Story: Operation of the Union Belt of Detroit - 1924 to 1929

According to a 1933 edition of Moody's Steam Railroads, the Union Belt of Detroit did not exist as an official railroad. Likely, it was an operating division under The Fort Street Union Depot Company (FSUD) or perhaps the Pere Marquette. The FSUD was established in 1889 for the purpose of constructing and operating passenger and freight terminals at Detroit.  The road was originally owned by the Pere Marquette (majority owner) and the Wabash. In 1921, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company was admitted as an additional tenant. As of the end of 1931, the FSUD has 218 employees.

Newspapers described the Union Belt as a "joint operating agreement" of the three railroads.

The original, primary purpose of the FSUD was to provide passenger facilities in downtown Detroit for the participating roads. The approach to this station was the busy line 2-track main line from Delray to downtown which was 2.39 miles long. The FSUD owned the track from the downtown station west to 18½ street. From 18½ street west to Delray, the track was under the operation of the Union Belt of Detroit (UBD).

The Union Belt was governed by a Board of Managers, made up of representatives of the Pere Marquette, Wabash and Pennsylvania. Day to day operation was managed by the "Operating Committee", which would meet as often as several times each week. The Operating Committee meetings were typically attended by the Assistant General Agent of the PRR, the local superintendents of the Wabash and the PM, and the train master and Secretary of the Union Belt. Others were invited to attend as necessary.  Every four months, a new chairperson of the Operating Committee was elected. This Chair was rotated between the three member roads.

This story covers the actions of the Union Belt Operating Committee between 1924 and 1929, as taken from the minutes of their meetings. On August 1, 1924, management of the Belt was transferred from the Superintendent to the Operating Committee. Mr. B. A. Frazier, Belt Trainmaster, was given direct charge of the physical operation. It was the hope of the principals that the Operating Committee would bring about closer co-operation between the Belt and its member lines. The Union Belt actually covered the following segments of track:

  • Main Line - from FSUD to Delray
  • The PM Main Line from Delray to Oak
  • The old PM West Detroit Branch
  • The Union Belt (belt line) from the PM main line to Highland Park
  • Pennsylvania Belt (in north east Dearborn) - District 3

These four years of minutes are a fascinating look at how the Union Belt operated and the problems faced by urban railroads in the 1920's as well as politics and differing opinions of these lines.

As you read these minutes, keep in mind that this was prior to the current Delray tower, which was replaced in 1945. The original Union Belt was two-track and not signaled. During this period, the road was 4-tracked (2 faster passenger tracks, with side by side freight mains), and signaled. The Clark Street tower was changed from a line side tower to an overhead tower to make room for the extra main tracks.

Keep in mind that the economy was good during this period, just prior to the great depression.

To jump to future years, click here:  1925 - 1926 - 1927 - 1928 - 1929

 

August, 1924

Delray Interlocking. There was a discussion about the delays in getting rail traffic through Delray and the need for additional levermen. The Board of Managers had previously approved two lead levermen for this purpose some time ago, but these had been released recently in order to reduce expenses. Train delays are now occurring and are "quite expensive". It was felt that replacing the levermen would be cost effective, saving the member roads from costly train delays. No action was taken.

Police Protection. The Committee noted that there had been pilfering of railroad cars placed on the Solvay Lead and on the Pennsylvania Belt. The Police Captains from the roads met on August 13th. They recommended that each road furnish one patrolman for a period of two weeks to police the Solvay Lead and "to endeavor to get enough convictions to break up the [crime] practice". This plan was approved and implemented. The actions reduced theft to a reasonable level.

Engine Issues for the Pennsylvania. The Trainmaster was instructed to investigate the advisability of tying up the Pennsylvania engine which works one trick in District 3 somewhere in the district. The engine now returns back to the PRR engine house and has been incurring a great deal of overtime trying to get to and from the district. The Trainmaster recommended having the PRR place an engine watchman for 16 hours each day to watch the engine and to coal and water the unit. The PRR will pay for this cost, which allows the engine to stay five days per week in the district.

Glendale Wye. The Committee approved a recommendation to the Board of Managers to install a new wye at Glendale Avenue at a cost of $12,000.

Oakman Branch Passing Track. The Committee voted to recommend the installation of a passing siding on the Oakman Branch to the Board of Managers. A water standpipe was also added to the branch at an unknown location.

 

September, 1924

DSR Crossing on West Jefferson. The DSR has requested removal of their crossing.

Poor Flagging and Collisions. A 10 day suspension of Flagman Agnew was approved for his failure to properly protect the rear of a train, which caused PM Passenger Train No. 115 to make a sudden stop near Campbell Avenue. No collision occurred. An actual collision occurred on September 8th where a train struck a street car at Michigan Avenue. This was blamed on carelessness on the part of the DSR crossing watchman.

Signage on Locomotives. The Operating Committee required that member roads display a Union Belt sign on loaned engines. During this time period, the Belt did not own any engines of their own.

Oakman Branch Increased Activity. Activity on the Oakman Branch (District 3) has increased to the point that the PRR engine is staffed for two, eight hour shifts. The watchman hours were reduced to 8 per day. The watchman was paid equal to a fireman's rate of $5.20 per day for eight hours of service.

 

October, 1924

PRR Trackage Rights on Grand Trunk. It was reported that the PRR had acquired the right to use the Grand Trunk Railway tracks between West Detroit and Beaubien Street with the understanding that PRR and Wabash cars would be handled by Belt engines. The Belt was called upon to make a monthly report to the GT superintendent giving the number of engines, loads and empty cars moving over this track for each company.

 

November, 1924

Delray Tower Staffing. A study of the traffic conditions were made because of numerous complaints of train delays. The study indicated, conclusively, that the replacing of the second Lead Leverman position was fully justified and an additional man was put on on November 1st. In addition to the three regular Levermen, the tower now will have two Lead Levermen directing traffic from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily, there being one Leverman in the tower from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. during which time the traffic is not so heavy.

Proposed Crossover in Rougemere Yard.  A crossover from the Foreman Street Wye of the Pennsylvania to the Pere Marquette main line east of the crossover leading form the main line to the west No. 2 track, would permit Union Belt drags from the Wabash and the Pennsylvania to cross over on to West No. 2 track and at the same time facility movement of runs in the opposite direction. Cost estimates were received at $1,650 for track work and $2,360 for signal and interlocking connections.

Switch Tender Pay.The Operating Committee received a petition from six men who are switch tenders at 21st Street and at West End Avenue. The men are now paid $4.64 per day and wish to be raised to $6.16 per day which is the normal switchman's rate. The Committee voted to ask the Board of Managers to raise their pay to $4.72 per day which is the standard rate for switch tenders.

Rademacher Avenue Crossing Protection. The Detroit Safety Council for the Board of Commerce recommended some protection at this crossing due to increased automobile traffic. After inspection, the Committee decided to install an alarm bell which will be operated by the watchmen at Waterman Avenue. The costs of this installation are $250 for materials and $50 for labor.

Fired Watchman. The Committee approved the firing of Switch Tender Man for fighting on November 8th with Wabash Conductor Blanks. Blanks will be disciplined by the Wabash.

 

December, 1924

Cabins for West Detroit Branch Drags. Trainmen have asked for either cabins or old box cars equipped with stoves for the two West Detroit drag runs which the Pere Marquette will endeavor to furnish.

Damage to Town Line Standpipe. The standpipe at Town Line Road (Greenfield Road) was recently broken and will have to be replaced by a new one if it is decided to continue taking water from this 4" line. There is a 10" plus line at Plymouth Road which could be used by engines working in that district, possibly in less time than it takes to get water from the 4" plug at Town Line Road.

