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Like water stations, coal facilities were designed to feed steam locomotives.  Coaling operations came in several different styles.  The largest facilities were giant steel and concrete structures reaching 6-8 stories high.  These giant coal bins often straddled several main tracks and locomotives stopped underneath or adjacent to them to fill up their tenders.  On the other extreme, some small towns or industrial complexes with small steam engines filled their tenders by scooping coal from a pile or coal car on a sidetrack with a power shovel.  

During the 19th and 20th centuries, there were numerous coal stations throughout Michigan.  Almost all towns that had locally based locomotives had some type of coal facility.  Also, coaling  stations were located at intervals along a route so that locomotives of through trains could fill up quickly with minimal delay to their schedules.

It should also be noted that almost every town with a railroad connection received coal, particularly in the fall, winter and spring, for delivery to local homes and businesses.  In the 1945 report by the Pere Marquette Railroad, noted the number of railroad cars full of coal delivered to each small town along their branch lines.

Map:  State of Michigan Map of Coal Mines and Coal Basin [PDF]

The following locations had confirmed coaling stations for locomotives:

Coal Towers  
Abandoned but Existing
Ashland, Wisconsin (C&NW) Photo.
Augusta (straddling E/W Main Line) - (MCRR) Photo
Baldwin (straddling E/W Main Line) - (PM) 250 tons, 2 chutes, oil operated elevator (c.1936) Photo.
Clarendon (on MC's Air Line right of way, Calhoun County) Photo.  Coal hopper built in 1929.
Detroit/Livernois (in yard) - (NYC/MCRR) Photo.
Durand (in yard) -(GTW) Photo.
Elberta (AA) Photo.
Escanaba (C&NW) Photo.  Carter or Clifton chutes with incline trestle.
Grand Haven (now in City park) Photo.
Lake (now on abandoned right-of-way (PM) 250 tons, 2 chutes, electric elevator (west of Farwell)
Ludington (in yard) - (PM) 500 tons, 2 chutes, electric elevator (c.1942). Photo.
Ludington (ferries) - (PM) Pit, electric conveyer (1936)
Lansing  (straddling main track -(GTW) Photo.
New Buffalo (Pere Marquette) on CSX line (PM) 250 tons, 2 chutes, electric elevator (c.1942).  Photo.
New Buffalo or Michigan City on Amtrak (MCRR)  
Pontiac Yard [GTW] Photo.
Saginaw (PM) 500 tons, 3 chutes, electric elevator
   
Removed/Demolished
Bay City/Wenona Yard (MCRR) 1950 Photo.
Blehheim (PM Canada?) 100 tons, 2 chutes, elevator
Crivitz, WI (MILW) West of depot by Henrietta Avenue.  [GB]
Detroit Junction Yard (MCRR) Incline coaling station.  1900 photo.
Detroit (PM) 500 tons, 4 chutes, electric elevator (c.1936)
Detroit/Milwaukee Jct. (GTW) - Steel  
Erie (Ottawa Yard) (PM) 300 tons, 3 chutes, electric elevator (c.1936, 1942)
Flint (McGrew Yard) (PM) 150 tons, 3 chutes, electric elevator (c.1936)
Grand Rapids 500 tons, 4 chutes, electric elevator (c.1942)
Iron Mountain (C&NW) Mechanical coal hoist (c.1932)  [NWL-F/2002]
Iron Mountain (MILW) East of "H" Street.  [GB]
Ironwood (C&NW) Mechanical coal hoist (c.1932)  [NWL-F/2002]
Ishpeming (C&NW) Mechanical coal hoist (c.1932)  [NWL-F/2002]
Kalamazoo - Botsford Yard (MCRR) Wood (c. 1950)
Kalamazoo - Mosel Yard (GR&I) aka "Dock" 100 ton, electric
Lansing (Ensel Yard) [PM] 150 tons, 2 chutes, electric elevator (c.1942)
Marquette (Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic) Wood.  Photo.
Niles (MCRR) 600 tons, serving four tracks.
Pembine, WI (Soo Line) East of depot at end of platform by standpipe.  [GB]
Plymouth - (PM) 250 tons, 3 chutes, electric elevator (c.1942)
Port Huron (PM) 100 tons, 2 chutes, electric elevator (c.1942)
St. Thomas (PM) 200 tons, electric elevator (c.1936)
Sidnaw, MI (MILW) West of DSS&A diamond across from the yard tracks.  [GB]
Stambaugh (C&NW) Mechanical coal hoist (c.1932)  [NWL-F/2002]
Traverse City (PM) 100 tons, 2 chutes, electric elevator (c.1942)
Walbridge, Ohio (PM) 500 tons; electric elevator (c.1936)
Walls, IN (LSMS) West of Laporte. Built in Fall, 1904 and replaced a primitive rope and bucket arrangement in LaPorte.  This is an overhead dock over 3 main tracks.
Watersmeet (C&NW) Mechanical coal hoist (c.1932)  [NWL-F/2002]
   
Other Coaling Facilities
Alma (PM) From cars, by electric conveyer (c.1936); by hand; (c.1942)
Bad Axe (PM) Pit, loaded by electric conveyor; (c.1936, 1942)
Bay City (PM) From cars, by hand; (c.1942)
Benton Harbor (PM) From cars, by electric conveyer (c.1936); by hand (c.1942)
Bessemer (C&NW) Bucket and crane. (c.1932) [NWL-F/2000]
Crystal Falls (C&NW) Bucket and crane. (c.1932) [NWL-F/2000]
Detroit, Junction Yard (Advanced Departure Yard) 8-track coal stock pile yard (~1910-1950)
Edmore (PM) Pit, by electric conveyor; (c.1942)
Evart (PM) From cars, by hand; (c.1942)

Grand Ledge (PM)

From cars, by electric conveyer (c.1936) by hand; (c.1942)
Hartford (PM) From cars, by hand; (c.1942)
Hudson (CN) Referenced in [HCN].  No other information.
Ironwood (Soo Line) Derrick.  Early 1900's.  [Source:   SOO-W/1996]
Lowell (PM) From cars, by hand; (c.1942)
Mt. Pleasant (PM) From cars, by hand; (c.1942)
Muskegon (North Yard) (PM) From cars, by electric conveyer (c.1936) by hand; (c.1942)
Norway (C&NW) Coaling platform - shoveled (c.1936) [NWL-F/2000]
Petosky (PM) Pit, loaded by electric conveyor (c.1942)
Powers (C&NW) Bucket and crane. (c.1932) [NWL-F/2000]
Sarnia, Ontario (PM) Pit, loaded by electric conveyor (c.1942)
Stager (C&NW) Bucket and crane. (c.1932) [NWL-F/2000]
Sturgeon (C&NW) Bucket and crane. (c.1932) [NWL-F/2000]
Toledo Docks, Ohio (PM) From cars, direct coaling machine (c.1936)
Walkerville, Ontario (PM) From cars, by hand; (c.1942)
Waverly (PM) From cars, by crane; (c.1936, 1942)
   

Dale J. Berry, all rights reserved.