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The Official Pere Marquette Railway Thread

Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:04 pm
by SD80MAC
Here's a thread for my fictional railroad, the modern day Pere Marquette (no relation to the PM of the 1940's and prior). Some of the stuff may seem a tad bit farfetched, but it all adds up to one awesome railroad in 2009.

The History of the Pere Marquette Railway Company

The Pere Marquette Railway Company (PM) was formed in 1983 after purchasing the former Grand Trunk Western Railroad line from Durand to Grand Rapids, a branch of the old Grand Rapids to Grand Haven line which ended in Coopersville, and from Grand Rapids to Muskegon from the GTW, along with the former Ann Arbor RR from Toledo to Frankfort with an ex GTW branch from Ashley to Carson City from the Michigan Interstate RR. Though the railroad operated over the ex GTW and AA, the name “Pere Marquette” was chosen so as to pay tribute to one of Michigan’s most famous railroads, which was merged into the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in July of 1947. To use the name, PM purchased the rights from Chessie System in 1982, in preparation for the purchase from GTW and MIRR.


PM operations of the line commenced on May 1, 1983. The railroad headquarters was then in Grand Rapids at the ex GTW Ann St. yard, west of the Fuller diamond C&O and Michigan Northern diamonds. The railroad also had offices in Owosso at the site of the former Ann Arbor shops. PM acquired from Michigan Interstate all of the former Ann Arbor GP35‘s, which were subsequently renumbered. As a result, the first train on the new PM looked like one that might’ve been seen on the old Ann Arbor railroad, pulled by orange former Ann Arbor RR GP35’s. PM also short term leased a pair of GP38’s from Conrail. At the start, here’s how PM’s roster looked:

EMD GP35 #385 to PM 2500
EMD GP35 #387 to PM 2501
EMD GP35 #388 to PM 2502
EMD GP35 #389 to PM 2503
EMD GP35 #390 to PM 2504
EMD GP35 #391 to PM 2505
EMD GP35 #392 to PM 2506
EMD GP35 #393 to PM 2507
EMD GP35 #394 to PM 2508
EMD GP38 #7894 (leased from Conrail)
EMD GP38 #7822 (leased from Conrail)

PM also purchased from Chessie 2 ex C&O Cupola cabooses.

The PM’s original train schedule looked like this:

Train GRMS (Grand Rapids-Muskegon)
Train GRDR (Grand Rapids-Durand)
Train GRY (Grand Rapids switch job, also worked west to Coopersville)
Train DRTL (Durand-Toledo)
Train OWCL (Owosso-Clare, interchanged with C&O at Clare and Alma)
Train CDCL (Cadillac-Clare, interchanged with C&O at Clare)
Train CDL (Cadillac local, worked around town, interchanged with MIGN, worked west to Frankfort)
Train TLL (Toledo local, interchanged with several RR’s)
Train TLY (Toledo yard job)

The train crews went on duty in the morning (6 a.m. for the GRY, 7 a.m. for the GRDUR 8 a.m. for the GRMS, 8 am for the CDL, 7 pm for the OWCL, 9 pm for the CDCL) and GRDR and GRMS could usually be back in Grand Rapids by mid afternoon. The top speed from Grand Rapids to Durand was 30 mph, the same was true for GR to Muskegon. Power on these trains was usually a pair of 35’s or more if tonnage warranted. The Conrail GP38’s were usually kept on the GRMS due to their ability to haul heavier trains over the hilly line than the GP35’s. A single GP35 worked the GRY, taking interchange traffic to the C&O and Conrail, working west to Marne as needed and switching the Grand Rapids Press in downtown GR. Top speed over the entire former AA was 30 mph. The year PM took over was the same year the Lake Michigan Car Ferries ended service across the lake, and as a result there was little traffic west of Yuma.

In the fall of 1983, PM found itself in need of more power. They purchased 2 EMD GP7’s from used locomotive dealer Precision National, and 1 EMD SW9 from Conrail. PM’s roster now included:

EMD GP7 #1500 (Ex PNC #1503, PNC paint)
EMD GP7 #1501 (Ex PNC #4202, PNC paint)
EMD SW9 #1200 (Ex CR #8995, nee PC, nee NYC, patched NYC paint)

The GP7’s were good units and found a ready home on the GRDR (occasionally paired with 1 or more GP35’s). As a result, #1500 was the first engine painted in PM’s color scheme, which was then blue with yellow safety stripes on each end, framing the Pere Marquette shield. SW9 #1200 worked the GRY and was found to be a much better engine on the fragile line to Coopersville, and visibility was much better for switching as well. It was also painted along with #1501 in the winter of 1983. Now with enough power to get by, PM returned the GP38’s to Conrail.

1983 was also the same year that the Michigan State Fairgrounds put former PM Berkshire #1223 up for sale. Restoring a steam locomotive in the early 80’s didn’t cost nearly what it did today, so PM purchased the Berkshire for the price of $5,000 with plans to restore it and run it on excursions. #1223 was then moved to Grand Rapids via the C&O and placed at Ann St. yard under a tarp until work could begin on her.


1984 was relatively quiet year for the PM. Traffic was down, so PM began to paint the ex AA GP35’s, the first of which being PM 2506. By the end of 1984, all of the GP35’s were repainted, the paint work being done at the Owosso shops. All of PM’s locomotives now wore PM paint.


PM now had more than enough power to adequately operate it’s lines (though they leased from Conrail a single GP38 to work in Toledo), and continued to seek out new acquisitions. In the summer of 1985 PM bought the ex Michigan Central line from Owosso to Fergus from the Chesaning & Owosso Central railroad. There was no business north of Chesaning, and the line was cut from Chesaning to Fergus, severing it but leaving the rails intact.

The roster at the end of 1985:

GP7’s #1500-1501
GP35’s #2500-2508
SW9 #1200
GP38 #7802 (short-term leased from CR)
2-8-4 #1223 (under restoration)

For a total of 13 diesels and 1 steam engine.

With the shop complex in Owosso now ready for the work, the railroad had an excellent spot to restore Berkshire #1223. In July GP7 #1500 moved #1223 from Grand Rapids to Owosso. Work began by tearing the locomotive to the boiler, followed by the repair and re-fabrication of several parts.


All PM units received light electrical upgrades during the course of the year at the Owosso shops. In May and June, GP7’s #1500 and #1501 were rebuilt into GP7R’s, having their noses chopped and having their engines turbocharged boosting their output to 2000 HP. Subsequently, they were renumbered to numbers 2000 and 2001. Work was done at the Owosso shops.

Newly formed CSX Transportation (Chessie System/Seaboard System merger) was abandoning sections of their Saginaw to Greenville line. PM purchased 4 miles of track at the CSX/PM diamond in Clare to acquire scrap and lumber business in town. The track from West Clare to Greenville was abandoned, PM also purchased the Greenville-Lowell segment, along with the line from Lowell to Elmdale. With Greenville, PM gained business with Kraft foods and appliance maker Electrolux, which shipped out big 86’ boxes of appliance parts. A pair of units (usually GP35’s) was subsequently based in Greenville to work the town and take cars down to Lowell to be picked up by the GRIO. The train was called the GVL (Greenville yard job/local) and also worked King Milling in Lowell on the north side of the river. There were no customers south of Lowell and that portion of the line was used for storage by PM and CSX.

PM found itself desperate for power in the summer of 1986. With some GP35’s and both GP7R’s working the locals, the remaining GP35’s were spread thin across the system. GRDR, GRMS and DRTL were frequently having to leave cars behind for the next trip because the allotted power could not handle the train. Close to 100 car trains on the GRDR and 100+ car trains on the DRTL was taxing for a pair of GP35’s. So in August the PM bought 6 SD40M-2’s from locomotive leaser MPI (Motive Power Industries). The units had very different histories. 4 were ex C&NW non dynamic SD45’s (with gong nose bells) sold by CNW to MPI, which rebuilt them to SD40-2 standards, keeping their SD45 bodies. 2 were former Burlington Northern SDP40’s, rebuilt without their steam generators. They were numbered in the 3000 series and became PM 3000-3005. The units soon became the best engines on the PM according to crews, and a pair of SD40M-2’s had no trouble with the GRDR. The same was true for the DRTL, although sometimes a third unit was added if tonnage permitted. The remaining units were left as standby power and occasionally worked the GRMS and OWCL in conjunction with Geeps. The SD40M-2’s freed up the GP35 fleet from exclusive road service and 2 of them were based in Toledo once the CR GP38 was returned. This resulted in a small surplus of GP35’s, 2 of which were leased to the Michigan Northern Railroad in the fall.

Work also began this year on the former PM 2-8-4 #1225 by the MSTRP. PM allowed the group to work on the engine in Owosso in the shop where #1223 was getting close to being operational.


In 1987 the SD40M-2’s were repainted into PM colors. Work was finished on #1223 and she made her first run from Owosso to Grand Rapids in May, pulling 10 passenger cars borrowed from the Blue Water Chapter of the NRHS. #1223 made several other fan trips that year all over the PM system.


In 1988 PM purchased another steam locomotive, former Grand Trunk Western 4-6-2 #5632 from the city of Durand. The locomotive was moved from it’s resting place next to the city’s fire department with the aid of a heavy duty crane from the GTW. 5632 was then moved to the Owosso shops to be restored where it was worked on by PM and MSTRP crews simultaneously with the PM 1225.

In the spring, a small group of volunteers approached the PM about the possible sale of the line from Grand Rapids to Coopersville for a tourist railroad. PM still had business in Walker and Marne, and there was talk of a Delphi plant in the works for Coopersville. So the railroad struck a deal with the group. It would sell the line from Marne to Coopersville, and retain freight rights from Marne to Coopersville. The new tourist line, calling itself the Coopersville & Marne Railway, commenced operations later that year operating on a Wednesday and Saturday basis using PM SW9 #1200. Later that year, C&M bought former GTW SW9 #7014 for use on it’s trains, and #1200 was fully back to working the GRY.


In February of ‘89 the PM purchased the former GTW line from Durand to Bay City from Central Michigan RR. They also sold PM their line from Bay City to Midland. With the Midland line, PM picked up considerable business from DOW Chemical. With the sale of these lines, the CMGN officially was folded, and it’s rolling stock and motive power was sold off. Trains DRBC, BCMD and SGL were implemented on the PM with the purchase of the line. The DRBC went from Durand to Bay City and back, working Saginaw along the way. BCMD was the Bay City-Midland freight. SGL worked Saginaw and Bay City as a kind of local. The excess SD40M-2’s found work on the DURBC, and GP35’s were sent up to Saginaw and Bay City for SGL and BCMD. The railroad was once again with all of it’s power again as the ailing MIGN returned the leased GP35’s to the PM.

The former Ann Arbor from Elberta to Yuma was torn up in the summer of ‘89. Ever since the car ferry’s had ceased operation in the MIRR days, there was no business west of Yuma.

Work on PM 1225 was completed this year and the engine made her first trip on the old PM now CSX line from Howell to Grand Rapids.


1990 was another year of acquisitions for the Pere Marquette. The Michigan Northern officially ceased operations in the winter of 1989, and the state was debating the removal of their lines. The PM jumped at the chance and picked up MIGN’s trackage north of Cadillac dirt cheap. This gave them the former PRR from Cadillac to Petoskey and an ex PM branch at Walton Junction to Traverse City, with a connection to the Leelanau Scenic Railroad. The MIGN’s ex PM line from Petoskey to Charlevoix had been torn up a few years prior, and the line south from Cadillac to Grand Rapids was abandoned. The new northern end of the PM was not very busy and the CDL worked west to Yuma, north to Traverse City and north to Petoskey on alternating days. As a result, each line saw “every 2 days” service. PM also purchased the old East Jordan & Southern line from Alba to East Jordan, the track was still there, but the line hadn’t seen service since the 1960’s. PM hoped to change that.

Traffic had picked up on PM’s former GTW track in Muskegon to the extent that a Muskegon local was created, the MSL, or the “Missle”. Power was a single GP35.

PM 1223 and 1225 made several double headed trips from Owosso to Grand Rapids and Owosso to Petoskey in 1990. 1990 was also the first year PM began running it’s “Ionia Free Fair Express” trips from GR to Ionia and back during the Ionia Free Fair, with multiple departures each day pulled by #1223.


1991 found the PM in need of more smaller power. While GP35’s and the GP7R’s were good yard power, switchers like #1200 were far more desirable. As a result, PM bought 4 ex Conrail MP15DC’s from GATX in the spring of 1991 and numbered them PM 1500-1503. 2 were based in Durand and the other 2 were based in Toledo, freeing up more Geeps for local and road service.

