HISTORY OF THE WISCONSIN AND MICHIGAN RAILWAY
Chicago railroadman John N. Faithorn and his financial backers conceived of the Wisconsin and Michigan Railway as part of a railroad-car ferry transportation system, which would connect the rich iron ore and timberlands of Michigan's Northern Peninsula with Chicago steel plants and lumber markets. They incorporated the W&M on October 26, 1893, to build a 51-mile line from the twin ports of Marinette, Wisconsin, and Menominee, Michigan, northward to a connection with the Soo main line. John Bagley, a Chicago lumberman who later built the Tacoma Eastern Railroad, helped organize the W&M and held a principal amount of its $1,500,000 stock. He operated the narrow-gauge Ingalls, White Rapids and Northern logging railroad over a section of the projected W&M route. To facilitate construction of the new railroad, crews standard gauged five miles of the IWR&N from Ingalls, Michigan, to the northern bank of the Menominee River.
Despite the nationwide depression during the spring of 1894, the W&M started building south across the Menominee River and north from Bagley Junction, a point on the Milwaukee Road eight miles from Marinette-Menominee. Laborers lived in huge tents and a pair of boarding trains, each consisting of two bunk cars and a diner. Engineer E. F. King, the former head of railroad construction on the Chicago World's Fair grounds, supervised the work. Surplus rail from the Fair, which had conveniently closed in November 1893, provided most of the steel for the mainline. High water and floating logs destroyed a newly constructed bridge across the Menominee River in the spring of 1984, but a more substantial structure spanned the river by the end of the year.
Unable to secure adequate dock frontage in Marinette-Menominee for its projected car ferry line, the W&M built a line south to Peshtigo, Wisconsin, to serve nearby Peshtigo Harbor. The railroad acquired trackage rights between Bagley Junction and Marinette-Menominee over the CM&StP to tap the new Toledo and Ann Arbor car ferry service across Lake Michigan. On December 2, 1894, the W&M instituted passenger service from Peshtigo to Faithorn Junction and followed two days later with regular freight trains. The main terminal, located at Peshtigo, included a 12-stall roundhouse with ramp coaling dock, a 40-by-200-foot car shop, machine shop, blacksmith and wood machinery buildings, a large freight house and an adjacent passenger depot. To provide rolling stock, the railroad acquired some surplus cars from the World's Fair and bought a pair of large, new combination freight-passenger cabooses. Six light second-hand locomotives provided the motive power for construction, freight and passenger trains during the first few years.
To provide its own Lake Michigan ferry terminal, the W&M purchased the Peshtigo Lumber Company's private railroad in early 1895. Crews immediately rebuilt the eight-mile line between Peshtigo and Peshtigo Harbor and constructed a ferry slip at the mouth of the Peshtigo River. During the year Faithorn formed the Lake Michigan Car Ferry Transportation Company as a subsidiary of the Wisconsin and Michigan Railway. In March the new company ordered a pair of wooden barges for the Peshtigo Harbor to South Chicago run. Each barge, 316 feet long and capable of holding 28 cars on an open deck, contained a steam plant and steering engine, but no propulsion machinery. As barge No. 1 slid from the ways at Bay City, Michigan, it stuck a rock and sank to the bottom. With a newly acquired tug and the refloated ferry-barge, the LMCFT Co. inaugurated service on August 31, 1895, delivering 26 cars of coal and merchandise from South Chicago to the W&M Peshtigo Harbor slip. The following week barge No. 2 entered service, and the fleet remained busy until the ice forced the annual winter tie up. During the open navigation season, a powerful company tug pulled one or more barges over 200 miles in choppy Lake Michigan waters - a task requiring good seamanship and above average luck.
