Mimi from da UP (Kenjamimi) on Sunday, December 9, 2007 - 11:33 pm:

Looks like the accident must've happened a day or two before the pic was taken, 'eh? All the fresh snow laying on the boiler. When I was a kid, our step-dad took us to L'Anse to see an engine that rolled over on the curve and was half buried in the dirt. It was in the winter so the tracks must have been icy or he lost his air brakes. Must have been early 50s.

By doug 6540 (Cwo) on Monday, December 10, 2007 - 05:22 am:

Good Morning from Sunny Fort Pierce, Florida. Temp at present: 64 degrees with a high of 80.

By Ned Aldridge (Nedjames) on Monday, December 10, 2007 - 12:42 pm:

I remember the wreck at Lanse. The scoop as I recall is that the train could not make it up the steep grade towards Herman and came back down the hill backwards till it derailed on the curve at Lanse. If I remember right, there was a fatality involved. As a kid when we lived in Laurium (mid 40's to mid 50's) there was a wreck at the crossing in the Boston location (right by an old potatoe warehouse if my memory serves me correctly). The steam locomotive collided with a county road commission road grader. Anybody else remember any further details?

By Marge Roberts (Fluffyyellow) on Monday, December 10, 2007 - 02:57 pm:

My mom's cousin's job used to be to put derailed trains back on the track. He's probably in his late 80's and worked around Negaunee and Ishpeming. He said they used to use crow bars and muscle power to right the trains. Hard for me to imagine.

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