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Manistee and Northeastern RR


Manistee and Northeastern RR


Base data by Donald Stroup, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1964

Life and Death of a Railroad

Published by the History Society of Michigan


 In 1841, when Manistee's first permanent white settler, John Stronach, arrived at the mouth of the Manistee Rivers, the region drained by those streams was covered with vast forest of pine and hardwood timber.  Before a year had passed, Stronach had a sawmill in operation of the Little Manistee, and within a few years there were many mills sawing lumber around the little lake.  Manistee was ideally situated to be the center from which this huge supply of timber would be exploited.  The two Manistee Rivers provided easy transportation of logs to the mills.  The harbor was excellent for loading ships.  However, as the timber along the rivers was used up, other means were required to transport the logs.  A railroad was the answer to this problem, and the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad was one of the many roads built in Michigan to tap her interior forests.  Over its tracks enormous quantities of logs traveled to Manistee's mills and along its route many communities developed that are still in existence to day.  It carried new settlers into the cut over regions and shipped out the products of their farms.  In short, the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad was significant factor in the settling and civilizing of this wilderness.

 The Manistee and Northeastern Railroad's corporate existence spanned the period from 1887 through 1925.  Its main line of just over 70 miles extended from Manistee to Traverse City and the Manistee River Branch ran from the main line to Grayling.  There were short branches to Onekama, Empire Junction and Provemont.  It was constructed primarily to transport logs and forest products, and its construction was piecemeal with extensions and branches being built to reach into the timber as the forest recede.  Although it eventually developed size able passenger and general freight businesses, they never replaced timber products in value to the company.  Edward Buckley and William Douglas constructed and controlled the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad during nearly all its lifetime.  They also operated one of the largest sawmills and salt plants in Manistee.

 Buckley came to Manistee, already a dynamic and vigorous boomtown, in 1867.  Born in England in 1842, he came to Montreal at the age of five, and after two other moves of short duration journeyed to Milwaukee in 1858.  He attended a commercial college there and also worked as a tinsmith.  In 1862, he enlisted in the 24th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and served for the Duration of the Civil War, returning to Milwaukee in 1865 as an employee of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad.  In 1867 Buckley moved to Manistee and shortly after set up a tinsmith and hardware business for himself with H. V. Marchant of Milwaukee as his associate.  This business was liquidated in 1873, and the following September Buckley and Charles F. Ruggles formed a partnership and for several years engaged in an abstract business and investments in timbered land.

 William Douglas was born in Chatham, Quebec in 1848 and lived there until he moved to Manistique in 1869.  He worked briefly at lumbering there before moving again, this time to Manistee where he worked as a teamster.  In 8172 he expanded his activities and contracted to provide two million of logs for the firm of Cushman & Calkins.  This venture proved to be so successful that he continued with similar operations for the nest six years.  In 1879 he married Annie M. Halter, the daughter of one of Manistee's pioneer residents.

 A year later Buckley entered into partnership with Douglas' wife, Annie, in the lumbering business.[i]  The exact nature of this partnership is uncertain, for Douglas rather than his wife did the work and held the offices along with Buckley, and on December 31, 1888, Douglas legally succeeded his wife as partner.  Buckley was always the dominant, executive figure in the firm, while Douglas was more involved in the actual construction and operation of the mills and railroads.  The Buckley and Douglas partnership operated as many as five mills under lease, with a combined output reaching 70,000,000 feet in a single year.  They ventured into railroading in 1881 with a narrow guage logging road called the Buckley & Douglas Railroad.  It had a main line 8 miles in length, running from a roll-way on the Big Manistee River northward into the timber.

 In 1886 Buckley and Douglas began to expand.  In November they purchased the sawmill plant, timbered lands and the logging railroad of Nuttall and Ruddock for a reported half million in cash.[ii]  They engaged Evan T. Davies, one of the best mill men in the area, to overhaul, enlarge and streamline the operation of the plant at the cost of another $115,000, and when it was completed, the partnership had one of the finest mills in Michigan.  Specializing in long timbers, it could handle logs up to 70 feet in length and had a capacity of nearly 50,000,000 feet per year.  But the new mill's potential could be fully realized only if logs were supplied much faster than was possible via the Big and Little Manistee rivers and the narrow gauge railroads.  Consequently, immediately after the purchase of the mill, Buckley and Douglas began to plan for a new railroad running northeast into their standing timber.  This road would standard guage and substantial enough to transport sufficient logs for their mill as well as others.

 Several Manistee lumbermen owned timber in the area reached by the new railroad, and some thought that they should have been included in the company.  However, Buckley and Douglas proceeded to build on their own and this aroused distrust and occasional antagonism toward the venture.  Some of their competitors were suspicious that the M. & N. E. would attempt to monopolized the shipping to the north, charge unreasonable rates, or that the new line was merely a front for some larger corporation.  Since the M. & N. E. had received favorable consideration in obtaining its right of way because it was a local enterprise, selling to an outside group would arouse severe criticism.[iii]

 In spite of these frequent fears and occasional objection the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad Company received its charter of January 7, 1887, permitting it to build a standard guage road between Manistee and Traverse City.  The Articles of Association provided for a capital stock of $600,000 in six thousand shares of $100 each.  There were seven stockholders.  Buckley owned three-fourths of the stick, Douglas one-fourth, and a single share each was held by Charles G. Wilson, William J. Law, R. C. Mc Clure, Max Koegel, and T. J. Elton, who were stockholders merely to satisfy the legal requirements for a corporation.[iv]  It was obvious at this point that the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad was Edward Buckley's road.  Buckley appeared to have an inexhaustible supply of capital to finance his ambitious projects, and later events showed the wherewithal come from Charles F. Ruggles, Buckley's partner since 1874.

 The suspicions the new railroad had aroused caused opposition to focus around the acquiring of right of way within the city of Manistee, although all opposing petitions were denied eventually, and on May 17, 1887, permission for the right of way was granted.[v]  Another move aimed at preventing M. & N. E. from establishing exclusive control over shipments by rail from the north and east was made by John Canfield, one of the city's leading lumbermen.  He persuaded another lumberman, Michael Engelman, to make costly improvements on a piece of property located just north of the Manistee River over which the M. & N. E. would have to acquire right of way.  John Canfield then purchased the land himself and forced Buckley to agree to his terms.  That any railroad coming from the south except for Richard G. Peter's Manistee & Luther Railroad, the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad, or the Pere Marquette Railroad, should be allowed to use the M. & N. E. bridge across the river.  That upon granting such permission the Buckley road should have unencumbered right of way across the property in question; that should the M. & N. E. company refuse to agree to these terms, Buckley would personally forfeit $25,000 to some charitable cause.[vi]  If Buckley had refused to agree, he would have been forced to employ condemnation proceedings to obtain right of way, and the dock and other improvements on the property would have drastically raised the cost to the M. & N. E.

 Grading was begun in May 1887, on lands, which belonged to the firm, and by the end of October 1888, ten miles had been made ready for ties and rails.  However, resentment and suspicion continued, and an incident occurring on October 10th that year demonstrated the degree of opposition.  The proposed route of the road south of the Manistee River was parallel to and immediately adjacent to Jones Street, passing a saloon and hotel named the Sorenson House.  Claiming that the M. & N. E. had not secured right of way past their establishment, the proprietors, John and Cecelia Sorenson, sat on the ties and refused to allow work crew to lay the rails.  Mrs. Sorenson had a chair and bedding brought out and remained there all night.  The following day the railroad swore out a warrant for her arrest, charging her with malicious obstruction of a public railroad company.  The court acquitted her of the charge and in another hearing awarded her damages of $1,500 as compensation for the operation a railroad past her place of business.  Meanwhile the Railroad Company proceeded to lay rails to the Buckley & Douglas mill, reaching it October 26.  There were other contentions over right of way and condemnation proceedings, but the Sorenson case was the most colorful.

 Those individuals who believed that Buckley and Douglas were merely fronting for a large outside company felt that their fears were confirmed by an item appearing in the Cadillac Democrat on August 20, 1888.  Stating that the Toledo, Ann Arbor & West Michigan Railroad was pushing it construction to intersect with the Manistee and Northeastern, over whose tracks its trains would then run into Manistee.  Some parties assumed this meant the M. & N. E. would sell its right of way, and interpreted this as the reason the name was Manistee and Northeastern rather Manistee and Traverse City.  Speculation about this continued throughout the winter of 1888-89.  The Toledo & Ann Arbor company did send its general manager, James Ashley, to Manistee in February of 1889 to attempt to purchase the M. & N. E. or at least arrange for its trains to run into Manistee over M. & N. E. tracks.  Threatening to build a separate line into Manistee if neither of these arrangements could be made.[vii]  None of these possibilities ever materialized, and instead the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Lake Michigan ultimately ran to Frankfort.

