Huron and Eastern Railway

RailMix Jan 4, 2018

  1. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    After I posted a photo of Huron and Eastern Diesels in Weekend Proto Fun last weekend, Boxcab E50 asked if I might provide more information on this Michigan shortline, so here you go, Box and everyone.

    The Huron and Eastern Railway (HESR) operates on 320 miles of track in eastern Michigan, mostly in the Thumb Area (a look at the map will quickly explain the origins of this term).
    HESR had its beginnings in 1986, operating on ex Pere Marquette/C&O lines in the thumb with a roster of mostly ex C&O GP9’s and a GP7u that came from ATSF. The railroad immediately gained the favor of railfans by painting its locomotives in a heritage scheme borrowed from the E7’s that pulled the original Pere Marquettes. PM’s E’s wore a very attractive enchantment blue over venetian yellow (Not federal yellow. That came later.) HESR followed that livery quite faithfully down to use of the same font. These engines were numbered 100-105.
    HESR was the first railroad owned by RailAmerica. It expanded with the takeover of the original line of the Tuscola & Saginaw Bay Ry. (now Great Lakes Central), which by then was busy operating a large part of the former Ann Arbor RR. RailAmerica then bought the Central Michigan Ry. (CMGN) and merged it into HESR. Meanwhile, the original GP9’s and GP7u had been replaced by four ex P&LE GP38-2’s which were numbered 201-204. They are still in operation today as 3865-3868. With the expansion over the years, HESR’s need for more motive power became acute, and along with a rather diverse roster inherited from CMGN and engines brought from other RailAmerica railroads, various other secondhand engines were obtained, patched out and put to work. In all, HESR had become a very colorful railroad, operating engines in more than 20 different paint schemes.

    Link to Huron and Eastern locomotive roster on RRpicture archives. A little time spent browsing the photos is well worthwhile.

    Photo below shows an interesting lashup of HESR power at Marlette, MI


    More information along with maps can be found on HESR's web page here:

    And finally, slightly off topic but still interesting is a story that explains why CMGN 8801 never joined sister 8802 (third unit above) on the HESR roster:

    OK. Hope you find this interesting and at least somewhat informative.
    badlandnp and Kurt Moose like this.
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Thank you! Prowling through this information is quite fascinating. For example, I had never heard of a place named "Zilwaukee". :) Nor was I aware that this operation had become a part of the GWRR family. I need to explore more here, as by the place names, I am thinking it is made up of former NYC, C&O (Pere Marquette) and possibly other (?) trackage.
  3. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

    Box, You are correct. Trackage from Millington to Colling and Millington to Munger is ex NYC. Everything else is ex PM/C&O except the former CMGN from Durand to Saginaw/Bay City, which is ex- Grand Trunk Western.
    Most people outside Michigan don't know it exists, but Zilwaukee is a place with two claims to fame: A. There was a drawbridge there that backed I-75 up for miles if it opened on a Friday night and B. The Zilwaukee high bridge that replaced it was fraught with engineering problems, bankrupted one construction company and took eight years to build. Some people still refuse to cross it.
    BoxcabE50 and Kurt Moose like this.

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