Summer Youth Program 2019

2019 marked the 10th year for Michigan Tech's Rail and Intermodal Transportation Summer Youth Program. Once more hosting 14 students interested in transportation, a week of explorations both in the classroom and in the field continued RTP's tradition of pre-university education. 

Students pose for a photo in front of the James J Hill Statue at the BNSF Superior Railyard

Monday, July 8th

The first day of explorations started with a lesson on safety and railway signals, before the first field visit to the LS&I shops and yard at Eagle Mills commenced. Students were able to see how the LS&I keeps ore moving from the Tilden Mine to the port at Marquette, including an up close look at the facilities which maintain the equipment. 

Tuesday, July 9th

The second day continued with lessons and activities on track structure and operations, including some time working with a computer train simulator. 

At the end of the classrom activities, everybody packed up and travelled to Superior, Wisconsin for more tours over the next couple of days. 


Students work on the track structure model activity, wherein they construct a model track bed from scale materials

Wednesday, July 10th

Wednesday was marked by a series of tours throughout the important shipping hub of Duluth-Superior. The first stop was BNSF's railyard, which included a safety briefing, look at the yardmaster's office and a look at the car and locomotive repair shops. Next, Duluth Cargo Connect showcased intermodal transportation options, including a look at their rail-warehouse-truck transload operations, and their intermodal loading and unloading facilities. To wrap up the day, a representative from the Wisconsin DOT joined the group, to do a mock grade crossing safety analysis on site - giving students a chance to evaluate grade crossing equipment and design. 

Students watch as a container is loaded onto a truck at the Duluth Cargo Connect Terminal, the Twin Port's rail-road intermodal hub

Thursday, July 12th

The Twin Ports are tours wrapped up on Thursday with a visit to Halvor Line's headquarters, complete with a tour of the backoffice and truck maintenance bays. Students also got the chance to take the driver's seat in a semi truck! Then the crew headed over to the Duluth Railroad Museum, for a look around their extensive railway history displays and complete with a train ride up the North Shore Scenic railroad in a private railcar! The day concluded with the drive back to Houghton. 

Students pose for another photo with two Halvor Lines Trucks - thanks to UW-Superior and Halvor for their generosity and hospitality! 

Friday, July 13th

The last day of the program began with classroom segments on urban transit, high speed rail, and a maglev demonstration activity. After lunch, the final field visit was held at the local history museum in Lake Linden, featuring the short Quincy and Torch Lake railroad, a demonstration of the old copper mine railroads which used to operate in the area. Everybody even got to operate the gas-powered engine for a few minutes! The final activity, back on campus, was a railroad documentary on the Tibet Railroad in China, which was hosted by RTP's very own Pasi Lautala. 

Students go for a ride around the loop at the Quincy and Torch Lake Railroad in Lake Linden

Thanks to all who support the Rail and Intermodal Transportation Summer Youth Program at Michigan Tech! We'd like to thank all of our tour hosts, including BNSF, the LS&I, Halvor Lines, Duluth Cargo Connect, the Duluth Railroad Museum and Lake Linden Museum, along with the University of Wisconsin at Superior, for hosting the program overnight while in the Twin Ports. 

We're always looking for sponsorship to keep supporting this great program, and expand it to more students. Please contact Dave Nelson at if you are interested in doing so! 

Information about the 2020 program will be posted around the first of the year, so perspective students - keep your eye out for that!