More Kenilworth corridor, more contention

LRT protest on K corridor view one Mpls 8 11 2013
I had learned of stickers being left along the Kenilworth Corridor in Minneapolis, MN, protesting co-locating freight and light rail in the line. When I visited the Cedar Lake Parkway grade crossing recently, protest signs met my eyes left and right like bad guys in an Expendables movie…and half protested the loss of the trail along with the half that slammed co-location.   These anti-co location leaflets were affixed to the back of a “road closed” sign posted on the north side of the grade crossing…
LRT protest on K corridor view six Mpls 8 11 2013
…these were stuck on a signal power box on the north side of the crossing…
LRT protest on K corridor view five  Mpls 8 11 2013
…along with one more and an anti-LRT one.
LRT protest on K corridor view three Mpls 8 11 2013
Another anti-LRT leaflet…
LRT protest on K corridor view four Mpls 8 11 2013
…decorated a trail-related device on the north side of the Cedar Lake Parkway crossing.
LRT protest on K corridor view seven Mpls 8 11 2013
This signal box on the south side of the crossing was festooned with both anti-co-location, and anti-LRT leaflets. Some ripped off, while others remained fresh.
LRT protest on K corridor view two Mpls 8 11 2013
This ripped-up anti-co-location sign was affixed to the same “road closed” sign pictured above. It could be found beneath the fresh ones. All photos taken by Tony Held on August 11, 2013.

BNSF Wayzata Sub: Volume Seven

BNSF westbound Northtown Lincoln power Long Lake 7 10 2013
I was keeping tabs via the “MN Rail” discussing group of a special load bound out of Northtown on the Northtown-Lincoln: a “drawworks” used by oil companies. It was shipped by rail from Canada, and was bound for the port of Long Beach. The motive power on this train…
BNSF Northtown Lincoln with special car in consist Long Lake 7 10 2013
…was BNSF 7958 (ES44C4); BNSF 5824 (ES44AC); and BNSF 2755 (GP39E-an ex BN GP30!). The train moved swiftly past my vantage point…
BNSF Northtown Lincoln approaching green signal Long Lake 7 10 2013
…and on into the lazy, hazy summer evening.  This and preceding two photos taken by Tony Held on July 10, 2013.
DPU of stopped eastbbound beneath Luce Line Long Lake 7 10 2013
The Northtown-Lincoln photographed above passed this eastbound general freight as it waited to meet them on the Wayzata to Long Lake siding. I could not get the number of the GE pictured above. Photo taken by Tony Held on July 10, 2013.