The Toledo, Ann Arbor & North Michigan did operate passenger train service, listing Manistee and other points on the line as station stops in the 1891 Michigan Manual.  The Isabella Enterprise listed the train as the "Manistee Flyer" in its paper.

 By the end of 1888 the Manistee and Northeastern had rails laid from the Buckley & Douglas mill in Manistee to a point three miles beyond Lemon Lake, a distance of about 28 miles.  At this time they were hauling logs at the rate of two trains a day, but there was as yet no passenger or general freight traffic.  The first passenger train on the Manistee and Northeastern ran on January 6, 1889, as far as Bear Crossing, a distance of about of about 20 miles.  The company had just purchased it No. 2 locomotive and promptly put it into passenger service.  Almost immediately the company began running two passenger trains daily, and business was encouraging.  After two months there often were no seats available in the two coaches for all the customers despite the fact that travel was somewhat uncertain.  Trains were occasionally halted when they needed repairs or when locomotives ran out of water.

 At the end of the first year's operation, the main line 18.25 miles long, the branch to Onekama was 2.79 miles and sidings and spurs totaled 2.51 miles, or an aggregate of 23.55 miles.  The average cost of construction, exclusive of sidings, this first year came to $14,967.13 per mile.  The original rail used by the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad were 56-pound steel.  As these rails became worn, they were replaced with 63 and later 65-pound rails.  One siding, that to Williamson's mill near Bear Creek, was laid with 30-pound rails pulled up from the old Buckley & Douglas narrow gauge logging railroad.  The ties used were primarily cedar and tamarack, with some hemlock and beech hearts.

 Construction was steady during 1890, and by the end of October the tracks reached Lake Ann, 53 miles from Manistee.  The line now had access to abundant timber, removing the greatest pressure for extension, and the 17 miles from Lake Ann to Traverse City, which completed the main line, were not finished until June of 1892.  During the same year Buckley had a branch built along the Lake Michigan shore, and up the channel as far as the Novelty Works (now Century Boat Company).  He also constructed an elevator and warehouse, considerably improving the port facilities.  Buckley hoped these improvements would attract the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad to select Manistee as their transfer point on the western shore of Michigan.[viii]  He was doomed to disappointment for Manistee never received that traffic.

The Toledo, Ann Arbor & North Michigan Railway did reach an agreement with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad, which the railroad carferries served as the cross-lake connection.

 When passenger general freight business was inaugurated, the loading was still near the Buckley & Douglas mill.  As business increased so did agitation for depot facilities on River Street, the city's main thoroughfare.  In response to this pressure in December, 1889, the M. & N. E. leased the vacant building owned by Mrs. Peter Jones at 258 River Street, directly across from the Sorenson House.  Remodeled it to serve as a depot, bringing passenger traffic right to the door of the once irate Sorensons.  There was very little long distance passenger traffic at first but local traffic was heavy.  During the second year of operation the Manistee and Northeastern carried only 34 through passengers, but nearly 40 thousand locals.

 Passenger trains traveled 24,545 miles in 1890, and freight trains 18,780.  The total tonnage carried was 117,040 tons, of which 116,329 tons were forest products, clearly indicating the railroad's heavy dependence upon lumbering.  The average revenue received per ton of freight handled was $24.15.[ix]  However, when the railroad issued its schedule of freight rates the reaction was far from jubilant, particularly in the countryside.  An item in the Bear Lake Breeze on November 30, 1888, expressed open bitterness, stating that "a protest has gone in from would-be shippers from every quarter against the outrageous and unreasonable prices demanded by the Railroad Company."[x]  The rates over which such a cry was made were as follows:

> $2.50 per cord for green wood, and $1.25 for dry wood

> $1.30 per cord for hemlock bark

> $1.75 per thousand feet for hard wood logs

> $2.25 for pine logs

> $1.75 per thousand feet peeled hemlock logs

> $15.00 per carload for hardwood lumber.[xi]

In another expression of opposition to the rates, one correspondent put into words the animosity and suspicions that many people seemed to feel toward railroads in general.

