Car and Locomotive Builder Menu

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Car and Locomotive Builders:


For further information on Detroit Car Builders, contact the Detroit Historical Museum.

  • American Car & Foundry Company.  See Note.  [HWC]

  • Boyne City, Gaylord & Alpena - Boyne City car shops.  Built most of their wooden flat and box cars.  [CB]

  • Butterworth and Lowe at Grand Rapids (made thousands of logging cars) [CB]

  • Cadillac City Iron Works.  Built Shay locomotives in late 1870's and early 1880's.  [SMcD]

  • Central Car and Manufacturing Company of Jackson.  See Note.  [CB]

  • Chicago & West Michigan Railroad shops at Muskegon [CB]

  • Detroit Car Company.  See Note.  [HWC]

  • Detroit Car and Manufacturing Company.  See Note.  [HWC]

  • Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railroad shops at Ionia [CB]

  • Detroit Locomotive Works (1850's).  Built locomotives for the Michigan Central.  [Detroit Free Press, 5/27/1855, 11/11/1855, 8/12/1857 in the index at theBurton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library][HWC]

  • Detroit Street Railway.  [HWC]

  • Grand Rapids & Indiana shops at Grand Rapids [CB]

  • Grand Trunk Railroad in Detroit.  [HWC]

  • Grand Trunk Port Gratiot "Block I" Car Shops, Port Huron (1882-destroyed by fire in 1913)
  • Grand Trunk Port Huron Car Shops (1918-2001)
  • Michigan Car Company, Detroit (organized in 1864).  See Note.  [HWC][CB]

  • Michigan Central Railroad.  [HWC]

  • Michigan Iron Works at Cadillac (made 7-8 locomotives including the Henderson Shay) [SMcD}

  • Michigan Iron Works at Grand Rapids (made 4 chain driven geared locomotives in 1878) [CB]

  • Michigan-Peninsular Car Co., Detroit (1892-1899, became part of American Car and Foundry Co.)  [CB]

  • Muskegon Car and Engine Works (locomotives as well as freight, passenger cars and MOW cars) [CB]

  • Peninsular Car Works/Peninsular Car Co., Detroit (1880-18920 See Note.  [HWC][CB]

  • Pullman Company, The - Detroit. 

  • Robinson, Russell & Company.  See Note.  [HWC]

  • Russell Wheel & Foundry Co. of Detroit (made thousands of logging cars) [HWC][CB]



Dale J. Berry, all rights reserved.

Central Car and Manufacturing Company of Jackson

The Jackson Citizen (29 November 1871) and the Grand Rapids Eagle (2 December 1871) reported that the Central Car and Manufacturing Company of Jackson sent their first manufactured cars -- a shipment of ten platform cars -- to the Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore Railroad.  They reported that the company already had orders for 300 box and platform cars.  Submitted by Carl Bajema.


Robinson, Russell & Company.  In 1853 George B. Russell and other parties secured premises on the gratiot Road and commenced the manufacture of twenty-five cars for the Detroit and Pontiac Railway.  This was the inauguration of car building west of Albany.  In 1854 the co-partnership became Robinson, Russell & Company, which was, in 1868, merged into an incorporated concern - the Detroit Car & Manufacturing Company, the works having been removed from Gratiot Road to the foot of beaubien Street.  In 1856 the company built shops on Croghan Street.  At that time there were no houses in that vicinity, and the subsequent settlement of that portion of the city is directly traceable to the location of these works.  In 1871 the business was sold to the Pullman Company, which, in a few years, enlarged the works so as to cover the whole block between Croghan Street (now Monroe Avenue), St. Aubin and Macomb streets and the Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad.  Then came an incident characteristic of the Detroit authorities of those days.  The company wanted to expand their works over much larger space, anda sked that Macomb Street be vacated for a single block.  The common council refused; the company began to look elseware fora site, and finally located near Chicago, founding the Town of Pullman. It retained theshops here as a branch till 1893, when they were abandoned.  [HWC]


Detroit Car Company.  The Detroit Car Company built, in 1872, extensive works on Adair Street but did not last many years.  [HWC]


Michigan Car Company.  The Michigan Car Company, organized in 1864, built a large works at Grand Trunk Junction [Editors Note: now "West Detroit" near Junction Avenue south of Michigan Avenue].  [HWC]


Peninsular Car Works.  The Peninsular Car Works built their large works in 1885 at Milwaukee Junction.  See riverfront works.  [HWC]


American Car and Foundry Company.  The Detroit branch of the great manufacturing institution, the American Car & Foundry Company, is comprised of what was formerly known as the Peninsular Car Company, located at Ferry and Russell streets, the Michigan Car Company, the Detroit Car Wheel Company and Detroit Pipe & Foundry Company, located at Michigan and Clark Avenues, and the Baugh Steam Forge, located on the river at the foot of Clark Avenue.  All of these properties were merged into the Michigan-Peninsular Car Company in September, 1892, and in March, 1899, were acquired by the American Car &Foundry Company with other plants located in Chicago, St. Louis, Buffalo and other cities.  The plants in Detroit are designated as the Peninsular Department, Michigan Department and Forge Department.  In 1884, the Peninsular Car Company purchased twenty-five acres of land at Ferry and Russell Streets, erected buildings and installed first-class equipment.  Then it was only necessary to arrange for the construction of wooden cars.  When the demand for steel cars made it apparent that eventually the wooden car would give way to the car of steel construction, large shops were erected at this plant and equipped with machinery adapted to this work.  The buildings alone now cover about twenty acres and the total acreage occupied is fifty-two.  There are also foundries at this plant in which are made the wheels and castings for cars turned out.  The Michigan Department, at Michigan and Clark avenues, occupies thirty-nine acres.  The forge Department occupies nine acres on the Detroit River.  Statistics of the state department of labor show that in 1919 there were 2,423 people employed at the Detroit plants of this company.  The company's general offices are in St. Louis, Missouri.  Representative Detroit capitalists who were formerly identified with the car building industry in Detroit are:  Col. Frank J. Hecker, C. L. Freer and James McGregor, and the late James McMillan, John S. Newberry, Christian H. Buhl, Theodore D. Buhl, Russell A. Alger, James F. Joy, and William C. McMillan.  The car business reached its high water mark in 1907, when it employed over 9,000 men and had a production valued at $28,000,000.  The two big freight car plants were then building 100 cars a day.  During the late war the immense plant of the American Car & Foundry was given over to the making of munitions and when fully organized was turning out war materials in tremendous quantities.  [HWC]