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The winter of 1976 - 1977 was very hard on railroad with 'Viking' being stuck in the ice several times; on February 19th she tied up until the ice conditions are improved. The heavy January and February snows also stuck numerous trains. On February 24th, cars that were being held at Frankfort for ferry operations were re-routed around Lake Michigan via Chicago.

March 15th, the 'Viking' made its first trip across Lake Michigan after the forced winter shutdown.

Rail properties from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Durand, Michigan from Cadillac, Michigan to Frankfort, Michigan and two car ferries leased from the Ann Arbor Trustee, trackage rights over the Grand Trunk Western Railroad from Durand, Michigan to Ashley, Michigan, and the Yards, shops and offices at Owosso, Michigan leased from the Grand Trunk Western Railroad, dated 3/31/1976.

Legally, there no longer exists an Ann Arbor Railroad Company, as we've known it for so many decades. The line is now officially the Ann Arbor Division of the Northern Region of the Consolidated Rail Corporation. But since the line will, in the minds of most of us, always be "the Ann Arbor", even though the ownership has changed from private to the State of Michigan, with operation of the line contracted to Conrail.

Here's a brief summation of some of the more evident train scheduling since Conrail operation began:1

THE COAL TRAINS ARE HISTORY. Coal train movements are now routed over Conrail from Toledo to Detroit, then over Grand Trunk Western to Durand over Grand Trunk Western's Holly Sub and from Durand to destinations at Essexville or Midland via Grand Trunk Western's Saginaw Sub. Grand Trunk Western was acquired all ex-Penn Central Ti-Cities trackage on April 1, and the last coal train came through Ann Arbor that day in the early morning. It was off the Ann Arbor railroad in Toledo by noon, thus ending an interesting era on the Ann Arbor Railroad.

TRAINS are now operating on this schedule:



Apx. Wkly. Freq


Elberta - Toledo



Owosso - Toledo

3, 4


Toledo - Elberta



Toledo - Owosso

3, 4

Cadillac turns out of Elberta averaging 5 times weekly; Ann Arbor Turns out of Toledo 2-3 times per week, or as business warrants (sometimes as far as Whitmore Lake). Mt. Pleasant, Rosebush or Clare Turns average 1 or 2 weekly (or as business warrants) out of Owosso. RS-100 out of Ferry Yard at Ann Arbor Monday through Friday from 11:30 PM to 11:30 AM.

Train sizes haven't seemed to change. TF-5 and FT-2 still average from 50 to 100 cars, and are usually less when a TF-l or FT-6 does operate, with these trains cleaning up the balance that TF-5 or FT-2 did not get at either Ottawa Yard in Toledo or the Owosso yard.

EFFECTIVE APRIL 1, these agencies were closed: Mount Pleasant, Ashley, Owosso, Ferry Yard (Ann Arbor) and Dundee.

-Cadillac is designated as a Facterminal and the agent there covers the line between Boat Landing at Elberta and Ashley.

-Grand Trunk Western agents cover the line from Ashley to Durand and all other agency work since they now own that segment.

-The former Ferry Yard agent is located in the Willow Run terminal at the Facterminal there, and covers the Ann Arbor Division from Saline to Cohoctah.

A former PC agent in the Toledo Facterminal handles business between Toledo and Milan, including the Dundee Cement Company.

(A Facterminal is Conrail jargon or a mobile agency, performing work that used agencies such as those recently closed. So the day of the local freight agent is now over for the Ann Arbor Division.

FERRY YARD here in Ann Arbor is now staffed from 3:30 AM to 12:30 PM, primarily to handle the switch lists, tie-up reports and train order for train RSÄ100 out of Ferry Yard.

Major repairs are no longer done at the Owosso shops; all major work is now done at the ex-Penn Central shops at the ex-Penn Central Stanley Yard south of Toledo. Several machinists and other employees at Owosso have or will be laid off with only minor work being done there such as fueling, sanding, changing bulbs, and so forth.

