A Midwest Regional Railroad - 1930's - 1940's
Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad

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The Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad (E&LS) was a short line railroad that ran from Escanaba to Channing, in the upper peninsula of Michigan, some 63.5 miles. The E&LS connected with the Northwetern and Soo Line in or near Escanaba and with the Milwaukee Road at Channing. The E&LS began as a logging and lumber line, and also as an ore carrier, until the late 30's to early 40;s when it's business declined. Passenger service was largely mixed train service serving loggers along the line; however, it faithfully provided mixed train passenger service well into the 50's. The E&LS redefined itself and expanded to serve other industrial needs. It grew from the original 65 miles of track that was purchased in 1978 to over 235 miles as of 2005. It has added trackage from Ontonagon, Michigan through Channing to Green Bay, Wisconsin on former Milwaukee Road tracks, and has secured trackage rights from Escanaba to Pembine, Wisconsin on the Canadian Nationals former Soo Line. The E&LS is now a busy industrial “belt line.” Its tracks serve more than thirty of the leading industries and wholesale distribution concerns in the area.
Short History of the Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad (E&SL)
1897 - The Escanaba River company, a subsidiary of the I. Stephenson Company, built a seven-mile railroad from Wells to tap a large hardwood timber stand at LaFave’s hill. 1898 - The Escanaba & Lake Superior Railway was chartered on November 17 as the successor to the ERC and the tracks were extended to Watson, 26 miles from Wells.
1898-1921 - Small branches built to service logging industry.
1900 - The company was reorganized on February 12 as the Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad.

Escanaba & Lake Superior
Nivember 14m 1937

1898-1913 - Pine log drives continued for about fifteen years after the line was built to Watson, as jobber continued to cut timber within an economical sleigh haul from the Escanaba River and its tributaries. Branch lines were built by the E&LS, to get out the remote timber stands, the Ralph, Turner, Mashek, Northland, Ford River and Hendricks branches, with total trackage of more than 100 miles.
1900, - The E&LS entered into an agreement with the Milwaukee Road to extend its tracks from Watson to Channing for the hauling of iron ore to the Milwaukee Road docks at Escanaba.
1912-1921 - Boom years for lumber cutting.
1920's - Passenger revenue about $200 per day with two passenger coaches used.
1921-1943 - Branches closed down as logging phases out.
1936 - The Milwaukee Road ore haulage agreement terminated and Milwaukee Road used C&NW instead of E&LS.
1930's - With the loss of iron ore traffic and the drastic decline of forest product movement, the outlook appeared gloomy for the E&LS.
1936 - E&LS served more than thirty of the leading industries and wholesale distribution concerns in the area.
1937 - Mixed trains operating between Wells, Escanaba and Channing with as many as 10 cars. The train carries an old combination passenger-baggage coach, but the passenger business is virtually nil.
1940's - New management, war effort, expansion of Escanaba docks and general industrialization in the area give the E&SL new life.
1946-47 - E&LS switches to diesel power, as a cost saving measure and road becomes largely a switching line.
1949 - Passenger revenue about $80 per day.
1955 - Mixed train service still provided between Wells, Escanaba and Channing.
1960 - Mixed train service has now been discontinued and E&LS is freight only/
1980 - Milwaukee Road line from Ontonagon. Michigan to Green Bay, Wisconsin acquired, providing E&LS a direct line from the port at Ontonagon on Lake Superior to Escanaba on Lake Michigan. .
1981 - Line to Republic purchased.

Escanaba and Lake Superior - 1937

Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- various editions
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Copyright © Richard Parks, April 27, 2009, revised May 25, 2011