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ing down in Washington, D. C., the I.C.C. approved yet another short line abandonment. All in a day's work; short lines vanish almost every month of the year. For the solons of transportation this was routine business-just the stamp of approval on an examiner's report. But a thousand miles from Washington, in the north Michigan woods, the result of the decision was anything but routine. The East Jordan & Southern Railroad was quitting.

THIS wasn't the first time. Once before, in darkest 1932, EJ&S had had the I.C.C.'s approval to go out of business but there had been people willing to save the road and she hadn't been allowed to go under. Those people weren't around now.

The decision to keep running in 1932 was based on a virtually complete change in the road's purpose in life. Up through the 1920's EJ&S had been part of Michigan's once great network of logging lines, taking timber down to the East Jordan mill on Lake Charlevoix (pronounced Shar-ley-voy) from where it eventually departed as finished lumber aboard white-sailed schooners trading on the Great Lakes.

In the late 19th century the embryonic EJ&S was simply part of the operating economy of the East Jordan Lumber Company, but the thriving little community of East Jordan that had arisen around the mills was in need of transportation. The logging road was there, so why not use it? On July 9, 1901, the East Jordan & Southern Railroad Company was incorporated as a common carrier under the laws of Michigan. By October the little railroad was in full operation in its new role, doing business with 4 locomotives, 3 passenger cars, 7 flats, 2 service cars, and of course - 112 log buggies. As this last item in the roster makes evident, lumbering was still the staff of life on the EJ&S. Nevertheless, by tying in with the old Pere Marquette 18 miles down the pike at Bellaire, this elaboration on a logger gave East Jordan its needed connection with the world.

Over the line's entire 60-year existence, the President and General Manager was an East Jordan Porter

W. P. Porter at the beginning, later

succeeded by his son, H. P. Porter. When EJ&S went out of business three of the five stockholders were Porters.

Logging business boomed over the railroad's first decades. The 9 miles of branches with which the company began life grew to 30 miles of ramification by the late '20's. The logging car fleet topped 200. From time to time EJ&S would add or subtract an engine, but there were always four or five locomotives on the roster. And then the bottom fell out. The logs were gone - an old familiar tale wherever lumbermen had stripped the land without conservation. Northern Michigan is covered with the abandoned trails of little railroads that dried up in the resulting desert of stumps, and EJ&S seemed destined to join the parade. The 30 miles of branches of 1928 had become no branches at all two years later, and in 1932 EJ&S had its permission to cease running. Not enough traffic to warrant future operation, said the examiner.

That was when the EJ&S changed its purpose in life, for East Jordan rallied to save its railroad and new traffic came to the line to stave off starvation. The abandonment petition expired unused. EJ&S shed its fleet of logging cars and whittled down the motive power roster to the needs of its new mission, so that at the out

break of World War II the road was left with one Mogul and one Plymouth gas engine purchased from a Government dam project. A gas railbus replaced steam passenger service for a time, then was dropped in 1945. The line continued to serve as rail connection for the foundry and cannery that replaced lumbering in East Jordan's economy.

THE EJ&S might still have been just another short line except for one thing - excursions. Each year the East Jordan Chamber of Commerce sponsored free train rides as a tourist attraction on Independence Day and, if the natural display warranted in the tree-lined Jordan River valley, during the height of the fall color season. The jaunts down the somewhat doubtful 60-pound rail of the East Jordan & Southern to Bellaire and return drew the attention of newspaper feature sections and television cameras, which covered such events as "The Great Train Robbery" staged midway down the line by hard-ridin', pistolshootin' "outlaws."

The excursions often involved the road's entire roster of rolling stock two locomotives and two cars. There was Mogul No. 6, a 1909 Pittsburgh product preserved almost intact from construction with her high headlight,

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NO. 1, apparently a 4-4-0, at EJ&S logging camp in early days. CREW posed with Baldwin Mogul No. 5 on a logging train.

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NO. 6 changed little over years but did lose handsome wooden cab. EX-ANN ARBOR plow clears snow with No. 6 in World War II.

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DOWN the Jordan River valley comes passenger train 2. GAS-MECHANICAL railcar M1200 furnished last regular passenger service.

long wooden pilot, Stephenson valve gear and slide valves, and swinging "church bell." Her normal duty was to stand by as EJ&S's "big engine" (all 581⁄2 tons' worth), backing up Plymouth ML 1, and to operate when the little gas engine was laid up for repairs or when there were simply too many cars for her to move. Then there was ML 1 herself (the initials stand for Motor Locomotive), no small showman by any means - painted bright orange with black zebra stripes and sporting a big bell, an airoperated steam whistle, and vibrating a tall cast-iron stack with what was surely the unmuffled exhaust of her 175-horsepower engine in a sound which resembled five mainline freighters in the eighth notch. These

locomotives hauled: (1) the "Swan Car" (East Jordan likes to call attention to its Lake Charlevoix swans, and calls itself the Swan City) — a garish monstrosity consisting of open seats on one of the ancient short logging flats, covered by a red, white, and blue superstructure mounting swan cutouts on the sides; and (2) combine No. 2. This last car was a real treasure. The builder's plate, still mounted in the floor, read CHICAGO & GRAND TRUNK, FORT GRATIOT CAR SHOPS, 1889. C&GT was a Grand Trunk Western predecessor. The C&GT initials could still be seen on the car's threshold and trucks. Fort Gratiot car shops were at Port Huron, Mich., where GTW's car shops remain today.

Naturally this entourage did not

escape the attention of the fans, and in the last years it was a reasonably common event to charter the EJ&S for a day, tacking combine No. 2 onto some of the regular freight work and making the round trip from East Jordan to Bellaire behind the 2-6-0. Many an idyllic day was spent thus, following No. 6 down the line and back again, stopping for photo runs at such scenic places as Deer Creek trestle and the Jordan River bridge.

But no more, for on August 12, 1961, EJ&S ran its farewell fan trip. Operations ceased at the end of the month. Although there was talk of saving the Mogul and maybe the combine as well, the little railroad had, literally and figuratively, crossed over the Jordan for the last time. I

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A BOY on the plank bridge waves as Graham County's sidewinder cranks itself along the weed-grown track toward Topton. Photo by Mallory Hope Ferrell.


The Graham County Railroad... past and present

THE mid-July sunrise that filtered through the mountain cabin's window was accompanied by the soft chuffing sound of a Shay down on the side of the hill. I quickly dressed and picked up my Nikon and several rolls of Plus-X film. This was a day I'd been looking forward to for some time.

Ed Collins, the veteran Shay driver of the Graham County Railroad Company, had invited me to come over and ride the 12 miles of light iron through western North Carolina's Great Smokies.

After a brisk drive down the hill on a rural road I found Ed, his fireman Wayne Brooks, and the No. 1925 under a homemade coaling tower. Ed gave his usual friendly smile and con


tinued to scrape more coal into the panting little Shay as she sent up a column of gray smoke over the lumber town of Robbinsville.

After coaling up we backed the three-trucker down to the quaint Robbinsville station, the only one on the line and the office of Mrs. Arthur Ford, the GC's only station agent.

We coupled onto the short train, then headed out of the tiny two-track yard with a load of finished lumber from the mill of Bemis Lumber Company, three empty tank cars, and the GC's old wooden caboose, which shows signs of Southern heritage.

The line generally follows rocky Tulula Creek to the Southern's connection at Topton. Occasionally it cuts off through the deep forests that are

responsible for the Graham County Railroad's existence. Now and then the 56-pound rails dip through minor tributaries such as Juts Creek and Jacks Branch without the formality of a bridge. Tiptoeing through the streams is commonplace for the GC's two Shays.

WHEN the Southern Railway's Murphy Branch was built with convict labor in 1886 it opened up a vast area of inaccessible mountain timberland. By 1900 many of the choice and accessible trees had been removed from the area by a method called "splash driving." A stream would be dammed up and logs rolled into the resulting lake behind the dam. Then the dam would be blown up and the logs would be

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literally splashed out of the mountains into deeper rivers. This method worked only with huge, perfect logs that would float and was, needless to say, quite wasteful. The coming of the railroad made it possible to get at more remote stands of timber.

In 1900 the Kanawha Hardwood Company, after limited splash driving by other companies, crossed the high Snowbird Mountains on the south border of Graham County and built several mills along Snowbird Creek. Kanawha tried bringing out the timber on wagon trains with a steam tractor for power. This was soon abandoned in favor of a 3-foot-gauge railroad called the Snowbird Valley Railroad. The operation ended in failure in 1917 and the light 25-pound rails were sold to the Republic of

France for use in the war with Germany.

In 1905 a group of mountain men, realizing that the timber in Graham County could be removed only by rail, organized the Graham County Land & Transportation Company. Plans went so far as to propose a through railroad from Knoxville to Atlanta along the present-day Graham County Railroad right of way. However, the GCL&TC did not go beyond the planning stage. Ten years later the timber along Big Snowbird and Buffalo creeks changed hands, and in 1916 a railroad was graded from Robbinsville to Topton by Whiting Manufacturing Company. Wooden bridges were built and some ties laid in place. A 90-ton used Baldwin rod engine was purchased locally and sent

to Asheville for overhauling. In July 1916 a flood swept through much of western North Carolina and the Baldwin was washed away in the French Broad River, never to be found again. With its one and only locomotive lost, the Graham County Railroad project came to a halt.

The early 1920's saw the Bemis Lumber Company moving south from Fishing Hawk, W. Va., to Robbinsville. Bemis had the title to the land and hardwood along Snowbird, Buffalo, and Santeetlah creeks. At the same time the Champion Fibre Company of Canton, N. C., got the rights to the hemlock and softwoods. Both companies operated their own railroads at that time. Bemis had a standard-gauge Shay-powered line in West Virginia and Champion Fibre had a narrow

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