What's New at MichiganRailroads.com...
2021-0222 - Added about 100 old photographs of mines in the upper peninsula. To view, go to Stations|Locations, click on a particular county. At the bottom of the station lists will be a mine listing if the county had significant mines.
2020-1222 - Added many new stories. Edited typos in artticles with more to do. The RRHX History section of the website currently has 4,113 stations and locations, 652 mines of all types, and 167 stories and articles, with more being added every week.
2020-1011 - Added about 200 more photos to various station and railroads in history sections. Also, cleaned up the photo links in the railroad passes section. This was a left-over transfer issue from the old HTML website. Fixed more spelling and tpo errors.
2020-0920 - Added about 25 stories from the old legacy website to the current website. Go to History | Stories for an alplhabetical list. Also continue to correct spelling and typos.
2020-0620 - Further development of iron mining regions in Iron and Gogebic counties. Compliled a time line for Crystal Falls, Iron River and Ironwood. Working on others. Additional articles added to the site from the old website in the Stories Section.
2020-0401 - Added about 500 photos to various pages in the stations section. Still have about 500 to add. Working on it.
2020-0101 - Added forts & major military installations in Michigan in the More Menu. Though not usually served by railroads, these provide historical information on the establishment of commerce in the Michigan territory and state. Click here.
2019-1220 - Links repaired to ICC accident reports in the Wrecks and Wreck Outfits Section. Click here.
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. ↓
Story: Disaster at Porter, Indiana - 1921
Michigan Central Train Runs Over Derail Onto Crossing and New York Central Train Crashes Into It - 37 Dead
From Railway Age, March 4, 1921
On Sunday evening, February 27 (1921), westbound New York Central passenger train No. 151 plowed through the third coach of eastbound Michigan Central train No. 20, at an interlocked crossing of these lines at Porter, Indiana. Thirty-seven persons were killed and four seriously injured. Preliminary investigation indicates that the engineman on the Michigan Central train had run past the interlocked signal in the stop position at a high rate of speed, his train being derailed on the split point derail which was open. After running on the ties for a distance of approximately 800 ft., the third coach of the train remained upright and standing directly on the crossing of the New York Central. The New York Central train, traveling at high speed, struck this coach, reducing it to a mass of kindling wood.
The trains involved in the collision were New York Central westbound passenger train No. 151, known as the "Interstate Express," and Michigan Central eastbound passenger train No. 20, known as the "Canadian." The accident happened on the crossing of the interlocking plant at Porter, Indiana, 40 miles southeast of Chicago on the New York Central and 44 miles southeast of Chicago on the Michigan Central. Both trains were approaching the crossing at a high rate of speed. Investigation after the accident disclosed that the levers in the interlocking machine were in the proper position to permit of a westbound movement on the New York Central and that the routes on the Michigan central were set against the passage of trains. The New York Central train No. 151 leaves Buffalo daily at 8:30 a.m. and is due to arrive in Chicago at 7:30 p.m. This train is scheduled to arrive at Porter, Indiana (Norwood), at 6:21 p.m.
Michigan Central train No. 20 leaves Chicago at 5:05 p.m., arriving at Windsor, Canada, at 1:45 a.m., where it is turned over to the Canadian Pacific for movement to Toronto, Montreal and points east. The train was made up largely of Canadian Pacific cars, the baggage car, smoker, day coach and three sleepers being Canadian Pacific equipment, while the diner and two sleepers were Michigan Central and Pullman equipment, respectively. This train was due to arrive at Porter at 6:16 p.m. and was running a few minutes late at the time of the accident. The schedule time of this train is 50 miles an hour between Hammond, Indiana and Michigan City. The schedule running time of the New York Central train between La Porte, Indiana and Englewood (Chicago) Illinois is 41 miles per hour.
At the point of the accident the Michigan Central tracks run almost due east and west. About 1,000 ft. west of the crossing there is a curve to the north of about 1 degree, after which the track is again tangent, while east of the crossing the track is tangent for some distance. The New York Central tracks at this point are tangent. The interlocking at this place is a mechanical plant equipped with electric route locking and approach indicators on both railroads and is maintained by the New York Central. After the accident the levers in the machine were found in the proper position to give the New York Central train the route over the plant.
The preliminary investigation indicated that the engineman of the Michigan Central train ran past the eastbound home signal in the stop position and through the open derail. The train then ran on the ties for a distance of 300 feet, when the engine was re-railed on the crossing diamond, continuing across the crossing to a point where the day coach, Canadian Pacific 1560, the third in the train, was on the crossing of the westbound New York Central main when the New York Central train crashed into it. It was in this coach, which was of wooden construction, that the heaviest loss of life occurred. The impact of the New York Central engine was so great that the day coach was reduced to a mass of splinters, part of the wreckage breaking out the windows on the south side of the interlocking tower as well as the siding in some places.
One peculiarity of the accident was that those killed were mostly decapitated, and a number were mutilated so badly that identification was difficult. After the New York Central engine plowed through the day coach it left the track near the northwest corner of the tower and plowed into the ground, which was level at this point, digging a hole about 10 feet deep. The momentum was so great that the engine and tender were turned completely around and over on their sides upon the wye connection between the New York Central and Michigan Central tracks, braking and twisting the rails. The engineman and fireman of the New York Central train were killed and many of the passengers in the Michigan Central day coach were buried under the engine and tender. In this coach were between 60 and 80 passengers, many of whom were railroad employees returning to Michigan City, Indiana and Niles, Michigan after spending Sunday in Chicago.
An examination of the stock rail at the eastbound derail on the Michigan Central indicated that the top had rolled slightly and at the point where the wheels dropped to the ties the lower corner of the head was sheared. From this point for a distance of about 800 feet the ties in this track were reduced to pulp. The crossing frogs were skewed, the lugs on several being broken and it was necessary to replace four of them.
After the accident Engineman Long of the wrecked Michigan Central train was reported as saying: "My fireman, Block, first sighted the signal that meant a clear track and called my attention to it. We were running a full speed and did not slow down when we were certain the signal was right. Proof that we were not to blame for the wreck is seen from the fact that the engine and one coach passed the derail. I will not state what I believe caused the wreck. The derail was locked and I could not be to blame".
Joseph Cook, the leverman on duty at the interlocking plant at the time of the accident, declared after the accident that Engineman Long ran by the home signal. The New York Central train had been given the route, as its approach was announced first by the indicator in the tower. In his statement he said, "Under normal conditions the block is set against all trains. The train hitting the buzzer first is then given the right of way.
"That is exactly what happened when the buzzer sounded yesterday. It showed that the New York Central train was the first to hit the buzzer by almost a full minute ahead of the Michigan Central flyer.
"I released the block which permitted the New York Central train to go through. Just as the train hit the crossing I saw the Michigan Central train coming around the curve at 60 miles an hour. I saw right away what was going to happen and thought the tower would be demolished. I called to Charlie Whitehead, the telegraph operator in the tower with me, and made for the steps which lead to the ground. The Michigan Central train by this time had hit the derail, which clearly showed that the block had been set against it and plowed over the ties and track, tearing them up as it went across the New York Central track. When the third coach of the Michigan Central train passed over the New York Central right of way the New York Central train cut through it. As the locomotive of the New York Central train passed over the track it toppled over and the coaches of both trains were scattered in all directions.
"I cannot understand how the engineman of the Michigan Central train could have proceeded against the two blocks which were set against him. I can't help but feel that the engineman must have been asleep, for there are two blocks which are visible for almost a mile and half before he reached the crossing. I heard later that his fireman had admitted that the engineman disregarded the block. Investigation of the scene of the accident will show that the Michigan Central train hit the derail and the plowing up of the ties is conclusive proof that the blocks were correctly set."
In a statement issued by General Manager Henry Shearer of the New York Central at Chicago, it was said that "at 6:23 p.m., February 27, Michigan Central passenger train No. 20, engine No. 8306, ran past the eastbound home signal at Porter (Norwood), Indiana, interlocking plant 40 miles east of Chicago, striking the open derail, derailing its engine and entire train. The train kept on going on the ties and the engine jumped back on the track at the crossing. The engine, baggage car and smoker of the Michigan Central train had gotten over the crossing and as the day coach, Canadian Pacific No. 1560, the third car, was on the crossing, New York Central train No. 151 struck the Canadian Pacific coach, demolishing it, derailing and turning over the New York Central engine and derailing four cars behind the New York Central engine."
On Monday morning, February 28, a preliminary investigation of the accident was held at Michigan City, Indiana by officers of the Michigan Central and the New York Central. Representatives of the Indiana State Railway Commission have also started an investigation, as have representatives of the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Henry Shearer, general manager of the Michigan Central, on Tuesday issued the following statement: "In the matter of the unfortunate collision at the crossing of the New York Central and Michigan Central at Porter, Indiana on February 27, after careful investigation of the facts with all interested employees and conference with officials just completed, it has been determined that engineer W. S. Long and fireman George F. Block, on engine No. 8306, train No. 20, violated rules and regulations in failing to observe and properly obey signal indications, and will be forthwith dismissed from the service."
Bureau of Safety Reports on Porter Collision
Engine's Fault Clearly Set Forth - Speed Was About 50 Miles an Hour - Fireman Also Culpable
The Interstate Commerce Commission has issued a report, dated March 14, and signed by W. P. Borland, chief of the Bureau of Safety, on the crossing collision at Porter, Indiana, on February 27, when westbound passenger train No. 151 of the New York Central ran into the side of eastbound passenger No. 20 of the Michigan Central, completely demolishing one coach. Thirty-five passengers and two employees were killed and eleven passengers, two employees and seven other persons were injured.
This collision was reported in the Railway Age of March 4, page 495, and there is reproduced here the drawing which was given with that report showing the approximate location of the tracks at the crossing. The present report says that the Michigan Central crosses the New York Central at an angle of about 45 degrees; and that the train order signal (not shown in the drawing) is 57 feet north of the New York Central tracks and nine feet east of the Michigan Central
Approaching on the Michigan Central from the west (southwest) the line, beginning at the distant signal, is tangent for 500 feet; then a curve of 33 minutes, to the left, or 3,960 feet, then tangent 600 feet to the crossing. The home signal, No. 35, is on this tangent 366 feet before reaching the crossing. The derail is in the south rail, 55 feet east of signal 35. The Michigan Central siding, on which a freight train was standing, is at the right of the main track (not on the north side as shown in the drawing). The grade is slightly descending eastward.
On the New York Central the distant signal is about 4,500 feet east of the crossing and the home signal is 600 feet and the derail about 500 feet from the crossing. At the time of the collision it was dark, and the weather was clear.
The conclusion of the report is that the engineman of Michigan Central No. 20 saw and heeded the cautionary indication; reduced speed from 60 miles an hour to perhaps 50 miles; took the word of the fireman that the home signal indication was clear; and did not look for the home signal himself, although by leaning out of the car window he should have seen it about 1,980 feet before coming to it. The New York Central train was moving at about 50 miles an hour.
The interlocking is Saxby & Farmer, 54 levers; electric locks on all home signal levers; screw releases on the New York Central, requiring two minutes to operate, and clockwork release on the Michigan Central, set to operate in one minute. Approach annunciators are in use on both roads; the New York Central sounds when any part of the track is occupied for a distance of about two miles before coming to the crossing; and the eastbound Michigan Central enunciator operates when the track is occupied for about one mile before reaching the distant signal.
Tower operator Whitehead said that prior to the entry of either train on the annunciator circuits, all levers were in normal position; the New York Central buzzer sounded first, and the signals were set for it before the other train announced itself, which was about 20 or 30 seconds after the N.Y.C. Whitehead, and Cook, the leverman, when they saw that No. 20 was not going to stop, started for the door; but the collision occurred before they reached it. Cook was a temporary man, his regular position being assistant signal maintainer at this tower. He said that after seeing the danger there was not time to set the home signal against No. 151; and that on account of the time release it would have taken about three minutes to change the routes.
