First there was dirt...
and water. Your basic swamp; mud, yummy crawdads, aboriginal tribes (aka Indians), mosquitoes, bullfrogs, etc. By the mid 1800's not much had changed here in Southeast Michigan except for the aboriginal tribes, which were mostly displaced by the European tribes from England, France and Deutchland. These new, invasive tribes were doing their best to destroy this precious wetland resource by draining the wetland and growing food on it.
Transportation options at the time were limited to horse-drawn wagons or water-borne shipping. If you dislike your automobile on potholed roads try to imagine what fun it was to move 5-10 miles an hour while staring at a pair of horse posteriors, counting the flys and enjoying an occasional geyser-like eruption of mud and slush. Well, if Al Gore had had his way you may not have to imagine. But we disgress.
Water transport was preferable as it eliminated the horse component and could handle much larger payloads. This confined most development to the shorelines of lakes and major streams. While water transportation does have the drawback of water becoming a solid when it gets cold, it handles bulk loads quite efficiently and remains a viable transportation competitor to this day.
The advent of the Railroad solved some of these problems. It moved the horse's asses into cushy Corporate offices where most of us didn't have to constantly stare at them. Railroads could still run in the winter. But they could not generate their own revenue traffic. And passenger trains have always been a revenue loser.
Then there was Canada...
which politically is still not a great deal better than dirt. However, this helped Michigan as the constrained development of Canada kept their population densities low, challenging their development of a viable rail system. The Canadian Grand Trunk system needed a tie into the United States and therefore funded a line to Detroit. This was done by establishing the Grand Trunk & Western and building a line from West Detroit to Port Huron. Canada brought the traffic needed to support the operation. It is one of two lines that were constructed for the Grand Trunk & Western, the other being the Chicago line of today. The rest of the GTW has been purchased at bankruptcy sales. The first line they built is today the Canadian National "WhatEVER" Mount Clemens Subdivision.
at MP0.0 was the center of rail activity in the city back in the days of yore. Although all of the old railway structures have been demolished, it remains close to the center. GTW and Conrail still cross here. This was a passenger terminal location in the late 1800's, which was later moved close to the Windsor tunnel entrance at Michigan station. The General Motors Clark street assembly is still at the southeast corner. Today's visitors should use extreme caution as ownership may be unclear to the railroads. The local gangs are not as uncertain.
The Mount Clemens Sub began at West Detroit, then ran Vinewood to Beaubien. Later this became a joint section with the Wabash/N&W/NS The Conrail SAA North Yard Branch parallels this section running into Conrail North Yard.
which once was the junction of the Holly Sub and Mount Clemens Sub is now the junction of the Holly sub, Mount Clemens Sub, and the Shore Line Sub. Go Figure. The GTW East Yard, Buick-Olds-Cadillac (BOC) auto ramp, and CR North yard all converge in this area. Much interchange traffic with Conrail takes place here. Conrail SAA Detroit line dispatcher now controls the interlocking with the recent closing of the Milwakee tower.
Heading north we find Forest Lawn, which is the crossing of a Conrail Belt line industrial track that serves Chrysler Lynch road and other riverfront industries. Further North is the Double Track spring switch located on the south side of Eight Mile Road at Milepost 10. There was once a GTW Team Track at this location. A team track was a loading dock run by the railroad as a terminal point for "Less than Carload" shipments. This Double Track switch was a heavily used meet point for trains on the Mount Clemens Sub before the new passing track was completed at New Haven in 1998-1999. Radio Control Block System (RCBS) train orders use this as the south limit refering to Double Track Switch or Milepost 10.
is the first suburban station on the line. The heavy industrial remanants have mostly been left behind in Detroit. It still has a 3800' siding which is ok for a work train but is not much use since most road freights trains are now longer than 5000'. There is an old freight station and loading platform now owned by a brickyard here. As there are not a lot of people stealing bricks these day, this is a good photo location. It is fairly open and accessible with good morning or evening light.
The track continues northeast paralleled by Grosebeck Highway, a light industrial job-shop and diner boulevard. The swamp-like conditions are still prevelant here with a deep drainage culvert along both sides of the track as evedence.
is an early 1800's clapboard community. It is the county seat for Macomb county with a small downtown section containing a raft of government offices. The Mount Clemens Sub skirts the west side of town. GTW used to serve a large pottery plant here, and also operated a spur line east to Selfridge Air force base. Today only Ford Motor and DuPont are operating major industrial plants. The passenger station has been restored by a museum group and is open on the weekend.
has a station with a similar architecture to the Mount Clemens station, but it has not been restored. CNIC has built a passing track east of New Haven where they currently meet North-South Trains. The crossover switches are called Haven and Plank.
This is part of an upgrade program that started in the mid 1990's. Welded rail has been installed between Double Track Switch and Mount Clemens. The ballast has been recently undercut and many unused switches have been cut out.
lies just North of the approach signal to the Haven passing track. The recently abandoned GTW Romeo Subdivision tied in here. The southwest leg of the wye has been cut out. The Northeast switch was still there in 1999 with Maintenance of Way equipment being staged there. The town is atypical of the Michigan Railroad town with a decaying artsy-crafty section close to the tracks. A grain elevator still operates here with a set of sidings on the west side of the mainline.
is between Richmond and Tappan yard. The track has begun winding its way through the area whereas up to now it has been pretty much straight rail.
is where the CNIC Detroit and Chicago Divisions meet with the Tunnel operation to Sarnia,
Ontario. CSX operates a yard and industrial track and uses track rights over the Flint Sub
between Flint and Port Huron. An Amtrak station is at the beginning of the tunnel lead cut. This
is the northern end of the Mt Clemens sub. Michigan Road is an ideal photo location at the
convergence of the Flint and Mt Clemens subs. It is just west of the South Tappan signal. Trains
get on West of the grade crossing.
Beyond Tappan Yard
The Mt Clemens sub starts again with a wye from the North side of the yard. The two turnouts
cross Griswold Road (I-69 Business Loop) starting an Industry switching track running North
East through Port Huron that ends shortly after reaching the Bluewater Bridge.