Story - Physical Condition - Michigan Central Railroad - 1909

The inspection of this line was made July 12, 13, 14 and 15 [1909].  The Chicago Division extends from Detroit to the State line.  This is a double track main line and is laid with 100 pound steel rail, with the exception of 54 miles on east bound track, and the company expects to replace this with 100 pound rail this season.  The track is ballasted with a superior quality of ballast and crushed stone.  The surface and alignment of the track is excellent.  The ties are oak and cedar and renewals have been large.  All soft wood ties are provided with tie plates.  Weeds on right-of-way are being cut.  Right-of-way fence is well maintained.  Highway crossings in good condition.  Wing fences whitewashed.  The bridge structures are in first class condition.  The safety bridge guards at the Pere Marquette R. R. crossing in Springwells Township should be reconstructed.  This division is equipped with automatic block signals.  The passenger stations are generally well maintained.  Special attention is given to the beautifying of station grounds especially at Ypsilanti and Niles. The ballast floor bridges are provided with inside guard rails, the other bridges are not. Switch stands are provided with single targets, switch lights and locks.  All main line switches are connected to automatic block signals.  Safety devices at the several railroad crossings are well maintained. The passenger service is excellent. 

The Benton Harbor & St. Joe Division, in Michigan, extends from the State line to Benton Harbor and St. Joe, in Berrien county.  The rail is 60 pound and in fair condition.  Tie renewals fair.  Split point switches and solid frogs.  Switch stands provided with single target,  switch lights and locks.  No stations on this division of any importance.   This division is not entirely fenced.  Where fence is constructed it is generally satisfactory.  Very little attention given to the cutting of weeds on the right-of-way.  Track is ballasted with a light grade of ballast, and the surface and alignment of track is fair and equal to the traffic presented.  The traffic on this division is light.  No inside guard rails on bridges.  A number of bridge structures being. repaired at the time of inspection.  New deck being placed on Hickory Creek bridge.  No whitewash on wing fences.  Cattle guards of different types; in a number of instances they were found to be too narrow for the opening, leaving from 6 to 15 inches between the cattle guards and wing fences. 

The South Haven Division extends from Kalamazoo to South Haven. The track is 60 pound steel and in fair condition.  The track is well tied; Surface and alignment of track is fair.  However, it was noted that a number of the curves were out of line.  Stations fairly well maintained.  Interlocking devices at crossing of the Pere Marquette R. R. at Grand Junction in satisfactory repair.  Switch stands are equipped with single targets, switch lights and locks. Right-of-way fence in fair condition.  A number of the cattle guards too narrow for the opening. Highway crossings and signs fairly well maintained.  Bulletin boards fairly well maintained.  Weeds on right-of-way not cut. Bridge structures receiving careful attention.  A number of bridges, being reconstructed.  No inside guard rails.  Frogs and switches fairly well blocked. 

The Allegan Division extends from Allegan to Homer.  The rail is 56 and 60 pound and in fair condition. The track is well tied.  Switch stands are provided with double targets and locks.  Split point switches and solid frogs, fairly well blocked.  Surface and alignment of track fair.  Right-of-way cleared of weeds.  Bridge structures receiving necessary attention.  No inside guard rails.  Stations generally small but seem to meet the requirements of the public.  Wing fences not white- washed:  Right-of-way fence generally in fair condition. Cattle guard'3 steel and wood and in fair condition. Track ballasted with a fair grade of ballast.  The surface and alignment of track is fair.  Traffic on this division is light. 

The Battle Creek Division extends from Battle Creek to Findley. The rail is 56 and 60 pound and in fair condition; the ties fairly well maintained.  Surface and alignment of track fair.  Stations small and fairly well maintained.  Right-of-way fence satisfactory.  All highway crossings in good condition.  Split point switches and solid frogs.  Switch stands provided with single targets.  Sidetracks generally provided with safety switches.  Wing fences not whitewashed.  No inside guard rails on bridges.  Switches fairly well blocked. .New deck and caps on bridge at Battle Creek.  Quite a number of the highway crossings and signs need renewing.  Interlockers in good repair.  Right-of-way fairly cleared of weeds. 

