The Owosso Argus-Press Dec. 30, 1957
The year 1957 was one of accomplishment for the Ann Arbor Railroad. In the face of decreasing car-loadings resulting from leveling off in general business activity, and with the conviction that maintaining and improving service to patrons is its first obligation, the Ann Arbor's management carried through the program of improvement projects substantially as originally planned for this year.
Prominent among these was the road's development of new industry in the communities along the line. Late in November it was announced that the Dundee Cement Company would start construction of a $10,000,000 plant to manufacture cement at Dundee, Michigan. The plant will have a capacity of 18 million bags of cement annually. In this area, industrial arrangements were concluded with Car Parts Corporation, Sam's Auto Parts, and the Corunna Elevator & Coal Company. A total of 18 industrial track or Ann Arbor Railroad service arrangements were made with new industries in various communities along the line.
To further the development of new industries, on Aug. 1 George E. Strange was named Division Freight and Industrial Agent with offices in the Ann Arbor Division Headquarters Building on South Aiken Road, Owosso. Mr. Strange and his assistant Jack Bigger, Traveling Freight Agent, are equipped to assist and cooperate with local Chambers of Commerce and Industrial Economic Development Associations in researching and locating industries.
They can provide all types of information relating to regular rail traffic movements such as rates, routes and related service. Engineering assistance incident to track and structures is immediately available through the office and staff of the Division Engineer which works closely with Mr. Strange.
The improvement program included purchase of 300 new all steel 50-ton box cars, at a cost of just under $3,000,000. Other improvements, excluding new rolling equipment, partly enumerated below, exceeded the previous year's total of projects by 20 percent, so that, all in all, the year's working season was a busy one.
Among the more important projects completed in 1957 were:
Installation of 10 miles of heavy rail (110 lb. To the yard) in the main line releasing lighter section rail for relaying in secondary and yard tracks.
Application of 36,000 tons of slag ballast (about 700 carloads) in the ain tracks and 8,000 tons of gravel ballast (about 160 carloads) in other tracks and sidings.
Installation of 21,500 new creosote-treated cross ties, plus 70,000 board feet of treated switch and bridge ties, in the course of maintenance work and in the construction of new tracks.
New trackage built during the year includes a passing track at Chilson to accommodate trains of up to 135 cars: a new track at Milan with capacity of 75 cars for receiving increasing interchage traffic from the Wabash Railroad, and a new team track to serve the rapidly developing North Campus at Ann Arbor.
At the Ann Arbor's Frankfort terminal, an additional yard track was constructed in the Elberta Yard, and considerable work was performed in completing and improving docking arrangements and facilities to better service the company's fleet of steel carferries, with which the Ann Arbor spans Lake Michigan to reach its Western trunk line connections at Manitowoc and Kewaunee, Wisc., and Menominee and Manistique, Mich.
The carriage of loaded railroad cars across Lake Michigan, considered unique when inaugurated by The Ann Arbor Railroad in 1892, has developed and expanded so that today the Ann Arbor's carferries are an integral component of its through scheduled freight service operating between western railroad connections on the West bank of Lake Michigan and Frankfort, Mich. On the East bank. The traffic then moves on the Ann Arbor's rail to either to Toledo, Ohio, forming through connecting service with all Eastern lines via the Toledo gateway or to intermediate junctions such as Milan with the Wabash Railroad, to Diann with the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad, to Ann Arbor with the New York Central, or to Durand with the Grand Trunk Western.
Riding along with railroad freight cars as they ply steamship lanes of Lake Michigan go many families of vacationers, tourists and business people, with their automobiles, taking the opportunity for a pleasant period of relaxing carefree respite from highway driving. The car ferries are equipment with spacious lounges, staterooms and sun decks, above the freight car deck for the use and convenience of these passengers.
In this connection, the cabins on vessels Wabash and SS No. 7 are improved and further modernized in 1957 for greater comfort and convenience of passengers and crew members at a cost of $150,000.
The road's '58 program includes plans to lengthen and repower SS No. 6 to provide greater car capacity and higher speed, which will bring that vessel up to the minute in all respects. The management's improvement program also contemplates similar modernization of other ships of the fleet so that existing ships of the fleet can keep pace with a new car ferry, plans for construction of which have been under study for some time.
Of particular interest locally was the completion of the work of relocating the automatic flasher light crossing protection signals with the addition of cantilever arms made necessary as a result of the widening of West Main Street in Owosso (State Route M-21), as well as the recently completed installation of automatic flasher light crossing protection cantilever type signals at the newly widened and improved South Shiawassee Street (State Route M-47).
The company's policy of year-by-year improvement in physical property continues. The 1958 program now being arranged, in addition to the regularly allocated quantities of basic track construction and repair items such as heavier rail-ties and ballast, includes an additional long track in the recently built Owosso Yard, plus the location of track scale therein; further extension of the company's private telephone system to service more stations; construction of new station building at Dundee; and numerous other projects designed to increase capacity and ability to serve present patrons and new industries.
The Ann Arbor's management and employees, numbering between 300 and 400 in Owosso and vicinity, take pride as a part of the Owosso area's industrial community in cooperating and sharing in the area's growth and expansion, and are pleased at this opportunity to extend all good wishes for the New Year, to all patrons and friends.