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Michigan's Internet Railroad History Museum


1940 - 1949


  • Railroad event or related event in Michigan

  • Important non-railroad event in Michigan or outside.

  • Improvement in Technology         Mining.

  • Railroad built or extended

  • Railroad abandoned and/or removed

  • Economic panic or depression        Car ferries.


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  • Early 40's:  The E&LS shops at Wells rebuild thirteen locomotives, including four heavy saddle-tank locomotives, which are sold to the government for use at army cantonments, munitions plants and air bases.  The shops also rebuilt seven locomotive cranes before the program ended in 1944.  [EDP-12/27/1950]
  • Mid-40's:  The South Shore branch from Soo Jct. to Sault Ste. Marie is downgraded to "service temporarily on irregular schedule".  [MRC-3/90]
  • Mid-40's:  Passengers going across the Straits of Mackinac board DSS&A coaches in Mackinaw City.  The coaches are pushed by a MC switcher into the ferry.  Upon arrival at St. Ignace, the cars are pulled from the boat by the SDD&A's little "Atlantic" 4-4-2 steam engine and the cars are assembled for their westbound train.  [MRC-3/90]
  • Mid-40's:  The State of Michigan requires that the PRR paint yellow and black stripes on the nose of its "doodlebug" rail passenger cars because of a disproportionate number of grade crossing accidents.  [PRHTS-W/2000]

  • Fall:  Oil is discovered about six miles northeast of Reed City.  later this field developed into one of the best in Michigan.  Loading tracks were constructed along Pere Marquette tracks in the west part of town by the Pure Oil Company and the Simrall Corporation.  An oil refinery of 3,500 barrels daily capacity is operated by the Osceola Refining Co.   [PM45]

  • December 31:  Michigan Railroad Mileage Totaled 7,303 miles.  [MDOT]

  • Sometime "Before WW II":  D&M abandons Prescott Division.   [HI]

  • MCRR abandons the Lansing Branch, between SPringport and Lansing.  [MRC-5/1981]

  • In the Transportation Act of 1940, Congress eliminates the discount for carrying passengers and mail on land grant railroads (which were instituted in 1876).  A discount of 50% off regular rates was continued until 1945.  [AAD]

  • The Copper Range purchases its first diesel engine. They now operate nine steam locomotives (down form 22 or more), and 1 diesel. COPR retires itís derrick. [CRH]

  • December 6:  World War II begins after Pearl Harbor is attacked by Japan.

  • Car ferry City of Midland 41 placed into Lake Michigan service by Pere Marquette.  [PMHS]

  • Pere Marquette RR abandons line from Ionia to Kidd, MI, 11.9 miles.   [PMHS/COHS-8/1997]

  • Only 3,000 of interurban railroad still exists, down from 15,000 in 1916.  [STOV]

  • Diesel locomotives are first used in intercity freight service.  [STOV]

  • World War II continues.

  • January 10:  The Chicago & Northwestern puts new streamlined diesel equipment and passenger cars into service north of Milwaukee.  The Peninsula 400 is one of those trains which used this equipment.  Over 5,300 people walked through the new train, parked on display at the Escanaba depot.   Trackage in the U.P. between Escanaba and Negaunee was upgraded to allow operation between 60 and 80 m.p.h.  [IT-5/80]

  • March:  The GTW bridge over the Saginaw River in Saginaw is dismantled, and moved to Alexandria, VA for use on another line during the war years.  The GTW begins using the NYC swing brige.  [MRC-4/1997]

  • June 28:  M&LS discontinues passenger train operations.  Reverts to freight only.  [AATHA-Sp/1991]

  • July 17-24:  Dept. of Street Railway strike in Detroit cripples city transportation.  [DWS]

  • October 6:  The Escanaba Ore Dock Project is launched, to build facilities at Escanaba for the diversion of iron ore from the Minnesota ranges in the event of the bombing of the Sault Ste. Marie locks.  [EDP-12/27/1950]

  • Christmas Day:  An all-time passenger record was set when 1,100 passengers were carried north out of Green Bay in two secitons of the train, the second of which terminated at Menominee.  475 passengers detrained at Escanaba.  [IT-5/80]

  • Pere Marquette RR abandons line from Almont to Port Huron, 30.06 miles.   [PMHS/COHS-8/1997]

  • Pere Marquette RR abandons line from Paw Paw to Lawton. 3.14 miles.   [PMHS/COHS-8/1997]

  • Pere Marquette RR abandons line from Howard City to Greenville, 17.64 miles.   [PMHS/COHS-8/1997]

  • The CK&S removes line from Richland Jct. to Delton.  [NYC-2/1989]

  • The New York Central abandons its line from Bach to Owendale.  [GM]

  • Railroads operate passenger trains at a profit from 1942-1945 as a result of war time efforts.  [STOV]

  • Work is completed on the giant Willow Run bomber plant which makes the B-24 "Liberator" bomber for World War II.  It is converted to an automobile duties after the war.  [BOM]

  • World War II continues.

