Port Huron to Almont

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  • States: Michigan   
  • Railroads: PM   

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The railroad line that eventually reached Almont in 1882 was a narrow gauge branch of the Port Huron and Northwest Railroad. The railroad was never extended and was abandoned in 1942.

http://www.almonttownship.org/about.htm

Alex Lavergne
Malone, NY
5/12/2011

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From my website: https://sites.google.com/site/pmalmontsub/the-almont-branch-history

The Almont Branch History

The Pere Marquette Railway's Almont Branch was a branchline on the Pere Marquette Railway in Michigan's southern "Thumb" region. Originally built by the Port Huron and Southwestern RR, the Almont Branch ended in the town of Almont, some 30.6 miles or so west of Port Huron. The line was built as a 36" narrow gauge originally and later converted to standard gauge (4' 8 1/2"). Very few recognizable remnants of the line exist today, only the Berville depot in Allenton, the Almont grain elevator, and some visible sections of the roadbed / right of way exist scattered through out Lapeer and St. Clair counties.

The Port Huron and Northwestern Railway built the line and operated it as a 3 foot narrow gauge under the subsidiary company incorporated as the Port Huron and Southwestern Railway. The line was operational in October of 1882 and served the agricultural region there in the southern portion of the "Thumb." The lines main freight traffic was agricultural products (grains, beans, corn, etc.), coal, lumber, gasoline, mail, and other freight. The Almont Branch was speculated to extend west, south, and northwest, but no construction ever took place and no physical evidence exists of any expansion from Almont. It was forever to be a branch line, and this doomed its profitability as a part of the Port Huron and Northwestern Railroad system. By April of 1889, the PH&NW was bought by the Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad (this included the PH&SW RR). This purchase was done and conversion of the route to standard gauge began on the PH&NW routes. By Sept. 1899 the line was converted to standard gauge north of Port Huron. The PH&SW RR was not converted until May of 1903 by the Pere Marquette Railroad. This was the last line to be converted in the Pere Marquette Railroad to standard gauge.

After World War I, Michigan's conversion from horse power to gasoline power was rapid. Also the interurban railways boomed in southeast Michigan. These technological improvements in transportation had negative impact on the profitability of the line. The passenger rail service was unprofitable and passenger trains were discontinued by the 1920s. Mixed trains survived a little longer, but they were discontinued by the end of May in 1931. By the end of the 30s, the line was served by a train once a week. Trucks, buses, and the automobile put the line into negative profits, loosing $26,000 or more a year in the late 1930s. The PM filed for abandonment on Dec. 3, 1941. It was approved by the 12th of December by the Interstate Commerce Commission. The line's dismantling began in January of 1942 and with that came the end of railroading to Almont, Memphis, Allenton, Berville, and a handful of other ghost stations on the line.

The remaining towns on the line have remained small towns in Michigan with little or no remnants of the former railroad operations. Sections of the old right of way are used as driveways, transmission line easements, service roads, or have been plowed under for agricultural use. Many just have been overgrown into rows of trees, shrubs, and brush. No bridges remain and the only structure of railroad property is the Berville depot located in Allenton, MI which also was a station on the line. If the line had been extended west, most likely the destination would have been a connection with the PM line into Lansing near Okemos, MI. This would have given an east-west route competing with the GTW for traffic into Lansing and to a lessor extent into Chicago via Grand Rapids. This endeavor never happened and its fate as a branchline was forever sealed into history.

Even though World War II had begun, nothing would save the line from its fate. Trucks would haul the grain, gasoline, and coal. The depots would be razed and rail scrapped and used probably as steel for the war. I surely would like to think that if time had allowed the line to travel west, it would still be in use. I guess that is why I chose to model it as if it had. © 2011 Dan Meinhard

Dan Meinhard
Jeddo, MI
12/22/2011

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