Railroad: Manistee and Northeastern railroad

The Manistee & Northeastern was created in 1888 and built north from Manistee to Nessen City in Manistee and Benzie counties. The line was extended to Lake Ann and Traverse City in Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties in 1890-1892. It was predominantly a logging railroad, but provided passenger service from Manistee to Traverse City and points in between.

The railroad also had numerous branch lines, reaching as far east as Graying and north to Suttons Bay and Northport. The line was controlled by the Pere Marquette in 1931, the C&O in 1947, and merged into the C&O in 1955. Most of the line was abandoned by 1982. See the time line for additional details. [MRL]


Built → Manistee & Northeastern RR → part to Leelanau Transit →  Pere Marquette → C&O


Chartered: 1887.

Built: 1889 - Manistee to Onekama.

Leased: 1919 - to Leelanau Transit - Foreclosed 1926

Operations Ended: 1931 - leased by Pere Marquette, 1955 merged into the Chesapeake & Ohio.

Reference: [MRRC]


M&NE locomotive near Manistee

Photo Info: Top, this is a view of M&NE No. 1 looking north, just north of the Manistee Yard. It was taken about 1907. [Charles Showalter collection]

The Manistee and Northeastern was built primarily as a logging railroad, to deliver supplies to logging camps and towns in the northwest lower peninsula and then to bring forest products back out of the area to customers throughout the region.


Time Line

1898. In 1891, an act was passed exempting railroads to be constructed north of parallel 44 of latitude from taxes for ten years. Under this act as of 1898, the Manistee & Northeastern having 24 miles, have been paying no taxes whatever. [DFP-1898-0323]

1889. Line opened from Manistee to Onekama. The first passenger train was run over the Manistee & Northeastern Railroad on Sunday last. The train consisted of the new engine and tender, a combination smoking and baggage car and one coach. The engine and coach arrived at Manistee from the east on Thursday, this being the second of the company's engines to arrive. [DFP-1889-0114][MCR-1904]

1889. Travel on the M&NE has increased so that the company is obliged to put on more coaches for passenger accommodation. The terminal point of this road is Traverse City and work is vigorously being done to complete it. Two passenger trains are being run daily each way, and Onekama is a favorite summer resort. The M&NE has been built entirely by private capital and is free from mortgages or bonds. Its facilities are unexcelled, it being the only road terminating in the city. [DFP-1889-0319]

1889. The Detroit Free Press notes that Ed Buckley and the Buckley & Douglas Coimpany are the owners of the M&NE railroad. [DFP-1890-0104]

1890. Line opened from Onekama to Lake Ann.

1892. Line opened from Lake Ann to Traverse City via Hatch's Crossing.

1894. Branch opened from Solon to Cedar City.

1894. The Provemont Branch from Solon  was started and reached Provemont in 1902. It was abandoned north of Cedar City in 1944. [MRL]

1895. The North River branch to Grayling was started. It reached Grayling in 1910. It was abandoned in 1925. [MRL]

1898. Branch opened from Platte River to Empire Junction. It was completed in 1901. The line was abandoned in 1924. [MRL]

1902. Branch opened from Cedar City to Provemont.

1903. SNAPSHOT. The railroad operated 128.9 miles and 33 miles of spurs and sidings. It operated 18 regular stgations and 30 flat statons. The road employed 10 engineers, 10 firemen, 10 conductors, 15 brakemen 4 baggagemen, 75 laborers (section hands), 54 shopmen and 4 yardmen. The railroad had 10 locomotives, 10 passenger and baggage cars, 149 box cars, 341 platform cars and 6 conductor way cars. Top five categories of freight hauled in 1903: Logs (69%); lumber (10%); shingles (3%); Bituminous coal (3%) and salt (2%).

1903. The Traverse City, Leelanau & Manistique railway builts the branch from Hatch's Crossing to Northport. [MRL] It was bought by the Leelanau Transit Co. in 1919, and the M&NE leased the branch from the Leelanau Transit Co.  At some point, the lease was cancelled and the branch owned by the LTCo.

1918. December 14. Rail strike hits Manistee plants. Supplies of Raw Materials Exhausted; Struggle Still Deadlocked. The status of the M&NE strike remained unchanged. The strikers and the company were apparently as far apart as ever. The dispute is over retroactive wages that are owed by the railroad or federal government (during wartime control). Mail has stopped in Bear Lake, Norwalk and other northern county points. The Buckley & Douglas lumbar mills were closed for an indefinite period, raw materials have been exhausted. Only salt blocks continue to operate. 100 employees of the M&NE, who are not involved in the strike were laid off for lack of work. There was some question whether the state or federal government held jurisdiction. The railroad had been taken over by the FRA but relinquished at the end of June, 1918, right being reserved to resume oversight. [DFP-1918-1215]

1923. The receivers of the M&NE are authorized by the MPSC to lease the Leelanau Transit Co. for one year unless the lease is terminated by the U.S. district court,. The line extends from Hatch's Crossing to Northport. [MPSC-1923]

1924. The MU&NE line from Kaleva to grayling is abandoned. The MC maintains a short portion of the line near Grayling to access the National Guard base. [PMHS]

1925. August 10. Plans for the acquisition from the M&NE railroad of more than two and a quarter miles of track lying between Camp Grayling and the Michigan Central spur to Camp Grayling were under consideration in Lansing this afternoon. The action was deemed necessary following an order by the M&NE receivers that the line from Kaleva Junction to Grayling be abandoned. The M&NE has been in receivership for nearly five years and during that time has considered abandonment of the Kaleva Junction road. The properties will be offered for sale and tracks torn up. It was admitted that the road does not receive sufficient operation as a result of camp activities to warrant its operation by the M&NE. It costs about $2,000 a year to maintain the line to the camp. The state's option is to lease the track for a number of years or buy it outright, applying the purchase price to unpaid taxes which are about $25,000. The state last summer spent considerable money repairing this road and the railroad bridge over the AuSable.

1931. The Pere Marquette officials pledged service to the M&NE in the future, equal to what has been given. Opposition to the sale of M&NE stock to the PM was withdrawn at a hearing in Manistee. [DFP-1931-1003]

1932. January 6. The ICC authorized the Pere Marquette railway to purchase the M&NE railway. The M&NE has about 94 miles of track. Its main line, 71 miles long, runs from Manistee to Traverse City. It has a 15 mile branch from Solon to Provemont, another from Onekama Jct. to Onekama, about three miles, and third from Manistee to Manistee Harbor, about two miles. It also operates under lease a 24-mile line from Hatch's Crossing to Northport. The purchase price is $497,297. [DFP-1932-0107]

1932. Pere Marquette purchases controlling interest in the M&NE. [PMHS]

1934. The M&NE closes their line between Kaleva and Interlochen, using the Pere Marquette line instead. The also close the M&NE line between Interlochen and Solon. [PMHS]

1944. The M&NE closes their branch from Traverse City to Provemont. [PMHS]

1955. November 30. The M&NE is merged into the Pere Marquette railway. [PMHS]