By the end of the year the W&M operated 65 miles of track from two Lake Michigan ferry terminals, Marinette-Menominee and Peshtigo Harbor, northward to the Soo Line interchange at Faithorn Junction. From Peshtigo Harbor the line crossed low flatlands to the Peshtigo terminal and continued north along the Peshtigo River to Bagley Junction. W&M trains bound for Marinette-Menominee transferred to CM&StP tracks and used Milwaukee Road depots in both towns. North of Bagley Junction the line passed through rolling wooded country and crossed the Menominee River on a twin-span steel bridge at Fischer, Michigan. North of the river the railroad ran over a section of the old IWR&N roadbed, which made a rough and troublesome section of track. The last few miles into Faithorn Junction passed through rougher country necessitating frequent cuts and fills. A water tank, several long interchange tracks, a wye and a joint W&M-Soo Line depot completed the northern terminal.
Late in 1895 the railroad took delivery of a new Baldwin ten-wheeler, No. 8, but it proved too heavy for the light track and was returned to the builder. The following June the railroad bought its second No. 8, a smaller Baldwin ten-wheeler, but it too was unable to negotiate the poor track north of Fischer. Rather than limit the size of its motive power, the company improved the troublesome section of track and kept the new engine. To handle heavy logging and lumber traffic the W&M ordered 250 special box cars equipped with end doors for loading posts, poles and ties. By the end of 1886 the road owned over 400 boxcars but only 50 logging flats.
The road's car ferry connections provided substantial amounts of freight traffic. Ann Arbor ferries plying between Frankfort and Menominee, Michigan, drew large shipments of Minneapolis flour over the W&M and provided freight for delivery to the Soo Line at Faithorn Junction. The LMCFT Co. built bulk-loading barge "A" at Peshtigo Harbor and purchased two additional car ferries and a tug. Occasionally the W&M handled over 100 cars a day at the Peshtigo Harbor slip, and during 1886 its car ferry line hauled over 2500 cars of coal, lumber, steel rails and machinery before tying up operations in December.
Forest products provided the major traffic for the W&M in its early years. The road penetrated one of the country's finest stands of virgin white pine, northern hardwood, and cedar, and the twin ports of Marinette-Menominee together ranked as one of the world's leading lumber producing centers. During its first decade, the W&M Railway connected with no independent logging railroads and operated only one small logging branch of its own. The railroad picked up its loads either from the Soo Line at Faithorn Junction or from on-line loading points. These "stations" were simply sidings with a clearing for huge log piles. During the winter, logs which were not to be floated down the Menominee River were hauled over the snow by animal power, piled in huge stacks along sidings, and loaded onto W&M flat cars for shipment to Marinette-Menominee or Peshtigo lumber mills. To enter the lumbering business and provide heavy traffic for their railroad, the W&M financiers formed the Northern Supply Company in November 1895. The new firm built a large sawmill at Fischer, cut timber, dealt in timber and agricultural lands, and operated general stores along the railroad selling lumber, stone, ice and general merchandise. The following winter the company employed over 300 men in the logging business alone. The large mill provided the railroad with substantial freight shipments, and late in 1897 the W&M moved its business office up to Fischer and renamed the town in honor of its General Auditor, O. A. Koss.
The railroad's car ferry line remained busy during 1897, and Faithorn planned to engage part of the fleet in a fruit-hauling scheme across Lake Michigan. In June the W&M Chicago office sent the following message to train dispatcher Harrison in Peshtigo:
"Have completed arrangements for the transportation of fruit across Lake Michigan this summer. Made arrangements with representatives of the Big Four, Vandalia, and West Michigan Railways to have a terminal at St. Joseph, Michigan, and run ferries to Chicago and Peshtigo Harbor."
Soon afterward the LMCFT Co. began service between Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and Benton Harbor, Michigan, but the fruit traffic failed to materialize. Despite the unfortunate agreement with the Big Four and discrimination against the ferry line by the Rock Island and other trunk roads, the regular Peshtigo Harbor to Chicago service handled 3100 cars during the year - an increase of 600 over the previous season. During the summer of 1898, the car ferry-railroad line delivered 180 cars of steel rails from Chicago to Faithorn Junction for use by the Soo Line. This profitable business continued for over five years while the Soo Line extended and improved its track.
