Joining the PMHS
Welcome to the official web site of the Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc.!
New Short Line Begins Operation on Former PM Trackage - On May 31 Hamilton Northwestern began operating a 6.6 mile stretch of former CSX, ex-PM trackage between the south side of Holland and the mill in Hamilton. This is a segment of what was once the line connecting Allegan and Holland. Owned by Hamilton Hartford Group, which also operates the West Michigan Railroad in Hartford, Hamilton Northwestern uses a pair of ex-Union Pacific switchers to provide service to the feed mill in Holland. The new operator interchanges cars with CSX at Waverly Yard via a trackage rights agreement.
In related news, the West Michigan Railroad was awarded up to $8.7 million for track improvements from the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grant program. It is to be used for upgrades on roughly ten miles of track to permit handling cars of 286,000 pounds and to replace two road grade crossings. Posted June 4, 2022
PM and C&O Historian John Paton Passes at 78 - It is with sadness that we must report that John C. Paton passed away peacefully in his sleep on April 2, 2022. John was a Charter Member of the PMHS and served as its Secretary and Treasurer from its founding until 2019. He is best known for his published works, including Pere Marquette Revenue Freight Cars with Art Million, Chesapeake & Ohio BL2 Diesels and Alleghany with an “A” and was a long-time member of the Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society, having served as its Modeling Editor.
John was born and raised in Detroit and was a proud graduate of the University of Michigan. During his service in the U.S. Air Force, John commanded an Air Search and Rescue squadron. After the war, he worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in U.S. Air Force Intelligence. After he retired from the Air Force, he became a reference librarian and worked at Otis Library for a number of years. He was on the board of the Statesboro Georgia Southern Symphony, choosing the music that the symphony would perform
John is survived by his wife of 20 years, Janet, three step-children and seven grandchildren. We will have a further tribute to John's life in the coming issue of PM Tracks. Posted April 12, 2022
PMHS Matching Donations to Plymouth Historical Museum Archive Fund Drive - The Plymouth Historical Museum, which now houses the PMHS’ Archive, has begun a fund drive to update and modernize their facilities. While their facility is already a huge improvement over previous PMHS archive sites, this is the result of a methodical and professional assessment of their infrastructure supporting their local history archive as well as ours. They are conducting this drive through an online GiveSendGo campaign, at: https://www.givesendgo.com/plymouthhistory.
As we will be a major beneficiary of this facility update, the PMHS Board has agreed to match donations to this effort made by PMHS members, up to a maximum combined amount of $2,500. Please mention the PMHS in the comment space when you donate, or contact a PMHS Board member to let us know.
Funds raised by this campaign will be used to purchase lighter and more practical desks and tables for research work, purchase new computer imaging devices including improved book and microfilm scanners, perform website technology upgrades to add digital collections to their Archives page, and to partialy fund additional archive personnel to process and catalog our incoming collection.
The campaign’s goal is to raise a total of $30,000. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Please contact Elizabeth Kerstens, Plymouth Historical Museum Executive Director, if you are interested in sponsoring a portion of the archive upgrade. Posted Mar. 9, 2022
Holland Museum's Presentation on the Restoration of its Pere Marquette Caboose Available Online - On Thursday, November 4, the Holland Museum presented a Zoom program featuring Clare Heyboer, Caboose Conservation Project Manager and Fritz Milhaupt, Publications Editor of the Pere Marquette Historical Society for a conversation about the history of the Holland Caboose, the Pere Marquette, and its importance to the Holland community. This presentation is now now available online from the museum's web site.
Throughout 2021, the Holland Historical Trust has been working on restoring and repainting PM caboose #A967, which is on display at the Padnos Transportation Center in Holland. This has involved repairing or replacing ageing woodwork and metal and having a complete repainting performed by a professional firm. The PMHS has supported this effort by providing photos and drawings from its archive.
To raise funds for this project, the Trust has established a GoFundMe campaign to raise $10,000. Please consider contributing to this cause, at https://www.gofundme.com/f/choochoo-help-restore-the-red-caboose. Posted Oct. 27, 2021
PMHS and the Plymouth Historical Museum Announce Agreement to House PMHS Archives - On August 6, 2021, the Pere Marquette Historical Society and the Plymouth Historical Museum signed an agreement for the Plymouth Historical Museum (PHM) to house and provide access to the PMHS Archives. We jointly issued a press release announcing this the morning of August 7.
As someone who has been a member of the Society since the very beginning and was fortunate enough to know several of the founders of the society who have since died, it’s wonderful to know that we finally have a home for all the material they worked so hard to preserve, said PHMS President Thomas J. Gaffney.