The Air Line Division extends from Niles to Jackson. The track is laid with 80 and 60 pound rail and is considerably worn.  The ties are in fair condition.  A large number of ties have been renewed this season, and a large number distributed for renewal.  Right-of-way cleared of weeds.  Wing fences whitewashed. Surface and alignment of track fair.  Switch stands provided with single targets, lights and locks.  Frogs and switches fairly well blocked.  Stations generally small but seem to meet the requirements of the public.   Sidetracks generally provided with safety switches. Only a few of the bridges are provided with inside guard rails. All stations are provided with distance semaphore signals.  Surface cattle guards are of wood and steel and are in fair condition.  Interlockers at the several railroad crossings in good repair. 

The Grand Rapids Division extends from Jackson to Grand Rapids.  The rail on this division is in good condition.  The track is generally ballasted with a good grade of ballast and the surface and alignment of track is good.  The stations are generally well maintained.  Special attention is made of the station at Nashville on account of the neat and clean condition of same as well as the well kept station grounds. Right-of-way fence and highway crossings satisfactorily maintained, with the exceptions of cattle guards.  In many instances the cattle guards are too narrow for the opening.  Bridge structures in good repair.  No inside bridge guards.  Right-of-way being cleared of weeds.  Passenger service on this division is first class.  Stations generally provided with distance and semaphore signal protection.  Interlocker at Hastings at the crossing of the C.. K. & S. in good repair.  All automatic alarm bells at highway crossings in satisfactory  repair.  Switch stands provided with single targets, lights and locks. 

The Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Division extends from Rives Junction to Bay City.  The light rail on this division is being replaced with 80 pound rail and is expected inside of 90 days to have all 80 pound rail on this division.  The tie renewals have been liberal.  Track surfaced with a good grade of gravel. Cattle guards are narrow at a number of the highway crossings.  The right-of-way fence is generally in good repair.  Right-of-way has been cleared of weeds.  The stations are generally in good repair and well maintained.  Switch stands provided with single targets, lights and locks.  Frogs and switches fairly well blocked.  The company is constructing a new station at Court Street, Saginaw.  Safety devices at all railroad crossings are in satisfactory working order. 

The Mackinaw Division extends from Bay City to Mackinaw City.  Right-of-way fence generally satisfactory.  This division has been reballasted for the entire length within the last two years.  80 pound rail is laid for the entire length.  The general condition of the track is much improved since the last inspection.  A number of stations are small for the traffic presented.  A new station is being constructed at Wolverine.  The general condition of the stations is fair.  Stations generally provided with distance semaphore signal protection.  Switch stands provided with single switch targets, lights and locked.  A number of the cattle guards are too narrow for the opening.  Bridge structures in good repair, a few of them provided with inside guards.  Wing fences are whitewashed.  Crossing signs generally satisfactory. Passenger trains blocked a station apart.  Since the last inspection 130 miles of 80 pound rail has been laid on this division.  The ties used are oak, cedar and chestnut; about 85% are oak.  All soft wood ties are tie-plated. About 30 miles of logging branches has been built at different points on this division.  Right-of-way is being cleared of weeds.

From Bay City to Vassar.  Wing fences whitewashed.  Surface and alignment of track satisfactory.  Weeds on right-of-way not cut.  Single switch targets.  80 to 65 pound rail.   The 65 pound is considerably worn;  company expects to renew same with 80 pound rail inside of 69 days.  Right-of-way fence fairly well maintained. The stations are fairly well maintained and satisfactory for the traffic presented.  The surface guards are of wood and steel.  The track is ballasted with a good grade of ballast.  The surface and alignment of track is good.

From Vassar to Owendale.  The rail in the track is 60 pound steel between Owendale and Caro is in good condition, between Caro and Vassar it is considerably worn.  The tie renewals are liberal.  The surface and alignment of track is equal to the traffic presented.  The track is ballasted with a low grade of ballast. Switch stands are provided with single targets, switch lights and locks.  Fence from Owendale to Caro is in good condition;  from Caro to Vassar it is fair.  Weeds on right-of-way not cut.  No bridge guards.  The stations on this branch are generally small but seem to be ample for the requirements of the public.  However, it is noted that the station at Caro is neat and commodious and the grounds are well kept. 

The general condition of the surface and alignment of track on the entire system is much improved since the last inspection. It is noted that the tie renewals have been made much earlier in the season. This no doubt accounts for the improvement in the surface and alignment of track. The passenger service on this  railroad is generally first class.

[From the 1909 Annual Report of the Michigan Railroad Commission, State Library of Michigan.]