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Michigan Tech Professor Tracks Copper Country Streetcars

(Houghton, MI) – Bill Sproule’s expertise in transportation—and a love of history and rail transportation—led to a charmingly illustrated book, Copper Country Streetcars, just published by Arcadia Publishing Co. Sproule is a professor of civil and environmental Engineering at Michigan Technological University

Streetcar service in the Copper Country began in 1900 on a line between Houghton and Boston. In the following year, the line was extended farther north to serve Laurium, Red Jacket (now Calumet) and Wolverine. Over the next few years, a branch line opened to Lake Linden and Hubbell, and the network was completed in 1908, when the section between Wolverine and Mohawk opened. The total system had 27 miles of track and 25 streetcars that operated from early morning to late evening every day of the week. Passengers could board and exit cars on the streets in towns and at stations between towns.

“The peak annual ridership was in 1909, when over six and a half million passengers rode the streetcars,” Sproule says. “There were over 16,000 riders on an average summer day. It really united the Copper Country’s smaller villages.”

Following the copper strike of 1913-14, ridership began to drop as the copper market declined and residents started to move out of the area, Sproule says. After World War I, auto ownership started to increase, and drivers wanted governments to build better roads. This helped hasten the decline. The final streetcar run was in 1932.

For the full story, see http://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2013/august/story94221.html.

To contact Bill Sproule, email wsproule@mtu.edu or call 906-487-3568.

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