RRHX - Michigan Railroad History
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Re: MIGN and Ann Arbor
Trackage rights in order to effect interchange are extremely common. On April 1, 1976, MIGN had rights to operate over what was now Conrail from north of the C&O diamond at Comstock Park down to the GTW diamond at Fuller Jct. As there was some concern about unhappy folk on what was now Conrail, I was conductor on the first MIGN train south. Ed Seeley, who once fired on the line, was engineer. Our first trip was the night of April1, arriving at Comstock Park a little after dawn on April 2nd. We waited for a Conrail pilot to meet us there, as we were not yet qualified to operate down to Fuller. Meanwhile, sitting at the north end of the Fuller yard, was our pilot and Conrail's trainmaster. No radios. Finally, after calling Cadillac, MIGN's world headquarters, and being told we were probably waiting at Comstock Park, the CR folks drove to where we were. I listened to some griping from the pilot, who seemed to think being non-union was a crime against nature. I may have pulled out my current UTU card, but I don't really recall. I do remember sticking it in the face of the UTU lobbyist in Lansing when he was grousing about the state dealing with a non-union group. In any case, our arrival at Fuller, pulling south far enough to clear the switch so we could shove our delivery into a yard track officially completed the establishment of MIGN's right of access. We had no rights to interchange with either C&O or GTW. Shortly thereafter, a couple of Conrail officials came to Cadillac to formally "qualify" MIGN's train and engine crewmen to operate south of the Comstock Park diamond to Fuller. MIGN never paid anything for the maintenance of that stretch of track. MIGN, as the successor to Penn Central, inherited all the existing interchange agreements, C&O at Reed City, Traverse City and Bayview, Ann Arbor at Cadillac, which included access to the wye in town and to the tracks north of the depot in Mackinaw City for interchange with Soo Line and D&M.
Over time, the relationship warmed up with the Conrail folk. The yard crews felt the overhead traffic as a result of the flagout helped keep a switch job in the yard. It was rare, but once in a while, the switch crew that came up from Hughart to switch Fisher Body would run late. Very informally, they would hand a list of their inbound cars to MIGN's crew while they dashed into the plant to make their pulls. MIGN would line up their spots according to the list. In exchange, CR turned a blind eye to MIGN using the yard tracks to line up the shorts that would be set out at Rockford Paper and the green hide spur at Wolverine World Wide.