Station: Parmalee, MI
Parmalee was a station on the Michigan Central's Jackson to Grand Rapids branch, in the very northwest corner of Barry County. It is about three miles northwest of Middleville.
1920 - In the Matter of the Application of the Michigan Central Railroad, through its Superintendent, Mr. D. J. Hackett, to Close the Station Known as Parmalee, on the Grand Rapids Division, and to Discontinue the Stop ping of Trains at that Point.
OPINION. By Potter, Chairman.
Application was made to the Michigan Railroad Commission by the Michigan Central Railroad Company to discontinue service to and from Parmalee and abandon the station located there. An order of hearing was made and the application heard June 25, 1918, before Commissioner Cunningham. The record shows that those opposed to abandoning this service and depot did not appear until the testimony of the railroad company had been taken. It was claimed by the railroad company,
(1) That it was sometimes necessary to back up the train to a point near Middleville, approximately three miles, before it was able to start the train and make the Parmalee hill, delaying the train as high as forty-five minutes.
(2) That it was necessary to discontinue service at the smaller stations in order to make the time on through traffic which the railroad company felt obliged to do to comply with the requests of the government during the war.
(3) At the conclusion of the testimony of the railroad company Commissioner Cunningham announced that an order would be issued authorizing the railroad company to discontinue the station and stopping of trains after July 1, 1918. After that time, those opposed to discontinuance of service and abandonment of the station appeared, and Mr. Sherk was sworn. The testimony shows: That the earnings from April, 1917, to March, 1918, inclusive, were $402.44 or a little over $1.00 a day for four trains. That there is no store, no industry and no post office at Parmalee. The commission was presented with approximately 100 names of people living near Parmalee protesting against the proposed action of the railroad company and calling the attention of the Commission to an agreement made March 9, 1874, as follows:
“On the completion of the building at Parmalee's railroad crossing the Michigan Central Railroad Company will stop its trains at that place on signal. That is to say, when there are passengers to get on or off the trains; and will put the side track in in order to receive and deliver freight.
This building should be not less than 18x40 and we expect that the building will be deeded to the Michigan Central Railroad Co. on its completion in consideration of the Company’s stopping its trains at that place.”
Yours truly, (Signed) J. Desmond, Supt., Railroad Company.”
It was claimed then and is claimed now that the combined depot and freight house at Parmalee was built by the people residing in that vicinity and that after being so built it was deeded to the railroad company in consideration of this agreement, and that therefore the railroad company should carry out its terms.
The testimony further shows that:
It would be convenient to the people residing in the vicinity of Parmalee to have the service reinstated.
It is admitted on the record that the order of the railroad commission ought not to be set aside on the facts as they now exist, unless some force and effect is to be given to the contract above set forth.
Sec. 8279, Compiled Law's 1915, provides that if any railroad has received aid from private individuals along its line in the construction of the same, it shall maintain and run at least one passenger train each way every week day and it is claimed that under this statute the rail. road company having received aid in the construction of its depot, it is morally bound to stop its trains there and it is legally bound by the contract.
The rule in relation to contracts of this character is thus stated in 2 Elliott on Railroads, Par. 936,
“Equity will not, as a rule, decree the specific performance of a contract to do a succession of acts extending through a long period of time, and requiring the exercise of skill and discretion in their performance. Accordingly, the land-owner cannot enforce specific performance of a contract made in consideration of the grant of a right of way, by which the railroad undertakes to build a branch road, to operate a line of railroad, to stop daily trains a certain point on the road, or to erect fences and cattle guards and keep them in repair. But it has been held that the breach of such a contract may be prevented by injunction.”
In Blanchard v. Detroit, etc. Railroad Company 31 Mich. 43, the court in introducing the impropriety of taking upon itself the enforce ment of contracts of this kind, said:
“If the writing embodies any promissory agreement at all, it is that when and so long as trains run on the railroad, one train each way shall every day stop at that place, and also that passengers and freight shall there be regularly received and discharged. Waiving all considerations of possible future action by the government under the postal, war, police or other powers, inconsistent with any particular decree which might now be made, can the court see that in all coming time these requirements are carried out? Can it know or keep informed whether trains are running, and what accommodations are suitable to the public interests? Can it see whether the proper stoppages are made each day? Can it take notice, or legitimately and truly ascertain from day to day, what amounts to regularity in the receipt and discharge of passengers and freight? Can it have the means of deciding at all times whether the due regularity is observed 2 Can it superintend and supervise the business, and cause the requirements in question to be carried out? If it can, and if it may do this in regard to one station on the road, it may with equal propriety upon a like showing to the same in regard to all stations on the road, and not only so, but in regard to all stations on all the present and future roads in the state.” This commission is not a court. It has no power or authority except as a regulative body. It must apply existing facts to present conditions. It has no jurisdiction to enforce this contract. On the other hand, if the parties have any rights under this contract they are rights which in our judgment should be pursued in a court. It is admitted that under the facts as they exist now, were it not for the contract, the railroad company ought not to be compelled to stop its trains. We think that under the facts in this case, the order of the Michigan Rail road Commission should be upheld and the application for a re-hearing denied. dated January 19, 1921.
MICHIGAN PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION
1921 - In the Matter of the Application of the Michigan Central Railroad, through its Superintendent, Mr. D. J. Hackett, to Close the Station Known as Parmalee, on the Grand Rapids Division, and to Discontinue the Stopping of Trains at That Point. 4843-1. January 19, 1921.
This matter having been brought on upon an application for a re hearing, and the same having been heard and duly considered, It is HEREBY ordered, By the Michigan Public Utilities Commission,
1. That the application for a re-hearing in the above entitled cause, be, and the same is hereby denied. -
2. That the order of the Michigan Railroad Commission made herein be, and the same is hereby in all things affirmed.