Saturday, February 2, 2008
Rail cars in Lake Superior
According to the Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal, two rail cars derailed and rolled down a steep embankment in to Lake Superior near Rossport on 21 January. Fortunately they were full of wood pulp and not some noxious chemical but it still gives one pause.
I personally know exactly how many trains go through Rossport on a daily basis. Rossport is one of the most beautiful kayaking areas on Lake Superior. When we paddle out of Rossport we normally spend a night at the Rossport Inn, a historic railroad hotel built in 1884 by the Canadian Pacific, the very railroad whose two cars are sitting in the lake currently. At least a half dozen times during the night the CP freight train blows through town, sounding its whistle per the law, about 50 yards from the hotel's front door. This is the main rail line between eastern and western Canada so you can imagine the traffic.
As you would guess there are people who this disturbs greatly, both from a sleep and an aesthetic standpoint. I am not one of them. The railroad was there first and in fact, is the only reason there is a Rossport in the first place. It kind of like the Yuppies that move into their 1.2 acres estates in the country and then complain that the neighboring farm smells like cow manure. Or, one of our local classics, the 'cidiots' that move into their dream cul de sac next to the Rod and Gun Club and complain that they can hear people shooting. Well, no shit! (sorry, had to get the cow manure pun in there). There seems to be a growing trend to use the government to get your own way, with the Kelo vs New London, CT Supreme Court ruling being one of the most egregious examples. In a nutshell, the city condemned a bunch of working class homes so a developer could use the land for his massive property tax generating development project. If its OK to kick people out of their homes for more tax dollars why not do the same to the manure generating farmer, the noisy Rod & Gun Club, or the loud and dangerous Canadian Pacific Railroad? The article in the Chronicle Journal stated that, "Doug Yurick, co-ordinator of the federal marine conservation area program, said legislation governing the program does not give the government the authority to order CPR to move its rail line". I for one would sure as hell hope not. I could go on about the families that lived on Isle Royale or in the Apostles when those areas were designated national parks but that is a whole post on its own. We need to be very, very careful when we hear that its in the public good to deprive people of their property. And, as I alluded to in an earlier post on snowmobiles and cross country skiers, we need to work a bit harder at finding the middle ground on a number of these issues.