Grass Lake is becoming quite the treasure trove of historical items these days. The collection of historical treasures continued this past week with the arrival of a 1905 vintage streetcar that will become a static display at the Lost Railway Museum. The streetcar or trolley car served for decades along the Chicago Railways, which later merged with the Chicago Surface Line which was purchased by the Chicago Transit Authority in 1947. The streetcars were completely phased out by 1947 and replaced with buses.
The Lost Railway Museum has plans to renovate the streetcar, #1137, and display it at the new Lost Railway Museum that is being developed in the former Troy’s Toolbox at 142 W Michigan Ave. Construction on the museum is expected to begin this summer with an opening in 2017. The restored car is exactly like the one that used to travel between Grass Lake, Jackson, Michigan Center and the Wolf Lake Casino in the early 1900’s.
The car was built by the St. Louis Car Company in 1905. It was one of 323 built that year for the Chicago Railways. They were nicknamed matchboxes due their smaller size. The original St. Louis Car Company logo can still be seen on one side of the car. Additional lettering from the Palm Brothers Transfers/ Palm’s Transfers Letters can still be viewed on various locations on the car. The car was designed solely to move people. The streetcar was powered by 4 electrical engines generating a total 160 horsepower and could travel up to 35mph. It had a single center mounted trolley pull which connected to the electrical lines overhead that allowed the car to travel in either direction, without the need for a turnaround. The car had a complete operations controls at each end. It was primarily wood, which is why there are so few remaining today. By comparison, Interurban Car 29, owned by the Grass Lake Historical Connections is made primarily of steel, is larger and carried both people and cargo, would need to be turned around at a Y, circle or other turnabout before proceeding. It could travel speeds of up to 80 mph.
According to historical reports in the Jackson Citizen Patriot, in 1900, William A Boland, a Grass Lake native came home from Wall Street and leased 30 acres to build the Wolf Lake Casino. The Casino was opened in 1900 and burned in 1913. The casino was three stories and extended out over the water. To help ensure he had plenty of patrons, Boland also built an interurban electric railway to bring them there. He was even at the wheel during the railway’s first run from Jackson to Grass Lake on June 29, 1901. In 1903, Boland built a spur from the main track to Wolf Lake, giving riders a direct route to his casino. According to reports, in June of 1904, trains left Jackson every 30 minutes and more than 10,000 people rode them to Wolf Lake.
Rich Willis said the streetcar was donated by a couple in Weyauwega, Wisconsin. According to reports, Bill and Sharon Krapil were doing some work around their property and discovered that an old shed they were wanting to tear down was actually a converted 1905 Chicago Railways streetcar. In 1944 Robert Husberg bought it, moved it to Weyauwega and lived in it with his wife and 3 children for 4 years. They built a shed around the car to keep it warm in the winters. In 1948, Bill and Florence Haberkamps moved in and added plumbing. Since then it has remained there virtually unchanged. According to Rich Willis, over 200 cars were sold after the war (WWII), while others were given away to GIs returning home. There was a housing shortage and the cars were used for housing.
The car #1137 had been enclosed by a structure, which allowed it to survive all these years. While the car is in rough shape when looking at it, Jay Drouillard said the restoration will be aided by the fact they plan on making it a static display, meaning it will not actually operate as a trolley any longer. Without the structure, it would have crumbled after all these years. Many of the parts will need to be fabricated, however since most of them have a twin piece that still exits, they can be used as a pattern.
Click here for previous article on the Lost Railway Museum in The Grass Lake Times
This year the Governor’s Fitness Council selected 5 Healthy Towns Foundation (5HF) as their 2016 Promoting Active Community Award winner. The award recognizes work in promoting infrastructure improvements, policies and programs that encourage active lifestyles.
5 Healthy Towns is the first Foundation to be honored with a Promoting Active Community Award. According to Amy Heydlauff, CEO of 5HF, “This is a result of everyone in our community working toward shared goals. Wellness Coalitions in all five towns list sidewalks, trails or playgrounds among their accomplishments. All five communities have a Safe Routes to School plan. There are walking groups in each of the five communities and Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative is working on non motorized pathways connecting the communities. Everyone is all in.”
The Governor’s Fitness Council is part of the Michigan Fitness Foundation. Michigan Fitness Foundation continues to partner with 5HF and other 5 Healthy Town community organizations like schools, trail initiatives and local municipalities in projects from Safe Routes to School to trail development efforts. J.J. Tighe, President and CEO of the Michigan Fitness Foundation, praised 5HF, saying: “The 5 Healthy Towns Foundation has been a catalyst to help communities think differently about how to create intentional policies and programs, and design for active living. In addition, they have supported foundational initiatives through community collaboration. Their strategic efforts will contribute to the long term health of communities and their residents, and serve as a model for other communities toemulate”.
The 5HF sponsors and supports the Grass Lake Community Wellness Initiative in its efforts to promote eating better, moving more, avoiding unhealthy substances, and promoting positive healthy connections in the Grass Lake community. They meet on the third Monday of the month at the Grass Lake Township Hall – 373 Lakeside Dr @ 6:00 PM.
In the News April, 1916
Dr. C.B. Wilcox, who sold the Grass Lake News last fall and moved to Hillsdale where he edited the Hillsdale Leader, has returned to Grass Lake and repurchased the NEWS and will give his entire time to publishing the same. The family will move to Grass Lake as soon as a house can be obtained.
The Home Telephone Co., Grass Lake, will make application to the Michigan Railroad Commission May 1, 1916 for permission to charge the following schedule of rates for exchange service for the Grass Lake Telephone Exchange. Nelman F. Wing, Secretary Home Telephone Co.
For one Business Telephone on an individual, private line in Grass Lake Village, $2.25 per month.
For one Two-Party line Business Telephone in Grass Lake Village, $1.75 per month.
For one Residence Telephone on an individual, private line in Grass Lake village, $1.75 per month.
For one Two-party line Residence Telephone in Grass Lake Village, $1.50 per month.
For one unlimited party line Residence Telephone in Grass Lake Village, $1.25.
For one Farm line Telephone outside the Grass Lake Village on an unlimited rural line where the lines are now built $1.50 per month.
In each Magneto telephone a battery of two new dry cells will be installed by the Company once per year. All additional batteries required by the subscriber for his telephone to be paid for by the subscriber at the rate of twenty-five cents per cell together with the cost of installing them in the telephone.
Bills shall be made out three months (quarterly) in advance on the first of the months of January, April, July and October.
Council Proceedings April 4, 1916
Regular meeting of the Common Council called to order by President Shelly at 7:30 o’clock p.m. Roll Call—none absent.
President Shelly made the following appointments: President pro. Tem., T.E. Durbin; Health Officer—Dr. W.H. Lake; Marshall—H.V. Worden; Sup’t of Lighting Plant—John Rohrer.
Committees: Electric Light—Swadling, Rohrer, Clark
Finance—Rohrer, Lake, Mellencamp.
Street and Walk—Clark, Mellencamp, Durbin.
Health and Nuisance—Mellencamp, Durbin, Clark.
Law and Ordinance—Durbin, Lake, Swadling.
Local and Personal April 6, 1916
The People’s National Bank of Jackson will shortly begin the erection of an eight-story bank building, which will give the city another skyscraper. However, that will only be two more than Grass Lake has, so we don’t feel at all envious about it.
100 Years Ago is gathered by Linda Lockwood Hutchinson.
Progress is continuing on the Safe Routes to School project toward bringing significant funding to the Grass Lake area to enhance and expand walking/biking areas for our students. The purpose is to promote healthy lifestyles with our students by promoting walking and riding bikes to school.
The information being shared is just that, information. More design work is being discussed. We are working with the 5 Healthy Towns Foundation and Michigan State University to refine our plans, and we are being led by 5HF’s Matt Pegouskie to procure over $350,000 to complete this proposal to the Michigan Department of Transportation. As we progress, we will keep you informed of upcoming meetings.
Go to http://bit.ly/1SabE2V and then click on “Grass Lake Safe Routes to School Meeting Documents” to see the work that has been completed. Some of these files are rather large and may take some time to open.
These documents include renderings of additional sidewalks, bicycle racks and architectural designs.
Grass Lake’s Bud Freysinger has been named the Jackson County Veteran of the Year for 2016. The honor comes as no surprise to the people of Grass Lake. He is home grown and well known. Not too long ago, Rev. Dr. Den Slattery, author, and head pastor at the Grass Lake United Methodist Church featured Bud in a column in our Grass Lake Times.
Robert (Bud) J. Freysinger was born in Chelsea, Michigan on February 3, 1930. His parents were Rubert & Emma Freysinger.
