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The Ragweed line - Toledo, Ann Arbor and Jackson

The Ragweed line

As early as 1871, Ezra Lockwood promoted an interurban railroad from Petersburg, Michigan to Toledo, Ohio. The local farmers donated railroad ties and cleared right of way for the railroad. The ties were left to rot along roadside, when funds failed to materialize and the line was not realized until some thirty years later. The railroad itself did appear on the maps of the time as the proposed Toledo-Petersburg narrow gauge railroad, the original line surveyor Milton White.

On July 26, 1900, the Michigan & Ohio Traction Company was formed to build an electric road from Toledo, Ohio to Petersburg, Dundee, Milan and onto Ann Arbor. This railroad also failed to get any building underway. It was not until 1901, when John O. Zabel, was able to promote funds through and New York businessmen, and finally got a company. This company was named the Toledo & Ann Arbor Electric Railway Company, an electric narrow guage road, with right of way secured and the road surveyed, by 1901, from Toledo to Ann Arbor.

On June 1, 1903, a new incorporation[1] was announced for $1,650,000 to be known as the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Detroit Electric Railway. The incorporators were Col. J. C. Bonner;[2] Congressman J. H. Southward; L. H. Austin, and William Ford, all of Toledo; John Clauss; J. W. Pero; T. H. Jungh; Charles Thompson, and Congressman J. H. Jacksin, all of Fremont, Ohio; H.C. Stahl, Bellevue, Ohio; M. C. Briggs; W. A. Jones, Fostoria, Ohio; John O. Zabel, and Willis Baldwin, both of Monroe, Michigan, and Hon. Mark H. Bacon, of Wyandotte, Michigan. The incorporation stated the line was to be 55 miles, terminating at Ann Arbor, Michigan, through the villages of Lambertville, Petersburg, Dundee, Azalia, and Milan, and parallel the Ann Arbor steam railroad from Dundee. It also stated the line would enter Toledo on a trestle over Central Grove Park (Willys Park) and then on into town on the Long Belt city line that it would join at Penn Street (opposite present Central Ave. Bus Barn and Occupied by Willys Motors, Inc.).[3]

On November 27, 1903, the grade from Toledo to Petersburg was finished. At this time the Toledo and Ann Arbor Electric Railway ran out of money and on Sept. 26, 1905, the Toledo, Ann Arbor and Detroit Electric Railway Company were formed and continued the construction of the railroad. The railroad now had 6 miles of rail laid from Petersburg, going southward towards Toledo, 39 miles of rail on hand, and interurban cars on order from the Niles Car Company. During the period of construction under the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Detroit considerable work was done on the roadbed and the construction of the powerhouse at Petersburg. In 1905, construction of roadbed was well underway from Petersburg to Toledo, with material and personnel pouring into Petersburg every day. The hotel was full to capacity and the local businessmen were expanding their trade greatly, a boom time for this area. A spur was build from Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad's depot, going west the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad on the south side and turning south along Rose Road to the power house site. On Sept. 26, 1905, 6 miles of rail installed from Petersburg going southward, with 39 miles of rail on hand[4], and interurban cars on order from the Niles Car Company.

In early 1906, it was reported that the Toledo, Ann Arbor and Detroit had 23 miles of track and ties laid and $20,000 had been expended on building a powerhouse on the bank of the River Raisin at Petersburg that was half completed. Also the was graded nearly to Ann Arbor, culverts finished, bridge piers across the River Raisin completed, and 10 miles of trolley poles in place. The Patrick Hirsch Construction Company, of New York City was building the line; the railroad construction was stopped when his wife was suing the contractor (Patrick Hirsch). She had an injunction placed, which forced all work to stop this injunction in turn caused the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Detroit to fail.

Patrick Hirsch Company Again in Courts[5]


Fidelity Construction Company Alleges in Petition That Conspiracy Exists to Defraud It of Money Due

The Fidelity Construction, a Michigan concern broke into the Patrick Hirsch muddle in common pleas court Friday with a petition overflowing with sensational charges as to the Patrick Hirsch methods of doing business.

The plaintiff company says that it was the intended victim of a conspiracy between the Patrick Hirsch company and the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Detroit Railway company, defendant, and that the railroad company now seeks through the insolvency of the Patrick Hirsh company to cheat the plaintiff out a vast amount of labor and material expended by it in the construction of the half completed T, A. A. & D.

Promoters and Officers

The plaintiff alleges that the promoters of the railroad were the managers of the Patrick Hirsch company that the president of the railroad and the secretary and treasurer of the Hirsh company were at one time the same person, namely John H. Clauss, that the railroad company in order to make possible the issuance of bonds to twice the actual value of the road turned over a vast quantity of such bonds to the Patrick Hirsch company, ostensibly in payment for the construction of the road.

The alleged scheme was for the Patrick Hirsch company to sublet the contract to the plaintiff, and by making the Hirsch company responsible for such contract, beat the plaintiff out of his work under the sub-contract.

The Fidelity company wants a receiver appointed to take charge of the T. A. A. & D. railway, a judgment of $44,856.32 against the company, an accounting and a detailed statement of all transactions as to bonds or money and the Patrick Hirsch company.

Claims Fictitious Value

The plaintiff further relates that the Patrick Hirsch collection of T. A. A. & D. Railway company bonds were sold in New York at high prices for which sale a brokerage firm received a big rake-off. He states that the value of those bonds were fictitious and that the purchasers thereof have been badly beat on.

The plaintiff wants a first lien upon the railroad and wants it sold to pay the alleged indebtedness.

August 26, 1906, the papers[6] announced that a receiver had been asked for the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Detroit Electric Railway. Sept. 15, 1907, the line was offered for sale, but no bidders were found in either Michigan or Ohio. Nov. 17, 1908, the papers announced the T, AA&D had been sold to Curtiss Studel and V. H. Sorgher, of Chicago, for $60,000 for the portion in Michigan. The 2.75 miles in Ohio would be sold at a later date. It said the new owners hoped to have cars running by Feb. 1, 1909 and that over $500,000 had been spend on the road.

By August 26, 1906, 23 miles of track was in place from Petersburg to Toledo and the line graded to Ann Arbor. In 1907, a depression year for business, the railroad was again put up for sale. On November 17, 1908, The Toledo, Ann Arbor and Detroit was sold to Curtis M. Studel and V.H. Sorghner, of Chicago, Ill. for $60,000. The new owners planned on running the first cars in February of 1909. The portion in Ohio reverted back to the original owners and nothing more was heard of the line until January 12, 1912, when the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Jackson Railway was incorporated and took over the abandoned line. (September 12, 1911, Toledo, Ann Arbor & Jackson took control of the property of the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Detroit?) The new owners were given as Governor Andrew E. Lee, of South Dakota, and William Niles, of Chicago, who announced that Toledoans would soon see the first of the new McKeen gas cars as one would soon make a trail run on the TAA&J that cost them $19,000.[7]

In November of 1905, "The Michigan, Ohio & Indiana Railroad Company" a paper railroad was formed to stop the Toledo Ann Arbor & Jackson from crossing property at Petersburg, when one lot owner refusal to allow the crossing of his land. The right of way was Michigan, Ohio & Indiana Railroad is to be the same as the Toledo Ann Arbor & Jackson. This would make it impossible to condemn the land, since there is a statue forbidding one railroad company to condemn the right of way of another railroad company unless such right of way has been unused for three years.[8]

The Toledo, Ann Arbor & Detroit railway’s issue of $1,500,000 in bonds and $1,000,000 in stock, which resulted in $300,000 worth of work and material of which only $150,000 has been paid, forms the most striking instance of be-wilding frenzied finances with which Monroe County has been connected. Half a dozen or more firms are involved in the transaction and many suits have already been decided in court action, these within the Monroe circuit court, all the complaints getting judgments, but no money. Now the various creditors have united in the matter and are waging a co-operative struggle for a porportative share of the corpse and the fact that will be brought to light promises to be a xxxtional order.

