I recently read a story published in 1906 by some fellows from the nearby town of Napoleon, Michigan where I used to live. They traveled in the winter of 1905 to the central part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (approximately 450 miles) to hunt deer. In 1905 that was an area that would be described today as “road-less wilderness”. They were able to travel the entire way by train and brought back quite a few deer in the baggage car. Today there are no longer train tracks that pass through Napoleon and as near as I can determine, no passenger service that would allow one to make that same trip by rail from anywhere in southern Michigan.
The lack of decent roads and reliable automobiles in those days meant that the train was the quickest and cheapest way to get to a sportsman's destination. Passenger service was viewed by the railroads as an important source of income and much advertising in “Outdoor” magazines stressed the quality of their service as well as the quality of the hunting and fishing available on their routes.
When it come to advertising and collecting old fishing related items, one area that seems to have been neglected is the advertising brochures given away by railroads early in the last century. They were meant to encourage folks to get aboard the train and and head for some good fishing. I have picked up several of these interesting booklets over the years at antique tackle shows. The asking prices for such advertising pieces were so low that only "lack of interest" could explain them. In addition to great pictures and historical information, almost all of them contain fold-out maps of the railroad's route and suggested fishing destinations. I thought it would be interesting to show a few here.
By the way, those fellows who traveled all that way in 1905 to hunt deer would be surprised today to find that their home township of Napoleon and surrounding Jackson County now has one of the densest populations of deer in the the State of Michigan! The future has always proved hard to predict and no one could have foreseen that in 1905.
Wild Bill Sonnett