Book Review: In the Pines–Part III

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Book Review: In the Pines-Part III: An Atlas of Michigan Logging Railroads: The Upper Peninsula

Hannum, James S. In the Pines–Part III: An Atlas of Michigan Logging Railroads: The Upper Peninsula. Hannum House Publications, 2020. 251p. $43.00 ISBN-13: 978-0-9899447-6-2. This book is self-published by James Hannum. 

In the Pines-Part III An Atlas of Michigan Logging Railroads’ Book cover

Logging railroads occupy a unique niche within railroad transportation prior to truck transport. Most lines were around only as long as the felled timber they hauled. Then disappeared, their equipment sold off to another mill or lumber baron, their routes overgrown or converted to a road of some kind. In the Pines—Part III: an Atlas of Michigan Logging Railroads: The Upper Peninsula is James Hannum’s most recent publication on the subject of railroads, and third (as the title suggests) dedicated atlas for Michigan’s logging railroads. In addition to these three, he has two other books on railroads in Michigan (for Claire County and the Ann Arbor Railroad).  His knowledge of Michigan resources and research shows. From corporate records to plat maps, to newspaper articles, Hannum has pieced together from disparate sources, an atlas of not only logging railroads, but nearly all railroads in the Upper Peninsula. The common carriers, electric railroads, industrial, and mining railroads are included, as is American Fur Company’s portage railroad in Sault Ste. Marie. The depth of Hannum’s research and scope of the content of this atlas is exceptional.  

The initial chapter briefly covers the common carriers, each succeeding chapter is dedicated to each of the 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula (there is, naturally, some overlap between the railroads in the counties). Also included are railroads that originated in Wisconsin and pushed into the neighboring counties in Michigan. Hundreds of high-quality maps and photographs grace the pages. Many have been annotated with text or color, highlighting routes or grades or locations. Routes in counties (for each chapter) are superimposed onto maps taken from the 1954 Department of Conservation County Maps Atlas. If I have one quibble with this atlas, it that some of the color choices make text a little bit hard to distinguish on these maps. Branch lines and spurs are shown as well as the main lines—some maps can be quite detailed. Thumbnail histories of companies are provided in easy-to-read yet well-documented text.  

West part of Alger County MI illustration

The book also contains updates to Hannum’s earlier Michigan books. 28 counties in the Lower Peninsula have updated maps based off high resolution LiDAR imagery and better aerial photographs, making this a needed companion piece for them.

For anyone who has assisted in trying to find maps or locations of logging railroads, a statewide reference such as this, as opposed to the hit-and miss of specific locations or companies, is worth its weight in gold. Michigan is lucky to have these volumes (although the subject of Hannum’s other railroad books is Thurston County, Washington—they are lucky, too). Self-published books sometimes have the taint of bias or unprofessionalism. Not so in this case. James Hannum has created a quality atlas and it fills in a huge hole for a part of the country that was once an important lumber producer for the nation.

Bruce Sarjeant
Reference, Documents & Maps Librarian
Northern Michigan University
Marquette, Michigan

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