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Charlotte Southern Rail Road Old Dinner Train 5/13/2013

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I met at the rental car and we drove to Charlotte where we stopped for our usual Big Mac breakfast. From here we drove to the Charlotte Southern Rail Road Old Dinner Train parking lot and checked in with Sarah Jennings. Now we had two stations to take pictures of here.

The first station was the Michigan Central Station in Charlotte.

Also here is the old Grand Trunk Western Station. We walked back over to the Michigan Central Station for more pictures.

Two more views of the Michigan Central Station.

It has some very nice glasswork.

There is where our trip will start.

We will be going down these rails to the southeast.

CN 8958 West came through Charlotte this very early morning.

Charlotte Southern Rail Road Old Dinner Train A Brief History

The Charlotte operation of the Old Road Dinner Train operates on the Grand River Valley Railroad that once ran from Jackson to Grand Rapids, completed on January 1, 1870. The railroad arrived from the southeast during Fall 1868 and was extended on to Hastings to the northwest by Spring 1869.

When the GRV was built, the two railroads were competing for Detroit to Chicago traffic. These railroads were the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern {controlled by Cornelius Vanderbilt} and the Michigan Central {controlled by a consortium of Boston bankers}. Each of these two railroads were building to try to gain an advantage. The LS&MS soon built a line to Grand Rapids and the Michigan Central responded by leasing the Grand Valley Railroad to get into the same market. Six years later, the Commodore bought the Michigan Central, gaining a monopoly on all rail transportation in the Detroit/Chicago region. The Michigan Central formally merged the GRV in 1916. The railroad eventually became part of the New York Central, then Penn Central then Conrail. Not needing this duplicate route, most of the line was abandoned by Conrail in 1976. The three miles of track at Charlotte was sold to the Grand Trunk Western, who quickly sold it to the Charlotte Southern in 1999.

Charlotte Southern Rail Road.

The Charlotte Southern Rail Road began operating January 1999. It is 3.25 miles long and its major commodity is grain. Charlotte Southern provides freight service between the Canadian National to the north and the Eaton Farm Bureau Cooperative. The CHS is owned by the Adrian & Blissfield Rail Road Company. The Old Road Dinner Train makes a leisurely 2-hour round trip through historic Charlotte and the countryside east of town.

Our Train

Charlotte Southern GE 44ton 3, 5874 Food Prep Car, 2502 Battle Creek (ex-VIA, exx-CN 3018, nee-5615) LW bar - lounge - snack bar, rblt. from 44-seat coach, buffet lounge, originally 80-seat coach and 5206 Butternut Creek.

The Trip

Charlotte Southern 5206 Butternut Creek.

Charlotte Southern 2502 Battle Creek

CHS 5874.

Charlotte Southern GE 44ton 3.

The train is backing into our departure boarding location.

Charlotte Southern GE 44 toner 3. We all boarded the Charlotte Southern 5206 Butternut Creek. At 8:00 AM we departed the loading site and slowly headed down the trip doing 1.8 MPH.

We crossed Michigan Highway 50 as we made our way slowly east.

We rolled by the Michigan Central Station. Someone spotted one of our people who was supposed to be aboard running alongside of the train trying to get someone's attention. Bart then had the train stopped so he could be boarded. Soon after that excitement Bart announced we would be doing a double Photo Runby in a few minutes. We stopped the train and Bart told us of the three different photo locations we could shot from. With the train only doing 1.8 MPH I knew I could get all three during the first Photo Runby.

Two more views of the Charlotte Southern GE 44ton 3.

The back up move 1. Now for Photo Runby 1.

Photo Runby 1.

Back up move 2.

Photo Runby 2.

Another picture of the Charlotte Southern GE 44 toner 3. We reboarded the train and headed a little further to our turn back location. On the way back Bart announced another Photo Runby to be held on the return trip by the lumber yard in Charlotte.

We detrained at the location of the Photo Runby.

This building was once an old railroad hotel in Charlotte.

Back up move 3.

Photo Runby 3 in Charlotte.

The photo line in Charlotte.

The train had to be moved forward to clear the crossing so this ambulance could get through. We returned to the boarding area and I had two thoughts in my head. Number 1 was I was glad to finally ride this railroad so thank you Bart Jennings and number two this train now ranks as the slowest train I have ever been on beating the old Minnesota Zephyr Dinner Trains 3 MPH. Elizabeth and I took off for Clinton but had a few stops to make along the way. In Jackson we made our first stop at WA Green Park.

Grand Trunk Western 2-6-2 5030 on display in the park. We continued south down Michigan 50 to US 12 where we made another surprise stop and did not believe what we were seeing near Irish Lake.

We found the Train Car of Terror.

The Terror Train Station.

The Train Car of Terror. We back tracked across the highway to our next surprise.

We found this Grand Trunk Western Caboose here. From here we drove into Clinton for our next trip at noon.