Saturday, May 30, 2015

Grand Trunk Western's Gentle Giant

I spent the good first half of my childhood growing up in Michigan. My favorite railroad no doubt as a kid and even now as an adult will always be the Grand Trunk Western.... in case my Michigan Interstate locomotive paint scheme didn't give it away. But now that I live in Texas one would think that sightings of original Grand Trunk equipment would be few and far between.

Graffiti tagged but FRA compliant with the reflective tape. The "Good Track Road" slogan is pretty much gone below the logo.
But there is hope! Sometime back in the mid-2000s General Motors relocated its Service Parts Operation warehouse out to Roanoke, TX north of Fort Worth. So what does the relocation have to do with Grand Trunk you ask? The answer is a steady stream of blue GTW 86' 4 and 8 door boxcars delivered daily by the UP local switcher to the GM warehouse. Seeing these boxcars is nothing new as they have been setout and picked up countless times by a UP manifest freight that I assume comes out of Muskogee, OK or Dennison, TX. enroute to Fort Worth. What I did realized though is these particular boxcars only originate from one location when hauling service part loads outbound to other GM SPO facilities like this one in Roanoke and others that I know of in Sparks, NV and Cucamonga, CA. The origin is none other than GM's Swartz Creek SPO Facility just to the west of Flint.

Even wanting to appreciate the ubiquitous blue GTW autopart boxcar I began to notice that even though they are standard blue and have the GTW logo on the side everyone has become unique in its own way especially after traveling the North American network these many years with tired battle hardened look about them. With parent CN purchasing the Illinois Central it is now not uncommon to see IC, ICG, and CN 86' auto part boxcars as well but only the Grand Trunk ones have the 8 doors. As tired as some of these cars look I have seen a few parent CN repaints with various reporting marks of CNA, GTW, and IC looking classy in the standard CN boxcar brown or on occasion a darker GTW blue adorned with the web address.

What logo? GTW305900

Parent company CN  - alot of the repaints that I have seen are coming in this brown but look much more minimalist.
So what does this post then signify you ask? Well after being away from Michigan for many years, I now have the ability to take a short drive and catch a glimpse of what Michigan railroads were synonymous for and continue to support; the Automotive Industry. These boxcars invoke memories of going downriver and watching GP38-2's shove cars over the hump at GTW's Flat Rock Yard, Henry Ford's old electrification concrete towers in Taylor, or driving through Flint seeing an endless sea of these gentle giants at Torrey Yard. These memories I have found help inspire me even more to continue modelling proto-freelance Michigan in my own way.


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