A little known fact about Michigan railroading is that CSX has the lion's share of trackage of the four class 1 railroads which serve the state (GTW, NS, and CR are the others). CSX inherited these lines from the C&O side of Chessie System, who in turn had acquired them from the Pere Marquette RR, which C&O absorbed in 1947.
After the substantial abandonment of lines over the years since, CSX has two mainlines in the State of Michigan:
East-West, from Detroit to Plymouth, Lansing, Grand Rapids, St. Joseph, and Porter, IN (and from there west to Chicago's Barr Yard via trackage rights over Conrail to Pine Jct.): From Milepost CH0.0 at the Boatyard on Detroit River to CH24.9 at Plymouth is the DETROIT SUBDIVISION. From Milepost CH24 to CH25 is the PLYMOUTH INTERLOCKER. West from CH24.9 at Plymouth to CH84.8 at East End Trowbridge is the PLYMOUTH SUBDIVISION.
North-South, from Saginaw thru Plymouth to Carleton is the SAGINAW SUBDIVISION. It runs from milepost CC2.2 in Saginaw to CC104.7 in Carleton where it meets the Toledo Terminal Subdivision.
The heart of the CSX Detroit Service Lane can be found in the western Detroit suburb of Plymouth, Michigan. This is where the East-West and North-South mains intersect, a location known as PLYMOUTH DIAMOND. It is at CH24.5 on the Detroit and Plymouth subs, and at CC82 on the Saginaw sub.
This page is intended to convey enough information about railfanning CSX Plymouth operations so as to easily allow the confirmed trainhead an enjoyable experience (i.e. see lots of trains). This area needs to be understood to make any sense of all the radio transmissions, thus we have provided for you several maps. Representative photos of specific train symbols at specific locations are included where possible.
The Diamond itself is actually INACCESSIBLE to the public. The best view of the diamond itself can be found at these two locations:
a) The parking lot of Station 885, a restaurant on Starkweather Street at the end of the Detroit Subdivision. This position allows a full view of the Southeast leg of the Toledo Wye (very busy) and the Northeast leg of the Saginaw wye.
b) Farmer Street crossing of the Saginaw Subdivision. This is the best place to view North-South traffic and the Toledo wye.In the p.m. it offers good sun exposure for WB>SB moves through the Toledo Wye. Power turns and access to the north yard will usually come this way.
Some general observations.
On Monday thru Thursday most symbol road trains are cleared by seven a.m. with coal loads the last to move. Monday is usually clean up for the weekend and some good fanning can be had early am (4-7am). At this time MOW usually begins and any required trains will be looking for permission through work limits. A batch of locals will run during the lunch hour. Traffic volumes will build through the week with a peak on friday. The weekend will see the majority of road trains. MOW usually seems to try and clean up thursday by evening. This pattern is most noticable in the summer, as it seems to be that trains are better able to hold to the schedules and welded rail requires 90 degree or greater temperatures to be laid in this area. During the winter major track work is usually unscheduled and the extra time is used to move trains as the weather has become a factor.
In the Plymouth area a good number of meets are arranged as there is ample passing track south, east and west of the diamond. As a result, many times there is more than one train on the move through Plymouth.
Trespassing on railroad property is not encouraged as it is 1) unnecessary 2) usually dangerous 3) generally stupid 4) they will prosecute!!. One notable geographical feature of the Plymouth Diamond area is the lack of straight rail. Even in unlimited visibility it is not possible to always see a train which is merely one half mile away. Add a little haze to the situation and the usual warning signs lose effectiveness. If there is any amount of traffic (which there usually is) one can easily get confused by all the horns blowing in many directions and inadvertently allow a train to sneak right up on you. With the large number of light and reverse moves that take place here WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you stay away from the tracks, cross the tracks at right angles on public crossings only, and clear the right of way as soon as possible. Have a safe day!
Text and Photos - Jeff Knorek firstname.lastname@example.org
Text Photos and HTML - Jerry Sundin email@example.com
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