Manistee & Luther Railroad
Exact Location:
The North Country Trail has three crossings of former Manistee & Luther RR track. Lake County- The trail follows part of an old rail berm through a bottomland hardwood swamp just north of 8 Mile Road. Mason County- North Country Trail crosses Koenig Rd (FR 5331 or Dead Horse Marsh Road) which was a rail bed. Manistee County- North Country Trail crosses main line where 9-Mile Bridge Road comes into Skocelas Road.
map of Manistee and Luther RR
Map of Manistee and Luther Railroad. Red is Manistee & Luther Railroad route. Light blue is North Country Trail. Yellow arrows show approximate places where the NCT follows or crosses a berm. (base map provided by the Lake County Historical Society)

The Manistee & Luther RR was conceived by R.G. Peters, one of the first men to use trains to extract timber in Michigan. It was his most successful railroad, in operation from 1886-1914. The main line never went to either Manistee or Luther, originating instead in Eastlake (just east of Manistee) and ending in Hoxeyville. However, a second line probably did extend to Luther.

southern leg of the Manistee & Luther RR through a bottomland hardwood swamp
southern leg of the Manistee & Luther RR through a bottomland hardwood swamp (photo by jhy)
The primary purpose of the Manistee & Luther RR was to carry logs from the forest to stations where they could be shipped to more distant locations. A distinctive section of the southern leg consists of a raised berm through a bottomland hardwood swamp just north of 8-Mile Road in Lake County. The trail follows this berm for a half mile.

The North Country trail crosses Koenig Rd (FR 5331/ Dead Horse Marsh Rd) a half mile after entering Mason County. This road follows the route of a connecting track between the main line and the southern leg of the M&L RR.

The northernmost crossing of the M&L RR is at the intersection of Skocelas Road and 9-Mile Bridge Rd (now a seasonal 2-track). 9-Mile Bridge Road follows the original rail berm of the main line.

The M&L was a hastily laid, narrow-guage line, reputedly suffering many accidents as a result.

railroad berm south of 8th St.,Lake County Michigan
1910 photo of a Manistee & Luther RR engine and crew near Hoxeyville. (photo from the Manistee Historical Society)
When the Peters Sawmill closed, the line was abandoned.

Also see:
Michigan East & West Railway
Lake Country Railroad
Pere Marquette Railway
Marquette Rail

Manistee County Historical Society
Railroad Routes of Northwestern Lower Michigan
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