Escanaba Traction Railroad

Railroad / Michigan

The Escanaba Traction Railroad is a former interurban that connected the communities of Escanaba and Gladstone, Michigan.

The Escanaba Electric Street Railway was organized in 1892 by J.K. Stack and J.B. Moran to construct an interurban railroad in Escanaba and nearby communities. 1 3 By the early 1900s, the original Corliss engine and generator could no longer keep pace with the increasing demands for power.

In 1907, M.N. Smith joined the railway company, and Smith, Stack, and Moran proposed constructing a hydroelectric power plant along the Escanaba River to supply electricity for both the interurban and the city of Escanaba. 3 The idea was then expanded to include the construction of using surplus power to grind pulpwood. The Escanaba Electric Pulp & Power Company was formed and a dam was constructed at Wells, 1½ miles from Lake Michigan.

The Escanaba Electric Street Railway and the Escanaba Electric Pulp & Power Company merged to form the Escanaba Traction Company in 1909. 2 3 In 1911, the Escanaba Pulp & Power Company was formed and work on the pulp mill at Groos and a second hydroelectric power plant 3½ miles from Lake Michigan began shortly after. The first three grinders were started at the mill in 1912. 3

The electric interurban at the same time was expanded between Wells and Gladstone which included the construction of a deck plate girder bridge over the Escanaba River. 2

Escanaba Traction Bridge

Just a few piers remain of the former Escanaba Traction Company bridge over the Escanaba River.

A third hydroelectric power plant was completed in 1914. 3 In 1919, the Escanaba Paper Company was incorporated and the Escanaba Traction Company and Escanaba Pulp & Power Company were merged into it. By early 1920, both paper machines were in operation producing newsprint.

The advent of the automobile led to a decline in passengers and revenue for the interurban and it ceased operations in 1932. 2 The bridge over the Escanaba River was later dismantled and only a few piers remain.

  1. Railroad: Escanaba Electric Street Railway Company, The.”, 2021.
  2. Railroad: Escanaba Traction Company.”, 2021.
  3. “Escanaba Paper Co. Undergoes Expansion.” Escanaba Daily Press, 22 Sept. 1948, p. 13.