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 Post subject: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:33 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 422
Editorial on the future of the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad in Duluth, MN


http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/opinio ... its-future

-Hudson


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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 7:20 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
Posts: 653
Location: Philadelphia Pa
HudsonL wrote:
Editorial on the future of the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad in Duluth, MN


http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/opinio ... its-future

-Hudson


More "rails to trails" advocacy in a nicer manner of putting it.


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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:10 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
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Location: southeastern USA
No. He's simply asking for a good business plan to justify the cost of maintaining it. I think he's missed out on much or simply misunderstands things like track and timbers...... but he's right about the need for private / public partnerships to be on a sound financial basis.

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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 10:42 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1209
It sounds to me like he opposes the development of the LS&M, but does not really want to say that.


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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:13 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
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Location: Northern Illinois
Ron Travis wrote:
It sounds to me like he opposes the development of the LS&M, but does not really want to say that.


Of course he's against it... because it's a bad idea, and he's pointing out why. Duluth already has a world class railway museum, and a nice tourist railway ride operating in conjunction with it on assured ROW; county owned, the only potential problem is if the county ever wants to convert the ROW to light rail commuter service. How many train rides does a market the size of Duluth need? More to the point, how many can the small market support?

I don't know any of the people involved, and I hope I don't offend someone too badly, but it certainly looks like another case of some guys get together and buy some old equipment so they can 'run my train'. Never mnd there is a world class operation next door, those are their trains. We want to run our trains.

It appears that none of the equipment has anything in common with what once ran there. If the purpose is to point out the historical significance of the original line to St. Paul, a plaque at the trail head will do the job just as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:59 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
Posts: 653
Location: Philadelphia Pa
Dennis Storzek wrote:
Ron Travis wrote:
It sounds to me like he opposes the development of the LS&M, but does not really want to say that.


Of course he's against it... because it's a bad idea, and he's pointing out why. Duluth already has a world class railway museum, and a nice tourist railway ride operating in conjunction with it on assured ROW; county owned, the only potential problem is if the county ever wants to convert the ROW to light rail commuter service. How many train rides does a market the size of Duluth need? More to the point, how many can the small market support?

I don't know any of the people involved, and I hope I don't offend someone too badly, but it certainly looks like another case of some guys get together and buy some old equipment so they can 'run my train'. Never mnd there is a world class operation next door, those are their trains. We want to run our trains.

It appears that none of the equipment has anything in common with what once ran there. If the purpose is to point out the historical significance of the original line to St. Paul, a plaque at the trail head will do the job just as well.



Pennsylvania has a world class operation and museum in Strasburg, let's just close up all the other tourist railroads in the state, who needs them?...one is enough!. Same for California, think of the numbers if only the Sacramento operations were allowed to remain!...yeah, that logic makes sense to me.....Not.


The small LS&M operation has limited equipment and operates on a limited schedule, usually 5 months out of the year...hauling 5-6,000 people in a shorter operating season with only 3 cars is NOT that bad.

If you compare their operations to North Shore's (minus Thomas events) LS&M brings in roughly half of what North Shore does per trip operated.

According to their reports to the FRA, Northe Scenic hauls approximately 55,000 people annually, (75,000 average if you factor in Thomas). They operate from Memorial day through the 3rd week of October, DAILY, 2 trips a day, that's 14 trips a week, with a 3rd trip added in July and August on Fridays and Saturdays, plus various special event, non Thomas trips, excluding Christmas trains since they don't have that posted on their schedule yet, it gives them a total of about 364 trips during their operating season. It averages out to about 156 people per trip operated.

LS&M hauls about 5,500 on average with no special event trains, no Christmas trains etc. 2 trips per day, Saturday and Sunday only, June through October. That equals 80 trips per season and averages out to about 69 people per trip.

Now considering the operating budget between the two, plus the marketing abilities of both, I'd say that the LS&M hasn't done all that bad for itself and done so for 37 years with little assistance from the outside world? Their equipment is well maintained.they do their own track maintenance with the limited funds they have.

As for the remarks about the equipment having no local ties.....I could list MULTIPLE operations whose equipment has NOTHING to do with the area they operate in or their lines heritage and do well with amazing community and local government support (both financially and non financially). That said, both of the passenger cars on the LS&M were built for Duluth area operations. One in 1912 for the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range, the other in 1912 for the Duluth, Missabe and Northern.

