I thought this was intended as a temporary winter seawall.
But Duluth Daily photo (above) and later the Duluth News Tribune had some good coverage of this that straightened me out, apparently these coal cars are just being stored on those tracks, even though they do sit in a storm prone spot. Now, DNT’s Brandon Stahl writes that the train will be moved to Leif Ericson Park. This is a good PR move on the part of The Lake Superior RR in my opinion simply because it will dampen any negative public will over the issue. Although as an often-time food vendor in Leif Ericson Park I can almost guarantee the Buehler is gonna have his hands full keeping unwanted folks away from the cars, and I bet they’ll finish the winter with a few extra coats of paint, too.
But … like I said I thought it was a seawall. There’s a great very detailed blog account of it all here by (I think) MN DOT’s John Bray here But to summarize, when the highway was designed by federal engineers in the 60s and 70s they had originally planned to build a seawall along the entire length of the highway that runs along the lake shore. Including where those rail cars are now. Notice how upset folks are about a few football field lengths of obstructed view for a few months in winter. Imagine, what if the obstructed view was permanent, and for a much longer stretch of lake front as originally planned?
Thankfully, preservationists intervened and fought hard to ensure that wouldn’t happen and instead we ended up with an award-winning and elegant but much more expensive tunnel and bridge system on I-35. Thanks to visionary local architect Kent Worley we also got a new award winning park Lake Place (one-time home of my alter ego ). Obviously, we also saved our amazing rose garden and added the lakewalk. Those two amenities alone contribute immeasurably to the quality of life in this town. All of these things are good for the economy, too, naturally, so this altered plan turned out to be an excellent $ investment in addition to the environmental and aesthetic value of it.
Why do I write all this? If you happen to drive by those rail cars sometime in the next few weeks just imagine three or four miles of obstructed views that we would have had if local people had not ORGANIZED, FOUGHT (nonviolently) and VOICED their opinions until something changed. So, yes, I’m on my soap box and I’ll get off in a second, but I believe this is a great lesson for us all today. And that’s what I mean by Soultrane … that and it made a catchy rhyme/cultural reference
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