Engineer Long, of No. 20, said that fireman Block called the home signal when at about the middle of the curve - that is to say, about 2,500 feet from the crossing. He said "all the way" meaning that the home signal indication was clear. Long then released the brakes. Continuing Engineman Long's testimony the report says: When the engine reached the tangent he looked for the home signal and thought he saw a green light above a red one; as he got close to the home signal he looked for the signal again, but it was hidden by smoke and steam; at that time he thought the speed of his train was between 35 and 40 miles an hour; he did not see the train order signal on account of the smoke and steam, neither did he see any hand signals. In discussing the indication of the home signal, in response to the inquiry: "What do you think caused those indications that you received?" Engineman Long replied: "The only thing that could be, if I did not have them, is that I mistook the order board for the green light." Long further stated that he does not depend entirely upon the fireman when he calls a signal and that he has never before had any trouble in distinguishing the signals at this point.
Fireman Block said that when about a mile from the home signal he observed the indication of that and the train order signal; two green lights and a red light. There was some steam or white smoke escaping from the freight engine standing on the side track, but he could see the signal lights notwithstanding. When he called "all the way" to Long, the engineman answered, after about 30 seconds, "all right." At that time, said Block, the speed was between 35 and 40 miles an hour. After the engineman answered him he got down and began to work on the fire. He did not see any hand signals given from the track.
Engineman Curtis, of the freight standing on the siding, testified that the home signal and the other blade on the same post were in the stop position when he arrived there; and that he looked again when he saw the light of the headlight of train No. 20, and both blades were still in the stop position; he also noted that the train order signal displayed proceed. Some smoke or steam from his engine was blown across the main track. He said that it had never appeared to him that the train order signal could be confused with the home signal at this point.
Fireman Arthur, of the freight, also saw the signal blades in stop; and he observed two brakemen of his train, standing on the track, giving stop signals with their lanterns to No. 20. These two brakemen testified that they were west of the home signal; that they gave "ease off" signals with their white lights, but receiving no acknowledgement they began to give violent stop signals. One of these men was on the fireman's side and one on the engineman's side of the track; no response was received to the signals. They stated that there was no reason why their signals could not have been seen from the cab of No. 20.
The rule on the Michigan Central allows a passenger train to pass this interlocking at 40 miles an hour; that of the New York Central says 50 miles an hour. The report says: "The speed of train No. 20 is variously estimated to have been from 35 to 55 miles an hour. These is no variation in the estimates of the speed of train No. 151; about 50 miles an hour. The lapse of time between the announcement of train No. 151 and train 20 was 20 or 30 seconds, and as the distance between the announcing points on the two roads and the crossing is about 1,000 feet longer on the New York Central, this time interval would place train No. 151 about the same distance from the tower as was train No. 20 when it was announced. Therefore, if train No. 151 was running at 50 miles an hour it is obvious that No. 20 was running at a still higher rate of speed, as it arrived at the crossing before train No. 151."
No fault was found in the interlocking plant or signals. The electric circuits could not be tested on account of the destruction of a large amount of wires and trunking, but a careful check of the circuit plans, locking sheets and dog charts indicates a satisfactory condition. As the signal system was operating properly a detailed description of the circuits is deemed unnecessary. Observations made after the investigation disclosed that from the fireman's side of the engine the home signal could be seen from a point about 4,000 feet back, and by leaning out the window on the engineman's side at about 1,900 feet back.
"The direct cause of this accident was the failure of Engineman Long to observe and obey the signal indication of the home signal. A contributing cause was the failure of Fireman Block properly to observe the home signal indication and convey the correct information to Engineman Long. The evidence indicates that Long relied practically, if not entirely upon the announcement by Block of the indication off the home signal instead of observing it himself. The location of the signals is such that it was both possible and convenient for him to observe the signals personally and for his failure to do so there is no excuse. Even if he did confuse the train order signal with the top blade of the home signal, he still did not receive a proper indication to proceed at normal speed, as his movement was also governed by the train order signal, the indication of which he was required to observe before passing it.
According to his own statement, Engineman Long received a caution indication at the distant signal; this informed him that the home signal governing the crossing was then in the stop position, and required him to proceed under such control as to be able to stop before reaching the next signal. The evidence discloses that Engineman Long observed and heeded this caution indication, as he made a brake application and slightly reduced the speed of his train. It was then necessary for him to ascertain the indication of the home signal and be governed by that signal.
"Under these circumstances, knowing the arrangement of signals at this point, Long should have exercised particular care, after having received a caution indication at the distant signal, to see that the signals governing his train were clear, before passing the home signal and starting over the crossing at high speed. In addition to his failure to observe and obey the stop indication of the home signal, Long failed to see and be governed by stop signals given with lanterns by two trainmen of the freight train standing on the siding.
"The failure of Engineman Long in this case, together with the appalling loss of life resulting there from, adds another to the already long list of accidents resulting from the fallibility of enginemen, upon whom the safety of passengers depends.
"This accident again calls attention to the necessity for an automatic train control device to be used in connection with existing equipment.
"A signal should not be called by a fireman until he is absolutely certain of its indication. In this case Block called the signal when, according to his own statement, it was nearly a mile away and partially obscured by smoke. If the home signal was in this instance obscured, it was the engineman's duty to reduce speed, or to stop if necessary, and determine its indication before passing it; nevertheless, every effort should be made to so locate signals that they are not likely to become obscured by steam or smoke from engines or to be confusing. It is believed the location of both the eastbound home signal and the train order signal on the Michigan Central at this point should be improved.
"It is believed that with a train running at the maximum prescribed speed limit of 40 miles an hour, the derail located 311 feet from the crossing does not afford the protection intended, and that in order actually to provide the protection intended the maximum speed limit at this point should be accordingly be reduced or the location of the derail changed.
"It is noted that the coach which was struck by the locomotive was of wooden construction, with steel center sills and that it was demolished by the impact. While steel passenger cars generally are safer than wooden cars, nevertheless, with the tremendous impact in this case, which was applied to the center of the side of the car, it is doubtful whether greater protection would have been furnished the occupants had the car been of all-steel construction.
"Engineman Long entered the service of the Michigan Central as a fireman in 1890, was promoted to yard engineman in 1990 and to road engineman in 1901. His service record contains the following entries:
October, 1901, suspended 10 days for running off interlocking signals against him.
September, 1907, suspended 10 days for failure to stop for telegraph signal not burning.
December, 1907, suspended 10 days for failure to stop for block signal not burning.
February, 1909, taken out of service on account of defective vision.
June, 1909, restored to service on account of improved vision.
April 1, 1914, observed surprise test; light out on telegraph signal.
April 28, 1918, record suspension 30 days; collided with caboose car, flag out.
"Fireman block entered the service of the Michigan Central as a fireman in December 1915, was promoted to road fireman in February, 1916, in military service from May, 1916 to January, 1919; promoted to switch engineman in March, 1920; April, 1919, given suspended sentence of 30 days, which was later modified to reprimand, for disregarding fixed signal in stop indication.
"At the time of the accident Engineman Long and Fireman Block had been on duty 1 hour and 47 minutes, prior to which they had been off duty 7 hours and 50 minutes."
The greatest miracle in this story is that the 2-story interlocking tower was not demolished, along with the telegraph operator and leverman that were inside! Unfortunately, 37 other perished.
Historical railroad terms used in these articles
- Buzzer - also known as "the bell", this is a brief audio and visual alarm that goes off when a train enters a section of track near a tower. This alerts the tower operator that a train is approaching.
- Distant signal - a train signal which is prior to the regular tower crossing signal. Depending on allowable train speed, this signal may be as many as 2-3 miles prior to the tower signal. If the distant signal is "restricting", an engineer must slow his train down and be prepared to stop at the next signal.
- Dog Charts - design plans which show how "dogs" interface and interlock on the bed of the plant which prevents conflicting signals and switches.
- Electric route locking - once a route was set by the tower leverman, the route cannot be changed if a train is on the track circuit. Any permissible changes requires the operator to reset a timer. This allows a train to slow down and stop before the route is taken away and given to a different train or movement.
- Frog - this is where two rails cross, usually in an "X" shape. In this case, the frog apparently helped re-rail the train which was bounding along on the ties after being derailed.
- Interlocked crossing - at a crossing of two train tracks at the same grade, the interlocking machine protects against an error by the tower operator. The interlocking mechanism prohibits both routes from being set to proceed at the same time - similar to today's highway traffic signals. In 1921, interlockers were intricate steel bars, usually in the first floor of the tower weighing thousands of pounds. Today, interlocking is done by computer logic.
- Levers - these were part of the interlocking machine in the tower. The tower leverman would pull levers (often called "strongarm" levers because of the strength needed to move them) to change switches and signals. Some levers were electric or pneumatic and easier to operate.
- Leverman - the employee in the tower who moves the signal and switch levers. He takes his orders from the telegraph "operator" or train director, who communicates with the dispatcher and other tower and block operators along the route. Most towers had just one employee who was both operator and leverman. Busier towers like Porter, had more than one person.
- Split Point Derails - a "derail" is a device which intentionally derails a train. Today, these are only used on spur tracks, to prevent a wayward freight car from rolling back on to the main line if the brakes don't set correctly. But in much of the 1800's and 1900's, interlocked crossings were protected by derails. If a train went past a stop signal, the "derail" would derail the train in hopes of stopping it before it hit a train on an opposing track. A "split point derail" was essentially a half switch. One wheel on the engine would be forced into a non-existent siding and the train would go "on the ground".
- Tangent - a straight section of track.
- Train Order Signal - in addition to having signals which govern the direction and speed of trains, some railroad towers (and stations) also had train order signals. These signals are often affixed to the tower or station structure, or on poles immediately adjacent thereto. Train order signals indicate whether the tower (or station) operator has written orders for the engineer and conductor. If the train order signal is green (proceed), the train may proceed without getting written orders. If the signal is restrictive in any way, orders must be received before passing. Few railroads use train orders or train order signals today. Instead, track warrants or direct traffic control is used.
Story: Disaster in Toledo's railroad tunnel...
What tunnel? You have probably never heard of it.
But on December 3, 1891, it happened. The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern did indeed have a short tunnel under the Miami & Erie canal and the parallel Clover Leaf railroad in downtown Toledo. The tunnel was 75 feet long, and located 3/4 of a mile west of the current Amtrak station. Today, Anthony Wayne Trail crosses over the railroad at this point on a bridge.
The disaster was a rear-end collision around 4:45 p.m. A Lake Shore train, No. 6 known as the Boston and Chicago Special, travelling eastbound, passed a restricting target signal 300 feet before the tunnel. The engineer applied the brakes and slacked up because another train was ahead.
Following closely behind, a Flint & Pere Marquette passenger train headed for Toledo's Union depot (from Air Line Junction) came through the same tunnel and plunged into the rear coach of the Lake Shore train.
The Lake Shore train was vestibuled, but an "ordinary" day coach for the accommodation of way passengers, was attached to the rear, and it was destroyed.
The F&PM engine plowed its way through the car until the pilot was more than midway of the coach. The seats and floor were torn up and the unfortunate passengers bruised and maimed. Some were badly scalded by the escaping steam from broken pipes. The crash was described by those who heard it as terrific, and was followed by screams of agony from the wounded.
The times between these two trains were only two minutes apart. The Lake Shore train was running a bit behind. When the train stopped for the signal, the brakeman was sent back. He discovered that the tunnel was full of smoke and steam and heard the oncoming F&PM train, consisting of an engine and three cars. Fearful that he would be killed if he went into the tunnel, he held back and an instant later the F&PM train went by at a speed sufficient to prevent its stopping and struck the preceding train.
The tunnel was full of smoke, but the engineer of the F&PM train, which was already in the tunnel, saw the signal, and also the rear lights of the doomed car. He shut off steam and he and his fireman threw themselves flat on the floor of the cab, so as to be protected by the boiler. Both escaped unhurt, except for a severe shaking up. This engineer was a "new man" and this was his first run over the Lake Shore to Toledo union depot.
In the Lake Shore coach, 6 passengers died and dozens were injured. Most were treated at St. Vincent hospital, which continues to serve Toledo today.
