Pere Marquette/Chesapeake & Ohio in Western Michigan

5 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    February 2014
  • 4 posts
Pere Marquette/Chesapeake & Ohio in Western Michigan
Posted by RouteOfTheElectroliners on Sunday, July 28, 2019 12:15 PM

I am interested in learning more about the former PM/C&O operations along what is now the Hart-Montague Trail in Oceana County, Michigan. I have a few questions regarding this line and was wondering if any forum members might either know the answers off-hand or know where I could do further research on the topic?

My questions are:

  1. What was the proper name for this line in both the PM and the C&O eras?
  2. When was the Hart-Pentwater segement abandoned? Judging from old aerial photographs and topographic maps of the area, the tracks appear to have been removed between 1932 and 1954.
  3. When was passenger service discontinued to points north of Muskegon? It appears that passenger service to Muskegon itself was discontinued the day before Amtrak began operations in 1971.
  4. What sort of motive power did this line see throughout the years? I seem to recall having read that the C&O often utilized the EMD BL2 in this neck of the woods during the 1950s.

Thank you.

  • Member since
    September 2011
  • 4,419 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Monday, July 29, 2019 9:39 PM

I thought I knew a bit about this line, but I can't answer a single question of yours.  I crossed the line a number of times in the late 70s, but I only remember seeing one train, and that was a snowplow train derailed at a crossing near Hart.

  • Member since
    September 2013
  • 5,167 posts
Posted by Miningman on Tuesday, July 30, 2019 8:53 AM
  • Member since
    February 2014
  • 4 posts
Posted by RouteOfTheElectroliners on Tuesday, July 30, 2019 6:47 PM

Thank you both for the replies.



Don't feel too bad, I've been broadly aware of this line for many years, but I've only recently started researching it and discovered just how obscure it seems to have been.


I had actually been perusing that "Michigan Railroads" site for information, but managed to completely overlook that timeline, so thank you for catching that 1933 date. There's one question down.


Using the information in those links, I was able to learn a little bit more. Evidently, this line has been referred to (in chronological order) as the Allegan, Muskegon and Pentwater Branch, the Pentwater Branch, and the Hart Subdivision.

Another mystery was partially solved by this old Montague newspaper, which states that regular passenger service on the "Pentwater Branch" was discontinued around September 1925. That gels somewhat with the "[19]25 - Railroad ends" given on this Pentwater history site.

That said, as per the Montague article linked above, passengers could still ride on "mixed" mail (and freight?) trains after dedicated passenger service was discontinued. It's also not clear whether or not the "Pentwater Branch" refers to the entire line, or simply the segment between Pentwater and the junction at Mears.

Nevertheless, I've got a good start regarding some answers.

  • Member since
    September 2011
  • 4,419 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 11:26 PM

I wonder if Pentwater retained its summer seasonal service longer?  Its a popular Lake Michigan resort area.  C&O's Petosky line kept its summer service into the 60s

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: SE Michigan
  • 862 posts
Posted by fmilhaupt on Saturday, August 3, 2019 5:59 AM

I dug out the public timetables I have from the 1920s and 1930s, and came up with the following data points:

  • The August 1,1925 public timetable shows trains #104/105 running between Holland and Pentwater, as connections to/from GR-Chicago trains #4 and #5, daily except Sunday. These are listed alongside similar trains #101/108, which only run between Holland and Muskegon. These would be regular passenger trains, as opposed to mixed trains. Table 2 in this timetable is listed as "Chicago, Holland, Muskegon and Pentwater"

    Northbound (#105), travel time from Muskegon to Pentwater is 2 hours, 10 minutes. Southbound (#104), travel time is 2 hours, 15 minutes.

  • The April 15, 1928 public timetable shows service to Pentwater as provided by mixed trains #109/110 beween Pentwater and Muskegon, daily except Sunday. The schedules don't make tight connections at Muskegon with any of the Muskegon-Holland trains.

    #110 is carded for 6 hours, 20 minutes for the 50 miles from Pentwater to Muskegon, and #109, 6 hours 30 minutes the other way. Table 2 in this timetable is still listed as "Chicago, Holland, Muskegon and Pentwater"
  • The July 12, 1931 public timetable shows no passenger service north of Muskegon, though Table 2 is still listed as "Chicago, Holland, Muskegon and Pentwater", with entries for all of the towns north of Muskegon to Pentwater, but no passenger service shown to them.

-Fritz Milhaupt, Publications Editor, Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc.


Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!


Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter