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Summer, Sand, and Steam...


Chapter 4

The Last of Michigan's Logging Engines


“The latest and most remarkable railroad enterprise undertaken and carried to a successful issue by Port Huron citizens, is the Narrow Gauge Railroad. The first definite movement, says the editor of the Times, for the construction of a railroad into and through the section of country lying northwest of Port Huron was made less than five years ago. At the outset several schemes were proposed, but no definite organization for the purpose was effected until eleven citizens of Port Huron formed a company and subscribed for it’s entire capital stock themselves.”

The above is an account of the planning of the Port Huron & Northwestern Railroad. The prime motive force behind the organization of the company was Daniel Brown Harrington, Port Huron capitalist and financier. In July, 1878 only a few months before the beginning of construction, Mr. Harrington died. When the first locomotive of the narrow gauge line arrived in Port Huron on December 28, 1878, it’s cab bore the name D.B. Harrington.

Port Huron & Northwestern No. 1 was a rather light locomotive, designed for construction and passenger service. It had 30’’ drivers, 8x16’’ cylinders, 24’’ pony wheels, and a 2-4-0 wheel arrangement. Also included was a 500 gallon tender, coal burning grates, and a Westinghouse air brake system; but it’s most distinctive feature was a huge balloon stack, which it was never to lose.

D.B. Harrington was put to work immediately on the construction of the line. The first section of the road, from Port Huron to Croswell, was opened by mid-May 1879. Work progressed rapidly until the total miles of track reached 218.

After the road was completed in 1882, D.B. Harrington pulled first class passenger coaches which were ‘equal in all points of elegance and comfort to those of standard lines, and the second class cars as good as many of the first class coaches now used on other lines.’

D.B. Harrington continued doing light work on the PH&NW until 1888 when she was sold to Harvey and McCracken of Lake City, MI. three years later she was acquired by the fabled Louis Sands Lumber operation in Manistee. The tough Swede had built up a vast logging empire in the Manistee area and the little engine operated on the miles of narrow gauge track which brought the pine to the mill where it would be processed and then shipped out via schooner or steamer. Of all the lumbering companies of Michigan’s heyday in pine, Louis Sands stood tall. His trains hauled millions of board feet of timber from the woods to the mill.

After leaving the PH&NW, D.B. Harrington had her name. As she moved from one logging company to another her name was forgotten and replaced by a simple running number. In 1889 she went to the Glen Lake area of MI. and was used by the J.O. Nessen Co. until those interests were sold to Mr. David H. Day. When she finally wound up with the D.H. Day Lumbering Co. at Glen Haven, MI. in 1908 she had at least retained her original road number: 1.

Starting at the head of little Glen Lake, the Day Lumber R.R. ran through sections 19, 20, 30, and 31 of the pine forests to the mill in Glen Haven. Once the logs were cut they were then hauled by No. 1 to the docks for shipment.

No. 1 continued pulling log trains until 1923 when the great Michigan forests were gone and the lumber industry was failing. The little engine was then transferred to another of Mr. Day’s interests: the Glen Haven Canning Co. which processed the cherries for which the are was famous. At the cannery, the locomotive was used as a stationary boiler. It was left outside and the steam was piped into the plant.

When in 1933 the plant too failed, Mr. Day loaned the tiny locomotive to Traverse City, MI as a display for Clinch Park. The city renovated the little logger at a cost of $1500; but Mr. Day retained legal title

Roose had been informed of the existence of the little engine by the members of a Midwestern railroad fan club. Mr. Roose attempted to get to Traverse City to personally inspect the engine, but other business demands prevented him from doing so. Finally he offered Mr. Day a bid of $6000 for the locomotive, sight unseen. The city commission also entered a bid, but it was not competitive. Naturally Mr. Day accepted Mr. Roose’s offer.

Mr. Roose proposed to send a truck after his new acquisition, but Mr. Day advised that a local Traverse City trucker would be better able to remove the engine from the park and would be less likely to cause a great deal of consternation among the local residents when they saw their little engine going. Porter Belle left Traverse City quietly one summer morning in 1964, but the residents were greatly disappointed in losing their Clinch Park attraction.

It was perhaps fitting that the former D.B. Harrington find her new home at Sandusky, for her original namesake had lived in Sandusky in 1818 at the age of 11. He had played upon the walls of Fort Stevenson there and when he left Sandusky for Michigan, his boat passed along the bay shore of Cedar Point where the locomotive might one day recreate the days of the 19th century pioneer era.

Upon her arrival at Cedar Point, Porter Belle was seen to be in such a deteriorated condition that the job of restoration would be extremely costly. Therefore, she was given a spot in the rear of the Engine House and stored there for four years. In the spring of 1968 Mr. Foster gave the ancient engine a boiler test. She failed and her boiler was thereupon condemned. But replacing a boiler is not new to the CP&LE so Porter Belle sits with hope awaiting the day to again be pulling passengers…

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2006, John Marhesic, All Rights Reserved. version2.1
 
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