Detroit and Mackinac Railway

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Detroit and Mackinac Railway
Reporting mark D&M, DM
Locale Michigan
Dates of operation 1894–1992
Successor Lake State Railway
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge

The Detroit and Mackinac Railway (reporting marks D&M, DM), informally known as the "Turtle Line", was a railroad in the northeastern part of the Lower Peninsula of the U.S. state of Michigan. The main line ran from Bay City north to Cheboygan; it operated from 1894 to 1992.

At the end of 1925 it operated 375 miles of road and 470 miles of track; that year it reported 81 million ton-miles of revenue freight and 7 million passenger-miles. In 1967 it reported 124 million ton-miles on 224 miles of road.

History[edit]

The Detroit, Bay City & Alpena Railroad, was a 3 ft 2 in (965 mm) narrow gauge[1] short line operated from Bay City northward to the Lake Huron port of Alpena. The line was converted to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge in 1886[2] and was reorganized into the Detroit and Mackinac (D&M) on December 17, 1894. During the late 1890s and the first decade of the Twentieth Century, the timber resources of northeastern Michigan were fully utilized and the D&M expanded its trackage northward from Alpena to Cheboygan. The Bay City-Cheboygan main line prospered, and a stone passenger depot was constructed in Harrisville.[3]

The main constituent of the freight service offered by the D&M and its predecessor railroads was timber from the what was then the vast forests of northeastern Michigan; the D&M built spurs and branch lines to the forested areas.[4] Another branch line served the limestone quarries of Rogers City. In 1922, the railroad also had branch lines to Au Gres, Au Sable, Curren, Hillman, Lincoln, Prescott, and Rose City.[5]

The D&M mainline from Bay City to Alpena offered sleeping car and meal services between Detroit and Alpena in the 1930s. By the 1940s, meal services had disappeared, with sleeping cars and Detroit connections gone by the 1950s. Passenger service was eliminated by 1955.[6]

In the 1940s, D&M had enough revenue to be a Class I railroad and it was one of the first such to eliminate steam locomotives in 1948.

In March 1976, the Detroit & Mackinac acquired a combination of trackage and operating trackage rights from the remains of the bankrupt Penn Central that created an alternate main line from Bay City northward, through Gaylord and Cheboygan, to Mackinaw City. However, adverse economic conditions continued to affect railroad operations in the northeastern United States. The road was sold to the Lake State Railway in 1992, and ended its existence as an independent railroad.

The Detroit & Mackinac called itself the "Turtle Line" and its logo symbol was "Mackinac Mac".[7] The railroad bore the hostile backronym of "Defeated & Maltreated".

Legacy[edit]

The Lake State Railway continued as of 2012 to use traditional handheld technology (picks, shovels, hammers) to replace railroad ties and make other roadbed repairs on surviving trackage that had previously been part of the Detroit and Mackinac system.[8]

A collection of D&M artifacts, including a 1920's switching engine, are housed at the depot in Lincoln, Michigan. The stone depot in Standish, Michigan is also a museum, with rolling stock. The railroad's GE 44-ton locomotive, #10, has been preserved by the Southern Michigan Railroad Society.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Wakeman, George L., My Story of the Detroit & Mackinac Railroad Library of Michigan, Lansing, 1940.

See also[edit]