[DFP-1891-1130} The Daily Times from New Philadelphia, Ohio was widely quoted in this story.
Additional background: The Miami & Erie canal was completed about 1845. It ran from Toledo to Cincinnati, creating a water route between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. It was in place at least 10 years before the existing Lake Shore right-of-way was routed underneath it. The "tunnel" was 75 feet long, which included the overhead crossing of the canal and Clover Leaf railroad line into downtown from the south.
It is interesting to consider that the canal was well above the level of the Lake Shore railroad and required the railroad to tunnel underneath it. According to historical maps of this area, the canal also was raised overtop of nearby Swan Creek, which it crossed just north of this location.
Today, the canal is gone at this location, as is the Clover Leaf. The current bridge at this location is for Anthony Wayne Trail, a boulevard divided highway. The current bridge over the NS (former Lake Shore), is now 155 feet in length.
Story: Erie and Kalamazoo's Original Route in Toledo
Most railroad historians are aware that Michigan's first railroad track was laid from Toledo northwest to Adrian in 1836, even before Michigan achieved statehood. The Erie and Kalamazoo as it was called, was originally pulled by horsepower and then converted to steam propulsion.
The E&K began in Toledo with an odd 4' 10" gauge. The line changed ownership in 1848 and was converted to standard 4' 8 1/2" gauge to be compatible with other U.S. railroads. The E&K was then leased in 1849 to the Michigan Southern railroad, which had purchased Michigan's "Southern Line", a state owned line beginning at Monroe and going west to Adrian and beyond. The E&K connected with the southern line in Adrian. The E&K then became the Michigan Southern's entrance (or origin) from Toledo going as far west at the time to Hillsdale. It ultimately became part of the "Old Road" between Toledo and Chicago, via Adrian, Hillsdale, Coldwater, White Pigeon, Elkhart and South Bend. This was the first railroad from the east to reach Chicago.
Modern maps suggest that the Old Road route began at Toledo's Union Station, coming northwest via Airline Yard, and later crossing the Toledo Terminal at Vulcan Tower. But when the E&K was built, there was no "Union Station", Airline Yard, or Toledo Terminal railroad, nor were there any other railroads in Toledo yet.
So... how did the E&K track begin west from the small hamlet of Toledo (population in 1840 of 1,222) on the west side of the Maumee River?
A 1852 map of Toledo (on the left) gives us our answer. This map was surveyed and published by Henry Hart, a civil engineer and architect, from New York City. By the 1852 survey, two other railroads - the Toledo, Norwalk and Cleveland, and the Toledo & St. Louis - had reached Toledo in addition to the E&K between Toledo and Adrian.
The TN&C was the forerunner of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, which ended up leasing the E&K and dozens of other lines as part of the Vanderbilt-owned railroad system. The Toledo & St. Louis became part of the Wabash system.
As what you would expect, the E&K actually began in what was then downtown hamlet of Toledo, along the Maumee River. From there it travelled due west near what is Indiana Street through farm land to the north side of what would later become the LS&MS Airline Yard.
This downtown location along the Maumee River was likely the origin point, allowing travellers from Lake Erie and products from the east be loaded onto railroad cars from boats.
At some point between the E&K's founding in1836 and 1852, the E&K also constructed a spur line to the "Middlegrounds" (noted on the map). The Middle Grounds was an island in the Maumee River which quickly became a focus of early railroads and shipping. By 1852, all three railroad interchanged at Middle Grounds. Even today, the "Middle Grounds" has rail service just north of Amtrak's union station.
Joining the three railroads at Toledo by 1852 was the Wabash & Erie Canal, which began in 1843 down river and crossed through the middle of downtown Toledo headed to Fort Wayne, Indiana and beyond. At 460 miles, it was the longest man-made canal in U.S. history [Wiki]. (See map in light blue).
Within sixteen years, the E&K line to downtown was gone. An 1868 map published by H.H. Lloyd & Co. for Henry S. Stebbins, shows that the E&K, now under Michigan Southern control, had been relocated from what is now Union Station to Airline Yard, (The Wabash & Erie Canal had also been truncated to Swan Creek at this point and no longer bisected the downtown area.)
The Middle Grounds would go on to become the center of railroad activity in Toledo for many years with interchange between the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, the Wabash, Clover Leaf and other railroads and lake shipping. Union station was also located nearby.
There is no evidence today of the E&K line from Airline Yard to downtown Toledo.
Story: Operation of the Union Belt of Detroit - 1924 to 1929
According to a 1933 edition of Moody's Steam Railroads, the Union Belt of Detroit did not exist as an official railroad. Likely, it was an operating division under The Fort Street Union Depot Company (FSUD) or perhaps the Pere Marquette. The FSUD was established in 1889 for the purpose of constructing and operating passenger and freight terminals at Detroit. The road was originally owned by the Pere Marquette (majority owner) and the Wabash. In 1921, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company was admitted as an additional tenant. As of the end of 1931, the FSUD has 218 employees.
Newspapers described the Union Belt as a "joint operating agreement" of the three railroads.
The original, primary purpose of the FSUD was to provide passenger facilities in downtown Detroit for the participating roads. The approach to this station was the busy line 2-track main line from Delray to downtown which was 2.39 miles long. The FSUD owned the track from the downtown station west to 18½ street. From 18½ street west to Delray, the track was under the operation of the Union Belt of Detroit (UBD).
The Union Belt was governed by a Board of Managers, made up of representatives of the Pere Marquette, Wabash and Pennsylvania. Day to day operation was managed by the "Operating Committee", which would meet as often as several times each week. The Operating Committee meetings were typically attended by the Assistant General Agent of the PRR, the local superintendents of the Wabash and the PM, and the train master and Secretary of the Union Belt. Others were invited to attend as necessary. Every four months, a new chairperson of the Operating Committee was elected. This Chair was rotated between the three member roads.
This story covers the actions of the Union Belt Operating Committee between 1924 and 1929, as taken from the minutes of their meetings. On August 1, 1924, management of the Belt was transferred from the Superintendent to the Operating Committee. Mr. B. A. Frazier, Belt Trainmaster, was given direct charge of the physical operation. It was the hope of the principals that the Operating Committee would bring about closer co-operation between the Belt and its member lines. The Union Belt actually covered the following segments of track:
- Main Line - from FSUD to Delray
- The PM Main Line from Delray to Oak
- The old PM West Detroit Branch
- The Union Belt (belt line) from the PM main line to Highland Park
- Pennsylvania Belt (in north east Dearborn) - District 3
These four years of minutes are a fascinating look at how the Union Belt operated and the problems faced by urban railroads in the 1920's as well as politics and differing opinions of these lines.
As you read these minutes, keep in mind that this was prior to the current Delray tower, which was replaced in 1945. The original Union Belt was two-track and not signaled. During this period, the road was 4-tracked (2 faster passenger tracks, with side by side freight mains), and signaled. The Clark Street tower was changed from a line side tower to an overhead tower to make room for the extra main tracks.
Keep in mind that the economy was good during this period, just prior to the great depression.
Delray Interlocking. There was a discussion about the delays in getting rail traffic through Delray and the need for additional levermen. The Board of Managers had previously approved two lead levermen for this purpose some time ago, but these had been released recently in order to reduce expenses. Train delays are now occurring and are "quite expensive". It was felt that replacing the levermen would be cost effective, saving the member roads from costly train delays. No action was taken.
Police Protection. The Committee noted that there had been pilfering of railroad cars placed on the Solvay Lead and on the Pennsylvania Belt. The Police Captains from the roads met on August 13th. They recommended that each road furnish one patrolman for a period of two weeks to police the Solvay Lead and "to endeavor to get enough convictions to break up the [crime] practice". This plan was approved and implemented. The actions reduced theft to a reasonable level.
Engine Issues for the Pennsylvania. The Trainmaster was instructed to investigate the advisability of tying up the Pennsylvania engine which works one trick in District 3 somewhere in the district. The engine now returns back to the PRR engine house and has been incurring a great deal of overtime trying to get to and from the district. The Trainmaster recommended having the PRR place an engine watchman for 16 hours each day to watch the engine and to coal and water the unit. The PRR will pay for this cost, which allows the engine to stay five days per week in the district.
Glendale Wye. The Committee approved a recommendation to the Board of Managers to install a new wye at Glendale Avenue at a cost of $12,000.
Oakman Branch Passing Track. The Committee voted to recommend the installation of a passing siding on the Oakman Branch to the Board of Managers. A water standpipe was also added to the branch at an unknown location.
DSR Crossing on West Jefferson. The DSR has requested removal of their crossing.
Poor Flagging and Collisions. A 10 day suspension of Flagman Agnew was approved for his failure to properly protect the rear of a train, which caused PM Passenger Train No. 115 to make a sudden stop near Campbell Avenue. No collision occurred. An actual collision occurred on September 8th where a train struck a street car at Michigan Avenue. This was blamed on carelessness on the part of the DSR crossing watchman.
Signage on Locomotives. The Operating Committee required that member roads display a Union Belt sign on loaned engines. During this time period, the Belt did not own any engines of their own.
Oakman Branch Increased Activity. Activity on the Oakman Branch (District 3) has increased to the point that the PRR engine is staffed for two, eight hour shifts. The watchman hours were reduced to 8 per day. The watchman was paid equal to a fireman's rate of $5.20 per day for eight hours of service.
PRR Trackage Rights on Grand Trunk. It was reported that the PRR had acquired the right to use the Grand Trunk Railway tracks between West Detroit and Beaubien Street with the understanding that PRR and Wabash cars would be handled by Belt engines. The Belt was called upon to make a monthly report to the GT superintendent giving the number of engines, loads and empty cars moving over this track for each company.
Delray Tower Staffing. A study of the traffic conditions were made because of numerous complaints of train delays. The study indicated, conclusively, that the replacing of the second Lead Leverman position was fully justified and an additional man was put on on November 1st. In addition to the three regular Levermen, the tower now will have two Lead Levermen directing traffic from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily, there being one Leverman in the tower from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. during which time the traffic is not so heavy.
Proposed Crossover in Rougemere Yard. A crossover from the Foreman Street Wye of the Pennsylvania to the Pere Marquette main line east of the crossover leading form the main line to the west No. 2 track, would permit Union Belt drags from the Wabash and the Pennsylvania to cross over on to West No. 2 track and at the same time facility movement of runs in the opposite direction. Cost estimates were received at $1,650 for track work and $2,360 for signal and interlocking connections.
Switch Tender Pay.The Operating Committee received a petition from six men who are switch tenders at 21st Street and at West End Avenue. The men are now paid $4.64 per day and wish to be raised to $6.16 per day which is the normal switchman's rate. The Committee voted to ask the Board of Managers to raise their pay to $4.72 per day which is the standard rate for switch tenders.
Rademacher Avenue Crossing Protection. The Detroit Safety Council for the Board of Commerce recommended some protection at this crossing due to increased automobile traffic. After inspection, the Committee decided to install an alarm bell which will be operated by the watchmen at Waterman Avenue. The costs of this installation are $250 for materials and $50 for labor.
Fired Watchman. The Committee approved the firing of Switch Tender Man for fighting on November 8th with Wabash Conductor Blanks. Blanks will be disciplined by the Wabash.
Cabins for West Detroit Branch Drags. Trainmen have asked for either cabins or old box cars equipped with stoves for the two West Detroit drag runs which the Pere Marquette will endeavor to furnish.
Damage to Town Line Standpipe. The standpipe at Town Line Road (Greenfield Road) was recently broken and will have to be replaced by a new one if it is decided to continue taking water from this 4" line. There is a 10" plus line at Plymouth Road which could be used by engines working in that district, possibly in less time than it takes to get water from the 4" plug at Town Line Road.
