Friday, June 14, 2019

The Forgotten Railways of Chicago: The Bloomingdale Line (a.k.a The 606)

The 606 is undoubtedly the most famous abandoned rail line turned linear park in the Chicago area, but it's far from the only one. The Illinois Prairie Path, Great Western Trail, Major Taylor Trail, and the under-construction El Paseo Trail are examples as well.

What sets the 606, otherwise known as the Bloomingdale Trail apart from the rest of these, however, is that it sits on former elevated right of way, more resembling the High Line in New York City. In fact, both railroad lines have a similar beginning, in the sense that both were surface lines before being raised due to safety concerns. What we're left with is a wonderful park to bike or jog in, safe from cars.

The 606 Bridge over Milwaukee Av, looking east.
One thing that is different about the 606 compared to the High Line is that the 606 is much more geared toward cyclists than those looking for a nature walk. I'm no cyclist, so it took me awhile longer to visit this park than other rail trails in the area. That said, with the fact that Divvy bike stations exist on either side of the park, and a couple spots in between, it was pretty accommodating for those of us who don't bike constantly, and a much more unique experience on the trail as a result.

Here's the station at Ashland Av on the right, with the piers of the line still intact. This used to cross under I-90/94 and then over the river. I really hope the 606 expands Eastward, as that would be gorgeous to see.
But before I discuss my experience riding the trail, let's take a look at how it got there in the first place. The right of way dates back to 1872, when it was constructed by the Chicago & Pacific Railroad to connect Chicago to Elgin. West of the park, this line is still in service, owned by today owned by Canadian Pacific Railway and part of Metra's Milwaukee District-West Line. The C&P became part of the Milwaukee Road shortly thereafter, and remained such until the Milwaukee's 1980 bankruptcy. The Soo Line was Milwaukee's successor, and while the Soo was a CP subsidiary, it wouldn't be until the early 2000's that CP consolidated their subsidiaries and took control of the line.

The Bloomingdale Line undergoing elevation work. Image: Universal Bulletin, No. 123, Aug. 1914, pg. 144 via Forgotten Chicago
The Bloomingdale Line got its name from the fact that it originally was a street-running operation along Bloomingdale Ave. Unlike the High Line, there were no "West Side Cowboys" or flagmen patrolling the line when trains were on the move. By 1915, 35 at-grade crossings were eliminated, and the line became a much safer operation as a result.

In spite of the safety issues before the elevation project, the line transformed the neighborhood, bringing jobs and manufacturing to the North Side of Chicago, although many area residents revolted against the line from its inception.

The line continued service for over 100 years in spite of these objections, although passenger service dwindled significantly during the 1940's. Freight service along the 2.7 mile corridor that did not become part of Metra continued until the early 2000's, despite the City of Chicago first studying the feasibility of converting the line to a linear park or greenway as early as 1997.

A Soo Line Caboose at Chicago Ave in 2006. Image: Flickr
The line still had regular freight service as of 2001. Freight cars, like the image above, were still on the line at least as of 2006. By 2009, Collins Engineers was selected to begin construction and design on the linear park conversion, which would become the longest linear park in the US. Groundbreaking began four years later, and in 2015, the line had opened for pedestrian traffic, with the conversion from rails to trail complete.

It took me four years to visit this place, and honestly I'm glad I waited a little bit, because the greenery has grown in nicely around the trail, and there are some trees that could not possibly have grown as big as they are within four years. I started at Walsh Park, just west of Ashland Ave, using a Divvy Bike (and good thing I had the app, as the station's machine was malfunctioning).