It is claimed that the rates are so high that there can be no profit to any private party in shipping such products to Manistee or Onekama.  If this be true (and it is very likely) it only goes to show that railroads are a species of monopoly which ought to be broken up by having the government take charge of them, and run them for the benefit of the people who are compelled to give up their lands to aid them in construction.[xii]

Despite the protests, freight shipments grew rapidly.  In 1891 "125,000,000 feet of lumber, 75,000 shingles, 2,000,000 cedar posts, 30,000 cords of bark, and 10,000 cords of wood" traveled over the road.[xiii]  Although some shippers objected strenuously to the railroad rates, no other transportation was available.

By July 1, 1892, the main line was complete and service was officially open between Manistee and Traverse City.  The company also was operating branches to Onekama, from Bear Creek to Canfield's camp, from Twin Mountain to Twin Lake, the Lake Shore branch, and spurs and sidings of 13.77 miles, making the total track in use 95.75 miles.  Nine locomotives were in service, eight of which were over 30 tons weight.  Two of these had been purchased in May of 1892 from a western company unable to make any payments on them and were virtually new.  They were 55-ton engines, worth $20,000, that Buckley obtained with $13,500 cash.[xiv]  The M. & N. E. almost always dealt in cash.  Unlike most railroads of the day, it was built entirely by private capital and never issued stock on the public market to finance its construction or purchase equipment.

About this time the true value of Buckley and Douglas's enterprises to the city of Manistee was becoming apparent.  The M. & N. E. had made it possible for the firmís big mill to operate throughout the winter although other mills closed when the rivers froze.  The partners gave employment to a large number of laborers in the timber, on the railroad, and in the mill, and their payroll by the spring of 1892 for the winter season was $48,000, a substantial contribution to the city's economy.[xv]

New communities developed along the route as a direct result of the railroads, three of which will discuss here.  The first is Nessen City, located at the junction of the Manistee and Northeastern and the Frankfort and Southeastern Railroads, 34 miles northeast of Manistee.  Manistee lumberman John O. Nessen purchased 160 acres at that intersection and platted 40 of them for his town.  He erected a hotel and store, had received $7,000 for construction of a first-class gristmill, and he later constructed a sawmill to convert into lumber the excellent hardwood in the area.  This town enjoyed prosperity while the timber lasted and the railroads were in operation, by it became a virtual ghost town when they disappeared.

The Frankfort & Southeastern did not go through Nessen City.  The Chicago & West Michigan did go through Nessen City, Nessen City is listed as Mile Post 32.9 from Manistee, the line to Traverse City crossed Ann Arbor RR at Copemish, the M. & N. E. River Division (line to Grayling) crossed under the Ann Arbor RR north and west of Mesick.  The M. & N. E. leased the Ann Arbor trackage to Glengarry and used it as part of the River Division.

 The second community, which came into existence even more directly as a result of the railroad, was Copemish.  Located 30 miles northeast of Manistee at the junction of three railroads -- the Manistee and Northeastern, the Toledo, Ann Arbor & West Michigan, and the Arcadia & Betsie River -- it was an actual creation of the first two companies.  The M. & N. E. and the Toledo & Ann Arbor companies purchased 160 acres at their cross-over and platted a village.  This community grew rapidly, for it was located in excellent hardwood timber and had excellent transportation facilities in all directions.  The actual building of the town began in August 1889, and by 1891 the population had grown to 312 people.  By the following year it population had doubled and it contained thirty or more business establishments, including an Opera House.[xvi]  Copemish did not suffer the same fate as Nessen City for at least two reasons.  The Toledo & Ann Arbor Railroad still runs through the village, and it is located on an excellent highway, M-115, which gives easy communication with more populated areas.

The Arcadia & Betsie River reached Copemish over leased trackage belonging to the Ann Arbor.  This grade was started to parallel the M. & N. E. route, when the Toledo, Ann Arbor and North Michigan attempted to gain control of the M. & N.E.  No rail was laid until the Arcadia & Betsie River leased the aright of way.

 A third town, which was constructed along the Manistee and Northeastern tracks, was Interlochen.  It was 45 miles from Manistee, at the junction of the M. & N. E. and the Chicago & West Michigan railroads.  The Benedict Manufacturing Company of Manistee, who owned 1500 acres of land around the new town, began Interlochen in the fall and early winter of 1889.  In September of 1889 a water powered sawmill had been built on the river connecting Lakes Waubukanesse and Waubukanetta (now Green and Duck Lakes).  The village was built on the land between the lakes, which are a mile apart at that point, and it was predicted from the beginning that it would become a popular summer resort.  This expectation has realized, but the town itself has almost disappeared.  These communities are representative of many towns which sprang into existence with the lumber industry and the railroad and declined or died along with them.  Nothing remains of many of these villages and railroad stations, and in other cases, such as Solon, only the shell of the depot is left to remind us of former vigorous activity.

 As towns sprang up along the line, agricultural activity developed on the cut over lands bordering the railroad.  Lumbermen such as Buckley and Douglas had large quantities of lands on their hands when the timber was exhausted, and Buckley did much to encourage farmers to settle along the M. & N. E. and utilized the land rather than leave it unproductive.  How agriculture followed lumbering is graphically illustrated by the produce figures.  In 1889 the railroad carried 605 tons of farm produce; in 1895 - 6,923 tons; in 1903 - 17,156 tons; and in 1912 - 42,955!  Actually the long run picture was not bright.  Originally there had been a layer of rich soil in the vast hardwood forests of the Manistee area, but fires, which devastated the land, actually consumed much of the topsoil.  The shallow remaining layer was deceiving, for yields were high the first few years.  But although 42,849 tons of agricultural products were shipped by the railroad in 1916, by 1919 the figure had declined to 27,560 tons, and this figure continued to decrease until agriculture was finally stabilized around fruit and potato crops, which are grown on the sandy soil.

 The road continued to build branch lines throughout the nineties and into the twentieth century.  On December 1, 1894, the Glen Arbor and Omena branch was opened from Solon, on the main line, to Cedar City three miles to the northwest.  This branch was extended later and reached Provemont (Now Lake Leelanau) in 1902.  The Manistee River Branch was begun in 1895 from a point on and a half miles north of Kaleva to a point four miles to the east.  It was eventually extended to Grayling by 1910, opening a new stand of timber in Kalkaska County to the Buckley & Douglas mill after the Manistee timber had been exhausted.  In 1898 the M. & N. E. began construction of a new extension -- the Platte River Branch, which ran from south of Lake Ann to Empire Junction where it commenced with the Empire and Southeastern Railroad, a short logging road running north to Empire.  The major traffic was forest products to and from the mills at Empire.  The line owned one station, at Empire, and used the M. & N. E. station at Empire Junction.

 Another major event in this story occurred in 1895-96.  During these years Buckley and Douglas erected their mammoth salt plant, one of the largest in Manistee with a capacity of 2,500 barrels daily.  The event was a great boon to Manisteeís economy, for salt provided a more enduring and stables industry than did lumbering.  By 1918, as the timber supply declined, the lumber companies were earning more revenue from salt than from lumber production.[xvii]

 Despite expansion and apparent prosperity, the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad was to suffer a serious blow at the turn of the century.  In August 1900, Charles F. Ruggles, Buckley's partner in real estate since 1874, filed suit in the U.S. District Court.  He argued that since a partnership had existed between himself and Buckley and since Buckley had borrowed large sums of money from Ruggles to finance his ventures, Ruggles should have a one-half interest in the Buckley and Douglas Lumber Company and the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad.  Buckley owned three-fourths of the stock in both corporations.  The court appointed a receiver to assume control of the assets of the companies until the equity suit could be settled.  Buckley denied Ruggles' claims of a share in the corporations, and no final settlement occurred until 1909 when Ruggles was awarded three-eightís of the stock in both companies.  Buckley retained another three-eighties of the railroad and William Douglas his one-fourth interest.[xviii]  The settlement would have terminated Buckley's personal domination of affairs had it not been for the fact that Douglas was suffering from declining health and wished to retire from active business.  Buckley, therefore, purchased his associate's stock and regained control with a majority of five-eighths of the stock in his possession.

