RRHX - Michigan Railroad History
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Re: Cadillac & Lake City enginehouse for sale
The engine house was built new by the C&LC in 1964 when the railway started. The GR&I depot was built about where the ex-C&WI commissary car, converted to a ticket office/souvenir shop was located, SW of the enginehouse. There were two small buildings south of the enginehouse. One was wood where a motorcar had been parked. I will have to ask Howard whether it predated the C&LC. Further south was a small concrete block building that Howard and Cliff occupied. It was world HQ. Google maps shows neither exists. Howard was 27 when a small group of Detroit folks started the railroad. At the time he was working as a clerk in the General Office of the Detroit & Toledo Shore Line. A student at MSU, he didn't graduate before he had to go to work. He drove a suburban bus in the Detroit area. He worked in the hotel/restaurant trade in both London and New York City. Cliff Lenten, the oldest of the group and therefore Chairman, got a mining degree from the School of Mines in the UP. He and a friend put themselves through school mining gold in the UP at a small claim they owned. He was well traveled, and served in WWII as an officer. Very near the end of the war, he was in Bavaria and ordered to secure what may have been Hitler's vacation property, the Wolf's Lair. Cliff, who had some steam experience, looked over a collection of 2-10-0's at a local roundhouse. All had boiler damage thanks to retreating German sappers. They used explosives. Cliff did find a small self-propelled maintenance-of-way crane with a functional boiler. Steamed up and towing an empty flat for the troops, the crane did the job. The war either ended or they were no longer needed where they were. Cliff picked up some odds and ends. He later gave his wife a cardboard box with some books and other things. He told her, "sometime in the future, maybe some of this will be worth something." After Cliff passed away several years ago, his wife was about to throw the box out, but asked Mel Jessup whether he thought there was anything in there of value. One book was a copy of Mein Kampf, autographed by Hitler to a friend from the first days of the Nazi Party. Mel showed it to a bookstore owner in Traverse City who said he couldn't put a value on it but would ask around. Ultimately, the widow received a check for $8,000 as I recall and the book ended up displayed at the Holocaust Museum with a nominal value of $250,000. Cliff had two daughters and two sons that I met. Howard married late in life and has some step-children. The C&LC wasn't a hobby. It was an attempt to run a combination of Diesel powered freight service and steam powered excursions. It failed to meet expenses and filed for bankruptcy shortly after Penn Central did in 1971. Cliff was a co-trustee. In 1972, seeing that the operation continued to show a loss, the Federal Judge overseeing the bankruptcy ordered the company shut down and liquidated. The value of the steel rails were high enough, along with sales of the r-o-w that creditors received all they were owed. I don't know if the shareholders received anything. A surprising amount of the equipment survived, including all seven locomotives.