Missaukee Junction to Michelson

The Missaukee Branch

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The Missaukee Branch complex included a number of branch lines that stemmed from the main part of the branch, itself branching from the PRR mainline at Misaukee Junction and heading east to Lake City and ultimately to Falmouth, MI. Other branches include:

  • Jennings Branch: This line branched from the Missaukee Branch at Round Rock Junction and headed north to the town of Jennings, MI.
  • Lake City Branch: This short branch joined the Missuakee Branch at Lake City Junction (at Sandstown) and a little over a mile north to Lake City.

Each of these branches were abandoned at various times, and the last vestige of this branch complex included the main part of the branch between Missaukee Junction and Lake City. In its later years, the line was operated by the Cadillac and Lake City Railway, from 1964 to 1971. This remaining section was finally abandoned in 1984.

Historic ICC Abandonment Filings

PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD
Docket Number: 4723 Date: 1927 Section: 1
Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway Company for certificate of public convenience and necessity to abandon the Jennings Branch, extending from Round Lake Junction to Jennings, Missaukee County, Michigan, 3.7 miles in length and that portion of the Missaukee Branch extending from Veneer Junction, Missaukee County to Michelson, Roscommon County, Michigan, a distance of 16.34 miles.
Length: 20.04 miles Citation: 117 ICC 595  
PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD
Docket Number: 8200 Date: 4/15/1930 Section: 1
App. of. Grand Rapids & Indiana Ry. Co., and the Pennsylvania. RR. Co., its lessee, for a certificate to abandon that portion of the Missaukee Branch of Grand Rapids & Indiana Ry. Co., extending from Merritt, Missaukee County, to Michelson, Roscommon County, Michigan, a distance of 6 miles.
Length: 6 miles Citation: 166 ICC 495  
PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD
Docket Number: 12049 Date: 5/16/1938 Section: 1
App. of Grand Rapids & Indiana Ry Co. and Pennsylvania RR Co. Lessee for authority to abandon Missaukee Branch of Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway Company between Veneer Junction and Merritt, all in Missaukee County, Michigan.
Length: Unknown Citation: 228 ICC 711  
PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD
Docket Number: 14066 Date: 12/21/1942 Section: 1
Application of Grand Rapids & Indiana and Pennsylvania Railroad Co. for authority to abandon the Missaukee Branch 15.32 miles Lake City Br. 1.23 miles of Veneer Branch 4.54 miles all in Missaukee Co. Mich, and also abandonment of all operations thereover by the Pennsylvania R. R. Co as Lessee, total distance of 21.19 miles.
Length: 21.09 miles Citation:  
PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD
Docket Number: 22776 Date: 9/13/1963 Section: 1(18)
Application and Ret. to Q. for authority to abandon their Missaukee Branch extending easterly from Missaukee Junction to Falmouth, Mich., also a line of track from Sands Town Junction switch to Lake City. The total miles of main track to be abandoned is 21.17 mi., all in Wexford and Missaukee Counties, Mich.
Length: 21.17 miles Citation:  

This railroad ran from Missaukee Jct. North of Cadillac to Lake City. It was mostly a tourist railroad. It was formerly The Grand Rapids & Indiana then The Pennsylvanis RR. The PRR also ran S.E. to Falmouth. Before these railroads it was a logging railroad, part of which was called the Jennings & Northeastern. I believe the owner was a Mr. Mitchell who also owned a loggng line in Florida. The C&LC took its name to Colorado and ran a short line there. The track in Michigan was torn up in the 1980's

Elvin Howland
Michigan, Florida, MI
6/28/2010

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Prr missauke branch ran from just north of cadilliac to Lake city mi. from lake city it ran east to verneer jct where one branch ran to Falmouth mi. The other branch ran to Merritt and then on to Michleson mi, which was a loggong town. I was told by one lady now over 100 years old about riding the train to school in morning and home again in the afternoon. Her family live about 3 miles out west of michelson. From Merritt east the old grade is easily seen. Where M-55 crosses the west branch of the muskegon river, you can see the old bridge abutments and grade for the railroad. There is a small roadside park there.

blake
houghton lake, MI
11/16/2010

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I remember Seeing the Cadillac & Lake City Railway for the first time when my parents, younger brother Ed and i came across it literally when we got stopped at the line's US-131 rail crossing in summer 1968. We saw 2-8-2 #2 backing towards Missaukee Junction wye with two coaches, a few boxcars, and a red caboose.

Lawrence Lewis
Bay City, MI
4/2/2011

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I remember riding the Lake City to Cadillac around 1968 with my family. It was very exciting for a small boy to ride a steam engine. Now my boy loves to see and talk about trains.

G. Kingsley
Grand Ledge, MI
9/21/2011

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Some very interesting truths and half truths.

The line was first a GRI, then Penn, and finally a tourist line when Penn wanted to dump it(it also ran some freight). It's existence as a tourist line was only a brief swan song.

The map has some flaws. The GRI ran a branch into Jennings and there it stopped. It's purpose was to serve the Mitchell Bros. Lumber Mill. This was a huge operation. From there, Mitchell Bros ran a narrow gauge north following the route on the map but everything north of Crooked Lake was narrow gauge Mitchell Bros. This much I am sure of. The lumber yard featured an extensive dual gauge interchange. Seek out a copy from the 1906 county atlas and I will blow your mind.

The area around Michelson showing a "Y" is questionable; I have only been able to document a single line there (no branch?) and that seems to be the shortest duration of any section of the line. FYI, the extension into Lake City from Sands Town was added later after the line was running to Falmouth.

The ICC Abandonment Filings above are very interesting with the first two seeming to abandon the same branch to Michelson twice. The initial abandonment to Jennings seems correct as the Mill closed in the early 20's and the need for the line died quickly.

