Pere Marquette

Historical Photos

PM Predecessors

Recent History

The Creation of the Pere Marquette

In the late 1800s, about 150 companies had a part in building what would become the Pere Marquette Railroad Company. These companies were primarily railroads, railroad construction firms, or enterprises otherwise involved in the lumber trade during the late 1800's. This dependence upon the lumber trade played a large role in the eventual PM amalgamation as the recessions of the late 1800s greatly diminished the demand for building materials, which in turn greatly reduced earnings of the railroads. On January 1, 1900, PM was formed primarily by the merger of the following railroads:

1) The Flint & Pere Marquette Railway Company, formed Jan. 22, 1857,  
one of the first of these companies in Michigan with track from East 
Saginaw to Mt. Morris. Originating traffic was lumber and salt. By 1874 the
track extended from Monroe on Lake Erie to Ludington on Lake Michigan. 
Further expansion extended the system to Port Huron and Bay City and added 
numerous spur lines in the Saginaw Valley. The line was built south to 
Toledo as well. Today the remains of this system is the CSXT Saginaw 

2) The Chicago & West Michigan RR was formed by 15 companies on December 
28, 1868. The tracks extended from New Buffalo to Bay View, following the 
shoreline of Lake Michigan. It connected with the Flint and Pere 
Marquette Railway Company lines at Baldwin and Ludington. Traffic was
primarily lumber, and later, manufactured goods. The remains of these 
lines is now the core of the present CSXT Grand Rapids Subdivision.

3) The Detroit, Grand Rapids and Western began as the Detroit and Howell 
which was incorporated September 21, 1864. By 1871 the trains were 
running from Detroit westward to Howard City, with 164 miles of track.  
Trackage was added by merging with several financially troubled roads in 
central lower Michigan, and had interchanges to the Flint & Pere Marquette 
at Saginaw and Plymouth. It also connected with the Chicago & West 
Michigan at Grand Rapids. Today the remains of this system is the CSXT 
Plymouth subdivision.

The financial difficulties that led to the merger were not solved by the 
consolidation as the lumber revenue decreased without the anticipated offset
of increased agricultural traffic. At this time in Michigan history the 
western plains were available for settlement with land better suited to 
farming than the stump covered swamp left by the timber harvest. Competition
from water transportation for bulk loads such as coal or salt also depleted 
the revenue stream.

The newly formed Pere Marquette embarked on an expansion program through a 
series of takeovers and trackage rights agreements to allow through traffic 
from Buffalo to Chicago.  This, combined with the Port Huron to Ludington 
traffic that by-passed Chicago, was hoped to keep the system profitable or 
at least solvent. It operated 1700 route miles in Michigan with another 41
out of state.  

Shortly after its formation, the control of the PM was in the hands of a 
St. Louis based stock syndicate comprised of midwest business interests. 
The administration of the railroad by this group led to great difficulty
as questionable financial arrangements, policies of deferred maintenance, 
and loss of exchange traffic all combined to cripple operations.
By 1910 the system was in receivership with control being shuffled between 
the Erie, B&O and J.P. Morgan companies over the next several years. In 1916
the Van Sweringen Brothers got into the railroad business with the purchase
of the New York, Chicago & St. Louis railroad, better known as the Nickel 
Plate. Their expansion plans were to merge the C&O, Erie and Pere Marquette
with the Nickel Plate. They executed this plan between 1922-1924 buying a
controlling interest in these roads. The ICC did not approve the merger and
the Brothers sold their Pere Marquette interest to the C&O. In 1946 the C&O  
formally consolidated the Pere Marquette into the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.

Outline of the Companies which built the Pere Marquette.