Delray Interlocking Problems. A check of train movements through the Delray Interlocker between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. from December 4th through 10th indicates that delays during that period do not warrant the employment of a Lead Leverman on the third trick. Nevertheless, the difficulties frequently encountered at night in the operation of this old plant due to mechanical troubles warrant more adequate means of obtaining the Maintainer who resides a few blocks away from the plant. There is a yard telephone but no City telephone service in the Tower and no telephone service in the Maintainer's residence. It is therefore necessary to send someone for him whenever needed at night. The Operating Committee feels that City telephone service should be provided in the Tower and also in the home of the Maintainer (who is employed by the Pere Marquette). PM will be asked to arrange for installation of City telephones in both places. The following trains were logged on the midnight shift at Delray during the 7-day test period:
|Date||No. of Trains||Total Delay||Maximum Delay|
|12/4||77||2' 04"||58 minutes|
|12/5||85||1' 43"||30 minutes|
|12/6||78||2' 45"||44 minutes|
|12/7||60||1' 47"||14 minutes|
|12/8||76||1' 55"||15 minutes|
|12/9||73||2' 58"||38 minutes|
|12/10||89||2' 53"||45 minutes|
|Daily Average||77 (about 13/hour)||2' 18"||35 minutes|
Use of Oak Yard. To improve service on the West Detroit Branch, it was proposed that all cars for south of Tireman Avenue be moved to and from member line yards via the Wabash Old Main Line. Cars for north of Tireman Avenue will be moved via the West Belt.
Employees Stealing Coal. At 4:45 a.m. on December 11th, Conductor Horace Aiken, in charge of the Ford truck accompanied by Yardmaster Nolan and Switchmen Agnew and Phelan were caught by Wabash police officers leaving West End Avenue with a half a ton of coal covered with burlap in the truck. Aiken claimed that he alone was responsible and was therefore placed under arrest and later pled guilty to a charge of Simple Larceny and was fined $25 and costs. He immediately resigned. The other men are not considered desirable employees and will be relieved from the service. The men discharged have requested a hearing which was granted. At the hearing the Operating Committee members satisfied themselves that these men were not implicated in the theft of coal and therefore allowed them to resume duty.
Rademacher Crossing Protection. A record was kept of the traffic of all kinds over this crossing between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on December 16-18. The 3-day period included:
In view of the heavy traffic over this crossing and the insistent attitude of both the Detroit Safety Council and the Department of Public Works, the Operating Committee instructed the Secretary to make a full report to the Board of Managers and ask for authority to establish continuous watchman service.
Relief Towermen. At Clark and Warren Avenues and Delray Tower, whenever any of the regular men are absent for any reason, it is the practice to double the other men involving punitive rates of pay. It was decided to select a capable trackman at each point to learn the work in these Towers so they can serve whenever any of the regular men are absent and thus avoid payment of punitive rates. The Train Master and Supervisor were instructed to arrange for this.
Steam Derrick Wreck Train. The Union Belt member lines have no derrick train stationed at Detroit, the nearest one being the Pere Marquette outfit kept at Plymouth. There is frequent need for a steam derrick wreck train on the tracks of member lines in the Detroit district and on Union Belt territory, and the Operating Committee recommends that consideration be given at once to the question of having a wreck train maintained by one of these roads for joint use on the Union Belt and also for use on member line tracks outside the Belt territory in the Detroit district.
Crossing Protection at Rademacher Avenue. The Belt Road Master will be instructed to move the extra watch house at Dragoon Avenue to the Rademacher Avenue Crossing and if the Pere Marquette carpenter force cannot putt it in shape for service without delay, we will call upon the Wabash force to make the necessary repairs.
Proposed Interchange with Pennsylvania at Summit Street. The position taken by the Pennsylvania is that when the agreement was made between the Executives it was understood that each road would provide or set aside tracks for the interchange of cars with the Belt, and that they constructed two tracks therefore at Fort Street at cost of $28,000, whereas the other roads did not provide tracks for that purpose. The Pennsylvania feels that it has fully complied with the agreement and that all of its interchange with the Belt should be made at Ecorse Junction on these tracks as at present. It was decided to refer this to the Board of Managers.
Town Line Road Standpipe. The special committee appointed to study water requirements at this point recommended abandoning water plug at Town Line Road and the installation of a water plug at Grand River Avenue, approximately 2000 feet north of the Pennsylvania Wye where there is a sixteen inch City water main. It is vitally important to have water facilities for economical operation in this territory and the Operating Committee feels that the Pennsylvania should be requested to provide such facilities.
Accident on West Detroit Branch. Pere Marquette engine 503 in Belt service was badly damaged on January 3, 1925 when it collided with a cut of cars on the main track just west of the Pennsylvania Wye at Glendale Avenue. The Operating Committee approved the recommendation to suspend Engine Maxwell for thirty days on account of this accident.
Request of Saginaw & Bay City Steamship Company Denied. There appears to be no good reason for providing a side track for the accommodation of the Steamship Company at the foot of West Grand Blvd. and the Operating Committee therefore feels that the request should be declined. The degree of curvature would be such as to make it impracticable to operate over.
Current Interchange. The present arrangement is for the Pere Marquette and Wabash to make deliveries to the Belt at 21st Street for industries east of Clark Avenue and at Delray and Rougemere East Yard for industries west of Clark Avenue, and at Oakwood and Rougemere Yards for other industries on the Best.
Union Belt Automobile. The Ford Runabout used by the Union Belt messenger is in need of extensive repairs and it is estimated that to keep it in service will cost $125 within the next three months. For an additional $95 it can be traded for a new car and we would save approximately $10 by trading it before being compelled, the latter part of this month, to purchase a License which could not be transferred to another car purchased later in the year, so that it would cost $85 more for a new car than the cost of repairs within the next three months to the old one, which is in such shape that it cannot be expected to last throughout the year. This would be a replacement without any charge to the road and Equipment, and it is referred to the Board of Managers for immediate action.
Discipline. The Committee approved the Train Master's recommendations to suspend Pennsylvania Trainmen as follows: Conductor Byrne one week for damaging cars at Ocon Avenue January 19th; Brakeman Howard one week for running through a switch on the West Belt on January 19th; and Brakeman Gaffney one week for damaging engine cab at Warren Avenue on January 14th; Conductor B. Miller overhead suspension of one week for damage to building in Mack Coal Company Yard, December 13th; and conductor Agnew and Brakeman Parker and McDonald one week each for an accident in the Grand Trunk Yard on February 3rd.
Coal for Watch Houses and Interlocking Towers. Coal furnished this winter for use at watch houses and interlocking towers between Delray and 21st Street costs an average of $7.45 per ton by the carload and $9.91 per ton in small lots, and briquettes recently furnished to Delray $16,90 per ton including engine service and labor unloading. Run of mine coal can be purchased from local dealers for $6.50 per ton delivered into the bins and as it would cost less and would avoid train interference such as now occurs by being unloaded from the main track, the Committee recommends that authority be granted to purchase coal at the best price obtainable from local dealers on our tracks.
Wreck in Grand Trunk yard February 3rd. While Wabash Engine 2002 in Belt Service was shoving a cut of thirty cars from the West Detroit Branch into No. 2 track Grand Trunk Yard to pull out on to the Old Main Line the cabin car and the car next to it in this cut side-swiped a Grand Trunk train pulling out of the lead, destroying the cabin and slightly damaging the car next to it. There was no damage to the Grand Trunk train. The Grand Trunk wrecking outfit was used to re-track the cars. Since this accident did not occur on any Belt zone and the agreement provides that such expense shall be charged to the zone in which accident occurs, there is a question as to how the Belt shall dispose of an expense of this nature. It might be charged to the zone for which the service was being performed or to the district to which engine service was charged or to the Union Belt as a whole.
21st Street Engine Terminal. The supervision of the 21st Street engine terminal was assumed by the Union Belt of Detroit on February 16th. The engine house Foreman and Storekeeper were called in and notified of the change and at the same time instructions were issued to them with regard to carrying on the work and what is expected of them. Union Belt will also arrange to perform switching service in this engine terminal heretofore performed by the Pere Marquette. Coal will be supplied by member roads in proportion to the amount used by them. There is one City telephone with an extension in the engine house Foreman's office. It was decided to discontinue this service and install two telephones connected with the Private Branch Exchange of the Union Belt.
Clark Avenue Interlocking Operation. There have been several delays to trains recently at Clark Avenue due to the practice of keeping the plant set for street cars, although after midnight the street cars run at infrequent intervals. The Train Master was instructed to make a thorough investigation and report at the next meeting of the Operating Committee. Arrangements will be made to keep the plant set for trains instead of street cars after midnight.
Repairs to Pennsylvania Engine 2164. The engine was damaged December 22, 1924 due to low water while tied up on the Oakman Spur in charge of Watchman employed by the Union Belt.The Pennsylvania has rendered a bill against the Belt for $513.47 covering the cost of repairs made necessary on that account.
Track Maintenance. A great many of the industrial tracks east of Delray, maintained by the Union Belt, are in need of extensive repairs. Several derailments have occurred recently and with the view to adopting a program of general repairs, the Track Supervisor was instructed to make a complete inspection and submit detailed reports of his recommendations. This report was received and forwarded to the Division Engineers for consideration of maintenance work this summer.
Belt Engine Watchmen. All engine watchmen on Belt payroll are now assigned to oversee engines on the Oakman Branch and at Russell Street.
Police Protection. There is considerable stealing of freight and car parts at West Detroit resulting in serious expense to member lines, and the Operating Committee recommends the employment of two Patrolmen, one for service during the daytime and one at night on the West Detroit Branch and West Belt, comprising what is known as District #4, the expense to be charged to that District and divided among the roads on wheelage basis, the same as district engine expense, the men so employed to report to the Belt Train Master.
Track Gangs. The three section gangs between Backus Line and Delray will now have a foreman and eight men each, which is usual for the summer.
Water Facilities. On account of the excessive delay to engines procuring water from the 4" line at the south end of Zone 12, resulting in the practice of getting water from the Grand Trunk plug nearby, consideration will be given to the advisability of providing a standpipe at or near Michigan Avenue.
Use Of Pennsylvania Summit Street Yard. It was proposed to use track 4, and tracks 6 to 12 inclusive in the Summit Yard of the Pennsylvania for switching and storage purposes, owing to a lack of room elsewhere for handling cars on the Belt in this territory. This was declined because the interest rental value of these tracks makes their use prohibitive, considering the layout and location.
Yard Facilities. It was proposed some time ago to lease the DT&I yard at West End Avenue, and although no advice has been received from the Board of Managers as to the result of their negotiations, it is learned from the DT&I officials that they have no intention of leasing this yard at the present time, and that it will not be available for some time to come. In lieu thereof it is now proposed to lease that portion of the Wabash Delray yard south of the main tracks with the exception of the stock track, and this will be given further consideration upon receipt of plan and a definite proposition from the Wabash. Later in the month, the Belt was advised by the Wabash that they are not ready to lease any portion of their Delray yard.
Injury to Engineman O. A. Tice. On December 27, 1923, this man sustained injury to his left eye resulting in loss of sight in that eye caused by the bursting of water glass and shield on Pere Marquette engine 464 while in Belt service on the West Detroit Branch. The Pere Marquette made a settlement with him by the payment of $1,400 and rendered the bill for that amount against the Belt for reimbursement. It was submitted to the Board of Managers for review. The claim was paid on November 17, 1925.
Yard Office, West Detroit Branch. In lieu of yard offices at Michigan Avenue and Federal Avenue, it is proposed to provide an office consisting of two box car bodies equipped for the purpose at the southerly end of West Detroit Branch near the junction with the Grand Trunk, one for Trainmen's lockers and one for use as an office for Yard Masters and the Clerks now located at both Michigan Avenue and Federal Avenue at a total estimated cost of $500. The combining of these offices would increase efficiency and save approximately $175 per month. The proposed standpipe for Michigan Avenue will be changed and placed 150' north of Otis Street, connecting with a 10" City main at that point in lieu of the 4" line at the south end of Zone 12, which would be abandoned.
Crossing Protection at Tireman and Livernois Avenues. The Traffic Division of the City Police Department has called to the Belt's attention of the unprotected railroad crossings at Tireman and Livernois on the West Detroit branch. They are suggesting electric signals or a warning device. A study of the intersection of made which shows an hourly average of two trains, 76 pedestrians, 799 vehicles at Tireman, and 1 train, 39 pedestrians and 679 vehicles at Livernois, indicating the need for a modern warning device at both crossings.
Rougemere Operators. On June 22nd, Rougemere operators were moved from the yard office to the west end of the yard where they are used exclusively for blocking trains and yard engine movements between Michigan Avenue and Rougemere. The Belt will therefore be charged with their entire wages effective June 22nd instead of 90% as before when they performed some clerical work for the Pere Marquette. According to the April 12, 1926 minutes, the PM share remained at 10% because these operators are copying train orders for outbound PM trains.
Dispatchers and Clerk At the Union Depot. Heretofore the Union Belt has assumed 50% of the wages for dispatchers, operators and clerk at Fort Street Union Depot. It was considered excessive in view of the amount of work performed by these men for the Belt, and on the account suggested that the expense be divided one-third Belt and two-thirds Depot. The Fort Street Union Depot Company has changed the basis for division of this expense to 40% Belt and 60% Depot, effective July 1st and the Operating Committee has approved this pending further investigation.
West Detroit Branch Telephone Line. A short line telephone is badly needed on the West Detroit Branch, with ten telephones located at various points. The Bell service we now have which could be dispensed with would result in a savings of $60 per month, and the additional Bell service now required if short line telephone is not provided would cost approximately $40 per month, so there would be a savings of $100 per month or $1,200 per annum, or 17% on investment of $7,000 which is the estimated cost of pole and wire line with necessary telephones and equipment. The Operating Committee recommended that authority be granted for pole and wire line the entire length of the West Detroit Branch.
Rougemere Accident. Pere Marquette engines 1406 and 468 in charge of Belt Hostler and Pilot enroute from 21st Street Engine house to Rougemere ran into open crossover switch south of Baugee Creek and side swiped a train being handled by Rip track engines. The Block Operator at the west end of Rougemere Yard gave Delray permission to run these relief engines to Rougemere on the main line although Pere Marquette train No. 52 was occupying the main track at Fort Street and had shoved a cut of cars through this crossover to the Icehouse leaving no one in charge of the open switch. The Hostler crew in charge of relief engines had rights through the Interlocking Plant only and failed to observe that the crossover switch stood against them. Investigation develops that the Block Operator, Hostler and Flagman on No. 52 are all responsible, and it was decided to dismiss the Operator and Hostler and leave to the discretion of the Pere Marquette the discipline to be imposed on the Head brakeman.
Water Facilities Near Michigan Avenue. The Pere Marquette advises on account of the possibility of grade separation at Michigan Avenue that their Division engineer has been requested to prepare a plan and estimate for stand pipe at suitable point north of Michigan Avenue. This was finally placed in service April 1, 1926.
Oak Yard. The Pere Marquette Railway wishes to utilize for its own exclusive use, that part of Oak yard, consisting of three tracks on the south side of the present main line, and suggests that in view of the industrial spurs leading from the outside of northerly track, requiring it to be kept clear, that track to be used for main line purposes and devote the present main line to Yard service. The Operating Committee recommends that this be done in view of the anticipation of early construction of additional tracks near the Pennsylvania wye on the West Belt. The matter is therefore referred to the Board of Managers for approval.
DT&I Interchange. Effective August 1st, all interchange between the DT&I and connecting lines is to be done in Fordson Yard. The interchange of the three member lines is handled by their own power, through zone 11.
Yard Facilities. The operation of the Union Belt is constantly hampered by reason of having no yard facilities whatever for receiving, classifying and holding cars. On Sunday and Labor Day of this week, the Belt delivered cars to the full capacity of industrial tracks and utilized all available industrial track room for storage purposes and there was still an accumulation of one thousand cars which could not be placed by the Belt. The industrial work on the Belt has been increasing steadily and is not approximately double that of a year ago, and consequently the need for a Belt yard is more important than ever, and it is the urgent recommendation of the Operating Committee that steps be taken at once to provide yard facilities for Belt use. The Operating Committee will make a ground inspection to develop the possibility of locating a site for a temporary yard east of Delray.
Second Track Through Rougemere. The density of traffic through the Rougemere district is now so great that it is costing the Belt in excess of 200 engine hours per month by reason of delay to Belt engines getting through that territory. To avoid this excessive delay to trains, it is the recommendation of the Operating Committee that immediate consideration be given to the building of a second track on Pere Marquette right-of-way from the end of the second track south of the bridge to the end of the second track north of Miller Road, with gauntlet over the bridge until such time as it is necessary to replace the bridge with a double track structure.
Depot Use of Belt Tracks at 21st Street. It was suggested that the Depot be charges a 20 cent per car assessment for use of Belt tracks near the Depot. A check revealed that there are approximately 1,800 cars per month that use these tracks. The Secretary was authorized to render a bill for use of the tracks that are maintained by the Belt at this point.
Additional Crossover to Fordson Yard. The DT&I has discontinued all except industrial switching operations at their south yard and all of their interchange with member lines is handled at Fordson Yard. The present one-way crossover is wholly inadequate to permit handling this interchange without greatly interfering with the main line as well as yard operations. It is therefore proposed to construct an additional crossover. The DT&I should construct their end, and the Pere Marquette its end of the new crossover. The expense incurred by the Pere Marquette will be added to the valuation of facilities used jointly in Zone 11. The Ford Motor Company is to obtain permission from the Pennsylvania to cross its property. This crossover was placed in service on December 3, 1925.
Yard Facilities. It is estimated that it will cost $20,000 to extend the Sugar House Lead to West End Avenue, a distance of 4,700 feet, exclusive of the cost of either moving the telegraph line to the north right-of-way line or placing it in conduit. This will be given further consideration upon receipt of estimates for both propositions.
Manual Block System Between Depot and Member Line Yards. The operation of trains in this territory has been given some consideration and study by the train masters and it is their recommendation that it be protected by manually controlled clock system, which would require telephones at all crossovers, block offices at 21st Street, Clark Avenue, West End Avenue and Delray, with a set of dispatchers located at the later point. This will be given further consideration before preparing estimate of the cost of facilities required for Manual Block System and the expense of handing it.
Delray Interlocker. This plant is worn out and the Operating Committee feels that it should be rebuilt as soon as possible, notwithstanding the possibility of grade separation at tome future time. This is respectfully brought to the attention of the Board of Managers.
West Detroit Yard Offices. The Operating Committee reconsidered its plan to put two box cars at West Detroit for Yard Offices. They decided that due to questionable appearance, they should put small offices, "similar in construction to standard tool houses". This will be submitted to the Board of Managers. Finally built and occupied around May 1, 1926.
Police Protection Problems.The pilfering of cars in Belt territory is increasing constantly. There is no systematic policing of the properties or definite assignment of Patrolmen. At the present time, the Wabash is policing day and night the Old Joint including Solvay and Edison leads, the Old Main Line, Russell Street and West Detroit Branch in the vicinity of Michigan Avenue. The Pere Marquette is policing the West Detroit branch during the day time only, and the Pennsylvania, the West Belt periodically during the day and night. It is the opinion of the Operating Committee that the following police protection should be provided day and night by the member lines at the expense of the Union Belt and to be divided by the member lines on industrial car basis:
|Between Grand Truck Junction and Michigan Avenue:||One man each by the Wabash and Pennsylvania, chargeable to Zone 12a.|
|Between Michigan Avenue and the West Belt:||Two men by Pere Marquette chargeable to Zone 12a|
|On the West Belt:||Two men by Pennsylvania, chargeable to Zones 14a and 18a.|
|Russell Street and Old Main Line:||One man each by Wabash and Pennsylvania, chargeable to District 2|
|Old Joint:||One man each by Wabash, Pere Marquette and Pennsylvania, chargeable to District 1.|
|1 Day and 1 Night||1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, & 10|
|1 Day||11, 14, 15, 16, & 17|
|1 Night||12 & 13|
|1 Day||13 & 18|
It is clear from reading the minutes of the Union Belt Operating Committee, that this group was much closer to the day to day operations of the Belt, and wanted the Belt to succeed. The Operating Group was constantly worried about yard space, storage and crime on their property and constantly made recommendations to the Board of Managers about ways these problems could be solved. Unfortunately, the Board of Managers was unable to justify much of the price of these improvements, or individual road politics and business strategies limited a desire to participate in these improvements. We continue on with the minutes of these meetings, as they tell such an interesting story in the building of the Union Belt.
Crossovers in Old Joint Territory. After careful study of traffic, the Operating Committee has recommended two additional crossovers, one between the main tracks at Junction Avenue and one between the westbound main and Sugar House Lead at Morrell Street, and the reversing of the crossover near Summit Street at a total estimated cost of $3,422. This was submitted to the Board of Managers.
Yard Facilities. Rather that approve the proposed yard between the Sugar House Lead and West end Avenue, the Board of Managers directed the Operating Committee to ascertain what use the Belt could make of any portion of the Pere Marquette Rougemere yard. It is contemplated that the yard could be used for delivery by member lines to the Belt of cars for Districts 3 and 4, consisting of the Rougemere, Holden, Oakman, West Belt and West Detroit territory. The Operating Committee also noted that the DT&I West End Avenue Yard can be leased on a reasonable basis and recommends that it be acquired and used for delivery by member lines to the Belt for all cars for industries east of Delray.
Yard Facilities. The Operating Committee reviewed the blueprints of Rougemere Yard. The Pere Marquette member stated that they have under consideration the question of giving up ten tracks in this yard for Belt use, which would be tracks 6 to 15 inclusive, which would give the Belt approximately 500 car lengths of room in this yard. It was the opinion of the Operating Committee that this would give the Belt adequate yard facilities in that territory for the interchange of cars from member lines to the Belt for Districts 3 and 4. They recommended to the Board of Managers that the Belt take over these tracks when the Pere Marquette decides to release them.
Fatal Accident to Crossing Watchman. The Claim Department has arranged for settlement by payment of $225 and voucher for that amount is being held in this office awaiting authority for approval by the Secretary. The Operating Committee could not agree as to responsibility for this accident, which caused the death of Gottfred Daus, Crossing Watchman at the Cavalry Avenue crossing on September 19, 1925. The Wabash member's position is that the Pere Marquette is liable for the accident. The Pennsylvania member states that on account of the absence of positive evidence as to which train struck the man, that the expense should be assumed 50% by the Pere Marquette and 50% by the Belt. The Pere Marquette member's position is that the entire amount should be assumed by the Union Belt. Therefore, the mater is referred to the Board of Managers for decision. The Managers approved the payment by the Belt.
Company Surgeon. Authority was received to increase the compensation of the Surgeon from $100 to $400 per annum, effective March 1, 1926, with instructions to make a deduction of $1 for each physical examination of all applicants, except track laborers and clerks. This will include engine house men and train service employees.
Proposed Wye at Glendale Avenue. In lieu of providing this wye, it was decided that three tracks at Coon Avenue for salvage and storage purposes would be of more benefit. These tracks, with a total capacity of 93 cars, were placed in service November 13, 1925.
Passing Siding On Oakman Branch. This track was placed in service in January, 1925, as approved on August 26, 1924 by the Board of Managers.
Removal of DSR Crossings in West Jefferson Avenue. The Wabash and Pere Marquette own the diamond in Jefferson Avenue formally used to serve the American Car & Foundry company. It's angle is such that it cannot be used to serve the Detroit Railway & Harbor Terminals Company or any other industry in that vicinity. The diamond is also in bad shape. The Operating Committee recommends it's removal.
Crossing Protection. It is proposed to gradually install flash light signals at some of the less important crossings now protected by Gatemen and dispense with the men at a saving of $236.64 per month for each crossing. The least important crossing now protected by Gatemen is Crawford Avenue where flash signals could be operated by gatemen at adjoining streets (Artillery and Rademacher) and it is recommended that this be authorized so that it can be taken up with the Utilities Commission for approval.
Manual Block System. After due consideration the Operating Committee is recommending a private telephone line with telephones for present switch tenders and others located conveniently for Conductors and employment of a set of dispatchers to regulate traffic between Depot and member line yards. It is estimated that the telephone facilities will cost $4,337 and the rate of $225 recommended for three dispatchers to be relieved one day each week.
