Lake County Railroad
Exact Location:
Lake County- North Country Trail follows part of an old rail berm for a short distance east-west just north of Wingleton Road, and again just south of 8th Street.
map of Lake County RR
Map of Lake County Railroad. Dark blue is Lake County Railroad route. Yellow is Pere Marquette Railway. Light blue is North Country Trail. Red arrows shows approximate places where the NCT follows a spur berm. (base map provided by the Lake County Historical Society)

The Lake County Railroad was built around 1880, with the main line stretching from Branch, north to Sauble and Peacock. Much of the administration was done by Thomas B. Lyon (his sister Kate married E.B. Ward, and another sister Paulina married Justus Stearns). The extended family controlled vast portions of western Lake County.

Lake County Railroad train with a load of logs
Lake County Railroad train with a load of logs. (photo courtesy of Lake County Historical Society)
The primary purpose of Lake County RR was to carry logs from the forest to stations where they could be shipped to more distant locations. Some logs were reloaded on the Pere Marquette Railway at Branch, and others from a spur through Stearns Siding (Bennett) and Wingleton. Alternatively, logs were dumped in Kinne Lake/Creek where they could be floated to the Pere Marquette River.

The rails were 36" apart, making it a narrow-guage line. In 1885 it reported hauling 6 million feet of lumber, with a capacity of 10 million feet. There were nine miles of track at that time.

By 1885, it was owned by Wilson D. Wing (of Wingleton fame). Eventually, the entire line was abandoned.

railroad berm south of 8th St.,Lake County Michigan
The North Country Trail following abandoned rail berm just south of 8th Street. (photo by jhy)
The North Country Trail follows a short piece of rail berm just north of Wingleton Road which is no longer visible following the micro-bust wind event of 2018. It is likely this is a remnant of a Lake County Railroad spur. A longer piece of obvious berm is followed just south of Fox Trail/8th Street. This spur is easily seen as an eastward extension of a mapped portion of the Lake County Railroad.

Also see:
Stearns Siding
Ward Hills
Pere Marquette Railway

Lake County Historical Society
Life and Legacy of Justus Smith Stearns
Lake County Logging Railroads, p 103.
Every effort is made to provide up-to-date accurate information, but errors are bound to occur. Please contact explorer@exploreNCT.info about errors, corrections or additions.

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The North Country National Scenic Trail is 4800 miles long, spanning eight states. For more information, visit the North Country Trail Association