Sunday, April 24, 2016

Touring the St. Clair Sub

It has been some time since I have done a tour of the St. Clair Sub, or at least the modelled west end portion. During the tour we are going to look at each of the stations along the route. As a reader myself, I can never seem to get enough content when seeing a layout overview whether it's descriptions or photos. So I made this post longer than normal, in hopes you the reader would get a greater sense of the entire model railroad through just that more photos and narrative.

Starting from the west, the St. Clair Sub comes on-layout at Squaconning. Beyond the layout are typical destinations of Mackinac City (MC), Grand Rapids (GR), and Mount Pleasant (MP) served directly from Bay Yard via 4 track staging yard.

The swing bridge allows the line to cross the river west to east. 

BAY CITY (Industrial Spur)
Once across the bridge the Sub turns towards Bay Yard located on the southeast side of town. At this curve is the beginning of the Bay Industrial Spur serving Fort Mackinac Corrugated, GEM Bakeries, and Interstate Asphalt.

Loacated on the main just past the industrial spur is the west lead switch for Bay Yard. The primary portion of the lead is on a removable section of the layout for accessing the layout. Beyond the liftout section the yard splits into 6 tracks with a 2 track diesel servicing facility. The yard can hold around 80 cars at maximum capacity. The DSF handles monthly-quarterly inspections, running repairs, fuel, and sand. 

BAY CITY (Elevator Spur)
Adjacent to the yard is the elevator spur servicing Michigan Agricultural Commodities Bay City Terminal. 

BAY 1 & 2
The main line curves around the east side  of Bay Yard. Just beyond the Division office is the west siding switch where Mai diverges into Bay 1 and 2 mains down to Chessie Jct. 

On the east end of Bay Yard, one of the mains has a switch allowing access to the Essexville Branch and Lake State Railway connection. The name Chessie Jct. comes from back with CSXT and predecessor C&O operated the line prior to Lake State. Located next to C.J. is the last customer in Bay City known as Lakes Forest Products.

Just beyond Chessie Jct. the east yard lead merges back into the main before the helix climb. The stations of Edsel and Weiss are unmodeled towns represented in the helix.

Upon exiting the top of helix the subdivision enters the town of Upper Huron. Here the Port Belle Sub diverges to the north via west and east leg wyes. The Port Belle Sub continues around the back of the helix for staging the local., it also doubles as a continuous run. Located in Upper Huron is Michigan Sugar / Saginaw Valley Cogeneration. This happens to be largest customer on layout that has its own local and weekly unit coal trains.

Leaving Upper Huron the St. Clair crosses the through truss bridge over Quincassee Creek. This bridge is due for refresh since being built in December 2007.

Beyond the Q bridge the line enters Grays Lake. Within town the railroad serves Cooperative Elevator and 3M on the farm branch. Additionally the local road switcher is based out of here. East of downtown is the west siding switch where the mainline operated adjacent to a full length passing siding for staging meets.

Between Grays Lake and the next station Gerhard is Grays Siding running adjacent to the mainline. This is one of three passing siding for making meets between Bay City and Port Huron. Next to the passing siding is the local siding used for pickups and setouts handled by the Grays Lake road switcher.

As the line comes into town the local siding, passing siding, and main come back together at the East Siding Switch. In town the only industry is Huron Malting, but the overall size and traffic keeps the Grays Lake road switcher busy. Between the main and Huron Malting is the long lead track used for switching or continuous running which connects to the Port Belle Sub staging track. East staging consists of three tracks representing Port Huron (PH), Port Huron CN (PC), and eastern U.S.

I hope you have enjoyed this lengthy but brief tour of the MCIS St. Clair Sub. In a future post we will look more in depth at each station and industries served.



  1. Hi there,

    Thanks for this tour update, helps to clarify things. Do you have a track plan we can see? As I think that would help even more. I appreciate your posts, as your layout helps inspire me with planning my own layout. Keep up the great work.
    New Zealand

  2. Hi I forgot to ask what size is the room you have your layout in? Thanks

  3. Thanks for the feedback, working on a track plan. I plan to post station diagrams in order in May or June to get an idea of track layout.

    Layout is a 11x13 study (no closet) with french doors and 10' ceilings

  4. Neat, thanks.
    That's a lot of railroad in that size room great work