Western Union Time Service. Notice was received from the Western Union Telegraph Company of an advance of 25 cents per month commencing July 1, 1926 in the rental charge for synchronized self-winding clocks in the engine house office, train master's office and Delray Tower, for which we now pay respectively $1, $1.50 and $1.75 per month.
Water Facilities. Water facilities were discussed as they related to valuation of properties. According to the discussion, Belt water facilities are located at Otis Street (on the West Detroit branch near Michigan Avenue), Russell Street, Plymouth and Glendale Avenue. The Pennsylvania had a water facility at Lonyo Road. These are not the total of water facilities on the Belt.
Gas House Lead Near Depot. Discussions are taking place on using the tracks of the Gas Company for switching of the Fort Street Union Depot. This is the first mention of a planned 4-track main line.
Improvements to the West Detroit Branch. The following improvements are recommended for the West Detroit Branch: 1) 90# rail [already done]; 2) 2nd track from Plymouth Road to Livernois at a cost of $11,200; 3) a passing or drilling track, Warren Avenue to approximately Livernois at a cost of $20,900; 4) a passing or drilling track between Schoolcraft Blvd., and Town Line (Greenfield) Road at a cost of $12,173 and 4) relocation of the crossover east of Michigan Avenue leading from the main track to the old scale track at a cost of $250.
Charging Industries for Engine Rentals. It was determined that industries be charged for use of engines and train crews including fuel, supplies, etc. furnished for any purpose at the following rates per hour:
- Tractive force under 20,000 lbs - $10.00
- Tractive force 25,000 to 50,000 lbs. - $12.50
- Tractive force 50,000 lbs. and over. - $15.00
Vandalism At West Detroit Yard Office. Two box car bodies were set off the trucks at West Detroit on December 1, 1925. On January 11th the siding was torn from one of the cars. On January 31st one of the cars was damaged by fire. The carpenter work on these cars was completed February 20th but no light or water was provided. On February 23rd the cars were completely stripped of all window sash by some unknown person. The sash was replaced and telephones were installed on April 28th. On May 29th, one window was broken, both telephones and telephone boxes were stolen. Cars were wired for electric lights sometime during May. On June 10th every sash in both cars were damaged beyond repair and considerable destruction to the inside of the cars was done. On June 14th arrangements were made with Lowrie & Robinson to replace the sash as Pere Marquette Bridge & Building gang was busy elsewhere. On June 23rd both cars were entirely destroyed by fire evidently started by boys in the neighborhood. The Operating Committee urges the Pere Marquette to proceed at once to replace the office and to provide constant police protection from the time the car bodies are set off until ready for occupancy.
Interchange with Pere Marquette. Commencing July 1st, effective with the use by the Pere Marquette of their new yard at Oak, the interchange of cars to and from the West Detroit Branch and West Belt is made at Oak. The interchange of cars for the Rougemere territory, Oakman Branch and Holden Spur as well as the joint territory east of Delray will continue to be made at Rougemere Yard for the present.
Engine house Labor Force. The following men are now being carried on the payroll as laborers at the Engine House:
|7 men||Coal Dock laborer|
|6 men||Fire knocker|
|6 men||Fire builder|
|8 men||Engine Wiper|
|3 men||Hostler helpers|
Proposed Wye At Glendale Avenue. The wye track in the southwest angle of the junction of the West Detroit branch and the West Belt is again recommended now that the Pere Marquette is interchanging with the Belt at Oak and contemplates deliveries there of considerable sand and gravel for industries in the Rougemere district. There will be still greater need for it beginning with the construction of several large industrial plants on the West Belt particularly the Electrical Refrigerating Corporation and Peoples Outfitting Company. This was approved and work started on the wye on August 16th and it was placed into service on September 8th.
Interchange with Detroit Railway & Harbor Terminals Company. The Harbor Terminals Company has completed the first of several contemplated warehouses on property formerly occupied by the American Car and Foundry Company, with a network of tracks connected with the lead between the main line and Jefferson Avenue. They have purchased a 40 ton oil burning locomotive to perform their own switching and the member lines have filed tariffs for plant switching allowance. In order to efficiently handle the business it is the intention to have the alley closed and construct two additional tracks parallel with the existing track for interchange purposes and until such time as these tracks are provided the tariff above referred to will not be operative as under the present conditions the Belt is required to perform the switching service in the plant and consequently no allowance is being made.
Yard Problems Continue. The Pere Marquette cannot now spare any portion of the Rougemere yard and it is the opinion of the trainmasters and also the Operating Committee that their East Yard could not be used to advantage by the Belt for the reason that the classifying of cars in that yard with interlocking plants at Fort Street and Delray would be seriously retarded.
Third and Fourth Main Tracks. In connection with the meeting of the Chief Engineers on August 24th, the Operating Committee has reviewed the plan for the third and fourth main tracks now proposed beginning at 21st Street and terminating at Harbaugh Avenue with the expectation that ultimately arrangements will be made to extend these tracks to Delray Interlocking, and recommends a full set of crossovers in the vicinity of 21st Street, Studebaker Plant, Summit Street and West End Avenue, eliminating all other main line connections. The plan has been returned to the Engineers. The Committee urges that the engineering force recommended by the Chief Engineers be employed at once to take charge of the main track renewal work now in progress and instructed the Secretary to submit Form 30 for this force.
Collision Near West Grand Blvd. A serious rear-end collision occurred on the Boulevard Lead due to the failure of the Engineer of Wabash Train No. 2 to stop at the signal, and failure of Flagman with Pere Marquette Boat Yard train to protect train that had not cleared the derail on the Boulevard Lead and the switch therefore could not be closed. The Wabash Engineer was suspended 45 days and the Pere Marquette flagman was dismissed from the service.
Yard Supervision. Industrial switching on the Union Belt has shown a steady increase as reflected by statement of industrial cars handled during the first eight months of this year compared with the same period of last year shown below, and a still greater increase is expected due to additional industries locating on the Belt:
Old Joint & Old Main Line
West Detroit Branch
Rougemere District & West Belt
There was an increase of 5,503 cars or 72% in Zone 18 of the West Belt not reflected in totals for the third item due to Ford Blast traffic handled by the Belt during the early part of 1925 since interchanged with the Wabash at Oakwood Junction. Some of the larger plants now under construction are:
Electric Refrigerator Corporation
Detroit City Gas Company
Ernst Builder Supply Company
People's Outfitting Company
Mark R. Hanna Construction Company
Service Coal Company
United Fuel & Supply Company
Lithographed maps of the Union Belt have been colored to show the territory of present Yard Masters and territory of proposed additional Yard Masters. The Operating Committee is convinced that more supervision is essential for economical operation of the Belt and that with the present business there should be an Assistant Train Master in charge at night and an additional Yard Master during the day time to be located at Glendale Junction and recommends rates of $315 and $254.28 respectfully for those additional positions.
Dispatcher's Telephone Circuit. Now that the third and fourth main tracks have been authorized by the Board of Managers, in lieu of dispatchers with telephone facilities it is felt that consideration should be given to the installation of automatic signals on the high speed tracks and that the Signal Engineers should be called upon for recommendations regarding this signal system.
Designations for Certain Points. The following names have been decided upon for points indicated:
- "West Belt Junction" - the junction of the Pere Marquette main line (Zone 11) and Pennsylvania West Belt (Zone 14).
- "Oakman Junction" - the junction of the Pere Marquette main line (Zone 11) and Pennsylvania Oakman Branch (Zone 15).
- "Glendale Wye" - crossing of the Pere Marquette West Detroit Branch (Zones 12 and 13) and the Pennsylvania West Belt (Zones 14 and 18).
Yard Supervision. Yard supervision costs will be divided up into the following zones:
|1 Day and 1 Night||1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, & 10|
|1 Day||11, 14, 15, 16, & 17|
|1 Night||12 & 13|
|1 Day||13 & 18|
Lamp Tender. The pay of the Lamp Tender is divided among the main line zones (1, 2 & 3) according to the number of lamps in each zone. This has the approval of the Operating Committee.
Automatic Signals On High Speed Tracks. The Signal Engineers met with the Operating Committee for discussion of proposed signal protection between 21st Street and Delray in conjunction with the construction of third and fourth main tracks. After careful consideration of their original report recommending an independent machine in Delray Tower for handling crossovers at the West end of the additional mains, replacement overhead of interlocker at Clark Avenue and additional interlockers at West End and Junction Avenues at a total estimated cost of $303,000. The Committee still feels that these improvements should be ultimately provided and that the first portion to be constructed as soon as possible should consist of the two interlockers at Clark Avenue and 21st Street, and automatic signals located on the bridge at the Studebaker Plant, Junction Avenue, Crawford Avenue, Solvay Avenue and Harbaugh Avenue, besides those at Clark and 21st Street interlockers at an estimated cost of $145,000.
Plymouth Road Team Track. The Board of Managers has authorized discontinuing this as a team track as the Pennsylvania has withdrawn its objection. The Meyers Road team track was also abandoned on March 31, 1927.
Coach Yard Facilities. Considerable damage to passenger equipment and extra switching are caused by lack of steam on the repair tracks in the Coach Yard at 21st Street. The Operating Committee recommends extending the steam line to these tracks at estimated cost of $400 to be borne by the Pennsylvania and added to the valuation of coach yard facilities.
West Detroit Branch Telephone Line. Service has been established at Michigan Avenue, Warren Avenue, Meyers Road and Oak, and the balance of the telephones will be installed. This telephone service will enable Yardmasters to keep in touch with crews along the line, permit car checkers to communicate with the office and greatly improve operations.
Union Belt Automobile. The rental of garage for the automobile used in messenger service now costs $84 per year. A metal garage 9x16 without flooring can be erected for $150 and there is a suitable location adjacent to the driveway near the coal dock. It is recommended.
Very little activity. Some discussions about wheelage costs and interchange.
Depot use of Belt Tracks at 21st Street. Most of the Coach Yard switching is done at the west end and it causes some interference to main line operations. Investigation early last year led to the conclusion that if the Coach Yard switching operations were confined entirely to tracks assigned thereto, it would necessitate performing the service at the east end of the yard with use of the approach to the viaduct and by reason of the grade the expense would be considerably increased. It was therefore decided to rebuild and extend the Gas House Lead to accommodate the switching at the west end of the Coach Yard and thus avoid the use of the main track. The Gas House Lead has since been extended and is now a part of the Westward No., 2 track. The Wabash feels that either the Belt should charge for the use of tracks by Depot engines in switching service at the same rate per car assessed by the Depot Company for the use of its tracks as a means of getting to and from the Jefferson Avenue industrial tracks, or the Depot Company should discontinue its charges, allowing the use of its tracks to be offset by its use of Belt tracks at 21st Street, and the Operating Committee will give it further consideration.
Third and Fourth Tracks. In view of the excessive expense for building changes at Timken-Detroit Axle Company Plant No. 1 and the Detroit Chemical Company to permit relocation of the turnouts in the new mains, some consideration has been given to continuing them in the present mains with crossing diamonds in the new mains. In lieu thereof, after further consideration, the Operating Committee recommends installation of slip switches and plans accompanied by the estimate of cost will be submitted to the Board of Managers.
15th Street Switchtenders. These men are employed by the Fort Street Union Depot Company to handle switches at the foot of the viaduct. In view of the service they perform throwing switches for engines to enter and leave the 21st Street ending terminal, it is the opinion of the Operating Committee that the Union Belt should bear one half of their wages and divide it among three roads on basis of the number of engines dispatched for each during the calendar month.
Clark Avenue Interlocker. For construction of the fourth track across Clark Avenue, where there is insufficient right of way for interlocking tower on the ground, the Committee recommends a twenty lever electrically operated machine located on a bridge at approximate cost compared with a new plant with tower on the ground, to be purchased for that purpose as follows:
|Tower on Bridge||Tower on Ground|
|Land to be purchased||$2,500|
|20 lever machine - complete||$28,500||$28,500|
|Tower on bridge||$1,500|
|Signal bridges - 2||$6,000||$6,000|
|Bridge for tower||$3,600|
|Relocation of telephone lines||$400|
In event of any change in the street car traffic, not now contemplated, the bridge will be in the right location for the automatic signal system.
