Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stockwood Fill

Any railfan who has ever travelled Highway 10 from Detroit Lakes to Dilworth has noticed the 7 miles or so of mainline that is on an elevated grade heading east from Glyndon. While shots from the Highway 10 side of the tracks are rarely well-lit, trains can look very impressive making their way along this trackage. I don't have any presentable shots of trains on the fill, but this shot by Mitch Wahlsten is the best I have seen showing a train in action coming "down the hill", as the crews say on the radio when calling the Dilworth Yard.

The question that always pops into my mind when I am travelling this route is "where did this come from and how did it get there?" For the answers to those questions I would direct you to this photo-essay describing the background and construction of the fill. After you read this piece, titled "Toils on Weak Soils", you will never look at the Stockwood Fill the same way again. A couple of the statistics from the article demonstrate the effort expended in construction: more than 2 million board feet of lumber and 5 million cubic yards of fill went into the (partially) successful effort to ease the grade out of the Red River Valley for eastbound trains. To this day, you can see heavy trains work hard all way to the Lake Park area as they lift their loads out of the basin of the ancient glacial Lake Agassiz.

Yesterday, on the way home from North Dakota, I grabbed a few shots of the fill, even though there was no traffic moving while we paralleled the tracks in this area. The fill starts in the Glyndon area, just barely noticeable at first, and rises to a height approaching 50 feet before the tracks begin to follow the Buffalo River valley eastward.

In a couple of the shots you can see remnants of the compression ridges caused by the sinking of the fill as it was installed. The Highway 9 underpass gives and idea of how massive this fill is, and helps a person imagine how much work went into building it.

Next time you travel Highway 10 in this area, take a moment to think about and appreciate the effort that went into building it.

Jim, out

1 comment:

K said...

I was just reading the soils article and was amazed at the work involved - and the problems "buried" by time.

Another interesting story is the change in the NP route through Hawley in 1925. The towns streets line up with where the NP used to run though town. In 1925 the route was changed to head South through Hawley, following the Buffalo river to reduce the grade. If you look at Hawley in Google maps, you can see how the NP used to run WSW out of town - crossing what is now US 10 at the West end out of town near the "Welcome to Hawley" sign.

It basically ran in a straight line from Winnipeg Junction (near the Buffalo crossing, North on Hwy 32) through Hawley along "Old #2" past City Hall on 6th Street - between Front Street & Main Street, toward Muskoda.