The day I explored some of the railway's facilities, including its rail yard at the old CN Centre Street railway station, all was quiet. GEXR GP9 4001 (right) had been parked for the day while a string of eight hoppers looked ready for placement or shipment. You can see the TPI Enterprises facility behind the yard. The plant makes industrial parts and equipment for various industries, including the salt mine.
As you can see from this shot, the yard is somewhat overgrown. GEXR is now a Genesee and Wyoming railway, but traces of its Rail America past are still visible, including the former Rail America livery on the GP9.
The shot below shows you the railway's descent down toward the Sifto salt mine on Lake Huron. Despite some of the overgrowth, it appears that the right-of-way was recently topped up with new ballast, judging by the bleached stones beneath the rails. As a point of interest, I crossed the right-of-way at a level crossing with a hiking trail. You can see that the level crossing with the road is marked with crossbucks, but no signals. I suspect this is because this line is not terribly busy and most movements here are slow.
If you are a fan of the big machines, then Goderich is the place for you. My wife and I like hanging out at the beach in Goderich, right next to the salt mine, whose operations jut out into the lake on a very large pier. From the beach, you can usually see a string of covered hoppers at the ready. I haven't been lucky enough to see any switching operations, but I saw something equally fascinating in August.
On the day we were at the beach, Great Lakes salt ship Algosteel was being loaded with salt. These hulking ships are amazing to see up close. You really don't realize just how big they are until you see them in person. Algosteel, it should be noted, still bears its Algoma Central Marine colours, which closely match the Algoma Central Railway colours. This harkens back to when the railway (now a CN property) was once linked to the shipping company as part of a larger Algoma Central transportation concern.
As an added bonus, the large ship was met by a tall ship, that just happened to be coming in to dock at Goderich when we were on the beach. Again, you have to see these vessels up close to appreciate them.
A closer look...
Getting back to the yard up the hill from the salt mine, here's a close shot of the battered old GP9 4001. I was not able to get shot from the sunny side, since that was on private property. This was about as close as I could get.
Here's a shot of old 4001 at the railway's servicing facility, taken from the old Centre Street station platform. I tried to get the signs in this shot, as well as the lone axle resting behind the geep. Here's a shot of 4001 with its former Rail America paint scheme.
I liked the look of this string of hoppers, due to the colours. It's a man-made rainbow.
As I mentioned in my first post about Goderich, the city has a number of preserved railway artifacts, including its two railway stations. Just west of the old CN station, a maintenance shed appears to need a little attention. Good for a model railway prototype, for those so inclined.
While in Goderich, I also managed to hike on an old CPR trestle, took in a preserved CP steam locomotive and captured shots of the old CPR station, which is being redeveloped. I will share photos and information on these relics in a future post.