Despite increasing traffic, the W&M failed to produce profits. General Manager J. N. Faithorn and Vice President John Bagley resigned their offices in January 1898, although both men remained as W&M directors. President S. N. Fischer assumed their duties. The railroad's unsound finances forced sale of the entire Northern Supply Company, including the Koss mill and three on-line general stores, to the C. H. Worcester Company of Chicago. Although financially divorced from the railroad, the Koss mill continued to ship hundreds of cars over the W&M and owner C. H. Worcester became a director in the company three years later. Sale of the lumbering subsidiary necessitated relocation of the railroad's business office to Peshtigo.
The extensive Menominee Iron Range, lying just north of Faithorn Junction, had attracted the attention of the W&M's founders. The area began shipping ore in the 1870's, but with the Illinois Steel Company's discovery of large iron ore deposits around Quinnesec, Michigan, in the late 1890's, the W&M decided to push an extension north to tap this potential heavy traffic.. In September 1898, contractor T. J. McGrath started building a line north of Faithorn Junction and by snowfall completed most of the grading to Norway and Quinnesec. To help finance the new line (the W&M name and bonds were in poor standing among financiers) the company chartered the Wisconsin, Michigan and Northern Railway on November 17, 1898. But a lack of funds soon stalled construction of the new line.
During 1899 the W&M and Ann Arbor railroads effected a mutually favorable arrangement, which channeled additional freight over the rail-water route between Faithorn Junction and Frankfort, Michigan. The W&M's car ferry operation contributed substantial freight traffic to the line, but in 1900 it suffered a severe loss. Barges No. 3 and 4, temporarily leased to a Buffalo, New York, pulpwood dealer, sank in a heavy Lake Erie storm. And in May of the same year the large Worcester Company mill at Koss, an important W&M shipper, burned to the ground along with the entire town. Although the railroad continued to haul many cars of lumber, posts and ties, freight traffic by the turn of the century consisted primarily of solid trainloads of logs for the Peshtigo, Marinette and Menominee mills. Despite the grandiose plans of the railroad's developers, the W&M remained principally a logging railroad operating over light track through quite desolate country. The entire line north of the Menominee River had [according to page 35 of the Twenty-Seventh Annual Report of the Commissioner of Railroads of the State of Michigan for the Year 1899] "no station buildings of any account, and apparently no necessity for any".
In October 1900, Chicago capitalist John R. Walsh, founder of the Chicago National Bank and owner of the Southern Indiana, Chicago Terminal Transfer, and Chicago Southern railroads, purchased a controlling interest in the W&M Railway. Quickly ordering a series of improvements to convert the ailing W&M into a major trunk line, Walsh completely rebuilt the track between Faithorn Junction and Koss, constructed new stations, and improved the entire main line with new ballast and 75 pound rail. During the winter logging season the railroad delivered almost a thousand cars of logs a month to the Marinette-Menominee mills, and traffic increased substantially over the entire line by the end of 1901. Special trains picked up logs from the Soo Line junction, and the railroad handled an average of 250 cars of cedar products monthly from on-line mills and yards. The large Worcester company shingle mill at Wagner kept a special train busy supplying logs and picking up finished products. The new management, eager to expand into the ore hauling business, estimated that ore shipped via the railroad and car ferry system to Chicago could be delivered for 30 cents a ton less than by existing transportation and ordered a party of engineers to survey Peshtigo Harbor for construction of a large ore dock. Only a severe labor shortage during the year prevented completion of the northern ore extension into the Menominee Iron Range.
Despite a $45,667 deficit for 1901, Walsh continued to pour money into his W&M. Rail-laying crews put in a four mile logging branch northwest of Twin Creek, Wisconsin, while contractor John Marsch built 15 miles of right-of-way between the Sturgeon River and Quinnesec. The Peshtigo car shops operated at full strength turning out an order of 100 logging flats and a plush new private car. During the year the Pullman Company delivered two new coaches painted a deep olive green to match the new business car. Walsh made plans to buy a pair of 54-car-capacity barges to replace ferries No. 3 and 4. In July, 1902, President Ashley of the Ann Arbor Railroad arrived in his private car to inspect the W&M. He traveled the line and explained that his company was contemplating purchase of the railroad to feed ore traffic over his Ann Arbor ferries, but nothing came of this idea.