Zone Limits. On account of track changes due to construction of the third and fourth main lines between Delray and 21st Street, necessitating removal of some fixed locations used as the dividing points between certain zones, it is recommended that the limits of zones be changes as follows. The Terminus of Zones 1 and 2 established at the heel of the frog in the Boat Yard lead, station 595-89, to the east line of West Grand Boulevard, Station 594-53, now that the Boat Yard lead has been extended across the Boulevard and is a part of the Westward No. 2 track. Zone 9, as described in the proposed operating agreement extends from the heel of the grog in eastbound main line between Solvay and Green Avenue, Station 495-50. this track was likewise extended to become a part of Eastward No. 2 and the turnout in it for connection with the DT&I at West End Avenue, and with the Solvay tracks, is now located between Solvay and West End Avenue with the heel of the frog at Station 491-50.
Accident Expense. On May 11, 1927, while Trackman John Figluizzi was assisting Signal Maintainer change out insulated joints at 23rd Street, he stepped out of the way of a Wabash drag approaching on the eastward main, backed into and was struck and fatally injured by Pere Marquette engine 503 moving in the same direction on the Boat Yard lead. His hospital and funeral expenses cost $345.55. The Operating Committee is unable to agree as to the responsibility for this expense. The Wabash representative is of the opinion that the Pere Marquette is entirely responsible and should assume all liability as Trackman was killed by one of their engines in exclusive Pere Marquette service. The Pere Marquette representative feels that the Belt should assume it in view of the contributory negligence of the Trackman who was employed by the Belt. The Pennsylvania representative contends that it is the obligation of the road involved in the accident to bear the expense. The case is therefore referred to the Board of Managers for a decision.
Crossing Protection. At the hearing before the Common Council on July 15th, that body approved the plan to install flashing light signals in place of alarm bells at Minnie Street, Swain Avenue, Pelham (formally Pleasant), Summit Street and Post Avenue. Also approved in lieu of bells, gates and watchmen at Junction, Cavalry, Military, Crawford, Rademacher and Solvay Avenues. At Artillery Avenue, where the gates were recently removed to permit construction of third and fourth main tracks, the watchmen will be retained at this crossing. The wages of 16 crossing watchmen will be saved amounting to $15,145 per annum.
Third and Fourth Tracks. These tracks will be used quite extensively for through movements, and the Operating Committee therefore recommends that 6,600 rail anchors be applied at an estimated cost of $1,500 for labor and material.
Clark Avenue Interlocker. It is estimated that the replacement of this plant incident to the construction of the fourth track across Clark Avenue will cost $29,850 and as the agreement of December 20, 1904 provides that the Electric Company bear one-half the expense of maintenance, the Operating Committee will, through the Signal Engineer of the Pere Marquette, negotiate with the Department of Street Railways to assume one-half the cost of rebuilding the plant.
Service From Detroit Edison, Delray Plant. The Detroit Edison Company plant located on the Delray Terminal Railroad owned by the Edison Company is reached by the Delray Connecting Railroad owned by the Solvay Process Company. When deliveries are made by the Union Belt its member lines make a switching allowance of $1.02 per car to the Delray Terminal for spotting service and pay the Belt for the delivery also for return movement of the empty cars. No charge has been assessed for use of the Delray Connecting track to reach the Delray Terminal, but it is expected that a trackage charge will be established, as under the Price Trusteeship the track can be used by any connecting road at cost of interest and maintenance expense. When deliveries are made by the roads to the Delray Connecting Railroad for intermediate switch movement to the Delray Terminal Railroad, the switching charge assessed by the D.C.R.R. is $3.60 per car and empties are returned free. Prior to May 28, 1926 the switching for all member lines to and from this plant was performed by the Union Belt. Commencing that date the Pennsylvania traffic was diverted to the Delray Connecting Railroad and commencing May 10, 1927 the Wabash and Pere Marquette similarly diverted their traffic for the Delray Plant of Detroit Edison. Cars for that plant were again given to the Belt by Pennsylvania commencing September 3, 1927 and by the Pere Marquette commencing September 7, 1927.
Care of Passenger Equipment at Detroit. For some time, efforts have been made by the member lines to reach an agreement for the care of their passenger equipment cars at Detroit by the Union Belt. It was proposed effective with the transfer of this work from the Union Depot Company to the Union Belt to create the position of Master Mechanic to have supervision over both the engine terminal and passenger car work. The Wabash and Pennsylvania desire the Belt to perform the work of inspecting, repairing, cleaning, icing, watering and charging their passenger cars at the Depot as well as in the Coach Yard. The Pere Marquette objected to this scheme as a whole, preferring to confine the Belt supervision to the mechanical operation of the Coach Yard and continue such work as is done at the Depot under the supervision of the Depot forces. It is now proposed by the Pere Marquette that the present General Foreman at 21st Street Enginehouse be promoted to Master Mechanic and his supervision extended over the mechanical operations of the Depot Company including the Coach yard, reporting to both the Operating Committee of the Union Belt and the Superintendent of the Depot Company. This proposition is urged by the Pere Marquette at this time as a means of at once securing the benefit in economy and efficiency to be had from such joint or unified supervision, rather than to defer action toward that end until agreement is reached on the proposition to place the Coach Yard mechanical operation under the jurisdiction of the officers of the Union Belt. The Wabash is not agreeable to making any change until a decision is reached as to the future care of passenger cars at Detroit. The Pennsylvania objects to extending the supervision of the General Foreman, preferring to make no change in the handling of passenger car work until completion of the present negotiations. It is their opinion that this work is not a function of the Depot Company and that the roads can have it performed as they choose. This is referred to the Board of Managers.
City Garbage Plant Switching. The switching at the City Garage Disposal Plant, an industry on the Union Belt at 24th Street, is performed by the Wabash crew that hauls the loads to French Landing and the empties back to this plant. That service was established shortly after the beginning of Belt operation to overcome complaints that were made on account of the offensive odor from these cars when allowed to stand around after being switched out waiting for Wabash to haul them to the reduction plant at French Landing [near Belleville]. It is the most practical and economical arrangement for movement of this traffic. The Wabash makes no bills against the Belt for engine service or crew wages, the cars are not interchanged but are included in the Wabash main line wheel reports, hence no dummy interchange reports are prepared and the cars are only counted in the main line wheelage of the Wabash.
Proposed Extension of Jefferson Avenue Track West End. The extension of the West Jefferson Avenue track to connect with the main line west of West Grand Blvd. would not only expedite the switching service in Jefferson Avenue but would avoid considerable interference to main line traffic between the Boulevard and 21st Street. This extension would cost $10,500 exclusive of the right of way, and it is conservatively estimated that it would save two hours of engine service per week day which at $10 per hour would exceed $6,000 a year. It could be used for a connection to serve the balance of the triangular piece of property owned by the City now being considered as a site for an additional garbage loading plant. The Operating Committee has approved of the plan and feels that in event the City decides to so develop the property, it would be an ideal opportunity to obtain a right of way across City property and permission to extend the Jefferson Avenue track to the main line, and the plan will be submitted to the Board of Managers for consideration.
Third and Fourth Main Tracks Update. This program has been completed with the exception of the following. 1) Nothing done east of Barrett switch in Pere Marquette Boat Yard Lead. PM is not in position to turn this track over to the Belt for use as fourth main line. 2) New connection with the Timken Detroit Axle Company across the third main east of Clark Avenue is awaiting PM authority to proceed with the work. 3) The 3rd track across Clark Avenue cannot be completed until interlocker is rebuilt in new location (overhead) to provide room for this track. Awaiting PM authority to proceed with the work. 4) New connection with the Detroit Chemical across fourth main east of Junction Avenue. Awaiting PM authority to proceed with the work. 5) The system of crossovers authorized by the Board of Managers has been completed except the installation of the scissors at 21st Street and West End Avenue for which material has not been received, and the crossover at Junction Avenue is awaiting PM approval of a new connection with the Chemical Works. The Wabash has rebuilt its tracks on the joint right of way between West End Avenue and Harbaugh Avenue where the Belt has constructed turnouts from Nos. 1 and 2 main tracks. The Wabash is prepared to turn these tracks over to the Belt for joint use and maintenance.
Equalization of Power. On November 1st, 1927, the Wabash was 819 hours behind its quota of engine service to be supplied to the Union Belt, and the Pere Marquette and Pennsylvania respectively 419 hours and 400 hours ahead of their quotas. The Pere Marquette is not agreeable to displacing its engine and crew in District #1 to allow the Wabash to equalize.
Automatic Signals on High Speed Tracks. Instructions received to confer with two signal companies to develop the feasibility of centralized control of signals and switches for operation of trains between Third Street and Delray. The Signal Engineers suggested signal protection to be provided ultimately for the four track system, and recommended that the first portion to be constructed as soon as possible should consist of the two interlocking plants at Clark Avenue and 21st Street, with automatic signals on bridges where needed. Upon completion of the studies by the Signal Companies it is the intention of the Operating Committee to recommend that a signal system be installed next year that will conform to the ultimate plan of signals and interlocking plants.
Negotiations With City To Replace Clark Road Interlocker. After discussions with the City, it is felt that the steam roads should assume the entire cost of signals on the additional track and the steel sub-structure to support the interlocking tower, and that the balance of the expense of rebuilding of the plant should be treated as maintenance, estimated at $30,000 and on basis of the unit distribution table, it would be divided as follows: Electric Line 37.5% ($11,250), Steam Roads 62.5% ($18,750, chargeable as maintenance in Zone 2).
Police Protection Discussion. The Wabash reports that it is furnishing all the police protection in Zones 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 as well as having a regular man assigned to Zone 12 between Michigan Avenue and the Grand Trunk connection, and feel the Belt should either have its own police organization or some division should be made of the expense of the present protection. The Pere Marquette has no desire to depart from its present practice, which affords service of this nature found to be ample for its needs, and it is not their understanding that service performed by the Wabash is for other than exclusive Wabash benefit. The Pennsylvania favors a separate police force for all Union Belt territory. The matter was revisited in March where it was determined that the member roads have the equivalent of nine men policing Belt territory; the Wabash six, the Pere Marquette two and the Pennsylvania one. The suggestion was offered to procure from the member Roads nine patrolmen to be carried on the Union Belt payrolls and divide the expense on basis of the wheelage according to territorial assignments. The Pere Marquette declined to join in such a recommendation.
Residence Telephone. At the beginning of operations the Superintendent authorized the installation of a telephone at Belt expense in the residence of the Trainmaster. The Board of Managers is asked to reaffirm this authority. It was reaffirmed in March.
Clark Road Interlocker. In the ongoing discussions with the City, the Department of Street Railways is agreeable to the replacement of the present plant with a small electric plant handled from a table-lever machine, the expense to be divided on the unit basis. It is proposed to install derails in the two freight mains, operative derails in the facing direction on the electric line, and spring derails protecting against reverse movements, the steam roads to assume the entire cost of signaling on the fourth track and the cost of the steel substructure for the tower, estimated at 25% of the total cost $30,000, or $7,500; the balance, $22,500, to be treated as maintenance and divided equally between the electric line and the steam roads. This conflicts with the information shown in minutes which erroneously stated that the maintenance proportion was estimated at $30,000. It is recommended that authority be granted to proceed with this work without delay.
Proposed Extension of Jefferson Avenue Track at West End. There is no likelihood of the garbage loading station by the City for some time, if at all. In view of the advantages to be gained from the extension it is recommended that a petition be filed with the Common Council to extend the track to connect with the main line east of West Grand Boulevard and thus avoid any possible objection to another track across the Boulevard. This will necessitate use of some City property for the turnout.