  • June 15:  The Defense Plant Corporation opens a Dow-operated magnesium plant at Ludington.  It is a companion plant to that at Marysville, Michigan.  [PM45]

  • December:  Willow Run bomber plant in full operation.  [DWS]

  • U.S. railroads jammed with passengers due to wartime gas rations.  [DWS]

  • PM abandons its line between Remus and Big Rapids, 19.02 miles.   [IT-12/80/COHS-8/1997]

  • Pere Marquette RR abandons line from Barryton to Mecosta, 11.23 miles.   [PMHS/COHS-8/1997]

  • Pere Marquette RR abandons line from Beaverton to Coleman, 10.5 miles.   [PMHS/COHS-8/1997]

  • Pere Marquette RR abandons line from Lakeview to Howard City.   [PMHS][IT=2/1974]

  • Pere Marquette RR abandons line from Ionia to Kidd.  [IT-2/1974]  Note: COHS reports this abandonment as of 1941.

  • SNAPSHOT:  The volume of traffic handled in 1943 on the Pere Marquette between Wyoming Yard (Grand Rapids) and Baldwin, measured by net ton-miles per mile of road, was 49.0% of the average volume of traffic handled on the entire Pere Marquette system.  This 74-mile section is used as a connecting link for traffic moving between the Ludington Division on the north and the Detroit and Chicago Divisions on the south.  [PM45]

  • The I. Stephenson Mills in Wells is closed, ending 45 years of logging on the Escanaba & Lake Superior.  [EDP-12/27/1950]

  • World War II continues.

  • December:  U.S. takes control of U.S. railroads for two months (through January, 1944) as a result of labor trouble.  [STOV]

  • GTW Depot in Jackson is removed.   [IT-2/80]

  • A grade separation is built on the Pere Marquette over the new Detroit Industrial Expressway (later I-94).  Construction expense is borne by the federal government.  [PM45]

  • SNAPSHOT:  The town of Marlette receives 109 carloads of coal which is used to heat area homes and businesses.  This delivery is typical for the times in most small Michigan communities.  [PM45]

  • Pere Marquette RR abandons line from Weidman to Remus, 12.99.   [PMHS]

  • Pere Marquette RR abandons line from Harrison to Clare, 16.58 miles.   [PMHS]

  • June 10:  The Pere Marquette places into service a reconstructed drawbridge over the Saginaw River.  It was built by the American Bridge Company.  The total length of the bridge is 60 feet with trestle approaches of 103 feet for a total length of 763 feet.  [PM45]

  • July, 1945:  PM opens a replacement tower and interlocker at Delray.  The new tower has a 56-lever electromechanical interlocking machine with 36 mechanical levers and 20 electric levers.  All signals are electrically operated.  [PM45]

  • September 1:  The Quincy (Copper) Mine closes.  It produced so much copper over the years, it was known as the "Old Reliable".  [MSL]

  • December:  The Grand Rapids division of the Pennsylvania takes delivery of its first diesel locomotive, an EMD SW1 which was at first exclusively used at the GM Fisher Body plant south of Grand Rapids.  [PRRHS-W/2000]

  • World War II continues until summer.

  • The Grand Rapids Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad begins to be dieselized.  This was the first PRR division to be totally converted to diesel power.  [PrTHS-W-2000]

  • Pere Marquette reconstructs bridge over the Saginaw River in Saginaw.  [PMHS]

  • Pere Marquette launches river ferry Pere Marquette 10.  [PMHS]

  • Vista-dome passenger equipment is introduced.  [STOV]

  • The Michigan Central abandons part of the Lansing Branch from Jonesville to Albion.  [MRC-5/1981]

  • Nationally, there are 226,696 miles of railroad track.  [STOV]

  • The New York Central Railroad and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroads incorporate the Lakefront Dock & Railroad Terminal Co. in Toledo, in order to operate coal and ore docks.  Lakefront was on the east bank of Otter Creek and east of Presque Isle.  It was served by the Toledo Terminal Railroad.  [COHS-10/98]

  • SNAPSHOT:  The Fort Street Union Depot yard contains nine tracks with a capacity of 66 cars;  90 lb. rail.  [PM45]

  • The Board of Wayne County Road Commissioners begins development of a plan which proposes that the so-called  John C. Lodge Expressway will pass under the tracks of the Fort Street Union depot Co. just west of the present station.  If carried out, it will require a railroad grade separation and some changes in present railroad facilities in the area.  [PM45]

  • SNAPSHOT:  The Detroit Union Produce Terminal occupies approximately 28 acres and consists of two 2-story brick and concrete produce warehouses and office buildings which cover an area of 175,000 feet.  The facility uses 35 tracks with a capacity of 795 cars.  An average of 55 cars per day are handled through this facility, including 34% for the PM, 62% for the Wabash and 4% for the Pennsylvania.  [PM45]

  • SNAPSHOT:  Pere Marquette's Ottawa Yard, just north of the Ohio State line, is PM's freight yard serving Toledo Ohio and connecting roads at Toledo.  The yard is of the semi-hump type with a car standing capacity of 3,589.  The freight puller runs operate between Ottawa Yard and the several connecting lines at Toledo.  Ottawa Yard is also the terminal of freight runs operating between there and Detroit, Saginaw and Grand Rapids.  An emergency icing station is located at Ottawa Yard, as is a water treating plant for locomotive water supply.  The yard has a 16 stall round house which handles 17 engines daily.  The turntable is 100' long.  The yard has a 3-chute, 300-ton capacity coal dock, built in 1923.

  • SNAPSHOT:  On the Pere Marquette line between Alexis and Carleton, Pennsylvania rail traffic produces 30% of the total car miles, compared with the PM's 70%.  [PM45]

  • Early:  National coal mine strike cripples coal production.  [HI]

  • March 19: The DT&I makes its first trial test of two-way communications with transmitters placed in the yardmasterís office and two locomotives. [MRF-3/1981]
  • June:  Escanaba & Lake Superior takes delivery of its first Baldwin diesel, to replace steam operations on their line.  No. 100 was a 1,000 horsepower unit acquired in June, 1946.  In December, 1947, they acquired No. 101, a 600 horsepower Baldwin switcher.  [EDP-12/27/1950]

  • July 12:  D&M receives its first diesel switcher, a Alco S1 which is assigned to North Bay City yard.  [HI]

  • August 10:  Nation's first streamlined train built since World War II, the "Pere Marquette" enters service making its Grand Rapids-Detroit run in 2 hours, 20 minutes.   [MDOT][PMHS]

  • Detroit & Mackinac Ry discontinues use of steam locomotives, becoming the nation's first all-diesel, line-haul railroad.   [MDOT]  ([HI] describes it as the 2nd all-diesel railroad).

  • New D&TSL depot at Dearoad Yard built.   [IT-4/81]

  • The Pere Marquette has replaced men on all diners with attractive girls to service dinners.  Thirty girls, divided into six crews are working the Detroit-Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids to Chicago runs.  Waitresses are smartly dressed in uniforms of gray-beige, trimmed in aquamarine.  While on duty, all jewelry, nail polish and heavy make up is banned.  With the exception of some eastern roads, the PM is the first in the nation to place women on mail line dining cars.  [MRC-3/1981]

  • DSS&A moves depot, roundhouse, sandhouse and coal dock from Marquette Street in St. Ignace to the waterfront, as a part of a consolidation of rail yards. - [MRC-8/89]

  • Pere Marquette constructs a new diesel engine house at Rockwell Yard, chicago.  [PM45]

  • The Ford Motor Company Rouge Plant boasts 130 miles of track inside their facility, with 21 locomotives and hundreds of units of rolling stock.  Six outside railroads have track connections to the facility.  The power consists of 0-6-0 and 0-8-0 steam switchers, and 1,000 hp Cooper Bessemer twin-type diesels and small old-style box diesels.  Ford has its own locomotive repair shop and company men keep 700 switches maintained, including reparing broken switch lenses and filling lamps with oil.  Ford has only one caboose, which is used when trainmen must ride when moving molten metal.  [MRC-3/1981]

  • Soo Line closes depot in Hermansville.  Baggage house is removed.  [SOO-10/1991]

  • Congress ends all discounts by land grant railroad lines for federal government traffic.  [STOV]

  • The PM track between Elmdale to Freeport was abandoned sometime prior to 1947.  [COHS-1/1998]

  • The ICC grants permission to the GTW to abandon their line from Greenville to Muskegon. [MRF-3/1981]


  • June 6:  Pere Marquette RR is consolidated into The Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.  [MDOT][PMHS]

  • Passenger trains operate over 160,000 miles of U.S. railroad.  [STOV]

  • January 1:  Erie and Michigan Railway and Navigation Company returns leased Alabaster Branch to the D&M.  [HI/MRRC]

  • Nahma & Northern is abandoned.  This was regarded as the last remaining logging railroad in Michigan.  [MDOT]

  • The main structure of the Michigan Central station in Bay City (East Side) burns.  The smaller portion of the station remains standing.  [MRC-4/1988]

  • May:  The last steam engine on the Grand Rapids Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad is sent south to Indiana, making the Division one of the first fully dieselized.  [PRRHTS-W/2000]

    June:  The Pennsylvania Railroad experiments with A-B-A diesel combinations on their GR&I branch.  This combination proves effective in pulling trains over a ruling 1.41% grade between north of Elmira to Boyne Falls, a distance of nine miles.  It also eliminated the need to turn units.  This hill was traversed by the Division's primary freight runs GR6 and GR7, at that time daily freights that were often more than 120 cars long.  [PRHTS-W/2000]

    November 1:  Mineral Range Railroad is merged into DSS&A.  [MRRC]

  • Pennsylvania RR is authorized to end passenger service between Cadillac and Mackinaw City.   [MDOT]

  • GTW lowers track in the old Port Huron-Sarnia tunnel to accommodate taller cars. [MHM]

  • The LS&I acquires 1/2 interest in the C&NW Michigamme Branch from Copps Spur through duncan to Martin's Landing, a distance of 10.6 miles. Construction begins on tracks to Humboldt and Republic Mines, completed in 1952.  [MRC-10/1987]