Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Three Railroads Only Partially Built

In spite of the fact that not every railroad was ultimately a good idea, there is only one litmus test for whether or not a line gets built, and that is money. If a line had the funds, bonds, land grants, or in any combination thereof, it was usually built, although it is common for lines to be planned for much longer routes than they ultimately traverse. In Part 1 of this blog, we explore three railroad lines which were only partially built. In Part 2, which comes out tomorrow, we discuss four railroads which weren't built at all, but nonetheless were planned, graded, and even have ghost infrastructure!

3) The Raft River Branch of the Oregon Short Line Railroad

End of the Line

Located in southern Idaho, Idahome is an unremarkable former end of the line of the Raft River Branch of the Oregon Short Line Railroad, a subsidiary of Union Pacific. According to Wikipedia, the community was named by a railroad surveying party that found a bag labeled "Idahome Flour Co." at the site, and the rest is history. The entire railroad is abandoned, however, tracks once ran between Delco and Idahome. Yet a very clear grade, even to this day, exists much more south of Idahome, all the way to the Utah State Border.


Wye graded in extreme far southern Idaho.
The entirety of the line was abandoned in 1941. http://www.abandonedrails.com/Raft_River_Branch

2) The Waukegan Fox Lake & Western Railway
https://books.google.com/books?id=XxynF7yKvwUC

Perhaps the most speculative railroads were electric interurban lines, who's lives tended to last much shorter than larger freight and passenger lines. It also didn't help that many were replaced by the automobile in the early 20th century. Nonetheless, the Chicago Area has a few examples of interurbans that lasted quite long, in fact, the South Shore Line from Chicago to South Bend operates to this day, although is funded publicly by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.

The Waukegan Fox Lake & Western would not fare as well. Owned by the predecessor to the Chicago Milwaukee & North Shore Line (A much more successful interurban), tracks were laid through Waukegan on Washington St, with plans to be extended into Fox Lake. Even more grandiose plans had it as part of a network of interurbans which would extend from Waukegan to Rockford and down to Schaumburg. One of these lines was actually built; the Palatine Lake Zurich & Wauconda Railroad, although that would be powered by steam, not electricity.

The Waukegan Fox Lake & Western would be muddled by a lack of funds and public opposition, as only the far southern part of Lake County, which had few roads at the time, was interested in it. Which given today's political climate for Route 53, is somewhat ironic. 

The line would be abandoned in 1916, and would not leave much trace, no photograph and very few maps of this line exist, to my knowledge.

1) Mansfield Coldwater and Lake Michigan Railroad
The 1874 Pennsylvania Railroad Map, showing the line wish marks indicating that construction was in progress. Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/53/1874_PRR.jpg

The most extensive railroad on this list, The Mansfield Coldwater and Lake Michigan Railroad was planned to connect Allegan, MI with Mansfield, OH, as it's name would suggest, given Allegan is pretty close to Lake Michigan.

In 1871, the Allegan to Montieth, MI section was built fairly quickly, but was only 11 miles long. The other section starting from Mansfield, OH, to Fostoria, OH was completed, a distance of about 50 miles. The lines, however, would never meet as planned. The entirety of the route was graded, but never connected.

Between the 1870's and the early 20th Century, a variety of different railroad companies would build in the grade between the two built sections, but ultimately never formed a continuous route as planned between Allegan and Mansfield.

By 1928, the Allegan to Montieth section was abandoned, leaving only the Mansfield to Fostoria section of the line as the only relic of the railroad.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mansfield,_Coldwater_and_Lake_Michigan_Railroad

Part 2 explores four railroads never built at all, and the reasons why, tomorrow.

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