Muskegon Questions

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Muskegon Questions

Unread postby chapmaja » Fri Oct 04, 2019 12:10 am

I haven't been to Muskegon since shortly after I finished my student teaching at MHS (under now Ferris St football coach Tony Annese).

I was looking at some older maps and found some things interesting from a railroad perspective.

First, the GTW. I know they at one time had a line coming across the state from Greenville, but that was torn up many years before this early 1970's map. How far out of town did the line continue. It appears there used to be a tank farm east of town. Was this the "end of the line" for the GTW line along Laketon. How busy would this have been by the 1970's and when was it finally removed from service? Were there any other customers along this line by the time the line ceased service? Speaking of the Laketon Branch,

Second, Looking a the older maps it appears the line that now ends at Webb Chemical used to extend farther. The best I can tell it went up and around to connect with the ex-Penn Central (then GTW line) that came up from Grand Rapids. Was this the access to the Henry Street Yard?

Third, looking at the maps, and following along the line that used to run to the paper mill it gets a bit confusing. I know GTW's access to the car ferry was east of the old paper plant. It appears the old ferry dock is still in place per Google maps. It appears that just to the east of this was a spur going back to what is now the Ferry Express and Great Lakes Dock and Materials location. Was this also a ferry land or was it just a customer spur? Which line was this off, the C&O, or the GTW (PC) line that also appears to have been the same line? To the west of the paper mill it appears there was a railroad yard. The yard is listed as GTW and Penn Central. Did the PC and GTW (after buying the trackage) also serve the paper mill? Finally, what customer would have been at the end of the tracks (now Torresen Marine).

Also, the current map shows an old ROW that extends NW from roughly where the old PC/GTW line crossed US31 to along Nim St then crossing the GTW Laketon Branch near Madison. Just to the north there appears to be a small yard on the old map. This shows as C&O. Was this an interchange yard. This area was slightly north of where the wye connecting the PC/GTW line from grand rapids to the Laketon branch line and the line to Henry St yard was.

Next, just to the north of Henry St yard is a steel complex of some sort. When did this facility downsize? It appears that where the Home Depot is currently was at one time part of this facility and it did get rail service from the GTW Henry St yrd.

Finally, Does the sand facility west of the Henry Street yard still get service? It appears cars are near the sand plant, but they look more like plastic hoppers than sand cars. The yard photo shows a mix of larger covered hoppers and smaller sand like hoppers.

Ok, one more. From the ex CSX North yard it appears there used to be a line running east. This appears to cross the Muskegon River near Sanford Bayou. the map ends with the line going due north. From Google maps, it appears the ROW turned and went east going to what is now the L3 Combat Propulsion facility. Within the plant property you can make out where tracks would have been at one time. The question is did this track go farther east at one time, or did it just serve this industry?
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby EWRice » Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:24 am

The GTW line was cut in '47? beyond the Old Dutch refinery between Walker and Dangl rd. Not sure on the traffic volume. There is a north-south row near the ADAC facility but I think that connected to the old GR&I.

The line that runs into Webb from Nugent sand was once the Muskegon Railway and Navagation Co. and connected the sand mine, GTW docks through the Heights where Webb is and on up to a connection with the PRR near 31.

I believe the factory that used to be where Torresen is built refrigerators. Not 100% on this.

The Cambell, Wyant and Cannon foundry was for years THE biggest gray iron foundry in the world. I would think they had some rail service. Not sure when they downsized.

Nugent sand is done. Most of the cars in Henry st yard are storage cars.

I believe the tracks at L3 ended there.

Thats all I have for now.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Standard Railfan » Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:35 am

Sandborn maps are your friend:

https://www.loc.gov/collections/sanborn-maps/?fa=segmentof:g4114mm.g04122195001/&q=Muskegon+Michigan+&st=gallery

This map series was updated up through 1950. The changes that occurred after that point were mostly downsizing and closures of manufacturing sites.

As for traffic volumes in the 1970s, that information may be lost to antiquity.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Raildudes dad » Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:12 pm

Segway to the topic. My grandmothers sister and her husband lived next door to me growing up on the North End of Grand Rapids. He was retired from the Campbell Y@ and Cannon foundry by the time I was 7-8 in 1957-58. My dad used to take him and me fishing on Saturday in the summer. My grandmother was born in 1886 to give you a perspective of the era we are talking about.
The sister and her husband never owed a car. How they met I don't know but he was part of the Muskegon Campbell family and worked at the foundry all his life, yet lived in Grand Rapids. The foundry left is just a tiny portion of the complex in its heyday. My dad said he commuted from GR to Muskegon every day on the streetcar in town to the interurban to Muskegon. When the Greyhound bus replaced the interurban, he rented a room in Muskegon and stayed there during the week.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Doktor No » Sat Oct 05, 2019 10:02 am

