The Pere Marquette Railway
was a railroad that operated in the Great Lakes
region of the United States
. The railroad had trackage in the states of Michigan
and the Canadian province of Ontario
. Its primary connections included Buffalo, New York
, Toledo, Ohio
and Chicago, Illinois
It was incorporated on January 1
as the Pere Marquette Railroad Company
from the merger of several Michigan railroads, the most prominent being:
The company was reincorporated on March 12, 1917 as the Pere Marquette Railway.
In the 1920s the Pere Marquette came under the control of Cleveland financiers Oris and Mantis Van Sweringen who also controlled the New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad, Erie Railroad and Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad and planned to merge the four railroads. The ICC did not approve the merger and the Van Sweringen brothers sold their interest in the Pere Marquette to the C&O, with which it formally merged on June 6, 1947. The C&O has since become part of CSX Transportation.
In 1984, Amtrak named their passenger rail service between Grand Rapids, Michigan and Chicago the Pere Marquette.
The 2004 film "The Polar Express" featured Pere Marquette 1225, a steam locomotive originally serving the Pere Marquette. The train seen in the movie, although not the same train in the book, was a model of the 1225 based from actual measurements and recordings of the 1225. The locomotive was scheduled to be at the premiere in Grand Rapids, originally where the writer of the popular children's book, Chris Van Allsberg, was born, but canceled due to interferences with the schedule of CSX.
On July 20 1907
an excursion train of 800 passengers from Ionia
collided near Salem
with a freight train, killing 31 and injuring 101. The accident apparently happened because of a hand-written schedule on unlined paper whose columns did not line up, and were misread by the freight crew. The Interstate Commerce Commission
investigation also cited various safety violations including use of pine instead of oak for car walls and an omission of steel plates required for mail cars. This remains Michigan's worst rail disaster.
- Toledo Division — Saginaw, Michigan to Toledo, Ohio (at Alexis)
- Ludington Division — Saginaw to Ludington, Michigan (now part of the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail)
- Detroit Division — Detroit, Michigan to Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Grand Rapids Division — Elmdale, Michigan to Saginaw, Michigan
- Chicago Division — Grand Rapids, Michigan to Porter, Indiana and (via trackage rights) Porter, Indiana to Chicago, Illinois
- Petoskey Division — Grand Rapids, Michigan to Bay View, Michigan
- Saginaw Subdivisions — Saginaw, Michigan to Port Huron, Michigan via two routes and to Bay City, Michigan
- Canadian Division — Lines in Canada, including Windsor, Ontario and Sarnia, Ontario to Buffalo, New York
The Pere Marquette also operated a number of rail car ferries
on the Detroit
and St. Clair Rivers
and on Lake Erie
and Lake Michigan
. The PM's fleet of car ferries, which operated on Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan
, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin
(see SS Badger
), were an important transportation link avoiding the terminal and interchange delays experienced by freight traveling around the southern tip of Lake Michigan and through Chicago.
Pere Marquette 18
On September 10
, Pere Marquette 18 was bound for Milwaukee, Wisconsin
, from Ludington, Michigan
, with a load of 29 railroad freight cars and sixty two persons aboard. Near midnight, the vessel began to take on massive amounts of water. The captain dumped nine railroad cars into Lake Michigan
, but there was no use -- the ship was going down. The Pere Marquette 17, traveling nearby, picked up the distress call and sped to assist the foundering vessel. Soon after they arrived, and before the Pere Marquette 17 could come alongside, the Pere Marquette 18 plunged to the bottom of Lake Michigan with the loss of 28 lives; there were 33 survivors.