The hearing on the foreclosure of the railway's bonds was taken up in the courts last week, Wednesday and a beginning made in the taking of testimony. It appears that the Patrick Husch Co. made a contract in 1905 to construct an electric railway from Toledo to Ann Arbor for practically all of the bonds and stock. These bonds were to be placed in the hands of a trustee and delivered to the Husch Company as the trustee saw fit. The latter then made arrangement with the Lawrence Barnum Co., of New York, to underwrite those bonds and to buy or sell them at 80 cents on the dollar. In consideration of the underwriting agreement the Lawrence Barnum Co. was to receive $150,000 in bonds and $13,000 per month cash during the construction of the road, and an interest in the profits on the construct of the road, as well to all they could realize on the sale of the bonds over 85 cents on the dollar. In pursuance of this agreement the Hursch Co. turned over $150,000 in bonds and also $35,000 in cash. The Lawrence Barnum Co. then refused to underwrite any bonds, but kept the cash and bonds they had received.

It also appears that $362,000 in bonds had been put up as collateral by the Hursch Co. to secure loans of money used largely or wholly for the construction of the Toledo & Indiana railway and that such bonds were still held by the parties that thus put them up. The Trust Company of America as trustee for all the bonds holders in insisting that these with other bonds amounting to $746,000, is a valid lien upon the railway property. The receiver, I. H. Burgoon, of Ohio, and Willis Paldwin, of this city are opposing the payment of those these bonds, as well as others, on the ground that they were given without consideration.

Altogether, the transactions form as good an example of high finance as we can hope to see in many a year. The only difference between this and the usual kind is that generally the question is "Where did you get it?” while here the litigants want to know "What did you do with it!"[9]

Ex-Governor Andrew E. Lee, of South Dakota and his associates are no longer in control of the old Toledo, Ann Arbor & Detroit Electric railway property. The partly completed road has passed to a syndicate comprised of capitalists of Chicago and elsewhere and if present financial plans are carried out, it will be completed this summer.

This is the information given out by James A. Wallace, industrial and railway promoter, of Des Moines, Iowa. Mr. Wallace accompanied by a number of experts in financiering, arrived in Toledo this morning, and will process to work out their plan as rapidly as possible.

The road as it stands today represents an outlay of a trifle more than $400,000. Mr. Wallace says the syndicate he represents plans to issue $200,000 cumulative preferred stock and expects all this issue to be subscribed by Toledoans and by the farmers between Toledo and Ann Arbor. The syndicate will furnish the balance of the necessary cash, which, it is figured, will amount to about $400,000, which will be secured through a bond issue of that amount.

Mr. Wallace sys his syndicate will enter into a contract, which will provide that no money shall be paid on stock subscriptions until the road is completed, and in operation.

"I represent a strong syndicate, one of the men being a Chicago multi-millionaire," said Mr. Wallace. "For the present I am not in position to mention names, but our signed contracts will show who they are. The Toledo, Ann Arbor & Detroit is a fine proposition, and Toledo business interests would be greatly benefited by having it in operation."

The plan mapped out by Mr. Wallace is virtually the original plan followed by Ex-Congressman J. R. Southard, Col. J. C. Bonner, John O. Zabel, Ex-senator J. M. Eoraker, H. O. Stahl and others when they organized the company several years ago.

Later the now defunct Patrick Hirsch Construction company came into the deal. Hirsch was not satisfied with plan of financiering hence his company bought out Southard, Bonner, Foraker and others, and proceeded it unload a batch of common stock. A little later Hirach & Company went to the wall and the railroad into the hands of the courts. It was sold at receiver's sale several months ago to the Lee-Niles people, who have since become involved in a quarrel among themselves.

