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The Owosso Argus-Press Aug. 18, 1954

Wreck Piles Up Nine Cars

AARR Accident Near Farwell

Ann Arbor Railroad tracks west of Farwell were cleared of wreckage this morning and the first trains passed through shortly before noon. The track was torn for a distance of between 500 and 600 feet. Five section crews are working at the scene as well as the wrecker crew from Owosso.

Nine freight cars of a 50-car Ann Arbor train were derailed Tuesday afternoon one mile west of Farwell. No on was injured.

According to officials of the railroad, the freight train was bound for Toledo from Frankfort when the derailment occurred.

What caused the accident is undetermined and no estimate was given of the damage.

The company expected to have the line cleared by 9 a. m. this morning. The accident happened about 3:15 p. m.

Fred Summers was the engineer and Art Kipfmueller was the conductor. Both are from Owosso. The engineer brought 38 of the cars in. The cars that were derailed were in front of the caboose and three other freight cars.

Six of the nine cars derailed were piled up in a distance of about three car lengths. Four of them were hurled into a gulley nearly 60 feet deep and piled on top of one another. A refrigerator car filled with canned milk was at the bottom.

One car was loaded with aluminum ware. One of the cars that was derailed was empty.

The wrecker arrived from Owosso about 8:30 last night and immediately started clearing the track. The work of pulling the cars out of the gulley was to be started today.

D. J. Gareau, general superintendent of the road went to the scene yesterday afternoon as did Danny Whitmore, trainmaster and James Holmsburg, civil engineer.

Clyde Patterson, chief of detectives for the Ann Arbor was also on the scene.

Detroit Free Press Aug. 22, 1954

ALL Frankfort Waits For 'Jinx' Ship That Always Came Home


Frankfort, Mich. – A beloved problem child may be coming home to this harbor city after being away 17 years.

In promoting an auto ferry service between Frankfort and Menominee, Mich., across northern Lake Michigan, the local chamber of commerce plans to use the fleet of auto ferries now in service at the the Straits of Mackinac, as soon as the bridge there is completed.

One of the Straits ferries, the City of Cheboygan, is almost a legend in Frankfort. Some of the most hair-raising moments in Great Lakes shipping were in her log when the Ann Arbor railroad sold her to the state as an auto ferry in 1937.

A good share of the 1,800 Frankfort residents were involved in these moments at one time or another.

The slad-sided old vessel has been repainted and they've cut into her stubby bow so that that automobiles can be loaded at both ends.

But older Frankfort residents have no trouble picking her out, especially those who spent agonizing hours in the old days waiting on the beach for her homely shape to clear some trouble-swept horizon.

In the 31 years as the Ann Arbor No. 4 she railroad cars from Frankfort to ports on the opposite shore of Lake Michigan. She was on the bottom 11 official times.

Twice she actually sank, eight times she was aground and once she overturned when too many cars containing iron ore were loaded on one side.

Bad weather plagued her as it did no other ship of the fleet. She was three days late on her maiden voyage because of bad weather. That was the pattern for her career.

But you can make an old car ferry sailor angry by suggesting the No. 4 was a jinx ship. She brought too many of them home too too many times when the odds were against it.

The most devastating storm in Great Lakes history was in October, 1919. Nineteen ships went down carrying 75 sailors to their deaths.

But the No. 4, caught in mid-lake between Grand Haven and Milwaukee, fought the gale 27 hours without losing a point to the compass.

In the crossing, she passed the Crosby Line steamer, City of Muskegon, which foundered in Muskegon Harbor a few hours later with a loss of 27 lives.

But the thing which assured the No. 4 of a permanent place in the hearts of lake sailors was hear performance in the savage St. Valentine's Day storm in 1923.

Battered almost to pieces half-filled water, her stanchions ripped out or twisted into junk, her seagate gone, some of her cargo overboard and some of it hanging off it stern, the No. 4 fought her way home.

She sank just inside the Frankfort breakwater. One of her screws was take off when she bounced off the bottom before settling. With the last turns of the other she her side into the south pier, as if to make a way for her sailor to get ashore.

No one aboard her that night is likely to forget the 30-foot waves, the 80 mile an hour winds, the cold — it was 22 below zero – or the snow snowfall which made it impossible to see the bow bow the pilot house.

But the wild scene below decks the the storm itself only an occasional terror; nineteen loaded railroad cars careening up and down the tracks in an uncontrollable crack-the-whip. Frantic crewmen trying to secure them without being crushed.

A boxcar containing new automobiles ripped through the wooden seagate at the stern and plunged into the lake.

Now green water containing solid chicks of ice swept into the unprotected stern and down into the engine room through open ladderways.

While still six hours out, the captain radiogramed Frankfort that the ship was in sinking condition.

Why she didn't break in pieces far out in the lake, no knows. But everyone felt felt felt somehow she'd get home, which she did.

In Later years years, when larger, faster ships had been added the fleet, the No. 4 was tied much of the time.

She became a part of the town; a peaceful, picturesque ship. Small boys swung from her hawsers and ran her 250-foot length.

Those small boys, now leaders in the town, can hardly wait to get her back. They know she'll be exciting. But But if she she ever sink sinks again it will be, out of force of habit, close to shore after her passengers have got off safe and sound.