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The Ultimate Escanaba & lake Superior Fansite

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know!!!


When I took an interest in the Escanaba & Lake Superior, There was not much information on the subject online.  I have been gather data for years, and now, I am finally sharing it all, inane details and all.


The primary purpose of this site is to aid in building accurate scale models, so expect a higher level of detail than could possibly be useful for anything else.



Motive Power Roster



The best E&LS roster on the internet is at the bottom of this page:


This page includes photos of the 3 Clint Jones/Mineral Range F-7’s, but I am responsible for misinforming Mr. Gross on their ownership while giving him updated information on which SD-9’s were active.


Engines affiliated with the E&LS:


GN/LSRM/NSSR #192-reportedly visited the E&LS shop in Wells for painting around 1997.  It was seen traveling through Green Bay in primer by someone with a camera.




DMIR/LSRM/NSSR #193-visited the E&LS around 2005, where former E&LS mechanic Randy L. James photographed it.




SOO/WC (1st)/LSRM/NSSR #2500 reportedly visited the E&LS in Wells sometime in the early 2000’s.  I do not have any photos to confirm this, though.


SOO/WC (2nd)/LSRM/NSSR GP-30 #700-was leased to the E&LS during the summer of 2003 to relieve a motive power shortage caused by all 5 E&LS SD-9’s developing mechanical issues at the same time.  The shortage was relieved with the acquisition of E&LS SD40-2’s #500 and #501.  Parts were swapped around between the SD-9’s, with #1221 and #1224 being fully operational, and #1223 returned to service with a water leak.


EMCO/LSRM/NSSR F-9 #4211-same as #700 above.


LS&I #3010 (U30C)-leased at same time as WC #700 and EMCO #4211 were leased from the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth, MN.  It was usually used on trains between Channing and Ontonagon.


ILSX #1344-leased starting June 2011 to help with motive power shortage cause by upsurge in traffic, especially in moving storage cars.  Union Pacific heritage is evidenced by the silver trucks, while the body and fuel tank were given a proper repaint.


Freight Cars


E&LS engineer Greg Bunce provided me with this in 2009 (board post at:


Dear Matthew:
Here is some information on our car fleet. Some of it is from a 2004 Railway Equipment Register and the rest is from my memory so it may not be totally correct.
ELS 101xxx series cars 284 total, numbers run from 101600-101632, 101634-101749, 101751-101815, 101817-101847, 101849-101864, 101866-101899.
ELS 50xx series rack flats 36 total, numbers 5000-5035.
ELS 51xx series flats 14 total numbers 5100-5113.
ELS 52xx series flats 15 total numbers 5200-5214.
ELS 80xx series gondolas 4 total numbers? 8004,8007, 8009, 8012.
ELS 110xx series boxes total 2 numbers 11000,11001
ELS 50xxx series boxcars not sure of total, used to be 95 most returned to lessor, I think we probably still have 25. Numbers vary.
ELS 617xx series flats, total 11, numbers 61704, 61711, 61716, 61726, 61729, 61732-61734, 61741, 61748-61749.
ELS 201750 high cube box.
ELS 97924 flat.

The KWT boxes are from the KWT Railway of Paris, TN. We only have a few of them, I can recall numbers like 4501, 4510. The MSDR boxes are from Knoxville and Holston River Railroad of Knoxville, TN. We must have 150 of them. The numbers are in the 195150 to 195299 range. The KWTs and MSDRs are leased cars from GE. The only boxcars that are currently in service are the KWTs, MSDRs, and the ELS 50xxx, the rest are stored. The pulpwood flats and gons without racks are restricted to service on the ELS as the CN will not accept them in interchange.

We also have some flats for work train service and ELS 30xx series and DMIR 54xx series ore cars used in ballast service.


In-depth E&LS historic freight car rundown:


ELS #108-wood bay-window caboose


ELS #110-wood bay-window caboose


ELS #112-homebuilt snow plow from 40’ boxcar.  Origin of boxcar remains unknown to me.


ELS 2900-2974: These were 50’ boxcars purchased from GB&W in 1984 (maybe late 1983).  They were used primarily in woodchip service hauling from a plant in Triangle Spur, MI to St. James Paper in Green Bay, WI.  When the woodchip plant closed, the cars were coming up on their 40-year barring from interchange, and did not have roller bearings, so most of them were scrapped.  The list below is of ones believed to still exist:


Channing, MI-3 turned into sheds near the E&LS yard.


