What's New at MichiganRailroads.com...
2019-1120 - Cleaning up typos on many articles. Added about 200 photos, mostly to station pages. Added articles [Stories section] about Jay Gould ad the Wabash railroad in 1881.
2018-1208 - Michigan Railroad History Conference. The date for the 2019 History Conference has been selected. It will take place on Saturday, September 21, 2019 at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor. Click here for information.
2018-1130 - Mine information. Individual pages for Iron and Copper mines have been moved to the Stations | Locations sections. Details (type of ore, mining method, railroad and dock service, ownership, etc. have been added from information received from the summary provided by the Lake Superior Iron Ore assocation (1950). To view the mines, go to the Station list, select the county, and the mining menu's are at the bottom of the page.
2018-1116. The upper peninsula mines have been removed from the individual coiunty station lists, and added to their own list at the bottom. Many additional mines have been identified in all ranges.
2018-0515 - An article about the Ford Rouge Industrial Railroad, and a newspaper account of the E&LS in the upper peninsula.
2018-0409 - Updated Research Section 4 (Serials) and Cross Reference. My thanks to Don Meints for keeping this current. Click Here.
2018-0408 - Added article about the beginning of the Detroit, Bay City & Alpena railroad.
2018-0224 - Bridges. Cleaned up the bridge pages and menu. Added many new significant railroad bridges.
2018-0217 - Link Fixes. Many of the County Maps did not display correctly. These have been fixed.
2018-0105 - Research. The Research Section, which Don Meints maintains, has received its annual update. Also added is a cross reference section. My thanks to Don for keeping this curfrent.
2017-0901 - Maritime. A new "Maritime in Michigan" page has been added to the "More" Menu with links to Marine Traffic Ship Finder and the BoatNerd.com website.
2017-0815 - Historical Markers. The list of railroad related historical markers has been updated with about six additional markers added to the list. Access via the Railroad History menu.
2017-0809 - News Feeds. RSS News Feeds have been added to the bottom of "Today's Railroads" and to the bottom of most railroad webpages. See the latest news articles about the railroad industry.
Instructions for Posting Photos on Discussion Boards. Instructions for posting photos on the discussion boards has been added to the Discussion page.
Recently added or edited articles are listed below. ↓
Railroad: Detroit and Toledo Shore Line Railroad Company, The
Built → Detroit & Toledo Shore Line RR → GTW → CN
Built: 1903 from River Rouge to Ohio state line by the GTW (50%) and the Clover Leaf (50%). The Clover Leaf merged into the Nickel Plate Road in 1922.
Became: Sole ownership by the Grand Trunk Western in 1981, then later merged into the Canadian National Ry.
The Detroit & Toledo Shore Line railroad was a late arrival to the Detroit marketplace. It was a high traffic line built from north Toledo to the Delray area southwest of Detroit in 1903 by the Grand Trunk Western and the Clover Leaf (Toledo, St. Louis & Western).
The Grand Trunk wanted access to Toledo and points south, and the Clover Leaf wanted to tap the fast growing Detroit industrial market. The two roads each owned 50% of the D&TSL and rotated the Presidency of the DT&SL annually between the two owners.
The line quickly became double-tracked allowing high capacity and speed when running trains between these two terminals. The road had terminal yards near Toledo (Lang Yard) and at Dearoad (in River Rouge, MI). Dispatching was performed from yard offices at Dearoad and the railroad had train order stations in Wyandotte, Trenton, Slocum Junction, Monroe, and Lang.
The railroad operated through trains south to Toledo originating at GTW locations in Durand, Port Huron, Pontiac and various yards in Detroit. Eventually, Dearoad was downgraded as a crew starting point and terminal operations were transferred to a location called Edison (south of Trenton). Trains north of Edison were crewed from their originating location on the GTW.
The D&TSL never ran scheduled passenger trains, though at least one depot was built at Monroe which was used for freight and as a block station. A number of passenger specials and excursions were operated over the years.
The Clover Leaf became part of the Nickel Plate Road in 1922 and later merged into the Norfolk & Western. In 1981, the GTW purchased the N&W 50% share of the road and later the GTW merged into the Canadian National railroad.
[MRRC], [MRL], [EFI] and other sources.
Photo Credit/Info: A D&TSL caboose #121 bringing up the end of a puller at Vickers Crossing on the Toledo Terminal in 1975. Pullers operated between Lang Yard and other railroad yards in the Toledo area using Toledo Terminal's belt line. [Charlie Whipp photo]
The authoritative book on the D&TSL and its operations is the "Detroit & Toledo Shore Line, Expressway For Industry" by Charles H. Geletzke, Jr. and Wilbur E. Hague, ©2016, Kutztown Publishing Col, Inc.
Story: Funding the Bay City and Alpena Railroad
Detroit industrialist Russel Alger owned significant logging operations in Alcona County and operated logging railroads in that vicinity. One of his lines in the Harrisville area had been moved north to Black River and at some point, Alger decided to become involved with efforts to combine and extend railroad operations which were centered in Tawas with his logging railroads in Alcona. He was a part of an effort called the Bay City & Alpena Railroad Company which had a goal of connecting with the Michigan Central and points south. This would allow a rail connection with the rest of the country.
Alger and his group hoped that the Michigan Central would fund construction of the railroad and he enlisted H. B. Ledyard, President of the Michigan Central and Ashley Pond who was MC's General Counsel to help. They also received commitments from residents and governments along the Huron shore route for land and construction. The Detroit Free Press reported that:
Alger returned on Tuesday night from a trip to New York in the interest of this company, and yesterday was visited by a representative of The Free Press, who, after calling the attention of the General to the article in reference to the proposed line of the road and receiving an assurance of its accuracy, asked the question: "Can you give us anything of interest as of the result of your journey?"