Eastbound BNSF freight departing Long Lake 7 13 2012
Dispatch stopped this eastbound mixed manifest until they gave them a “proceed to next signal” which cleared them down the line. I could only get the number of the trailing unit since it was facing me: BNSF 682 (C44-9W; an ex-Santa Fe warbonnet!) Photo taken by Tony Held on July 13, 3013
Eastbound BNSF grain train Wayzata 7 27 2013
A quick chase from Long Lake to Wayzata netted this shot of an eastbound grain train getting up to speed after being stopped by the dispatcher in Long Lake…
BNSF grain train eastbound at Wayzata 7 7 2013
…as well as this one as the train passed by the old BNSF/Dakota Rail interchange. Power was BNSF 5532, 622, and 979; all of which were C44-9Ws.  The 622 was a treat because it was an ex-Santa Fe Warbonnet!  This and preceding photo taken on July 27, 2013.
BNSF eastbound freight Long Lake 7 27 2013
Turns out another eastbound was hot on the heels of the grain job pictured above. This time it was a mixed manifest I bagged back in Long Lake…
Eastbound BNSF freight in Long Lake 7 27 2013
…which had the following units for power: BNSF 6917 (ES44C4), BNSF 7726 (ES44DC), and BNSF 912 (C40-8W.)   Soon its thunder began to fade…
Eastbound BNSF freight leaving Long Lake 7 27 2013
…as the train rolled away out of sight. This and preceding two photos were taken on July 27, 2013, by Tony Held.
Green main track signal Long Lake 7 27 2013
The approach of the second train was heralded by this signal. Photo taken by Tony Held on July 27, 2013.
Westbound mixed BNSF manifest Long Lake 8 3 2013
Here comes the first of what proved to be three trains I bagged in Long Lake on the same Saturday morning the Tour de Tonka pedaled through town…
BNSF westbound mixed manifest headed for Willow Dr underpass Long Lake 8 3 2013
…this first catch of the morning was a westbound general manifest led by BNSF BNSF 5242 (C44-9W); BNSF 9375 (SD70ACe); and a CSX unit whose number I did not catch. Soon it was followed by…
Another BNSF westbound manifest Long Lake 8 3 2013
…another westbound mixed manifest…
BNSF Westbound ducking under Brown Road Long Lake 8 3 2013
…powered by BNSF 9578 (SD70MAC) and BNSF 8261 (SD75M).
There was an eastbound waiting for them to pass further west of here…
BNSF eastbound splitting the signals at Long Lake 8 3 2013
…which finally hit Long Lake about an hour later…
Eastbound BNSF freight on curve in eastern Long Lake 8 3 2013
…powered by BNSF 4136 and BNSF 5061 (both C44-9Ws). I dubbed this eventful morning the “Train de Tonka”! This and preceding five photos taken by Tony Held on August 3, 2013.
MOW vehicle on Wayzata Sub by signals Long Lake 8 5 2013
No trains thundered through Long Lake on this morning two days later because MOW crews…
MOW vehicle on Wayzata Sub by slow order boards Long Lake 6 5 2013
…were out working on the railroad. This and preceding photo taken on August 5, 2013, by Tony Held.
BNSF Dash nine 4618 Long Lake 8 7 2013
One of the perks of (virtually) trackside living: a view of a locomotive from your apartment! This unit -BNSF 4689 (C44-9W) was the lead of no less than six units on an eastbound mixed manifest that got stopped in Long Lake and then cleared to proceed that also consisted of…
BNSF dash nines 4618 and 5138 outside May St apts Long Lake 8 7 2013
…BNSF 5148 (C44-9W)…
BNSF dash nines 707 and 5138 Long Lake 8 7 2013
…BNSF 707 (C44-9W; BNSF-ized Warbonnet from 1996)…
BNSF GP28M 1544 Long Lake 8 7 2013
…BNSF 1544 (GP28M; ex-BN)…
BNSF SD40 2 1783 Long Lake 8 7 2013
…BNSF 1783 (SD40-2; ex-BN)…
BNSF SD70 MAC 9666 Long Lake 8 7 2013
…and BNSF 9666 (SD70MAC; ex-BN). Only the first three units of this eclectic lashup were under power. The other three were hitching a ride in from Willmar, MN. This and preceding five photos taken by Tony Held on August 7, 2013.

Lest we forget: PT 109

Lt. (jg.) John F. Kennedy, USNR (at far right) and the men of Motor Torpedo Boat 109 pose for the camera in this famous photograph taken a few months before the 109 was lost. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.


Olasana, the Solomon Islands, August 5, 1943

John Fitzgerald Kennedy had known lavish living so far in his youthful life.  A life that until now had been filled with wine, women, song, and literary success with a non-fiction book entitled Why England Slept.

On this island, Kennedy now knew only hunger, thirst, and pain. 

 The only resources he had left with him were his legendary sense of humor and iron will.

With him were the ten survivors of Motor Torpedo Boat 109: Leonard Thom, George “Barney” Ross, Gerald Zinser, Raymond Albert, Charles “Bucky” Harris, William Johnston, John Maguire, Edman Mauer, Patrick “Pappy” McMahon, and Raymond Starkey.

