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Showing posts from June, 2018

The Chicago Kalamazoo & Saginaw Railway

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The Chicago Kalamazoo & Saginaw Railway was a railroad operating almost entirely within Kalamazoo County, MI, between Kalamazoo and Hastings, MI, constructed in 1883. ( Abandoned Right of Way ) CK&S Locomotive at Pavilion, MI. Never intended to connect to Chicago, it was planned to connect to the Grand Trunk Railway in Saginaw, but only got 14 miles past Hastings to Woodbury, MI, where it met the Pere Marquette Railway. Timetable. In 1906, it was leased jointly to the Michigan Central and the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, eventually becoming a subsidiary of New York Central lasting until the Conrail days. Much of the line has been abandoned beginning in the 1970’s, with the only section remaining in service to this day operating between Pavilion, MI and Kalamazoo, by GTW's ultimate successor, the Canadian National Railway.  Photos of what remains of the abandoned right of way today can be found here . A railfan site to the defunct carrier still exists.  Hastings, MI

Abandoned & Historic Railroad Destinations Everyone Should Have On Their Bucket List

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Even in today's age of air transport, trucks and automobiles, the railroad still holds a place in the hearts of many, and while it is true that there are many historical and socioeconomic reasons for this, a very large reason that people still love to travel by train, I believe, is due to one simple truth. There is no better method of transportation for seeing the amazing natural beauty of the US . Indeed, the railroad companies realized this early on, as well as the potential economic benefits of tourism, and were an integral part of the creation of National Parks as we know them today. A railroad line doesn't even have to exist anymore to become an amazing place to visit, as railroad lines naturally lend themselves to the curious, the explorers, and the historian. With that thought in mind, here are 6 abandoned railroad destinations that everyone should visit at least once. 1) Route of the Hiawatha Trail (47.39643, -115.63494)  Image: VisitIdaho.org The Mi

The Kankakee & Seneca Railroad

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The Kankakee & Seneca Railroad ran between its namesake towns beginning in 1881. Linking the CRI&P and The Big Four Railroad, it was nonetheless abandoned in 1933. ( Right of Way ) According to Dennis DeBruler , "[the] K&S was organized in 1881, and it was intended to be a link between the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad and the Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago Railway. The later was known as the Big Four, and its successor was the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway, CCC&STL. Rock Island and Big Four each owned half of the K&S, but it operated under the Big Four name.  Nonetheless, the K&S had its own train crews and station agents. The road began operations in 1882 and went between Kankakee and Seneca via Bonfield, Freilings, Union Hill, Essex, Coster, Gardner, Booth, Mazon, Wauponsee, and Langham. It had 42.15 miles of main track and 6.41 miles of sidetracks. It was abandoned Feb 24, 1933. All of the track east

The Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad

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The Sandy River and Rangeley Lakes Railroad was a narrow gauge railway operating in Northern Maine. A conglomerate of multiple smaller railroads totaling 112 track miles, it was itself a Maine Central subsidiary, and ran a nearly circuitous route. Among these smaller roads, the most significant was the Sandy River Railroad , which ran between Strong and Phillips, ME. Postcard of the Phillips, ME Station. ( Wikipedia Commons ) The two longest branches emanated from Strong, where it met the rest of the Maine Central system. The west line ran north from Strong, ME to S of Eustis, ME; another line would connect Strong to Bigelow, ME. Image: Wikipedia Commons It transported lumber as well as mail within the region, although it could not effectively weather the harsh Maine winters. It fell into receivership in 1923 and was finally abandoned in 1935, with the tracks razed a year later. SR&RL Railroad #24. In 1970, some local railfans revived and preserved a small part of this line, opera

Argonne National Laboratory's Abandoned Railroad Tracks

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If you ever find yourself for a walk at the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve in southern DuPage County and listen closely, you can often hear the sounds of trains rumbling by. This isn't too surprising, since the very busy BNSF Chillicothe Subdivision lies just to the south.  Additionally, a spur line from the Chillicothe goes through the western park of the Preserve, serving the Argonne Industrial District . Almost always, with a caboose in tow. (FRRandP photo, 2014) But, upon further inspection, if you look closely at the trail in the southern part of the Preserve, you may notice that there are railroad tracks much closer than you might think. As in, right beneath your feet. No need to worry, however, about a train barreling down these tracks. These tracks, which spurred from the Chillicothe Subdivision (at the time owned by the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railway), were constructed in the 1950's, when Argonne National Laboratory was moved to its current ca

The Riverview Park Bobs

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The Bobs at Riverview Park was one of the highest rated wooden coasters of its time. Built by Frank Prior and Fred Church in 1924, it had an 85 foot drop, reached speeds of 50 mph and had a ton of curves and drops, reminiscent of today’s wood coasters, in spite of being built nearly 100 years ago. Postcard via Ultimate Rollercoaster Before I get too into the weeds about this incredible, and sadly abandoned, coaster, we should discuss Riverview Park , located on the North Side of Chicago. It got its start in the early 20th century, when numerous tiny amusement parks began, many of which were built by railroads and interurban lines to gain traffic.  Image: Chicago History Museum via WTTW By the 1950's, Riverview Park billed itself as the largest amusement park in the United States with 40 major rides and attractions and a staff of more than 1,000, according to L Stop Tours . Image: L Stop Tours The carousel is the only remnant of the park that remains in operation, as it was reloca

The Saltair Railway, and the Forgotten Amusement Resort on the Great Salt Lake

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The original Saltair Resort was built on a pier of the Great Salt Lake, and was primarily accessed by a railroad line, the Saltair Railway , which extended out to the pier and into the water.  Much of The Saltair Railway is still in existence today as the Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway , although it no longer transports passengers to Saltair Resort on the Great Salt Lake, since the resort was burned down.  A new Saltair Resort exists at a location south of this original site. Both the original resort and the railway began operating in 1893. Saltair Resort Postcard The remnants of the former tracks which led to the resort are quite visible on satellite imagery on the far southeast corner of the Great Salt Lake. The line diverges from currently existing Union Pacific Railroad tracks about 8 miles west of Salt Lake International Airport, where I-80 curves southwest. A single car from this railroad survived up until 2012.  It was burned by arson in 2009, and thus left impossibl

The "Hidden" Highways of Illinois

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Most people in Illinois are familiar with the numbered route system, for one reason or another. Maybe they curse I-290 on a daily basis, or want Route 53 built already!  Regardless, a road's name and number are typically an interchangeable way of describing it in this state. Illinois, like every state, has a numbered route system , consisting of highways that are maintained by the state, or more specifically, the Illinois Department of Transportation, (IDOT). For example, most of Illinois Route 21 is known as Milwaukee Ave, and either are acceptable and easily understood by most people. The State Route system has been around since 1918, and just like the roadway network, it has expanded, grown, and changed over time. As US Routes were added, state routes were sometimes decommissioned, and as the Interstate Highway System came to fruition, even more changes occurred, and continue even to this day. While routes are continuously upgraded and moved, the roads that they once trav