Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2007 Old train track routes, Any maps out there? Previous Next
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One_shot
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Username: One_shot

Post Number: 316
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 12:26 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Out in suburbia I often see old railroad paths that have been converted to walking paths. I have used Google Earth and followed a few that ran in and out of Rochester and they went all over the place. I'm wondering if there are old maps showing where all these train routes went and where they once were?
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 950
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 12:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sure! I saw an old system map at the Michigan Transportation Museum in MT Clemens last weekend. Also some atlases will show old routes. My 1987 Michigan Road atlas shows a lot of rail roads that are now gone. The one on Rochester is the Paint Creek Trial. I believe that is GTW's old Michigan Air line that went all the way out to Jackson. If Memory serves the air line was built around 1879 and abandoned around 1974. It linked up with the Polly Ann trail that runs up to Richmond. My buddy and I hiked the trail all the way from Old Plank Road in Wixom to a restricted area on Jackson State Penitentiary about 12 years ago. Our trek took us through what was in 1995 a nominal amount of private property. I can only imagine since then the amount of rail road right of way converted to private ownership is worse now. Once during the hike we even wound up on the grounds of Maxi Juevy prison. The guards weren't too happy to see us. Fun Stuff!
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Professorscott
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 280
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 1:03 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The eastern part of the Air Line went through Richmond, and up to that point it is now the Macomb Orchard Trail. The railroad was in active use until 1995. Beyond that it used to go to St. Clair, roughly following St. Clair Highway, but there is very little evidence of that easternmost segment anymore. It was abandoned in the 1930s, one of the earliest railroad abandonments in Michigan.
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Douglasm
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Username: Douglasm

Post Number: 812
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 1:06 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Where did that line start, Pontiac? Memory says I rode it once behind the late Dick Jensen's ex GTW Pacific #5629 in the late '60's or early '70's.

Most topo maps should show abandon right of ways that are still visable. Dora and I have found DeLorme Map's Atlas and Gazetteer to be invaluable for that sort of thing. They do have one for Michigan.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 951
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 1:13 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The Orchard lake trail terminates in Keego Harbor. You can see remnants of the right away East of telegraph north of Orchard Lake. Why was it called the "Air" Line? I'd heard the length of the railroad had compressed air lines. Does not sound feasible for the 1880s.
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Mikeg
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Username: Mikeg

Post Number: 779
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 1:26 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

USGS Topographic Quadrangle Maps by Michigan County

These maps are great for identifying the location of active and abandoned railroad ROWs.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 953
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 1:48 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Nice job Mikeg! I recall the Michigan Air Line was hard to trace through pontiac, as there were several GTW lines around Pontiac serving various industries and routes for commuting that have been abandoned. Your maps show a lot of GTW railroads there, some still being in service for GM Truck, as well as the main line coming from Flint to Detroit. I also hiked the portion of abandoned ROW east of Opdyke road, north of South Blvd. That did not meet up with the orchard lake trail, (Air Line) Rather it went north.
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Aarne_frobom
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Username: Aarne_frobom

Post Number: 52
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 2:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Model-train stores may sell a series of books called, Steam-powered Video's Comprehensive Railroad Atlas of North America. Oddly, this is a British publication. The volume for Detroit is "Great Lakes East," ISBN 1 874 745 06 4.

These books show all current railroad lines, and abandoned lines back to various dates around the 1920's or maybe a bit later. They aren't detailed in the manner of a USGS quadrangle or DeLorme atlas, but they're useful. The blow-up of Detroit puts the territory between Davison Yard and Trenton and Greenfield Village and Belle Isle on a 7x11 sheet. It includes Windsor, something the USGS-based publications do not.

These aren't real cheap, around $20 each, I recall.
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Burnsie
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Username: Burnsie

Post Number: 937
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 2:29 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Cambrian-- The "Polly Ann" trail actually goes through Oxford (intersecting a former MC grade) and on to Leonard, Dryden, etc. That RR (once the Pontiac, Oxford & Northern) went all the way up to Caseville near the tip of the Thumb. It was later GTW and was mostly abandoned in the 1980's. The segment out to Orion Twp. is active and serves the GM assembly plant.

The abandoned R/W east of Opdyke Rd. and north of South Blvd. was abandoned circa 1998 and was part of a GTW belt line around Pontiac.

"Air line" means "built in a straight line, the shortest distance." It has nothing to do with air hoses or airplanes.

Professorscott-- Many lines of RR were abandoned throughout the state many decades before the St. Clair line was torn up. An example is the Ann Arbor's line from just north of Ann Arbor to South Lyon, gone well before 1900. For more examples, check out the book "Michigan Railroad Lines," published a couple years back by the MSU Press.

As for DeLorme atlases, I won't buy one until that company starts including section lines and numbers-- the very basis of how our land has been divided up. I recommend Universal's county atlas instead.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 957
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 3:30 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Supposedly there are vast networks throughout the state of these RR trails. How well they are maintained is up to the municipality in that area. I know ROWs are prone to costly wash outs. The trail along 275 was well intentioned but let go big time.
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Professorscott
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 281
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 3:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

There are vast networks. Go to www.greenwaycollab.com/MItrail s.htm and you will find a file called "2003 Michigan Trailways Map".

Burnsie, thanks for the info.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 958
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 4:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yes, good thread! Learned something.
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Douglasm
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Username: Douglasm

Post Number: 813
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 4:51 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Most definately, Cambrian. The one I'd like to see is the Pere Marquette Trail starting in Midland. When I went to Northwood, this was a very active rail line (there was a passing siding just off campus) running to the ferry docks in Ludington.
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Cambrian
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Username: Cambrian

Post Number: 960
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2007 - 4:56 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

When hiking the un developed trails I found the trestles a real treat. There's one really high one going over the Clinton river south of the Silverdome. Care must be used on these as there are no side rails, no train rails either, just cross ties. Best to not go it alone.
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Harsensis
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Username: Harsensis

Post Number: 248
Registered: 07-2005
Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2007 - 1:04 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Over near Fairhaven if you drive along Shortcut, which was the shortcut to Marine City for the interurban, you can see some things from the old interurbans running through there. One thing is an old bridge, and then there is a cement bridge over the ditch at Palms right at the end of Short Cut. I would love to walk along it someday, but parts are pretty over grown.
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Toolbox
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Username: Toolbox

Post Number: 1049
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2007 - 6:02 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Michigan listing.

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