Delray Interlocking Problems.  A check of train movements through the Delray Interlocker between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. from December 4th through 10th indicates that delays during that period do not warrant the employment of a Lead Leverman on the third trick. Nevertheless, the difficulties frequently encountered at night in the operation of this old plant due to mechanical troubles warrant more adequate means of obtaining the Maintainer who resides a few blocks away from the plant. There is a yard telephone but no City telephone service in the Tower and no telephone service in the Maintainer's residence. It is therefore necessary to send someone for him whenever needed at night. The Operating Committee feels that City telephone service should be provided in the Tower and also in the home of the Maintainer (who is employed by the Pere Marquette). PM will be asked to arrange for installation of City telephones in both places. The following trains were logged on the midnight shift at Delray during the 7-day test period:

Date No. of Trains Total Delay Maximum Delay
12/4 77 2' 04" 58 minutes
12/5 85 1' 43" 30 minutes
12/6 78 2' 45" 44 minutes
12/7 60 1' 47" 14 minutes
12/8 76 1' 55" 15 minutes
12/9 73 2' 58" 38 minutes
12/10 89 2' 53" 45 minutes
Daily Average 77 (about 13/hour) 2' 18" 35 minutes
       

Use of Oak Yard. To improve service on the West Detroit Branch, it was proposed that all cars for south of Tireman Avenue be moved to and from member line yards via the Wabash Old Main Line. Cars for north of Tireman Avenue will be moved via the West Belt.

Employees Stealing Coal. At 4:45 a.m. on December 11th, Conductor Horace Aiken, in charge of the Ford truck accompanied by Yardmaster Nolan and Switchmen Agnew and Phelan were caught by Wabash police officers leaving West End Avenue with a half a ton of coal covered with burlap in the truck. Aiken claimed that he alone was responsible and was therefore placed under arrest and later pled guilty to a charge of Simple Larceny and was fined $25 and costs. He immediately resigned. The other men are not considered desirable employees and will be relieved from the service. The men discharged have requested a hearing which was granted. At the hearing the Operating Committee members satisfied themselves that these men were not implicated in the theft of coal and therefore allowed them to resume duty.

Rademacher Crossing Protection.  A record was kept of the traffic of all kinds over this crossing between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on December 16-18. The 3-day period included:

  Trains Vehicles Pedestrians
  East West        
Date Pass Freight Pass Freight North South North South
                 
Dec. 16th 15 37 12 32 469 472 313 265
Dec. 17th 15 36 11 32 453 459 270 248
Dec. 18th 15 24 12 26 216 233 213 223
                 
Total 45 97 35 90 1,138 1,164 796 736
Hr. Ave. 1.25 3.04 .96 2.66 38.41 38.79 24.29 21.36
                 

In view of the heavy traffic over this crossing and the insistent attitude of both the Detroit Safety Council and the Department of Public Works, the Operating Committee instructed the Secretary to make a full report to the Board of Managers and ask for authority to establish continuous watchman service.

 

January, 1925

Relief Towermen. At Clark and Warren Avenues and Delray Tower, whenever any of the regular men are absent for any reason, it is the practice to double the other men involving punitive rates of pay. It was decided to select a capable trackman at each point to learn the work in these Towers so they can serve whenever any of the regular men are absent and thus avoid payment of punitive rates. The Train Master and Supervisor were instructed to arrange for this.

Steam Derrick Wreck Train. The Union Belt member lines have no derrick train stationed at Detroit, the nearest one being the Pere Marquette outfit kept at Plymouth. There is frequent need for a steam derrick wreck train on the tracks of member lines in the Detroit district and on Union Belt territory, and the Operating Committee recommends that consideration be given at once to the question of having a wreck train maintained by one of these roads for joint use on the Union Belt and also for use on member line tracks outside the Belt territory in the Detroit district.

Crossing Protection at Rademacher Avenue. The Belt Road Master will be instructed to move the extra watch house at Dragoon Avenue to the Rademacher Avenue Crossing and if the Pere Marquette carpenter force cannot putt it in shape for service without delay, we will call upon the Wabash force to make the necessary repairs.

Proposed Interchange with Pennsylvania at Summit Street. The position taken by the Pennsylvania is that when the agreement was made between the Executives it was understood that each road would provide or set aside tracks for the interchange of cars with the Belt, and that they constructed two tracks therefore at Fort Street at cost of $28,000, whereas the other roads did not provide tracks for that purpose. The Pennsylvania feels that it has fully complied with the agreement and that all of its interchange with the Belt should be made at Ecorse Junction on these tracks as at present. It was decided to refer this to the Board of Managers.

Town Line Road Standpipe. The special committee appointed to study water requirements at this point recommended abandoning water plug at Town Line Road and the installation of a water plug at Grand River Avenue, approximately 2000 feet north of the Pennsylvania Wye where there is a sixteen inch City water main. It is vitally important to have water facilities for economical operation in this territory and the Operating Committee feels that the Pennsylvania should be requested to provide such facilities.

Accident on West Detroit Branch. Pere Marquette engine 503 in Belt service was badly damaged on January 3, 1925 when it collided with a cut of cars on the main track just west of the Pennsylvania Wye at Glendale Avenue. The Operating Committee approved the recommendation to suspend Engine Maxwell for thirty days on account of this accident.

Request of Saginaw & Bay City Steamship Company Denied. There appears to be no good reason for providing a side track for the accommodation of the Steamship Company at the foot of West Grand Blvd. and the Operating Committee therefore feels that the request should be declined. The degree of curvature would be such as to make it impracticable to operate over.

 

February, 1925

Current Interchange. The present arrangement is for the Pere Marquette and Wabash to make deliveries to the Belt at 21st Street for industries east of Clark Avenue and at Delray and Rougemere East Yard for industries west of Clark Avenue, and at Oakwood and Rougemere Yards for other industries on the Best.  

Union Belt Automobile. The Ford Runabout used by the Union Belt messenger is in need of extensive repairs and it is estimated that to keep it in service will cost $125 within the next three months. For an additional $95 it can be traded for a new car and we would save approximately $10 by trading it before being compelled, the latter part of this month, to purchase a License which could not be transferred to another car purchased later in the year, so that it would cost $85 more for a new car than the cost of repairs within the next three months to the old one, which is in such shape that it cannot be expected to last throughout the year. This would be a replacement without any charge to the road and Equipment, and it is referred to the Board of Managers for immediate action.

Discipline. The Committee approved the Train Master's recommendations to suspend Pennsylvania Trainmen as follows: Conductor Byrne one week for damaging cars at Ocon Avenue January 19th; Brakeman Howard one week for running through a switch on the West Belt on January 19th; and Brakeman Gaffney one week for damaging engine cab at Warren Avenue on January 14th; Conductor B. Miller overhead suspension of one week for damage to building in Mack Coal Company Yard, December 13th; and conductor Agnew and Brakeman Parker and McDonald one week each for an accident in the Grand Trunk Yard on February 3rd.

Coal for Watch Houses and Interlocking Towers. Coal furnished this winter for use at watch houses and interlocking towers between Delray and 21st Street costs an average of $7.45 per ton by the carload and $9.91 per  ton in small lots, and briquettes recently furnished to Delray $16,90 per ton including engine service and labor unloading. Run of mine coal can be purchased from local dealers for $6.50 per ton delivered into the bins and as it would cost less and would avoid train interference such as now occurs by being unloaded from the main track, the Committee recommends that authority be granted to purchase coal at the best price obtainable from local dealers on our tracks.

Wreck in Grand Trunk yard February 3rd. While Wabash Engine 2002 in Belt Service was shoving a cut of thirty cars from the West Detroit Branch into No. 2 track Grand Trunk Yard to pull out on to the Old Main Line the cabin car and the car next to it in this cut side-swiped a Grand Trunk train pulling out of the lead, destroying the cabin and slightly damaging the car next to it. There was no damage to the Grand Trunk train. The Grand Trunk wrecking outfit was used to re-track the cars. Since this accident did not occur on any Belt zone and the agreement provides that such expense shall be charged to the zone in which accident occurs, there is a question as to how the Belt shall dispose of an expense of this nature. It might be charged to the zone for which the service was being performed or to the district to which engine service was charged or to the Union Belt as a whole.

21st Street Engine Terminal. The supervision of the 21st Street engine terminal was assumed by the Union Belt of Detroit on February 16th. The engine house Foreman and Storekeeper were called in and notified of the change and at the same time instructions were issued to them with regard to carrying on the work and what is expected of them. Union Belt will also arrange to perform switching service in this engine terminal heretofore performed by the Pere Marquette. Coal will be supplied by member roads in proportion to the amount used by them. There is one City telephone with an extension in the engine house Foreman's office. It was decided to discontinue this service and install two telephones connected with the Private Branch Exchange of the Union Belt.

Clark Avenue Interlocking Operation. There have been several delays to trains recently at Clark Avenue due to the practice of keeping the plant set for street cars, although after midnight the street cars run at infrequent intervals. The Train Master was instructed to make a thorough investigation and report at the next meeting of the Operating Committee.  Arrangements will be made to keep the plant set for trains instead of street cars after midnight.

Repairs to Pennsylvania Engine 2164. The engine was damaged December 22, 1924 due to low water while tied up on the Oakman Spur in charge of Watchman employed by the Union Belt.The Pennsylvania has rendered a bill against the Belt for $513.47 covering the cost of repairs made necessary on that account.  

 

March, 1925

Track Maintenance. A great many of the industrial tracks east of Delray, maintained by the Union Belt, are in need of extensive repairs. Several derailments have occurred recently and with the view to adopting a program of general repairs, the Track Supervisor was instructed to make a complete inspection and submit detailed reports of his recommendations. This report was received and forwarded to the Division Engineers for consideration of maintenance work this summer.

 

April, 1925

Belt Engine Watchmen. All engine watchmen on Belt payroll are now assigned to oversee engines on the Oakman Branch and at Russell Street.

Police Protection. There is considerable stealing of freight and car parts at West Detroit resulting in serious expense to member lines, and the Operating Committee recommends the employment of two Patrolmen, one for service during the daytime and one at night on the West Detroit Branch and West Belt, comprising what is known as District #4, the expense to be charged to that District and divided among the roads on wheelage basis, the same as district engine expense, the men so employed to report to the Belt Train Master.

Track Gangs. The three section gangs between Backus Line and Delray will now have a foreman and eight men each, which is usual for the summer.

 

May, 1925

Water Facilities. On account of the excessive delay to engines procuring water from the 4" line at the south end of Zone 12, resulting in the practice of getting water from the Grand Trunk plug nearby, consideration will be given to the advisability of providing a standpipe at or near Michigan Avenue.

Use Of Pennsylvania Summit Street Yard. It was proposed to use track 4, and tracks 6 to 12 inclusive in the Summit Yard of the Pennsylvania for switching and storage purposes, owing to a lack of room elsewhere for handling cars on the Belt in this territory. This was declined because the interest rental value of these tracks makes their use prohibitive, considering the layout and location.

 

June, 1925

Yard Facilities. It was proposed some time ago to lease the DT&I yard at West End Avenue, and although no advice has been received from the Board of Managers as to the result of their negotiations, it is learned from the DT&I officials that they have no intention of leasing this yard at the present time, and that it will not be available for some time to come. In lieu thereof it is now proposed to lease that portion of the Wabash Delray yard south of the main tracks with the exception of the stock track, and this will be given further consideration upon receipt of plan and a definite proposition from the Wabash. Later in the month, the Belt was advised by the Wabash that they are not ready to lease any portion of their Delray yard.

Injury to Engineman O. A. Tice. On December 27, 1923, this man sustained injury to his left eye resulting in loss of sight in that eye caused by the bursting of water glass and shield on Pere Marquette engine 464 while in Belt service on the West Detroit  Branch. The Pere Marquette made a settlement with him by the payment of $1,400 and rendered the bill for that amount against the Belt for reimbursement. It was submitted to the Board of Managers for review. The claim was paid on November 17, 1925.

Yard Office, West Detroit Branch. In lieu of yard offices at Michigan Avenue and Federal Avenue, it is proposed to provide an office consisting of two box car bodies equipped for the purpose at the southerly end of West Detroit Branch near the junction with the Grand Trunk, one for Trainmen's lockers and one for use as an office for Yard Masters and the Clerks now located at both Michigan Avenue and Federal Avenue at a total estimated cost of $500. The combining of these offices would increase efficiency and save approximately $175 per month. The proposed standpipe for Michigan Avenue will be changed and placed 150' north of Otis Street, connecting with a 10" City main at that point in lieu of the 4" line at the south end of Zone 12, which would be abandoned.

Crossing Protection at Tireman and Livernois Avenues. The Traffic Division of the City Police Department has called to the Belt's attention of the unprotected railroad crossings at Tireman and Livernois on the West Detroit branch. They are suggesting electric signals or a warning device. A study of the intersection of made which shows an hourly average of two trains, 76 pedestrians, 799 vehicles at Tireman, and 1 train, 39 pedestrians and 679 vehicles at Livernois, indicating the need for a modern warning device at both crossings.

Rougemere Operators. On June 22nd, Rougemere operators were moved from the yard office to the west end of the yard where they are used exclusively for blocking trains and yard engine movements between Michigan Avenue and Rougemere. The Belt will therefore be charged with their entire wages effective June 22nd instead of 90% as before when they performed some clerical work for the Pere Marquette. According to the April 12, 1926 minutes, the PM share remained at 10% because these operators are copying train orders for outbound PM trains.

 

July, 1925

Dispatchers and Clerk At the Union Depot. Heretofore the Union Belt has assumed 50% of the wages for dispatchers, operators and clerk at Fort Street Union Depot. It was considered excessive in view of the amount of work performed by these men for the Belt, and on the account suggested that the expense be divided one-third Belt and two-thirds Depot. The Fort Street Union Depot Company has changed the basis for division of this expense to 40% Belt and 60% Depot, effective July 1st and the Operating Committee has approved this pending further investigation.

West Detroit Branch Telephone Line. A short line telephone is badly needed on the West Detroit Branch, with ten telephones located at various points. The Bell service we now have which could be dispensed with would result in a savings of $60 per month, and the additional Bell service now required if short line telephone is not provided would cost approximately $40 per month, so there would be a savings of $100 per month or $1,200 per annum, or 17% on investment of $7,000 which is the estimated cost of pole and wire line with necessary telephones and equipment. The Operating Committee recommended that authority be granted for pole and wire line the entire length of the West Detroit Branch.

 

August, 1925

Rougemere Accident.  Pere Marquette engines 1406 and 468 in charge of Belt Hostler and Pilot enroute from 21st Street Engine house to Rougemere ran into open crossover switch south of Baugee Creek and side swiped a train being handled by Rip track engines. The Block Operator at the west end of Rougemere Yard gave Delray permission to run these relief engines to Rougemere on the main line although Pere Marquette train No. 52 was occupying the main track at Fort Street and had shoved a cut of cars through this crossover to the Icehouse leaving no one in charge of the open switch. The Hostler crew in charge of relief engines had rights through the Interlocking Plant only and failed to observe that the crossover switch stood against them. Investigation develops that the Block Operator, Hostler and Flagman on No. 52 are all responsible, and it was decided to dismiss the Operator and Hostler and leave to the discretion of the Pere Marquette the discipline to be imposed on the Head brakeman.

Water Facilities Near Michigan Avenue. The Pere Marquette advises on account of the possibility of grade separation at Michigan Avenue that their Division engineer has been requested to prepare a plan and estimate for stand pipe at suitable point north of Michigan Avenue. This was finally placed in service April 1, 1926.

Oak Yard. The Pere Marquette Railway wishes to utilize for its own exclusive use, that part of Oak yard, consisting of three tracks on the south side of the present main line, and suggests that in view of the industrial spurs leading from the outside of northerly track, requiring it to be kept clear, that track to be used for main line purposes and devote the present main line to Yard service. The Operating Committee recommends that this be done in view of the anticipation of early construction of additional tracks near the Pennsylvania wye on the West Belt. The matter is therefore referred to the Board of Managers for approval.

DT&I Interchange. Effective August 1st, all interchange between the DT&I and connecting lines is to be done in Fordson Yard. The interchange of the three member lines is handled by their own power, through zone 11.

 

September, 1925

Yard Facilities. The operation of the Union Belt is constantly hampered by reason of having no yard facilities whatever for receiving, classifying and holding cars. On Sunday and Labor Day of this week, the Belt delivered cars to the full capacity of industrial tracks and utilized all available industrial track room for storage purposes and there was still an accumulation of one thousand cars which could not be placed by the Belt. The industrial work on the Belt has been increasing steadily and is not approximately double that of a year ago, and consequently the need for a Belt yard is more important than ever, and it is the urgent recommendation of the Operating Committee that steps be taken at once to provide yard facilities for Belt use. The Operating Committee will make a ground inspection to develop the possibility of locating a site for a temporary yard east of Delray.

