Railroad:  Toledo, Ypsilanti and Saginaw Air Line Railroad

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The Toledo, Ypsilanti and Saginaw Air Line Railroad was typical of many speculative railroad ventures in the second half of the 19th Century.  A group of investors had chartered the line, which was to be an "Air Line" (or straight line) between Toledo and Saginaw.


But reading the 1870 prospectus (which is copied to the left), the intentions of the investors becomes clearer.  First, it is apparent that this company was created in an attempt to secure all of the Flint and Pere Marquette's southbound traffic to Toledo from Holly.  This is perhaps the reason why the road was called an "Air Line".  But reading the prospectus further, the only "air line" points that were fixed were Bedford Township (a then-rural township just north of the Ohio line, Ypsilanti (in 1869 a major city on the Michigan Central Railroad) and Holly.  The prospectus goes on to say "The rest of the line is open to competition, and will be located and built in the interest of those towns and villaes, near a north and south line from Bedford to Holly, which, in the judgement of the Directors, offer the largest inducements for the location.  The inducements will be considered and acted upon in the order following:

  1. The largest amount of donated township bonds.

  2. The alrgest amount of donated right of way.

  3. The largest amount of good stock subscriptions.

  4. The character of the route, under advice of the engineers of the company.

It was necessary for funding sources to provide $350,000 from towns along the route (a practice which was later declared unconstitutional by the courts).


This proposed road was in competition with the Toledo and Northern R. R. Company, which was incorporated a year earlier.  It was also in competition with the Flint and Pere Marquette itself, which ultimately built a line from Holly, south through Milford, Wixom, Northville, Plymouth, Wayne and on to Toledo (paralleling the T&&SAL).


According to the book Michigan Railroads & Railroad Companies, the Toledo, Ypsilanti & Saginaw Air Line road lapsed into non-existence, never building a mile of track.


(Prospectus: Brian Thom collection).


Dale J. Berry, all rights reserved.