Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, September 29, 2013, pg. 5
I hope you are enjoying my new book, "Albion Postcards." Please spread the word about it and purchase your own copy. I will carry copies with me, and also you can call (517) 629-5402 to arrange to pick up copies at my house. This week I'd like to feature a postcard that came in too late to be included in the book, but which I thought you'd find interesting.
If you've ever walked or bicycled along the Albion River Trail, the portion between N. Eaton St. and N. Albion Sts. goes through some wooded area along the River. This area was once the location of a large trestle which began at the corner of N. Ann and Michigan Sts. and ran north over the Kalamazoo River and several railroad tracks. It ended on the hill by W. Chestnut St. If you go to the Ann-Michigan intersection today, you'll see a cement foundation remains where the trestle began.
The trestle was erected in 1902 by the Jackson, Battle Creek Traction Company, later known as the Michigan United Railway, or interurban. This was an electric-powered railroad whose tracks went down the center of the street through Albion and other communities in southern Michigan. Passenger service began in 1903 and continued to the end of November, 1928.
The majority of the trestle consisted of large wooden pillars which elevated the steel beams holding the rails which carried interurban cars over all the obstacles. It was 700 feet long. The longest span was 135 feet, and 154 tons of steel were used in its construction. The contractor was the American Steel and Bridge Company, which sent a crew down here from Sault Ste. Marie to do the work. The trestle was 35 feet high at its highest elevation. A regular iron bridge was constructed over the Michigan Central and Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroads. This became a favorite scene for postcard photographers.
Even after the interurban tracks were removed in 1930, the trestle was allowed to remain, as it was too much of a job to remove it at the time. Local residents, especially students, would use the trestle as a "short cut" walking to school from one end of town to another. It was finally demolished on February 10, 1941 at 10:30 am by the Michigan Central Railroad. Over 30 men were involved in the operation. Crews fastened a cable onto the trestle and pulled it down eastwards. They used a locomotive to do the pulling, and the trestle fell on piles of railroad ties that had been strategically placed so as not to damage the working tracks below.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present an unusual view of the entire trestle, looking east from N. Albion St. The trestle is in the distance. What is missing? Why, it's the trees which line both banks of the river today. There are no trees in this photo, which I find quite unusual. Notice how the riverbank is narrowed on the right. This is due to the fill dirt embankment of another railroad track spur which led from the main Michigan Central Railroad tracks, to the Gale Manufacturing Company. That is the first lower bridge in this photo. Those tracks led through what today are the basketball and tennis courts to the upper portion of the Gale. The bridge we all know about which is still there today as part of the Albion River Trail on the west side of N. Albion St. was the competitive Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad bridge whose spur began to the left of this photo and the tracks led to behind the Gale plant.
Interurban Bridge Trestle
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic