NS 41M and 18Q
at Otter Creek

NS train 41M (Detroit North Yard-IHB Gibson Yard) is southbound on Track #1 crossing Otter Creek at 10:20 on the morning of Saturday January 26, 2002. His lead unit is one of 30 or so high hood GP38 and GP38AC's that have been rebuilt by NS as part of an ongoing program at Altoona PA. The rebuild includes a chop nose, Dash Two wiring, "comfort" improvments, and an extensive mechnical rebuilding.

15 minutes later, NS train 18Q (BNSF Madison IL-Detroit Sterling) has been directed to run wrong-main northward up Track #1. This was because NS train 331 (Bellevue OH-Detroit Oakwood) was holding the northbound main Track #2 at Wyandotte waiting for NS train 21N (Detroit Oakwood-BNSF Cicero IL) to depart Oakwood Yard. The dispatcher ran 18Q around 331 at CP-MILL, pulled 21N onto track #1 at CP-YD, and finally let 331 through CP-YD toward Oakwood. This was one busy morning for chasing trains on the Detroit Line.

18Q was known as Conrail train BNST back before the acquisition by Norfolk Southern. By the time he departs Toledo, he has blocks of auto parts bound for just two destinations, The Chrysler Mound Road plant and Sterling Heights plant. BNST used to pick up and set out blocks at the Chrysler Trenton Engine plant as well, but NS could not promise the 24 hour delivery that Conrail could, so all of those automobile enginee to St. Louis are now traveling there in trucks, pounding I-75 to dust.

Photographs copyright 2002 Jeff Knorek
NS rebuild program info courtesy of Matt Ryan

Otter Creek is just north of CP-LASALLE in LaSalle, Michigan in the far southeast part of the state. Toledo is a mere 10 miles south of here. Lake Erie is just one mile east. This proximity to Lake Erie and Northern Ohio goes a long way toward explaining the alluvial floodplain that is Monroe County. This area was once part of a prehistoric Lake (which is now Lake Erie) and therefore the topography is very flat, known in local geological terms as The Lake Bed, broken up by numerous rivers and streams.

You will note that the railroad is built on a fill that carries it over the floodplain which was carved by Otter Creek as it nears the end of its course to Lake Erie. Monroe County, which was originally settled by the French, has many marshes and swampy lowland areas. Those of you who enjoy fishing have planty of locations in Monroe County where you can toss in a line and while the day away, watching trains go by.

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This website and all contents herein Copyright 2002 by Jeff Knorek except where noted.