The Gregarious Railfan
The Arcadia & Betsey River RR
All of the information on this page was gleaned from the website of the
Manistee County Community Foundation

Description:  In 1881, Henry Starke began construction of a narrow gauge railway to carry logs to early Arcadia,
Michigan. Initially the railway ran between Arcadia and a place about five miles east known as Malcolm.  In 1893,
timber supplies within reach of the narrow gauge railway were dwindling, shipping by boat from Arcadia only reached
ports only on Lake Michigan, and business in Arcadia was growing. So when Henry Starke consolidated his holdings into
the Henry Starke Land and Lumber Company, the new corporation began work on a standard gauge railroad that would
connect the railway to the rest of the world.  By September of 1895, the A&BRR extended 17.5 miles to Henry,
where it connected with the Chicago and West Michigan Railway. By December of 1896, the A&BRR reached Copemish
where it connected with the Ann Arbor Railroad, and passenger service was added. The A&BRR crossed the Pere
Marquette at Henry just west of Copemish. (Henry no longer exists.) By 1899, Arcadia had passenger service twice a
day and carried 3,000 passengers and the mail. From 1906 to 1936, the train carried furniture manufactured by the
Arcadia Furniture Company in addition to the produce and other local goods encouraged by the expanded market.
Personal note: I had 3 great aunts that lived in the little village of Arcadia.  As a child my family would visit these
aunts who all baked fabulous pastries, pies and sugar doughnuts to tickle our taste buds. My dad who worked for the
railroad in our hometown in those days would on occasion go out in search of the roadbed of the defunct logging
railroad;  The Betsie River is a very popular and world famous Trout and Salmon Stream in Northern Michigan.  Also I
think this is another of those railroads with a euphonious name.
additional note: Yes, the river's name is the Betsie River; and the Railroad's name is the Arcadia & Betsey River.
<clik to enlarge>
Images from Historic Arcadia website <Clik on Thumbnails to enlarge>
This map shows the location of the A&BRR standard gauge rails in Arcadia
in 1894. The Y-shaped layout allowed a train to turn around. Note the
pencil-drawn location of the Starke Sawmill at the north end of Lake
<clik to enlarge>
This map shows the A&BRR from Arcadia to
N 44.48970, W 86.23836 - Western terminus at Arcadia MI
<clik Co-ordinates for a modern Google map of Arcadia
The dock at Arcadia, Michigan, north of Manistee, probably around 1913.  The Arcadia & Betsey River
Railway served the small village on Lake Michigan.  The dock was served by the Pere Marquette [Steamship]
Lines and the A&BR Ry. Note the rail line in the foreground of the photo.  [Alan Loftis Collection]
This is not the real logo, To the best of my
knowledge based on research, the ABRR
never had an official logo.
Denver Todd is The Gregarious Railfan
Todd Sestero publishes the RAILFAN GUIDES of the U.S.