Bizarre and Funny... Michigan Railroad Stories Over The Years

The following are bizarre and funny stories from newspaper archives in Michigan. Check back periodically as new stories and found and posted.

Jumped From The Cars

1864. August. A train on the Detroit & Milwaukee brought in from Grand Rapids a number of recruits and substitutes en route for the army. Among them was the one of the latter class who perceived here his last chance to escape and cross the river (to Canada) with his ill-gotten gains. When the train slackened speed in passing Grand Trunk Junction, he seized the opportunity to jump off. The guard fired at him but did not succeed in hitting him. Two of the guards jumped off and gave chase, finally capturing him before he could reach the woods, for which he made tracks on the double-quick, and brought him into the city on foot where he was properly secured against another attempt to break away. [DFP-1864-0816]

Fish story

1890. A correspondent at the railroad junction of Trout Lake in the Upper Peninsula writes in the Sault Ste. Marie News that Daniel Boone, while out fishing in the lake near there, caught a grass pike thirteen feet long, in the stomach of which were found two porcupines, five rabbits, seven muskrat traps and a pair of checked pantaloons. [TTN-1890-0611]

Runaway Train in Houghton Across the Bridge

1904. January 27. In coupling onto an empty passenger coach this morning at Mill Mine junction, six miles above Houghton, a coach started down grade and rushed down through town, across the Portage Lake bridge and finally bringing up opposite the Quincy smelts without damage. The interlocking devices on the bridge paid for the expense of installation by preventing a collision with a Mineral Range train. [DFP-1904-0128]

Down the Chute at Mill Mine Junction

1917. February 9. Carl Harju was buried in a pocket containing soft coal at Mill Mine Junction for more than an hour and was discovered when a locomotive stopped for fuel and he was shot into the tender of the engine. He was unconscious when found but doctors say he will recover. Harju was buried by the coal when at work dumping coal cars into the pocket. [DET-1917-0224][PHTH-1917-0209]

Runaway Train into the lake at Boyne City, MI

1923. May. The peaceful quiet of the Boyne Falls hill district was disturbed yesterday afternoon by a wild train of 12 flat cars on the BCG&A railroad, that went through an open derailer and switch at North Elmira and shot down the 900-foot drop down the hill at something like 90 miles per hour. The roar of the train was heard at a considerable distance as it took the 20 miles around sharp curves in a cloud of dust. The wild journey came to an end in the lake at Boyne City, word having been wired ahead so that the string of cars was switched off into the water. [BCE-1912-0514]

Horse Extraction From Ishpeming Trestle 

1935. A draft horse owned by Toivo Pelto of Jasper Street, stepped gingerly along the ties of the 300-foot Greenwood street viaduct of the LS&I railroad and came within 30 feet of reaching his destination on the other side when his hoofs slipped and entangled him in the openings between the ties. A crowd attracted by the horse's plight shouted various words of encouragement, but the animal's efforts to extricate himself were fruitless. Blood dripped to the ground below as the horse struggled to get out of his misery. Marshall Eckloff was called to the scene and decided that it wasn't a revolver (that was needed), but "horse sense". Enlisting the services of a veterinarian, and others, planks were rigged up and after much work on the part of volunteers the 1,800 pound animal was extricated from the viaduct. The problem was solved by tying the horse's front feet and head together so he could not resist the efforts of his rescuers. Planks were then slid under the animal and a rope was attached to permit the men in the crowd to pull the animal to safety. After about an hour of work, the men succeeded in getting the horse over to a steep bank, where he slid back to earth. [IDG-1935-0828]

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