By mid-1902 W&M rails crossed the Soo Line, and 200 Italian laborers worked on the northern extension along with three construction trains. The following spring Walsh brought up two small Chicago Terminal Transfer mikados, No. 103 and 104, to haul construction trains, and in the summer the W&M opened its new line into the iron ore country. Beginning at Faithorn Junction, where a long fill and trestle replaced the dangerous level Soo Line crossing, the extension proceeded north, crossed the Sturgeon River and climbed a steep grade around Brier Hill to Norway and Quinnesec. On August 16, 1903, the railroad expanded its passenger service, offering two daily round trips between Peshtigo, Marinette-Menominee and Norway. Two months later service was extended to Quinnesec where a stage line carried passengers the two remaining miles to Iron Mountain. The passenger trains hauled travelers bound for on-line communities or Soo Line passenger connections at the junction. A hotel conveniently located across from the W&M-Soo Line depot offered accommodations for passengers taking the early morning Minneapolis or late evening eastbound Soo Line trains.
To power the new passenger trains, the W&M purchased 4-4-0's No. 22 and 23 from the CTT Railway in 1903. The Peshtigo shops refurbished passenger cars, and during the fall the railroad purchased three 65-foot Pullman sleepers for conversion into coaches. Several rebuilt Southern Indiana coaches joined the expanding passenger car fleet. To meet an increased demand for rolling stock, the shops under the direction of Master Mechanic Fitzgerald built some large box cars and 100 fifty-ton ore cars which were temporarily placed in coal service between Peshtigo Harbor and Springfield, Illinois. The following year shop forces turned out another 100 flat cars and two cabooses and improved the roundhouse and repair facilities to accommodate additional locomotives. After rebuilding several Chicago and Alton refrigerator cars, the W&M introduced a beer, meat and fruit hauling service to the nearby northern communities.
On June 14, 1904, the W&M purchased the nearby Holmes and Sons Logging Company. For $77,500, the railroad acquired 28 miles of woods trackage, several cabooses, three locomotives and a business car. A Holmes 0-4-2T designated W&M No. 1 and the business car, neatly repainted, striped and lettered "Peshtigo", were used together as the railroad's inspection train operating out of the Peshtigo terminal. In July crews began constructing a seven-mile line between the logging road's eastern terminal, Miscauno Island, and the W&M main line. A leased pile driver and W&M trackmen completely rebuilt the newly acquired trackage, and prefabricated depots, built in the Peshtigo shops, were placed along the new line. At Everett Junction, the railroad built a wye, coaling dock, water tank and company house for maintenance crews. The Milwaukee Road maintained a small depot at Holmes Junction and operated a joint crossing tower with the W&M. At the former Holmes headquarters, Walton, a wye and water tank serviced engines. On January 1, 1905, the new Western Division commenced service with two round trip passenger trains and regular freight service. Two months later the railroad began a short overland bus service to connect Pembine with company passenger trains at Holmes Junction.
The new Western Division crossed Miscauno Island, a scenic 82-acre site in the middle of the Menominee River. Walsh envisioned the former Holmes log storage and dumping area as the location for a magnificent resort. The W&M commissioned a Menominee architect to draw up plans, and by the fall of 1905 the railroad operated an elegant hotel complete with telephones, marble baths and electric lights. The plush Miscauno Inn, built largely for Chicago patrons, opened its doors on October 9. A special train from Chicago bearing Walsh, Faithorn, and their distinguished guests, along with W&M specials from Norway and Marinette-Menominee, brought over 400 guests to the Inn's grand opening. The railroad's passenger department published an illustrated pamphlet describing the year-round sporting activities and fine accommodations available at the resort and mentioned the good Western Division passenger service connecting with CM&StP, C&NW, and main line W&M passenger trains. Weekend excursion trains ran from Marinette-Menominee, Norway, and later Iron Mountain, bringing city residents to the park and Inn for relaxation.
In early January 1905, the railroad suffered one of its few serious accidents. A double-headed northbound freight ran through an open switch north of Koss and rolled over causing extensive damage to both engines. The Peshtigo shops soon returned the engines to service. Heavy traffic in timber products and iron ore kept the line busy during most of the year. The recently completed South Norway branch served the Illinois Steel Company's big Aragon Mine. On May 16, 1905, the W&M hauled its first ore traffic from the mine, any by August heavy shipments traveled over the company's railroad-car ferry system to the Joliet Works of the Illinois Steel Company. The railroad hauled over 20,000 tons of ore during the year and, with the Iron Mountain extension scheduled for early completion, expected to develop a large ore traffic. Sharply increased logging traffic forced the Peshtigo shops to build 200 more flat cars. And to tap additional logging country, track crews extended the Western Division from Walton to a connection with the private Dunbar and Wausaukee lumber railroad at Constine, Wisconsin.
Stockholders, meeting June 13 in Marinette, announced plans for a 50-mile Western Division extension into Forest and Vilas County Wisconsin timber lands. They increased the railroad's capital stock from $1,500,000 to $5,000,000 to expedite construction of the Iron Mountain extension and a planned line to the head of Lake Superior. Papers filed with the Michigan Secretary of State incorporated the 260-mile Miscauno and North Western Railroad, extending the Western Division to Duluth and Superior. While the W&M's prospects seemed bright, Walsh's vast railroad, mining and banking empire collapsed on December 18, 1905.
The United States Comptroller of Currency ordered closure of Walsh's Chicago National and Home Savings banks. Excessive loans from the Chicago National to Walsh's various enterprises brought on the collapse. A group of bankers quickly formed the Chicago Clearing House Committee to temporarily administer Walsh's assets including the W&M, which, despite its increased traffic, had accumulated liabilities of over two million dollars by the end of 1905. The railroad suspended some train service and laid off over 100 Peshtigo shop employees. Traffic remained normal during the following year, and Walsh, who continued to manage his railroads through an agreement with the Chicago bankers, sent up two Chicago Southern ten-wheelers to handle ore traffic. The No. 605 and 606 hauled trainloads of Soo Line hemlock ties from Koss north to the junction and brought approximately 15 cars of ore daily from the Aragon Mine to Peshtigo Harbor. However, the loss of LMCFT Co. barge No. 2, which capsized in the South Chicago harbor in late September with 30 cars of ore and lumber, destroyed hopes for a continued through ore hauling business. Logging traffic continued to provide the railroad's main revenue, but the end of this business was clearly in sight. Settlers farming cut-over land adjacent to the railroad began to supplant the local timber industry. During the fall harvest, extras running between loading points and Menominee hauled solid trains of sugar beets to the large new Menominee River Sugar Company mill.
During 1906 the W&M built a passenger coach, painted all depots, improved roadbed and ordered construction of a new Western Division bridge over the Menominee River. To provide shuttle service between main line passenger trains and the Miscauno Inn, the railroad purchased a 20-passenger four-wheel gas motorcar. Meeting Milwaukee Road passenger trains at Holmes Junction and W&M trains at Nathan, the car provided direct service to and from the resort. The W&M optimistically advertised its new service in local newspapers proclaiming "the ride to the Inn in the $10,000 railroad motorcar is a pleasure never to be forgotten".
To reach Iron Mountain, the railroad effected a trackage rights agreement in late 1907. Milwaukee Road freights operated over W&M tracks to serve the Bergen mines while W&M trains used the Milwaukee's line between Quinnesec and Iron Mountain. The railroad extended daily passenger service into Iron Mountain on June 14, 1908, offering a morning train from Peshtigo, which returned in the early evening, and an evening train from Peshtigo which laid overnight at Iron Mountain and returned the following morning. The company built its own rail connection into the city late in the year but continued to use the Milwaukee Road's depot for both freight and passenger service. During the winter, space permitting, W&M passenger engines laying overnight at the northern terminal used the small Milwaukee Road roundhouse. During 1908 the railroad reached its maximum size operating 135 miles of track with 12 locomotives and over 600 freight cars. The new passenger service and heavy logging traffic kept the line busy, but the W&M suffered a serious blow in September when 15 cars, a warehouse and the entire Peshtigo car shop burned to the ground. Walsh ordered the shop rebuilt, but the railroad's chronic financial difficulties prevented its completion.
