by: Mark Fedder
The Manistee and Luther Railroad was the longest and longest lived of R. G. Peters’ many railroads. Peters had spent over a decade working on railroads before entering the logging business. With this knowledge, he was one of the first in Manistee and in Michigan to use rails to transport logs.
Construction of the narrow gauge commenced in 1885 at the Peters mill in Eastlake and extended east across Manistee County and into Wexford, Lake and Mason Counties. Tracks were frequently laid hastily which led to numerous accidents and fatalities. The eastern terminus of the tracks changed continuously to reach current logging operations. The Manistee and Luther continued operation almost until the last log was sawed in the Peters mill in 1913.
Although numerous smaller railroad lines passed in and out of Manistee County over the years, the Manistee and Northeastern, Manistee and Grand Rapids, Flint and Pere Marquette, and Manistee and Luther helped solidify Manistee’s place as a towering lumber industry.