Pere Marquette Railroad Company 1900
       I) Flint & Pere Marquette R.R. Co 1889-1899
        I.a) East Saginaw & St. Clair R.R Co 1872
        I.b) Flint & Pere Marquette R.R. Co 1880-1889
        I.b.1) Flint & Pere Marquette Ry Co 1872-1880
        I.b.1a) Bay City and East Saginaw R.R Co. 1864-1872
        I.b.1b) Flint & Pere Marquette R.R. Co 1868-1872
        I.b.1b.1) Flint & Pere Marquette R.R. Co 1857-1868
        I.b.1b.2) The Flint & Holly R.R. Co. 1863-1868
        I.b.1b.2a) The Flint & Fentonville R.R. Co 1863
        I.b.1c) The Flint River R.R. Co 1871-1872
        I.b.1d) Holly, Wayne & Monroe Ry. Co 1865-1872
        I.b.1e) The Cass River R.R. Co 1871-1872
        I.c) Saginaw & Mount Pleasant R.R. Co 1879-1889
        I.d) Manistee R.R. Co 1880-1889
        I.e) Saginaw & Clare County R.R Co 1877-1889
        I.f)  Port Huron & Northwestern Ry. Co 1882-1889 *
        I.g) The Monroe & Toledo Ry. Co 1893-1897*
       II.) Chicago & West Michigan Ry. Co 1881-1899
        II.a) Chicago & West Michigan Ry. Co 1878-1881
        II.a.1) Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore R.R. Co. 1872-1878
        II.a.1a) Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore R.R. Co. 1871-1872
        II.a.1a.1) Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore R.R. Co. 1870-1871
        II.a.1a.1a) Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore R.R. Co.1869-1870
        II.a.1a.1a.1) Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore R.R. Co. 1869
        II.a.1a.1a.2) Lake Shore R.R. Co of Western Michigan 1869
        II.a.1a.1b) The Grand Rapids & Lake Shore R.R. Co. 1869-1870
        II.a.1a.2) The Montague, Pentwater & Manistee R.R. Co 1871
        II.a.1a.3) The Grand Rapids & Holland R.R. Co 1871
        II.a.1b) Muskegon & Big Rapids R.R. Co 1871-1872
        II.b) Indiana & Michigan R.R.Co 1881
        II.c) Grand Rapids, Newaygo & Lake Shore R.R. Co 1869-1881
        II.d) Grand Haven R.R. Co 1878-1881
        II.d.1) Michigan Lake Shore R.R. Co 1869-1878
        II.d.1a) Michigan Lake Shore R.R. Co 1869
        II.d.1b) Allegan & Holland R.R. Co 1868-1869
        II.d.1c) The Muskegon & Ferrysburg R.R. Co 1869
        II.e) White River R.R. Co. 1879-1884
        II.f)  Chicago & North Michigan R.R. Co 1879-1899
      III.) Detroit, Grand Rapids & Western R.R. Co 1896-1899
        III.a) Saginaw and Grand Rapids R.R. Co 1878-1896
        III.b) Saginaw Valley & St. Louis R.R. Co 1871-1896
        III.c) Detroit,Lansing and Northern R.R. Co 1876-1896
        III.c.1) Detroit,Lansing and Lake Michigan R.R. Co 1872-1876
        III.c.1a) The Ionia, Stanton & Northern R.R. Co 1872
        III.c.1b) The Detroit,Lansing & Lake Michigan R.R. Co 1871-1872
        III.c.1b.1) The Ionia & Lansing R.R. Co 1866-1871
        III.c.1b.2) Detroit, Howell & Lansing R.R.Co 1870-1871
        III.c.1b.2a) The Detroit & Howell R.R. Co 1864-1870
        III.c.1b.2b) Howell &Lansing R.R. Co 1868-1870
        III.d) Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit 1887-1896
        III.e) The Saginaw & Western R.R. Co 1883-1896
        III.e.1) The Chicago, Saginaw & Canada R.R. Co 1873-1883
      IV.) The Muskegon Lake R.R. Co. 1879-1900
      V.) South Haven & Eastern R.R. Co 1894-1903
        V.a) Toledo & South Haven 1886-1894
        V.a.1) Paw Paw R.R. Co 1857-1886
        V.a.2) The Lake Michigan Division of the Toledo & South Haven R.R. 1884-1886
        V.a.3) Van Buren Division of the Toledo & South Haven R.R.1876-1886
      VI.)  Sanilac R.R. Co. 1901-1903
      VII.) Bay City Belt Line R.R. Co. 1889-1903
      VIII) Saginaw, Tuscola & Huron R.R. Co 1881-1903
      IX.) Milwakee, Benton Harbor & Columbus Ry. Co 1897-1903
        IX.a) Benton Harbor & South Eastern Ry. Co 1893-1897
        IX.b) St. Joseph Valley Ry. Co 1889-1897
        IX.b.1) St. Joseph Valley R.R. Co 1884-1889
        IX.b.1a) St. Joseph Valley R.R. Co 1880-1884
        IX.b.1b) South Bend & St. Joseph  Ry. Co 1884
      X.) The Benton Harbor, Coloma &Paw Paw Lake Train Ry. Co 1895-1903
      XI.) Grand Rapids, Belding and Saginaw R.R. Co. 1898-1903
       XI.a) Lowell & Hastings R.R. Co 1887-1899
       XI.a.1) Hastings, Lowell & Northern Michigan R.R. Co 1883-1887
       XI.a.1.a) Kalamazoo, Lowell & Northern Michigan R.R. Co 1871-1883
      XII.) Harbor Beach & Port Hope R.R. Co. 1880-1889
        I.e) Saginaw & Clare County R.R Co 1877-1889
        I.f) Port Huron & Northwestern Ry. Co 1882-1889 *

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