Michigan Transportation History

Detroit, Mackinac & Marquette Railroad

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Public Michigan RailroadCompanyThing The Detroit, Mackinac & Marquette Railway was incorporated on August 20, 1879, to build a railroad between the Straights of Mackinaw to Marquette (although the name was quickly changed to the DM&M Railroad on September 3, 1879). The incorporators were a syndicate led by James A. McMillan and included John S. Newberry, Francis Palms, George Hendrie, William B. Moran?, F. E. Driggs?, William Strathearn Hendrie?, Hugh McMillan?, and New York banker George I. Seney?. The Hendries were involved in the line as construction contractors. George Hendrie later became a large investor in Upper Peninsula resources but appears to have had little other involvement with the railroad.

The state of Michigan granted the railroad 1,327,041.65 acres of swampland. The avowed public purpose of the line was to connect Sault Ste. Marie? and Marquette?. But the McMillan syndicate had other plans. They wanted to connect, via ferry service across the straits, with the Grand Rapids & Indiana ? and the Michigan Central at Mackinaw City. For the ferrying of freight cars the three railroads formed (October 10, 1881) and jointly owned the Mackinaw Transportation Company.

By October 1, 1880, the line began operations between Marquette and Onota. By 1881, the company then began building towards St. Ignace and by December was operating trains over the whole route between Marquette and St. Ignace. In 1883, it began plans to build to Ishpeming?. It delayed for years the construction of a branch line to Sault Ste Marie.

The McMillan syndicate had designs to buy the Marquette, Houghton & Ontonagan Railroad (MH&O). As the MH&O was not for sale, the McMillan group began building a parallel line, the Marquette and Western? into the same iron fields tapped by the MH&O.

By October 1884, after falling into arrears on bond interest payments, the DM&M directors agreed to defer interest for a couple of years (they were also the principal bond-holders). In order to generate cash flow, it leased the Marquette & Western? in May of 1885 to the MH&O. It appears that the directors saw an opportunity to consolidate the DM&M with the MH&O through foreclosure. In the spring of 1886, the directors filed for bankruptcy, but then subsequently bought the line at foreclosure on October 20, 1886. They formed a temporary reorganizing company called the Mackinaw & Marquette. On December 22, 1886, the DM&M properties were conveyed to the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railway, which was also controlled by the McMillan syndicate.


Citation: When referencing this page please use the following citation:

R. D. Jones, "Detroit, Mackinac & Marquette Railroad," Michigan Transportation History (Ypsilanti, MI: 2020), www.michtranshist.info/.

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Page last modified on January 02, 2020, at 09:24 AM EST

Page last modified on January 02, 2020, at 09:24 AM EST