I really think this is just an attack on a small operation, which seems to be happening anywhere there is "redevelopment" happening or on the drawing board, where they know there is little financial ability to fight. To me, IMO, the article was written to "sway the vote" for the extension of the Western Waterfront Trail, but look like a well thought out opinion based on factual researched article which it's not

That trail extension will cut off the LS&Ms most scenic portion,; the causeway and probably kill them.

These attacks are only going to increase folks, get ready for your operation to be next. Doesn't matter who owns your ROW, you're a target for the locals.


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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 1:30 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
Posts: 2435
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
junior wrote:
Now considering the operating budget between the two, plus the marketing abilities of both, I'd say that the LS&M hasn't done all that bad for itself and done so for 37 years with little assistance from the outside world? Their equipment is well maintained.they do their own track maintenance with the limited funds they have.



There's the wiggle statement. How well are they doing their track maintenance? Are they caught up with all of the deferred maintenance from before the LS&M began operations? Are they seeking a "bailout" from the line's owner to pay for track maintenance?

At the end of the day, LS&M is a tenant, subject to the whims of a landlord that may or may not want to do something different with its investment.

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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 2:36 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
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Location: Northern Illinois
junior wrote:
Pennsylvania has a world class operation and museum in Strasburg, let's just close up all the other tourist railroads in the state, who needs them?...one is enough!. Same for California, think of the numbers if only the Sacramento operations were allowed to remain!...yeah, that logic makes sense to me.....Not.


The Strasburg Rail Road and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania compliment each other nicely; One is a ride, the other a museum. IF the RR Museum of PA all of a sudden decided to build a ride out the back door, I don't think the Strasburg would be happy, and neither should the fans be. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and nearby attractions cannibalizing each other's attendance. I never said tourist RRs should be one per state, but one per market makes sense.

Plus the fact that the track that both the North Shore Scenic and this outfit with the 45 tonner run on appear to be owned by government bodies. While not the SAME gov't body, they do talk... and they've got to be asking themselves why are we both being asked to spend money on track maintenance?

Does the train really add anything of significance to the line along St. Louis bay?

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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:18 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:33 pm
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If one studies the timeline of Duluth's tourist railroads and railroad museums, you will note that the Lake Superior Railroad Museum (LSRM) formed in 1973, with the restoration of the Depot. In 1980, across town, the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad began operations, offering excursions SW of Duluth, along the right of way that is currently under scrutiny. A decade later, in 1990, a 'rival' tourist railroad, the North Shore Scenic Railroad formed, creating an excursion operation from the LSRM's Depot to Two Harbors, MN. In 1996, the LSRM assumed operations of the North Shore Scenic Railroad and operates it to this day.


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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:43 am 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1209
Keeping the LS&M going may not be possible, but I do not conclude that it is a bad idea. The seeming redundancy with the museum and their train operation may actually increase the market draw of Duluth, so both get more business than either one would get alone. I agree that it would be better if the LS&M could evoke a stronger connection with the actual historical railroad it represents, but maybe that can eventually be accomplished. Recreating a good sense of that pioneering railroad in its true geographical context would be very appealing to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:22 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5228
Location: southeastern USA
How about a partnership in which the successful organization takes over the operation from the failing one, the city kicks in funding to build a worthy attraction, and it is operated as a tourist rather than museum operation? Perhaps lineside attractions can be added to make it the means of connecting many history based attractions into a single sale experience to visitors.

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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:20 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:44 pm
Posts: 94
As someone who has volunteered for both the LS&M and the NSSR, and is currently employed by the latter, a couple points that might clarify the situation for anybody not familiar with Duluth's long history of tourist railroads

Quote:
If one studies the timeline of Duluth's tourist railroads and railroad museums, you will note that the Lake Superior Railroad Museum (LSRM) formed in 1973, with the restoration of the Depot. In 1980, across town, the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad began operations, offering excursions SW of Duluth, along the right of way that is currently under scrutiny. A decade later, in 1990, a 'rival' tourist railroad, the North Shore Scenic Railroad formed, creating an excursion operation from the LSRM's Depot to Two Harbors, MN. In 1996, the LSRM assumed operations of the North Shore Scenic Railroad and operates it to this day.