For the next few years, traffic consisted almost entirely of local timber products. Although the railroad hauled a substantial quantity of logs during the period, most of this traffic originated on the Western Division and the expanded 12-mile Lake Nocquebay branches leaving the northern section of the railroad without much business. The line's failure to attract enough heavy through traffic between the car ferry connections and Faithorn Junction prevented the W&M from meeting expenses. The LMCFT Co., operating with a single tug and barge, lasted two more years but contributed little through traffic to its owner. Early in 1910, Faithorn and a party of Chicago businessmen visited the W&M in a pair of Southern Indiana private cars, and shortly afterward on January 26, the Auditor General of Michigan sold the road's Michigan property for back taxes. John Marsch, the railroad contractor who built sections of the main line north of Faithorn Junction and part of the Lake Nocquebay branch, purchased the Michigan segment of the line for $67,999. John Walsh, the financier chiefly responsible for upgrading and re-equipping the railroad, began serving a five-year term at Leavenworth Prison for loaning himself millions of dollars from his Chicago National Bank to develop his various railroads.
Marsch bought over $900,000 worth of W&M first mortgage bonds from the committee of Chicago bankers administering Walsh's assets. He moved the railroad's Chicago office to Menominee, cut down the Peshtigo shop forces and drastically reduced train service. The motor car replaced train service on the Western Division, and by May the road operated only one main line freight which left for Iron Mountain one day and returned the next. By the end of the winter logging season, regular passenger trains frequently handled all way and through freight. Marsch leased several locomotives to the Chicago and North Western (the ore cars had been leased to the Milwaukee Road several years before) and closed the railroad's Lake Michigan Car Ferry Transportation Company operation between Peshtigo Harbor and South Chicago.
The United States Court in Milwaukee appointed General Manager S. N. Harrison receiver for the railroad on January 31, 1912. The following year crews tore up the 12-mile Lake Nocquebay branch. Passenger traffic fell off sharply, service was reduced and the railroad took on a more leisurely pace, hauling occasional logging trains and little through traffic. In 1914 a group of Peshtigo sportsmen hired the motor car for a weekend fishing trip along the Western Division. By 1917 the railroad's financial position became so hopeless that a Federal judge ordered sale of the W&M to discharge over one million dollars in first mortgage bonds. Marsch, who held a majority of these securities, bought the line on November 6 for $405,000 with the stated purpose of junking the entire railroad. Instead he operated the ailing line for 21 more years.
The Peshtigo Harbor to Bagley Junction trackage no longer served any important function. Since the abandonment of the road's car ferry service in 1910, no regular trains operated from Peshtigo to Peshtigo Harbor, and late in 1917 the large Peshtigo Lumber Company suspended operations leaving almost no freight traffic south of Bagley Junction. Marsch decided to abandon the 14-mile line and purchased land for a new terminal in Menominee adjacent to the Milwaukee Road roundhouse. He gave the city of Peshtigo the railroad's switch yards, buildings, right-of-way and steel bridge across the Peshtigo River in exchange for the city's dropping its lawsuit against the W&M abandonment. On January 13, 1918, the last scheduled train left the Peshtigo yard. Machinery transferred from the old roundhouse outfitted the Menominee shop, which held four locomotives in a pair of double-length stalls and contained a machine shop and an enclosed car repair track.
During the first three months of 1918, the railroad sold a number of locomotives and freight cars. The nationwide coal shortage severely limited traffic on the northern end of the line, and in February the United States
Railroad Administration ordered service discontinued between Faithorn Junction and Aragon Junction. The rails were soon removed and the Milwaukee Road operated the isolated Iron Mountain to Aragon Junction line for several years. Crews tore up the Peshtigo Harbor to Bagley Junction line and the Everett Junction to Pangborn section of the Western Division. The Sawyer-Goodman Lumber Company purchased the Pangborn to Wren trackage the following year for its logging operations. The ill-fated Miscauno Inn, which had proved to be a white elephant, was sold in 1919.