The road is graded and about 20 miles of rails lay between West Toledo and Petersburg, Michigan, and all of the right of way between Toledo and Ann Arbor has been secured. A large amount of construction material is scattered along the right of way.[10]

The new company is to be known as the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Jackson Railroad Company and it is incorporated with $500,000 capital stock. It is stated that the company will take over the old electric line organized in 1905, together with its right of way.[11]

July 20, 1912, the papers announced that a bitterly contested suit for condemnation of land in Washington Township, owned by Joseph Casper and John Byrne, by the new Toledo, Ann Arbor & Jackson Railway had resulted in a verdict for $10,000 by a jury in Probate Court of Lucas County, Ohio (Toledo). The story stated the railroad had offered $3,000 but the jury awarded the larger amount after on of the officials of the company admitted that electric cars were planned for passenger service but steam engines would be used to pull freight trains.

Sept. 8, 1912, the papers announced that a Toledo & Western electric engine and freight car had been set across the right of way of the new Toledo, Ann Arbor & Jackson line to block that road's intention of crossing Sylvania Ave. and the Toledo & Western tracks (this is were the present A&P Super Market is built at 1230 Sylvania Ave.). John O. Zabel, one of the original incorporators of the Ohio & Michigan Electric Railway and now Attorney for the Toledo Ann Arbor & Jackson, had said the joke was on the Toledo & Western as the Toledo Ann Arbor & Jackson had only intended to enter their rails for an entrance into downtown Toledo. William Powelesland had used three teams of horses to grade the roadbed Sylvania Ave. and Alexis Road.

A press notice carried on Sept. 26, 1912, stated the TOLEDO, ANN ARBOR & JACKSON is awaiting a derailer for its crossing of the Toledo Terminal at Laskey Road. It will use electric cars next spring, this winter it will use a McKean gas car, and in its agreement just signed with the Toledo & Western, will be the first gas cars to ever use the Toledo Railway & Light Company city tracks to reach downtown Toledo.

In December 1912, the Toledo, Ann Arbor & Jackson purchased a used locomotive of the American Class (4-4-0) and began operating a milk run with a dairy car owned by the Ohio Diary Company of Toledo, Ohio, the train made 32 stops along this route, stopping at every road crossing between Petersburg and Toledo. Fred Meyers of Petersburg was the first engineer. Persons wishing to go to town would ride in the dairy car. The demand for rides soon outgrew the facilities of the dairy car and the dairy car was supplemented with a passenger combine and baggage car. A charge of 1 1/2 cent per mile for the trip between Toledo and Petersburg was charged and the train now ran on a regular schedule, twice daily. Since there were no passing sidings or turntables on the line, trains from Petersburg ran forwards and trains from Toledo ran backwards on the return trip. During this time the railroad acquired many nicknames but the one most commonly used was the "Ragweed."

In 1913, a second passenger day coach was purchased and construction of the line between Petersburg and Dundee was started. At the same time the main line through Petersburg was changed to the east city limits and a small depot of frame construction with a concrete foundation, was built at end of Center Street, and completed November 1916. After building along the east city limits of Petersburg, one mile of track and a bridge across the River Raisin, this company also failed.

On August 1913, the only wreck and fatality in the history of the railroad occurred. While the passenger train was making its return run from Toledo to Petersburg, the crossbeam rigging on the locomotive worked loose permitting one end of the beam to fall crosswise of the track, causing the engine to derail at the cross corners town called "Fortuna." The detail engine capsized on the engineer's side trapping Mr. Beitner, the engineer, a resident of Petersburg, the fireman, despite his valiant efforts, could not save Mr. Breitner. The fireman was badly burned and recovered later to continue his railroad career.

Michigan Railroad Commisssion Report 1915

By 1915 a new company had been formed, the Toledo-Detroit Railroad, which completed the line to Dundee on April 28, 1915. At Dundee, in 1905 a terminal was built on Tecumseh street (M-50) between Rawson and Barunum streets and a wye turning track was constructed with connections to the Ann Arbor Railroad, The Cincinnati, Jackson & Milwaukee railroad (a branch of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern), and the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad. DT&I at this time had running rights over the Cincinnati, Jackson & Milwaukee railroad from Dundee to Tecumseh, Michigan. William Fielding was first agent at Dundee, later an agent for the Ann Arbor Railroad. The Toledo-Detroit the passenger equipment was replaced with newer but used cars. The Toledo-Detroit railroad now owned two boxcars, two gondolas, two cabooses, thirteen flat cars, three passenger cars, two freights engine and passenger engine, in all a fairly well equipped short line railroad. Other construction on the line had continued, and rail yard at Toledo, Ohio, which is called "Temperance yard”, was built, along with a three stall engine house complete with turntable, coaling tower and watering tank. Several team tracks were installed in the yard. Passing tracks and sidings were installed along the line to service local industry.

