It's a bright April 14, 2005, morning and rolling into downtown Beloit over the former Milwaukee Road's Southwestern Line from the east is a unit UP grain train. It's headed up by a former Rio Grande locomotive with a helper unit in the rear. It will continue west over CP Rail/I&CE using trackage rights to reach former C&NW tracks in South Beloit and beyond.
The same UP train has taken a sharp curve to the south across the Illinois-Wisconsin state line and is now on home rails. The track to the right or east goes into a still active spur that services another scrapyard near Turtle Creek.
Waiting for the UP train on the same morning we're looking west along the former Milwaukee Road line in downtown Beloit. To the left or south are the remains of the spurs which once forked to the south and serviced a scrap dealer.
Just a little more than a year earlier in this photo from February of 2004 these spur tracks that harken back to another era with the old-fashioned crossbucks and switch stands were still in place. These tracks crossed Colby St. and go into a scrapyard but were out of service. Lesson again is to take pictures even of the ordinary since they might be gone by the next time you get there.
This next series of photos date from February and April of 2004.
At this point the former Milwaukee Road Southwestern Line passes from Wisconsin into Illinois, and outside the coverage area of this website. The Southwestern Line continued straight towards the yard, while the UP swings off the Southwestern Line back onto UP (C&NW) rails at South Beloit. Today the Illinois & Chicago Eastern (IC&E) uses the track from Rockford up to Beloit to reach the former Southwestern Line segment still in use, as well as UP trains.
Thanks to Jerry Pyfer, a former Milwaukee Road employee of the Southwestern Line from 1971-78, for corrections and additional information.
Looking north across the former Southwestern Line tracks now operated by CP Rail (with UP trackage rights) once again since they reacquired the former I&CE. Downtown Beloit. South Beloit is just a short walk to the south on the Illinois side.
A UP unit sand train passes west on the former Milwaukee Road line using trackage rights on the I&CE from State Line Junction to the I-90 overpass.
To the right is the Frito-Lay plant on Beloit's south side, a major rail customer for several generations of railroads in the area. Other industries nearby with rail connections are the Hormel plant and a lumber yard that both face busy I-90. The rails are rusty on their spurs which haven't seen a train in many years.
The end of the same unit sand train. A pusher locomotive brings up the rear, with a spacer flatcar in between. This pusher locomotive is actually hauled on the end because the sand loading facility is located on a facing point switch without a run-around track. When the sand train gets to the loader, it pulls by, then the crew spots the train from the "rear-end." After this is complete, the power is coupled back together for the later trip to Clinton Jct. and eventually Chicago.
Thanks to Jerry Pyfer for these operational details of the sand train. For more information about the Beloit operations of both the C&NW and the Milwaukee Road see the Second Quarter 2000 issue of The Milwaukee Railroader magazine. Also see the three part series on the Milwaukee Road's Southwestern Line that appeared in The Milwaukee Railroader in 2013.
UP operates the former Southwestern Line track east of I-90 into Clinton, WI, where it connects with the UP (C&NW) Janesville line from Harvard, IL.
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