Bridge over Marshfield Ave. Parking is free after 10:30am for non-permit holders. Good luck finding a spot. I got lucky
Once you get on the trail, you'll notice bike lanes and a walking shoulder on each side, which was nice. There was a significant amount of traffic on the trail, but not enough that it ever caused an issue. Gardeners were honestly the hardest obstacle to navigate through. I could cruise as fast as I wanted on the bike. (Which wasn't terribly fast, as I'm not an experienced rider)

This is how a majority of the 606 looks. Well hidden away from the rest of the city below by trees.
At no point on the trail did I feel unsafe, as police were visible on either end, and probably other places as well. Still, crime has occured on the trail overnight, although I would not label the trail 'unsafe', considering the amount of traffic it receives.

Going under the CTA Blue Line.
The 606 labels how far you've traveled in each direction on the pavement. Thus, the photo below is near the halfway point of the trail.

While I didn't stop, there are water fountains and places to set your bike down to rest and enjoy the scenery.
There is public art along the trail, just like the High Line, but given the 606 is much longer and geared toward cyclists, it is less and more sporadic.

In parts of the trail, the walking and cycling paths diverge. Side note, I could not have asked for a nicer day to ride.
The area's industrial history is still alive and visible behind the trees as well.

Factory building. Notice the foundation for a water tower.

And there's plenty of new developments and construction for those who can afford to live in the newly gentrified neighborhood.

Once again crossing under the CTA Blue Line, this time heading west and looking south.
West of here, the line is still the very active Metra MD-W, but the greenery obstructs most of the view. No railfanning here.

I wonder if this was part of the old bridge in its railroad days, or if this was built to make it look like that.

A lawn along the path allows walkers to picnic and hang out for awhile if they want to.
I really do like the greenery, but right here it needed to be trimmed a bit for walkers/joggers.
Again, there's no way these trees are only four years old.
While I really did like biking this trail, I still give the High Line the win here if we're comparing the two. But honestly, The 606 has more in common with other rails to trails projects even if it is an urban, elevated park, given its length. 

If you're going to visit, I highly suggest renting a Divvy Bike for an hour (It's $3 every 30 minutes), or bringing your own. Overall, I'm glad I can finally say I visited this Chicago gem!

Thanks as always for reading!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

How To Get a Job in the Railroad Industry

While I greatly enjoy writing Forgotten Railways, Roads & Places, as well as making my abandoned railroad maps, it's not my day job. In the last year, I've gotten to the point where I can make a little side money from this blog, but at the end of the day, it's a labor of love.

One of my 2017 photos on the Illinois Prairie Path.
Without going into my background too much, I am employed in the railroad industry, and I know very well that I'm not the only one who dreamed of working for one of the Class I's early in their life or career. While there is no one path to any goal in life, I figured I would share my story of how I got my current position, and maybe you can learn a thing or two from my experience.

Image: BNSF Railway on Indeed.com
I first got the chance at this dream way back in 2010; being hired as a Freight Conductor. However, it became apparent very early in my career that it wasn't for me. (To those who are conductors, engineers, etc., my hat is off to you.) After graduating college, and working in the traffic and transportation industries for several years, I accepted employment at a railroad in a non-operations setting, so I can say I know the hiring process for both operations and non-operations positions.

Norfolk Southern train in action. Image: Progressive Railroading

The first thing I would note about the railroad, is that at least when it comes to securing employment, it is just like any other industry. You search for jobs, apply to some that you believe you're qualified for, submit a resume (possibly a cover letter as well), and play the waiting game. This is true of any open position. It may also months or years of daily job searches on Indeed, each of the Class I Railroad websites, local short line websites, and the Railroad Retirement Board Job Vacancy List.

Which brings me to my first tip: networking. Using LinkedIn or your own research, finding a connection you know at the company can significantly increase your chances at securing an interview.

That said, particularly for union positions, a bargaining agreement or HR policy may require the position to be interviewed for by a random lottery. In situations like this, your odds are tied to how many other qualified candidates applied for the position, meaning even experienced candidates may be left without an interview. For my current position, I applied, interviewed, received and offer, and after undergoing a background check, began work just as you would at any company.

CN #3151 at Durand, MI on 28 December 2018 (Ralph Watkins photo) Image via thedieselshop.us
I should note that most operations railroad jobs (conductors, engineers, etc.) that are listed on jobs pages like Indeed, usually have hundreds of people applying for only a few open positions. In this case, the railroad may invite qualified candidates to a hiring session.

In my earliest experience, I attended two of these sessions, each of which was several hours long, and had about 75 people each.

Image: Doug Wertman: Flickr
Remember, the railroad is probably hiring at most 10-20 people, and they've invited 4-5 times that many. Their goal is to weed out as many people as possible over the shortest amount of time. The presentation will consist of many realities of working in operations: long hours, extra board shifts, working holidays, weekends, and in cold/snow/heat/rain. A few people got up and left during a break.

This is a maintenance of way crew de-icing switches in the winter, not something one thinks about, but is essential for railroad operations. Image: Norfolk Southern
Next came a written battery test. A lot of mechanical and electrical questions, and simple logic puzzles. I didn't have much trouble with this, but I could see some questions being tricky if they weren't read properly.

Once the tests were graded, about 25 made it onto a full interview. As far as what questions were asked, again these were mostly questions that would be asked at any company, with more of a tilt towards safety and reliability. After two long, grueling weeks of waiting, I heard back and learned I was hired, with a date set to go to Conductor Training.

Image: Kevin Burkholder
At this point I should remind you that being a conductor was not for me, and may or may not be for you either. You'll learn quickly enough if you go down the path if it is for you, however. As large as railroads are, there are opportunities for everyone, from a janitor to an MBA graduate.

The most important part about getting a job on the railroad is simple persistence, which is true of any goal you may have. It took me eight years to work for a railroad again. Not everyone is successful on their first go around.

It may take several attempts to find where you fit in an organization, but if it's something you really see yourself doing, keep applying for jobs, send cover letters, network, and after a certain period of time, your chance will come. The railroad is a great place to work, although like every industry, it has its challenges, some that cannot fully be appreciated by anyone who doesn't work for the industry.

Good luck to any of you looking for jobs out there, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

The Orphaned US Routes: 4 US Highways With a Decommissioned Parent Route


The United States Numbered Highway System, or simply US Route System, is a network of roads across the US. They were the successor to the Auto Trail system, which itself was a mixture of public and private roads, and not necessarily coordinated with one another. The most famous example of an Auto Trail would be the Lincoln Highway.

The system differs from State Route systems in that the routes connect different parts of the US; US Highway 20 runs from Oregon to Massachusetts, while state routes (typically) remain in their own state. They also differ from the Interstate System in that the vast majority were built in the early 1920's, long before current highway standards were adopted. A US Highway can be a freeway, but a US Interstate cannot be below freeway grade, unless you live in Wyoming. Just like interstates, there are 2-digit and 3-digit US Routes, which relate to their parent route in some way.

As it is much older than the Interstate System, and vast swaths of US Highways have been replaced by interstates, there exists a few 3 digit US Routes that no longer have parents. Today, were going to discuss what they are, and why they were "orphaned".

1) US Highway 138

US 138 is very short by US Highway standards, running between Sterling, CO and Big Springs, NE for about 71 miles. AASHTO guidelines are for state highways to replace US Routes less than 300 miles in length, but given that this runs in more than one state, it survives.

Image: AARoads.com "The initial five blocks of U.S. 138 in Sterling separate along a one-way couplet of 3rd and 4th Streets" (2004)
So what happened to US 38? Of all the roads in this blog, this one has been orphaned the longest, as US 38 was last signed as such way back in 1931, after just five years in existence. US 38 ran from Greeley, CO to Lincoln, NE, along what is present-day US 6. US 6 underwent a series of extensions from its original alignment to what it is today, now connecting California to Massachusetts. US 6 also replaced a large part of US Route 32.

2) US Highway 199

US Highwau 199 is just slightly longer than US 138, connecting Crescent City, CA with Grants Pass, OR along an 80 mile route.

Northbound US-199. Image: Corco Highways
Like many routes and arterial streets today, 199 started out as a plank road in the 1850's, long before the advent of the US Highway system.

It became an orphan in 1972, after the decommissioning of US Highway 99. I never quite understood the reasoning for decommissioning the route, as large portions of the route are freeway standard. Granted, it's been replaced as a long distance route by I-5, but many US Routes exist side-by-side with their parallel Interstate counterparts. The entire route still exists today as WA-99, OR-99 and CA-99, with historic splits into 99E and 99W as well, so why not bring it back?

199 was saved from becoming a state route itself by connecting two states, as its siblings US-299 and US-399 were decommissioned in 1964, as they only existed within California. Both are now integrated into various California State Routes.

3 & 4) US Highways 166 & 266

Route 66 actually had 7 child routes, including two copies of US 366 at various points in its history. Today, two survive in what I believe is more nostalgia than anything. Both 166 and 266 could easily be decommissioned, as both are far less than 300 miles in length.

US 166 runs for about 163 Miles between South Haven, KS and I-44 west of Joplin, MO, running in the state of Missouri for less than a mile, while multiplexed with another US Route, US 400. Were it truncated to where it connects with US 400, it would lay entirely within Kansas.

US 166 (along with 400 at their Eastern Termini at I-44). Image: Scott Nazelrod, Wikipedia Commons
Like its parent, it once ran all the way into Joplin, but was truncated to its current alignment when I-44 was completed.

US 266 is an even stranger case, as it is just 43 miles in length, and only runs between US-64 in Warner, OK and US-62 in Henryetta, OK, going under I-40, US 66's replacement, without even an interchange. Beginning service in 1926, this replaced OK-9. How this route survived for as long as it did is beyond me, although I think it's unlikely to be decommissioned now, given its association with 66.

Image: Jeff Morrison, 2010 via USEnds.com

The demise of US 66 in conjunction with the creation of I's 40, 44, and 55 is well documented, even in kids movies.

Finally, US 66's highest numbered child, US 666, changed numbers in 2003, after the connotation with the Number of the Beast, combined with an unusually high accident rate among US Routes (mainly because of its poor design through rough terrain) gave it an unfortunate reputation as a dangerous highway. It became present day US Highway 491.

Image: seeksghosts.blogspot.com

When 491 was converted from US 666 in 2003, a Navajo medicine man blessed the road, hoping to end its "curse". Translated into English, his prayer said ""The road itself never ends. It goes on generation to generation. The new number is a good one. The new road will be a medicine."

Since renumbering change, parts of US 491 are now a 4-lane expressway, and in those stretches where the road has improved, so have accident and fatality rates. (Imagine that) Now, the most dangerous parts of the road are transitions for four lanes into two.

Other Interesting Mentions:
Only the previous four routes exist today while their parents did not, but as the Interstate System replaced US Routes, there exist many examples of child routes that no longer connect to their parents. Probably the most extreme example of this is US Route 310; which connected with its now-truncated parent US 10 at Laurel, MT. All of US 10 west of West Fargo, ND was decommissioned when I-90 was built, leaving its child about 600 miles away.

US 310 in Wyoming, along with WY-789, which was once proposed to be its own US Route. Image:  Jonathan Winkler via AARoads.com
In 1970, AZ-464 and UT-47 got upgraded to US Highway status, becoming US 163. The only problem is the US 63 exists about 900 miles to the east. This was never a child of 63, nor was it ever planned to be, but it's interesting that it was given the 163 number when it connected to US 191. Why couldn't it become 291?

It should be noted that US 163, whatever its number, is an absolutely gorgeous drive, passing through Monument Valley in Utah.