In 1915, the Toledo - Detroit railroad was leased to the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton railroad, on May 1, 1916, the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton gain control of the Toledo-Detroit Railroad by stock ownership, and completed purchase of stock by December 31, 1917. The Toledo-Detroit was formally merged into the DT&I December 29, 1931[12].

In 1916 passenger schedule called for 4 round trip trains a day from West Toledo (Sylvania Ave.) to Dundee, trains 4, 6, 8, and 10 northbound, with trains 3, 5, 7, and 9 southbound, from Detroit, Toledo & Ironton depot[13]. Three railroad listed direct interchanges with Detroit, Toledo & Ironton RR, Ann Arbor Railroad, and New York Central Railroad at Dundee.

Michigan Railroad Commisssion Report 1916

Not until the road was actually purchased by the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton in December 1917, was the freight business taken seriously. Because of the Toledo connection large coal traffic quickly grew, this marked the first real revenue business done.

Little changed on the railroad until Henry Ford gained control of the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton railroad on July 9, 1920, by stock ownership. The Detroit, Toledo and Ironton railroad was a rundown mess at this time. The Toledo-Detroit railroad was reduced to two strings of 60 pound rail sticking out of the thin ballast and by this time was known as the Petersburg branch of Detroit, Toledo & Ironton. A major tie replacement program was started, just to keep the line usable. In 1923, the rail between Dundee and Petersburg was replaced with 90-pound rail, and the next year, the line between Petersburg and Toledo also had its 60-pound rail replaced with 90-pound rail. With these improvements the Toledo-Detroit became a real railroad by 1924 standards, with a top speed of 35 MPH for freight equipment, quite considering that there were 24 curves in its 22 miles.

During the last years of the 1920s passenger service was discontinued on the Toledo-Detroit and a major construction program was started on the DT&I's main line, the "Malinta cutoff" from a point northeast of Dundee, running southwest and south to Malinta, Ohio. The building of the cutoff eliminated the need for Dundee-Petersburg section of the old Toledo-Detroit, and this section was removed in 1929[14]. The east leg of the turning wye was left in place along with the downtown trackage was left at Dundee, which the Ann Arbor used. The trackage at Petersburg itself was cutback greatly. The trackage along the east side of town was removed although the original line going into town remained serve the local industry. At the junction of the two lines, a placed named Petersburg Junction, a small yard was built to handle the new traffic.

DT&I purchased the assets of the Toledo - Detroit on December 29, 1931, for $300,000 in Toledo - Detroit stock, which was then retired.[15]

Very little changed along the line until 1948, when the Monroe County Road Commission widened Teal Road and rebuilt it as a paved road. The present alignment of Teal Road in the area of the DT&I right of way is over the old Toledo-Detroit railroad right of way. This move required the rebuilding of the Petersburg Junction yard. The small yard was removed and a wye track was install while the track itself was moved eastward to allow for the realignment of the track.

In 1963, the Detroit, Toledo and Ironton purchased the Ann Arbor railroad. Since the Ann Arbors line paralleled the Petersburg Branch, the Petersburg branch trackage became redundant. In 1964, the DT&I filed for abandonment of the Petersburg Branch as duplicate trackage. This abandonment was approved, with the last run on 12-22-1965 with DT&I No. 958, the rail was then removed except for the "Temperance yard" at Toledo, Ohio and the siding into Petersburg, Michigan. The siding at Petersburg was used for storage and the Temperance yard, which has a fair amount of industry, was served by running rights over the Ann Arbor and the Toledo Terminal trackage.