After a decade of storage in various locations that have not been convenient for members or the general public, this agreement will once again make the Archive available to researchers, and will increase the visibility of the PMHS.
We are excited to welcome this wonderful addition to the PHM archive, said PHM Executive Director Liz Kerstens. "Plymouth was a hub for PMRR as both north-south and east-west tracks crossed here. Once the collection is processed, researchers will be able to delve into the rich railroad history of Plymouth and Michigan."” Posted Aug. 7, 2021
Holland Historical Trust Raising Funds to Restore and Repaint Caboose #A967 - Throughout 2021, the Holland Historical Trust has been working on restoring and repainting PM caboose #A967, which is on display at the Padnos Transportation Center in Holland. This has involved repairing or replacing ageing woodwork and metal and having a complete repainting performed by a professional firm. The PMHS has supported this effort by providing photos and drawings from its archive.
To raise funds for this project, the Trust has established a GoFundMe campaign to raise $10,000. Please consider contributing to this cause, at https://www.gofundme.com/f/choochoo-help-restore-the-red-caboose. Posted Aug. 16, 2021
Pere Marquette HO Modelers' Guide Updated - An updated copy of the Pere Marquette HO Modelers' Reference Guide has been posted to the Model Railroading Resources page on this site. Posted Mar. 10, 2021
The PMHS Has A New Mailing Address - Effective immediately, the official mailing address for the PMHS is changed to Post Office Box 233, Perry, Michigan 48872-0233. All correspondence, including dues payments and other inquiries should be directed to this address. Posted Sep. 19, 2019
A New Board of Directors Elected at August Meeting - At the August 10, 2019 Special Membership Meeting called by President Bob VandeVusse, we elected a new Board of Directors. By acclamation, the members present elected new President T.J. Gaffney, Vice President Hugh J. Hales II, and Secretary/Treasurer Tim Parker. Our new Board has already met and has begun conducting the Society's business. Brief introductions to the new Board members will appear in Issue #118 of PM Tracks. Posted Aug. 11, 2019
The Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc. (PMHS) was founded in 1995 as a means of collecting and disseminating information regarding the Pere Marquette Railroad. Our membership is made up of historians, former employees, modelers, and railfans. If you are interested in the PM, we encourage you to join.
The Pere Marquette Railroad Company was formed in 1900 by the merger of numerous Michigan railroads, the most prominent of them being the Flint and Pere Marquette, the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Western, and the Chicago and West Michigan. During its existence, it came under the control of several other railroads at one time or another, including the Baltimore and Ohio and the Erie. In the 1920s, it came under the control of Oris and Mantis Van Sweringen, two financiers from Cleveland who also controlled the Nickel Plate, the Erie, and the Chesapeake and Ohio. Over the years, the C&O gained more and more control over the PM, until on June 6, 1947 the PM was formally merged into the Chesapeake and Ohio.
The Pere Marquette operated over trackage stretching from Buffalo, New York to Chicago, and from Bay View (Petoskey) Michigan to Toledo, Ohio, with trackage in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Ontario. In addition to its strictly rail operations, the PM also operated railway car ferries on the Detroit and St. Clair rivers, and a fleet of car ferries from Ludington across Lake Michigan to Milwaukee, Kewaunee and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Nearly all of the trackage CSX operates in Michigan today is former PM trackage.
Please Note: The PMHS is unable to provide information regarding specific PM employees, as we do not possess any of the PM's employment records.
Pere Marquette Historical Society members receive four issues of PM Tracks, the PMHS newsletter each membership year. Members also receive notices of special projects, such as our custom-run PM freight cars.
We hold an annual "get-together" for members and their immediate families at a town of significance to the PM.
To join the Pere Marquette Historical Society, send a check or money order for $30.00 (Canadian residents $35.00 US) payable to the "Pere Marquette Historical Society" to:
Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc.
P.O. Box 233
Perry, MI 48872-0233
A copy of our membership application form is available on this Web site.
The Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization incorporated in the State of Michigan and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service.
This site would not be possible without the gracious assistance of fellow PMHS members and numerous others who have contributed information and photographs for use on this site, most notably:
And of course, no work on the PM would be complete without acknowledging the fine work of late PMHS President Art Million, who was not only a pioneer PM historian, but has written most of the books and articles published about the PM over the past several decades. Art provided valuable background information (and error-correction!) for this site.
Use of this Web site and the materials contained within it is subject to specific terms and conditions.
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All original contents of this Web site are Copyright © 2022, John F. ("Fritz") Milhaupt, on behalf of the Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc., All Rights Reserved.