This cache was hidden as part of the tRails Along the Au Sable Geocache Rail Tour, presented by Silent Whistles, the Oscoda - Au Sable Historical Museum, and the Steiner Museum. Record the milepost value contained on and/or in each cache container on the Ticket to Au Sable form. See the additional information below for specific tour requirements.
The pine in the center background is growing on the grade.
Little information about the stop at Big Creek has been uncovered. The grade here can easily be seen... when you get to it.
The grade roughly followed Hunt Creek from the southwest to northeast, passing by an old earthen dam before crossing Big Creek and heading north. The dam is on private property.
Potts Logging Railway South Branch, circa 1886.
In 1886, the J.E. Potts Lumber and Salt Company built a narrow gauge (3' between the rails) logging railroad from it's company headquarters at Potts (later McKinley) in eastern Oscoda County. On July 27th, 1887. Potts organized the railroad as the Potts Logging Railway. The railroad was constructed in two different directions from Potts to tap stands of timber. One line was built northwest to what would become Fairview, then on to lumber camps at a place called Tong in north-west Oscoda County. This line eventually reached Twin Lakes (Lewiston) in Montmorency County and Bear Lake in south-western Otsego County.
At the same time, a second line was built south-west into northern Ogemaw County, then west, then north back in to Oscoda County, along Big Creek to Luzerne. This line is referred to as the South Branch. Stops along this line included Imlay, Church, Woodrow, Damon, Hicks, Big Creek and Luzerne, as shown on the map above.
Potts made a bold attempt to connect his isolated lumber railroad to the outside world and become a common carrier (passengers and other freight). By early 1891, he extended the line south-east to connect with the Detroit, Bay City and Alpena Railroad and Great Lakes Shipping docks in Au Sable. In doing so, Potts overextended the company and it failed financially. The troubled Potts Logging Railway and its parent, J.E. Potts Lumber and Salt Company were purchased by the H.M. Loud Lumber Company on July 17th, 1891. Henry M. Loud reorganized the railroad as the Au Sable and Northwestern Railroad.
As the South Branch was never more than a logging line, when the available timber was harvested, the need for the branch went away. It is believed that the South Branch between Damon and Luzerne was abandoned in the mid 1890s. The entire branch was abandoned and torn up about 1898. The rails, no doubt, found their way to other locations and branches along the AS&NW.
The cache is a traditional hide along the grade along Hunt Creek, south-west of where it dumps into Big Creek. There is an old earth dam just down stream which backs up water into the cache area. Please respect the private property to the northeast and do not attempt to follow the grade that way. The hide was made in late April. I found a way in and a different way out and managed to keep my feet dry, but it was tricky.
To claim a prize:
- Download and print the Ticket to Au Sable (PDF).
- As an aide, download and print the RAAS Recommended Route Map (PDF).
- Find at least 46 of the 57 (80%) cache hides in the table below.
- Find at least seven of the ten mystery and multi caches, in any combination.
- Record the milepost value from each cache you find on this form. Milepost numbers are on cache labels and log book covers. Do not record the milepost value in your log at geocaching.com or it will be deleted.
- Each individual GC account holder making the find must sign and date the paper log book in the cache with their GC account name. No group logs please.
- Send the completed form via US Mail to the address on the form. Each GC account holder must send in a form. One prize per completed form. One prize per GC Account. Multiple forms per mailing is encouraged.
Once your answers have been verified, the prize will be sent back to you via US Mail to the address you provide on the form, while supplies last. One hundred prizes have been minted..
Many thanks to the hard work and research performed by Mr. Graydon Meints, which would have taken years to do on my own.
Also, thanks to Charles Conn for allowing the use of his collection of photographs at the Clarke Historical Library, and thanks to the Library staff for their help.
Also, thanks to James S. Hannum, Michigan and Washington railroad author, for sharing research, opinions and guidance along the right of way.
- AS&NW History
- RRHX: Au Sable & Northwestern Railroad
- Detroit and Mackinac Railway
- Detroit and Mackinac Historical Society
- Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University
- Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1897, R.L. Polk & Co.
- Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory, 1907, R.L. Polk & Co.
- Joseph Hicks parcels
- Michigan Place Names, Walter Romig, © 1986 Wayne State University Press
- Michigan Ghost Towns Volume II, Roy L. Dodge, © 1971 Glendon Publishing
- Michigan Railroads and Railroad Companies, Graydon M. Meints © 1992, Michigan State University Press
- Michigan Railroad Lines, Graydon M. Meints © 2005, Michigan State University Press