Off Track: Investigation continues into cause of weekend train derailment

Joanie Moore, Contributing Writer

Photo by Brad Moore

A Great Lakes Central Railroad train derailed Saturday, Oct. 26 at Lake Street on the east side of US-131 in Mancelona. Seven cars were turned onto their sides. Cars to the north and south were transported to where they had to go, according to Great Lakes Central Railroad General Manager Corey Wolak.


MANCELONA – A Great Lakes Central Railroad (GLC) train was northbound on the east side of US-131 last Saturday morning when it derailed at Lake Street across from West Limits Road, south of the Mancelona Village limits.

Antrim County Sheriff Dan Bean released a statement that the derailment occurred at approximately 11:17 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26 in Mancelona Township.

“The train derailment was a problem in itself,” said Bean, “then we had everyone driving by, curious to see the train.”

Onlookers and passers-by created traffic congestion along the highway, prompting officials to place signage and close a portion of Lake Street.

“Fortunately, we had no injuries,” Bean added.

Corey Wolak, general manager and vice president of operations for Great Lakes Central Railroad, said there were a total of 23 cars to start. The cars were filled with cement, which was being delivered to Elmira, and plastic that was headed to Petoskey Plastics.

“The cars to the north and south were delivered to where they had to go, and there’s seven that are rolled over,” Wolak said, adding that each of the cars was carrying an estimated 100 tons of cement.

Northern A-1 Services Project Manager Mike Deur described the site as a non-hazardous clean-up.

On Sunday, the Kalkaska-based company began vacuuming the cement out of the railroad cars and into cans to lighten the load, making it easier for them to be up-righted. Clean-up continued throughout the day Monday and into Tuesday.

“The equipment is like a giant vacuum cleaner,” said Deur. All of the cement will be hauled away in cans and disposed of at approved facilities.

According to Wolak, the railway is used a few times a week, making regular deliveries to Petoskey and Elmira.

“Those deliveries are stopped until we get this cleaned up,” Wolak said. Work crews from R.J. Corman Railroad Group, headquartered in Kentucky, were on scene early Tuesday morning to upright the cars for removal.

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