Scraponomics Episode 120: The railroad that goes through Old Town

Feb 18, 2016, 02:00 PM

“What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?” — The Quarterly Review, England, 1825

A few months ago, people gathered as a train passed through Old Town for the first time in over a decade. There was even a conductor with a hat!

So what was it all about?

First, a little history. Friedland used to ship by rail all the time. Through the years, especially as manufacturing in Michigan dwindled, the amount of scrap volume we processed decreased to the point where shipping by truck was far more cost-effective. Despite the rumor that the line was deemed inactive, it has always remained active; the landscaping just wasn't kept up to date.

A few years ago, Adrian & Blissfield bought the rail line from Northfolk Southern. They’ve done a great job cleaning up the area. The train that came through was straightening out the track.

So are we going to ship by rail again?? I don't know, maybe. If we land a large enough account to merit shipping by rail again, that would be awesome. Actually, that would be more than awesome for us. That would be awesome for everyone because it would be a good indicator that the economy is growing. We'll see…

There’s a lot of cool things about shipping by rail, but one of the most important that stands out to me is that you can ship up to 200,000 lbs. of material at time, whereas you can only ship up to 45,000 lbs. at a time in a semi truck. That means shipping one rail car of scrap will decrease truck traffic by about four trucks. How about them apples!

It sure was great to see a train in Old Town again. As Old Town goes through a revitalization, we’re crossing our fingers for a resurgence in industry as well.

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