Nov 25-12

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2012: November: Nov 25-12
Unprotected Crossing    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Jim Alain
Final destination: Houghton    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Jim Alain

Charlie at Pasty Central (Chopper) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 08:15 am:

In last week's Shoebox Memory Peter Ouillette took us back to the final run of Copper Range Railroad, where we met the men at the junction not far from Mass City, who documented the occasion:


This week Peter concludes our reminiscence with scenes that appeared before and after that cigar moment at the junction:
The top photo is chronologically the first. This is the last Copper Range train crossing M-26 just south of Toivola, on its way to McKeever to drop off its cars for the next railroad to take to points south.
The railroad had a pretty paint scheme for its locomotives. Note the four smokestacks: the engines were nicknamed "church organs" because of the numerous "pipes." A Hancock friend recalled that one could stand on the Hancock side of the canal, look across to the Houghton side, and watch one of these engines pulling a train up the hill from Houghton to Cole's Creek. Working hard, one could watch the "chuffs" of exhaust puff up first from one stack, then the other, kind of like a steam calliope.

Note how times have changed with respect to the amount (or relative lack) of warning signs at the crossing. On this major state highway, all you get for advance notice in 1972 is the simple crossbuck "X" saying "Railroad Crossing." Nowadays this crossing would have lights and bells, perhaps gates to keep everyone safe.
in Houghton
This is the final picture. After the picture taken at McKeever, Jim followed the locomotive and caboose on their return trip back to Houghton. On their way they picked up a carload of logs from the (then) new forest products plant between South Range and Atlantic Mine: Northern Hardwoods, which was then part of the Copper Range company. The train crew is finishing up their day as the sunset casts a warm glow on the bridge. You wonder what the men are thinking as they get ready to put away the locomotive in the roundhouse for the last time. In time the railroad yard would be demolished and the Houghton waterfront would be revitalized with homes and the present park and swimming area. This was the end of an era of the industrial waterfront, which had been that way for well over 80 years.

Best Regards, Peter Ouillette

Thanks, Peter, for transporting us back through four decades to this significant moment in time. We will all have a greater appreciation for the changes this region experienced during its transition from mining to tourism to (yet to be determined).

Have a good week :o)
RD, Iowa (Rdiowa) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 08:27 am:

In your WatsUP slide show, the 2009 picture on this day shows a more modern crossing, which appears to be the one on US-41 at L'Anse. Is that train still running?


Alex "UP-Goldwinger" (Alex) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 08:37 am:

I recognize that crossing...I have had a Whopper or two at that Burger King while staying at the Best Western in Baraga across the bay.

By Shirley Waggoner (Shirlohio) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 08:45 am:

Ah! Trains again. Love 'em!

By Mike Schneider (Upmike) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 08:52 am:

Well said Shirley! Love the trains! Thanks Charlie!

By Jeffrey P. Carlson (Dlineman) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 09:11 am:

Spent the last couple of days in Iron River, checking on our house. I noticed that the breakfas/lunch cafe located in two passinger cars is closed by the old railroad station on rt 139. I often wonder how much if any rail traffic there is when I go over a bridge and see a rail line, or some old cars on a spur.
I did manage to pick up some pasties while in Iron River and visited our favorite pizza place, The Riverside".

By Thomas Baird (Thomas) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 09:29 am:

There's simply something about trains that catch people's fancy.

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 09:29 am:

I love trains also. Well,unless they prevent me from getting to work on time. I've learned to leave plenty early just in case.

Thanks for the memories!

By mickill mouse (Ram4) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 09:32 am:

great pictures and stories.

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 09:34 am:

I'm enjoying the rail history and pictures last week and today! I'm a rail fanatic! Both Bob and my Grandfather's worked the Milwaukee Road. I appreciate and enjoy how the UP and throughout Wisconsin have used abandon rail lines into recreation purposes! We use them plenty!

By Eddyfitz (Eddyfitz) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 10:30 am:

Waiting for the train??? We have 3 sets of tracks here in our little city between Detroit and Toledo so we are quite familiar with waiting for the trains to pass. Also we have I-75 bisect our town with thousands of semis per day. By the way I have 3x5 pictures of about 100 depots from the past in the U.P., free via email if anyone is interested......

By Paul H. Meier (Paul) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 12:09 pm:

The Copper Range Route was a neat little railroad. The closing of the native copper mines was a near fatal blow to the line. However, it has been alleged that its demise was a direct result of the powers that were in the Copper Range Corporation attempts to offset the losses incurred from the Dashaveyor fiasco at White Pine. Had the railroad been kept another year or so, Copper Range might have been able to cash in on the "per diem" boom. Shortages of freight cars and capital on the mainline railroads gave the shortlines like Copper Range the opportunity to acquire cars and earn income on a per diem basis while the cars were out being used by the main line roads. In some cases the little line had more cars than they had track. The boom ended with deregulation during the '80's. Maybe the end would have come then or maybe not. As we know the next to go was the old DSS&A lines. Fortunately the right of ways have been converted to recreational use and continue to bring business to the Copper Country. The down side is every stick, pound, or gallon of product produced or consumed in the Copper Country in travels on 26 or 41 and everything north of Portage Lake is on the streets of Houghton and Hancock and the traffic lanes of the bridge. Any prospect of new mining or industry has to consider the lack of rail infrastructure before committing capital to the region. Long term, the loss of these rail lines is more than sentimental.

By Pat & Glenda (Gormfrog) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 12:52 pm:

"People who blow their stacks only add to the world's air pollution!" time progresses, these visual aids help in interpreting the meaning!

By Shirley Waggoner (Shirlohio) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 02:36 pm:

Even though my dad was an electrician with the Pullman Co. (sleeper cars), I love all trains and always get a thrill watching the freight trains pass....and of course I always have to do what I've done since childhood..wave at the engineer! ;)

By allen philley (Allen) on Sunday, November 25, 2012 - 05:38 pm:

The railroads are just like everything else I have interest in. Then I saw them, now I don't. Thankfully there are pictures to go with my memories.

By Gary Brogan (Brogie) on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 12:04 pm:

I don't know if it has been mentioned before but both of those great old Copper Range Baldwin diesels still exist.
One is at the Lake Superior Transportation in Duluth and volunteers of the DSS&A Divn. of the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society work on it whenever they can.
I don't remember where the other engine went.
Wish I had a pasty right now!!!!!

Powered by:  
Join Today!
Each day the Pasty Cam has 2 areas to post messages: 
  • Cam Notes - comments related to today's picture and discussion
  • What'sUP - other topics, conversation and announcements
  • *** Please use the appropriate forum ***
    Here's a list of messages posted in the past 24 hours
    See our guest photo gallery for more great views from the U.P.

    Add a Message

    A user/password combination is now required to post messages to Cam Notes. Registration is free. Click here to register or maintain your I.D.

    Home | Pasty Cam | Contest | Order Now | Bridge Cam | Past-E-Mail | GP Hall of Fame | Making Pasties | Questions