Proposed Contracts for Employee Insurance. The Benefit Association of Railway Employees is a mutual legal reserve health and accident association for railway employees. They promote, for social and relief purposes, lodges which are non-sectarian, non-political and prohibit discussion of labor matters, having 221 of these lodges now with one in Detroit installed on the 20th of this month. It is claimed their low rate protection with liberal claim payment practice is second to none. They issue monthly a "Railway Employees Journal" and numerous safety bulletins. The Association has contracts with the Wabash and Pere Marquette for soliciting among their employees, payroll deduction of premiums and allowance office percent as commission for collections. It is recommended that permission be granted to extend their operations to cover the Union Belt under the terms of present contracts and that notice of discontinuance be given the Continental Casualty Company, which now has but nine of our employees insured. Besides the Continental Company, solicitation is authorized and payroll deductions made for the Central West Casualty Company and the Railway Men's Relief Association. No commission is allowed by the latter for handling premium deductions on the payrolls and it has but fourteen employees insured at the present time.
Crossing Protection. By reason of a serious automobile accident at Junction Avenue crossing on January 30, 1928, the only one that has occurred at any of the streets where flashing light signals were placed in service last December, there has been considerable agitation in the Common Council for restoring the gates at all of these crossings and on that account Inspector Hughes of the Public Utilities Commission, and Superintendent Murphy of the City Department of Public Works made an inspection of all crossings between the Boulevard and West End Avenue, accompanied by members of the Operating Committee on April 17th. The Inspector recommended that the flashers at nine principal crossings be equipped to warn street traffic in both directions; the flashers on the south side of Artillery Avenue be moved to the center of the street and the one on the south side at Junction Avenue be moved nearer the track. To equip the flashing signals to operate on the track side will cost approximately $65 per signal or $130 per crossing, or a total of $1,170 for the nine crossings.
Automatic Signals on High Speed Tracks. A plan has been prepared for proposed installation of the dwarf type of automatic block signals between Sixth Street and Delray Interlocking Plants, at an estimated cost of $26,000 and early approval is recommended in order to complete the work under favorable weather conditions.
Passing Track Oakman Branch. The extension of the second track on the Oakman Branch across Miller Road and as far as the lead to the Detroit Seamless Steel Tube Company Plant is needed now for efficient and economical switching. The increased traffic of the Graham Paige Motor Car company and the business of other industries now located in that territory make it necessary during switching operations to place cars on all private tracks to the extend that it interferes with the business of the industries and has caused numerous complaints and it also causes excessive switching expense. There is prospect of several additional industries locating there and the Operating Committee recommends extending the Passing Track at once at an estimated cost of $5,708. Authorized in August, 1928.
Car Inspections. At present the car inspectors of all three roads visit the Detroit Railway & Harbor Terminals Plant daily, with unsatisfactory results and duplication of work. It is proposed to establish joint inspection for 16 hours per day and divide the expense among the three roads on the basis of the number of cars handled for each to and from the Harbor Terminals. Authority received in June.
Smoke Abatement (at Roundhouse). Notice 4274 received from the Bureau of Smoke Inspection and Abatement calls for installation of a breaching with suitable connections over all smoke stacks under which engines are fired, connected with an approved smoke washing system and then to a single stack large enough to accommodate the gasses resulting from the firing up of engines in the roundhouse. The Operating Committee feels that concerted action should be taken by all the roads to the end that uniform practice will be obtained and suggests that the Board of Managers arrange for a meeting of the Mechanical and other interested representatives of all steam roads in Detroit for the purpose of thoroughly analyzing the situation and deciding upon uniform action, as the cost of complying with orders such as this would be very expensive. In July, the minutes reported that other roads in Detroit have equipped their locomotives with ring and combustion tube blowers and can clear dense smoke within ten seconds from the time blowers are put in operation. They are, however, receiving violation notices almost daily and all contend that the Inspectors are too strict in their judgment of smoke with the use of an unbrascope (or quadruple smoked lenses) which makes thin gray smoke appear dense.
Third and Fourth Main Track Update. New connection with the Detroit Chemical Works has been installed and second eastward main completed without the cantilever signal originally proposed at Cavalry Avenue, which has been deferred for further consideration of the dwarf type automatic signals in this territory.
West Belt Extension. The West Belt is being extended across the Detroit Terminal Railroad at Livernois Avenue to the vicinity of Hamilton Avenue and the following industries have been connected with this extension: Sterling Coal Co., Schiewe Coal Co., Lowrie & Robinson Lumber Co., Detroit Motor Bus Company, Davy Fuel & Supply Co., Rex Clay Products Co., and Anchor Pipe & Supply.
Switching Lead. To facilitate switching operations by avoiding use of the Pere Marquette main track, the Operating Committee recommends and urges the prompt construction of a track on the Pere Marquette right of way north of Zone 11 between the Oakman Spur and the West Belt.
Warren Avenue Interlocker. The Department of Street Railways is willing to join in application to the Public Utilities Commission to discontinue the derails in the Pere Marquette (West Detroit Branch) tracks at Warren Avenue.
Equalization of Power. On December 1st, the Wabash and Pere Marquette were 4,586 and 1,949 engine hours below their quota and the Pennsylvania was 6,535 hours over its quota. The Wabash proposed to place some of its engines in charge of Pennsylvania crews in the latter's territory in order to reduce its shortage, but this was not agreeable to the Pennsylvania. The Pere Marquette requests that its engines be used in District 1 in proportion to ownership so as to enable them to furnish power in proportion to its quota, but the Wabash was not agreeable to this, as it would mean the withdrawal of Wabash engine assignments to the extend that Pere Marquette engines are substituted and the Wabash would fall farther behind the quota than at present. This subject is therefore referred to the Board of Managers.
Car Inspection. The joint car inspection at the Detroit Railway and Harbor Terminals Company was discontinued December 19th at the close of navigation and for this season it is intended - unless otherwise instructed - to re-establish it on a slightly different basis at much less expense. Last year, two inspectors were employed for 16 hour service and it was frequently necessary to work them overtime when boat cargoes were transferred to cars at night and the cars pulled from the plant interchange track before the regular inspection service the next day. The inspectors were not kept busy at all times and shortly after the service was established they were assigned to inspect cars at other nearby plants, namely, American Brass, Timken, Graham-Paige and the Detroit Chemical. For this year it is proposed to assign to all of these plants a Wabash inspector for six hours during the day and Pere Marquette Board Yard inspectors two or three hours, as necessary, on the second and third tricks, the expense to be billed against the Union Belt and apportioned among the roads on basis of the card handled for each road at these plants.
Claim of Michigan Bell Telephone Company. This claim, amounting to $67, covers damage to fence and gate at their Plymouth Road yard on January 5th, by crew in charge of engine 9079. While shoving 12 cars from Fullerton Avenue Yard into Coon Avenue passing track the cars headed into the Telephone Company siding on account of switch being open and damaged the fence and gate before cars could be stopped. Switchman Delevern was disciplined by five days actual suspension for his responsibility in connection with the accident. This claim is referred to the Board of Managers with recommendation that the Belt assume the responsibility. Payment was authorized by the Board of Managers.
Company Surgeon. The Operating Committee recommends that compensation of Dr. George W. Ridenour be increased from $400 to $600 per annum.
Claim of Detroit Edison Company. This claim, amounting to $99.81 covers the cost of replacing a pole destroyed February 8th, when struck by car derailed by ice and snow in the Chope-Stevens track which we maintain at railroad expense. The section gang was cleaning other tracks, having ascertained that the conductor had no cars for Chope-Stevens that morning, but during switching operations it was necessary to shove some cars in their. The Operating Committee recommends that the claim be paid.
Story: How Wagon Works Junction Got It's Name
The name "Wagon Works Junction" has always been intriguing. This location has been a staple in New York Central timetables for over one hundred years, and it is still used today by the Norfolk Southern railroad as a staging area in Toledo, Ohio.
So, when did this become Wagon Works and why? First, some history.
The first railroad built between Toledo and Detroit was the Detroit, Monroe & Toledo railroad, a construction railroad which immediately became part of the Michigan Southern & Northern Indiana (later LSMS) in 1856, and a direct competitor with Detroit's Michigan Central. This road gave access by the Lake Shore to Detroit, which was theoretically prohibited by the original MC charter when the "Southern" line was sold by the state. The LSMS later ran at least one through train per day between Chicago and Detroit via Monroe using this line, in competition with the MC and others.
The second, competing railroad between the two towns was built in 1873 north and south from Grosse Isle, by the Canada Southern railroad which had started a car ferry between Amherstburg, Ontario and Trenton (via Grosse Isle) to give them an ill-fated line west towards Chicago (via Petersburg and Fayette, OH), as well as north and south connections to Detroit and Toledo. Originally owned, in part, by stockholders of the Toledo, Wabash and St. Louis Railroad, they envisioned the CS as a connection by Wabash in Toledo to Canada to Buffalo. This is apparently why the CS was built to a point south of Toledo on the Maumee River, rather than into downtown Toledo. But financial conditions put the line into receivership and stock was purchased by Vanderbilt interests in 1882.
These two lines between Toledo and Detroit were close to each other, sometimes adjacent but much of the line was as much as 1/4 mile apart.
The Canadian Southern came under control of the Michigan Central around 1876 as part of the Vanderbilt stock purchase, and the Lake Shore and the Michigan Central also came under the control of New York Vanderbilt interests. Though they were operated as separate railroads until 1916, they collaborated as early as 1900 on the Detroit to Toledo section by operating both segments as a double-track main line. The CS line was the northbound segment, and the Lake Shore line was the southbound segment. Even though the lines were as much as 1/4 mile apart, longer-than-normal crossovers were installed at several locations along the way such as LaSalle (south of Monroe) and Warner (north of Monroe).
As these two lines came into Toledo (in 1856 and 1873), Wagon Works Junction was not a named place. But it was the place where these two tracks diverged farther away from each other. The Lake Shore line continued in a tangent southwest to Airline Yard. The Canadian Southern line diverged directly south to C.S. Junction (named for the "Canadian Southern") and a connection with the Wabash and later the Clover Leaf railroads. This was to accommodate the early connections for the Wabash affiliation.
Early Sanborn maps show that there was no "junction" at what would become Wagon Works Junction. The lines simply diverged here.
That all changed about 1873. The Milburn Wagon Works Company of Mishawaka, Indiana purchased the property north of Monroe Street, between these two railroads and built a huge wagon manufacturing facility. Within a few years, Milburn became America's largest wagon company, producing as many as 4,000 wagons each year for both personal and commercial use. Sidings were installed to the plant from both railroad lines and a connection was also made between the two competing railroads. At least one passenger station was built at the site on the Lake Shore, as well as freight stations on both lines. To provide for the thousands of workers at the Milburn works, the City of Toledo expanded out to this area and a street car line was constructed. The Milburn plant became one of the largest manufacturing sites in America. This was before the automobile, and horse drawn carriages and wagons were important for transportation in this era. The two railroads brought in raw product (wood, iron) and took out finished carriages which were transported throughout the United States.
The railroads named the location of this plant on their lines as "Wagon Works Junction". Even though the two railroads were now under Vanderbilt control, they continued to operate separately. As an example, the Lake Shore line to Detroit used the GTW Brush Street station (via D&M Junction and what is now the "Dequindre Cut"), while the old Canada Southern line (MC) used the Michigan Central's Third Street station via a connection at Grand Junction/West Detroit.
Wagon Works Junction thrived during the Milburn Works era. Even though significant parts of the plant were destroyed by a tornado, and it burned several times over the years (usually starting in the paint shop) the plant was rebuilt each time. As the automobile began to take over from horse-drawn carriages in the early 1900's, Milburn adapted by building electric-powered cars and bodies for other automobile companies into the 1920's - particularly for Ford and then Oldsmobile.
In 1923, Milburn was purchased by General Motors. Though it was speculated that the main Milburn plant would be converted to a Fisher Body plant, it was closed down within two years. Electric vehicle production was transferred to another Milburn factory. Milburn subsidiary Dana Corporation was spun off and continued to serve the auto industry for many years.
Wagon Works Junction continues to be a location along the double tracked Norfolk Southern railroad and is used today as a small staging area for unit coal trains and auto rack cars.
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.