I used to deliver truck trailer parts to Muskegon in the early 70's. The Laketon lines last customer in that era would have been Viking Foods just under and west of US31. Every afternoon a caboose with a BLATBLAT single note airhorn would lead a parade of insulated cars eastward to Viking. The track at that time still went under US31 but I never saw them used. The industrial park eastward still had crossbucks at the crossings but the flange ways were dirt filled so no business. You could tell that at one time they went out to where the refineries were and where A&C Carriers was and were still a Fruehauf customer. The refinery land was fenced off and weed filled, no refinery equipment in the early 70's anymore.
Webb was still a big customer and still is AFAIK. Nugent Sand was the reason GTW was still there at the time. CWC shipped nothing by rail by then. I also called on N&K Trucking across from the GTW engine house and CWC. Wagoner Tank Lines was also a great customer of Fruehauf, they hauled Standard/Amoco products. When in Muskegon I always wandered around the 'back roads' if you will. Nothing like getting paid to explore!
Going into Muskegon on the Cannonball for me was always a late night excursion so I didn't see much. I remember one time we made a large setout of shorty C&O/Chessie sand hoppers at the GTW diamond. "Just shove em back in there kid, plenty of room." was the word from the boss. We then pulled down thru town into the yard, cut off the power and went home.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Plannerdad » Sat Oct 05, 2019 7:16 pm

My father lived/grew up in Sparta along the C & O line and not far from the GTW line. The line east from Muskegon ran through Sparta, Cedar Springs and then to Greenville. He told me the line was abandoned just after WW II, but a switch remained to some Agricultural place toward the Historical group's station. When I was young and staying at my Grandmother's house, I recall one time when the C & O local pushed a tank car north to the old GTW siding, after switching the Foundry.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Doktor No » Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:22 pm

Smith Douglas had a fertilizer warehouse back there. The auto repair shop is in it now just west of the station house. Heck, even I put a car back in there once. Late 70's on the 5 days a week North Local.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby kd_1014 » Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:37 pm

Not really Muskegon, but where did the spur track go on the north end of the swingbridge in Grand Haven/Ferrysburg? Seems to go parallel with the main then splits off for about 30 feet then ends. Did it go to St. Mary's?
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby chapmaja » Sun Oct 06, 2019 7:47 pm

kd_1014 wrote:Not really Muskegon, but where did the spur track go on the north end of the swingbridge in Grand Haven/Ferrysburg? Seems to go parallel with the main then splits off for about 30 feet then ends. Did it go to St. Mary's?


I am confused about which track you are talking about. There were at one time, two tracks that apparently left the tracks near this bridge. One, was the GTW track that went to Spring Lake and beyond. This was also where the tracks to Johnson Boiler came off the CSX line.

I think the track you are talking about is just a bit north of this. There was a spur going off to the west which is now cut back inside the property. I think this track went to a customer of some sort just to the south of where the tracks end. I don't see any evidence of tracks within the now Verplank trucking property.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby kd_1014 » Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:28 pm

43.078103, -86.218216 search those into google maps and it should bring it up
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby chapmaja » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:32 am

kd_1014 wrote:43.078103, -86.218216 search those into google maps and it should bring it up


The second one in my post.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Standard Railfan » Mon Oct 07, 2019 8:41 am

kd_1014 wrote:43.078103, -86.218216 search those into google maps and it should bring it up


The spur you identified was built in the early 1930s to serve Construction Aggregates Co. The facility included nine or ten silos which I presume were for cement.

I expect that the operation then was not much different than what Verplank does today except some of the products were shipped by railroad instead of trucks. I don’t know if the silos at Verplank are two remnants of the earlier installations.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Doktor No » Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:54 am

That's where Groenleer Hardware unloaded fertilizers back a few years ago. That from a previous question on this thread...I think. As you are headed north it would be on your left just north of the bridge.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Standard Railfan » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:21 am

The aforementioned silos were not for cement. Construction Aggregates had a mine up the Grand River where the Bass River Recreation Area now lies. The mined gravel was hauled downriver in barges, off loaded, screened and stored for shipment mostly by ship.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Raildudes dad » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:48 pm

Groenink's Elevator and Hardware. MS offered them to the C&M so the MS wouldn't have to rehab the long spur. Groenink coudn't get a rate to Marne. So by truck the fertilizer comes (and salt too).
Rolly used to grow pumpkins for the C&M Pumpkin Trains many moons ago.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Doktor No » Tue Oct 08, 2019 7:37 am

So unload at the CSX Wyoming yard site. BIDS facility would be a prime spot.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Ben Higdon » Tue Oct 08, 2019 8:51 am

First, the GTW. I know they at one time had a line coming across the state from Greenville, but that was torn up many years before this early 1970's map. How far out of town did the line continue. It appears there used to be a tank farm east of town. Was this the "end of the line" for the GTW line along Laketon. How busy would this have been by the 1970's and when was it finally removed from service? Were there any other customers along this line by the time the line ceased service? Speaking of the Laketon Branch,
*customers toward the end included Viking Foods, Geerpress, a lumber company, and Pro Gas at the end of the remaining trackage.

