Hardin "North Line"Three pics on the Hardin North Line at Hardin, MT. This branch used to go about 16 miles north of the mainline to several sugar beet dumps and grain elevators. But it has been cut back to only the first 3 miles since the 1970s. It is a weed grown light rail line with a 10 mph speed restriction. At about MP 2 is an old sugar factory where the beets were processed. We used to have regular jobs that worked the North Line, the factory, and ran up & down the mainline collecting beet cars but those jobs are long gone.
Now the only industries are a fertilizer distibutor near MP 0.5 and Cenex near the end of track at MP 2.5. The Cenex operation gets tank cars of asphalt, unloads them, mixes ground up tires with it, and reloads the tanks. So the cars are loaded both inbound and outbound. The plant only operates during the summer months. They usually get 5 cars at a time but this particular day there were 21 tank cars on the line. Crews don't like going out the North Line because it is a minimum of 1 hour delay and we only make about 5 miles extra pay.
This particular day, 5/18/00, it would take us about 2 hours to switch the place account of all the cars and limited switching room. We are on the M-LINLAU (Lincoln, NE to Laurel,MT) and have the BN 9204 and BNSF 4367 which are an SD60M and a C44. The train is 59 loads, 48 empties, 9935 tons, and 7202 feet. We have left the train parked on the mainline, cut the power off the train, and proceeded light out the North Line.
The first pic is looking back from the SD60M at the Cenex rack as we prepare to pull the cars. In the weeds on the right is a crossing diamond. This used to be in the track about where the orange C44 is sitting. The line crossing the rack track was the "back door" entry into the sugar factory.
The second pic is looking forward towards Hardin and the mainline at the same location. The old sugar factory is on the left.
The 3rd pic is returning towards the main line about MP 1. We are about to go under the I-90 overpass. The big SD60M and C44 seem out of place on the light railed branch.
Laurel TurntableNext we have a picture of the turntable at Laurel, MT from an SD40-2, BN 7800 on 6/07/00.
MeetsThe first is at Lodge Grass, MT on 6/13/00. I am on the E-RBESCM0-01, an empty coal train returning from Robert's Bank, BC. My lead unit is BNSF 8841 an SD70MAC. There are 3 more older MACs trailing it. Plenty of horses for the 114 empty hoppers. Now if I could just stay out of the gosh-dang sidings....
The westbound coal loads rip by me, running down hill at 50 mph with a pure OWY SD60 consist in full dynamic. It even has a train of black BN hoppers just like the good ol' days.
The last photo was taken on 6/17/00 at Ranchester, Wyoming. I am aboard the P-KCMSSE (Kansas City to South Seattle intermodal). My lead unit is another OWY, EMD 9044. (Note that this is the same unit I had trailing in the photo above taken at Anita when I had the CSX unit on the point). My second unit was also an OWY, the EMD 9006. The train was a bit much for the two old SD60s though; 80 loads, 0 empties, 5144 tons, and 7417 feet long. But brother once we topped Parkman we wuz gone.
Peering through the windshield a few minutes before sunset the eastbound P train comes flying off the hill at 60 mph with brakeshoes smoking.
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