Pere Marquette Railway Company
Chicago Division


The plan was made. The layout was started. Then I had kids. The layout sat. And sat. It never got further than benchwork and some roadbed.

The layout was removed. Lesson learned. It was too much. Even when I had time, it was simply an overwhelming project staring me in the face.

A new modular free-mo version is in the planning stages. This will break the layout up into managable pieces and smaller not-so-overwhelming projects.


The primary purpose of my layout is to create an accurate representation of the Chicago Division of the Pere Marquette Railway as it existed in August of 1946 between Grand Rapids (milepost 0) and Holland (milepost 25), Michigan. My reasons for choosing to model the Pere Marquette, the particular section of railroad, and the particular time period are not all that unique.

I grew up in Jenison, a town at milepost 7 1/4 of the Chicago Division between Grand Rapids and Holland. I've spent a lot of time along the rail line between Holland and Grand Rapids growing up. I have family Hudsonville (milepost 12) and Holland. Holland is a wonderful place to go to spend time on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan.

My grandfather worked for the successors of the Pere Marquette, the Chesapeake and Ohio and Chessie System at Wyoming Yard from 1952 to 1984. Wyoming Yard was the primary locomotive shop for the Pere Marquette and located at milepost 3 of the Chicago Division. The shops and roundhouse will have a prominent position on my layout.

Even though steam locomotives were long gone from revenue service well before I was even born, the powerful machines fascinate me. I want to have a layout that is primarily steam. August of 1946 is perfect because the railroad only had a few diesel switchers and just acquired its first pair of E7s for its new streamlined trains, the Pere Marquette's, between Grand Rapids and Detroit.

Layout Description

The layout will eventually model the line between Wyoming Yard and Holland.

Plaster Creek

Plaster Creek is a tower that controls the eastern half of Wyoming Yard.

Wyoming Yard

Wyoming Yard is halfway between Detroit and Chicago and is the location of the main shop facility for the Pere Marquette Railway. The shops consist of wood car shops, steel car shops, warehouses, and a large erecting bay with machine shops.


Lamar is the location of East Tower, which controls the west end of Wyoming Yard and the junction with the New York Central. Lamar is the location of several industries and where the short GR Belt spur leads away from the mainline to Reynolds Metal and a GM plant.


Ivanrest is not even shown in 1946 Pere Marquette timetables. All that is located there is a medium sized bulk oil depot.


Grandville is a typical midwestern small town that is the end of the double track from Grand Rapids.


Jenison is a small farming community. It used to have its own station, but it burned and was not replaced.


Hudsonville is a typical rural midwestern farming community with a small station and grain elevator. Hudsonville calls itself the "Celery City" due to the large quantity of muck fields that produce celery, onions, and other crops. Hudsonville is the location of a long passing siding.


Zeeland is known for the production of chicks. A large quantity of these young hatchlings were shipped on express cars from the station there. Like Holland and Grand Rapids (Furniture City, USA), Zeeland is the location of several furniture manufacturers. The siding in Zeeland is not used as a passing siding by the railroad. It is there simply to service the large amount of industries in Zeeland.


Waverly is the junction of the Chicago Division with the branch to Muskegon and a small yard that services Holland and the Allegan Branch. (Freight trains to Muskegon were sent directly from Wyoming Yard.)


Holland is a large city and the junction of the Chicago Division and the branch to Allegan. Holland is situated at the southeast end of Lake Macatawa, a navigable inlet off of Lake Michigan. Passenger trains from Muskegon were scheduled to meet the passenger trains between Chicago and Grand Rapids at Holland. Holland contains quite a few industries. Many of those industries are situated on the two mile long dock spur that follows the south side of Lake Macatawa, including several furniture factories and a large Heinz pickle factory. Other notable industries in the Holland area are Holland Furnace and Hart and Cooley.

Allegan Branch

The Allegan Branch is a lightly used branch to the small town of Allegan and an interchange with the New York Central.