Grand Forks, North Dakota [July 1999]

The 1999 Great Northern Railway Historical Society convention was held in Grand Forks. I was able to easily work this into my annual visit back home to Fargo, and it was a great show. On the opening day, the BNSF invited the conventioneers to attend an employee open house at the Grand Forks terminal, and we were given free run of the yard and roundhouse for the most part. The BNSF was also nice enough to feed us, and haul the GNRHS locomotive "Hustle Muscle" (GN 400, the first EMD SD45) from Duluth to Grand Forks for a visit.

Grand Forks Yard was operational during the
Open House, with a pair of SW1200s working the

Forty-four year old ex-GN SW1200 BN 163
heads for the roundhouse after yet another day of
kicking cars. This unit is one of my personal favorites,
as it used to switch the yard in Grand Rapids where
I grew up. It is one of the few remaining locomotives
from my early days as a railfan.

The extraordinary Grand Forks Bros Plow. This
unique ex-NP unit is kept on the East End to handle
the twenty foot snowdrifts that plague cuts and breaks
along the North Dakota branchlines. A lean, serious
looking machine.

This is the former GN bridge across the Red River.
As with all old river structures, this used to be a
pivoting bridge, to allow water navigation, but the
steamboats are long gone, and the bridge is now
permanently fixed.

As a busload of GNRHS conventioneers stopped to
photo the bridge, the BNSF obliged by providing a
Cohasset-bound unit coal train.

One of the highlights of the Convention was a day trip
to Devil's Lake. Along the way, the buses stopped in
Michigan, North Dakota, the site of the imfamous
Empire Builder wreck of 1945.

As the conventioneers were photographing the
site, a BNSF track inspection train passes by.

The car on the rear of the train is the former BN B9,
which houses a special track geometry instrument
package. The B9 was constructed from the former
GN parlor-observation car Twin Cities (1083)
which used to operate on the Gopher/Badger
between Duluth/Superior and its namesake.

With the artificially short FRA lifetime limit, how long
will we continue to see bits and pieces of
America's Resourceful Railroad grace the rails?
The North Dakota State Mill at Grand Forks is
obviously a big BNSF customer.

[July 1999]