Menominee, MI-7 or 8 reported to be in use for moving unfinished paper products inside plant as of a few years ago.  These could be in the best condition of the bunch.  Thanks to Andre Pichette for the information on these.


Kingsford, MI-at least 1 (#2929) parked at the scrapyard there.  Thanks to Mark Mathu for taking a photo through the fence a few years ago.


Ontonagon, MI-4 cars used in plant.  Dean Sauvola photographed them there after the mill closed.  They may be scrapped by now, I will have to ask Greg Bunce to be sure, and maybe get more photos.


Ralph, MI-#2943 in full GBW paint, no ELS marks.  Old pictures I have seen of Wells, MI seem to indicate that that #2943 spent a lot of time parked there, so probably had something wrong with it that it was never used in revenue service on the E&LS.  It is stored in Ralph with a flatcar of unknown origin, and has been there since at least 2005.


Wells, MI-2 stored, purpose unknown


ELS 5000-5035: started as Illinois Central 617xx bulkhead flat cars.  These were stripped to the frame, and rebuilt as pulpwood rack cars around 1984.  Around 2006, they received yellow reflective striping.  My dad and I took measurements of #5023 in June 2011, and someday I will get around to drawing up our findings.


ELS 5100-5113:  Hawker-Sidley bulkhead flat cars, built for BC Rail, and came to the E&LS by way of NAFX as far as I can tell.  I would guess these to have been built in 1975.  I have not seen any with reflective striping yet.  Beginning in June 2006, these were no longer allowed over Canadian National, so they are used exclusively to haul pulpwood to Louisana-Pacific in Sagola, MI.  I did take photos of #5105 with a load of rail in Rockland, MI in July 2009.


ELS 5200-5214:  first photo I have of these is 2006.  #’s 5200, 5205, 5207, 5209, two others I do not recall the numbers on have yellow racks that I am fairly sure were added by the E&LS.  I have taken photos of #5201 and #5209 that I can share if anyone wants to see them.


ELS 6000-60??: 40’ plug door boxcars, in a rainbow of beat up colors, except for 6000 and 6008, which got repainted into blue with white lettering.  All the photos I can find seem to be taken between 1987 and 1991, which probably indicates when they were on the E&LS.


ELS 7000-In 2008, the E&LS started buying up trailer-on-flatcar equipment for use by Smurfit-Stone.  A few test runs were done before the papermill closed.  In August 2008, Henry J. Nye (loadstone) photographed the set in Neenah.  I photographed it stored in Ontonagon in July 2009, and Bob Welke photographed it in Wells DATE.  I will share my photos if someone expresses interest in seeing them.


ELS 8000-80??: Even numbers only, 40’ steel boxcars of rather low height.  I have a few photos on hand, and these also can be shared if anybody wants to see them.  St. Joe Valley Shops had a run of run of models done numbered as #8008 using a Trains-Miniarature car as the basis.  I was able to acquire one of the models off of eBay, but do not have enough data on the prototypes to offer any meaningful commentary on its merits.


ELS 8004, 8007, 8009, 8012: 65’ riveted gondolas, and #8012 is known to have been built in 1967 according to its COTS panel when I caught up with it in May 2010 in Crivitz.  #8012 had received yellow reflective striping by then, but the first three have not as of summer 2010.  Special thanks to E&LS engineer Greg Bunce for taking photos of the first three for me.  Accord to records I was able to dredge up through the Surface Transportation Board website, there were a total of 20 gondolas, 8000-8019, leased beginning in 1986.  How long they lasted remains unknown.


ELS 8900: one car (or two, depending on how you count it).  Articulated boxcar made by hooking together two boxcars with a drawbar around 1989.  Described by one inside source as somebody’s “brainstorm”, and spent most of its time sitting near the end of a spur in Ontonagon, MI.  It made a few trips down to the Chicago area, and was captured by Joe Seidl in Marinette, WI around 1994.  Around 1995, it was disconnected and painted once again as ELS 11000 and ELS 11001, which are presently stored.  I think I might have seen one undated photo of it on a revenue trip.  I have been unable to find where 11000 is, but 11001 is known to have been stored in Oconto Falls since at least 2008.


