Timetable: Milwaukee Road - Ontonagon Sub - Channing to Ontonagon

This Milwaukee Road branch line was built as the Ontonagon & Brule River railroad and often referred to as the O&B for many years. The line extended from Channing west northwest to Ontonagon. Iron River trains used the first 8 miles of this branch to reach their own line at Kelso Junction. Station hours and siding capacity as of 1938 with 44' cars. This line has been pulled up east to Rockland. This branch line had spurs to the Amasa-Porter Mine (1914-1927), the Warner Mine (1893-1937), Michigan Mine (1893-1916) and the White Pine Mine (13 miles, from 1917-1931). The dispatcher was located in Channing for this line.

Station MP from Channing Notes
Channing J-MILW Main Line 0.0  DN DS J C W Y TC=CH
Spur 234  2.2   
Kiernan  4.1  P64 TC=KN
Gratton Spur 7.5  
Kelso Junction J-Iron River branch 7.8  J Y TC=KO 
Ponca  10.0  Siding #2
Mitchells Spur  13.8   
Spur 247  15.1   
Balsam xCNW  15.6  I/X
Amasa-Porter Mine Junction ~16.1 J
Warner Mine Junction  17.3 


Amasa  20.2  D W P37 TC=AM 
Triangle Ranch  21.6   
Spur 255  24.6   
Spur 257  26.7   
Spur 259  28.7   
Diana  29.0  Siding #3
Net River 31.8  
Park Siding  33.2  P50 TC=RK 
Spur 265  34.2   
Spur 269 37.2   
Tunis 39.2  P28 TC=S Siding #4
Keating's Spur  39.8   
Perch Creek Spur  40.6   
Spur 274  42.7   
Nestor Crossing 46.8  
Sidnaw xDSSA  46.9  XI D C W Y P70 TC=HI
Berglands Mill Track 48.8  
Stanton's Spur  51.0   
Spur 289  57.1   
Frost  58.1  P45 TC=FS 
Frost Junction  59.0 
Findley Junction  63.2
Britton  65.2  W TC=BN
Spur 293    
Findley Junction    
Pori  66.0  P30 TC=RI 
Rousseau  68.0   
Spur 309  68.3   
Wasas  70.3   
Wainola 72.5  
McKeever  73.1  Y J-COPR to Houghton
Mass  73.6  D P26 TC=GD 
Riddle Junction  75  J-MRRR to Keweenaw Bay
Brady  78.2   
Rockland 80.9 P14 TC=KD
Spur 314    
Spur 318 84.8  
Wood Siding 87.4  
(Junction) J-Ontonagon RR 92.1 J Y
Ontonagon 92.5 C W S Yard TC=GN
End of track 92.7  

Key: C=Coal | CS=Car Shop | D=Open > Day | DN=Open Day and night | DS=Dispatcher | DT=Double Main Track | EH=Engine house | F=Diesel Fuel | HI=Half Interlocked Crossing | I=Interlocked Crossing | J=Junction | N=Open at night | P=Passing Track w/40' car capacity | Q=Quarry | RH=Round house # stalls | RT=Railroad Resort | S=Scales | T=Turntable | TC=Telegraph call | W=Water | X=Crossing | Y=Wye | Yard=Yard


Channing: Junction with the MILW line south to Green Bay and north to Champion, and the Escanaba & Lake Superior main line to Wells. The MILW had trackage rights on the E&LS for ore trains prior to their pooling agreement with the C&NW. The MILW and E&LS dispatcher was located at Channing.

Kelso Junction: This was the junction with the MILW line to Crystal Falls and Iron River.

Frost Junction: This was a junction with the MILW branch to Kenton.

McKeever: This was the junction with the Copper Range railroad to Houghton. For a period of time, the MILW ran passenger trains into the Copper Country on this route.

Riddle Junction: This was a junction with the Mineral Range's Keweenaw Bay-Mass Branch.

Ontonagon: The White Pine branch (southeast from Ontonagon) was built during World War I to haul copper ore. After the war, it was used to haul logs. The Greenwood Lumber Company ran west from Ontonagon to the Union River near the Porcupine Mountains from WW I until 1930. The Thompson-Wells Company ran southwesterly from Ontonagon during the 1920's. The Gorman Lumber Company ran easterly from Ontonagon to log 30,000 acres but closed in 1948.

[REF] = [ETT]{MRL] + other sources.

Time Line

1882. Line built by Ontonagon & Brule River railroad from Mass to end of track in Ontonagon. [MRL]

1889. Line extended from Mass to Sidnaw. [MRL]

1890. O&B is purchased by Milwaukee & Northern. [MRL]

1893. Line is extended east from Sidnaw to Channing and a connection with the main line south to Green Bay. [MRL]

1893. The Milwaukee & Northern is purchased by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad. [MRL]

1906. February. In the 97 miles between Channing and Ontonagon, known as the O.& B. branch, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul railroad has an expensive piece of trackage in the winter. Every other day and sometimes oftener the big snowplows go over the line followed by the flanger and the spreader and this process is kept up almost continuously.

At present the snow in that region is said to be fully eight feet deep on the level and in places it is drifted so that trainmen standing on the top of a freight caboose have to step up a couple of feet in order to reach the top. Throughout the present winter snow storms have followed each other in rapid succession. About a foot of snow fell in that region of the Ontonagon branch this week. [DFP-1906-0223]

1925. At Ontonagon Junction: The wye at Ontonagon was re-constructed in 1925 to accommodate larger engines that would not fit on the turntable. Larger engines were needed because of the heavy logging business off the White Pine line. This branch ran from the main line at the edge of town to the Smurfit-Stone paper mill. [GB]

1928. The CM&StP is reorganized into the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific railroad. [MRL]

1931. On the abandonment of the Ontonagon Railroad, parts of this company in Ontonagon continue to be operated by the MILW as yard trackage. [MRL]

1938. The depot at Amasa was open from 0800-1700 and from 2020 to 2100 hours. In 1938 Sidnaw was open from 0900 to 1800.

1938. Sidnaw crossing had gates. In the 1970's the crossing was protected by an automatic interlocking. Each route has 2 aspects, red and green.

1964. The Milwaukee Road operates three round trip trains from Channing to Ontonagon, but it also provides daily switching to customers in Ontonagon. [EDP-1964-0320]

1980. Line is purchased by Escanaba & Lake Superior. [MRL]

2011. The railroad line between Rockland and Ontonagon was abandoned by the Escanaba & Lake Superior and the track removed. This was the former O&B branch of the Milwaukee Road. In 2014, the right of way was sold to the Michigan DNR to establish a key trail connection. [Village of Ontonagon]


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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