BLT 1999


The History of Westport Terminal RR

Once upon a time there was a little town which the big railroads had forgotten. But the residents of this town wanted a railroad, too. So they decided to build one of their own. This small railroad saw good times and bad times, its owners and names changed. Some made good profit and others lost money and even went bankrupt.....

Nowadays this little RR has become the WESTPORT TERMINAL RR. It's a modern day shortline. The WT bought trackage over routes that the CN, BN and others had given up as unprofitable. But under WT operation they have returned profitability. Now the WT is a four man operation. A president, a manager of transportation, and a pair of trainmen handle the work. Two man crews are the general rule, since average trains run from five to twelve cars. Trains are made up at Westport and run to International Falls Interchange yard and return, with switching done at Third Street District and at various industries along the way. Through traffic goes from South Junction to International Falls and vice versa.

WT motive power roster consists of four locomotives. No. 4 is an 44-tonner. She is named after Joseph Henry. Employees began to call the locomotive "Henry" and the name stuck. Once the popularity of the name became apparent, WT management decided to to name all of their locomotives and to name them for famous people in science. Nobel Laureates in Physics (Henry's name is used for identifying the standard measure of inductivity. In the same way temperature is classified according to Celsius from Sweden or the German Fahrenheit and air pressure after the Frenchmen Pascal.)

Switcher No. 16 is called after A. G. Bell, No. 256 is an old PRR U25B. The engine is named after B. FRANKLIN. Engine No. 128 also a U25B is named after T. A. EDISON. Due to the increasing traffic, engine No. 512 and more are bought. The management is still looking for fitting names. Robert A. Millikan and Arthur Holly Compton are the latest.

Interchange equipment consists of boxcars. WT works closely together with BN and CN, so most of these cars are built by BN or CN and painted for WT. They have the reporting marks WT and sometimes the slogan.

Freight operations are the mainstay of the WT. It is handled by the road's own engines with help from BN. Some of the commodities are coal, gas, oil, steel, paper, grain, machinery, dairy products and more.

As mentioned before there are interchanges with the BN at International Falls and with CN at South Junction. The barge traffic from Westport to Buffalo Bay is owned by the Westport Terminal RR.

There are many customers on the WT system. It is worth taking a short look at a few and seeing just how it affects operations. In Westport are the harbor industries. They ship coal and grain. The pier ships mainly pulpwood and scrap. The Westport meat packers are a major source of traffic, they receive and ship mainly by rail. Bols & Nuts is another important customer. Here are many nutpickers. They are transported in Gondolas. A Brewery and Print All have shipments too. In the Third Street District Mc Murphy Engineering Co. is the first customer. They make everything according to Murphy's Law! O.L.King & Sons receive coal and sand, Central Gas & Supply receive big tank cars. Redwing Flour Mill gets Grain Hoppers. In Buffalo Bay (sometimes called Tabletown) are as many customers as you can count (if you need them).

Nowadays you can often see BN trains on WT rails, when the BN line is overcrowded. Then the line from South Junction to International Falls serves as a bridge line.

In the last decade Westport has got a bigger upgrading. The yard has got a new trackage with longer A/D tracks and more class tracks. Also a the industrial part was made new. Now there're Kaufmann Chemicals instead of meat packers and Bols & Nuts. The Grain Elevator is bigger and the printing co. has moved too.


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© Wolfgang Dudler