During the entire 47 years the railway was in operation, it experienced 28 train wrecks with a total of 78 deaths.

After absorbing the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad – the Detroit, Grand Rapids & Western Railroad – and the Chicago & West Michigan Railway, the Pere Marquette Railway kicked off on January 1, 1900. It was named after the founder of Sault Ste. Marie, the French Missionary Jacques Marquette.

After being reincorporated in 1917, it came under new ownership in the 1920s. Planning a merger with four companies, the owners were turned down by the Interstate Commerce Commission; they sold their interest to the C&O Railroad in 1929, and by 1947 it was fully merged into the C&O, thus ending the reign of the Pere Marquette Railway.

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As for being the deadliest railroad, the Muskegon Chronicle stated the statistics of 28 wrecks and 78 deaths. A 1907 accident on the Pere Marquette Railroad has been called one of Michigan’s all-time worst train wreck, if not THE worst.

It was on July 20, 1907 when a passenger train with 800 people on board was on its way from Ionia to Detroit. When they were approaching the town of Salem, the train crashed into a freight train, causing 101 injured passengers and 31 deaths. Upon investigation, it was surmised that a sloppily-written schedule was hard to read correctly by the men on the freight train. The ICC also listed several safety violations, including using inferior wood for car walls and no required steel.

Other location wrecks on the Pere Marquette include:
Beech, Detroit, Edmore, Fenwick, Green Oak, Lord, McDonald, Melvin, Okemos, New Boston, Petoskey, Riverdale, and Riverside.

The gallery below features images of many Pere Marquette Railway train wrecks...

Pere Marquette: Michigan's Deadliest Railroad


Sunken Locomotive in Lake Superior, 1910

The Michigan Railroad That Was Never Used

Train Car Diners