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Railroad:  DSS&A Sault Ste. Marie Line

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Soo Junction to Sault Ste. Marie Branch Abandonment...

  • Larry Lewis writes about the abandonment of part of the line from Raco (or Soo Jct.) to Sault Ste. Marie.  This line was put in by the South Shore to reach the Sault from Marquette.  When the DSS&A merged with the Soo Line, the Soo Line already had a fairly direct route to the Sault via Trout Lake.  As a result, part of the South Shore line was pulled up.  The line ended at Raco, in Chippewa County.  According to Larry, the reason that the Soo kept the track to Raco was because of the U.S. Air Force "Bomarc" missle base at that location.  This base housed 18 Mike nuclear missles in silos.  The Soo brought in missles, missle components, rocket fuel and supplies on this branch line.  Another Nike base was at Newport MI and the old silos may still be there.  There is an immense triangle airstrip at Raco field that still exists, including three 6,000 foot runways which were once used to land B-52's.  They are now used by auto companies to test tires during the winter.  Posted on the UP discussion group.
  • John Frye adds:  I would like to clear up some information about the DSS&A Sault Ste. Marie line that ended at Raco, Mi.  The Air Force base was activated in 1960 and was supplied by truck, not railroad. There were 28 Bomarc (Boeing - Michigan Aeronautical Research Center designed, hence "Bomarc") missiles on line for air defense of the Great Lakes area. The missiles were for defense only. They were nuclear warhead missiles with a range of over 400 miles and could be launched within 2 minutes of an alert. The old triangular runways next to the missile site was from World War II and was never used as far as I know.  232 men were used to maintain the missile site but were housed at Kincheloe AFB, and transported by bus the 34 miles to and from the location. Prior to the Air Force using this location, the Army trained in the area just to the west of the runways. I don't know when the rails were torn up, but I don't remember them in use in the early 1960s.

Dale J. Berry, all rights reserved.