Kipling's Michigan Twins Today

by Thomas Pinney

IN 1895, when railroads were still being extensively built in the American west, and when the forest and mineral wealth of large parts of the country was just beginning to be exploited, the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste Marie railway (always called the "Soo Line") was being cut through the virgin forests of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

As it happened, the General Manager of the railway, Frederick D. Underwood (1852-1942), was a devoted admirer of the work of Rudyard Kipling, and he indulged the privilege of the American railroad builder to name two stations on the route after his favorite author: Rudyard, Michigan, and Kipling, Michigan.

Kipling learned of this curious honor from his old friend and colleague on the Lahore Civil and Military Gazette, Kay Robinson, who had been traveling in the U.S. and had recently come from Minneapolis to Vermont to visit Kipling, then living at "Naulakha" near Brattleboro.

Kipling at once wrote to Underwood to say that Robinson had just showed him a "folder of your R.R. in which appear the stations 'Rudyard' and 'Kipling'."

"Robinson", Kipling went on, "tells me too that "Kipling" may some day have a great future before it in the iron ore way. This immensely flatters my vanity: and I write to beg you to send me a photograph if possible, of either 'Rudyard' or 'Kipling' or preferentially both. I shall take a deep interest in their little welfares. 'Rudyard' I gather is already a post office, but I have not heard of Kipling"

(Letters, II, 214).