Roundhouse Asbestos Exposure in Michigan

Submitted by Serling and Abramson on Thu, 04/29/2021 - 14:06

Much of the asbestos exposures experienced by railroad workers in Michigan occurred in what was known as Roundhouses. Throughout the state of Michigan, roundhouses were locations where train cars were serviced, maintained, and repaired beginning in the late 19th century. 

The types of asbestos products that railroad workers were exposed to changed significantly when diesel engines replaced steam in the mid-20th century. The use of Roundhouses for repair and maintenance continued throughout the 20th century. A few are still in use today. 

Some examples of the types of asbestos products used at these locations were asbestos rope and cloth used for track maintenance, asbestos boiler and pipe covering, insulated electrical and plumbing products, brake linings and many others.

An example of at-risk trades in the railroad industry were track maintenance workers, equipment operators, yardmasters, conductors, brakemen, train engineers, mechanics, boiler workers, blacksmiths, machinists, pipe fitters, section hands and other trades. Section hands (track repairmen) were also known as gandy dancers . Interestingly, the restaurant known as the Gandy Dancer in Ann Arbor is situated in the 100 year-old train station, which was replaced by a new station 1983.

In Michigan, many of our railroad workers who developed mesothelioma or lung cancer were exposed to asbestos in the Roundhouses that are listed below along with the railroad company that owned and utilized the sites.

Roundhouses in Michigan

·        Adrian                           Lake Shore & Michigan Southern

·        Alpena                          Detroit & Mackinac

·        Battle Creek                 Grand Trunk

·        Bay City                        Michigan Central

·        Calumet                        Calumet & Hecla

·        Champion                    Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific

·        Detroit                          Michigan Central

·        Detroit                          Grand Trunk

·        Durand                         Grand Trunk

·        Elberta                          Ann Arbor

·        Escanaba                      Chicago & Northwestern

·        Flatrock                        Detroit, Toledo and Ironton

·        Gladstone                    Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie

·        Grand Rapids               Michigan Central

·        Grand Rapids               Pere Marquette

·        Hancock                       Quincy & Torch Lake

·        Holland                        Pere Marquette

·        Iron Mountain              Chicago & Northwestern

·        Ishpeming                    Chicago & Northwestern

·        Jackson                        Michigan Central

·        Kalamazoo                   Michigan Central

·        Kalamazoo                   Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad

·        Ludington                     Pere Marquette

·        Manistee                       Manistee & Northeastern

·        Marshall**                    Detroit, Toledo & Milwaukee Road

·        New Buffalo                 Pere Marquette

·        Niles                             Missouri Central

·        Owosso                         Ann Arbor

·        Plymouth                      Pere Marquette

·        Pontiac                          Grand Trunk Western

·        Port Huron                    Grand Trunk

·        Port Huron                    Port Huron & Detroit

·        River Rouge                 Michigan Central Railroad

·        Saginaw                        Pere Marquette

·        Wells                            Escanaba & Lake Superior


**The Henry Ford Museum acquired the Marshall MI Roundhouse in 1991 and it was reconstructed and placed at Greenfield Village in Dearborn in 2000. See photo of the reconstructed Roundhouse below.

Round House

Contact Serling & Abramson if you have questions concerning asbestos exposure and the resulting development of mesothelioma or lung cancer.

You have somebody you can trust when you talk to him. The people at Serling & Abramson are very kind and attentive to what your problems are.
Tony P.

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