#13 – The Dummy Train
On the right-hand side of the main road on the way to the tennis courts, you will find Marker #13. If you walk along the road and look carefully, you’ll see spots where the old tracks are still visible through the turf.
The Epworth League Railway began its two-mile run between Ludington and Epworth in 1896. In 1901, J. S. Stearns bought the railroad and renamed it the Ludington Northern Railroad. He extended the line to the middle bayou of Hamlin Lake in 1909. Eventually, the line went all the way to the north bayou of Hamlin for commercial operations. Though the passenger service stopped in 1919, a sand train used those tracks until the railway was abandoned in 1982. The cottages nearby could hear the wheels squeal as they rounded the curve along Lincoln Lake. Today, that old rail bed is under the hiking trail that runs between Lincoln Lake and the Pixie playground.
At its height, the concern boasted two locomotives and nine passenger cars. The coal-burning steam engines were housed in repurposed railway coaches called dummies, and the open passenger cars behind were quite the smoke and cinders experience. Fares at the time seem ridiculously low by today’s standards: Five cents each way to Epworth, and a quarter for a round trip to Hamlin’s middle bayou.