Source: Sherman Publications

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Railroads from the Past

by David Fleet

July 06, 2011

The last train left Ortonville April 25, 1931.

Only a handful of residents can still recall the era when steel track was the major mode of transportation in Southeastern Michigan.

Those interested in learning more about local railroads are invited to attend a special presentation by historian Ken Schramm.

"The Detroit United Railway went north from the city to Royal Oak, Rochester, Oxford, Ortonville, Goodrich, Atlas and Fllint," said Ken Schramm, DUR expert. "It was the Depression and everything was hurting."

At 7 p.m., July 12 the Ortonville Community Historical Society will host "Railroads from the Past" at the Old Mill, located on Mill Street in Ortonville.

Schramm will present a slideshow, railroad artifacts and published books on the subject. The DUR was an urban transportation system using electrical lines above the streets, beginning in the early 1900s.

Ken gained his extensive background on the DUR from his father, Jack Schramm, who worked for the DUR for more than 40 years.

Jack's job as superintendent of payroll with the Department of Street Railways required him to keep accurate records, which served him well later when he chronicled the history of the railway system from the horse-drawn streetcars to the demise of the streetcar system in 1956.

"Dad was in charge of the railroad payrolls and he was also the historian," he said. "Back then everyone got around in the street cars, so the City of Detroit bought them out. They controlled everything. It later became the Department of Street Railways, which is today the Department of Transportation. My dad was there for much of the transition—he's written several books on the subject—when Eastern Michigan was on the rails."

The public is welcome to attend the meeting.

Details: Dean Salley 248-627-2185