 By 1910 the eastern branch line had been extended to Graying, once again restoring prosperity to the Buckley and Douglas and Sands mills.  The two firms owned 300,000,000 to 400,000,000 feet of standing timber in the Grayling area.  While most of the great mills of Manistee had shut down by this time, these two were given a new lease on life for several more years.  This branch also increased the railroad's revenue.  Gross annual income was nearly $600,000 in 1912, the line's peak earning year.  From that time on there was a gradual but steady decline in revenue.  Passenger and general freight traffic, while substantial, never actually provided sufficient revenue for profitable operation.  Timber was king to the M. & N. E.  The Michigan railroad Commissioner states in his annual report for 1915 that condition of the road was generally good and adequate for the requirements of the public.  Traffic was described as light, and no new rails were laid during that year, indicating that business had decreased considerably.

 By 1917 the road was dearly in financial difficulties.  During the First World War the federal government assumed control briefly which raised employees' hopes, but no miracles were performed.  Finally unpaid employees brought suit in District Court, and the road went into receivership in December 1918.[xix]  During the year 1919 the revenue of the company did show a marked increase because the M. & N. E. under its receiver was operating the Leelanau Transit Company, a road which extended from Hatch's Crossing on the M. & N. E. north of Traverse City, to Northport, and consisted primarily of passenger traffic.  An attempt to increase profits was also made by deferring maintenance and repairs, but after 1919 the deterioration to equipment and right of way only caused other problems.  To compound the difficulties the entire mill property, salt plant and railroad shops of the Buckley and Douglas Lumber Company and the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad were destroyed July 22, 1920, by the second largest fire in the history of Manistee.  The transportation of logs and coal to mill constituted the M. & N. E.'s major shipments into Manistee.  The lumber products and salt, which the mill produced, had been the major export items.  Both were now cut off at one strike, although Charles F, Ruggles and John H. Rademaker eventually rebuilt the salt mill and sold it later to a Henry Morton.  It remains today the Morton Salt Company's plant in Manistee.  Operating deficits were further augmented by a depression in the potato market in 1921, which drastically curtailed shipments of one of the most stable items handled by the railroad.

 On September 5, 1924, application was filed with the Michigan Trust company and the railroad petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission for authority to abandon the  River Branch from River Branch Junction to Grayling a distance of 76.83 miles.  Upon examination of the facts This was granted on July 1, 1925 under Interstate Commerce Commission Finance Docket No. 4304 the deficit in operating revenues was due largely to the operation of the River Branch, and the company was given permission to abandon that line on July 1, 1925.[xx]  This branch which was completed in 1910 did not produce the busines anticipated after the timber was cut, and geneeral farming in the area was not very successful.  Furthermore, destruction by fire of the Buckley and Douglas saw mill at Manistee discouraged any further purchase of timber lands whereby the timber could be brought to Manistee for manufacturing purposes. At the time of abandonment the Michigan Central Railroad acquired a portion of the main line out of Grayling for a distance of 2.50 miles to Portage Junction, at which point a connection was made with the Portage Lake Branch to Rasmus, a distance of 3.37 miles to the Michigan National Guard Camp.  The final chapter of the story of the Manistee and Northeastern Railroad was written on January 4, 1926, when the U.S. Circuit Court in Grand Rapids approved the sale of the M. & N. E. to James Daggett for $300,000.[xxi]  On September 7, 1926, the Manistee and Northeastern Railway Company was formed.  This kept alive the name, but the original company was dead.

The rail line from Kaleva to Traverse City through Copemish was closed April 10, 1933 and the railroad interchange point from Copemish to Thompsonville.  June 19, 1934, the Interstate Commerce Commission authorized the removing of 39 miles of rails between Kaleva and Solon.  The Ann Arbor Railroad took the trackage east of the diamond at Copemish within the village limits, to service local customers.  The diamond was removed and the M&NE trackage became a siding.

 The Manistee and Northeastern Railroad had enjoyed a high degree of prosperity for several years.  In this it was similar to numerous other roads which where built in Michigan primarily for the exploitation of timber or minerals.  By their very nature they were doomed to decline when the resources that brought them into being were exhausted.  Without these logging roads the country could not have been cleared, settled, and civilized as rapidly as it was.  They left a lasting mark on the country, for today many towns generated during their prosperity have adapted to changing conditions and prospered.


Chartered Jan. 7, 1887, under laws of MI, in operation Jan. 14, 1889.

1889 main line 18.25, branch to Onekama 2.79 miles.

January 6, 1889 First passenger train on the Manistee & Northeastern (later PM, C&O, Chessie, CSX, TSBY).