TheToledo - Detroit railroad vanished into the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton railroad and it has vanished into the Grand Trunk railroad system, this has happened many times over. There are still many signs of the right of way of the Toledo - Detroit railroad, in Petersburg there bridge abutments which were never used, the Petersburg Junction track is in place, in Dundee remains of trackage and grades in town that the Ann Arbor railroad had used, north of Milan along the east side of Platt road abutments for the ditches that never saw steel, there is still many signs of the grade between Toledo and Petersburg.

December 23, 1965: DT&I abandon its Petersburg Junction-Lambertville route to Toledo, in favor of trackage rights over the Ann Arbor RR. [IT-2/80]

In March 1988, the Ann Arbor railroad has given Temperance yard yet another operator for this trackage.

Engine Nos. 14 and 15 were for freight, No. 16 for passenger service. No. 16 saved at Greenfield Village Museum.

Toledo - Detroit RR Stations & Mile Posts for 1915



West Toledo 0.0
(Sylvania Ave.)

Toledo Detroit Jct.


Yard, Toledo Terminal RR interlock gate

State Line, Mich.




Thyer Lumber Company, siding 3 cars in 1952



Stop light at Secor & Summerfield roads turned red for train

The stop at the corner of Summerfield and Consear Road was known as Bridgeport



siding 1921 3 cars, 1937 15 cars, 1952 2 sidings 3 cars & 4 cars



1921 called Garrigans, siding 20 cars, 1927 15 cars



St. Anthony


Passing track 75 cars, in 1937 added siding 5 cars. Passing track and siding on north side M-151, never had station building





siding 3 cars in 1921







became mile post 0, after the track to Dundee was removed, New York Central RR interlock gate north of depot, bridge 1 mile north with 22 foot clearance



Hixson Peterson Lumber Company, siding 53 cars in 1952







Dundee 'RN'

(DT&I depot)



interchange Ann Arbor; New York Central; Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroads

Durban 'G'


listed 1930 only, change in alignment point from the original grade of the Chicago & Canada Southern, actually on the DT&I railroad

Durban - Malinta Div. Timetable No. 14, Oct. 10, 1927

Durban Jct. 'G'


end of double track

Diann 'MX'


passing 65 cars



passing 100 cars

Petersburg Jct.


siding 53 cars

Toledo Div. Timetable No. 14, Oct. 10, 1927

Dundee 'RN'


passing 107 cars

Petersburg Jct.


siding 53 cars

St. Anthonys


passing 71 cars



siding 15 cars



siding 4 cars




Mileage West Toledo to Dundee, 22.16 miles, reduced to 21.24 miles in 1926, and 14.29 miles in 1929.

[1] Ohio & Michigan was reincorporated as the Toledo & Ann Arbor Electric Railway Company

[2] Bonner Rail Wagons – Sept. 9, 18989, it is reported the Bonner Rail Wagons were transported on three small 4 wheel flat cars pulled by an electric car from the Glassboro Line (Michigan Street) on the Maumee Valley Electric Railway, for delivery of their contents to the consignee without transfer.

[3] Joe Galloway for the National Railroad Association ‘The Railfan’, Oct. 1953

[4] Toledo Blade

[5] The Toledo New-Bee April 27, 1906

[6] Toledo Blade

[7] The McKeen car would end up on the Marble Head Railroad, it never operated on the ‘Ragweed’.

[8] The Railway Age, Nov. 19, 1905

[9] Monroe Democrat, Dec. 27, 1907

[10] Toledo Blade, Dec. 13, 1909

[11] The Daily Times News, Sept. 22, 1911

[12] The Detroit, Toledo and Ironton Railroad, page 83, Scott D. Trostel

[13] At this time the depot was join use with the Ann Arbor RR – Union Depot

[14] The Michigan State Railroad Interlocking records show the interlocking plant at Dundee still in service 1-5-1930

[15] Moody’s and Poor’s investment manuals