Station: Big Rapids, MI

MIGN Snow Train at Big Rapids

GRI Big Rapids MI Depot GRI Big Rapids MI Depot GRI Big Rapids MI Depot Big Rapids MI railroad mapBig Rapids was settled about 1853 and became the county seat of Mecosta County in 1859. It was originally called Leonard but it was changed to Big Rapids within the year. The town was incorporated as a city in 1969.

Big Rapids was located on the Grand Rapids & Indiana railroad (from Grand Rapids north to Petoskey) and a Pere Marquette branch line from Stanton which went west to White Cloud in Newaygo and Muskegon. Both lines crossed at grade here.

Photo Info/Credit: Top, the Michigan Northern ran a snow train through Big Rapids in 1979. [Greg Bunce], 2nd, the GR&I depot at Big Rapids in a c.1920 postcard view. 3rd photo, the same depot in the early 1900's. [Both, Alan Loftis collection]. 4th photo, a 2003 view of the same depot. [Dale Berry]. 5th, a map of downtown Big Rapids showing the GR&I and former PM route through town. {USGS/Dale Berry]

Comments from RRHX Bulletin Board ("Bill") 1/9/2004:  The railroad that crossed the Pennsylvania had two connection tracks, one in the northwest quadrant and one in the northeast quadrant.  When that line was abandoned, they left the two connection tracks and a short section of the main line intact.  This formed three legs of a wye, which was left in place until the successor Michigan Northern ceased operations.

Comments from RRHX Bulletin Board ("RSF") 1/9/2004:  The Pennsylvania was crossed by the Pere Marquette line from Greenville-Edmore-White Cloud and Muskegon.  The crossing shows as being protected by a gate only (normally in the clear position for the PRR) in PRR Grand Rapids Division employee time table #2, 9-27-1942.    Traffic generated in 1973 at Big Rapids was 109 carloads (from information in the Conrail system evaluation of 1975).  Note:  Gene Zank added that the PM line from Big Rapids to Remus was abandoned in the summer of 1943.

Comments from RRHX Bulletin Board ("Tom Hynes") 1/10/2004:  The only traffic on the former Pere Marquette trackage in Big Rapids during the Michigan Northern era was Central (?) Concrete, which unloaded box cars of brick at a concrete loading dock built on the northeast leg of the wye.  The only remaining PM trackage at that time was the wye itself, which was the only turning facility south of Cadillac.  Sometimes boxcars of brick had to be wyed as well as boxcars of paper products for Michigan Cigar, which unloaded near the lumber mill on a spur at the south end of town.  At some point, Michigan Northern removed the diamond and it sat alongside the main for about a year but was later reinstalled, and remained in place until the track was turn up.  The track was originally the Detroit, Lansing and Northern, later Pere Marquette.  As far as I know, it was never interlocked, but always a gate.  Two steel posts, about 10 feet high with ornate cast iron tops, were there until the track was turn up, but the gates were gone by 1976.


Comments from RRHX Bulletin Board ("Graydon Meints") 1/10/2004:  The PM abandoned the White Cloud-Big Rapids segment in 1926 and the Remus-Big Rapids segment in 1943.  There were some industrial tracks, a wye track, and a part of the old main line east of the river that were conveyed to the Pennsylvania Railroad.  These lasted, I believe, until at least the 1980's.

1882 improvements: The DL&N built a new water tank at Big Rapids. [DL&N-1882]

1890 improvements. The DL&N moves their depot across the river, enlarges it and paints it, and uses it jointly with the Chicago & West Michigan Ry. [DL&N-1890]


Peerless Oil Refinery. 1931-1933. Served by the PM.