Grand Rapids - Holland interurban line





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March 15, 1902

2013


The map above, right, is a current attempt to reconstruct the route of the Grand Rapids to Holland line.

The Grand Rapids, Holland, and Chicago interurban operated between about 1898 and 1924. The item below, from about 1918, talks about the system manager, Charles A. Floyd.

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The item below is from the March 15, 1902, issue of Western Electrician, and describes the technical aspects of the Grand Rapids, Holland, and Lake Michigan interurban system.

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The line was double tracked much of the way, as can be seen below. After 1927, the right of way was apparently taken over by Chicago Drive, a.k.a. MI 121, although the piece of track from Grand Rapids to Grandville was still used until 1932, after which it too failed.

Grand Rapids





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The map above shows that the original intent was to have the GR, H & C route stay on the east side of theGrand River. This might have been the case for a while. After the two Grand River bridges were built, the line apparently shared track with the GR - Kalamazoo line until about Clyde Park - stop 62 on the Grand Rapids - Kalamzoo line. The details of this are unclear at this time, and no vestiges of the old route exist, even in sateillite views.

Note the entry "Ivanrest" on the plaque below. Until the 1960s, at least, the Ivanrest stop station, on 28th Street, still stood.

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Material provided by Lewis Lull, class of 1940, scanned and sent by Craig Lull, class of 1970.



Wyoming Park.



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The map snippet at the left, above, is from a 1914 Grand Rapids topological map. Near the lower left corner one can see where the track crossed 28th Street, which was the location of the Wyoming Park stop. Still there in the early 1960s, one could look on the south side of the street and see an overgrown track bed. Note also on the make that just before the Wyoming Park stop one sees that the interurban track crossed the LS & MS railroad track, and in the upper right corner one can see where it crossed the GR & I track. There would have been a trestle there too.

The photograph in the middle, above, shows a Grand Rapids and Holland interurban coach using a trestle to cross a Lake Shore and Michigan Southern track, perhaps some time between 1915 and 1920. Railroads would typically not allow interurbans to cross their tracks at grade level, leading to a number large, and probably expensive, trestles. It appears the interurban coach was heading west, in which case it's next stop would be Wyoming Park, as it was called in 1914.

The location of the crossing is shown in the right hand image, top row. The trestle as just southwest of the intersection of Byron Center Road and Porter Street. The interurban track went along what is today Lee Street. The track bed of the LS & MS track is delineated by the foliage now covering the old track bed, and to some extent by the location of street relative to the old track. This is a phenomena known to archaeologists, who use satellites to discern features in the ground to suggest old structures and roads. After 85 years one can still see the track beds of all the interurbans that were in the area in satellite images.


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Circa 1915.

Circa 1920.

Circa 1921. Photo courtesy of the GR Museum.



The photos above show the depot at Wyoming Park. The same design was apparently used for all, or most, of the depots on this line. The photo on the left is a bit earlier, based on the lack of foliage. It could even be quite new. The license plate on the car in the photo at the right is consistent with the design used in 1921, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in year 2012. The depot was located on the north side of 28th Street, a block or so east of Ivanrest, and was still there in the 1960s. In year 2012 the site is occupied by Walgreen's.

Note the name S. H. Wilson on the sign. Apparently the depot was in part an office. So who was S. H. Wilson?

S. H. Wilson



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The 2012 satellite views above illustrate that even after close to 85 years some parts of the Grand Rapids to Holland interurban track bed can seen. As is often the case, the tracks paralleled existing railroad tracks, as did later roads and interstates. So in many cases the interurban track beds have been obliterated. In some cases the right of ways were taken over by power companies for their transmission lines, an example being the Grand Rapids to Kalamazoo line. Often as not the transmission lines and the interurbans coexisted for a while. For those cases it's still easy to discern the locations of the right of ways yet.

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The interurban tracks near Grandville, in an undated photograph. The photograph suggests this was at a place called Meengs Crossing. The tracks would have paralleled the Pere Market railroad tracks west of Jenison, and are now obscured by Chicago Drive - Route 121. The area has seen explosive development in the years leading to year 2012, and little of the interurban track remains to be seen.



Both systems are now long gone. The GR & Holland interurban since about 1928, and the LS & MS since a little after WWII. It was easy to see the LS & MS track bed in the early 1960s as one drove west on 36th, just before Grandville. Like the interurban track bed that ran through Frank Rackett's property, and was familiar to most of us in the 1950s, the LS & MS track bed was just as prominent in the early 1960s. Nothing can be seen in year 2012.

In the bottom row, left, above, one can see that part of the Grand Rapids to Holland route is a walking path today. The bride that crossed the Grand River still exists, as does the bridge further east, which once ran into the side of the Civic Theater, and is now a foot bridge.

Jenison



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The undated photograph above shows the interurban depot at Jenison.



Jamestown



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The photograph above shows some grading work being down near Shackhuddle, MI, a town which does not exists in year 2013.




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Arriving or leaving Jamestown.




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Car 118 on its last run, November 15, 1926. The location is by a creamery in Forest Grove. Forest Grove has GPS coordinates 42.811196, -85.881412. In the photo at the right, above, one can still see the interurban track, as outlined in trees, after something like 85 years, going from lower left to upper right in the image at the right, above.



Zeeland





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Holland



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The photograph above shows the inauguration of service to Holland, MI, on July 4, 1898.



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Car 9 at the dock in Holland. For some, the next step would be to board a boat like those on the Holland and Chicago line shown below. Freight would also be transfered to and from a boat. In the beginning, around 1902, the boats were not big enough or strong enough to travel Lake Michigan in the winter. By the end, which is all of 1926 or so, they were, but the shipping companies often failed with the interurbans, victims of competition from railroad ships.

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1897 - pre interurban link

June, 1915


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Saugatuck



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Saugatuck, MI, depot, in an undated photograph. Saugatuck has long been a summer resort town. The building that houses the depot was probably also some kind of amusement attraction, a popular way for interurban lines to generate revenues on weekends.