When Bud was a senior, he joined the Naval Reserves. In 1948, he graduated from Chelsea High School, and the next day he became a meat cutter. In September Bud was called to active duty. He served on the U.S.S. Paricutin, an Ammo Ship that resupplied other ships in the Seventh Fleet. Bud worked on engines and helped make freshwater—500 gallons an hour.
On February 3, 1951, his ship pulled into Wonson Harbor, Korea and came under attack. “If they hit our ship, which carried 7,000 tons of explosives, it would have wiped out every ship in the harbor.”
When Bud returned to Michigan he started looking for work. “Bob Niehaus needed a meat cutter in Grass Lake so I took the job. Later when Franks took over the local grocery store, they asked me to come and work for them, so I did from 1968-1992, and then I retired.” As Bud was getting ready to retire someone at the Grass Lake United Methodist Church asked him if he would become the custodian, which he did for the next 14 years. Later he was asked to help deliver medicine for the local pharmacy. Now he helps out as a volunteer at the Chelsea Hospital and is on the visitation team at his church.
Bud and Joyce have five children: Alvin (Skip), Brian, Craig, Deral, and Alecia. They now have 10 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.
Well earned congratulations to Grass Lake’s newest legend, Bud Freysinger!
The Grass Lake Farmers Market, along with the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA), is pleased to announce that Market Manager, Sabrina Edgar recently completed the MIFMA Market Manager Certificate Program and was presented with a certificate on Saturday, February 20. A total of 40 individuals participated in the program and were certified, making Edgar one of 185 individuals who have been certified since the programs inception in 2011.
The MIFMA Market Manager Certificate Program is the first program of its kind developed in the country that acknowledges that the market manager is a trained professional. The program is voluntary and designed to encourage market managers to pursue leadership skills and professional development in topics essential to market management.
Edgar completed 35 hours of training focused on leadership skills and professional development in topics essential to market management. Topics covered in the program were: Introduction to Market Management, Building Your Capacity to Manage a Farmers Market, State of Michigan Licensing and Regulations, Overview of Food Assistance Programs, Collecting and Sharing Farmers Market Data, Grant Writing to Grow Your Market, Marketing Your Market and Planning for Events and Entertainment, and Ensuring the Sustainability of Your Farmers Market. A final manager-to-manager education and networking opportunity completed the program focusing on sharing experiences and lessons learned.
“It is the goal of the Farmers Market Board of Directors to provide the community of Grass Lake and the surrounding areas a vibrant market with access to fresh, local produce. The Grass Lake Farmers market is also a great opportunity for artisans and cottage food entrepreneurs to develop their trades.” Explained Edgar.
The Grass Lake Farmers Market will be held every Wednesday, 4-7pm from May 18 through October 19.
Music in the Park, providing free live entertainment, will begin on May 4th and continue on the first and third Wednesdays through September, 2016.
MDOT contractors removed a private rail crossing along Michigan Avenue last week without permission or an agreement with the landowners. The private rail crossing allows the Lammers, Paul and Gina, to access the portion of their property that is south of the county drain. While the Lammers were in discussions with MDOT, no agreement had been finalized. The contractors indicated the crossing was taken out by accident.
The removal of the private crossings is one of the major goals in upgrading the railway as MDOT attempts to limit the number of crossings, especially private crossings as every crossing is a liability. These projects have been ongoing for several years and included the removal of the Brown Street Crossing in 2004 within the Village of Grass Lake. Additional work has continued as new barriers were installed along the railway behind the businesses on Michigan Ave. They provide a barrier between parked cars, pedestrians and the railway. Tom Nolte recalls a dairy truck that parked too close to the tracks many years ago and was nicked by the ladder of a passing engine. It sliced that truck open from one end to the other.
The tracks through Grass Lake, part of the Amtrak Wolverine line between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, were acquired by MDOT in 2012 from Norfolk Southern Railway Co for $140 million. While open to both freight and passenger traffic, the freight traffic has declined in recent years, a trend experienced nationwide as the price of oil has decreased. Upgrades to the tracks are being made along the route to allow trains to reach speeds of up to 110 mph in some areas. Currently trains are traveling approximately 79 mph through Grass Lake. Additional upgrades include new, continuously welded rail and ties, improvements to highway-rail grade crossings, fiber-optic lines for train and signal control systems, and gates and flashers at highway-rail grade crossings.
MDOT did not respond to requests for comments in time for the deadline for this week’s print edition.