Gen. Alger answered as follows: "My journey has resulted in a decided disappointment. Several weeks ago, you will remember, Mr. Ledyard, Mr. Pond [of the Michigan Central railroad], and I went to New York to consult with Mr. Vanderbilt about this road, and after submitting to him plats, statements of population, resources and other matters, Mr. Vanderbilt said that under certain conditions as to bonus, right of way, etc., the road would probably be built,
I asked him: 'What shall I telegraph to them?' and he answered: 'You may telegraph them that if they fulfill their agreements they will have the road.' Mr. Vanderbilt then directed Mr. Ledyard, who was present, to have an engineer prepare estimates, and Mr. Ellis was selected for the purpose. He performed his duty and last Friday was appointed as the date when a decision would be made which decision I had no doubt would be to build the road.'"On Friday the Executive Committee [of the Vanderbilt interests] decided not to build.
"A meeting in favor of the railroad is to be held in Oscoda to-night and I have sent to that meeting the following telegram:"
But Vanderbilt and his men had second thoughts. The Free Press article continued:
Detroit, March 30, 1881. Geo. L. Maltz, Oscoda, Mich.: Returned from New York last evening. Saw Vanderbilt. He talked exactly opposite from what he did when I wired you before, and says the Michigan Central will not build road this year. We may try other methods, but will of course do nothing unless the full bonus is subscribed by perfectly responsible parties, and full right of way is given over the whole line including lake route through Oscoda and ample terminal facilities at Alpena. (Signed) R. A. Alger.
Reporter-"Will this be a death blow to the road?". Gen. Alger - "No, sir. We have been greatly disappointed, but we will try to accomplish it, and much depends upon the meeting to-night. We mean to have a road from Bay City to the Straits along the shore. Such a line will avoid the deep snows and will be entirely free from heavy grades."
The interview was extended to somewhat greater length Gen. Alger going a little into detail on some points not necessary to dwell upon here. He, however, on being pressed for an explanation of the unexpected change of front by Mr. Vanderbilt, said that he had had a long conversation with Mr. Vanderbilt on that very subject and that the reason was the heavy snows of the past winter had cut down receipts and increased disbursements to such an extent that he did not wish to load down the Michigan Central with any heavy expenses at present.
It is certainly to be hoped, for the sake of Detroit, if not for the lake shore people that Mr. Vanderbilt, as soon as spring is fairly opened, will see good reason to reverse his decision, for no one doubts that the road will be built, and if it is not taken in hand by the Michigan Central, some other corporation will take hold of it - perhaps the Flint & Pere Marquette, in which case Toledo and not Detroit would be the real terminus.
The railroad was ultimately built north to Alpena (and to Alger forest interests in Presque Isle and Montmorency counties) and connected on the south with the Michigan Central at a junction called "Alger" which was in northwest Arenac County just north of Standish in 1883. This turned out to be an undesirable connection with the Michigan Central as they apparently held the successor Detroit, Bay City & Alpena (DBC&A) hostage in rate setting and service. Service to Alger also required use of a high and lengthy bridge wooden trestle bridge over the Rifle River, which must have been expensive to maintain.
Once the line was reorganized as the Detroit & Mackinac in 1896 with funded by Boston interests, a new main line south from Emery Junction (near National City) was constructed along the Huron lake shore to North Bay City and a connection with the Pere Marquette, the Grand Trunk Western and the MC. The connection at Alger was severed and the D&M line truncated at Prescott.
[Excerpts of this article were taken from the March 31, 1881 edition of the Detroit Free Press] Other information from [MRL].
Photo Info/Credit: This is an early photo of a DBC&A train on the Rifle River bridge near Alger, Michigan.
Story - Thousands Flee When Northern Mich. Towns Are Swept By Flames - 1911
Alpena, Oscoda in Fire District, Cheboygan Threatened.
Worst Conflagration in history of state aided by wind.
Oscoda Wiped Off Map
Train Crews and Loggers Trapped by Advancing Wall of Fire Across Upper Part of State - Fire Fighting Apparatus Wrecked in Forest, and Trains are Cancelled - Railroad and Wire Communication with Fire-swept Villages is Cut Off - Flames Spread with Great Rapidity on Account of Dry Condition in Upper Michigan.
Smoke from the burning villages in the upper part of the state, reaching this city early this morning and everywhere there is a blue haze and smoke smell which has aroused curiosity of local citizens and resorters.
The town of Oscoda, with a population of 864, has been completely wiped out by forest fires.
Au Sable, across the river and adjoining, with 900 inhabinants, is being swept by flames and it is feared that it cannot be saved.
Alpena, population of 6,859, suffers $95,000 loss.
Cheboygan, population of 6,849, is threatened, though in no immediate danger.
Millersburg and LaRocque, two villages half way between Cheboygan and Alpena, have been destroyed, according to the latest reports. Confirmation of the report cannot be obtained because of burned wires.
The 1,800 inhabitents of Oscoda and Au Sable are being taken away from the burned and burning towns on a big steamer, which attracted by the flames, put into the harbor, and on Detroit & Mackinac railway trains made up of freight cars.
Fire Fighting Train Wrecked
The special train, bearing fire apparatus and men started ffrom Bay City to the relief of Alpena, was wrecked somewhere in the burning forests north of East Tawas.
The fire area is spreading rapidly all over the northern part of the lower peninsula from Au Sable and Alpena on the Lake Huron shore, to Petoskey and Traverse City on Lake Michigan.
The crew of a logging train which reached Wolverine over the Haakwood branch of the Michigan Central railway reports considerable difficulty in running through the blazing forests and that an overrhead bridge was burning when they crossed. They fear that another logging train which is still back from Wolberine will not be able to reach safety.
The second train has right of way on the line, so no warning can be sent of the burning bridge and there is fear that the crew will run into the wreck of the bridge.
Cut Off By Wall of Flame
Conductor Spenser and a train crew are cut off by a wall of flame and a burned bridge on the Pigeon River branch of the road. The train cannot be brought through until after the fires are out.
Between 50 and 60 flat and box cars are reported burned on various logging branches.
A crew of woodchoppers on the Richardson branch were forced to leave their tools and flee for their lives before the advancing flames.
Many lumber camps are so situated that escape for the men will be difficult.
Cadillac reports that Lake City, the largest town in Missaukee county, is threatened. Trains on the G.R.&I. railroads, north of Cadillac, have been cancelled, being unable to force their way through the fires. The entire country is under a pall of smoke.
Petoskey reports two cottages a mile from the city burned, and the villages of Ball Siding and Bay Shore in grave danger. G.R.&I. traffic above there was stopped yesterday afternoon at Curfew, a village near Boyne Falls. One man was caught in a burning cottage and nearly suffocated, but was rescued in time and will recover.
Many Towns Threatened
Two fires in farm timber tracts near Traverse City, did $2,000 damage. A barn of the Traverse City brewery was burned with a loss of $1,000.
Booneville, south of Traverse City was threatened by a forest fire, but the city fire department extinguished the flames.
While the first report from Trowbridge to the effect that the little village was wiped out was incorrect, two houses were burned and others are in danger.
The flames are reported leaping across the track of the G.R.&I. toward Traverse City.
Antrim county, of which Bellaire is the judicial seat, is reported swept by flames, as is Oscoda county, of which Mio is the seat.
A G.R.&I. train arriving at Boyne Flls, ran through smoe and flames for three miles.
- St. Joseph Daily Press 7/12/1911]
Story: Jay Gould Passes Through Detroit
Jay Gould Visits the Detroit, Butler & St. Louis
A Special Train of Directors Meets Him at Butler [Indiana]
Adrian Becomes Intensely Hospitable and Enthusiastic
The Wabash, Its Last Purchase, and What Effect it Will Have Upon Detroit
The Union Depot and How It Interests the Wabash People
Intimate Relations Between the Wabash and the Great Western Railway
The Jay Gould Visit
On Thursday evening [around June 11, 1881]at 5 o'clock a train consisting of Engine No. 24, of the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee Railroad, drawing a smoking coach and the directors' car of the same road, steamed out of the depot at the foot of Brush street, having on board James F. Joy, James McMillan, John S. Newberry, R. A. Alger, Allan Sheldon, George W. Balch, Directors of the Butler; C. Sheaby, Northern Passenger Agent of the Wabash; H. C. Bell, Superintendent for the Construction Company of the Butler, and C. H. Ellis, Chief Engineer of the same road. William A. Underwood, of Adrian, was also an invited guest, as were also representatives of the Detroit daily papers. This party had been hastily summoned to go to Butler and receive Jay Gould, who was about to take his first look at what will soon be an important portion of his favorite road.
From Detroit to Adrian
The trip was expected to be a quick one, as the track was ballasted the entire distance, and except in one or two spots was in excellent order. At Belleville a stop was made, and a comparison of watches showed that the run had been made at the rate of thirty-eight miles an hour. D. L. Quirk, one of the most ardent friends and efficient workers for the Butler Road joined the party at this point. At 6:48 Milan was reached but the excessive rains of the proceding day or two had interfered with the track a short distance beyond this point, resulting in an exasperating delay which prevented the arrival of the train at Adrian until 9:30.
From Adrian to Butler
At Adrian the train was boarded by Mayor Navin and other citizens, Mr. Blanchard, Dan Casement, the contractor, and representatives of the Adrian press, who brought with them a supper for the paty. The stop was a short one and when the train again started Mr. Blanchard, Mr. Casement and the representative of the Adrian Record remained on board. For twelve miles southwest of Adrian the track had not been ballasted, the engineer had never been over the road, there was no connection to make, and the run was made with praiseworthy deliberation, stops being made at every water tank and site for a station, so that it was after 3 a.m. when the train came to a stand still alongside of the special car which had brought Mr. Gould and party. and which was side-tracked at Butler.
Is a village of apparently about 500 inhabitants, and has sprung into prominence since the construction of the road which has made it more widely known than many a larger place. The hotel at the depot, which sets a good table, is small, and consequently being nearly filled, only a portion of the party could obtain beds. There being sleeping accommodations for but four of the rest on the cars, the remaining four or five walked about the place in the early morning, and in other ways, until breakfast time, tried to forget sleep and hunger.
At 6:49 the lever was pulled for the return trip and here is the time and place to say something of the three men who constituted the crew of that locomotive. O. F. Holmes, the engineer, and John Riggs, the fireman, had been continuously on duty since 5:30 the previous morning, but they were wide-awake and ready for any duty while with them was H. C. Bell, Superintendent, who had not left the engine since the start, and who througout the entire trip was indefatigable in his efforts to make everone individually happy, and at the same time to attend to the safe running of the train, which from this point was enlarged by the addition of Mr. Gould's own car, the Convoy, his part consisting of himself, A. L. Hopkins, First Vice-President of the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad; Col. R. S. Hayes, President of the Internatinal & Great Northern Railroad; Col. R. Andrews, General Superintendent of the Wabash east of the Mississippi, was also with Mr. Gould, and A. W. Quackenbush, Master Mechanic of the Eel River Division, was on the train.
From Butler, or rather from the end of the Eel River track to the Ohio State line, is pecularily situated. The right of way was procured and the track laid, until the crossing of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway, three-quarters of a mile from the station, was resisted by that company and the matter taken ito the courts. On examining title, it was found that the latter road under a lease, was occcupying the right of way of the original franchise of the Eel River Railroad, granted under another name, and that the right to run a parallel road and to make a crossing in the direction of Detroit had been expressly reserved, so that there would have been no necessity of procuring a new right of way if the terrms of this old frnchise had been understood. The line runs alongside the Air Line of the Lake Shore for three quarters of a mile, then crosses it, runs nearly five miles in Indiana, then crosses the northwestern corner of Ohio for a distance of thirty miles, passes through Montpelier, running three miles on the abandoned grade of the Canada Southern, and then coming into Michigan. Most of the track to Adrian (except the twelve miles noted) was in tolerable order, and but for the rain would ha5ve been quite smooth. The run lasted until 11 o'clock, when Adrian was reached and was devoid of any noteworthy incident.
The Reception at Adrian...
Was an unexpected ovation. On the platform was a band and a concourse of people, numbering several hundreds; while from want could be seen from the cars, it appeared as if half of the teams in Lenawee County had been concentrated at that point. The Mayor and a small reception committee stepped aboard the train, greeted the visitors, escorted the entire party to open barouches which had been provided for them, and then, accompanied by a procession of several hundred vehicles of various kinds, made a tour of the most attracive portions of the city, stopping at the Lawrence House, where a number of leading icitizens were assembled to meet the guests. An elaborate and elegently-served luncheon had been provided which was rendered all the more pleasant by the total omission of any speaking or formaility, the only approach to such thing being a toast - "The Prosperity of Adirian" proposed by Mr. Gould and drank in bumbers, standing. The visit was short but very delightful, and the size, beauty and business aspect of Adrian caused much surprise ad favorable comment. The reception was entirely impromptu and was not thought of until after a telegram had been received from Tom Applegate, who had joined the party at Butler and had notified the Mayor that Mr. Gould would be able to make a short stop. The credit for the affair is largely due to the Mayor, T. J. Navin; City Marshall W. A. Todd; Alderman W. S. Gardner, Maj. Howe, of the Peninsula Car Works, and Messrs. T. J. Tobey, S. E.. Hart, W. S. Wilcox, W. T. Lawremce. amd Dwight A. Witney, Manager of the Lawrence House.
From Adrian to Detroit
The ride was particularly pleasant. The party was enlarged by the presence of W. T. Lawrence and Dwight A. Whitney and after the reception and ride a feeling of better acquaintence appeared to prevail all round, and much of the conversation was of a character which would hae been exceedingly interesting to the public had it been thought best to allow the reporters the privilege of printing all that was said. Mr. Gould talked freely on various topics, observing, however, some reticence as regards those important business matters having a direct bearing upon the interests and future of Detroit. Still, from what he said persoally, and what was said by the gentlemen in his confidence, the following may be given as under the approving seal of authority;
Mr. Gould looks upon the Wabash as his favorite property. The Wabash, in spite of all that has been said in reference to its debt, etc., has only $23,000 of outstanding bonds to the mile, and of stock $7,000 each of common and preferred to the mile. The Wabash Railroad, in all its branches, is in splendid order, and as to the Butler, the country through which it runs especially pleased Mr. Gould. He was delighted with the easy grade over which sixty cars would only be a load for a locomotive, and he sees in the near future a large and growing local trade along its entire length. He also proposes to utilize it as an outlet for some very fine coal mines he controls, about seventy mles from Logansport near the Illinois line.
The Butler Will Be The Main Line...
Of the Wabash without any doubt, and on account of recent changes has become of greater importance than has hitherto been anticipated. Within three days the Indianapolis, Peru & Chicago Railroad has been purchased by the Wabash, and this line affords the necessary connections to place Detroit on the shortest and best line (almost an air line) to St. Louis, to the Pacific roads and to the South. The fast trains will all run by way of the Butler, and Detroit will stand in its proper place as sentinel of the gateway between the East and the South and West. The road will come into the possession of the Wabash on the 1st of July, but the through passenger trains will not be run before the 1st of August.
On The River
The train arrived at the station foot of Brush street at 3:30, and almost all who had shared in the ride accepted a courteous invitation from Messrs. Newberry and McMillan to accompany them on their yacht Truant. Mr. Newberry himself took the wheel, and the run was made, first up nearly to the Water Works and then nearly down to the Fort, keeping close in to the shore so as to give a comprehensive idea of the magnitude and importance of the river front, and to show...
The Union Station Grounds...
Which can be seen to better advantage form the river than from any other point of view. They extend from the Michigan Central Railroad property, to a point 2,750 feet below, have an average depth of 500 feet, and the Wabash track entering from below will come in without a curve, until within the yard. This however is a subject of too much magniture for trreatment in this article; suffice to say the effect upon the visitors of seeing the property was all that could be desired.
Who Went East.
The moment Mr. Gould stepped from the car in the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee Depot, he was met by Mr. Broughton, and with Mr. Joy and one or two others withdrew for a few minutes before going on the river. what was the result of that conference has not been officially amnnounced but it is well understood that the connection between the Great Western and the Wabash will be close and intimate, and that Detroit wil be on the great through route from New York to the City of Mexico. Last night the following officers of the Great Western went East with Mr. Gould: Col. Gray, President; J. Bald, Talford McNeil, F. Boughton, General Manager; G. B. Springgs and A. H. B. Spiers.