As to the carferries, Viking had some diesel engine problems beginning March 28, and with one diesel on the blink, it meant that either only one of the ship's two screws was operating or that one of the electric generators powered by the diesels was feeding current to both electric motors for both screws. In any event, the breakdown meant that although the ship was operating with normal tonnage and loading, it was taking longer to cross the Big Lake. Nothing's been heard about repairs to the Arthur K. Atkinson and it could be a while before its needs get attention. The necessary parts for Viking will be installed in the first week of May, and she'll be back on schedule once again.

The siding south of Summit Street now is unused, as all interchange is stored behind Lansky's.

AS TO MOTIVE POWER, because the State of Michigan owns the Ann Arbor units, there's little possibility that they'll be used off the Ann Arbor Division. The power assignments as of May 2nd seeing the GP35s (385, 387-393) in road service with 386 at the Stanley yard engine house for main generator and other repairs; 394 at Ferry Yard; 6 and 7 at Boat Landing, 10's at Ottawa Yard with 20, and 21's at Owosso where it operates once or twice a week over that ex-Penn Central Saginaw branch, if a road unit doesn't handle that run.

March 5, 1976, State of Michigan has purchased the Ann Arbor railroad and its holdings. Conrail has an operating contract being April 1st for one year.

1. The State of Michigan owns 57 miles from Toledo to Ann Arbor and 99 miles from Ashley to Cadillac, plus all the line's rolling stock, supplies, and equipment. The United States Railway Association conveyed all of this to the state at net salvage value.

2. The trustees of the Ann Arbor still own the Ann Arbor - Durand and Cadillac - Frankfort segments plus the trans-lake ferries. The trustees have leased all of this to The State of Michigan, however.

3. Grand Trunk Western owns the Durand - Ashley trackage including facilities at Owosso.

Here is how the ex-Ann Arbor has been put together by the state:

Conrail has an operating contract with the state to run the whole railroad. Trackage rights have been obtained on the segments owned by the trustees and Grand Truck Western, with the latter agreement covering the former Ann Arbor facilities in Owosso.

To assist with the operation of the ferries, the state has a financial agreement with Wisconsin to cover the deficit for these operations. The State of Michigan met the April 1st deadline for takeover of the Ann Arbor by certifying to U.S.R.A. that it had an operating contract, that no labor problems would prevent service from continuing on April 1, and sufficient funds to pay for the acquisition.

The former Ann Arbor trackage between Durand and Owosso is out of service. A crossover switch and connecting track have been build at Legion Drive on the west edge of Corunna to gain access into the east end of the AA yards in Owosso. A connecting track 1,000 feet south of Lytle Road and the M-71 intersection near Corunna was also built to serve local business in Corunna, while the AA main between Durand and Vernon is still intact and being used to service local business in Vernon only.

PC 8611 filled in for No. 6 while she was in for repairs and is now sitting in Owosso.

The Ann Arbor railroad actually exists now in five different segments under three different owners.

Rail properties from Toledo, Ohio to Ann Arbor, Michigan and from Ashley to Cadillac conveyed to the State of Michigan by a bill of sale dated 3/31/1977.

Rail properties from Owosso, MI to Saginaw, MI, leased from Penn Central Trustees in an agreement dated 8/8/77, operated by Michigan Interstate.

September 30, 1977, last day of Conrail control of the Ann Arbor.

Oct. 1, 1977, Michigan Interstate, assumed operation of the Ann Arbor Railroad. At that time the Ann Arbor railroad line status was;

    1. Another railroad, the state, and a bankrupt estate own the track over which it operates. The railroad's shops are owned by the rival Grand Trunk Western Railroad, which leases them to State of Michigan for $85,000 a year

    2. Trustee of the estate of the bankrupt Ann Arbor Railroad owns one of the railroad's two lake ferries, and the other is out of service with a broken crankshaft. State of Wisconsin has applied for a $450,000 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) grant to repair the disabled ship, which used to carry passengers, trucks, and freight cars between Frankfort and Manitowoc, Wis.

    3. Traffic on the Ann Arbor has increased during the first two months of 1978.

    4. State subsidies to the railroad will continue for the nest three years, after which the state expects the railroad to break even or turn a profit.

    5. About 30 miles of track is deteriorated to such a point that train speeds have been reduced to 10 miles per hour. Speed limits on the rest of the railroad are 30 to 40 MPH. The railroad has applied for a $4.5 million FRA grant to upgrade its track and install heavier rail.

Bulletin No. 182 9/29/1977
Effective 12:01 A. M. Saturday, Oct. 1, 1977, all tracks of the former Ann Arbor Company are now operated by the Michigan Interstate Railroad Company, except:

Those tracks between Durand, MP 93.8 Ashley, and MP 129 are now operated by the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Company.

The former Ann Arbor Railroad Company is designated as the Ann Arbor Railroad system operated by Michigan Interstate Railway Company.

The following tracks are now operated as a part of the Ann Arbor Railroad System:

Former Saginaw Branch, Michigan Division, Penn Central Transportation Company between Owosso, MP 63.8 and MP 91.8.

October 1, 1977 Michigan Interstate Railway Company begins operation of the former Ann Arbor Railroad, under an operating contract agreement , have won a three and one - half year contract to operate the railroad,.from the State of Michigan Transportation Commission

Wednesday, May 25, 1977, Michigan Interstate claims it can make the line profitable by the early 1980s by doubling traffic. Conrail, which has been getting more than $6 million a year in state and federal funds to augment $8 million a year in revenues from the Ann Arbor, says the line will never be self-supporting with meager industry on the route now. Michigan Interstate is the brainchild of Vicent M. Malanaphy, 43, a former marketing vice president for the DT&I RR who once vied unsuccessfully for the post of bankruptcy trustee on the Ann Arbor. His partners include Washington attorneys Richard L. Hardy and Charles W. Chapman. Others are George C. Betke Jr., Leonard M. Harlan, and Thomas E. Myers Jr.; a team of New York transits finances specialists who operate a $600,000 a year revenue railroad in Colorado profitably. Together they have put up $250,000 in cash and $150,000 in "sweat" (time and effort) capital. They claim to have loan commitments for another $750,000 from major banks. The money would be used mainly to buy 100 covered hopper cars to augment the Ann Arbor's aging rolling stock. To major state concerns involve Michigan Interstate's request for an option to buy the right-of-way after the line gets into the black and the problem of job guarantees for workers..

May 18, 1979 The State of Michigan purchases the Grand Trunk Western railroad car ferry "City of Milwaukee".

The Argus-Press Oct. 4, 1977 Ann Arbor Highlights

There probably are three things that will keep the Ann Arbor Railroad's name enshrined in railroad history.

The AARR was the first to try shipping railroad cars across Lake Michigan on Nov. 22, 1892, and the railroad gained further fame by developing a system, still in use, for tying down railroad cars to the tracks aboard the car ferry.

The Ann Arbor also gained some fame with the five McKeen Motor Cars which it put into service in May of 1911. The gasoline motors on the cars were heard all over the system and launched a spectacular increase in passenger business. But the motor rail cars almost were like a rocket, starting out spectacularly and fading out by Dec. 31, 1924.

On that day, No. 15 was scheduled to leave Owosso at 7 a. m. And arrive in Cadillac at 12:01 p. m. The return run was scheduled out of Cadillac at 1:50 p. m. And due in Owosso at 6:50 p. m.

As late as the summer of 1931, in the midst of the depression, the Ann Arbor still was tying to lure resorters to Frankfort. That summer, Train No. 55 left Toledo on Friday evenings, picked up a Detroit sleeper at Durand and a Chicago sleeper at Thompsonville. The route was reversed Sunday evening but there was no such service in the summer of 1932.

1The Inside Track, Vol. VII, No. 4, 1976, pages 3-4, The Inside Track, Vol. VII, No. 5, 1976, page 15, The Inside Track, Vol. VIII, No. 1, 1977, page 7