First Train

Clipping from the Enterprise


Robert MANN, former mayor pro-tem of Mt. Pleasant and one of the two men who ran the first train into Mt. Pleasant, was visitor with Mr. and Mrs. Peter LATHROP last Saturday.

Interesting incidents of pioneer days were recalled by Mr. MANN.  He told of the many hardships that had to be endured when the Pere Marquette railroad was being built from Coleman to Mt. Pleasant.

‘The first railroad that ran into Mt. Pleasant was a narrow gauge road’, said Mr. MANN.   “The project was started September 20, 1879 and the first run into Mt. Pleasant sometime in December.  I shall never forget the crowd that was gathered at the depot to see the first train came in.  It was a big day for Mt. Pleasant.

Mr. MANN said that the road from Coleman to Mt. Pleasant cost $75,000 to build.  If such a road were to be built today the money would run well over $500,000.  The two narrow gauge engines on the road cost $6,000 apiece—think of what they would cost today.

He told of the trouble he used to have with some Indians who were continually filled with “firewater”—of how they would get on the right of way and sleep there, the result being that three or four were killed by the trains.

“The first accident I had on this road was when I ran over an Indian.  This happened between Pine Valley and Denver.  I shall ever forget the incident”, said Mr. MANN.  “The Indian was in a drunken stupor and even though his limbs had been cut by the train he did not utter an outcry.  All he wanted was more firewater.  He died a day after the accident.” 

He also recalled some of the instances of the more firey days of journalism in Mt. Pleasant.  He told of how some of the editors were nearly always getting in trouble because of some editorial they had written.  “for one or two editors in those days it was not safe for them to walk down the streets”, he said.

Mr. MANN now resides in Pontiac


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