The LS&M was started by a group of volunteers associated with the Lake Superior Museum of Transportation's in-house association. It was the operating arm of the LSMT (Now the Lake Superior Railroad Museum) from 1980 until the early 90s. The North Shore Scenic Railroad was even operated by the LS&M during its first year of operation in 1990. From 1991 to 1995 it was operated as a for-profit company and then was taken over by the Museum proper. By that time, the LS&M had separated from the Museum and Transportation club and was functioning on its own in West Duluth. This tangled interrelationship extends to some of the equipment as well. Much of the original rolling stock used by the operation came from the LSRM collection.

Quote:
According to their reports to the FRA, North Shore Scenic hauls approximately 55,000 people annually, (75,000 average if you factor in Thomas). They operate from Memorial day through the 3rd week of October, DAILY, 2 trips a day, that's 14 trips a week, with a 3rd trip added in July and August on Fridays and Saturdays, plus various special event, non Thomas trips, excluding Christmas trains since they don't have that posted on their schedule yet, it gives them a total of about 364 trips during their operating season. It averages out to about 156 people per trip operated.


Last year over 90,000 people rode the NSSR, 70,000 excluding Day Out with Thomas riders. In addition to the twice daily runs from Memorial Day to mid-October, we also offer weekend excursions to Two Harbors over the full 26 miles available to us, and offer evening Pizza/Dinner trains Wed-Sat.

Quote:
I really think this is just an attack on a small operation, which seems to be happening anywhere there is "redevelopment" happening or on the drawing board, where they know there is little financial ability to fight. To me, IMO, the article was written to "sway the vote" for the extension of the Western Waterfront Trail, but look like a well thought out opinion based on factual researched article which it's not

That trail extension will cut off the LS&Ms most scenic portion,; the causeway and probably kill them.

These attacks are only going to increase folks, get ready for your operation to be next. Doesn't matter who owns your ROW, you're a target for the locals.


The trigger for this whole plan to extend the Western Waterfront Trail and utilize the LS&M right of way is the commencement of cleaning up the Superfund site of the old Duluth Steel Plant, which the LS&M operates through. Part of the site cleanup will require capping and berming sediments accumulated from slag dumps into the river, and will require the LS&M to cease operations for a period of at least two, and potentially 3 years to allow heavy equipment access to the area. US Steel and the EPA have already committed funds to this project, it is only a matter of when, not if. To be blunt, the LS&M is a very shoestring operation; the volunteers there accomplish as much as they can with the funds available, and as mentioned in the article, some months meeting the bill for diesel fuel is a challenge. Imagine then the position of the City looking at this reality and the challenges facing the railroad trying to survive with minimal (if any) operation for 2-3 years.

Another factor working against the LS&M is insurance. The first 1.5 miles of the operation utilizes BNSF trackage from the current station and parking area to reach 'Riverside Junction' where city-owned tracks connect. Within the last several years BNSF has required the LS&M to carry substantial insurance coverage to utilize this stretch of track. The City owned track is much as described in the article: lots of 67lb rail, occasional tie plates, light ballast and numerous stretches where 5mph is 'speeding', almost all of which is directly adjacent to the St. Louis River.

I have fond memories of my time as an LS&M volunteer, but having experienced much of what the article describes first hand, it is hard to see how all of these factors together equate to the railroad surviving the Superfund shut down, let alone whatever the City decides to do with the rails afterwards.

You can find the City of Duluth's Report on the Western Waterfront Trail here http://www.duluthmn.gov/st-louis-river- ... -planning/

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North Shore Scenic Railroad


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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 11:29 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:44 pm
Posts: 94
LS&M's Response: LS&M has sound plan, vibrant future

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Operations Manager
North Shore Scenic Railroad


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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:49 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1209
That is an excellent response, addressing every objection voiced in the first opinion piece.


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 Post subject: Re: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad (Duluth, MN)
PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 7:20 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:44 pm
Posts: 94
A city dilemma: To destroy (or not destroy) a causeway

First of an apparently two part article on the LS&M's current predicament.

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North Shore Scenic Railroad


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