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'We don't belong in a railyard': North Moorhead residents feel boxed in by BNSF cars

MOORHEAD — It has been a dark start to the past few days for Todd Carlson and his neighbors.

He and dozens of others in north Moorhead's Crystal Creek community feel boxed in as more than 150 BNSF Railway cars now line the backyards of their neighborhood just west of Highway 75.

"(I) can't even see the sunrise anymore," Carlson said.

The tracks have always been there, though residents say they have been abandoned for decades. But on the night of Wednesday, Jan. 22, the train horns started sounding and boxcars started bumping.

Crystal Creek resident Cathi Chial said she at first had a hard time figuring out what the sound was.


"(I) thought maybe it was a jet going from the airport," she recalled.

Soon, she realized where the noise was coming from, and she was not happy. "We don't belong in a railyard," Chial said.

Residents got together with Moorhead city leaders Tuesday night to talk about possible options — if there are any.

BNSF said in a statement that it is using the tracks to store the rail cars during a lull in demand. The railway said once demand picks up again, the cars will be taken out of storage.

Chial said a BNSF spokeswoman told her Tuesday that "there will be more cars coming."

But neighbors aren't just concerned about the cars being an eyesore. They also worry about what they might mean for the community in general.

"The impact of having those in our neighborhood doesn't help any of our home values," said Crystal Creek resident Elaine Borud.

Others worry about children's safety.


"Kids are kids, and now they have ladders on rail cars that they feel like they can climb," Carlson said.

Residents are also concerned that vandals will come with cans of spray paint.

And on top of all this, they say their flood evacuation route each spring takes them over the tracks, meaning their escape route is now blocked.

Now, residents want to know why the cars can't be stored just a mile away in a more rural area.

"There is no communication," Carlson said. "Here they are, and now we have to live with them."

Matt Henson is an Emmy award-winning reporter/photographer/editor for WDAY. Prior to joining WDAY in 2019, Matt was the main anchor at WDAZ in Grand Forks for four years. He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended college at Lyndon State College in northern Vermont, where he was recognized twice nationally, including first place, by the National Academy for Arts and Science for television production. Matt enjoys being a voice for the little guy. He focuses on crimes and courts and investigative stories. Just as often, he shares tear-jerking stories and stories of accomplishment. Matt enjoys traveling to small towns across North Dakota and Minnesota to share their stories. He can be reached at mhenson@wday.com and at 610-639-9215. When he's not at work (rare) Matt resides in Moorhead and enjoys spending time with his daughter, golfing and attending Bison and Sioux games.
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