Railroad: Wisconsin & Michigan railroad

The Wisconsin & Michigan railroad was organized in 1894 to build and operate lines north and south from the Soo Line at Faithorn Junction to points in Michigan and Wisconsin, reaching the Menominee iron range in and around Loretto and Norway, and on to Iron Mountain via trackage rights on the MILW. The road also ran a barge operation from Peshtigo Harbor in Wisconsin south to Chicago and the Indiana steel mills.

For a time, the railroad served as the operator of the Menominee port for the Ann Arbor railroad's car ferry operation, but this was taken over by the C&NW (probably when the W&M ceased operations). The railroad was reorganized in 1918 and most of the line was abandoned by 1938. The track from Norway to Quinnesec and to the Argon Mine was sold to the Milwaukee Road.


Menominee & Northern → Wisconsin & Michigan Railroad → Ended (some to Milwaukee Road)

Bought: 1894 - Menominee & Northern

Bought: 1905 - Quinnesec & Western

Operated for 44 Years.

Reorganized several times.

Operations Ended: 1938

Reference: [MRRC]

Photo Info: A W&M passenger train is photographed near Fumee Falls, date unknown. Note the water tower here with water drawn from the river. [Dickenson County Historical Society].


The Wisconsin & Michigan provided competition for logging and mining business in the Iron Mountain area of the Upper Peninsula, and transported goods south via the Ann Arbor railroad’s lake ferry for Ford's Kingsford Factory.

In 1903, the directors of this line were all from Chicago. There were 39 stockholders. The new directors were:

  • J.N. Faithorn, president of the Chicago Terminal Railway Co and VP of the Chicago & Alton Railway.
  • John P. Hopkins, a Chicago capitalist (President)
  • John R. Walsh, a millionaire banker of Chicago
  • J.C. Aimes of Chicago
  • C.H. Worcester of the C.H. Worcester & Co.

TIme Line

1894Marinette Daily Eagle: John Bagley, president and principal projector of the Wisconsin & Michigan Railway company, has recently contracted for the purchase of enough steel rails to build seventy miles of road.-- enough for the main line and all spurs and side-tracks. The line will extend from the Soo road in Michigan [Faithorn Junction] south about five miles to the old Ingalls, White Rapids & Northern Logging railway, which will become a part of the route. From the south end of the logging road it will run south to the Menominee river, crossing and continuing south on the Wisconsin side to the mouth of the river at Marinette. It is supposed that construction will begin at the north end and at the river as soon next spring as the weather is sufficiently settled to admit of profitable work. [MDE-1894-0217] 

1895. January 1. The road is opened between Koss, Mich. to Faithorn Jct. Michigan.

1895. February 17. Wisconsin & Michigan Purchases the Peshtigo Lumber Line. One of the largest and most important deals made in this region was consummated yesterday. The Peshtigo Lumber company sold its rail road running from the village to Peshtigo Harbor, a distance of seven miles, to the Wisconsin & Michigan railway, the consideration being $50,000. The parties who made the deal were the Hon. Isaac Stephenson for the Peshtigo company, and Secretary J.M. Faithorn of the Wisconsin & Michigan. The transfer includes the rolling stock and dock privileges at the harbor. The Wisconsin & Michigan company intends to establish ore docks there. Its line will be extended from Faithorn Junction to the Menominee iron range, twelve miles. Next year a new and direct route will be opened up. It is also expected that the Ann Arbor road will put in transfer docks at the harbor. Peshtigo is wild with excitement over the deal, and a town which was thought to be dead promises to become a flourishing city. [RTR-1895-0622]

1895. The W&M reaches Peshtigo Harbor from Peshtigo, a distance of 8 miles. [MRL]

1895. A short branch from Koss to Ingalls, 5.0 miles is built. It is abandoned in 1902. [MRL]

1895. The Italians working on the Wisconsin & Michigan railway near Ingalls struck for more than the 60 cents a day they were getting. This was refused them and after loading up with whisky they proceeded to enforce their demand with the aid of some pickaxes that were left handy for them. With these in hand they made an onslaught on the foremen, chasing them into the woods, after which they repaired to town and loaded up some more. Two of the rioters drowned while crossing on logs from a tent saloon on an island. [RTR-1895-0223]

1896. The line is opened from Hammond Jct. Michigan to the end of the Hammond Branch.

1898. In 1891, an act was passed exempting railroads constructed north of parallel 44 of latitude from taxes for ten years. Under this act, as of 1898, the Wisconsin & Michigan having 54.1 miles has been paying no taxes whatever. [DFP-1898-0323]

1898. December. Richard Skuse was blown to atoms by an explosion of dynamite near Menominee while employed on the construction work of the W& railroad. [AR-1898-1202]

1901. A deed was recorded here conveying to John R. Walsh, of Chicago, an interest in a large tract of ore land in [Iron County, MI]. This conveyance is supposed to have connection with the proposed extension of the W&M railway from Faithorn Junction northward. [SJH-1901-0629]

1902. The main line extends from the Menominee River to Faithorn Junction. Passenger service is extended to Menominee over the CM&St.P railway. [MCR-1902]

1903. February. A new branch will be extended into the iron country and the company will make a bid for the iron ore traffic in the upper peninsula, along with other roads. It is very probable that a large car ferry will be built to carry the trains between Peshtigo, WI and South Chicago, and branch tracks will be run to several mines. A number of new depots will be built and many new cars and several large new engines will be ordered. [DFP-1903-0213]

1903. The line is extended from Faithorn Jct. to Norway, Michigan, from Norway to Cundy (mine), and from Aragon Jct. to Norway and Hanberry Line seven.

1903. SNAPSHOT. The road operated 41 miles of line in Michigan and 33 miles in Wisconsin. There were 7 miles of branches and 7 miles of sidings and spurs. The road leased wheelage rights on the CM&StP railway 8.5 miles (1.82 in Michigan). The railroad had 7 stations in Michigan. The W&M employed six each of engineers, firemen and conductors. It employed 10 brakemen, 2 baggagemen, 41 laborers (mostly section hands), 85 shopmen and 28 others. The railroad owned 8 locomotives, 4 passenger cars and 175 freight cars. The top five categories of freight hauled (by tonnage) were: logs (43%), other forest products (29%), lumber (15%), merchandise (5%) and cement, brick and lime (1%).

1903. Speculation in the news is that the Vanderbilt railroad interests, have "membership" in the W&M and are promoting the W&M as a competitor to the Milwaukee Road. Vanderbilt controls the competing Chicago & Northwestern. They note that the Milwaukee Road is predominately controlled by Rockefeller interests. The W&M has two car ferries, especially designed for ore trade with a capacity of 60 fifty-ton cars or 3,000 tons of cargo. These boats will ply between Peshtigo Harbor and South Chicago. [DD-1903-1003]

1903. The W&M built a coaling facility in Peshtigo. [MCR-1904]

1904. The W&M line from Everett, MI to Constine, WI via Miscauno Island is built by the Quinnessec railroad and becomes part of the W&M. [MRL]

1904. A 5.5 mile branch is built from Aragon Junction to Aragon Mine in Norway. It operated for 14 years when it was abandoned in 1918. [MRL]

1904. A 1.1 mile long branch is built from Bergam to O'Callaghan Mills in Vulcan (East Vulcan mine). It is abandoned in 1914. [MRL]

1904. While awaiting completion of their line from Quinnesec and Iron Mountain, the W&M will use a large automobile to transfer passengers using the highway. [DFP-1904-0228]

1904. December 30. W&M reports completion of construction from Quinnesec to Cundy mine (1.2 miles) and Nathan to Menominee River (7 miles). [RG]

1907. A contract has been let by the St. Paul road for the building of a connection with the W&M at Quinnesec, or Cundy, as the station at the end of the W&M is known. This news created a stir in railroad circles and much speculation on the meaning of the move. Some believe that the St. Paul has virtually acquired the W&M while others hold the opinion that the move is more for the mutual benefit of both companies.

