Manistee’s Big Four Railroads: Flint & Pere Marquette

by: Mark Fedder

The Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad was one of many post-Civil War railroads built at a time when public and private (economic development) grants were readily available for railroad construction. When the firm first approached Manistee in 1872 for funds to assist it in reaching Manistee the local community refused to provide funding since the community had 3,000 freighters each year which could take passengers to Chicago and Milwaukee. (D. L. Filer moved to Ludington in disgust after the refusal.)

A decade later a compromise was reached when the railroad agreed to reach Manistee if the community would provide a depot site. Despite promises and numerous beautiful illustrations an elegant depot was never built.

Through multiple consolidations and reorganizations, the Flint & Pere Marquette provided local passenger service for 80 years and freight service for over 125 years. The Manistee Branch built in 1881 from Wallhalla to Filer City continues to provide service to Manistee in an era when few railroads are left in northern Michigan.

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