ELS 9000-9049


FMC 5077 boxcars built in January and March 1977.  Around 1988, they went back to SSI Rail, and according to freight car authority Chris Butts, went to HS reporting marks.  As of yet, I can not turn up any photos of patched ex-E&LS cars, or any HS 5,077 CUFT in any colors, so they have probably moved on by now.  Not many photos of freight cars were taken that long before digital cameras became plentiful, so this does not mean that I question Chris.


Atlas recently announce FMC 5077’s in HO, and Joe Avezzano and I are working to get data to send to Atlas if they ever announce E&LS-painted versions.  So far, no announcements have been made as to roadnames.


ELS 11000-11001


See 8900 above for description.


ELS 20000




ELS 50000


50000’s seem to come in three types: FMC 5347’s, XXXX’s, and Pullman-Standard 5344’s.  The lower numbers seem to be all FMC 5347’s, all repainted in light blue.  #50026 has a large “E&LS” herald to the right of the doors.  #50046 and #50048 seem to be the only XXXX cars.  The higher car numbers are assigned to PS 5344’s of Texas-Mexican Railway origin.  Some of these (500ADD) are repainted brown with white graphics, while the rest are beat-up remnants of TM paint.


ELS 617xx’s:


There are 11 of these, and they are used to haul pulpwood to Louisana-Pacific in Sagola, MI.  Cars without racks were banned by Canadian National starting in June 2006.


ELS 101600-101899


These were built for National Railroad Utilization Corporation (NRUC) during 1978 and 1979, assigined to the Norwood & St. Lawrence Railroad (St. Lawrence Railroad) and came to the E&LS beginning in late 1986 (keeping the same numbers).  According to what I could dig up on the Surface Transportation Board’s web site, they did not come all at the same time, but were purchased in batches through 1987.  #101860 was repainted first, and received CAPY data, suggesting that it was painted before that data was no longer required (1988).  #101635 was presumably painted next, also receiving a version of the “billboard” lettering, but no CAPY data.  There seems to be no standard paint scheme for the repainted cars, with many variations in lettering font and placement.


ELS 201750


For some reason, it was decided to high-cube one of the ex-NSL cars.  There are some photos of the conversion taking place on, and I will come up with a starting roadnumber someday from STB/ICC filings, and an ORER listing to see which car number goes missing.  It had originally been painted green with white grapics, with Stone Container emblems.  In 2008, it was repainted into E&LS blue with white “billboard” lettering.


ELS 97924


            This pulpwood car is identical to the ELS 617xx’s, other than being painted red and black with white lettering.  I shot a few photos of it parked in Crivitz in May 2010, and can share the photos if someone is interested.


Passenger Cars of the E&LS



I think I compiled this for Joe Whitens originally.  It came from too many sources to count.

Cars that see occasional use:

NP 254   Baggage/HEP (has HEP generator and fences over baggage doors.  Not to be confused with NP #255 at LSRM in Duluth)
CNW 6700   lounge (owned by LSRM, and stored on the E&LS)
E&LS 100   ex-Algoma Central heavyweight coach
E&LS 101 and 1348   ex-VIA coaches

ELS 1001-ex-WSOR nee-UP 44-seat coach “City of Horicon”.  On lease to LSRM in Duluth at the moment while GN #1115 and 1116 await wheel work.
E&LS Parlor Car   ex-RSMX, ex-GN 1082, nee Pullman "Dolly Madison"

Cars stored:

CB&Q 6168   dark green coach from KC tourist line
MILW "Zumbro River"   narrow gauge car
E&LS #400   combine stored outside between Wells roundhouses
VIA sleepers   either five or seven of these, names start with "I"
AMTK "Indian Mesa" nee-ATSF
Soo Line #120, and a few other SOO bunk cars, at least three more came from Adler Gulch line
ex-Pennsylvania car presently wearing tan paint, stored outside in Escanaba
RETX #142 dark red streamlined baggage car, ex-PRR?
ROPX #6325 dark red streamlined baggage car, ex-PRR?
a dark green observation car last seen by John Hill in Wells yard in 1984, photo here:

MILW "Coon Rapids" Skytop lounge
MILW #51 SuperDome
EMCO heavyweight solarium
CR/TN #60 wood coach now at museum in North Freedom, WI

Car that visited E&LS

GN/LSRM #1250 "Lake of the Isles"-visited for painting
several cars from the BN fleet in 1983-1987


LS&I Honor Society Passenger Train


This is mentioned here on a page devoted to the Escanaba & Lake Superior because this is the one time each year that some of the passenger cars come out.  For 2010 and 2011, the consist has included NP #254, E&LS coach #100, CNW lounge #6700, and the ex-WSOR coach “City of Horicon”.  Special thanks to Steven Langsford (2010 and 2011) and Bob Welke (2010) for going up to Marquette and taking pictures (though Mr. Langsford has less distance to travel than some of us).



Modeling Info


E&LS models produced commercially:


Bev-Bel kit #551:        This was done using the classic Athearn “Railbox” kit.  The tooling for this kit was for an ACF 5290, while the prototype E&LS 90xx’s were FMC 5077’s.  If you are interested in knowing the difference, I suggest looking at The Modeler’s Guide To Freight Cars by Jeff Wilson.  The car also had some lettering/graphics shortcomings as follows:


Roof: should be gray/silver, not blue.  Easy enough to fix.


Build date: reads 6-77.  All the photos I can find of the 9000-9049 cars have either 1-77 or 3-77.  According to the one prototype image of #9038 I have seen, it should be 1-77 for this particular car.


Data:  other than the build date, the rest of the data is spot-on.  It lacks COTS panels, but given the limitations of pad-printed graphics it is no wonder that most of the Bev-Bel incentive-per-diem 50’ shortline boxcars lack this feature, as it would require making two color pads up (white and black).  I have three of this model, and the lettering placement varies between the cars, as well as between the sides of the same car.  End reporting marks and return spring data are also absent, another result of then-current technology.


Athearn RTR E&LS #9026 and #9033


These were made by Athearn in 2007.  These are very nice models overall, though they do have a few shortcomings as follows:


The cars themselves are significantly taller FMC 5347’s, while the prototypes were FMC 5077’s.  The dimensional data was fudged accordingly to make this compromise less obvious.  The 3-77 build date on #9033 is incorrect, in should be 1-77.  I do not yet have any images of #9026 to reference.


Walthers #5108, #5111, and #5113 (currently available from Walthers)


Darin Umlauft at Walthers informed me before the cars were produced that all the measurements for graphics/lettering were taken off of #5111.  I found a photo of #5113 online LINK, and the graphics look fairly close.  The colors however, are not really representative of the condition of the prototypes, which have seen many years of use/abuse.  It looks at though they took a brand new car and added E&LS patches to it, rather than starting with a roughly 20 year old car like the E&LS did.  However, commercial models will never be quite perfect, but will be far closer than what we could hope to do ourselves.  There would ideally be four pieces attached to the frame marked “PULL CAR HERE”, but those parts, as well as the lettering, were omitted.




Champion Decal:  set for older (pre-1977) equipment


Herald King:  set intended for 1977-built 90xx boxcars.  Heralds can be used for some other equipment too.  The data is too big, and will not fit between the vertical ribs of most boxcars (a common problem with H-K decals).


Joe Avezzano:  Somebody I know who lives in Chicago had Microscale do a custom run of boxcar decals that can do the repainted 101600-101899 series cars, as well as IATR ####, MSDR ####’s.  It can do a total of seven cars.  He charges $10 a set, shipping included.  Here is his email address:


The data can also be scavenge from Joe’s set and combined with a Herald-King or Microscale St. Lawrence Railway set to do a model of a car that has not been repainted yet.  The Microscale set lacks the numbers needed to do an early car, but if you are modeling one with the numbers repainted, the Microscale set most likely has slightly better print quality.  As the white lettering/numbering on the prototypes has darkened with age, and the blue has faded out, “patching out” and repainting the numbers became necessary to make them legible again, using a wide variety of shades of blue as well as fonts.  However, all seem to have had the “ELS” redone in 9-inch stencil letters.


How to Build Stuff if You are Ambitious:


Motive Power:


Baldwin Switchers:


Stewart Hobbies (now Bowser-Stewart) has a nice line of Baldwin switchers available.  I used both an Athearn S-12 and a Stewart DS-4-4-1000, and the Stewart is the far nicer model.  My Stewart Hobbies (pre-Bowser) DS-4-4-1000, was purchased on February 2011 from Des Plaines Hobbies from the “bargain bin” in Frisco paint, and will eventually become E&LS #202.  Calumet & Hecla decals are available from the Duluth South Shore &Atlantic Division of the Soo Line Historical and Technical Society for $5 plus postage.


Baldwins RS-12’s-these are also made by Stewart.  Someone in product development at Bowser-Stewart promised me back in 2008 that there would be a run of RS-12’s painted as E&LS #300 after they finished upgrading the shells to provide for frame-mounted handrails.  I will believe it when I see it.


GP-38’s #400-402-I have not looked into these enough to comment on how to model them, other that that Atlas GP-38’s are superior to the Athearn GP-38-2.


SD-40-2’s #500 and #501-Athearn made run of SD40-2’s in GATX paint, all numbered and detailed for ex-MILW units (MILW units were part of the same run of models).  All three numbers are equally good for building a model of #500 (which I have personally done).  As a second choice for #500, Athearn did a GATX SD-40-2 and GP-38-2 set in the early 2000’s, but this model has a 4000 gallon fuel tank, along with lacking a DCC plug, clunky handrails by today’s standards, and a drive that was not even state of the art when they first made this model in 1984 (still run OK, though).  For #501, EMDX decals are available from Microscale, and a GATX or MILW from Athearn’s R-T-R series would be the best starting point that would have most of the details right, like the 3200 gallon fuel tank.  I have not fully looked into modeling this engine, and do not plan to unless the right SD-40-2 comes along at the right price.


FP-7A #600-engine to repaint are available from Athearn Geneisis, InterMountain, and Atlas/Roco (used).  For the first two, I would suggest starting with a MILW unit, as it would most likely have the closest set of details.  For the Atlas/Roco, make sure you get the less common dual-headlight version.  Custom decals for this unit are available from Matt Welke.


Ex-Reserve Mining SW-8’s #1200 and #1201-I built a crude model of #1201 back in 2009 using an Athearn SW-7 (another “bargain bin” engine, though this time from Enginehouse Services in Green Bay), but I would recommend doing it right and getting a Proto 2000 SW-8 to start with.  Trainworld in New York City might still have a few left that could be re-worked


Baldwin RF-16’s-only #1216 ever ran under its own power on the E&LS, and only between Wells and Channing, but I admittedly have models of both #1205 and #1216 (and I run them).  Bachmann made a decent engine for the price, but these are certainly not the nicest engines in my fleet.  I once made a list of everything I wanted to fix (better truck sideframes, better decoder, correct lettering size, photoetched grills, proper nose grabs for ex-NYC units,  more weight for traction, weathering), and realized that it would cost more in changes than what the models cost.  So other than couplers, they are left as-is.


Ex-Reserve Mining SD-9’s #1220-1224


Having used both Athearn and Proto 2000 SD-9’s before getting my own, I chose the Proto 2000, and I recommend it (I am have seen the BLI engine, and would not suggest it).  Until the most recent run made under the Walthers name, they all seem to be Phase II units done off the same tooling, so while undecorated would be the first choice, any roadname can be stripped and repainted.  I had custom decals made for mine, and can put you in touch with the printer if you would like.


Freight Cars




The following ex-St. Lawrence Railway cars are known to be repainted:



101635 (very early repaint, full E&LS heralds, similar to #101860, but lettering placement differs)


101703 (likely 3rd or 4th repainted car of this series, retained NRUC plate on door like #101889 apparently did for a while)



101775-done in lighter blue, was the only car done with Roman font lettering, I can only imagine why.


101839-this car and #101840 were run through the shop at the same time and matched perfectly for a while until one of them got graffiti on it (I think)


101860-(first of the 101’s repainted, as evidenced by that fact that it has a CAPY line of data on it [#101635 lacks this feature, as do all the other repainted cars).  This is the only one in this series I know of that has “CUSHION SERVICE” lettering.  If you have any photos of this car, I would welcome an email from you.

101875-only known car with “SAFETY FIRST” script by the ladders



If you happen to know of any others, I would gladly add them to the list.