Article: Eggs & Liver Sausage RR Would Delight Rail Fans (1956)

By Jean North (Escanaba Daily Press) - January 21, 1956

Railroad fans have increased with the decline of steam railroading. As the coal burners disappeared many men realized that they had never lost their little boy desire to become a railroad engineer. Their yen for trains became a hobby interest and their special delight is the little railroad. There isn't a happier hunting ground for such train fans than the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Train hunting isn't as good here as it used to be, but it's still retty good and the railroad historian and hobbyist can have a wonderful time tracing the old grades that spiderweb so much of the Upper Peninsula and remind us of an era to which branch rail lines were in a constant state of extension and retrraction as they reached about to harvest the forests and pulled back their rails when the cutting was finished.

Many Still Serve

The early era of Upper Peninsula logging harvested the pine and moved it to the mills in river drives. By 1912 the hardwood cut was larger than the pine cut in Michigan and many logging railroads were operated by mill companies. Common carrier roads also served the needs of the mills and the mines and the traveling public.

The Peninsula still is served by the North Western, the Milwaukee Road, the Soo Line, the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic, the Copper Range, the Lake Superior & Ishpeming, the Manistique & Lake Superior ("Hay Wire") and the Escanaba & Lake Superior. The Calumet & Hecla Company operates a road for its own mining needs, and the Inland Lime & Stone Co. and U.S. Steel Corp operate short lines from their limestone quarries to lake docks.

But many are gone, including the Nahma Northern of the Bay De Noquet Lumber Co, has taken up its tracks; the Wisconsin Michigan (Wish I Missed It), Grand Marais & Seney, the Ontonagon Railroad, the Garden Bay Railroad, the Blaney & Southern, the Indiantown & Southern, the Ingalls, White Rapids & Northern (narrow gauge), the Keweenaw Central and others.

63.5 Miles of Line

The Escanaba & Lake Superior is a game of a line for rail hobbyists. It's small enough so that anyone can learn it intimately - it's relatively easy to walk its main line of 63.5 miles from Wells to Channing - and it's office is a happy family type of organization with big, genial Emil Christensen as general manager. And as a bonus there are the E&LS's nicknames, the management-sponsored Efficiency & Lasting Service, and the much more familiar Easy, Lazy & Slow, the Hook and Eye and the Eggs and Liver Sausage.

Christensen started railroading in 1905. The son of a Danish immigrant who became section foreman for the North Western at Marinette, he got a job as a telegrapher with the Wisconsin Michigan, which ran from Menominee to Iron Mountain and down to Peshtigo Point to put ore cars aboard barges for towing to South Chicago. He learrned telegraphy and the next year went to the Noeth Western as a telegrapher on the Peninsula Division, working most of its stations except home base at Menominee and Marinette.

To E&LS in 1909

Christensen left the North Western Feb. 1, 1909 to go to the E&LS. "In a couple of weeks it'll be 47 years," said Christensen.

Then as now the E&LS had nicknames. It is often referred to as the Easy, Lazy & Slow and the Hook And Eye, and sometimes as the Eggs & Liver Sausage. Such names seem more apt to stick to railroads than the Efficiency & Lasting Service.

Christensen was a telegrapher for the E&LS for 22 months, then became train dispatcher. In 1937 he was named chief train dispatcher and car accountant and in 1950 was named general manager.

Heavy Timber Traffic

The E&LS was organized in 1897 to haul timber from the valley of the Escanaba River to the I. Stephenson Co. mills on Little Baiy de Noc. When Christensen was a young station agent at Kates it was common place for the line to haul 100 to 110 million feet of logs in a winter. Most of the timber went to the I. Stephenson Co. at Wells.

The line ran as far west as Watson until 1900, when it was extended to Channing to connect with the Milwaukee Road and give the I. Stephenson Co. a competitive rail connection with the North Western. The road created many branches to harvest timber, including the Mashek, Ralph, Turner, Hendricks and Northland branches. The line operated then as it does now in Delta, Marquette and Dickinson counties. At one time it had a branch to within five miles of Gwinn.

Stations Named

The names of its stations reflect the connections of its executives. The late John W. Wells, manager of the I. Stephenson Co. for many years, named Alfred and Ralph for his sons, Grant and Watson were named for Grand and I. Watson Stephenson, Kates was named for C. W. Kates, the general manager of the line who had a private care like a mobile hotel.

The railroad was a force in the settlement and development of the Escanaba River Valley. Its passenger business was an important part of its operations at one time and it was not unusual for its trains to have 200 passengers aboard. Now the line has but one coach and it wishes that the Interstate Commerce Commission would let it abandon that one and shuck its passenter haul. Passengers have long since shucked the E&LS; its 1954 income from passengers was only $25 for the entire year of 1954 and it came almost entirely from one passenger, H. S. Kaliman of Woodlawn.

Protest Service Cut

But when the E&LS petitioned the ICC to abandon its passenger service about 1945 a public hearing brought out about 300 persons who protested abandonment of the service. When the highway conditions are bad the line may still get a little spurt of business but it's small and brief. When the E&LS started operating there was no highway parelleling it, now the highways have taken away some of its freight business, as well as its passengers.

The E&LS's single coach was bought from the Copper Range Railroad and Master Mechanic Bob Rose says its quite a chore to keep it in rrepair, but it "rides like a buggy."

Plow Kills Deer

The E&LS's snowplow came from Henry Ford's railroad at L'Anse. It had been used on four runs to Channing by Jan. 13 this year and it was only out of the roundhouse twice all last winter. On its last run this winter it ground down a deer. Game is plentiful along the E&LS and it's commonplace for a train to bump a deer. Once in a great while a bear or coyote is killed. Trainmen have brought down injured deer and turned them over to the conservation officers. There's a turn at a field near Mashek and trainmen say when the locomotive headlight sweeps it at night there are often "too many deer to count."

From 1901 to 1937 the E&LS hauled iron ore from Channing to Escanaba, the Milwaukee Road trains using its trackage, but the creation of an ore pool by the North Western and Milwaukee Road ended this traffic.

Five Trains Weekly

E&LS traffic is holding up. however, says General Manager Christnsen. Most of the traffic originating on the line is wood products, with a smaller volume of hay and potatoes. From Wells-Escanaba terminal it draws machinery, wood products, petroleum products, coal. It brings in coal, argricultural products, clay, asphalt, salt, logs, pulp chemicals,fertilizer, machinery.

The line operates through a forest area but forest products do not compose the bulk of its traffic. Surprisngly, it sends more carloads of pulpwood off its line than it originates and brings in off its line for Escanaba manufacture.

All Diesel-Powered

The E&LS is all diesel powered now, but it keeps a steam locomotive in its roundhouse at Wells for emergency steam generation. It opeates a train five nights a week between Wells and Channing, skipping Saturday and Monday nights. The line has 75 employes and lots of traditions. Its men like to tell stories about employees like the late conductor Charles Winchester, who was asked by a lumberjack at Wells the fare to Kates. "It's $1.60," said Winchester.

"That's too much," said the lumberjack, and he started off down the track to walk to Kates, 53 miles away. Winchester said that on the return trip the train was late and as it pulled ilnto Kates, the lumberjack walked into the station. He had covered the 53 miles in 12 hours.