[Editor's Note: This story is from the Detroit Free Press, June 11, 1881. The construction railroad which would later be known as the Wabash between Detroit and Butler, Indiana had just been built and would be purchased by Gould's Wabash line within the month. It appears that the part of the line from Delray to Fort Street Union Station had yet to be built, however the Wabash connection from Delray to near Beaubien was in place allowing access to Brush Street Station. The interlocking at Delray was probably not yet in place. It is interesting to note that many railroad officials retained use of their wartime titles, even though this is sixteen years after the civil war].
Boston Interests Lose the Michigan Central
[Detroit Free Press, June 25, 1878]
It is Now Owned and Managed by William H. Vanderbilt
Particulars of the Annual Election
Who Were Present, What They Did and How They Did It.
Some Character Setches of the Participants and Lookers On.
Votes Cast for the Respective Parties and How The Election Resulted.
Mr. Vanderbilt Owns 99,665 Shares, Which is a Clear Majority of the Whole.
A Visit to the Repair Shops at Grand Trunk Juncton.
Expressions of Opinion b Corneus, William K. and Capt. Jacob Vanderbilt.
Views of Mr. Worcester and Senarre Wagner and Ashley Pond.
The Board to be Conservatively Managed and wt as much Regard as Ever t the Interests of Detroit and Mihigan
Whar Some o he Mechants and Busiess Men of Detroit Think of the New Regime.
An Opinion by Some Business Men In The Interior.
The meeting of stockholders was called for 10:00 AM in the office of Assistant Gen. Freight Agent Baron, though it was near 20 minutes past the time before the gavel came down. When everything was in order, James F. Joy, for many years the one man power of the Michigan Central, called the meeting to order without preliminary flourish, where upon William H. Vanderbilt moved that Augustus Schell take the chair. The motion was seconded and carried, and R. G. Rolston was made secretary. The latter read the call for the meeting.
Mr. Scheel – "Gentlemen, you have heard the reading of the call. What is your pleasure?"
Mr. Joy –"There is no formality required by law in the state as to the manner of voting. We have usually appointed tellers or inspectors and for this occasion ex-Gov. Baldwin, C. H. Buhl and Mr. Catcheon, United States district attorney, have been named. Gov. Baldwin and Mr. Buell are present but I do not see Mr. Catcheon. I suppose, however, he will be here in a few minutes."
W. H. Vanderbilt – "Oh, well, there's no hurry. We will wait for him unless there be objection."
Mr. Schell – "Two of the tellers are on hand. We may as well proceed."
Thereupon, Mr. Schell, who is been aptly described as very much resembling the Lone Fisherman in the expression of his face, moved his chair to be head of the table. At his left and a little back sat W. H. Vanderbilt and Capt. Jacob H. Vanderbilt his uncle, a venereal looking gentlemen, with the characteristics of "the family," conversing together in low tones. James F. Joy sat with his chair tilted against the wall, and with the serene countenance. The natty, snapeyed Ralston occupied a seat directly opposite Mr. Schell, and after Mr. Cutcheon arrived the tellers sat on the right president of the President at the same table. William K. Vanderbilt was sandwiched between Capt. Jacob and Mr. Joy, and young Cornelius stood with his modest straw hat his hand looking over the shoulders of Mr. Buhl as the certificates were called off and passed into the hat. A few stockholders and several representatives of the press, including "Bismarck," of the Chicago Tribune, completed the personnel of that particular room. The business of voting being of a necessity dry, tedious and monotonous, those who had come to ascertain results found themselves without other occupation than the weary one of waiting. However, the process the presence of the Vanderbilt family, under circumstances of revolutionary significance to the great Michigan Central Railroad was in itself a fact of sufficient interest to give the waiting ones plenty to talk about and think about. All sorts of speculation were indulged in, chiefly with reference to what, if any, changes would likely to result from the clearly foreseen Vanderbilt victory. It was the general voice that Mr. Ledyard would be retained in a management capacity, but here and there could be found a man radical enough to prophecy a "complete cleaning out of the whole thing and a new deal all around." One gentleman of athletic taste remarked to his neighbor that Cornelius was an extremely well-built young fellow."
"Y-e-s" was the reply. "Vander-bilt."
The laugh that followed the witty man's bad pun did not stop the counting of certificates, but the gentleman around the board elevated their eyebrows in mild surprise, while the over whelmed and blushing poster intently studied the trademark in the crown of his hat.
Modus operandi of receiving and counting the votes was very simple withal monotonous. The shareholders, 833 in number, who favored the reelection of the old board, had sent in their poxies to Moses Taylor. They were all in prescribed form, being printed blanks, setting forth that A. B. Was the holder of certain shares in the Michigan Central Railroad and that he authorized Moses Taylor, of New York to vote for him the whole number of his shares at the coming election. These blank proxies, a formidable heap of paper indeed, were piled up, hat high, in front of Christian H. Buell.
Some clever clerical hand had arranged the list in alphabetical order and it began with the Adams, of Boston, and ended with the Van Cleaves, of Lewiston.
By the way Mr. Van Clove, like old Commodore Vanderbilt, was originally a steamboat man, beginning in 1816 as clerk of the first steamer that plied upon Lake Ontario. Later, in 1842, in connection with another gentleman he introduced propellers upon the lakes, the screw being then a new invention of Erickson of monitor fame. Capt. Blake and the other old-time commanders of the Lake Erie steamers, could not find language severe enough to express their contempt for the screw method of propulsion of steam vessels, and, lacking words, divisive fully elevated their coattails in the derogation. However, when Capt. Van Cleave loaded down his propeller with thrice the freight that any of the steamers could carry, and saw her triumphantly plow her way through the deep layers of ice flows in Buffalo Harbor, at the early spring months, the slightly changed their tune.
