Throwback Thursday: Legend of the “Polly Ann” Railway


POandNRRmapLocal folklore states that the Pontiac, Oxford & Northern Railroad (GTR) ran from September 1889 until the last service run of the full length of the line on February 9, 1984. Nicknamed the “Polly Ann”, or Poor, Old and Neglected, the line was a single-track, standard-gauge, steam railroad, situated entirely within the Thumb Region of Michigan, extending from Pontiac to Caseville for just under 100 miles.PigeonRailStation

In the early first half of the 1900’s passengers never reached sufficient numbers to support the line. Aside from Pontiac, the communities being serviced were all sparsely populated. The fertile farmland known for its wheat, bean and sugar beet crops, contributed valuable tonnage to the railroad. It was said that there was always a free bag of beans to be had by the train’s crew whenever they had to layover. The term “out to beans” because synonymous with “out to lunch”.

During the late 1930’s Oxford had one of the world’s largest gravel mines and was the source of carloads for Grand Trunk Western. This regular mud_runassigned job was known as the “mud run”. The gravel was used for road construction and for the runways at nearby Selfridge Air Force Base in Macomb County.

Today the former industrial railway is now a source of recreation. The Polly Ann Trail in Lapeer County. Owned by the Michigan Department NaCaseville_depottural Resources, is part of the abandoned corridor was once used by the Pontiac, Oxford & Northern Railroad. Local groups host horseback riding, cycling events, nature walks, runs, and charity fundraisers.

One of the last remnants of the Polly Ann track can still be seen in Caseville right off main street.Caseville_Postcard The Caseville depot east moved in the 1980’s and is now a summer home.

Update: Why Pursue Wind Energy Now


There is no question that technologies such as wind turbines are less efficient than continuing to use fossil fuel. So why are we investing so much in renewable in terms of tax breaks and legislation? This video presents a non political outline of the situation that  planet finds itself in. It does not offer any solutions. This was first posted on Thumbwind in 2012. Three years later it resonates even more.

Some may consider it propaganda while others consider it prophetic. It’s required viewing in several classes in colleges throughout Michigan.

Awesome! – See a 400 foot Wind Turbine Built in Five Minutes


The folks at MidAmerican  Energy put together this terrific video that shows the entire process of raising a wind turbine like those in the Thumb. The video is a little over five minutes and includes factoids during the entire process.

MidAmerican Energy Company, Iowa’s largest energy company, provides electric service to 732,000 customers and natural gas service to 714,000 customers in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota. It is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa.

County’s Draft of New Wind Regulations have Energy Companies Howling


Huron Wind ZoningHuron County, Michigan – A new draft of wind zoning regulations has been quietly circulated among key wind energy companies hoping to start new projects in Michigan’s Thumb region. Wind developers are howling at the proposed new restrictions. A proposed rewrite of the wind regulations tripled the size of the zoning regs and includes provisions to clamp down on problems with noise, sun flicker and setbacks to homes and sensitive areas

Early comments from the developers  were less then positive. The Huron Daily Tribune reported that Dan Ettinger, a Grand Rapids attorney for NextEra, said the changes are neither legal nor enforceable.“You essentially would be banning commercial wind development in Huron County,” DTE’s Matt Wagner said, “Honestly, one of our concerns is that those ordinance changes are so significant that they, for all intents and purposes, zone the turbines out of Huron County,”

The county currently has a moratorium on new wind projects while the new zoning language is being drafted. All windwindconstruction projects have been halted for a period of six months. Its unclear if the moratorium will be extended if the zoning language is not completed.

Recent referendums have put wind projects in Huron county on the defensive. On May 5th voters in Huron’s Meade Township effectively halted a $214 million DTE wind project to place up to 58 wind turbines in Meade, Colfax and Chandler townships. This trend is being seen in other areas of the county as residents consider the effects of industrial wind energy projects in their communities.

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