Two other men were destined never to emerge from the waves they had vanished into when the Japanese destroyer Amagiri had rammed the 109 on the night of August 2 during a chaotic night action with the “Tokyo Express”: Andrew Kirksey and Harold Marney.  Hope for them had by now faded in the hearts of their shipmates.

Kennedy had first led his men from the settling bow section of the 109 to Plum Pudding Island on the morning after the collision.  It was a calculated gamble that worked: though Kennedy and his men were surrounded by the Japanese on the nearby islands of Kolombangara and Gizo, the Japanese knew it would be a waste of manpower to garrison tiny islands near these two strongholds.   Plum Pudding proved to be free of the enemy, but lacked a commodity vital to survival: coconuts and their life-sustaining milk.

After two failed attempts to contact PT boats in nearby Blackett Strait by Kennedy and Ross on the nights of August 2 and 3, Kennedy decided to move his men to Olasana.

Today it seemed their situation would grow no better.  Johnston–who had dismissed any idea of prayer as a solace during their ordeal– looked at Maguire –who had a rosary– and said “Give that necklace a good working over.”

Maguire did, and suggested to Thom –the 109‘s second in command– that perhaps they should try group prayer.  Thom demurred.  He knew most of the men did not pray ordinarily, so why by hypocritical and do it now?

Little did they know that a miracle awaited them this day in the form of two Solomon Islanders who served the Allied cause as scouts: Biuki Gasa and Eroni Kumana.

While stopping to investigate the wreck of a small Japanese ship on nearby Naru Island, Gasa and Kumana were startled by the sight of two men they took to be Japanese.  In reality they were Kennedy and Ross, who had swum over to Naru to investigate it, since it was only half a mile from Olasana.  It was to the latter that Gasa and Kumana headed next, where they got another shock: a blond, bedraggled man in tattered khaki appearing out of the palm trees shouting “Come, Come” and beckoning to them with his right hand.  They turned their canoe away, assuming it was the enemy again.  In reality it was Leonard Thom, who called out to them “Navy, Navy; Americans, Americans,” to convince Gasa and Kumana he was a friend, not a foe.

Gasa and Kumana finally paused and looked back at him.  Could they trust this man?

Thom rolled up the sleeve of his shirt so Gasa and Kumana could see the color of his skin.  “Me no Jap,” Thom proclaimed.

The duo was still not convinced.

“Me know Johnny Kari,” Thom tried next, referring to a native scout who frequently visited the PT boat base at Rendova.

Gasa and Kumana still waited.

At last Thom pointed towards the sky.  “White star; white star.” He said.

Gasa and Kumana’s doubts vanished at last.

They returned and, despite a language barrier and the suspicions of the other survivors apart from Thom, the chain of events that would lead to their rescue began.

When Kennedy and Ross returned paddling a dugout canoe carrying a case of Japanese candy and a tin containing fresh water, Kennedy immediately realized that here at last was his chance to contact Rendova and inform them of what had happened and where they were.

Soon Gasa and Kumana were on their way back to the Australian coast watcher they worked for –Reginald Evans– with a message from Kennedy carved with his knife on a coconut husk backed by a supplementary message from Thom scribbled onto the back of an old invoice found on Olasana; a message he had written with the stub of a pencil he had carried in a pocket ever since the sinking.

Kennedy and his surviving crewmen were rescued within 48 hours.

One day Kennedy would stand at a podium on the day of his inauguration as the 35th president of the United States and eloquently proclaim to great applause: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Kennedy could well speak those words, for he himself had once done just that; even during those dark days in August of 1943 when he and the survivors of his PT boat were stranded in the midst of their enemies.

It is unspeakably tragic that Kennedy should die at the hands of a lone fanatic when all that he endured seventy years ago did not.


All facts and dialogue presented here comes from Robert J. Donovan, PT 109: John F. Kennedy in WWII, (McGraw Hill; 40th Anniversary Edition, 2001.)