DSS&A Freight Yard St. Ignace and PRR Mackinac City

The Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway (DSS&A) served the upper peninsula of Michigan, namely to carry iron or copper ore to smelters and docks along the shores of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. These photos are of the Ferry Dock of the Chief Wawatam R.R. Car Ferry in St. Ignace, Michigan and the PRR (Pennsylvania Railroad) (also GR&I) Mackinac City.

Trainmen would remove the St. Ignace cars in the West Yard and sometimes separate the loads and empties for Mackinac City, although often this was done right on the dock itself. Cars for the Chief Wawatam were then shoved down, with a man riding the top of the first car with a long air hose in hand to whistle for the crossings and stop the train if necessary. A clerk would flag the busy US-2 highway crossing by the depot as the cars were brought onto the ferry slip. During loadings, cars were required to be balanced and care also had to be taken that the first car shoved onto the corners did not have high brake wheels, which might get caught up in the boat’s deck supports. The switch crew could not take their engine onto the ferry apron, but used a couple of old flat cars as idlers. These were kept in the corner, as track that ran beyond the apron, alongside the ferry. The inbound caboose would be kept on the house track in back of the depot.

After being loaded, the Chief Wawatam would usually take 3 hours to make the round trip between St. Ignace and Mackinac City. One hour was required to transit the Straits and another hour for the Michigan Central switch crew to unload and load the ferry. The MC yard crew also handled the work for the PRR at Mackinaw. After pulling the inbound ferry, outbound DSS&A trains at St. Ignace were made up in the small four-track stub yard near the ferry slip, with the power backing down from the West Yard to pick them up. If there was only one switch crew, it usually worked at night, requiring the daytime passenger trains to load and unload their own trains on and off the ferry. DSS&A passenger train crews went over on the boat and got their rest at Mackinaw City, although the engine crews tied up in the West Yard after loading.

St. Ignace - Huron Bay Early 1900s

St. Ignace – Huron Bay Early 1900s

St. Ignace - Huron Bay 1943

St. Ignace – Huron Bay 1943

Chief Wawatam Loading Apron

Chief Wawatam Loading Apron

St. Ignace R.R. Yards (Early 1900)

St. Ignace R.R. Yards (Early 1900)










Mackinac City R.R. Yards  (Early 1900)

Mackinac City R.R. Yards (Early 1900)








St. Ignace Depot (right) Chief Wawatam Loading Apron (left)

St. Ignace Depot (right) Chief Wawatam Loading Apron (left)






















Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *