Ann Arbor Railroad (1895–1976)
|Ann Arbor Railroad|
AA Railroad and Steamship Lines, 1911 passenger timetable
|Dates of operation||1869–1976|
|Successor||St. Louis–San Francisco Railway|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)|
|Length||300 miles (480 kilometres)|
The Ann Arbor Railroad (reporting mark AA) was a former Class I railroad that operated between Toledo, Ohio and Elberta and Frankfort, Michigan with train ferry operations across Lake Michigan. It was absorbed by Conrail on April 1, 1976, then later purchased by the state of Michigan.
The history of the Ann Arbor Railroad (AA) began with two companies organized in 1869 and 1872 to build a railroad between Toledo, Ohio and Ann Arbor, Michigan, approximately 45 miles (72 kilometres). The Panic of 1873 killed one of those two companies; it took another 20 years and 12 companies, most of them named Toledo, Ann Arbor & something, for the railroad to reach the eastern shore of Lake Michigan at Frankfort, Michigan. (The Toledo-Frankfort line was the railroad's sole route until the 1960s, when it acquired its only branch, a 4 mi (6.4 km) New York Central Railroad remnant from Pittsfield to Saline, Michigan.) From Elberta, across a small inlet from Frankfort, the Ann Arbor operated train ferry lines to Kewaunee and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and Menominee and Manistique, Michigan. The AA was incorporated in 1895 as a reorganization of the Toledo, Ann Arbor and North Michigan Railway.
The Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railway (DT&I) obtained control of the AA in 1905 but sold its interests in 1910. In 1911 the AA purchased all the capital stock of the Manistique & Lake Superior Railroad (M&LS), which extended north from the Manistique, Michigan, to connections with the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railway and the Lake Superior & Ishpeming Railroad.
In 1925 the Wabash Railroad, which was controlled by Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) interests, acquired control of the AA. By 1930 it held more than 97% of AA's stock. AA was in receivership from December 4, 1931, to January 1, 1943 but did not reorganize. Never a major passenger carrier, AA discontinued its last passenger train in 1950 and gave its to full attention to freight service, which was largely made up of through freight using the Lake Michigan ferries to bypass Chicago and take advantage of lower rates. The railroad was completely dieselized by 1951. In 1963, the Wabash sold the AA to the DT&I (which was owned by the Wabash and the PRR). The M&LS and the connecting 100 mi (160 km) train ferry route were abandoned in 1968. In 1970 the Interstate Commerce Commission authorized abandonment of the ferry route between Frankfurt and Menominee (80 miles (130 kilometres)) and the facilities at Menominee.
On October 16, 1973, AA declared bankruptcy. AA ceased operation as a railroad on April 1, 1976; Conrail assumed operations that day. The state of Michigan then purchased the railroad from the DT&I and arranged for its operation by Michigan Interstate Railway. The remaining train ferry lines from Frankfort to Manitowoc (79 miles (127 kilometres)) and Kewaunee (60 miles (97 kilometres)) ceased operation in April 1982. In 1983 because of disputes over terms and payments, the operation was split among three railroads:
In 1984 T&SB took over MN's portion of the AA.
On October 7, 1988 a new Ann Arbor Railroad began operating the portion south of Ann Arbor; the Great Lakes Central Railroad (the former T&SB) currently serves the remaining portions of the line. Some sections have been abandoned: from Yuma to Elberta and Frankfort (approximately 45 miles (72 kilometres)), approximately 10 miles (16 kilometres) in Shiawassee County, Michigan (in three discontinuous sections), and the trackage around the now-demolished Cherry Street Station in Toledo.
Train ferries 
AA's Lake Michigan train ferry fleet started in November 1892 when the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Northern Michigan Railway acquired its first two boats, Ann Arbor 1 and Ann Arbor 2. At its height, the AA served four ports on the west of Lake Michigan:
- Kewaunee (1892) - Kewaunee, Green Bay & Western Railroad
- Menominee (1894) - Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway, Chicago and North Western Railway, and Wisconsin & Michigan Railroad
- Gladstone, Michigan (1895) - Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railroad
- Manitowoc (1896) - Chicago & North Western Railway, Wisconsin Central Railway.
- SS Ann Arbor No. 1 – designed by Frank E. Kirby and built by Craig Ship Building, Toledo, 1892. Capacity: 24 cars on four tracks
- SS Ann Arbor No. 2 – designed by Frank E. Kirby and built by Craig Ship Building, Toledo, 1892. Capacity: 24 cars on four tracks.
- SS Ann Arbor No. 3 – built by Globe Iron Works, Cleveland, Ohio, 1898.
- SS Ann Arbor No. 4 – built by Globe Iron Works, Cleveland, Ohio, 1906.
- SS Ann Arbor No. 5 – designed by Frank E. Kirby and built by Toledo Shipbuilding Company, 1910
- SS Ann Arbor No. 6 – built by Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ecorse, Michigan, 1917; rebuilt in 1959 as the MV Arthur K. Atkinson.
- SS Ann Arbor No. 7 – built by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, 1925; rebuilt in 1965 as the MV Viking.
- SS Wabash – built by Toledo Shipbuilding Company, 1927; rebuilt in 1962 as the SS City of Green Bay.
- SS City of Milwaukee, a Grand Trunk Western vessel was leased in 1978.
See also 
- Drury, George H. (1994). The Historical Guide to North American Railroads: Histories, Figures, and Features of more than 160 Railroads Abandoned or Merged since 1930. Waukesha, Wisconsin: Kalmbach Publishing. pp. 19–20. ISBN 0-89024-072-8.
- Powers, Perry F. (1912). A History of Northern Michigan and Its People. Chicago, Illinois: The Lewis Publishing Company. p. 179.
- Zimmerman, Karl (1993). Lake Michigan’s Railroad Car Ferries. Andover, New Jersey: Andover Junction Publications. pp. 32–51. ISBN 0-944119-11-5.