Mystery Mason

The Discussion Board: Upper Peninsula Railroads: Mystery Mason
By Paul Meier on Friday, September 21, 2001 - 11:09 pm:

I inquired about this before and got one response about the Torch Lake on its way to the Ford Museum. George Anderson has a picture of a Mason Bogie on a wood/trussrod Mineral Range flatcar probably taken taken in the Copper Country around the turn of the last century. The Mason had the overslung Walscherts valve gear common to 3 ft. gauge bogies and unlike anything C&H ran. It is definitely not a C&H loco. Question is who's was it? Bollman Lumber?
Paul Meier

By Jim Fisher on Monday, October 01, 2001 - 12:02 am:

The Allouez Mining Co. supposedly had a 3' Bogie on its Hill's Creek line. In R&LHS Bulletin #111, A. A. Durocher mentions one on pps. 28 and 32 on the MH&O as possibly being from the Allouez. I believe their RR was 3' ga. for at least part of its existence. The line was later used by the Wolverine mine's 3' Climax during the mine's early days, before the Wolverine mill was built, when the mine was leasing the old Allouez mill. This would also have required a bit of running on the MRRR but at this time (ca 1890's) it was all 3' ga. anyway. The Climax, which is listed in Kline's book, is almost certainly the one which turns up a little later at the Phoenix.

By Paul Meier on Monday, October 22, 2001 - 5:36 pm:

I went back through my references and found that, as you said Jim, Allouez had a Mason. The build date is the same in two references. I do recall reading somewhere that Allouez built the first version of their RR to 4'1" gauge. The loco in the George Anderson photo might well have been that gauge which would have made it more easy to convert it to standard gauge and would have made it more likely to survive to the Mineral Range std. gauge era. However, since in the 1880's the only outside connection the Allouez would have had is the 3' gauge Mineral Range - maybe Allouez was 3'. I have walked the roadbed and it was hard to tell what gauge the original was. Another player in the nieghborhood was the Mohawk & Traverse Bay. It was 3' to start with but I have never seen a roster. It was built very late in the narrow gauge era, it may have leased loco's from H&C or MR. At this point the most likely conclusion is that George's picture is of Allouez' Mason "Gratiot"

By Jim Fisher on Monday, October 29, 2001 - 4:08 pm:

The possibility of the picture being of the "Gratiot" is very exciting- almost too much to hope for. I hope I'll get a chance to see it some day. I tried to call Geo. A. but the number I have for him is apparently out of service. The "Gratiot" is another in a long line of riddles which have bedevilled me forever such as the mystery of the "Fluke", H & T L's (and possibly the Atlantic's as well) first engine. Then there is the firm ID-ing of the Arnold and Eagle Harbor's engine etc. etc.

The Mohawk and Traverse Bay was built to 3' gage but soon standard gaged. It was paid for by the Mohawk and Wolverine interests but operated by the MRRR to 1918, the CRRR thereafter. Engines were all MRRR or H & C.

By Jeremy Jordan ( on Sunday, July 07, 2002 - 11:09 am:

According to an article written by the Rev. Herman Page in the NOV 1974 (Vol 11) Issue of Finelines: "The Hecla and Torch Lake (Later to become the Calumet and Hecla) had an oddball 4'1" gauge and ran many mason bogies." and "Even the last Mason bogie in existance was stored north of Calumet." and "...and even the Mason bogie has gone to Greenfield Village in lower Michigan." Hope this helps.

By Dennis H. Leopold ( on Sunday, July 21, 2002 - 1:08 pm:

Ah yes the "Fluke." Now I know I have to do some big time mining in my old files and boxes, as I had at one time found some good info on it in the C&H collection at the MTU archives. I think I even have the builder's number and the sort. It was if I remember correctly built by the Vulcan Locomotive Works (the eastern one, not the one located in San Fransisco). Also, if I remember correctly the "Fluke" was actually ordered by the Hecla Mining Company's Hecla Train Railway (what eventually became the Hecla & Torch Lake RR) and they took delivery of it in the very late 1860s (something like 1867, '68 or '69). What I'd like to have is a picture of it, even if it was taken after it had perhaps gone to the Globe Train Railway (Atlantic's line before the A&LS).

By Dennis H. Leopold ( on Sunday, July 21, 2002 - 1:51 pm:

OK, I found some of my notes (but not all of them). First I took a misstep when writting about the Hecla Train Railway. It was incorporated in June of 1867, but the decission to rename the railroad was made at the Dec 13, 1867 meeting of the shareholders, it was decided then to rename it the Hecla & Torch Lake Railway (which was then incorporated Feb. 4, 1868?). As for the Fluke itself, it was on the property already by Dec. 1867 and was built by the Vulcan Iron Works (NOT the Vulcan Locomotive works as I stated in a previous post, sorry about that). The Fluke was used for 5 years as a locomotive. Its end came when it was converted into a stationary boiler by C&H in 1872 for use in an early smelter--guess that also puts an end to the theory that the Fluke had gone to the Atlantic Mining Co. and used on the Globe Train Railway. So why then did it, like the H&TL, have a 49" gauge? Perhaps the company was either influenced by what another company with a railroad was doing, or perhaps they aquired some old ore cars from C&H. The riddle continues... Dennis

By Dave Zelisse ( on Monday, September 16, 2002 - 8:41 pm:

I remember the DSS&A convention a few years ago up in the Copper Country (which Kevin M. did a FANTASTIC job of helping with). At that time if memory serves me correctly, Rudy Maki was commenting about the Mason "Torch Lake". Again if I'm not mixing things up, he said that she was kept in the old engine house in Phoenix and was last used for hauling poor rock for road re/construction on the old KC line following it's abandonment and before the rails were all ripped up. Shortly after her disappearance to the land of the trolls, the engine house and other artifacts (probably rock cars, trackage etc.)were bulldozed and "cleaned up" by some overzealous road commission employee. All that remains is a chunk of rail or two still visible in the Eagle River, south of the road to Eagle River and west of 41.

By allen philley ( on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 9:24 am:

does anyone know of the fate of C&NW #175 ? Last year its friend Copper Range #29 went south.

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