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jonathan.jam

Unbuilt Interurbans of Grand Rapids

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I've been doing a lot of research lately on the various streetcars and interurban railway systems in Michigan. Recently, I came across this book of electric railway investments (see page 157 for Grand Rapids investments). It details what would have been major interurban lines that appear to have never been built. I cannot seem to find much information on them (survey maps, routings, history, etc.), and I was wondering if anyone else did. The lines are the following:

 

Grand Rapids & Ionia Railway Co.

*Grand Rapids--Cascade--Lowell--Saranac--Ionia (under construction)

 

Grand Rapids, Belding & Greenville Railway Co.

*presumably Grand Rapids--Belding--Greenville (under construction)

 

Grand Rapids Electric Railway Co.

*Grand Rapids--Rockford--Belding--Greenville--Langston--Edmore--Winn--Mt. Pleasant--Rosebush--Clare--Gladwin--West Branch--Rose City--to Alpena (under construction) Source ; Road from Grand Haven--Grand Rapids--Lansing contemplated

*Grand Rapids (connects with above line)--Green Lake--Bowen's Mill--Gunn Lake (sic)--Orangeville--Prairieville--Gull Lake--Hickory Corners--Battle Creek--Coldwater--Coldwater Lake--California--Mountgomery (sic)--Camden--Pioneer, OH--Montpelier--Napoleon--Weston--Bowling Green--to Fostoria, OH (under construction?) Page 660

~On March 25, 1912, Coldwater's city council granted franchise to Battle Creek, Coldwater & Southern electric railroad. On August 28, 1914, "Electric road to Battle Creek announced to be a certainty."  Source It's not clear if this railroad is related with the one above.

**branch from Belding--Palo--Hubbardston--Maple Rapids--Ithica (sic)--to Saginaw

**branch from Grand Rapids Junction (wherever that is)--Freeport--Grand Ledge--Lansing

**branch from Gun Lake on mainline to Kalamazoo

 

This book, on page 165, also indicates that franchises were given to the following roads:

 

Grand Rapids, Holland & St. Joseph

 

**Grand Rapids--Belding (via Gratiot)

 

**Grand Rapids--Belding (via Lowell, Ionia)

 

**Lansing--Ionia--Grand Rapids

 

Grand Rapids, Sparta & Newaygo

 

 

There may not be much to find on any of these interurbans, but I have just become very curious as to their existence. There are many more that seemed to have been proposed or under construction in the West Michigan area that would have greatly enhanced travel. Interurbans and streetcars are fascinating to me. It amazes me that even small cities in Michigan such as Escanaba, Houghton, Ironwood, Manistee and Sault Ste. Marie all had systems 'back-in-the-day,' and now we can't even muster the will to get a line in Detroit or Grand Rapids.

 

Any insights would be greatly appreciated, even if you just want to start a general discussion!

Edited by jonathan.jam

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The user Raildudes_Dad will know. Guy knows his railroad stuff.

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I suspect most were not built. Graydon Meint's book "Michigan Railroad Lines"  does include a section on electric lines and they are not included there. Most all these places were on the steam RR lines already.

 

2 things to keep in mind. The big proponent of electric lines was Westinghouse Electric who made the electrical equipment. Travel by rail and interurban was popular because 1) the roads were nothing but dirt trails that did not connect towns and 2) there were very few cars.

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Yeah, I know that we just had the three built out of Grand Rapids. I'm wondering though, many of these lines say that they had surveys conducted. Is there any way to find copies of these surveys/maps that shown where the lines might have gone? Thanks!   ...It would have been fascinating to see the further development of interurbans and their technologies had the car never gained so much traction.

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I think most of these were speculative in nature. Towns and villages would invest hoping for the railroad or interurban coming to their locale Remember this was long before the Securities Exchange Commission. I've not run across any interurban surveys, RR's yes, elctric roads no. Big supporters of road building in the early 1900's were the bicyclists, not motorists.

Edited by Raildudes dad

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I think most of these were speculative in nature. Towns and villages would invest hoping for the railroad or interurban coming to their locale Remember this was long before the Securities Exchange Commission. I've not run across any interurban surveys, RR's yes, elctric roads no. Big supporters of road building in the early 1900's were the bicyclists, not motorists.

Oh sure, blame us!  :)

 

The Good Roads movement was widespread in the 1880s (highwheel era, which was so prevalent that the device was called an "ordinary"). It gained more traction around 1895 when the "safety" bicycle (both wheels the same size) and the pneumatic tire became popular. Cycling had pretty well tanked by the 1920s.

Source: my head. I'm a life member of the national bicycle assn founded in 1880 and now known as the League of American Bicyclists.

 

More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_bicycle#1880s_and_1890s

 

Henry Ford's Quadricycle (running on bicycle wheels) 1896

Model "T" 1908

Assembly line 1913

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