The USRA, which never took over the W&M, diverted the road's regular freight traffic over the government controlled CM&StP and C&NW lines. On January 17, 1919, a W&M special brought a delegation of on-line citizens to Menominee where Marsch addressed a large group of businessmen. He explained the railroad's lack of business and encouraged Marinette-Menominee shippers to round up enough traffic to keep the line in operation. A week later Marsch announced that all service would be permanently suspended on May 1 unless the railroad met its operating expenses. The railroad continued to operate past its May deadline but barely survived the year. By the end of 1919, the W&M owned only two locomotives, two passenger cars and an assortment of freight cars in varying stages of repair.
With the help of Michigan Congressman Frank D. Scott in 1919, the W&M obtained more favorable freight rates. Marinette-Menominee shippers persuaded Chicago and Minneapolis businessmen to route freight via the railroad, and traffic increased between the Ann Arbor ferry slip at Menominee and the Faithorn Junction interchange. The transportation of automobiles from Michigan factories to Minneapolis and the Northwest contributed a new life to the W&M railroad. On June 7, 1920, the W&M hauled a record load - 90 new Dort automobiles on 31 flat cars - to the Soo Line for delivery to Minneapolis. A heavy traffic in automobiles, shipped on flat cars and covered with tarps, or in boxcars, followed the Ann Arbor - W&M - Soo Line route. The railroad also hauled a moderate traffic in Ohio and Michigan agricultural implements and machinery. Using the advertising motto "Short Route To and From The Northwest" the railroad opened traffic offices in Pittsburgh, Dayton, Detroit, Minneapolis and Seattle.
The ICC gave permission to re-lay the Faithorn Junction to Aragon Junction line, and by the end of 1920 the W&M again served Iron Mountain. The following year Henry Ford completed his nearby Kingsford plant. Located two miles south of Iron Mountain, the huge facility manufactured wooden body components for shipment to Ford Motor Company assembly plants. The W&M captured most of the Kingsford traffic and hauled hundreds of carloads of Model T wood parts on their way to the River Rouge plant. Northbound Ford tonnage over the railroad included finished automobiles, parts for the company's St. Paul assembly plant and large shipments of coal and oil to run the Kingsford plant.
Marsch purchased two new Baldwin ten-wheelers, No. 527 and 528, in late 1920 to handle the road's increased traffic. The 500's together with No. 129, a second hand mogul acquired around the First World War, and an occasionally leased Soo Line mogul, No. 158, handled trains during the early twenties. In 1923 the W&M leased No. 129 to the Ford Motor Company as a switch engine for the Kingsford plant and bought another pair of new Baldwin ten-wheelers. The big, top heavy No. 600 and 601 proved to be of limited use to the road. The 601 rolled over on a mainline curve during its first year of operation, and the engine's poor steaming qualities kept it in the shop most of its life. The 600's remained as relief engines and were used sparingly, even when tonnage was too high for smaller engines. All four Baldwins were equipped with distinctive homemade whistles built by an industrious master mechanic. The Menominee shop maintained the W&M engines and rebuilt locomotives for the Laona and Northern and the Marinette, Tomahawk and Western railroads, and for the Sawyer-Goodman Lumber Company, Ford Motor Company, and Marsch's railroad contracting firm.
During the last 20 years of operation the W&M maintained the same general train schedule. Freight train No. 2 picked up its cars from the afternoon Ann Arbor ferry and proceeded north in the early evening. Most of the train, consisting of traffic bound for Minneapolis and the Northwest, was set out at Faithorn Junction for the Soo Line. If transfer involved a sufficient number of cars or a high priority automobile train, a Soo Line extra from Gladstone, Michigan, met northbound No. 2 and hauled the shipments on toward Minneapolis. After setting out at the junction, the W&M train continued to Iron Mountain where Ford traffic was transferred to the Milwaukee Road for delivery to Kingsford. After wying the engine and picking up its cars, the southbound freight, designated No. 3, returned to Faithorn Junction where the crew banked the engine and slept overnight in company bunk cars.