US Route 163 with Monument Valley in the background. Image: Wolfgang Staudt, Wikipedia Commons
And finally, there exist three US Routes with no implied connection to any others; US 400, US 412, and US 425, each of which were more recent additions to the system. US 412 came first in 1982, replacing state routes in Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. It is located nowhere near US 12, either now or in history.

US 425 came in 1989, replacing AR-13 and LA-137 for 225 miles.

Finally, US 400 was commissioned in 1994 to basically cross the state of Kansas and not much else. A small section of this route was once US-154, before being downgraded to a state route (K-154), which then became a section of US-400. Why not just renumber the entirety US-154 again?

As large and as old as the US Route system is, there is bound to be a few highways which no longer conform to the original rules of the system. For most people, as long as the roads are in good shape, the numbers on the roads don't matter a whole lot, but for those of us who understand the system and its development, discovering the oddities are an interesting hobby.

Thanks as always for reading the blog, and let me know if there's any other US Route anomalies you find interesting!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A Ride on the Coopersville & Marne Railway

Yesterday, I discussed our trip to Western Michigan, and the railroad history I discovered during our visit. I chose to split the trip into two blogs due to its length, and secondly, because the Coopersville & Marne Railway is alive and well, having preserved a section of the old Grand Trunk Western route between its namesake towns. 

We visited on Memorial Day before heading home, and in a nice touch, all veterans, uniformed or not, were granted free passage on the train.

The first thing I noticed upon driving up to the Coopersville station wasn't the train itself, but rather, a big, beautiful, but rusting steam engine on the opposite side of the platform, which I learned was once Canadian National 1395.

CN 1395, one of a few pieces of rolling stock on C&M property. Not used, nor are there any current restoration plans.
Here's a postcard of what it looked like in its heyday, via eBay. (Clicking the link may earn the site a commission)
There were a few other pieces of rolling stock that weren't in operable condition either.

An ex-C&O caboose is also among the rolling stock in the yard.
I can honestly say I'd never heard of the Cornpike Express before.
As I had a little time to kill before departure, we walked up the street to the Coopersville Historical Museum, which I talked a little about in the last blog. Located in what was once an interurban depot, they have a GRGH&M car on display, as well as a neat little crossbuck. 









I can honestly say I'd love to have something like this in my backyard. I wonder how old it is.









According to their website, the Coopersville & Marne Railway began in 1989. The line was chartered in 1848 as the Oakland and Ottawa Railroad Company. By 1858, operations had begun, but not before the name was changed to the Detroit and Milwaukee Railroad. As many railroads changed hands early in their life, the D&M was no exception, becoming the Detroit, Grand Haven and Milwaukee Railway under the financial control of the Great Western Railway (the Canadian company, not to be confused with its British counterpart). In 1928, it finally became part of Grand Trunk Western, which itself was CN's American subsidiary at the time. 

The line was to be abandoned, before being purchased by the Central Michigan Railway, a short-line, in 1987. CMR then sold the line to the C&M, and operations began one year after their purchase, in 1990.

Which brings us to today, or more specifically, Memorial Day. The train consist was C&M 7014, two cars and a caboose. According to the C&M website, "Our train is usually pulled by a 1950's era,125 ton General Motors SW9 switcher locomotive, #7014. This locomotive had been owned by the Grand Trunk Western Railway and served in Battle Creek, Michigan. The 1200 horsepower diesel engine turns a generator, which feeds electricity to the traction motors, which are geared to driving wheels. As much as possible, we stress vintage operation of the equipment, including proper dress for members of the train crew."

We sat in the second car.

C&M 7014 was our power for the day.
The train departed a few minutes late as they waited for a few late showing guests. Once operations got underway, even though it wasn't a particularly warm day, I immediately felt gratitude for living in a time of air conditioning. The old coaches warm up fast! Thankfully, the windows were opened, allowing for a fantastic breeze as we slowly made our way through the countryside.

This friendly conductor (I believe his name was Tom Anderson) checked tickets and discussed a little of the history behind the line during the trip.
The conductor explained that the C&M is an all-volunteer heritage line, with the engineer, brakeman and conductor being able to run one train. This train had a brakeman trainee as well, as well as two volunteers dispensing (free!) refreshments aboard the train, which I thought was a fantastic touch.

CMRY 75009, the operating caboose.
Once the train pulled into Marne, we could get out and watch 7014 make the turnabout trip to connect to the caboose. Unlike at the Illinois Railway Museum, they uncouple the engine, allowing the engineer to see out front, without the need for control from the caboose. I made a video of the operation taking place:



Throughout the trip, you can see a bit of transportation history on either side of the tracks. Looking south, you'll see I-96 in spots, as the interstate was built to follow the trackage itself.

I-96 crosses over a road, which also goes under the C&M right of way.
Look north, and you can see electrical poles, which are the only remnant of the parallel Grand Rapids, Grand Haven & Muskegon Electric Railway left along the route.

As you may have guessed with all the growth here, there's plenty of deer and other wildlife nearby.
Look to the ground, and you can occasionally see water, being the oldest transportation route along this corridor. According to the C&M website, "the track follows an ancient water route first cut into the earth by glacial events." making that the oldest route by thousands of years!

One interesting thing about the C&M is that they also have a freight operation east of Marne, continuing into Grand Rapids. West of Coopersville, however, the line is abandoned into Spring Lake, MI, immediately north of Grand Haven, where it once connected to the Pere Marquette Railway, later becoming part of the Chesapeake & Ohio.

The entire trip took about 90 minutes, after which we headed home for the weekend. I hope one day that the C&M expands their station a little in Coopersville. It would've been nice to pick something up from their non-existent gift shop. A bigger pipe dream would be for them to restore CN 1395 into service, but I understand restoring a locomotive takes more than just throwing money at it.

That being said, the trip was more than enjoyable, the staff was friendly, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, except for the screaming babies. I learned a lot and definitely recommend the trip if you happen to find yourself in southwest Michigan.

Thanks to the C&M for the experience, and thanks a lot to you for reading!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Forgotten Railways of Western Michigan

This Memorial Day Weekend, we stayed with a friend in Southwest Michigan. For me, it was a chance to step outside of the Chicago area and take in some of the history and ambiance of the other side of Lake Michigan, including its significant railroad history. I even managed to learn a thing or two!

I had not traced the right of way where the Blue Bridge now stands today and learned it was a former GR&I line into downtown Grand Rapids, for example.
Just like many places in the United States, Michigan is full of abandoned railroad corridors. While there are many differing reasons for abandonment, the majority of abandonments in Michigan mirror the rest of the United States; competition from the US Highways and Interstates, as well as the ongoing efficiencies and technological advancements that the railroad industry is undertaking.

One of the really neat exhibits at the Grand Rapids Public Museum is a map of what Michigan's highway system looked like in 1920, 1960, and today.
While this blog would be far too long to touch on every forgotten railway the Grand Rapids region, I did devote a significant part of the trip to taking pictures and finding historical information on some lines. I also found this artistic map of Grand Rapids from 1868, which is worth checking out.

An ad for the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway on display at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
I'll start off with the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railway, as that was the line I learned most about during our trip. At its height, this line connected Cincinnati, OH with the Straits of Mackinac, which separate the two Peninsulas of Michigan. It opened service along a 20 mile stretch of road between Grand Rapids and Cedar Springs, MI in 1867, with much of this line having been abandoned and converted into the White Pine Trail.



A board on Arrivals & Departures of the GR&I, part of their Streets of Old Grand Rapids exhibit, my personal favorite.

By 1909, a branch to Traverse City was opened up, however, the GR&I was never profitable, and would be purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad nine years later. As mentioned earlier, the Blue Bridge over the Grand River in Grand Rapids was once part of the GR&I, before being abandoned by Conrail, PRR's eventual successor.

The Blue Bridge before receiving its paint job, still in service as of 1978. Photo: Tom Carter.
If you ever happen to find yourself in Grand Rapids, I highly recommend visiting the Public Museum. It has quite a few exhibits on the history of the area, many of which are rooted in the transportation breakthroughs of the day.

In addition to large passenger lines, our trip also featured a few remaining pieces of trolley & interurban lines from Western Michigan. 

Grand Rapids Street Railway Co. #54, on display at Grand Rapids Public Museum.

An interurban car of the Grand Rapids Grand Haven & Muskegon Electric Railway, on display at the Coopersville Historical Society.
My best attempt to recreate an image showing the GRGH&M trolley tracks in Grand Haven, MI, from a photo on display at the Tri-Cities Historical Museum.
The Grand Rapids, Grand Haven & Muskegon Railway connected all of its namesake cities, starting in Grand Rapids and branching just west of Nunica, one branch heading to Grand Haven, the other Muskegon. The Grand Rapids-Muskegon line generally followed present-day I-96 while the GR&I also had a Grand Rapids-Muskegon line, it traversed a different route.

Another photo on display at the Tri-Cities Historical Museum showing downtown Grand Haven buried deep under snow.
Who would've expected a piece of railroad history to be found in an upscale chocolate shop? We stopped in Patricia's Chocolate (which has fantastic chocolate and unique flavors, albeit pricey), and found this hanging on the wall: 

A map of 1883 Paris. Note the partially-abandoned Petite-Ceinture around the outer ring of the city.
Grand Haven was also a stop on a branch of the Grand Trunk Railway, whose station still stands as a historical marker. The property that once belonged to the railroad is now shops, restaurants, waterfront, and the newly completed Waterfront Stadium

Before and after pics: The top is thanks to the Tri-Cities Historical Museum, the bottom was taken by me.
While the redevelopment along Grand Haven has signaled an end to railroad operations, that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of historical markers left; in fact, just north of here lies Pere Marquette 1223 (sister to 1225) on display.

Note the coal tower in the background, also preserved.

As soon as I got to see this beauty it started raining, however.

Placard next to PM 1223.
Note the cabooses pay homage to two of Grand Haven's Fallen Flags: Grand Trunk Western & Pere Marquette.
We spent the night seeing the Grand Haven Musical Fountain, and made our way to Holland the next day. Holland has much railroad history as well, some of it preserved. 

Pere Marquette A967, the second preserved PM caboose I've seen on the trip, at Holland's Amtrak Station.
But what I find most interesting is that two of its nearby abandonments haven't been in service since 1881, with little to no trace of their existence. Had I not had people send me lines to trace, I wouldn't have known about either of them.

Note the Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore Railroad between Holland and Nunica on this map of Ottawa County from "Railroads of Holland Michigan, vol. 1" by Donald L. Van Reken. Thanks to Chris Kooyers for finding this!
The section of rail line between Fruitport Twp and Holland in the center of this map was abandoned in 1881 and leaves no trace of its existence.

Taking a look at the ROW near Ottawa Station, one would be hard pressed to find any trace of railroad.
The second was abandoned somewhat later, although the last mention of it was in 1897. A line from downtown Holland to Ottawa Beach was part of the Michigan Lake Shore Railroad, which became the Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore Railroad later on. It almost perfectly follows the right of way of present-day Ottawa Beach Rd.

The end of current operations along this branch. Part of the trackage survives as industrial operations.
The west end of the beach. It's impossible to tell where the railroad operations were exactly, being covered with rocks and sand, but it was in this general vicinity.

I hope you enjoyed today's blog as much as I did writing it. There are indeed many abandoned lines and historic points of interest that I didn't cover in today's blog, and plenty of interesting local history all around us.

Tomorrow I will write Part II of this trip blog, as on Memorial Day, we took a ride on the Coopersville & Marne Railway. Thanks as always for reading!