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History>Railroads

Railroads
G.R. & Indiana RR
Pere Marquette RR
G.T. Western RR
Decline of Railroads

G.R. & Indiana RR

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Vestaburg train depot, ealy 1900's Montcalm County was served primarily by three railroads: the Grand Rapids & Indiana, the Pere Marquette, and the Grand Trunk Western. The Grand Rapids & Indiana that ran between Grand Rapids and Mackinaw City made two stops in the county, Pierson and the most important Howard City, where connections were made with the Pere Marquette railroad. The southern terminus of the Grand Rapids & Indiana, that would later become the Pennsylvania, was Cincinnati, Ohio. They hauled passengers to Grand Rapids where they joined others traveling to the cooler climate of Upper Michigan. At the peak of their busy history up to twenty passenger trains a day stopped at Howard City.
Trufant train depot
The train coming in to Trufant from the north just before going under the high bridge at Brigg's Road, 1920's. [Click here to view full size picture]

Pere Marquette RR

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1872 Train Schedule [Click here to view full size picture] The second railroad was the Pere Marquette that would later become the Chesapeake & Ohio. This ran from Detroit through Lansing and into Montcalm County. The main line had stops in Greenville, Gowen, Trufant, Coral and Howard City. At Howard City you could make connections with the Grand Rapids & Indiana to go north, or the Pere Marquette to go east, with stops at Amble, Lakeview, Six Lakes, Edmore and Wyman. There was also a branch that ran from Grand Rapids up through Lowell and Belding to Greenville and on to Stanton; and from Ionia, on the Stanton Branch, with stops at Stanton Junction, Wood's Corners, Shiloh, Fenwick, Grand Rapids Junction, Sheridan, Colby, Stanton, McBrides, Edmore and Wyman. The Pere Marquette had many miles of railroad in Montcalm County and at the peak of the logging era hauled a tremendous amount of passengers and freight, including lumber and timber. As train travel grew in popularity the number of train accidents increased. One such accident occurred near Trufant on July 18, 1874, when the gravel train hit a tree that had fallen across the tracks. Another occurred near Pierson, on August 15, 1900, when the southbound train from Howard City collided with the northbound train from Sand Lake causing the death of all crew members.

Greenville's Pere Marquette Depot, 1908.
Stanton's Pere Marquette Depot. [Click here to view full size picture]

G.T. Western RR

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Grand Trunnk Depot, early 1900's, Carson City Every little town wanted a railroad and Carson City waited the longest for the Toledo, Saginaw & Muskegon to be built. (The Grand Trunk Railroad owned this road, from the beginning, but did not operate it as the Grand Trunk until the 1920's). The line was completed from Ashley, in Gratiot County, to Carson City on September 24, 1887 and on to Muskegon, on August 1, 1888. Carson City was the first stop in Montcalm County. On west was Butternut, Vickeryville and Sheridan, where you could connect with the Pere Marquette, and then on to Sheridan Crossing, Millers, Eureka Place and Greenville. There you could again connect with the Pere Marquette and then on through Lincoln Lake, in Kent County, to Muskegon.
Butternut Grand Trunk Depot, early 1900's.

Decline of Railroads

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Taking up railroad tranks in Trufant, 1943. [Click here to view full size picture] There were other lines over the years but they were either discontinued or were absorbed by the larger railroads. Just about all of these rail lines are gone now. The Grand Rapids & Indiana, and most of the Pere Marquette tracks were torn up in the 1950's. The Grand Trunk was also torn up in the 1950's except the section from Ashley to Carson City, which is still in operation today.
This page last updated on 3/13/2006.