In the morning the train returned to the Menominee terminal. In peak traffic periods when the Ann Arbor ran additional ferries to Menominee, the W&M ran extra connecting freights as far as Faithorn Junction. A turntable installed at the junction in 1920 ended the old practice of backing down to the Everett Junction wye. Gravel trains also provided substantial business for the railroad. Marsch operated a large gravel pit, complete with its own narrow-gauge saddle tank railroad, along the W&M at Walsh, Wisconsin. When Ford built his Kingsford plant, solid gravel extras ran between the Walsh pit and Iron Mountain. The railroad also hauled substantial gravel shipments to supply road contractors working on U.S. Highway 2 around Norway. Although the railroad cut off regular passenger trains around 1918, passengers through the mid-twenties could ride as far as the Soo junction in a combine tacked onto the regular freight. During the last decade of service, passengers shared accommodations with the crew in one of the large side-door cabooses, while a government mail contract was handled in the road's ancient baggage car.
Traffic over the railroad remained heavy until the late twenties. In 1927 the W&M lost important traffic when the Ford organization closed down in preparation for its new Model A automobile. The Great Depression of 1929 proved disastrous to the road. Southbound flour shipments fell off, and the reduced use of wood components in car bodies and the drop in automobile production seriously affected revenue. By 1937 the line had deteriorated to a point where slow orders of 10 miles per hour and frequent derailments marred service. During the year the road sold its big 600's to the Atlantic and East Carolina railroad. On January 21, 1937, Marsch, tired of supporting a money-losing operation, filed for abandonment with the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Marinette-Menominee businessmen fought the abandonment proceedings for fear of losing the valuable Ann Arbor ferry connections. The W&M handled about 90 percent of the Ann Arbor business at the twin ports, and local shippers wanted to keep the favorable rates to the eastern markets. Marsch offered the railroad to a group of Marinette-Menominee businessmen for $130,000 with ten years to pay, but they declined the purchase. The poor condition of track and equipment and the lack of traffic doomed the railroad, and on January 30, 1938, the last northbound freight left the Menominee terminal, returning the next morning. Marsch tore up the line, laid off his 50 employees, and sold the two remaining Baldwins and three cabooses.
[Taken from an article of the same title by Richard McLeod]
1 0-4-2T ex-Holmes and Sons Logging
Company, acquired June 14, 1904
3 4-4-0 ex-NP, purchased April 1899
8 4-6-0 BLW, #14418, September 1895
(returned to BLW because it was
too heavy for track)
8 4-6-0 BLW, #14867, May 1896
9 2-6-0 ex-D&LN/W&LE, became Flambeau
River Lumber #1
22 4-4-0 Brooks, #2244, March 1893,
23 4-4-0 Brooks, #2245, March 1893,
129 2-6-0 Acquired around 1918, sold 1926
527 4-6-0 BLW, #53537, 1920, sold 1938
528 4-6-0 BLW, #53538, 1920
600 4-6-0 BLW, #55722, October 1922, sold
601 4-6-0 BLW, #55723, October 1922, sold
605 4-6-0 Rogers, #37571, August 1905,
ex-Chicago Southern #605,
acquired by W&M August 1906,
sold January 1918.
606 4-6-0 Rogers, #37572, August 1905,
ex-Chicago Southern #606,
acquired by W&M August 1906
103 2-8-2 Brooks, #2254, March 1893,
ex-C&NP/CTT #103, used briefly
on construction trains in 1903
104 2-8-2 Brooks, #2255, March 1893,
ex-C&NP/CTT #104, used briefly
on construction trains in 1903
158 2-6-0 Schen., #42155, 1907, Soo Line
engine leased in early 1920's
as relief engine
20 passenger gasoline motor
car, purchased new 1906
Kaysen, James P., "The Railroads of
Wisconsin 1827-1937", The Railway
and Locomotive Historical Society
Bulletin, (August, 1937).
Miscauno Inn. Published by the W&M
Passenger Department. Chicago, n.d.
Hilton, George W., The Great Lakes Car
Ferries. Berkeley: Howell-North
Nevins, Allen, and Hill, Frank E., Ford.
Vol. II: 1915-1933. New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1957.
Sawyer, Alvah L., A History of the
Northern Peninsula of Michigan.
Vol. I. Chicago: Lewis Publishing
Chicago Record-Herald. December, 1905.
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