Lastly, the Cadillac and NE railroad was a separate and much earlier narrow gauge line.

I would be very interested in finding out more about the alleged connection with Mitchell to Florida. Mitchell was instrumental in getting the GRI to run through Cadillac and did much to advance that town. The State of Michigan MDOT office is now housed in their old office building, a grand building with six main offices each finished in a different wood. Little record of the Mitchell Bros. remained. Did find reference that much of their NG rolling stock went to Wisconsin.

Wes Sherman
Charlotte, MI
6/27/2012

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I was raised in Jennings, and my family said that at one time a train fell into crooked lake, whats the history there, i cant seem to find the detials

Prescott
Jennings, MI
2/24/2013

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Regarding the train engine that allegedly fell into Crooked Lake . The Michigan DNR surveyed the lake extensively during the Superfund site cleanup in the '90 s . No evidence of a train engine or any large metal object was found . Folks who are familiar with the operation of the Mitchell Bros narrow gauge line claim no such incident happened . There would have been photographs taken and there are no known photos . There are still many smaller artifacts of the lumber mill and the railroad present around the mill site and the former right-of-way .

Richard Onan
Crooked Lake . Missaukee Co., MI
3/13/2013

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When I was a kid my family stayed at some cabins on Lake Missaukee, Green Knoll Resort I think it was called. I remember the steam engines going by while crossing M 55 just south of the resort.

Later the trains stopped but were stored on some tracks in town. I recall seeing some passenger cars there that appeared abandoned. I wonder what ever happened to those cars and train engines, I have nice memories of those trains years ago

mark karle
jackson, MI
8/25/2013

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Can anyone confirm a Wye at missaukee junction? I have been to the site and it just doesn't have a curvature of road bed for a North bound Wye. I see reference to a Sayer siding there. Could this be it? Maybe it was just a team track right off of the turnout from the pennsy mainline.

Rob Osborn
Lake City
9/26/2013

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My husband and I have a couple of properties that were close to the Missaukee line on the south side of Lake Missaukee. One of the properties on Missaukee Blvd, we were told, was a hotel/restaurant for visitors traveling the railway. Is this information true? Would anyone have information or photos of this hotel/restaurant?

Jan
Hudsonville, MI
12/22/2013

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Map has two major flaws.

The GRI did NOT run north of Jennings.

There is a missing branch from Ardis Jct. to Missaukee.

I would be happy to assist you if you wish.

A brief history of the line would be interesting to add.

V. Wesley Sherman
Lake City - Charlotte, MI
2/18/2014

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To Jan in Husdonville,

The train did run past the area you refer to. It's called Missaukee Park and there was a small stop for the RR.

There was a Hotel on the Lake at the time. We have a post card with a picture of the Hotel on it. It was located about two blocks from our cottage. This cottage was built by my wife's grandfather in approx 1920 and we now own it.

Bill Borstler
Traverse City, MI
5/29/2014

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I would like to correspond with anyone that has in interest in the cadillac & lake city railway as i do. very interesting shortline. would have been interesting to see what sort of motive power it would have in 2014, if it was still in operation. somdeday hope to have some accurail covered hoppers and 50' exterior post boxcars lettered for the cadillac & lake city on my Ho scale Leelanau County Railway

Latty Lewis Jr
Bay City, MI
7/3/2014

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Bill B of Traverse City,

Would I be able to receive a copy of the post card? And do you know of any more details/dates with the property of which I speak? Sounds as if it was a busy little area on Lake Missaukee in years past.

Thanks.

Jan
Hudsonville, MI
7/3/2014

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Jan of Hudsonville, mi I would be happy to get a copy to you if knew how to send it or where to send it.

William Borstler
Traverse City, MI
11/14/2014

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At Reedsburg Dam/State Park you can follow the old train line east from the dam, the roadbed is still very obvious and on occasion you can see the railroad ties still in place, pretty neat if you like to explore old railroad history, and very beautiful as well.

Mark Karle
Jackson , MI
12/13/2014

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I remember my family staying at the Green Knoll Resort on the south side of Lake City between 1965-1970 and really enjoyed the train crossing M66/M55. I could remember the train stopping so that they could flag the crossing.i remember hearing the train pull up at night once, whistle and hear the cars locking up tires as the train was crossing the highway. I used to point out all the skid marks too.

M. Cleary
royal oak, MI
3/22/2015

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Latty

And anyone else. I will be making a FaceBook group for just that purpose. My HO Cadillac and Lake City traded the 2-8-0 for a Alco C415. Join the group and we'll continue the discussion of what if and share photos. Also anyone who might want pictures of what the current ROW looks like drop me a line and I will try to get them as time permits since I Live right in the area. The engine house still stands.

Rob Osborn
Lake City, MI
3/23/2015

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Does anybody remember a restaurant on lake missaukee, it was up on a hill on the south side of the lake, 1970 maybe a little later?

jeff
lansing mi, MI
7/15/2015

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I would be interested in a facebook page on c&lc

blake
houghton lake, MI
12/4/2015

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To Rob Osborn,

Just wanted to confirm the existance of a wye track at Missaukee Jct. If you check out www.historicaerials.com there is a 1954 aerial photo on the site clearly showing the full wye along with a 1971 topo map also showing the wye's existance. Later topo maps show the north leg of the wye being abandoned with only the south leg remaining. I remember when "Trains" magazine did an article on the C&LC when they first took over the branch in the 1960s. They had hoped to increase freight business with their local, short line management of the branch, along with supplemental steam powered tourist trains. A real shame their hopes didn't come to fruition.

David Earp
Mechanicsville, MD
12/16/2015

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