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15th Michigan Railroad History Conference

Washtenaw Community College, Morris Lawrence Building, 4800 East Huron River Drive, Ann Arbor, MI

Saturday, September 21, 2019

8:45 am to 5 pm (Registration begins at 8:15 am)

Click to Go To Registration Form

Program Schedule


              2019 marks the 32nd anniversary of the first Michigan Railroad History Conference which was first held at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan as an educational outreach of the Bluewater Michigan Chapter of the National Railroad Historical Society (NRHS). Each succeeding conference has been held in a different Michigan community. The Michigan Railroad History Conference is now organized by an all-volunteer Michigan non-profit corporation recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c) (3) educational private organization. This year’s conference will be held in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the Morris Lawrence Building on the campus of Washtenaw Community College on Saturday, September 21, 2019. The primary program will be a full day of presentations focusing on Michigan’s railroad heritage. Field trips open to conference participants will be offered on Friday, September 20 and Sunday, September 22.


Schedule, Presentations & Presenters

Featured Speaker - Kevin Keefe - Author and former editor and published of Trains Magazine.- How the Michigan Central got to Chicago and Personal and Professional Reflections on a Life with Trains

Mark Kildebrandt - Electric Trolleys of Washtenaw County

Nick Korstange - Wood, Water and Wheels - Logging by Rail and Water

Jefferson Seaver - A Peculiar Lumber Tramway

E. Ray Lichty - History and Sale of the Pere Marquette/C&O/CSX Carferry Services

Ford Cotton - Rail Seervice Through Ewen from the DSS&A to the Soo Line and into History

Rahn Stokes - Jackson Yard: Viewpoint of the Second Shift Yardmaster in the Early Seventies

Dean Pyers - Train Robberies in Michigan


The Conference will be held in the Morris J. Lawrence Building at the east end of the Washtenaw Community College campus in Ann Arbor. A registration table will be visable in the lobby, outside the meeting room. Lunch is included in Saturday's registration fee.

Friday, September 20 - Optional Field Trip: From Steam to Autonomous Vehicles

A tour of railroad operations at Greenfield Village and the Michigan Central Depot in Detroit - offering a unique opportunity to move from the past to the future - is available for a very limited number of conference participants. Tour will begin at The Henry Ford where the Curator of Transportation will discuss the role that railroad history fills at Greenfield Village. A walk through the DT&M roundhouse (moved from Marshall, MI), where an active shop performs collection maintenance and restoration. Additional structures include the coaling tower, water tower, manually-operated turntable (from Petosley, MI) and ash dump.

Registered participants will then drive themselves 12 miles to the Cork and Cabel Restaurant in the corktown area of Detroit for lunch (included in the field trip fee) where the construction manager for the Michigan Central station project will join us to describe plans for the station and its focus on development of autonomous vehicles. His review of Ford Motor Company's plans for the Michigan Central station will be followed by a brief walk through parts of the station building. Specific points seen will depend on construction work underway.

Tour will require walking about one mile at both Greenfield Village and in Detroit. Since the walk may be over uneven terrain it is not considered handicapped accessible. Additional information regarding gathering places, travel, restrictions and clothing will be sent to participants.

This tour is limited to 25 individuals by the Ford Motor Company and its construction companies and it is expected to fill quickly. If you sign up for this optional trip, please send a seperate check of $75 for this activity. Should it happen that the event is over-subscribed, the $75 will be returned.

Sunday September 22 Optional Field Trip - The Ann Arbor-Jackson Electric Railroads

Two companies (Hawks-Angus and Boland-Foote syndicates) competed to provide interurban service between Ann Arbor and Jackson. The two electric railways were never more than three miles apart and actually crossed each other in five places. This tour, led by Norm Krentel and Doug Johnson, will follow one line from Ann Arbor to Jackson and the other line back to Ann Arbor. Many scars of this struggle can be seen. There will be a stop at the Lost Railway Museum in Grass Lake.

This will be a bus tour, leaving from the Washtenaw Community College parking lot at 8:30 am. Everyone will be traveling together and can share Norm's narration along the way. It should be safer and more convenient than an auto caravan trip. The bus will stop in Jackson for lunch, which is on your own. The bus will return to WCC about 4:30 p.m.

The bus fee for this excursion will be $30. Participation will be limited to the capacity of the bus. Maps and information will be included in the conference notebook.

Vendor Tables

A limited number of vendor tales will be available but are limited to academic and nonprofit publishers of railroad history books and materials. Cost of a table is $120 and includes registration for one individual. To request one of these spaces, send a statement of intent including the name of the organization and fee to Michigan Railroad History Conference, P. O. Box 16235, Lansing, MI 48901. The name of the reepresentative can be sent later.

Organization Tables

There will be space for a limited number of table dispay tables and posters for railroad history groups to provide information about their organization, activities, services and publications. Each space will be 36 x 30 inches (one half table). There will be no charge for the space, but there must be one representative of the group s a paid attendee. No sales are allowed on these spaces but information on ordering publications and memberships can be distributed. To apply for a space, send a description of the group to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Location and time of the Saturday afterglow will be announced at the conference.


A reference notebook with maps and background information will be distributed to all participants.

For questions or more information contact Dale Berry, Conference chair, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Registration Form (Please Print)

Use a seperate form for each attendee so name tags can be prepared:


Name___________________________________ Address:____________________________________


City:_______________________ County:____________________ State: _____ Zip:________________


Telephone: (_____) _____________________  Email:________________________________________


__________ Conference Registration (includes luncheon) - $65 postmarked before 9/1, $75 after 9/1


__________ Optional Friday Field Trip (Henry Ford/MC Station)  - $75 - seperate check


__________ Optional Sunday Field Trip (Interurbans) - $30


Total Charge: $______________

Make checks or money orders payable to the Michigan Railroad History Conference, P. O. Box 16235, Lansing, Michigan, 48901

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