Chicago and West Michigan Railway

Chicago and West Michigan Railway

The Chicago and West Michigan Railway (C&WM) is a defunct railroad which operated in the state of Michigan between 1881 and 1899. It was one of the three companies which merged to become the Pere Marquette Railway.

The C&WM was formed on October 1, 1881, through the consolidation of the Chicago and West Michigan Railroad, the Grand Rapids, Newaygo and Lake Shore Railroad, the Grand Haven Railroad and the Indiana and Michigan Railroad.[1]


At its creation in 1881, the C&WM controlled the following lines, comprising 353.6 miles (569.1 km):[2]

Line Length Original company Notes
New BuffaloHollandMuskegonPentwater 169.5 miles (272.8 km) Chicago & West Michigan (C&WM) and Grand Haven (GH)  
Holland–Grand RapidsWhite Cloud 70 miles (110 km) C&WM and Grand Rapids, Newaygo & Lake Shore (GRN&LS)  
Allegan–Holland 23 miles (37 km) GH  
Muskegon–Big Rapids 51.2 miles (82.4 km) GH  
Mears–Hart 3.3 miles (5.3 km) C&WM Branched south of Pentwater
Fruitport–Muskegon 13.5 miles (21.7 km) Unclear  
White CloudBitely 17 miles (27 km) White River (WR) Leased

The C&WM's first new line was a 37-mile (60 km) extension south from New Buffalo to La Crosse, Indiana, which opened in November 1882. In 1884 the C&WM bought the White River Railroad, which it had previously leased, which controlled a 29.86-mile (48.06 km) line from White Cloud to Baldwin (where it joined the Flint & Pere Marquette). In 1890 the C&WM extended the line north from Baldwin another 74 miles (119 km) to Traverse City. On February 28, 1891, the C&WM created the Chicago and North Michigan to extend the line an additional 78.5 miles (126.3 km) to Bay View, a task it completed on July 17, 1892; the company also built a 9.8-mile (15.8 km) branch line from Williamsburg to Elk Rapids.[3]

In 1897 the C&WM entered into an arrangement with William Alden Smith to construct a railway line southeast from Rapid City through Kalkaska to northern Missaukee County. Alden's company, the Grand Rapids, Kalkaska and Southeastern Railroad, completed the road in 1898 and was leased by the C&WM starting the next year. The C&WM's successor, the Pere Marquette, formally consolidated the GRK&S in 1903.

In 1899 the C&WM consolidated with the Flint and Pere Marquette Railway and the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Western Railroad to form the Pere Marquette Railway. However, the conveyance of the Indiana property was later declared invalid, and the C&WM continued to exist as a non-operating subsidiary in that state[4] until March 12, 1917, at the same time as the Pere Marquette Railway took over the Pere Marquette Railroad.[5]

Today, only the lines from New Buffalo to Holland, Grand Rapids to Ludington, Wallahalla to Manistee, and Grawn to Williamsburg remain in use, with the rest of the track torn out, most of it being dismantled in 1982 when the Chessie System abandoned a lot of its former C&WM trackage.


  1. ^ Michigan Railroad Commission (1882), 89.
  2. ^ Michigan Railroad Commission (1882), 95-96.
  3. ^ Ivey (1919), 244-245; Meints (1992), 49.
  4. ^ Interstate Commerce Commission, 130 I.C.C. 497 (1927), Valuation Docket No. 260: Pere Marquette Railroad Company et al.
  5. ^ Interstate Commerce Commission, Annual Report on the Statistics of Railways in the United States for the Year Ended December 31, 1917, p. 502


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