Second Track Through Rougemere. The density of traffic through the Rougemere district is now so great that it is costing the Belt in excess of 200 engine hours per month by reason of delay to Belt engines getting through that territory. To avoid this excessive delay to trains, it is the recommendation of the Operating Committee that immediate consideration be given to the building of a second track on Pere Marquette right-of-way from the end of the second track south of the bridge to the end of the second track north of Miller Road, with gauntlet over the bridge until such time as it is necessary to replace the bridge with a double track structure.

Depot Use of Belt Tracks at 21st Street. It was suggested that the Depot be charges a 20 cent per car assessment for use of Belt tracks near the Depot. A check revealed that there are approximately 1,800 cars per month that use these tracks. The Secretary was authorized to render a bill for use of the tracks that are maintained by the Belt at this point.

 

October, 1925

Additional Crossover to Fordson Yard. The DT&I has discontinued all except industrial switching operations at their south yard and all of their interchange with member lines is handled at Fordson Yard. The present one-way crossover is wholly inadequate to permit handling this interchange without greatly interfering with the main line as well as yard operations. It is therefore proposed to construct an additional crossover. The DT&I should construct their end, and the Pere Marquette its end of the new crossover. The expense incurred by the Pere Marquette will be added to the valuation of facilities used jointly in Zone 11. The Ford Motor Company is to obtain permission from the Pennsylvania to cross its property. This crossover was placed in service on December 3, 1925.

 

November, 1925

Yard Facilities. It is estimated that it will cost $20,000 to extend the Sugar House Lead to West End Avenue, a distance of 4,700 feet, exclusive of the cost of either moving the telegraph line to the north right-of-way line or placing it in conduit. This will be given further consideration upon receipt of estimates for both propositions.

Manual Block System Between Depot and Member Line Yards. The operation of trains in this territory has been given some consideration and study by the train masters and it is their recommendation that it be protected by manually controlled clock system, which would require telephones at all crossovers, block offices at 21st Street, Clark Avenue, West End Avenue and Delray, with a set of dispatchers located at the later point. This will be given further consideration before preparing estimate of the cost of facilities required for Manual Block System and the expense of handing it.

Delray Interlocker. This plant is worn out and the Operating Committee feels that it should be rebuilt as soon as possible, notwithstanding the possibility of grade separation at tome future time. This is respectfully brought to the attention of the Board of Managers.

 

December, 1925

West Detroit Yard Offices. The Operating Committee reconsidered its plan to put two box cars at West Detroit for Yard Offices. They decided that due to questionable appearance, they should put small offices, "similar in construction to standard tool houses". This will be submitted to the Board of Managers. Finally built and occupied around May 1, 1926.

Police Protection Problems.The pilfering of cars in Belt territory is increasing constantly. There is no systematic policing of the properties or definite assignment of Patrolmen. At the present time, the Wabash is policing day and night the Old Joint including Solvay and Edison leads, the Old Main Line, Russell Street and West Detroit Branch in the vicinity of Michigan Avenue. The Pere Marquette is policing the West Detroit branch during the day time only, and the Pennsylvania, the West Belt periodically during the day and night.  It is the opinion of the Operating Committee that the following police protection should be provided day and night by the member lines at the expense of the Union Belt and to be divided by the member lines on industrial car basis:

Between Grand Truck Junction and Michigan Avenue: One man each by the Wabash and Pennsylvania, chargeable to Zone 12a.
Between Michigan Avenue and the West Belt: Two men by Pere Marquette chargeable to Zone 12a
On the West Belt: Two men by Pennsylvania, chargeable to Zones 14a and 18a.
Russell Street and Old Main Line: One man each by Wabash and Pennsylvania, chargeable to District 2
Old Joint: One man each by Wabash, Pere Marquette and Pennsylvania, chargeable to District 1.
  1 Day and 1 Night 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, & 10
  1 Day 11, 14, 15, 16, & 17
  1 Day 12
  1 Night 12 & 13
  1 Day 13 & 18

 

--------------------

It is clear from reading the minutes of the Union Belt Operating Committee, that this group was much closer to the day to day operations of the Belt, and wanted the Belt to succeed.  The Operating Group was constantly worried about yard space, storage and crime on their property and constantly made recommendations to the Board of Managers about ways these problems could be solved.  Unfortunately, the Board of Managers was unable to justify much of the price of these improvements, or individual road politics and business strategies limited a desire to participate in these improvements.  We continue on with the minutes of these meetings, as they tell such an interesting story in the building of the Union Belt.

 

February, 1926

Crossovers in Old Joint Territory. After careful study of traffic, the Operating Committee has recommended two additional crossovers, one between the main tracks at Junction Avenue and one between the westbound main and Sugar House Lead at Morrell Street, and the reversing of the crossover near Summit Street at a total estimated cost of $3,422. This was submitted to the Board of Managers.

Yard Facilities. Rather that approve the proposed yard between the Sugar House Lead and West end Avenue, the Board of Managers directed the Operating Committee to ascertain what use the Belt could make of any portion of the Pere Marquette Rougemere yard. It is contemplated that the yard could be used for delivery by member lines to the Belt of cars for Districts 3 and 4, consisting of the Rougemere, Holden, Oakman, West Belt and West Detroit territory. The Operating Committee also noted that the DT&I West End Avenue Yard can be leased on a reasonable basis and recommends that it be acquired and used for delivery by member lines to the Belt for all cars for industries east of Delray.

 

March, 1926

Yard Facilities. The Operating Committee reviewed the blueprints of Rougemere Yard. The Pere Marquette member stated that they have under consideration the question of giving up ten tracks in this yard for Belt use, which would be tracks 6 to 15 inclusive, which would give the Belt approximately 500 car lengths of room in this yard. It was the opinion of the Operating Committee that this would give the Belt adequate yard facilities in that territory for the interchange of cars from member lines to the Belt for Districts 3 and 4. They recommended to the Board of Managers that the Belt take over these tracks when the Pere Marquette decides to release them.

Fatal Accident to Crossing Watchman. The Claim Department has arranged for settlement by payment of $225 and voucher for that amount is being held in this office awaiting authority for approval by the Secretary. The Operating Committee could not agree as to responsibility for this accident, which caused the death of Gottfred Daus, Crossing Watchman at the Cavalry Avenue crossing on September 19, 1925. The Wabash member's position is that the Pere Marquette is liable for the accident. The Pennsylvania member states that on account of the absence of positive evidence as to which train struck the man, that the expense should be assumed 50% by the Pere Marquette and 50% by the Belt. The Pere Marquette member's position is that the entire amount should be assumed by the Union Belt. Therefore, the mater is referred to the Board of Managers for decision. The Managers approved the payment by the Belt.

Company Surgeon. Authority was received to increase the compensation of the Surgeon from $100 to $400 per annum, effective March 1, 1926, with instructions to make a deduction of $1 for each physical examination of all applicants, except track laborers and clerks. This will include engine house men and train service employees.

 

April, 1926

Proposed Wye at Glendale Avenue. In lieu of providing this wye, it was decided that three tracks at Coon Avenue for salvage and storage purposes would be of more benefit.  These tracks, with a total capacity of 93 cars, were placed in service November 13, 1925.

Passing Siding On Oakman Branch. This track was placed in service in January, 1925, as approved on August 26, 1924 by the Board of Managers.

Removal of DSR Crossings in West Jefferson Avenue. The Wabash and Pere Marquette own the diamond in Jefferson Avenue formally used to serve the American Car & Foundry company. It's angle is such that it cannot be used to serve the Detroit Railway & Harbor Terminals Company or any other industry in that vicinity. The diamond is also in bad shape. The Operating Committee recommends it's removal.

Crossing Protection. It is proposed to gradually install flash light signals at some of the less important crossings now protected by Gatemen and dispense with the men at a saving of $236.64 per month for each crossing. The least important crossing now protected by Gatemen is Crawford Avenue where flash signals could be operated by gatemen at adjoining streets (Artillery and Rademacher) and it is recommended that this be authorized so that it can be taken up with the Utilities Commission for approval.

