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Posts Tagged ‘railroad’

Over the last several days, there have been a number of trains that have blocked the crossing grades at Ann Arbor Trail, Lilley Road and Main Street for, quite literally, hours at a time. It’s out-of-control. It’s not just an inconvenience. These trains keep us from getting to businesses in the city.

Guess what. There’s not a damn thing the city can do about it. Railroads are governed by federal law and cities and states cannot fine them for blocking crossing grades. Plymouth tried this years ago and the local ordinance was struck down.

CSX shoulld be more cognizant of the needs of the people in the areas where its lines run. CSX should be a more thoughtful part of this community.

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Saturday morning, we had breakfast at Crawford’s Kitchen.  Mrs. Crawford greeted us with brand new menus, the covers which feature historic photos of Old Village.  She proceeded to tell us some very fascinating Plymouth history that she learned while designing the new menus.  She moved to another table and began sharing information with a gentleman in his 60’s who was dining by himself.  The gentleman knew quite a bit about history and began telling the rest of us some interesting things about town.

He explained that he learned a great deal of Plymouth history from a gentleman who had lived here all his life and died in his 90’s.  Through that man, our fellow diner learned that what is now downtown Plymouth used to be referred to as “upper town” or “uptown” and what is now Old Village used to be called “lower town.”  The story, it goes, is that “lower town,” which is east of the rail road tracks was referred to as that because the winds tended to carry the train smoke in that direction.  Upper town, to the west, didn’t get much of the black exhaust.

The differences in the two parts of town, even today, are quite stark.  Our historian friend pointed out the comparative infrequency of brick homes on the east side of the tracks.  Homes in Old Village tend to be wood framed and sided and more “working class” than homes downtown or otherwise to the west.

I’ve noticed (and previously blogged about) the different way in which the City of Plymouth fosters business and development on the different sides of the tracks.  Downtown gets all the festivals and all the infrastructure improvements.  Old Village appears to get. . . well .  .  . nothing.

My wife and I agreed (perhaps in ignorance) that the “upper town”/”lower town” thing smacked of urban legend.  I theorized that it had nothing to do with the train smoke, but the west side of town has always been the “nicer” part of town and, therefore, feelings of inferiority (or superiority, depending on who’s talking) caused people to start referring to that side as “lower town”; lower in everything.

Whatever the case may be, that stories like this are still being told in 2009 is, I think, fantastic.  The oral tradition is alive and well.  Our town has seen enough to tell those stories, to merit remembering.

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I’ve been lauding the opening of the Sheldon-M-14 railroad underpass.   It’s going to be a tremendous convenience to the people of Plymouth and Sheldon Road commuters.

I was shocked, though, to learn several things per today’s Plymouth Observer the most amazing being that the The entire project, which is not fully completed, cost $15,000,000. Yes, that’s right, 15 with 6 0’s behind it.  The project was originally slated to cost $8,000,000.

That’s a staggering amount of money.  I certainly hope that the convenience is worth it to the people of this area.  We’re the ones who are paying for it.

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