Monday, August 25, 2008

My Town Monday: The CSX Railway

There are seven railway crossing in Brighton, where the CSX meets a local road. Seven. And them wonderful CSX train engineers have to hoot the horn-- LOUDLY-- at every single crossing. All seven of them.

And it is possible to hoot the horn less loudly... I've heard it. Just not often on the CSX. This railway runs through Livingston County, coming from Detroit and heading towards Lansing and points beyond.

--In real life, you can make out the crossings at Main Street and Walnut/Fourth Street in the distance.

--In real life, you can make out the crossing at Brighton Lake Road. After that, it's a while before another crossing.

Back in the 1880s when the line was being laid, the railway was called the Detroit, Lansing and Northern. Around 1950 the system was bought by the Chesapeke and Ohio (C&O) railway. There was a brief stint where at least part of the DNL/CSX line was owned by the Pere Marquette company, but it's hard to tell from the historical records I have whether Pere Marquette was just the branch of the line that headed North through Novi/Wixom/Milford (farther East than these parts.) Apparently, some folks thought the initials for Pere Marquette (PM) meant Poor Management...

Then in the 1980s, about a hundred years after the rail line was built, it was owned by my pals CSX. The noisy trains of the CSX irritate me almost as much as Comcast Cable. Hubby and I lived nearly on top of the CSX railline for five years in small apartment. We heard the trains go rumbling through town. This same train used to make me late for work sometimes when I was new at my first "real" job at our local regional supercenter.

This same line aslo gets the dubious distinction of being the "South Lyon Train". This is also a measure of how SLOW something is going. As in, "Traffic through there was moving slower than the South Lyon train!" The reason is because where the CSX cuts through South Lyon, for some reason it moves with all the speed of a snail crawling backwards. Probably doesn't top 10mph on a fast day. Since the CSX line cuts right across Pontiac Trail-- THE one, major N/S route through South Lyon-- AND across 10 Mile (the one paved, major East/West route heading out of the town of South Lyon, particularly to go East to Novi et all-- the CSX railway manages to stop up ALL traffic through the town for a good long time. It's really a remarkable feat.

(spare parts?)

The train line went in during the 1880s. It runs a route more or less parallel to that of Grand River Ave (formerly the Grand River Trail) and I-96, connecting Lansing with Detroit. There was a passenger station for the CSX line in Fowlerville, Howell, and in South Lyon, but I can find no record of a depot in Brighton (so far). Though in the early 1900s, Brighton was a collection of small buildings nestled near the rail road tracks on the Grand River Trail, kind of along the North/ South route between Hamburg and Hatland (even smaller towns!). I believe that the train still or eventually did make stops in the city of Brighton because that would explain the existance of the "Western Hotel" which is right on the train tracks.

-- The three story brick building is the Western Hotel. This barren area beside the tracks here may well have been where passengers got off.

There was a great deal of excitement when the Detroit, Lansing and Northern line was actually completed through the area, as it was a project from 20 to 30 years in the making. The trains even gave free rides to the locals.

While I was out taking pictures today, I caught this one of the CSX trucks rolling along the track in downtown Brighton. Kinda neat.

Come back next week for the Grand Trunk Western.


Reb said...

I hate getting stuck waiting for a train! In the town I grew up in, you could sit and watch the train go by, getting slower & slower, only to have it stop three cars from the end and start to back up! Some power (city?) finally intervened and told them to clear the intersection for x length of time, then back up. Wow, I haven't thought about that in a long time.

Travis Erwin said...

I love to here the far off whistle of trains but I probably wouldn't like it f I lived close by the tracks.