Capt. Vancleave bought his stock in the Michigan Central at par and kept it for many years receiving grand dividends. At length it went down, and kept falling and falling, and when it reached 66 he disposed of it. He subsequently bought it all back at 38, and now only regrets that he did not take more at the same figure.
In contradiction to this class of the old time stockholder of the Michigan Central was another party, with an unmistakably sharp and shrewd air, and with out communicative, who took pains to let it be known that if the election was any where close he had it in his power to break the tie, and to add force to his words, produced a pocket-book containing a large packet of paper. He also caused it to be known that he was trustee for a mining company in one of the Rocky Mountain states. Being interrogated by a reporter, his residence, he said, was between San Juan and State Street, Boston, in which city he was formally a broker.
It did not appear that the election was nearly enough balanced to enable him to sway it either way, and he departed; when he returned the affair was over.
All this, however, is a digression, a side issue, of which the leading actors in knew naught. It was only observable as a bit of by play while less engrossing matters had the boards. Let us return to the voting.
Sullivan M. Crutcheon had the official list of shareholders, from which he read the individual's name and number of shares. The list was verified by ex-Gov. Baldwin, who referred to the transfer book, and seeing that the name and amount corresponded, Mr. Buhl took the proxy and laid it aside. About as easy and progressive a task as counting the ballots on election day.
The Vanderbilt interest had but little to do with the proxies. There were a few, however, thrown carelessly into a stovepipe hat that stood in the center of the table. A mere handful of the most ordinary looking paper in the world, but, at the same time, a handful that were represented a plump ten millions of property.
As the moments go by, broken only by the sound of voices of the tellers, and it is apparent that two or three hours will be required for the count, a motion is adopted that the polls will close at haf-passed one, provided all the votes in hand were counted by that hour.
Cornelius Vanderbilt, a gentleman thoroughly posted in finance, goes into the next room and consults with general and son Steger and Edwin D Worchester, the treasurer of the New York Central, a man whose knowledge of figures is said to be marvelous and intuitive.
William K Vanderbilt takes a little turn about the depot. He has the reputation of being well accomplished in the general traffic business of railroads.
After passing a joke or two with Augustus Schell, exchanging a word with John Newell, general manager of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern – and enjoying a brief chat with George V. N. Lothrop – William H. Vanderbilt accompanied by Sen. Webster Wagner takes a stroll down the depot yard to inspect a new Wagner sleeping car. Then Mr. Vanderbilt makes a call upon General Manager Ledyard and complements him on the business like appearance of the office. When he returns and the others resume their places it is well high noon. Presently the dispatches from New York begin to arrive. They relate, doubtless, to the price of stocks, and are for the most part, addressed to Mr. Worchester or General Stager. After being read and noted in the inner room they are presented to Mr. Vanderbilt, who shows them to Mr. Schell, who sits beside him.
At length the result appears in this wise: Samuel Sloan, Moses Taylor, George F. Talman, John J. Astor, Isaiah Bell, Roswell G Rolston, Nathaniel Thayer, Edward Austin and Dexter Richards, being the old board, receive 54,125 votes. William H. Vanderbilt votes as his own possessions, 62,000 shares; his sons vote 20,000 and his friends whose names appear below, 17,665 shares. That foots up a total of 99,665 votes for the following board of directors:
- William H. Vanderbilt, New York.
- Cornelius Vanderbilt, New York.
- Samuel F. Barker, New York.
- William K Vanderbilt, New York.
- Anson Stagger, Chicago.
- Ashley Pond, Detroit.
- William L Scott, Erie.
- Edwin D Worchester, New York.
The total number of shares in the company is 187,373, and it will be seen that Mr. Vanderbilt owns a clear majority of the number. It is decided that the transfer book shall remain closed until August 1, and the party adjourn for the dinner in Mr. Vanderbilt's traveling car – conveniently at hand in the depot.
Mr. Rolleston, the four former secretary, bustled about and gathered up his books to retire. A reporter remarked to him that he seemed to be somewhat surprised or disappointed. He responded that he was not at all disappointed; that he was president of the Farmers Loan and Trust Company of New York, and had about all he could attend to. The secretaryship of the Michigan Central had been useful to him in connection with his other business but, being engrossed in other affairs, he could resign it without feeling any disappointment. After dinner the new directors held a meeting at which the following officers were chosen:
- President – William H. Vanderbilt.
- Treasurer – Cornelius Vanderbilt.
- Secretary – E. D. Worchester.
- Executive Committee – William. H. Vanderbilt, Augustus Schell, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Samuel F Barger.
A resolution was adopted discontinuing the salary paid to the president and material materially reducing those paid the treasurer and secretary.
General Manager Ledyard had a car and locomotive in readiness, and Mr. Vanderbilt, passing a facetious remark about Mr. Worchester's increased clerical duties, the meeting adjourned. Getting on board of the car, Mr. David Sutherland acting as conductor, the party proceeded to the Grand Trunk Junction to inspect the repair shops. The entire grounds and all the departments were visited, and much satisfaction was expressed at the capacity of the buildings, and their working equipment, and the good order and general appearance of good management and economy everywhere apparent.
Sen. Wagner inspected some of the sleeping cars that were being repaired, and complemented superintendent Winfield and Master Car Builder Miller on the character of the work.
W. H. Vanderbilt showed a deep interest in everything and exhibited a surprising knowledge of the minutia of railroad work. The same may be said of Mr. Worchester.
During this walkabout the grounds Messrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, William K Vanderbilt, E. D. Worchester, Augustus Schell, Sen. Wagner and Capt. Jacob H. Vanderbilt gave assurances to a reporter of the Free Press that the road would be managed in a conservative manner; that the people of Detroit and of Michigan would have no reason to complain of the new ownership; that, primarily, it was the intention so to manage the road as to make it profitable to the stockholders and enable them to receive a just interest upon their investment, and nothing more; that this would be accomplished, not by exactions upon the commerce of the city or the state, or by subordinating them to other localities, but by putting an effectual stop to all needless and injurious cutting of rates on through traffic. The fact that competing lines had heretofor been in a position to make rates much below paying figures, and to compel the Michigan Central to take its proportion of such a ruinous figures, was adduced to show that it was a disadvantage to the merchants of Detroit and Michigan.
It was a sort of competition which enabled points more distant from the seaboard to get proportionally lower rates, than in justice, they could claim.
So the gentleman inquired as to the standing of Mr. Pond in Michigan, and were much pleased to have their good opinion of him corroborated by the assurance that the people and business community of Michigan had every confidence in him.
Mr. Pond did not accompany the party to the shops. Previous to the opening of the meeting he said that in conversation with W. H. Vanderbilt, held before the election, he was well satisfied that the interests of Detroit and Michigan would be promoted by the change of ownership, and that he was much impressed by Mr. Vanderbilt's disposition to favor our community to as great an extent at least as it had been favored by former managements of the road. On the whole, Mr. Pond thought it a good thing for Detroit to have the road fall into such good hands.
Capt. Jacob H. Vanderbilt said the people would find that the efficiency of the road would be enhanced and the customers of the company, if possible, better served than ever.
All the gentleman conversed with, expressed satisfaction at the estimation in which General Manager Ledyard is held by those having business with the Michigan Central Railroad.
Mr. Worchester said that no change would be made in removing the accounting departments of the road to New York by reason of his being made secretary. That as those of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern remained at Cleveland, so those of the Michigan Central Road would remain as they are in Detroit.
Much satisfaction is manifested by our citizens at the election of Ashley Pond as a director, and those who have a business acquaintance with Gen. Stager, of Chicago, are pleased likewise at his election.
The idea was conveyed, but just by whom it is impossible to state, that the office of the General Passenger agent of the road might be removed to Detroit. Such a course, would no doubt promote the efficiency of that department, bring it into closer relationship with the accounting department and materially benefit the immense local traffic of the road. At present there is not that facility for adjusting matters with interior points in Michigan which is desirable, and it may be that good policy would require the head of the passenger department to be located more conveniently to the general management.
Incidentally all the gentleman expressed in complementary terms their opinion of Detroit, its mansions, business houses, beautiful streets, and the appearance of thrift and culture which surrounds it all.
The board of trade on the change.
In no branch of Detroit's trade has the interest over the future management of the Michigan Central Railroad and so keen as in Board of Trade circles which sense the earliest announcement of a possible change have been fully alive to all of the moves and maneuvering of the powers present in those that were to be. The very fact that a new management was possible was sufficient to create a lively interest, but the possibility of such an event might inaugurate an entire change in the future relations of the road to the interest of Detroit and the State of Michigan, but serve to renew their interest and established an anxiety of mind that as yet has filed little to relieve it. No branch of the Detroit's trade does the action of the Michigan Central so primarily affect as it does the grain trade. Four on that road and its tributaries its merchants depend for fully two thirds of their receipts and consequently their business, profit and livelihood. The chance that a new management of the road might turn all this trade from Detroit was the cause of their anxiety whether Mr. Vanderbilt, on acquiring possession, would not, for the sake of furnishing his Eastern lines with freight and to avoid competition with rival routes, give through bills of lading from interior points to the seaboard was the all absorbing question which agitated their minds and cause no little discussion. The fact that June 24 would see a change in ownership, became a settled conviction with the a great majority some six months since and from that time to this is formed little or no part the question under discussion.
Information of Vanderbilt's intended visit to Detroit was received Friday, and Saturday Secretary John G. Irwin was instructed to telegraph the party offering them a reception at the Board of Trade to be held Monday. Replies were received conveying the compliments of the railroad magnate and his friends and stating that owing to the press of, important business which would meet them there, they would obligated to forgo the pleasure. Monday afternoon Walter Bourke, president of the Board, John G Irwin, Secretary, and Alex Lewis, John H Wendell, Morgan Johnson, A. C. Raymond, George W Balch, Thomas Hill and E. G. Newhall, members of the Board, called at the Russell House to hold a short informal talk with the Central's new president, but were disappointed, as the gentleman had but shortly departed on a visit to the company shops, at the Junction.
At the noon session of the board and on the "call board" the all absorbing topic of conversation was Mr. Vanderbilt of the Michigan Central, and a reporter of the Free Press took advantage of the occasion to interview several of the prominent members as to their opinion whether the future course of the Michigan Central and its management would be detrimental to the city and the city's trade or not.
The first gentleman approached was Walter Bourke, President of the Board, whose financial interests lay more especially in flour transported over the Michigan Central. He thought that there would be no radical change in the management of the road, and that its present profitable relations with Detroit and Michigan would be retained in its future conduct. When question for the reasons for such a belief, he stated that he did not think Vanderbilt would consider it politic to fight the Grand Trunk and in a measure the Great Western Railroad and the water interests.
The next one sought was John H Wendel, of John H Wendel & Co., who are credited with being one of the heaviest buying firms, looking at the market from the "bull" standpoint. In answer to the interrogatories of the reporter, he stated that the question allowed of two opinions being formed. In one way it might be to the advantage of Detroit, on the other hand it might work to her disadvantage. Of the ultimate results, time alone could tell.
One thing we are sure and that is that the Michigan Central, under its new administration, will never lack for rolling stock and the deficiency experience in the past will no longer trouble us. For you see he has the New York Central, Canada Southern and the wherewithal to supply any amount of cars, etc., that may be needed in the working of the road and the transferring of our freight.