Manual Block System. After due consideration the Operating Committee is recommending a private telephone line with telephones for present switch tenders and others located conveniently for Conductors and employment of a set of dispatchers to regulate traffic between Depot and member line yards. It is estimated that the telephone facilities will cost $4,337 and the rate of $225 recommended for three dispatchers to be relieved one day each week.

Western Union Time Service. Notice was received from the Western Union Telegraph Company of an advance of 25 cents per month commencing July 1, 1926 in the rental charge for synchronized self-winding clocks in the engine house office, train master's office and Delray Tower, for which we now pay respectively $1, $1.50 and $1.75 per month.

 

May, 1926

Water Facilities. Water facilities were discussed as they related to valuation of properties. According to the discussion, Belt water facilities are located at Otis Street (on the West Detroit branch near Michigan Avenue), Russell Street, Plymouth and Glendale Avenue. The Pennsylvania had a water facility at Lonyo Road. These are not the total of water facilities on the Belt.

Gas House Lead Near Depot. Discussions are taking place on using the tracks of the Gas Company for switching of the Fort Street Union Depot. This is the first mention of a planned 4-track main line.

 

June, 1926

Improvements to the West Detroit Branch. The following improvements are recommended for the West Detroit Branch: 1) 90# rail [already done]; 2) 2nd track from Plymouth Road to Livernois at a cost of $11,200; 3) a passing or drilling track, Warren Avenue to approximately Livernois at a cost of $20,900; 4) a passing or drilling track between Schoolcraft Blvd., and Town Line (Greenfield) Road at a cost of $12,173 and 4) relocation of the crossover east of Michigan Avenue leading from the main track to the old scale track at a cost of $250.

Charging Industries for Engine Rentals. It was determined that industries be charged for use of engines and train crews including fuel, supplies, etc. furnished for any purpose at the following rates per hour:

  • Tractive force under 20,000 lbs - $10.00
  • Tractive force 25,000 to 50,000 lbs. - $12.50
  • Tractive force 50,000 lbs. and over. - $15.00

Vandalism At West Detroit Yard Office. Two box car bodies were set off the trucks at West Detroit on December 1, 1925. On January 11th the siding was torn from one of the cars. On January 31st one of the cars was damaged by fire. The carpenter work on these cars was completed February 20th but no light or water was provided. On February 23rd the cars were completely stripped of all window sash by some unknown person. The sash was replaced and telephones were installed on April 28th. On May 29th, one window was broken, both telephones and telephone boxes were stolen. Cars were wired for electric lights sometime during May. On June 10th every sash in both cars were damaged beyond repair and considerable destruction to the inside of the cars was done. On June 14th arrangements were made with Lowrie & Robinson to replace the sash as Pere Marquette Bridge & Building gang was busy elsewhere. On June 23rd both cars were entirely destroyed by fire evidently started by boys in the neighborhood. The Operating Committee urges the Pere Marquette to proceed at once to replace the office and to provide constant police protection from the time the car bodies are set off until ready for occupancy.

 

July, 1926

Interchange with Pere Marquette. Commencing July 1st, effective with the use by the Pere Marquette of their new yard at Oak, the interchange of cars to and from the West Detroit Branch and West Belt is made at Oak. The interchange of cars for the Rougemere territory, Oakman Branch and Holden Spur as well as the joint territory east of Delray will continue to be made at Rougemere Yard for the present.

Engine house Labor Force. The following men are now being carried on the payroll as laborers at the Engine House:

  7 men Coal Dock laborer
  6 men Fire knocker
  6 men Fire builder
  8 men Engine Wiper
  1 man Janitor
  3 men Hostler helpers

 

August, 1926

Proposed Wye At Glendale Avenue. The wye track in the southwest angle of the junction of the West Detroit branch and the West Belt is again recommended now that the Pere Marquette is interchanging with the Belt at Oak and contemplates deliveries there of considerable sand and gravel for industries in the Rougemere district. There will be still greater need for it beginning with the construction of several large industrial plants on the West Belt particularly the Electrical Refrigerating Corporation and Peoples Outfitting Company. This was approved and work started on the wye on August 16th and it was placed into service on September 8th.

Interchange with Detroit Railway & Harbor Terminals Company. The Harbor Terminals Company has completed the first of several contemplated warehouses on property formerly occupied by the American Car and Foundry Company, with a network of tracks connected with the lead between the main line and Jefferson Avenue. They have purchased a 40 ton oil burning locomotive to perform their own switching and the member lines have filed tariffs for plant switching allowance. In order to efficiently handle the business it is the intention to have the alley closed and construct two additional tracks parallel with the existing track for interchange purposes and until such time as these tracks are provided the tariff above referred to will not be operative as under the present conditions the Belt is required to perform the switching service in the plant and consequently no allowance is being made.

Yard Problems Continue. The Pere Marquette cannot now spare any portion of the Rougemere yard and it is the opinion of the trainmasters and also the Operating Committee that their East Yard could not be used to advantage by the Belt for the reason that the classifying of cars in that yard with interlocking plants at Fort Street and Delray would be seriously retarded.

Third and Fourth Main Tracks. In connection with the meeting of the Chief Engineers on August 24th, the Operating Committee has reviewed the plan for the third and fourth main tracks now proposed beginning at 21st Street and terminating at Harbaugh Avenue with the expectation that ultimately arrangements will be made to extend these tracks to Delray Interlocking, and recommends a full set of crossovers in the vicinity of 21st Street, Studebaker Plant, Summit Street and West End Avenue, eliminating all other main line connections. The plan has been returned to the Engineers. The Committee urges that the engineering force recommended by the Chief Engineers be employed at once to take charge of the main track renewal work now in progress and instructed the Secretary to submit Form 30 for this force.

Collision Near West Grand Blvd. A serious rear-end collision occurred on the Boulevard Lead due to the failure of the Engineer of Wabash Train No. 2 to stop at the signal, and failure of Flagman with Pere Marquette Boat Yard train to protect train that had not cleared the derail on the Boulevard Lead and the switch therefore could not be closed. The Wabash Engineer was suspended 45 days and the Pere Marquette flagman was dismissed from the service.

 

September, 1926

Yard Supervision. Industrial switching on the Union Belt has shown a steady increase as reflected by statement of industrial cars handled during the first eight months of this year compared with the same period of last year shown below, and a still greater increase is expected due to additional industries locating on the Belt:

 

1926

1925

Increase

Percent

Old Joint & Old Main Line

98,816

81,435

17,381

21%

West Detroit Branch

52,691

47,262

5,429

11%

Rougemere District & West Belt

48,997

47,163

1,834

4%

         

There was an increase of 5,503 cars or 72% in Zone 18 of the West Belt not reflected in totals for the third item due to Ford Blast traffic handled by the Belt during the early part of 1925 since interchanged with the Wabash at Oakwood Junction. Some of the larger plants now under construction are:

Electric Refridgerator Corporation

Detroit City Gas Company

Ernst Builder Supply Company

People's Outfitting Company

Mark R. Hanna Construction Company

Service Coal Company

United Fuel & Supply Company

 
   

Lithographed maps of the Union Belt have been colored to show the territory of present Yard Masters and territory of proposed additional Yard Masters.  The Operating Committee is convinced that more supervision is essential for economical operation of the Belt and that with the present business there should be an Assistant Train Master in charge at night and an additional Yard Master during the day time to be located at Glendale Junction and recommends rates of $315 and $254.28 respectfully for those additional positions.

Dispatcher's Telephone Circuit. Now that the third and fourth main tracks have been authorized by the Board of Managers, in lieu of dispatchers with telephone facilities it is felt that consideration should be given to the installation of automatic signals on the high speed tracks and that the Signal Engineers should be called upon for recommendations regarding this signal system.

Designations for Certain Points.  The following names have been decided upon for points indicated:

  • "West Belt Junction" - the junction of the Pere Marquette main line (Zone 11) and Pennsylvania West Belt (Zone 14).
  • "Oakman Junction" - the junction of the Pere Marquette main line (Zone 11) and Pennsylvania Oakman Branch (Zone 15).
  • "Glendale Wye" - crossing of the Pere Marquette West Detroit Branch (Zones 12 and 13) and the Pennsylvania West Belt (Zones 14 and 18).

Yard Supervision.  Yard supervision costs will be divided up into the following zones:

  1 Day and 1 Night 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, & 10
  1 Day 11, 14, 15, 16, & 17
  1 Day 12
  1 Night 12 & 13
  1 Day 13 & 18

 

November, 1926

Lamp Tender. The pay of the Lamp Tender is divided among the main line zones (1, 2 & 3) according to the number of lamps in each zone. This has the approval of the Operating Committee.

 

December, 1926

Automatic Signals On High Speed Tracks. The Signal Engineers met with the Operating Committee for discussion of proposed signal protection between 21st Street and Delray in conjunction with the construction of third and fourth main tracks. After careful consideration of their original report recommending an independent machine in Delray Tower for handling crossovers at the West end of the additional mains, replacement overhead of interlocker at Clark Avenue and additional interlockers at West End and Junction Avenues at a total estimated cost of $303,000. The Committee still feels that these improvements should be ultimately provided and that the first portion to be constructed as soon as possible should consist of the two interlockers at Clark Avenue and 21st Street, and automatic signals located on the bridge at the Studebaker Plant, Junction Avenue, Crawford Avenue, Solvay Avenue and Harbaugh Avenue, besides those at Clark and 21st Street interlockers at an estimated cost of $145,000.

 

January, 1927

Plymouth Road Team Track. The Board of Managers has authorized discontinuing this as a team track as the Pennsylvania has withdrawn its objection. The Meyers Road team track was also abandoned on March 31, 1927.

Coach Yard Facilities. Considerable damage to passenger equipment and extra switching are caused by lack of steam on the repair tracks in the Coach Yard at 21st Street. The Operating Committee recommends extending the steam line to these tracks at estimated cost of $400 to be borne by the Pennsylvania and added to the valuation of coach yard facilities.

West Detroit Branch Telephone Line. Service has been established at Michigan Avenue, Warren Avenue, Meyers Road and Oak, and the balance of the telephones will be installed. This telephone service will enable Yardmasters to keep in touch with crews along the line, permit car checkers to communicate with the office and greatly improve operations.

 

February, 1927

Union Belt Automobile. The rental of garage for the automobile used in messenger service now costs $84 per year. A metal garage 9x16 without flooring can be erected for $150 and there is a suitable location adjacent to the driveway near the coal dock. It is recommended.

 

April, 1927

Very little activity.  Some discussions about wheelage costs and interchange.

 

May, 1927

Depot use of Belt Tracks at 21st Street. Most of the Coach Yard switching is done at the west end and it causes some interference to main line operations. Investigation early last year led to the conclusion that if the Coach Yard switching operations were confined entirely to tracks assigned thereto, it would necessitate performing the service at the east end of the yard with use of the approach to the viaduct and by reason of the grade the expense would be considerably increased. It was therefore decided to rebuild and extend the Gas House Lead to accommodate the switching at the west end of the Coach Yard and thus avoid the use of the main track. The Gas House Lead has since been extended and is now a part of the Westward No., 2 track. The Wabash feels that either the Belt should charge for the use of tracks by Depot engines in switching service at the same rate per car assessed by the Depot Company for the use of its tracks as a means of getting to and from the Jefferson Avenue industrial tracks, or the Depot Company should discontinue its charges, allowing the use of its tracks to be offset by its use of Belt tracks at 21st Street, and the Operating Committee will give it further consideration.

Third and Fourth Tracks. In view of the excessive expense for building changes at Timken-Detroit Axle Company Plant No. 1 and the Detroit Chemical Company to permit relocation of the turnouts in the new mains, some consideration has been given to continuing them in the present mains with crossing diamonds in the new mains. In lieu thereof, after further consideration, the Operating Committee recommends installation of slip switches and plans accompanied by the estimate of cost will be submitted to the Board of Managers.

 

June, 1927

15th Street Switchtenders. These men are employed by the Fort Street Union Depot Company to handle switches at the foot of the viaduct. In view of the service they perform throwing switches for engines to enter and leave the 21st Street ending terminal, it is the opinion of the Operating Committee that the Union Belt should bear one half of their wages and divide it among three roads on basis of the number of engines dispatched for each during the calendar month.

Clark Avenue Interlocker. For construction of the fourth track across Clark Avenue, where there is insufficient right of way for interlocking tower on the ground, the Committee recommends a twenty lever electrically operated machine located on a bridge at approximate cost compared with a new plant with tower on the ground, to be purchased for that purpose as follows:

    Tower on Bridge Tower on Ground
  Land to be purchased   $2,500
  Brick tower   $5,400
  20 lever machine - complete $28,500 $28,500
  Tower on bridge $1,500  
  Signal bridges - 2 $6,000 $6,000
  Bridge for tower $3,600  
  Relocation of telephone lines $400  
  Total Cost $40,000 $42,400
       

In event of any change in the street car traffic, not now contemplated, the bridge will be in the right location for the automatic signal system.

Zone Limits. On account of track changes due to construction of the third and fourth main lines between Delray and 21st Street, necessitating removal of some fixed locations used as the dividing points between certain zones, it is recommended that the limits of zones be changes as follows. The Terminus of Zones 1 and 2 established at the heel of the frog in the Boat Yard lead, station 595-89, to the east line of West Grand Boulevard, Station 594-53, now that the Boat Yard lead has been extended across the Boulevard and is a part of the Westward No. 2 track. Zone 9, as described in the proposed operating agreement extends from the heel of the grog in eastbound main line between Solvay and Green Avenue, Station 495-50.  this track was likewise extended to become a part of Eastward No. 2 and the turnout in it for connection with the DT&I at West End Avenue, and with the Solvay tracks, is now located between Solvay and West End Avenue with the heel of the frog at Station 491-50.

 

July, 1927

Accident Expense. On May 11, 1927, while Trackman John Figluizzi was assisting Signal Maintainer change out insulated joints at 23rd Street, he stepped out of the way of a Wabash drag approaching on the eastward main, backed into and was struck and fatally injured by Pere Marquette engine 503 moving in the same direction on the Boat Yard lead. His hospital and funeral expenses cost $345.55. The Operating Committee is unable to agree as to the responsibility for this expense. The Wabash representative is of the opinion that the Pere Marquette is entirely responsible and should assume all liability as Trackman was killed by one of their engines in exclusive Pere Marquette service. The Pere Marquette representative feels that the Belt should assume it in view of the contributory negligence of the Trackman who was employed by the Belt. The Pennsylvania representative contends that it is the obligation of the road involved in the accident to bear the expense. The case is therefore referred to the Board of Managers for a decision.

Crossing Protection. At the hearing before the Common Council on July 15th, that body approved the plan to install flashing light signals in place of alarm bells at Minnie Street, Swain Avenue, Pelham (formally Pleasant), Summit Street and Post Avenue. Also approved in lieu of bells, gates and watchmen at Junction, Cavalry, Military, Crawford, Rademacher and Solvay Avenues. At Artillery Avenue, where the gates were recently removed to permit construction of third and fourth main tracks, the watchmen will be retained at this crossing. The wages of 16 crossing watchmen will be saved amounting to $15,145 per annum.

 

August, 1927

Third and Fourth Tracks. These tracks will be used quite extensively for through movements, and the Operating Committee therefore recommends that 6,600 rail anchors be applied at an estimated cost of $1,500 for labor and material.

Clark Avenue Interlocker. It is estimated that the replacement of this plant incident to the construction of the fourth track across Clark Avenue will cost $29,850 and as the agreement of December 20, 1904 provides that the Electric Company bear one-half the expense of maintenance, the Operating Committee will, through the Signal Engineer of the Pere Marquette, negotiate with the Department of Street Railways to assume one-half the cost of rebuilding the plant.

 

September, 1927

Service From Detroit Edison, Delray Plant. The Detroit Edison Company plant located on the Delray Terminal Railroad owned by the Edison Company is reached by the Delray Connecting Railroad owned by the Solvay Process Company. When deliveries are made by the Union Belt its member lines make a switching allowance of $1.02 per car to the Delray Terminal for spotting service and pay the Belt for the delivery also for return movement of the empty cars. No charge has been assessed for use of the Delray Connecting track to reach the Delray Terminal, but it is expected that a trackage charge will be established, as under the Price Trusteeship the track can be used by any connecting road at cost of interest and maintenance expense. When deliveries are made by the roads to the Delray Connecting Railroad for intermediate switch movement to the Delray Terminal Railroad, the switching charge assessed by the D.C.R.R. is $3.60 per car and empties are returned free. Prior to May 28, 1926 the switching for all member lines to and from this plant was performed by the Union Belt. Commencing that date the Pennsylvania traffic was diverted to the Delray Connecting Railroad and commencing May 10, 1927 the Wabash and Pere Marquette similarly diverted their traffic for the Delray Plant of Detroit Edison. Cars for that plant were again given to the Belt by Pennsylvania commencing September 3, 1927 and by the Pere Marquette commencing September 7, 1927.

Care of Passenger Equipment at Detroit. For some time, efforts have been made by the member lines to reach an agreement for the care of their passenger equipment cars at Detroit by the Union Belt. It was proposed effective with the transfer of this work from the Union Depot Company to the Union Belt to create the position of Master Mechanic to have supervision over both the engine terminal and passenger car work. The Wabash and Pennsylvania desire the Belt to perform the work of inspecting, repairing, cleaning, icing, watering and charging their passenger cars at the Depot as well as in the Coach Yard. The Pere Marquette objected to this scheme as a whole, preferring to confine the Belt supervision to the mechanical operation of the Coach Yard and continue such work as is done at the Depot under the supervision of the Depot forces. It is now proposed by the Pere Marquette that the present General Foreman at 21st Street Enginehouse be promoted to Master Mechanic and his supervision extended over the mechanical operations of the Depot Company including the Coach yard, reporting to both the Operating Committee of the Union Belt and the Superintendent of the Depot Company. This proposition is urged by the Pere Marquette at this time as a means of at once securing the benefit in economy and efficiency to be had from such joint or unified supervision, rather than to defer action toward that end until agreement is reached on the proposition to place the Coach Yard mechanical operation under the jurisdiction of the officers of the Union Belt. The Wabash is not agreeable to making any change until a decision is reached as to the future care of passenger cars at Detroit. The Pennsylvania objects to extending the supervision of the General Foreman, preferring to make no change in the handling of passenger car work until completion of the present negotiations. It is their opinion that this work is not a function of the Depot Company and that the roads can have it performed as they choose. This is referred to the Board of Managers.

City Garbage Plant Switching. The switching at the City Garage Disposal Plant, an industry on the Union Belt at 24th Street, is performed by the Wabash crew that hauls the loads to French Landing and the empties back to this plant. That service was established shortly after the beginning of Belt operation to overcome complaints that were made on account  of the offensive odor from these cars when allowed to stand around after being switched out waiting for Wabash to haul them to the reduction plant at French Landing [near Belleville]. It is the most practical and economical arrangement for movement of this traffic. The Wabash makes no bills against the Belt for engine service or crew wages, the cars are not interchanged but are included in the Wabash main line wheel reports, hence no dummy interchange reports are prepared and the cars are only counted in the main line wheelage of the Wabash.

 

October, 1927

Proposed Extension of Jefferson Avenue Track West End. The extension of the West Jefferson Avenue track to connect with the main line west of West Grand Blvd. would not only expedite the switching service in Jefferson Avenue but would avoid considerable interference to main line traffic between the Boulevard and 21st Street. This extension would cost $10,500 exclusive of the right of way, and it is conservatively estimated that it would save two hours of engine service per week day which at $10 per hour would exceed $6,000 a year.  It could be used for a connection to serve the balance of the triangular piece of property owned by the City now being considered as a site for an additional garbage loading plant. The Operating Committee has approved of the plan and feels that in event the City decides to so develop the property, it would be an ideal opportunity to obtain a right of way across City property and permission to extend the Jefferson Avenue track to the main line, and the plan will be submitted to the Board of Managers for consideration.

 

November, 1927

Third and Fourth Main Tracks Update. This program has been completed with the exception of the following.  1) Nothing done east of Barrett switch in Pere Marquette Boat Yard Lead.  PM is not in position to turn this track over to the Belt for use as fourth main line. 2) New connection with the Timken Detroit Axle Company across the third main east of Clark Avenue is awaiting PM authority to proceed with the work. 3) The 3rd track across Clark Avenue cannot be completed until interlocker is rebuilt in new location (overhead) to provide room for this track. Awaiting PM authority to proceed with the work. 4) New connection with the Detroit Chemical across fourth main east of Junction Avenue. Awaiting PM authority to proceed with the work. 5) The system of crossovers authorized by the Board of Managers has been completed except the installation of the scissors at 21st Street and West End Avenue for which material has not been received, and the crossover at Junction Avenue is awaiting PM approval of a new connection with the Chemical Works. The Wabash has rebuilt its tracks on the joint right of way between West End Avenue and Harbaugh Avenue where the Belt has constructed turnouts from Nos. 1 and 2 main tracks. The Wabash is prepared to turn these tracks over to the Belt for joint use and maintenance.

Equalization of Power. On November 1st, 1927, the Wabash was 819 hours behind its quota of engine service to be supplied to the Union Belt, and the Pere Marquette and Pennsylvania respectively 419 hours and 400 hours ahead of their quotas. The Pere Marquette is not agreeable to displacing its engine and crew in District #1 to allow the Wabash to equalize.

Automatic Signals on High Speed Tracks. Instructions received to confer with two signal companies to develop the feasibility of centralized control of signals and switches for operation of trains between Third Street and Delray. The Signal Engineers suggested signal protection to be provided ultimately for the four track system, and recommended that the first portion to be constructed as soon as possible should consist of the two interlocking plants at Clark Avenue and 21st Street, with automatic signals on bridges where needed. Upon completion of the studies by the Signal Companies it is the intention of the Operating Committee to recommend that a signal system be installed next year that will conform to the ultimate plan of signals and interlocking plants.

 

January, 1928

Negotiations With City To Replace Clark Road Interlocker. After discussions with the City, it is felt that the steam roads should assume the entire cost of signals on the additional track and the steel sub-structure to support the interlocking tower, and that the balance of the expense of rebuilding of the plant should be treated as maintenance, estimated at $30,000 and on basis of the unit distribution table, it would be divided as follows: Electric Line 37.5% ($11,250), Steam Roads 62.5% ($18,750, chargeable as maintenance in Zone 2).

Police Protection Discussion. The Wabash reports that it is furnishing all the police protection in Zones 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7 as well as having a regular man assigned to Zone 12 between Michigan Avenue and the Grand Trunk connection, and feel the Belt should either have its own police organization or some division should be made of the expense of the present protection. The Pere Marquette has no desire to depart from its present practice, which affords service of this nature found to be ample for its needs, and it is not their understanding that service performed by the Wabash is for other than exclusive Wabash benefit. The Pennsylvania favors a separate police force for all Union Belt territory. The matter was revisited in March where it was determined that the member roads have the equivalent of nine men policing Belt territory; the Wabash six, the Pere Marquette two and the Pennsylvania one. The suggestion was offered to procure from the member Roads nine patrolmen to be carried on the Union Belt payrolls and divide the expense on basis of the wheelage according to territorial assignments. The Pere Marquette declined to join in such a recommendation.

Residence Telephone. At the beginning of operations the Superintendent authorized the installation of a telephone at Belt expense in the residence of the Trainmaster.  The Board of Managers is asked to reaffirm this authority. It was reaffirmed in March.

 

February, 1928

Clark Road Interlocker. In the ongoing discussions with the City, the Department of Street Railways is agreeable to the replacement of the present plant with a small electric plant handled from a table-lever machine, the expense to be divided on the unit basis. It is proposed to install derails in the two freight mains, operative derails in the facing direction on the electric line, and spring derails protecting against reverse movements, the steam roads to assume the entire cost of signaling on the fourth track and the cost of the steel substructure for the tower, estimated at 25% of the total cost $30,000, or $7,500; the balance, $22,500, to be treated as maintenance and divided equally between the electric line and the steam roads.  This conflicts with the information shown in minutes which erroneously stated that the maintenance proportion was estimated at $30,000. It is recommended that authority be granted to proceed with this work without delay.

