Getting to Chicago - the more routes the merrier...

Michigan's Internet Railroad History Museum


1870 - 1879


  • Railroad event or related event in Michigan

  • Important non-railroad event in Michigan or outside.

  • Improvement in Technology         Mining.

  • Railroad built or extended

  • Railroad abandoned and/or removed

  • Economic panic or depression        Car ferries.


Info Sources






















1870's Overview
  • The Milwaukee Jct. station was described as a "grimy, two-story frame structure" which had a waiting room, ticket office, train dispatcher’s office and an office for the Superintendent of Terminals. It was a busy station. [CRP1]

  • STATISTICS:  Miles of railroads in operations this year:  1,638.  Miles built this year 313.  [MRC/72]

  • January 1:  Michigan Central completes its line between Eaton Rapids and Grand Rapids via Charlotte.  [MDOT/MRRC]

  • January 1:  First train into Kalamazoo on the Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad.  Leased to the Michigan Central on July 1, 1870.   [MT/AAD]

  • January 17:  The Ft. Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw open their line from Reading, Michigan to Angola, Indiana.  [MCR-75]

  • February 1:  The Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore opens their line from New Buffalo to St. Joseph.  [MCR-75]

  • February 28:  The Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore opens their line from St. Joseph to Grand Junction.  [MCR-75]

  • Spring:  The Grand River Valley Railroad was completed from Hastings to Grand Rapids.  [MCR-75]

  • July 1:  The Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore opens their line from Grand Junction to Montague.  [MCR-75]

  • July 1:  The Michigan Lake Shore Railroad reaches Muskegon from Allegan.  [MCR-75]

  • July 1:  The Kalamazoo & South Haven leased in perpetuity to the Michigan Central.  [MT]

  • June 22:  The Grand Rapids & Indiana open their main line from Fort Wayne to Sturgis, Michigan.  [MCR-75]

  • Summer:  The Michigan Air Line Railroad completes their line from Jackson to Homer.   [MCR-75]

  • August 12:  The Grand Rapids & Indiana open their line from Morley to Paris.  [MCR-75]

  • August 29:  Michigan Lake Shore Rail Road completes line from Ferrysburg (near Grand Haven) to Allegan.  [MRRC]

  • August or September:  The Grand Rapids & Indiana open their main line from Sturgis to Kalamazoo.  [MCR-75]

  • September:  The Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan open their line from Ionia to Greenville.  [MCR-75]

  • September:  Grand Rapids & Indiana RR was completed from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Kalamazoo.  [MDOT]

  • October 15:  Service on the Grand Trunk between Climax Prairie (now Climax) and Battle Creek begins. [MT]

  • October:  Grand Rapids & Indiana RR completes line from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids.  [MCR-75]

  • Autumn:  The Michigan Air Line Railroad extends their line from Homer to three Rivers.  [MCR-75]

  • November:  The Flint & Pere Marquette open their line from Averills to Clare.  [MCR-75]

  • December:  The Grand Rapids & Indiana opens their line from Paris to Clam Lake (Cadillac).  [MCR-75]

  • December:  The Chicago & Lake Huron opens their line from Emmett to Attica.  [MCR/75]

  • December 5:  The Ft. Wayne, Jackson & saginaw open their line from Algona , Indiana to Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  [MCR-75]

  • December 17:  Kalamazoo & South Haven (MCRR) completes line from Kalamazoo to South Haven.  [IT-12/79]

  • December 29:  The Flint & Pere Marquette open their line from Clare to Lake.  [MCR-75]

  • December 31:  Michigan Railroad Mileage Totaled 1,739 miles.   [MDOT]

  • December:  Kalamazoo and South Haven RR builds Bloomingdale's (current) depot.  [MHS]

  • Holly, Wayne and Monroe begins building south from Holly.  Reaches Monroe in 1872.  [MRRC]

  • The Michigan Lake Shore Railroad Company builds a line between Allegan and Muskegon, via Holland.  Offered to LS&MS but not purchased.  It was consolidated with the Chicago & West Michigan (later PM) in 1881.   [MRRC]

  • Flint and Pere Marquette reaches "Lake" from Averill.  [PM45]  The COHS notes this terminal being Reed City instead of Lake in 1870.  [COHS-8/1997]

  • A four-mile long railroad from Calumet to Kale Linden is built - first in the area. (~1870).  [AAD]

  • The Chicago & Northwestern opens their line from Negaunee to Ishpeming.  [MCR-75]

  • Michigan communities voted a total of over $1,000,000 in tax-supported bonds to support railroad construction between 1863 and 1870 - [MDOT]

  • Jackson, MI leads the state in the number of passengers served, 72,482 in one year.  [Jackson Weekly Citizen]

  • Grand Rapids & Indiana Depot built in Kalamazoo.  [IT-12/79]

  • Detroit, Grand Haven and Milwaukee RR builds (current) depot at Grand Haven, the western terminus of their line.  [MHM/MRT-I]

  • Charlotteville Lumber Co. abandons 7 mile long line in Berrien County.  Built in 1856.  [MRRC]

  • Nationally, there are 52,922 miles of railroad track.  [STOV]

  • Lake Shore & Michigan Southern builds a depot at Jonesville.  Depot stands until at least 1974.  This depot is on the line north to jackson via Hanover and Horton.  It is different than the depot on the Old Road, which was built in 1898.   [IT-12/1974]

  • Lake Shore completes its Elkhart shops.  [LS]

  • Tracks in Grand Haven are re-laid allowing Detroit and Milwaukee Railroad trains to continue to downtown Grand Haven over the river.  [AAD]

  • Michigan's population, in the 1870 census is 1,184,282, an increase of 4.69% annually since the 1860 census.  [MCR/73]

  • January 2:  Kalamazoo and South Haven Rail Road completes line from Kalamazoo to South Haven.  [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • February:  Michigan Air Line opens route from Three Rivers to Niles.  [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • The Michigan Airline is also completed north of Jackson between 1870 and 1871.  [AAD]

  • April 17:  The legislature enacted a law requiring passenger train conductors to announce the next station in all cars.   [MDOT]

  • May 17:  The Detroit, Howell & Lansing completes its route from Detroit to Plymouth.  This line made its entrance into Detroit over what is presently known as the West Detroit branch, and connected with the Michigan Central at what is now known as West Detroit.  The original DH&L used the Michigan Central's 3rd Street station until 1893.  [COHS-2/1998][PM45]

  • May 30:  The Flint & Pere Marquette open their line from Wayne to Northville.  [MCR-75]

  • July 4:  The DH&L completes line from Plymouth to Brighton.  [COHS-2/1998]

  • July:  Detroit, Hillsdale and Indiana Railroad opens line from Ypsilanti to Saline.  [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • August 3:  Detroit, Howell & Lansing RR opens Detroit-Lansing line after separate construction projects meet successfully in Fowlerville.  The line begins at West Detroit (Oak).  [MCR-75/MDOT/COHS-8/1997]

  • July:  The Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad reaches Standish from Wenona (North Bay City).  [MCR-75]

  • August:  The Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan open their line from Greenville to Howard.  [MCR-75]

  • September:  Mansfield, Coldwater and Lake Michigan opens line from Allegan to Montieth.  [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • September:  the Detroit, Hillsdale & Southwestern opens their line from Saline to Manchester. [MCR-75]

  • September:  The Flint & Pere Marquette open their line from Lake to Evart.  [MCR-75]  Note: [R&LHS-Winter/2000] shows the destination as Reed City, not Evart.

  • September:  The Grand Rapids & Indiana open their line from Clam Lake (Cadillac) to Fife Lake.  [MCR-75]

  • October 8:  Chicago Fire begins.  3.5 square  miles of city burns.  Michigan lumber replaces much of the town over the next thirty years.  The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern station at Van Buren and LaSalle burns during this fire.  The station was rebuilt.  [DWS/DJB/LS]

  • November:  The Flint & Pere Marquette open their line from Evart to Reed City.  [MCR-75]

  • November 6:  The Flint & Pere Marquette open their line from Northville to Holly.  [MCR-75]

  • November 13:  Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan opens line from West Detroit to Lansing.  [MRRC] Note: [R&LHS-Winter/2000] notes the destination as being at Howard City, passing Lansing.

  • November:  Detroit, Hillsdale and Indiana Railroad opens line from Saline to Bankers (near Hillsdale). [MRRC]

  • December 12:  Port Huron and Lake Michigan Rail Road (later GTW) opens line from Attica to Flint.  [MRRC][MCR/75]

  • December:  Grand Rapids & Indiana RR completed line to Clam Lake (now Cadillac).  [MDOT]

    December:  The Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad reaches Wells from Standish.  [MCR-75]

  • The Chicago and Northwestern Railway reaches the Menominee River from Green Bay.  [MSL]

  • The Ionia and Lansing Railroad builds from Kidd to Greenville.  Later becomes the Pere Marquette. [PM45]

  • The Amboy, Lansing and Traverse Bay Railroad is leased to the Michigan Central.  Its line extended from Jackson to West Bay City at the time of lease.  [AAD]

  • The Michigan Central opens line from Bay City to Alger.  [MRRC/AAD]

  • The Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore Railroad builds a line from St. Joseph to Holland. [AAR]  [R&LHS-Winter/2000] notes the destination as Montague, not stopping at Holland.

  • Detroit & Bay City Ry. formed.

  • 559 miles of mainline track were built this year, the most ever in Michigan in a single year - 1871 - [MDOT]

  • Michigan Supreme Court decided that the general aid law for railroad construction was unconstitutional.  [MDOT]

  • Detroit Car and Manufacturing Co. is purchased by George Pullman; The works are enlarged to cover the whole block between Croghan (Monroe) Street, St. Aubin and Macomb streets, and the D&M railroad.  Detroit becomes center for Pullman car manufacture until he builds plant near Chicago.  [HWC][DWS]

  • Fires in Holland and Manistee cause great damage to cities;  forest fires destroy timber from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron.  [DWS]

  • A great file destroys much of the Thumb area of Michigan.  [BOM]

  • Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan builds a new depot at South Lyon.  Destroyed by fire in 1908.  [MHM]

  • Michigan Central Railroad builds a depot at Homer.  Continues to exist as of 1974.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern Railroad builds a new wood depot in Ann Arbor.  The depot continues to exist in 2001 and is used as a day care.   [MRP-I]

  • The Kalamazoo aand South Haven builds a new wooden depot in Bloomingdale.  The station is used in 1999 as a visitor center for hikers on the nearby rail-trail.  [MRT-I]

  • The Michigan Central Railroad car repair and manufacturing shops are relocated to Jackson from Marshall.  These shops will eventually employ 3,000 workers.  [JCP]

  • January 1:  Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore opens line from Montague to Pentwater, and from Holland to Grand Rapids.  [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • January 1:  Flint & Pere Marquette opens line from Wayne to Monroe.  [MCR-75]

  • January 7:  Northern Central Michigan Railroad opens Jonesville to Albion line.  [MRRC]

  • January 10:  Michigan's first Grange is organized.  By 1875, 600 local Granges will form throughout the state. The Grange movement will become one of the leading lobbyists for railroad rate regulation.  [MT]

  • January:  The Detroit, Hillsdale & Southwestern opens their line from Manchester to Hillsdale.  [MCR-75]

  • February:  The Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan open their line from Ionia to Stanton.  [MCR-75]

  • May 9:  Grand Rapids, Newaygo and Lake Shore Rail Road opens line from Grand Rapids north to Sparta.  [MCR-75]

  • June 4:  The Holly, Wayne & Monroe Railway is opened and consolidated on the same date with the Flint & Pere Marquette Railway. This company did not plan to operate trains into Detroit because of ta lack of support from Detroiters.  The F&PM used the D&M Detroit depot until June 7, 1875.  On that date, they began sharing the MC depot on 3rd Street.  [EMR4]

  • June:  The Grand Rapids, Newaygo & Lake Shore open their line from Sparta to Casnovia.  [MCR-75]

  • July 23:  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.  [MDOT]

  • August 25:  A disease spreads through Detroit's horse population suspending streetcar service and deliveries of milk, ice and eggs.  [MT]

  • September 11:  The Grand Rapids, Newaygo & Lake Shore extend their line from Casnovia to Newaygo.  [MCR-75]

  • September 30:  The Northern Central Michigan Railroad extends its line from Albion to Eaton Rapids.  [MCR-75]

  • Fall:  The Peninsular Railway Company completes its line from Battle Creek to South Bend, Indiana.  [MCR-75/AAD]

  • October 8:  The Flint & Pere Marquette open their Flint River Branch.  [MCR-75]

  • October 8:  Flint & Pere Marquette opens line from McGrew (near Flint) to Otter lake.  [MRRC]

  • October 31:  Detroit & Bay City Railroad opens line from Bay City Jct. (in Detroit) to Oxford.  [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • November 30:  The Detroit & Bay City opens their line from Oxford to Lapeer.  [MCR-75]

  • November:  The Detroit, Hillsdale & Southwestern open their line from Hillsdale to Bankers.  [MCR-75]

  • November:  Car ferry service between Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron began with the ferry "Saginaw".   [MDOT]

  • Fall:  The C&NW opens its line from the Menominee River to Powers, reaching its line to Escanaba which had already been built.  [MSL/MCR-75/ATDC]

  • The Detroit & Bay City opens their line from Lapeer to Oter Lake.  [MCR-75]

  • December:  First rail line into Traverse City completed by the Pennsylvania Railroad (Traverse City Railroad) from Walton Junction.   [MCR-75/MDOT/MRRC]

  • December:  Marquette, Houghton and Ontonagon Railroad completes line between Champion and L'Anse.  [MCR-75/SSJB/MSL/MRRC]

  • December:  The C&NW line between Escanaba and Powers is opened, and the first passnger train operates between Escanaba and the Green Bay area.  [ATDC]

  • Railroad line is completed from Escanaba to Norway/Vulcan in the Menominee range.  [DSL]

  • Detroit & Bay City opens branch from Lapeer to northeast of Lapeer (near North Branch).  Abandoned in 1880.  [MRRC]

  • The Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore opens a line from Muskegon to Pentwater, and Muskegon northeast (~this year). [AAD]

  • The Flint and Pere Marquette completes its line from Midland to Reed City.  [AAD]  This date is noted as 1871 by [PM45]

  • The DSS&A reaches L'Anse from the south.  [AAD]

  • The Mineral Range railroad connects Hancock and Calumet.  [AAD]

  • The Chicago & West Michigan Ry. opens their line from Grand Rapids to Holland.  They also open lines from Holland to St. Joseph and St. Joseph to New Buffalo.  [PM45]

  • The Grand Rapids, Newaygo & Lake Shore Railroad Co. opens a line from Grand Rapids to Newaygo.  Later comes the Chicago & West Michigan (PM).   [PM45]

  • The Chicago & Canada Southern opens their line from Blissfield to Fayette, Ohio.  [MCR/75]

  • The Detroit Lansing & Lake Michigan opens a 1.67 mile long line from Kiddville to Belding.  [R&LHS-Winter/2000]

  • The Flint & Pere Marquette Railway opens a 2.6 mile line from East Saginaw to South Saginaw, and build a 1.41 mile long McGraw Spur.  They alsobuild 16 miles from McGrew to Otter Lake.  [R&LHS-Winter/2000]

  • The IS&N Railroad opens a 23 mile line from Stanton Jct. to Stanton.  [R&LHS-Winter/2000]

  • The Saginaw Valley & St. Louis Railroad (later F&PM) open a 28.6 mile long line from Tittabawasee Jct. ot St. Louis.  [RA-Winter/2000]

  • Steam-powered car ferry service on the St. Clair River began with "International II" the first propeller-powered ferry on the Great Lakes, making the crossing from Point Edward, Ontario to Fort Gratiot.  Ferry was the first three-track ferry (dual gauge tracks).    [MDOT]

  • Construction of a Detroit River railroad tunnel commenced, but work soon abandoned because of noxious gas and quicksand.  [MDOT]

  • The Lake Shore opens new facilities at Elkhart, eliminating the machine shope operations at both LaPorte and Adrian.  The car shop remained at Adrian.  [LS]

  • The Lake Shore begins buying coal-burning locomotives, which begins the change over from "wood burners".  28 coal burners were purchased this year.  [LS]

