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