400. The Dummy Train

“Dummy Train”


In the early 1890s the Citizens Development Company in the Ludington area was looking ahead to creating new growth and prosperity for the community to replace the waning lumbering industry. They envisioned a manufacture’s addition with 1,000 new homes for workers that would operate the new industries lining the shores of Lincoln Lake. A new tourist mecca call Lincoln Heights would also be built bringing weary city dwellers looking for an escape and relaxing atmosphere.


Out of the ashes of that failed tourism project came an offer in 1894 to the Methodist League to establish a community that would provide spiritual and cultural programs for the people of Ludington. Two hundred and forty acres between Lincoln Lake and Lake Michigan were given to the Epworth League and within 10 weeks the first programs were conducted in the summer of 1895.


The Epworth League Railway was formed to provide a means of transportation for the residents of Ludington to travel to the new resort. Known as the “dummy Train” because the fake locomotive consisted of a box built atop a steam engine it remains a fixture in local lore and history.


After Justus Stearns took control, the name was changed to Ludington and Northern Railway and the line expanded to Hamlin Lake. By 1919, improved roads, increasing numbers of automobiles and the end of the lumbering era also brought an end to the carefree days of traveling in an open coach to summer picnics on Hamlin Lake.


Lakeland, Colorado artist George Lundeen is a nationally recognized sculptor of realistic figures. He has created work located in the US Capitol Rotunda.