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]

Taking on a bear

1873. Mention has been made of a tame black bear escaping from an Oakland County farm, and of the animal being seen near Milwaukee Junction. A section hang discovered his bearship near the track about two miles from the Junction. They went for him lively with handspikes and crowbars. He took a position in a fence corner and hit back, and, after he had nearly undressed two of the men, they decided that they didn't want to capture him. [DFP-1873-0323]

Jackson rail man is early influencer

1879. In a patent medicine advertisement in the Detroit Free Press, H.A. Raymond, the Jackson-based Auditor for the Fort Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw railroad writes "I have been using your Cuticura for Scalp Head, and it has cured me when all medicines that I have taken for nine years did me no good. I now am using it as a hair dressing but my head is well. It keeps the hair in very nice condition". [DFP-1879-0419]

Monkey arsonist

1887. Fire. Wakefield's greatest and most destructive fire occurred Christmas Eve, 1887. Mike O'Brien, manager of the theater had a pet monkey. This monkey upset a kerosene lamp in one of the rooms of the theater building and before many minutes were gone, the flames had licked well into the tinder-like material of all the buildings on Front street

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]

Tooth ache almost kills another man

1887. An Alpena man went to the dentist to have a tooth removed. The dentist, using a newly invented machine, pulled the wrong tooth. The next day, the man decided to remove the bad tooth himself using a string attached to the tooth and a bullet. He pulled the trigger, and the bullet pulled out the tooth, but the tooth and bullet went through a window and hit a neighbor in the thigh. A doctor treating the man's thigh wound discovered the connection and the man was charged with attempted assassination. For the full story, click here.

Woman Dies On Railroad Track

1894. While coming from the Youngstown mine location to her home on Superior Avenue in Crystal Falls, Mrs. E.D. Munhall dropped dead on the C&NW railway track between the highway and railroad bridges near the falls. Mrs. Munhall had spent the day with the family of John Larson and was returning home in company with three others. The weather had been intensely warm and she was greatly fatigued, being a suffer from obesity, but was otherwise in the best of health and spirits. When the party reached the falls, they were attracted by a fierce conflict between two dogs. Mrs. Munhall attempted to separate the angry canines and in doing so became greatly excited. Suddenly she sank to the ground and gasped "My God, I'm gone!" These were her last words and she died a moment later. She was 49 years of age and had a six year old son. [DD-1894-0728]

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 (south of) 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]

Lions and Wolves

1904. People who become enthusiasts over the pursuit of big game will be glad to learn that a large increase of the supply of African lions has recently been noticed by travelers, especially in the Sabi district. A correspondent of the Westminster Gazette said it is common to see a troop of 20-30 lions galloping over the hill and they frequently get upon the railway tracks, to the bitter discomfort of the engineers and firemen. Upon one occasion, it is related, a large daddy lion sat upon a station platform when a passenger train arrived. The station master and the porter were there, also - inside of the lion. Under these circumstances we should say that being a railroad station agent in Africa must be hazardous. [BBAN-1904-0414]

1912. Arrival of a freight train at Prospect, AL early yesterday morning probably saved the North Alabama railroad station agent there from being torn to pieces by wolves. A pack of the wolves rounded the little depot early in the night and drove the agent inside, where he barricaded windows and doors. He shot two of the animals when they tried to jump through the window. The arrival of the freight trains scared the wolves away. [DFP1912-0831]

How to Lose Weight...

1916. In Crystal Falls, Joe Leonard took a "health hike" last Tuesday. He walked out beyond the Dunn mine so as to catch the [horse-drawn] rig which comes in each day for the children attending high school. Joe says that his health is all right but he is taking on weight and must reduce, whereas Alex Masty rises to remark that a judicious selection of patent medicines from the corner drug store would do Joe more good. [DD-1916-0226]

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]

Long School Day in Amasa

1938. Alpha school authorities reported that six pupils who had been snowbound in the Mastodon school since Monday (for 6 days) returned to their homes in the Dunn mine location after plows had cleared a way through 10-foot drifts. [EDP-1938-0129]

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