Negaunee electric railway at issue

ISHPEMING — “Mr. R.M. Adams, who is interested in having the electrical street railway built between here and Negaunee has accepted the franchise granted the projectors of the enterprise. The matter has not yet been acted upon by the Negaunee council, but it will be brought up at the next meeting, and there is no doubt that the desired franchise will be given by that city, for the proposed line will greatly benefit both cities, and the council of Negaunee will undoubtedly look at it in the light of a public benefit, and act accordingly.

“As soon as the desired permission is granted at Negaunee, Mr. Adams will begin organizing the company. There will be no difficulty in doing this, for there are a number of men in each of the cities who are willing to help the scheme along, and as has been previously stated, the Detroit firm that is to furnish the apparatus is willing to take a large block of the stock.

“At present there is every indication that an electrical railway between here and Negaunee will be built, and that cars will be running before December 1st of this year – the time by which the projectors agree in their applications for the franchise to have the road in running order. It will undoubtedly be a potent factor in building up both cities.” (Mining Journal, June 28, 1889)

Despite the rosy predictions and hopes of having the line running by the end of the year, the street railway did not progress in a timely manner.

“The Electric railway still rests where it was several weeks ago. The railway company should make a route where a good ball ground can be had about midway between here and Negaunee. It has been suggested that a better route than that taken by the county highway could be secured by going to the north of the city. It would be shorter, more level and would avoid railroad crossings. If the road is built where many desire it, to the north of town, a baseball and driving park, the finest in the country, would be made, and it will take a base ballpark to give the electric railway business. Of course the county road route would save the cost of grading that would be required by the other, but the different in the amount of business at the close of the year might make up for the extra cost of construction.” (Iron Ore, July, 27, 1889)

“The electric railroad project remains in the same state of inactivity that has marked its past progress. At its meeting Wednesday evening the common council decided to give the Haines Bros. of New York, a chance to reply to a question asking why the same franchise they desired should not be granted to others. In view of the fact that the New York concern did not meet the requirements of the council in the way of making a deposit exhibiting their good faith in the promises, the council does not feel bound to grant the petitioners’ request but will extend them further courtesy by giving them an opportunity to come to the front. Thus will the dignity of the city circle be unruffled, and justice meted out to a liberal degree. It looks as if the electric railway would be constructed the coming year.” Iron Ore, November 9, 1889)

In late 1889 an announcement came that would greatly affect the street railway. A group of Ishpeming and Negaunee investors leased land between the two cities to build a driving park and baseball grounds. This meant the best route for the street railway would have to come close to Union Park, as both entities would feed off one another. The street railway would bring people to see the entertainment and the entertainment would induce the people to ride the street railway. But building Union Park was much easier and quicker than the street railway.

“The electric railroad between this city and Negaunee will probably be running the present year. Arrangements are being made for the construction of the line, and as soon as the necessary contracts are let the work of building will be prosecuted at a lively pace. There is no reason why the line should not pay big interest upon that will be necessary to put it I good shape. The two cities have a healthy population, they are steadily growing, there is a large amount of travel between the towns, and the road would find plenty of business.” (Iron Ore, July 19, 1890)

Finally there was tangible progress in the quest for a street railway. Articles of Incorporation were filed in Lansing in October.

“The name of the corporation will be ‘The Ishpeming & Negaunee street Railway company.’ This road will probably be extended to the Winthrop mine on the west and to the Buffalo, Queen and other mines on the east. It is also very likely that the company will do something in the way of furnishing electric lighting for the two towns.” (Iron Ore, October 4, 1890)

“The road will be furnished with the Thompson-Houston system of electric motor, and the lighting will also be of that superior kind. This concern is admitted to be the best. Its system of electric lighting is a fine one, we believe the best on earth, and if they undertake to give us light, then we can depend upon having it. There is nothing of inferior quality in their products.

The electric road should prove a successful enterprise. Both the towns connected in this way are fast growing, have already a combined population of about twenty thousand people, and this should furnish sufficient business to insure the successful operation of the line. The headquarters of the company will be in Ishpeming, and the central power station will also be here, as there is a building which is available for that purpose.” (Iron Ore, October 4, 1890)

“The final survey of the proposed electric railroad line, between this city and Negaunee, was completed Wednesday by Mr. Jas. Jopling, of Marquette. There has been some delay in securing a right-of-way from some of the companies through whose property the proposed road is to run, but this has been settled and it is though that operations in the way of constructing the road will be commenced in early spring.” (Iron Ore, January 31, 1891)

In July of 1891 came this: “It seems that Ishpeming is to have at last the much talked of electric railway and that it will be constructed and controlled by local parties instead of the outsiders who have done so much unprofitable talk in this regard. A special meeting of the common council was held last night for the purpose of granting a franchise. Mr. Fred Braastad and other parties in this place, Negaunee and Marquette are the movers and to them the franchise was given. Mr. Maitland, of Negaunee, will secure for the company similar privileges from that city and the road will connect the two towns.” (Iron Ore, July 11, 1891)

Braastad was an important investor in Union Park and others may have also invested both Union Park and the street railway.

“The plans for the street railroad are fairly under way and several demands were made for the stock before the books were opened. The company will organize in about two weeks, when the preliminary arrangements will be made, officers elected and steps taken to go ahead with the work. The movers in the scheme are confident of success and are anxious to have the thing in operation as soon as possible. So much has been said and so little done about an electric railway that people are anxious for a manifestation, which they are abundantly assured in the present instance. The value of the field for such an enterprise is the very best and there is no apparent obstacle to its success and prosperity.” (Iron Ore, July 18, 1891)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story will continue in the coming weeks.


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