 

March, 1928

Proposed Extension of Jefferson Avenue Track at West End. There is no likelihood of the garbage loading station by the City for some time, if at all. In view of the advantages to be gained from the extension it is recommended that a petition be filed with the Common Council to extend the track to connect with the main line east of West Grand Boulevard and thus avoid any possible objection to another track across the Boulevard. This will necessitate use of some City property for the turnout.

Proposed Contracts for Employee Insurance. The Benefit Association of Railway Employees is a mutual legal reserve health and accident association for railway employees. They promote, for social and relief purposes, lodges which are non-sectarian, non-political and prohibit discussion of labor matters, having 221 of these lodges now with one in Detroit installed on the 20th of this month. It is claimed their low rate protection with liberal claim payment practice is second to none. They issue monthly a "Railway Employees Journal" and numerous safety bulletins. The Association has contracts with the Wabash and Pere Marquette for soliciting among their employees, payroll deduction of premiums and allowance office percent as commission for collections. It is recommended that permission be granted to extend their operations to cover the Union Belt under the terms of present contracts and that notice of discontinuance be given the Continental Casualty Company, which now has but nine of our employees insured. Besides the Continental Company, solicitation is authorized and payroll deductions made for the Central West Casualty Company and the Railway Men's Relief Association. No commission is allowed by the latter for handling premium deductions on the payrolls and it has but fourteen employees insured at the present time.

 

April, 1928

Crossing Protection. By reason of a serious automobile accident at Junction Avenue crossing on January 30, 1928, the only one that has occurred at any of the streets where flashing light signals were placed in service last December, there has been considerable agitation in the Common Council for restoring the gates at all of these crossings and on that account Inspector Hughes of the Public Utilities Commission, and Superintendent Murphy of the City Department of Public Works made an inspection of all crossings between the Boulevard and West End Avenue, accompanied by members of the Operating Committee on April 17th. The Inspector recommended that the flashers at nine principal crossings be equipped to warn street traffic in both directions; the flashers on the south side of Artillery Avenue be moved to the center of the street and the one on the south side at Junction Avenue be moved nearer the track. To equip the flashing signals to operate on the track side will cost approximately $65 per signal or $130 per crossing, or a total of $1,170 for the nine crossings.

Automatic Signals on High Speed Tracks. A plan has been prepared for proposed installation of the dwarf type of automatic block signals between Sixth Street and Delray Interlocking Plants, at an estimated cost of $26,000 and early approval is recommended in order to complete the work under favorable weather conditions.

 

May, 1928

Passing Track Oakman Branch. The extension of the second track on the Oakman Branch across Miller Road and as far as the lead to the Detroit Seamless Steel Tube Company Plant is needed now for efficient and economical switching. The increased traffic of the Graham Paige Motor Car company and the business of other industries now located in that territory make it necessary during switching operations to place cars on all private tracks to the extend that it interferes with the business of the industries and has caused numerous complaints and it also causes excessive switching expense. There is prospect of several additional industries locating there and the Operating Committee recommends extending the Passing Track at once at an estimated cost of $5,708. Authorized in August, 1928.

Car Inspections. At present the car inspectors of all three roads visit the Detroit Railway & Harbor Terminals Plant daily, with unsatisfactory results and duplication of work. It is proposed to establish joint inspection for 16 hours per day and divide the expense among the three roads on the basis of the number of cars handled for each to and from the Harbor Terminals.  Authority received in June.

 

June, 1928

Smoke Abatement (at Roundhouse). Notice 4274 received from the Bureau of Smoke Inspection and Abatement calls for installation of a breaching with suitable connections over all smoke stacks under which engines are fired, connected with an approved smoke washing system and then to a single stack large enough to accommodate the gasses resulting from the firing up of engines in the roundhouse. The Operating Committee feels that concerted action should be taken by all the roads to the end that uniform practice will be obtained and suggests that the Board of Managers arrange for a meeting of the Mechanical and other interested representatives of all steam roads in Detroit for the purpose of thoroughly analyzing the situation and deciding upon uniform action, as the cost of complying with orders such as this would be very expensive. In July, the minutes reported that other roads in Detroit have equipped their locomotives with ring and combustion tube blowers and can clear dense smoke within ten seconds from the time blowers are put in operation. They are, however, receiving violation notices almost daily and all contend that the Inspectors are too strict in their judgment of smoke with the use of an unbrascope (or quadruple smoked lenses) which makes thin gray smoke appear dense.

 

July, 1928

Third and Fourth Main Track Update. New connection with the Detroit Chemical Works has been installed and second eastward main completed without the cantilever signal originally proposed at Cavalry Avenue, which has been deferred for further consideration of the dwarf type automatic signals in this territory.

West Belt Extension. The West Belt is being extended across the Detroit Terminal Railroad at Livernois Avenue to the vicinity of Hamilton Avenue and the following industries have been connected with this extension: Sterling Coal Co., Schiewe Coal Co., Lowrie & Robinson Lumber Co., Detroit Motor Bus Company, Davy Fuel & Supply Co., Rex Clay Products Co., and Anchor Pipe & Supply.

 

August, 1928

Switching Lead. To facilitate switching operations by avoiding use of the Pere Marquette main track, the Operating Committee recommends and urges the prompt construction of a track on the Pere Marquette right of way north of Zone 11 between the Oakman Spur and the West Belt.

Warren Avenue Interlocker. The Department of Street Railways is willing to join in application to the Public Utilities Commission to discontinue the derails in the Pere Marquette (West Detroit Branch) tracks at Warren Avenue.

 

December, 1928

Equalization of Power. On December 1st, the Wabash and Pere Marquette were 4,586 and 1,949 engine hours below their quota and the Pennsylvania was 6,535 hours over its quota.  The Wabash proposed to place some of its engines in charge of Pennsylvania crews in the latter's territory in order to reduce its shortage, but this was not agreeable to the Pennsylvania. The Pere Marquette requests that its engines be used in District 1 in proportion to ownership so as to enable them to furnish power in proportion to its quota, but the Wabash was not agreeable to this, as it would mean the withdrawal of Wabash engine assignments to the extend that Pere Marquette engines are substituted and the Wabash would fall farther behind the quota than at present. This subject is therefore referred to the Board of Managers.

 

March, 1929

Car Inspection. The joint car inspection at the Detroit Railway and Harbor Terminals Company was discontinued December 19th at the close of navigation and for this season it is intended - unless otherwise instructed - to re-establish it on a slightly different basis at much less expense.  Last year, two inspectors were employed for 16 hour service and it was frequently necessary to work them overtime when boat cargoes were transferred to cars at night and the cars pulled from the plant interchange track before the regular inspection service the next day.  The inspectors were not kept busy at all times and shortly after the service was established they were assigned to inspect cars at other nearby plants, namely, American Brass, Timken, Graham-Paige and the Detroit Chemical.  For this year it is proposed to assign to all of these plants a Wabash inspector for six hours during the day and Pere Marquette Board Yard inspectors two or three hours, as necessary, on the second and third tricks, the expense to be billed against the Union Belt and apportioned among the roads on basis of the card handled for each road at these plants.

Claim of Michigan Bell Telephone Company. This claim, amounting to $67, covers damage to fence and gate at their Plymouth Road yard on January 5th, by crew in charge of engine 9079. While shoving 12 cars from Fullerton Avenue Yard into Coon Avenue passing track the cars headed into the Telephone Company siding on account of switch being open and damaged the fence and gate before cars could be stopped. Switchman Delevern was disciplined by five days actual suspension for his responsibility in connection with the accident. This claim is referred to the Board of Managers with recommendation that the Belt assume the responsibility. Payment was authorized by the Board of Managers.

 

April, 1929

Company Surgeon. The Operating Committee recommends that compensation of Dr. George W. Ridenour be increased from $400 to $600 per annum.

Claim of Detroit Edison Company. This claim, amounting to $99.81 covers the cost of replacing a pole destroyed February 8th, when struck by car derailed by ice and snow in the Chope-Stevens track which we maintain at railroad expense. The section gang was cleaning other tracks, having ascertained that the conductor had no cars for Chope-Stevens that morning, but during switching operations it was necessary to shove some cars in their. The Operating Committee recommends that the claim be paid.