PM’s roster now looked like this:

#1200 SW9
#1500-1503 MP15DC
#2000-2001 GP7R
#2500-2508 GP35
#3000-3005 SD40M-2

Plus steamers #1223 and #5632, the latter of the two was still being restored.

In 1991 several strange happenings began on the PM. The railroad purchased 5 miles of ex PRR track from the South Shore connection in Gary, IN to the Clark Junction connections with NS, CSX and EJ&E. The reason as to why was kept hushed. PM also struck a deal with Conrail to purchase their ex PRR line from Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo, and negotiated trackage rights on Amtrak’s MI Corridor west from Kzoo to Michigan City, IN. In exchange for haulage rights over Amtrak, PM would provide local freight service. PM began freight service from Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo in February, and the railroad’s GR headquarters moved from Ann street to Hugart yard, and all PM Grand Rapids trains were subsequently based out of Hugart, which was renamed Grand Rapids Yard.

As if all that wasn’t odd enough, PM began a massive track rehabilitation project from Kalamazoo to GR, GR to Durand, and Durand to Toledo. Speeds of 60 mph were talked about, but why remained a mystery…

Re: The Official Pere Marquette Railway Thread

Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:19 pm
by Y@
enjoyed the read jon, cant wait for more :D

Re: The Official Pere Marquette Railway Thread

Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 2:25 pm
Great history Jon. I'll have to finish reading the whole thing later. But I'm following your business plan and I like how you're putting everything together so it makes sense.

Re: The Official Pere Marquette Railway Thread

Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 2:41 pm
by SD80MAC
Thanks guys. I'm doing my best. :)

Re: The Official Pere Marquette Railway Thread

Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:43 pm
by SD80MAC
An updated roster.

Builder Model Quanity Number Series Normal Assignment ITCS Notes
EMD SD70ACe 10 4300-4309 Coal, General Freight, Ore Yes New 2007
EMD SD60 10 3911-3920 General Freight, Ore Yes Ex CEFX/SOO 2007
EMD SD50-2 20 3013-3024, 3034-3041 General Freight Yes Ex CR 1999, RB 2002-2003, NS 2006
EMD SD40M-2 6 3000-3005 General Freight Yes Ex MPI, 1986
EMD SD40-2 7 3006-3012 General Freight Yes Ex BN, 1993
EMD SD40-3 14 3028-3033, 3042-3049 General Freight Yes Ex GCFX, 2004, 2007
EMD SD38-2R 2 2014-2015 Toledo Transfer No Ex CR 1999, RB SD38's
EMD GP60 11 3900-3910 MI Line Locals/Overnighter Yes New 1992, ex EMDX 1997
EMD GP59 3 3025-3027 MI Line Locals/Overnighter Yes Ex EMDX, NS 2000
EMD GP49 5 2800-2804 North End/General Freight No Ex ARR, 2007
EMD GP40M-3 8 3051-3058 MI Line/Local/Yard Yes Ex FURX, 2009
EMD GP38-2 18 2000-2011, 2016-2021 Local/Yard No Ex CR 1999, Ex GATX 2004
EMD GP35R 7 2022-2028 South End No Ex AA 1984, RB 2002
EMD GP15-1 8 1504-1511 Local/Yard No Ex NS, 2007
EMD GP10 6 1800-1805 Local/Yard No Ex Conrail, 1993
EMD MP15DC 4 1500-1503 TOL/DUR Yard No Ex GATX, 1994
EMD SW9 1 900 MAN Yard No Ex GLLX(C&O), 2003
EMD SW1 1 11 GRL No Ex PM, BO Rail 1991
EMD FP45-2 2 3600-3601 Exec/Excursion/SP Yes Ex ATSF, 1996
EMD F40C 1 3050 Exec/Excursion/SP Yes Ex METRA, 2006
EMD E7A 2 101-102 Exec/Excursion Yes RB from ex BN E9A's
Lima 2-8-4 1 1223 Excursion/SP Yes Ex PM, Restored 1986
Baldwin 4-6-2 1 5632 Excursion/SP Yes Ex GTW, Restored 1999
CLW 4-6-0 1 1395 Excursion/SP No Ex CN, Restored 2004
ALCO 4-8-4 1 6325 Excursion/SP No Ex GTW, Leased from OHCR

Re: The Official Pere Marquette Railway Thread

Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:30 pm
That's quite a roster, CRJon!