Switching the Allied Paper King Mill
in Kalamazoo, Michigan

Posted on www.michiganrailroads.com by dtslman on 31 January 2011

The mill was switched by the Grand Trunk Western's (GTW) Train #521/520 the "Kalamazoo Turn," which departed Battle Creek early in the morning and switched the mill on what would be considered the "day-shift." The NYC or CK&S switched the mill on afternoons and the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) provided service at night. In steam days, the GTW normally used one of the 3500 series 2-8-2's...not one of the 0-8-2's! The NYC usually used one of their 0-6-0's and the PRR furnished an H-6 2-8-0. When the diesels arrived I would guess the GTW used one of the switchers or a GP-9. The NYC probably an SW-1, and the PRR an Baldwin or EMD switcher.

Until the late 1930's, the GTW (former C&KT) had a single-stall engine house at Mill Street Yard, which would have housed an engine that would have served all of Kalamazoo. Former GTW Ass't Supt. Cliff Rose, recalled the engine house being there into the late 1930's. It was located on what became Track #4 at Mill Street Yard. The foundation was still there in 1979. This facility also had a coaling facility located slightly to the north of the yard, which utilized a block and tackle equipped hoist to raise baskets of coal to the engines! After the engine house was closed and the coal-hoist dismantled, the GTW would go to the NYC's Botsford yard if they needed coal...this did not happen very often. Believe it or not, I have the blueprints for both structures. I also have detailed maps from the 1920's for the entire facility and have always thought that the mill itself would make quite an interesting focal point on a model railroad.

Each railroad would spot and pull cars on its assigned shift. The cars for the other two railroads would be left within the confines of the plant to be pulled by each individual carrier. It is correct that the GTW would turn their engine and have it heading south to switch the mill...so the engineer would be on the inside of the curve to see hand signals. The NYC's engine would also work headed south. There was a turning-loop at the mill. The south leg of the loop came off the NYC's CK&S main track and crossed the GTW main on a diamond in the vicinity of Vine Street. This portion of the loop was owned and maintained by the NYC (CK&S). The north portion of the loop belonged to the GTW and actually began as the yard lead at the north end of Mill Street Yard. It was owned and maintained by the GTW. Each railroad used each others leg of the loop and each others Main Track between pavilion Jct. and the cross-overs at the north end of Mill Street Yard. all of this mainline trackage on both railroads was controlled by the tower operator at the NYC's BO tower. The Pennsy too had authority to use each end of the loop; but did not enter either GTW or NYC main track.

Allied Paper - King Mill production data for 1955 was:
  - 340,000 lbs. of paper produced in 24 hours.
  - Four 1200-ld. and nine 2000-lb. beaters and eight Jordans.
  - One 120, one 125, one 134 and one 144 - inch Fourdriniers; widest trimmed sheets,
    105, 108, 115, and 128 inches.
  - Super Calendars, 35 inches min. to 123 inches max.

The King Mill closed in 1970. The last of the mill structures were still standing as late as 1979 but by 1980 they were all gone.

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Last Edited by JMW 10/20/12