Marquette's Lower Harbor
Trestle & Dock History & Removal


Ore Dock History...

The Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railroad awarded a contract on April 1, 1931 to Merrit, Chapman & Whitney, a firm from Duluth, to construct a pocket dock in Marquette's lower harbor for an estimated $1.8 Million. Construction began on April 16 of that year, and the project was completed the following spring, coming in with a price tag of $1.35 million. The trestle & dock were owned over the years by several railroads. Originally built by the DSS&A, the dock was passed down to the Soo Line, Wisconsin Central, and finally the Canadian National Railroad. The dock was officially closed on December 31, 1971 when ore shipments were diverted to Escanaba. While in operation, it ran a ten-man crew, and in 1968, handled over 1 million tons of ore.

DSS&A Dock #6 Facts
Dock and approach length 3,546 feet
Dock Length 969 feet

Dock Height

85 feet, 7 inches


67 feet, 9.5 inches
Pockets 150
Capacity 56,250 tons

*Height above average low lake level of 601.6 Feet


Trestle Removal and Re-use..

The trestle approach to the dock was dismantled during the winter of 1999-2000 by Lunda Construction of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. During the removal, two large cranes were on scene to remove the bridge sections from the top of the support structure.

Cannon Structures purchased almost half a million board feet of Douglas Fir timbers from the trestle. Its Trestlewood Division reclaims old wood from trestles and bridges, turning it into a variety of useful products. Wood from Marquette's trestle could be used for timbers in other projects, flooring, or even cabinets. Trestlewood has the timbers on sale here.

Many of the steel trestle supports were scrapped, but the Wisconsin Central preserved the spans to be used in the reconstruction of a number of other bridges. At right, a short trestle section is removed and placed on a semi trailer. After nearly 30 years, it may once again be facilitating rail traffic in another location.

The city of Marquette retained two of the support structures, such as those pictured here behind the trailer and lift, for some possible future use, preserving the legacy of the railroad trestle in Marquette. They sat near this area for several years before being removed. I do not know where they currently are, or if the city has any definite plans for their use.


Engineering the trestle re-use...

I received an email in the spring of 2004 from C.H. Hague, a design engineer with the Chicago firm hired by the Wisconsin Central to assist in the reuse of the steel trestle sections. A portion follows, with his permission...

You are correct when you state in your online page that the ore dock trestle spans would be re-used.  The WCL has used them to rebuild 10 or so bridges, near Lublin, Donald, Wiergor, Stanberry, and Sheldon, WI.  My firm (ie me) computed how strong the bridges were, designed support structures for them and prepared plans that Lunda Construction used to rebuild the existing bridge.

In fact, my first trip to Marquette was to inspect and measure the ore dock spans for this task.  Myself and a feller from WC walked up the approach trestle, measuring the spans.

At one point, we were on top of the concrete ore dock itself.  I'd run out of film by then, alas.  There was a small donkey car pusher up there, and lots of rickety timber over the bins.

I have attached two .bmp files, showing the sketch I made at that time of the entire trestle.  Spans with the same letter designation are the same size of girder.

C.H. “Chas” Hague, P.E., S.E.
Design Engineer

Click the image below for a larger version of the sketch of the trestle, courtesy of C.H. Hague.

Visit Chas. Hague's web site

Rosewood Walkway...

In July, 2002, Associated Constructors removed the concrete trestle abutment on the east side of Front Street. The City of Marquette is making use of the old right of way from the shoreline west to Fifth Street. The first phase in the linear park involved the construction of the Rosewood Walkway, allowing access between South Front Street and parking areas along Lakeshore Blvd. The walkway also offers a nice view of the Lower Harbor, including the remaining offshore portion of the dock.

Rosewood Walkway from Front Street
Looking from Front Street through the Walkway toward the Harbor.
Another view of the dock and the east end of the walkway.
Looking back through the park toward Front Street. The remaining concrete abutment on the west side of Front is visible behind the sign.
Finally, a view of the park from Lakeshore Blvd. looking toward Front Street.


Trestle Before...

Trestle crossing Front Street, looking north
Trestle at Third Street, looking west. At the Third Street crossing, the track on the ground crossed the street under the trestle.
Trestle at Fourth Street, looking east. Click here for an amusing photo I shot at this crossing, the result of a slight miscalculation by a Schneider National driver. I even managed to catch a train at the crossing--the only photo I believe I managed to take of a train on this line before it was abandoned.
Another shot of the Fourth Street crossing, looking north
The wooden portion of the trestle, between Lakeshore Blvd. and the dock
The dock as viewed from the harbor
The dock in use. Photo courtesy of Robert C. Anderson

The Michigan Railroads site has a scan of a postcard depicting a boat at the dock.

Removing and dismantling the trestle...

The section of trestle over Front Street is removed from the concrete abutments. While not the longest section of the trestle, it was the most recognizable. With "Welcome to Marquette" signs on both sides, it was somewhat of a local landmark.
This section became a point of contention in town, as many wanted to keep this recognizable landmark in place. Lunda Construction uses two cranes, one on each end, to remove the longer trestle sections.
After a slow lift and rotate, the trestle section is safely removed and lowered into the street.
A crew lowers a section of the trestle onto a truck for removal.
Parts of the metal trestle are cut up for scrap
Removing the wooden portion of the trestle. The top of the structure had been previously stripped of rail, lamps and other objects.

The dock today...

The offshore portion of the dock as it remains today.
The wood pilings leading out to the dock remain just above the waterline, and the south walkway to access the offshore portion remains intact, visible on the right side of the dock. Of course, it is fenced and gated, but some people have been known to jump the fence.

A moonrise next to the offshore portion of the dock.

View the City of Marquette's Trestle Corridor page

View the City's plan for the South Rail Yard development

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Content & images copyright © 2004 Andy Larsen Photography except where otherwise noted.

Last Updated: 7/5/04