Menu:  Michigan First or Famous

Michigan's Internet Railroad History Museum










The State of Michigan was first or famous in a number of railroad areas.  These are events, companies or other known facts from Michigan which are interesting:
Select your Topic:
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers  (1863) First Railroad West of Pittsburg - The E&M (1836)
Brownhoist Railway Cranes - Made to order in Michigan First to introduce refrigerated boxcar (1869)
First African-American Operated Railroad in U.S. First Roadrailer in United States  (1959)
First All-Diesel Line Haul Railroad in U.S. First Steam Locomotive Used on Logging Railroad
First Bessemer-process Steel Rails (1865)   Linking New York and Chicago - The Old Road
First Carferry Across Open Water  (1892) Longest Serving Railroad Car Ferry in World
First Chairman of ICC Michigan Car Company
First to have regularly scheduled dining cars (1876)   Most Logging Railroads
First competitive exams for certain railroad jobs (1887)   The Pullman Company Factory
First International subaqueous railroad tunnel  (1891) The Real McCoy - Locomotive Lubrication  (1872)
First Mechanically Driven Logging Railroad (1857)   First creation of permanent trade-union of American Railway Workers (1853)
First Michigan Railroad to Reach Chicago Shay Locomotive - Made for the Forests  (1880)
First Newspaper delivered on a train First to employ the The Telegraph to control trains (1855)
First to Propose A Transcontinental Railroad (1832)   First to mandate the Westinghouse air brake (1873)
  Track Velocipede  (1877)

Our thanks to Dr. Le Roy Barnett for contributing to the list above.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.  Meeting in Marshall, 13 MCRR men planned a national railway men's organization, resulting in the founding the following month in Detroit of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the oldest labor union in the Western Hemisphere - 4/1863 - [MDOT] - go to top.

First African-American Operated Railway in U.S.  Kent-Barry-Eaton Connecting Ry. first black-operated railroad in U.S. begins Grand Rapids-Vermontville service - 7/15/1979 - [MDOT]`- go to top.

First All Diesel Line Haul Railroad in U.S.  Detroit & Mackinac Ry discontinues use of steam locomotives, becoming the nation's first all-diesel, line-haul railroad - 1946 - [MDOT] - go to top.

First Carferry Across Open Water.  Carferry "Ann Arbor No. 1" began service from Elberta to Kewaunee, WI, the first carferry service on Lake Michigan and the first railroad ferry service in the world across open water. - 11/24/1892 - [MDOT] - go to top.

First Chairman of ICC Interstate Commerce Commission established.  Thomas M. Cooley of Michigan is its first chairman - 1887 - [MDOT] - go to top.

First International Railroad Tunnel.  World's first international submarine tunnel, the St. Clair Tunnel, was opened between Port Huron and Sarnia by the Grand Trunk system, forming a continuous rail route between eastern Canada and Chicago, the longest route in the world under single management - 9/19/1891 - [MDOT] - go to top.

First Newspaper Distributed on a Train.  Thomas Edison becomes the first newspaper publisher to distribute his paper on a train.  He sold his one-page Weekly Herald on a run between Port Huron and Detroit [MT] - go to top.

First Roadrailer in United States.  "Roadrailer," first experimental dual wheeled combination rail and highway vehicles in the U.S., begins operating between Grand Rapids and Traverse City on the Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. - 1959 - [MDOT] - go to top.

First Steam Locomotive on a Logging Railroad in the United States.  In 1857, the Blendon Lumber Company purchased a seven-year-old Michigan Central locomotive (a Locks & Haven Co. 0-4-0 locomotive dubbed the "St. Joseph") and began hauling logs on wooden rails.  Their railroad was built southwest from the Grand River into the Bass River valley.  It was the first use of a steam locomotive on a logging railroad in the United States.  [MH-11/1993]

Longest Serving Car Ferry Paddlewheel carferry "Lansdowne" began more than 90 years of crossings between Detroit and Windsor, the longest service of any railroad carferry in the world. - 11/1884 - [MDOT] - go to top.

Most Logging Railroads.  Eighty-nine logging railroads operated in Michigan; the state had more logging railroads than any two combined U.S. states. - 1887 - [MDOT] - go to top.

Real McCoy.  Elijah J. McCoy, a black inventor, raised in Ypsilanti, patented the first automatic lubrication system for locomotives and other machinery, a device so effective that it was difficult to sell imitations that weren't "the real McCoy"; thus McCoy's name became synonymous with anything genuine or authentic. - 7/23/1872 - [MDOT] - go to top.

Shay Locomotive.  Ephraim Shay of Cadillac developed the Shay gear-driven steam locomotive.  From 1800 to 1945, 2,770 Shays were built, chiefly for logging and mining railroads. - 1880 - [MDOT] - go to top.

Telegraph.  Michigan Central begins using the telegraph to control train operations, the first railroad in the nation to make widespread us of this technology - 1855 - [MDOT] - go to top.

Track Velocipede.  George S. Sheffield of Three Rivers invests a three-wheel, hand-pumped "track velocipede" for use by track inspectors;  his company ultimately produced thousands for worldwide use - 1877 - [MDOT] - go to top.