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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Niles in Berrien County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Niles - A Transportation Center

Opening Southwestern Michigan to the World

 
 
Niles - A Transportation Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, September 6, 2013
1. Niles - A Transportation Center Marker
Inscription. The St. Joseph River and the Sauk Trail (now U.S. 12) were major transportation routes for Indians, French voyagers, missionaries, military and early settlers through Niles. Nile's first railroad, the Michigan Central Railroad arrived October 1, 1848. Community leaders recognized immediately that Niles was fortunate to have one railroad but to prosper it was imperative to have a second competing railroad to lower passenger and freight fares. Niles representatives promoted the project for the second railroad. In 1871 after pledging bonds in the amount of $100,000 Niles had a second railroad, the Airline Railroad which ran from South Bend, through Niles's depot at Barron lake and on to Jackson, Michigan. Competition was not to be! The Airline was immediately leased to the Michigan Central Railroad. Individuals continued to promote a competing railroad. MANY HAD WORKED SO HARD FOR THIS JOYOUS DAY - FINALLY JUNE 29, 1882 THE ARRIVAL OF WHAT BECAME KNOWN AS THE BIG 4 RAILROAD ENDED A THIRTY-FOUR YEAR EFFORT FOR A COMPETING RAILROAD; THE FINAL PIECE OF THE "RAIL HUB". The flag draped train, whose route was northwest from Elkhart, Indiana into Niles, was greeted with a tremendous celebration. Citizens of Elkhart were aboard, coming to Niles where the train "parked" at the foot of Main Street Bridge. Festivities included a band, cannon
Niles - A Transportation Center Marker in Riverfront Park image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, September 6, 2013
2. Niles - A Transportation Center Marker in Riverfront Park
firing, speeches, and dinner for several hundred.

THE "BIG 4" NORTH-SOUTH RAIL SERVICE AND THE MICHIGAN CENTRAL EAST-WEST RAIL SERVICE EXPLODED THE AGRICULTURAL, COMMERCIAL & INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT OF NILES. One such business was Hunter Ice that harvested ice from Barron Lake. Hunter Ice was stated to be pristine and was used exclusively on the MCRR and the Big 4. Before refrigerated rail cars farmers drove wagons over mud or plank roads to bring their fruits and produce to Niles's Michigan Central Railroad where Hunter Ice cooled the cars. Hunter Ice was replaced by the Federal Ice Company who manufactured synthetic ice whose plant was part of the MCRR Classification Yard. The Big 4 was extended to Benton Harbor in November, 1882, its northern most point enabling both manufacturers and farmers to load rail cars almost on site of their plants and farms. Cars could be pre-iced to further protect delicate seasonal crops. In 1905 Berrien County shipped a million bushels of peaches which included 266,400 bushels shipped by the Big 4! The quarter of a million bushels of peaches were brought to Niles's Big 4 yard to be shipped to markets south, east and west. The Big 4 hauled over 100 cars of seasonal fruit daily through Niles into the 1920s. As a result of Niles's transportation facilities, industry flourished with the arrival of companies like Kawneer, National Print & Engraving,
Niles - A Transportation Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, September 6, 2013
3. Niles - A Transportation Center Marker
Close-up of Photos on Marker
Simplicity, Garden City Fan, Tyler Refrigeration, National Standard and others whose products brought Niles into national and international prominence.

(Photo Caption)
EVERY STEP TAKEN IN NILES RIVERFRONT PARK WAS ONCE THE PATH OF A "STEAMING LOCOMOTIVE"
2005 "birds-eye" view of Riverfront Park, where Niles's railroad hub was once centered. Niles's railroad complex where there was only 2,800 feet between the three train depots. The red dashed line shows the original route of the Big 4 and the Skate park is now where the Big 4 Depot was located. The blue dashed line shows the original route of the Interurban. Riverfront Park converted over two miles of what was the "old" Big 4 railroad tracks along the river.
 
Erected by Fort St. Joseph Historical Association.
 
Location. 41° 50.098′ N, 86° 15.542′ W. Marker is in Niles, Michigan, in Berrien County. Marker can be reached from Front Street (State Highway 139) south of Wayne Street, on the left when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is located at the northern end of Riverfront Park. Marker is in this post office area: Niles MI 49120, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. John B. Reddick Building (approx. 0.3 miles away); Michigan Central Railroad Niles Depot
Niles - A Transportation Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, September 6, 2013
4. Niles - A Transportation Center Marker
Close-up of Left Inset on Marker
(approx. 0.3 miles away); Niles Veterans Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); Parrott Civil War Cannon (approx. 0.3 miles away); Michigan Central Railroad Depot / Michigan Central Railroad Company (approx. 0.4 miles away); Second Baptist Church (approx. 0.4 miles away); Ferry Street School (approx. 0.4 miles away); Four Flags Hotel (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Niles.
 
Categories. AgricultureIndustry & CommerceRailroads & Streetcars
 
Niles - A Transportation Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, September 6, 2013
5. Niles - A Transportation Center Marker
Close-up of Right Inset on Marker
Railroad Bridge over St. Joseph River near Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, September 6, 2013
6. Railroad Bridge over St. Joseph River near Marker
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 424 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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