Perhaps nothing that could have prepared Cody Massine for the backbreaking work he, his family and the members of Boy Scout Troop 411 went through for his Eagle Scout community service project over the summer.
Massine helped replace 131 railroad ties on the tracks of the Magic City Express in Roosevelt Park, a project that took five days of intense labor throughout the summer.
A 16-year-old junior at Bishop Ryan High School, Massine has some family ties to the railroad industry. His uncle and father both work on the railroad, and Massine said he was into the railroad when he was growing up.
Dan Feldner/MDN •
Cody Massine, a Life Scout with Boy Scout Troop 411, back right, looks on as Darcy Braaten, a Boy Scout father, left, and Travis Waswick, an Eagle Scout with Troop 411, front, handle a railroad tie at Roosevelt Park this summer. Massine, with the help of his friends and family, replaced 131 railroad ties on the tracks of the Magic City Express for his Eagle Scout community service project over the summer.
As if the many hours spent sweating over the tracks in Roosevelt Park wasn't enough, Massine also spent some time over the summer helping his grandma, Shirley Brodehl, collect items near railroad tracks for use in her artistic endeavors.
"This summer when I was at my grandma and grandpa's, we were picking up stuff that was kind of chipped off the tracks and all that," Massine said. "Like spikes and all that that were loose."
It was at a Boy Scout meeting that Massine's scout master mentioned an Eagle Scout project involving replacing the ties on the scale-model train's railroad tracks. After volunteering for the project and making a few phone calls, Massine had things ready to go.
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The ties at Roosevelt Park were getting old, and had been the cause of more than one derailment over the years that took long hours of work from the volunteers of the Railroad Museum of Minot to repair. This was the first major maintenance on the tracks since the railroad was laid nearly 20 years ago, and Massine's group, which included his parents, Kevin and Rhonda, and his 13-year-old brother Austin, did just about all of the work by hand, the way it was done by the early railroad crews 100 years ago.
"There was a bunch of bad ties that we had to replace, so we had to dig them out and put in new ties and then spike them like how they did in the olden days," Massine said. "We didn't really have any tools except for a backhoe to dig dirt so we could get it out of there and a Bobcat. ... Basically we had shovels and pickaxes and wheelbarrows and all that stuff."
With none of the modern machines large railroad companies use to quickly replace track, to say Massine's experience replacing railroad ties for the Magic City Express was "hands-on" would be a massive understatement.
They first had to unspike the old ties and use pickaxes to scrape dirt from underneath the tracks so a jack could be used to lift the section up. After prying the ties out from under the tracks, they further scraped the bottom so it was level and had no obstructions such as rocks that would prevent the new tie from staying flush with the track.
Once the new tie was in position, they packed gravel around it so it would be secure, dropped the jack down and spiked the tie in place. Massine said they were able to do around six to 10 ties per hour.
Even with Massine's past athletic experience as a wrestler and current experience as a guard and tackle on Bishop Ryan's football team and as a second baseman on the baseball team, he was still exhausted after each Saturday spent working on the railroad.
"I was pretty much sore at the end," he said. "After each day with all the work, we were all sore."
Although his Eagle Scout community servcie project is out of the way, Massine still has a bit more work to do before he can achieve Boy Scouts' highest rank. Some paperwork still needs to be filled out and Massine has a couple more merit badges to earn, but he is hoping to earn his Eagle Scout badge by this winter.
Although Massine doesn't envision himself working on the railroad for a living like his father or uncle, he does plan on working outdoors. Once he graduates high school, Massine wants to attend MSU-Bottineau to study forestry so he can become a game and fish warden.
While many high school students aren't all that sure what they want to do after graduation, Massine said he has wanted to become a warden for a while. He has had a love of the outdoors for as long as he can remember, and it has been nurtured over the years by frequent hunting and fishing trips with his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and anyone else who cared to go along.
"I've always been hunting and fishing my whole life," Massine said.
Massine said he has really enjoyed his time in the Scouts. Even the backbreaking work spent replacing 133 railroad ties made him feel good, mentally if not physically. He noted that traits like how to be a team leader and how to always keep a positive attitude are things he'll remember from scouting long after he has to leave once he turns 18.
And in this day and age of global positioning systems and satellite navigation devices that many people would feel practically naked without, Massine added there's at least one more thing he'll remember from his time as a Boy Scout.
"And if you got lost, what to do and all that stuff."