For some time there has been talk of the St. Paul extending to Norway. Norway is a hard place to get into. The W&M finds the same difficulty in getting into Iron Mountain, or did before the financial crash of owner John R. Walsh. The W&M has the desired entrance to Norway and the St. Paul has the desired entrance to Iron Mountain. "The St. Paul company has either acquired control of the W&M or has ben successful in perfecting a traffic arrangement equal to an ownership." [DD-1897-0720]

1909. The W&M is extended from Cundy Mile to milepost 75.8. [MRL]

1910. Threatened sale by the state of Michigan of the Wisconsin & Michigan railroad, one of the John R. Walsh roads, and almost the only one he will save in the settlement pending has been postponed until January 26. The state has a claim for $44,579 for taxes and those have been made. "We will have it straightened out before that time," said John N. Faithorn, receiver for other Walsh roads and interested in the W&M. "It came about through a raise in our valuation and we have an agreement for settlement [which is] about completed now. There will be no sale of the road (W&M)". [SJDP-1910-0111]

1918. A branch is built from E. Norway to Aragon Mile, 0.8 miles long to service the mine. It is sold to the Milwaukee Road in 1938. [MRL]

1918, The Railroad Signal Engineer periodical reported that the 98-mile Wisconsin & Michigan road has decided to discontinue operation and was trying to locate its freight cars now scattered "all over the country", including 26 box, nine refrigerator, 12 gondola and 214 flat cars. [RSE]

1918. The W&M line from Peshtigo Harbor, by way of Peshtigo is abandoned to E. Norway. [MRL] This may have been operated by the Milwaukee Road until 1920 and some actually pulled up. It was re-laid in 1920.

1918. The W&M was relinquished from federal war ownership by the U.S. government to their owners. The line was considered as unnecessary by the federal department in charge of the railways of the nation during the World War. [EMP-1918-0720]

1920. The W&M line between Peshtigo and E. Norway resumes operation. [MRL]

1938. January. The interstate commerce commission authorizes the W&M to abandon its entire line. The road extends from Bagley Junction, WI to Iron Mountain MI, approximately 62 miles, with a branch from Aragon Junction to Norway, MI and about 5.5 miles of terminal facilities at Menominee, MI. The railroad was also given permission to abandon operation under trackage rights over the line of the Milwaukee Road between Bagley Junction and Menominee. The salvage value of the line, including land, was estimated at about $500,000. Investment in the road and equipment as of December 31, 1936 was shown at $1.4 million. The ICC said the line was in poor physical condition and the record "does not warrant a conclusion there will be a sufficient increase in traffic and revenues to require the rehabilitation of the line." [IDG-1938-0120]

1838. August 5. W&M Railway Quits. Another of the railroads that were built to tap the iron and timber resources of northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is pulling up its tracks. The Wisconsin and Michigan railroad ran its last train yesterday, permission having been granted by the ICC to abandon its operations of its 62 miles of tracks. Insufficient traffic is the reason for the railroad's folding up.

The original railroad line was between Peshtigo Harbor and Peshtigo, built in 1862 by the Peshtigo Lumber company. The eight-mile line was taken over by the W&M railway company in 1895 and was extended from Peshtigo to Faithorn Junction in 1894. In 1903, the line was extended to Quinnesec and in 1908 from Quinnesec to Iron Mountain. John Marsch, a Chicago capitalist, is the sole owner of the railroad, having acquired it 25 years ago. He at one time had extensive lumbering and mining interests in the upper peninsula.

Abandonment of the W&M is a blow to the city of Menominee, where the company had its headquarters. The railroad employed 52 persons, 26 of whom lived in Menominee and Marinette and the rest living along the line in various stations. Local business was negligible on the W&M lines due to the decline of lumbering and the diversion of iron ore shipments to other railroads. The railroad for many years was virtually only a connecting link between the Ann Arbor car ferry at Menominee and the Soo Line railroad at Faithorn for transcontinental freight shipments. [EDP-1938-0805] Ed. Note: The railroad apparently handled Ford automobile traffic for the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

1938. The line from Bagley Jct. to E. Norway is abandoned (with the portion from E. Norway to milepost 75.8 sold to the Milwaukee Road. [MRL]

Further Information

Article: Wisconsin & Michigan Railroad History.



The following sources are utilized in this website. [SOURCE-YEAR-MMDD-PG]:

  • [AAB| = All Aboard!, by Willis Dunbar, Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids ©1969.
  • [AAN] = Alpena Argus newspaper.
  • [AARQJ] = American Association of Railroads Quiz Jr. pamphlet. © 1956
  • [AATHA] = Ann Arbor Railroad Technical and Historical Association newsletter "The Double A"
  • [AB] = Information provided at Michigan History Conference from Andrew Bailey, Port Huron, MI

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