Second, Looking a the older maps it appears the line that now ends at Webb Chemical used to extend farther. The best I can tell it went up and around to connect with the ex-Penn Central (then GTW line) that came up from Grand Rapids. Was this the access to the Henry Street Yard?
*From Webb Chemical north to Simpson, where it tied into the GTW Laketon (TS&M), the track was MR&N. GTW took over MR&N in the 20s or 30s (but still had a MR&N roster for a single yard crew into at least the 60s). The track between Webb and Shaw (where it crossed the PRR main line from Grand Rapids) was out of service by the 60s
West of Webb, the belt line trackage was owned by C&O along Manahan Ave, with MR&N having haulage rights and PRR having trackage rights and shared servicing of customers. At Dresser Crane the track was again owned by MR&N and continued on to Henry St Yd.
The MR&N was not used to access Henry St Yd. GTW ran over Pennsylvania/PC trackage all the way to Waalkes (immediately north of Dresser Crane), where their track connected to the PRR spur from their wye down to Muskegon Heights.

Third, looking at the maps, and following along the line that used to run to the paper mill it gets a bit confusing. I know GTW's access to the car ferry was east of the old paper plant. It appears the old ferry dock is still in place per Google maps. It appears that just to the east of this was a spur going back to what is now the Ferry Express and Great Lakes Dock and Materials location. Was this also a ferry land or was it just a customer spur? Which line was this off, the C&O, or the GTW (PC) line that also appears to have been the same line? To the west of the paper mill it appears there was a railroad yard. The yard is listed as GTW and Penn Central. Did the PC and GTW (after buying the trackage) also serve the paper mill? Finally, what customer would have been at the end of the tracks (now Torresen Marine).
*the dock east of the ferry dock was a C&O spur. Penn Central didn't operate in this area. (I've seen a topographic map that mislabels the paper mill track as C&O/PC. Only C&O ever served the paper mill. This track was called the South Horn. The "yard" west of the plant was just a runaround as far as I know. Originally this track continued around Pigeon Hill and ended alongside the channel to Lake Michigan, where there was a car ferry slip. The notch in the river where they currently have the USS Silversides was the location of the ferry slip. This operation ended around 1910 due to redundancy with the Ludington operation. It was cut back a ways and still served a water treatment plant or something (coal shipments I presume) until later being cut back to the business just west of the paper mill.

Also, the current map shows an old ROW that extends NW from roughly where the old PC/GTW line crossed US31 to along Nim St then crossing the GTW Laketon Branch near Madison. Just to the north there appears to be a small yard on the old map. This shows as C&O. Was this an interchange yard. This area was slightly north of where the wye connecting the PC/GTW line from grand rapids to the Laketon branch line and the line to Henry St yard was.
*This was the C&O Freight Main. SImpson was where it crossed the GTW on Laketon. There wasn't a connection to the GTW there. What appears to be a yard would just be a few side tracks for local customers. The Freight Main was an alternate route between North Yard and Kirk, just north of Grand Haven. Originally it was part of a second route between Muskegon and Holland.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby AARR » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:20 am

IIRC the original GTW line east of Muskegon (along Laketon) wasn't removed until the early 1990's although it hadn't seen service in many years.
Ben Higdon wrote:First, the GTW. I know they at one time had a line coming across the state from Greenville, but that was torn up many years before this early 1970's map. How far out of town did the line continue. It appears there used to be a tank farm east of town. Was this the "end of the line" for the GTW line along Laketon. How busy would this have been by the 1970's and when was it finally removed from service? Were there any other customers along this line by the time the line ceased service? Speaking of the Laketon Branch,
*customers toward the end included Viking Foods, Geerpress, a lumber company, and Pro Gas at the end of the remaining trackage.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Raildudes dad » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:53 pm

Doktor No wrote:So unload at the CSX Wyoming yard site. BIDS facility would be a prime spot.

Your employer couldn't be bothered with quoting a 6-8 car a year move. No different handing it off the the C&M than the MS.
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Re: Muskegon Questions

Unread postby Ben Higdon » Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:46 am

AARR wrote:IIRC the original GTW line east of Muskegon (along Laketon) wasn't removed until the early 1990's although it hadn't seen service in many years.

Yep. It was intact along Laketon at Viking Foods 1995, except the rails were severed where they crossed Laketon.
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