Story - Getting Baggage to Lapeer

Airline baggage check in is a high-tech system that relies on computers, bar codes, bar code readers, automated routing machinery, motorized baggage "trains" and finally hard labor to move the traveler's bags from cart to conveyor belt to the airplane's belly.  It's a pretty sophisticated process.

But now take yourself back to the early days of the 20th century when people traveled almost exclusively by railroads.  They still had luggage to check but there were no computers, bar codes or automated machinery.  The only thing "automated" was the ticket agent's hand stamp and stamp pad as he marked your baggage claim with routing instructions.  It was then up to the baggage man (or conductor for small roads) to get your bags to their destination.  They were probably loaded onto a large hand cart with large wheels by the station agent and then pushed or pulled down the main track a ways so it would be ready to hand load into the baggage car of your passenger train when it arrived.

Rail historian Charlie Whipp has retrieved a wonderful set of baggage claims from both the Grand Trunk Western and Michigan Central Lapeer depots before they closed in the 1960's.  These baggage claims, which are mostly from Michigan railroads, tell an interesting story about the many railroad passengers that transferred from one railroad to another, in the slow process of trying to get from their home town to visit relatives or business associates in the bustling town of Lapeer.

So, clear your mind of modern assumptions and take yourself back to an era one hundred years ago.  Imagine trying to get your luggage, your dog, or yourself from your home town to Lapeer...

This traveler started on the Ann Arbor Railroad, transferring to the GTW at Durand. Starting from somewhere near Omaha, Nebraska, this bag travelled to Lapeer via the Chicago & North-Western Ry. Embarking at East Jordan, Michigan, this rider changed trains at Frederic, Michigan (north of Grayling), taking the Michigan Central to Lapeer. From somewhere in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, this bag traveled via rail ferry over the Straits at Mackinaw and then on to the Michigan Central down to Lapeer.
This traveler embarked at his local station on the Grand Rapids & Indiana, ultimately arriving at Lapeer, perhaps through an interchange in Grand Rapids and Durand. Dogs ride too.  This dog left Durand, arriving in about an hour at Lapeer on the Grand Trunk Railway. Its only a short hop from Davison, near Flint to Lapeer but the bag was too large to carry on.  So it was checked on the GTW. Another, more ornate claim check from the Grand Trunk Railway System.
This traveler started at Hastings, Michigan in Barry County on the Michigan Central, changed trains at Charlotte, and arriving at Lapeer thereafter on the Grand Trunk. Another Michigan Central traveler boarded at some unknown point and rode to Lapeer, via MCRR's Saginaw East Side station. This bag boarded the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad at Buffalo, transferring at Suspension Bridge (NY) and ultimately arriving at Lapeer via the Grand Trunk. Around the turn of the century, this traveler boarded his or her train at Albion on the Lake Shore, taking it north to Lansing and a transfer to the Grand Trunk.  Then on to Lapeer.
A canadian Pere Marquette traveller boarded his train and then transferred to the Grand Trunk in Sarnia or Port Huron.  Then on to Lapeer. The Pontiac, Oxford & Northern Railroad took this passenger to Lapeer, via Imlay City and the Grand Trunk Western. The entire route was eventually owned by the GTW. A long distance rider, this passenger boarded the Rock Island at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, changing trains to the Grand Trunk in the windy city.  

 

 


My thanks to Charlie Whipp for sharing his collection with others.