1890 Manistee to Nessen City 32.94, Onekama 2.71, Bear Creek 4.25, (Peter's camp) cross TOLEDO, ANN ARBOR & NORTH MICHIGAN at Copemish.

1909 Manistee and North-Eastern RR

1926 Manistee & North-Eastern RR Co. as successor, controlled by Pere Marquette Ry.

1927 Manistee and Northeastern RR incorporated. Sept. 4, 1926, PM RR controlled.

During 1911, Chilson & Waddell purchased 200x100 foot plots where the railroad crossed roads, and erected scale houses for weighing in and storage of potatoes.

In July 1919, there was a train wreck at Springfield Crossing, in Springfield Township and the badly shaken but not seriously injured passengers from the one coach were taken to the nearest farmhouse for first aid.

Following from

Dunbar's "ALL ABOARD!"


The Grand Rapids & Indiana railroad formed the Traverse City, Leelanau and Manistique railroad which, built, starting in 1902, from Northport to Hatch's Crossing.  Then leased 5.77 miles of running right from Traverse City to Hatch's Crossing over the M. & N. E. to reach their ferry slip at Northport in June 28, 1903.  The G. R. & I. sold the railroad branch line to Northport in 1914.  The Leelanau Transit Company purchased the line after World War I and leased it to M. & N. E.



Kaleva - Population 300 in 1945, Mile Post GR-110 on Pere Marquette, Junction with PM.  [The Manistee & Northeastern Railway is a subsidiary of the Pere Marquette, control having been acquired on December 22, 1931.  The M. & N. E. operates its trains over the PM from Kaleva to Traverse City; its own line between these points was abandoned soon after the Pere Marquette assumed control.]

Traverse City - Northport branch, extending 29 miles from Traverse City and Pere Marquette's Cedar City Branch, 14 miles in length [from Hatch's Crossing].  Operated from Traverse City terminal (PM), affording freight, mail, express, and passenger service to the "Little Finger" of Michigan.

The M. & N. E. had become a subsidiary of the PM in 1932; the following year PM 0-6-0 474 and 481 were sold to the M. & N. E., and re-lettered for that railroad.

Foot Notes

[i] Case File No. 1380, United States Circuit Court for the Western District of Michigan, in Equity: Charles F. Ruggles vs. Edward Buckley, October 10, 1990.

[ii] Manistee Voice of the People, November 25, 1886

[iii] Manistee Advocate, February 5, 1887.

[iv] Articles of Association, Manistee and Northeastern Railroad Company, January 7, 1887, from the files of the Michigan Corporate Securities Commission.

[v] . Records, City of Manistee, Vol. 2, pp. 328-9.

[vi] The Manistee Broadaxe, Saturday, May 19, 1888.

[vii] Manistee Times-Sentinel, February 15, 1889.

[viii] Manistee Times-Sentinel, January 15, 1892

[ix] Eighteenth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Railroads of Michigan for the Year 1889, (Lansing, 1889)

[x] Bear Lake Breeze, November 30, 1888.

[xi] Manistee Times-Sentinel, November 30, 1888.

[xii] The Manistee Broadaxe, December 1, 1888

[xiii] George W. Hotchkiss, History of the Lumber and Forest Industry of the North-West, (Chicago, 1898), p. 265

[xiv] Manistee Times-Sentinel, May 6, 1892.

[xv] ibid.

[xvi] Manistee Times-Sentinel, January 22, 1892

[xvii] Case No. 1380, U.S. District Court, 1900.

[xviii] Case No. 1380, U.S. District Court, 1900.

[xix] Case No. 1895, U.S. District Court, 1918.

[xx] Finance Docket No. 4305, Abandonment of Line by Manistee & Northeastern Rail Road [sic] (Interstate Commerce Commission, Submitted January 6, 1925), p. 347.

 The Ann Arbor RR resumed switching service for Glenbarry after the River Division service stopped.

[xxi] Certificate for the Incorporation of Manistee and Northeastern Railway Company (1926), p. 2 (from the files of the Michigan Corporate Securities Commission).  Much of the M. & N. E. grade may still be seen and in some places ties are still found in the road bed, a pitiful remnant of a once vigorous company.  However the Chesapeake and Ohio still uses the original grade opened in 1889 from Manistee to Kaleva.