Here's No. 79 - Detroit and Mackinac, Published 9 August 1944I can go just so long without riding a new railway, and then, I am off again on a toot, toot. I chose as my 79th railway the Detroit and Mackinac, a line running north from Bay City, Michigan, up toward Sheboygan, Michigan, passing through Tawas and Alpena. The D & M owns exactly 242.00 miles of track, and I elected to travel the first 60 miles of it. That is why you find me having breakfast at the Greek's in Bay City at 5.30 in the morning, ready to catch No. 1 at 6 a.m.. headed for Alpena.
Just for the record and I won't take a minute I might say that this line is named for Mackinac Island, which is pronounced Mackinack, and is not to be confused with Mackinaw Strait, which is pronounced Mackinaw, precisely as spelt. Mackinac meant turtle, and for many years, the turtle was the symbol of the D & M Railway. I am sorry to say they abandoned that picturesque testudinate reptile for the dull as ditchwater label: Lake Huron Shore Line.
In the earlier days. D & M hauled a lot of lumber down from Upper Michigan, and today still carries its share of freight. The passenger trains used to co-operate with the Pere Marquette, and solid trains operated into Detroit over a combination of D & M plus Pere Marquette. But those days apparently are gone forever, and the ex-turtle line goes it alone.
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Thus you find me behind D & M 137. made about the era of Edward VII. handling our modest string of varnish. This 137 is the oo-OOO type, and as far as I was later able to see, could run about a mile a minute if pushed. Our coaches were also more of the Rooscvelt-Taft era, but they had been re-upholstered, and were quite comfortable. What I am trying to say is that the D & M gives you a good ride for your money.
My destination was a station briefly known as East Tawas-Tawas City, and when I wanted to buy a ticket for it in Ottawa, Monsieur Vermet. my adviser in such matters, had to phone to Montreal to get a rate. As far as is known, nobody from Ottawa ever happened to want to buy a ticket for that spot before. Thus is history made.
So at 6 a m. we started out for East Tawas-Tawas City. But just as that other famous edible, the crab walks sidewise, so did we go him one better by going out of the station backwards. Then we straightened out. and headed through the yards. But we seemed to be turning a switch here, waiting for a bridge there. We fooled and fussed around the yards, and I thought we'd never get out of Bay City. Not since the old days when I rode the old and hapless Canadian Northern, and when you reconciled yourself to a half day's switching to get in and out of a city, have I done so much yard work from my day coach window. I was exhausted by the time we got in the clear and headed north up the lake.
I must say the run along Lake Huron is delightful. Miles of cottages are strewn pleasantly along the lake, and the mileage here is most agreeable. Then we ran inland. We picked up the lake again about the fifty-fifth mile, and shortly afterwards, I was debouched at East Tawas-Tawas C:ty.
This is the compromise station between the two places. Actually, East Tawas is a much better place than Tawas City. This is the compromise station between the two places. Here I breakfasted along the lake. At this point. Saginaw Bay. which helps give Michigan that mitt-like shape, ends, and Lake Huron begins its long crawl up to the Straits of Mackinaw. But here at Tawas, you find a lovely shore. There is a state park, there is bathing, there is fishing, and there is scenery. I saw trailers parked in among the wild cherry blossoms and lilacs, and people spending their holidays amid this loveliness. The docks were lined with fishermen. The more intrepid hired boats and went far out into the lake, or headed farther north for the fabulous fishing of Au Sable river. It seems hard to realize as I toyed with my matitudenal hum, that I was less than 24 hours away from Ottawa.
Not far from here, northwest in the woods is the Lumberman's Statue, which I believe is an approximation of the Brobdininagian Paul Bunyan.
On the station plattorm I met C. A. Pinkerton. president of the D & M. After exchanging conventional pleasantries, he got into his private car and I crawled into a Diesel electric. No. 202. to ride back to Bay City. That's the way we did the 3 miles, he in his private car. and I, a few feet away on my day coach pew.
At Bay City a girl taxi whisked me over to the Pere Marquette, which took me to Flint. The P.M. day coach had only a single seat on one side, both to give more aisle space, and for those who sit alone and like it. It also gives you the impression cf having a chair car instead of riding day coach.
At Flint I caught the Grand Trunk Western, behind G.T.W. 6405. Then we got four electrics through the tunnel, after which C.N. 6404 picked us up. Through Western Ontario we travelled with high speed and great comfort, by-passing Hamilton by stopping at Dundas to drop passengers into a bus. Then the heat and confusion of Toronto Union, and finally No. 2302 whipping us along on No. 21 to 0!tawa Station and the Bertrand Boys.
One final observation: the United States is still as exhilarating as ever. But most of the fun is taken away by the bad meals and travel difficulties. Three times I finished a meal begun in a hotel at a drug store. Food is much better on the Canadian side. Those of you who have not been to the States for quite a while, and anxious to work off some of that American currency you can now legally buy, will be quite surprised when you get across the line. You'll find the States isn't the old place you used to know. But there's no use my warning you: I know you'll have to go and see for yourselves.