On the other hand, if he makes through rates from interior points, it will work in injury to not only Detroit but the state. Should he decide on the latter course, the only way left open for Detroit men is to favor the Lansing Road, and others similarly governed. That will be forced into any such position I think highly improbable. The men in charge under Vanderbilt, who counsel and advise, and thereby perhaps influence his decisions more or less have my full confidence and I feel fully satisfied that the interests of Michigan and the City of Detroit will be fully observed in the coming conduct of the Michigan Central.
Bidding his friends adieu the reporter button-holed our R. W. Gillette, of Gillette & Hall, who are heavy dealers in grain – probably the greatest "bears" on the board. Mr. Gillett showed a disinclination to talk, and referred the reporter to Mr. T. P. Hall, his partner. That gentleman, without any hesitation, stated that in his opinion Mr. Vanderbilt's acquisition of the Michigan Central was to be regretted, as it would work to the injury of the city, as he had but little doubt that he would give interior points through rates in order to avoid competition with the Grand Trunk and Great Western Railroads and the water routes, and thus retain the freight for his Eastern connections. As the Central is governed in the past a great share of Michigan's grain was brought to Detroit, and Detroit merchants gain the benefit there from. As to further shipment, this left it open to competition, one branch of which, the water route, open eight months in the year, offered rates that no railroad could afford to shippers. This being the case, and Vanderbilt aiming but to advance his own further interest, would, in his opinion, do what would of necessity be unfavorable for the city – give through rates from interior points.
During the course of Mr. Hall's remarks, Mr. Gillett raised the question whether the profit derived from good local rates from interior points of the Michigan Central to Detroit would not be better for the new president's interest than a low through rate of questionable profitableness this from interior points to the seaboard. The question at once awoke a triangular discussion, in which Messrs. Gillett and Hall and the reporter entered, the latter simply for the purpose of drawing out the opinions of others. The preponder of the question rather favor the "local" side, while his partner adhered to its original position already given. As far as the news gathered was concerned it amounted to nothing, as it brought forth nothing new.
The Free Press Commissioner next interrogated C. K. Norton, of the firm Balch & Norton. Mr. Norton recognized his visitor in his usual suave style, and an answer to the days conundrum stated that he had formed no opinion further that in one way it might work a great injury to the city while the other it by proof of in a steamy a bold benefit. Finding that nothing further could be gleaned in that quarter the reporter sauntered into the office, were Mr. Balch, the senior partner, was found. Esther Balch opened the conversation with the remark that he considered Mr. Vanderbilt one of the best, if not the best, railroad manager in the country, and did not consider there was anything to fear in his acquiring control of Michigan's main railroad.
I think it will be beneficial to the State in business generally, but as to Detroit I do not know. If he decides to compete with the water route it will hurt the city in certain lines of trade, but the grain trade I think merchants can hold their own.
Not as a majority of them do now, he continued, noting the look of inquiry on his visitors face, but as some of us sometimes find it necessary to do, I mean by making purchases and shipments from interior points and not from Detroit. In times where an export demand prevails and shippers at interior points are tendered bills of lading direct to the seaboard they will be inclined to take advantage of that opportunity rather than ship to some local market. In consequence Detroit dealers, and self-preservation, will be obligated to buy at those points.
Alexander Lewis was next visited, and stated briefly that it would seem as though Mr. Vanderbilt would "bill through" from interior points rather than allow competition with the Grand Trunk or the water route.
Strother J. Beeson, of the firm Jacob Beeson & Company, was decided in his opinion that the course pursued by the Michigan Central would be detrimental to the best interest of the city, and further that no greatly distant day, a railroad would be constructed running from Ypsilanti to Grosse Isle, connecting with the Canada Southern at that point, where he had no doubt a bridge would ultimately be built. In both opinions he was fully seconded by the senior member of the firm.
Morgan Johnson, of the firm of Morgan Johnson & Son, and ex-president of the Board of Trade, had formed no opinion but thought appearances were rather unfavorable for Detroit. His answer was the substance of the replies received from C. F. Flinn, J. C. McDonald, of McDonald & Co., H. N. Smith, E. A. Bissell of Bissel & Co., Thomas Hill, of Hill & Co., E. G. Newhall, of Newhall & Co., A. McPherson, of McPherson & Co. and R. H. Anderson given in answer to similar questions.
Businessmen of the interior.
C. F. Mueller, of Raymond & Co, had just returned from a trip through the State when accosted by the Free Press Commissioner. He said that while in the interior he had sounded the businessmen he met on the question and found that a very large share were afraid that it would "wipe" out Detroit, a result that they would greatly regret to see, as it would do away with a market here at home on which they could depend. A point where speed was a desideratum, in realizing, serving them to a great advantage, allowing them to ship and sell on short notice, an advantage that would be lost on through shipments.
A. C. Raymond, of the same firm, had no settled opinion, but was afraid that the new management would give interior points, relatively, better rates than Detroit and shipments to the east. In years when we was in export demand it would affect Detroit to a much greater extent than it would when the call was from the home consumers, that is, from millers and others in our own and neighboring states.
From the tenor of the many remarks made by those visited it will be seen that the grain merchants, with but few exceptions, are inclined to be rather afraid of the future management of the Central, but hope for the best. Conversations held by several Detroit merchants with different members of Mr. Vanderbilt's party, have strength of the belief that Detroit's business interests will be fully subserved in the future. They have been informed that such will be the case and naturally hope for the best. As to whether their hopes will be realized, William H. Vanderbilt and father time alone can tell
The Vanderbilt party will leave this morning for Chicago.