Fargo Operations                                                           TT00005




4/27/00 10:18

Bill Kuebler

NP Fans,  My recent account of Fargo tracks and operations was forwarded to Duane Durr and Norman Lorentzsen, who are not on this list, by Duane Danielson. Mr. Lorentzsen responded to Duane Danielson, who forwarded the response to me. Since Mr. Lorentzsen's response contains so much more valuable and interesting information (to me, at least, and hopefully to others), I'm cutting and pasting it here, with his permission.  I have since corresponded with him regarding some of his comments, and he adds to them the fact that the 10th Street underpass in Fargo was technically enlarged in 1938, rather then built. It was originally built much earlier as a narrow wood-lined subway. In 1938, it was enlarged and made out of steel and concrete, much like the 13th St. one but longer (for automobiles, that is). The one at 13th was built in 1938. That spot was a wood-planked grade crossing before that, with about ten or so yard tracks to the north of the mains there.  The old Fargo roundhouse was west of 13th about a quarter mile, on the north side. Long gone, of course. The old car shop was on the south side of the mains in the same general area. The car shop building still stands. In my day it served as a new and used car dealership (Muscatel Chevrolet in the 50s and 60s and other names since), a classic car place, and I don't know what it is now.  When the underpass went in at 13th, most of the yard tracks there were eliminated, so a small yard went in on the south side of the mains where the Southwestern Branch leaves the mains, near 23rd St. It was the 13th St underpass, primarily, that necessitated the big grade separation project that Mr. Lorentzsen describes.  Hmm, come to think of it, this may be a waste of time. I rather doubt anyone out there is modeling Fargo (except for the folks at Spud Valley Model RR Club). No mountains. No curves (not really). No trees. No big trestles. No tunnels. No... Never mind.  Lots of great action, though. And great employees.  Incidentally, Mr. Lorentzsen informs me that in the summer of 1937, he served as the crossing watchman at Fargo's 8th Street (it had a little ground-level shanty there) for most of that summer. The regular guy got sick.  In my opinion, the rise from crossing watchman to CEO of (more or less) the same company is an amazing story. It is what America is (or was, I'm afraid) all about.  NML's message follows. By the way, no, I don't have a station plat of Fargo. Wish I did. Anyone have one? Since I wrote from memory, anyone who has corrections or additions is all the more welcome to post them.  Bill Kuebler  [From Norman Lorentzsen, 4-26-00.]  To the two Duanes-  I have read Bill Kuebler's description of tracks and train operations at Fargo. He has either a very good memory or he is looking at some station plats. My comments below are from memory and in some instances they vary from what Bill has said with regard to train operations.  At one time on the Fargo S.Western, there were two passenger trains. An early morning train consisting of one combination mail-baggage car with a Q engine left Fargo about 8 AM arriving Horace about 8:30 Am. It ran to Streeter and laid over night. It was daily except Sunday. Returning, it left Streeter in the Am and passed through Horace about 7 pm. The baggage car and coach were left in Fargo, unless major repair (wheel change etc) was necessary. In addition there was a gas electric train daily (the B 3 was assigned for many years) leaving Horace about 9:45 or 10 AM for Fargo. It left Fargo on the return trip about 5 pm. It ran daily-its western terminus changed from time to time-most of the time Lamoure-Streeter and I believe sometimes Lisbon.  The Casselton Branch had a gas electric car also daily leaving Fargo in the AM and returning in the evening. I am not as familiar with that operation as the F.S.W. At one time there was also a gas electric car leaving Jamestown about 9 AM for Fargo and returning leaving Fargo  about 5 PM. I am not certain, but I believe the straight passenger service on both the FSW and the Casselton branch became mixed trains sometime shortly after 1932. I know they were mixed trains in 1935.  On the FSW during the time passenger service was operated, had a local freight such as Bill mentioned. In addition during harvest, that operation was changed to daily between Streeter and Dilworth. Besides this, a Lisbon turn was operated during  harvest probably for three weeks or so depending on the crop and weather. It was not uncommon for the FSW train to set out at Lamoure tonnage that was in excess of the power ability out of Lisbon. The JRO branch would pick up such set outs and haul them into Jamestown-that line was river grade. When mixed trains were begun, besides freight, they carried a baggage car and a coach. These were almost always picked up off of short four westbound and set out (cut off) on that track eastbound.  Bill mentions a coal spur coming off the EB main just west of the river. That was Owned by Oscar Kjorlie and I believe could handle about five of six cars on top of his dock.  Prior to 1938 (year the underpasses were put in at 10 and 13 street) the yard tracks west of 8 th street were used for handling all of the Fargo-Mhd set outs and pickups.  Incidentally, I was a member of the work train crew that unloaded the fill that was brought into Dilworth in train loads of about forty cars. Every day a work train left Dilworth with these cars  (the cars were wood side dump) which were then unloaded using a steam lidgerwood plow which forced the fill out the side of the car. The fill came from Muskoda east of Glyndon and famous for the Muskoda fill (done sometime  before W.W.I, I believe), which eliminated helper engines. After these underpasses were built, they placed a yard on the south side of the main lines west of the Fargo Sw. connection. This yard handled set outs from east bound trains. Westbound trains (mostly main line local) would pick up cars from the yard tracks west of eight st. and east of the old roundhouse track area.  I started riding 137-139 from Dilworth to MHD in 1936. If the engineer  saw me, he would slow down going through MHD (I was going to Concordia). If he didn't see me, it was into Fargo and run back across the footbridge to MHD. Beginning in 1937, I would sometimes get a trip as a brakeman on one of these runs. The Casselton branch was # 1 for pay and normally held by the oldest Conductor and brakemen-Cal Wilson was conductor on it for many years. At Fargo-he picked up a Wall St. Journal and train orders and any other instructions. The brakemen had seniority dates of 1908-1910. If my memory serves me correctly, a brakeman on the Casselton branch would get about $14.00 for a trip, plus or minus, since there were set outs at Fargo, which was extra.  There was also a night local daily except Sunday Dilworth to Jamestown with a layover at Jamestown. It normally left Dilworth between 7 and 8 PM. and about the same time out of Jamestown. Incidentally those Q engines were great runners and the engineers liked to get them in high  gear.  That is a lot of stuff to read-so best sign off.  Norman  Compiler  C Frissell