  • The Lake Shore begins carrying a Bible on each coach as a part of its regular equipment.  The practice was continued until 1892.  [LS]

  • Flint & Pere Marquette depot at Otisville is constructed.  [COHS-7/1994]

  • Most locomotives were still wood-burners at this time.  The Michigan Central Railroad burned 100,835 cords of wood this year alone.  They also burned 59,450 tons of coal but most railroads still burned wood.  Furnishing cord wood was important supplemental income for farm families along the tracks.  [AAD]

  • Maximum speeds for Michigan Central Railroad trains was 28 m.p.h.  Branch line trains were limited to 20 m.p.h. or less.  [AAD]

  • First annual report issued by the Michigan Commission of Railroads.  [MDOT]

  • First depot built in Columbiaville (north of Lapeer) for the Detroit and Bay City RR.   Replaced in 1893.  [MHM]

  • 146 persons were killed or injured in railroad accidents. [AAD]

  • The Lake Shore purchases 187 acres west of Toledo, for the purpose of building yards, shops and an engine house.  It will be known as "Airline Junction".  [LS]

  • The Flint & Pere Marquette begins running trains using trackage rights over the Michigan Central from Wayne Jct. to Detroit.  This arrangement lasts until 1891.  Prior to the MCRR arrangement, the F&PM ran into Detroit on the Grand Trunk via Holly from 1868 to 1872.  [PM45]

  • The Detroit Car Company builds an extensive works on Adair Street.  [HWC]

  • Menominee iron range opens.  [MSL]

  • January 1:  Saginaw Valley and St. Louis Railroad completes line from Paines to St. Louis.  [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • January 13:  Northern Central Michigan Railroad opens line from Eaton Rapids to Lansing.  [MRRC]

  • March 31:  The Detroit & Bay City opens their line from Otter Lake to Vassar.  [MCR-75]

  • May 1:  The Toledo and Woodville Railroad  (later in Ohio becoming the PRR) enters Toledo from Tiffen, Ohio.  It enters the city of Toledo in the Stock Yards district, passing over the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton near the junction at East Toledo Station, and then swings almost due north, passing over the Lake Shore's approach to its Maumee River bridge.  It then follows the east bank of the Maumee north, opposite the Middle Grounds and Toledo's downtown, before bridging the river.  Their terminal area is located on Summit Street, near the corner of Olive Street, which was virtually at the end of the bridge.  [AATHS-Spr/2002]

  • Early:  The Toledo and Woodville (later PRR's) passenger station is fronted on Summit Street while the freight depot was located across the track adjacent to the river.  A small yard ran northward along the west bank of the river.  Their terminal was equipped with a turntable but no roundhouse or shops.  These facilities were developed on the east side of the river where a new engine house was built and a church was purchased and turned into a machine shop.  [AATHS-Spr/2002]

  • May 1:  Legislature passes a law requiring trains to be equipped with air brakes and that a bell or whistle must be sounded when approaching crossings.   [MDOT]

  • May:  The Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw reaches Otsego Lake from Wells.  [MCR-75]

  • June:  The Canada Southern tracks from Monroe reach the Wabash tracks in Toledo via the PRR.  [AATHS-Spr/2002]

  • July 21:  The Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore opens their line from Muskegon to Big Rapids.  [MCR-75]

  • July 31:  Detroit & Bay City Railway completed Vassar to Bay City line.  [MCR-75/DWS/MRRC]

  • July:  The Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw reaches Gaylord from Otsego Lake.  [MCR-75]

  • August 29:  On the Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad, near Muir, an express train was stopped due to the loss of a driving wheel.  The flagman did not go back far enough, and another train struck the first killing four passengers and injuring 14 more.  [MCR/73]

  • September 18:  Panic of 1873.  Stock prices fall on news of investment banking firm Jay Cooke & Co.'s failure;  begins depression that lasts through most of the decade.

  • September 1:  Canada Southern Ry. (Toledo Canada Southern and Detroit Ry. Co.) complete line from Grand Trunk Junction (West Detroit) to Toledo.  [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • September 15:  On the Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad near Lowell, four died and ten more were injured when a train was thrown from a track by running over a cow which had broken through a fence.  The Coroner's jury ruled that the accident was unavoidable, as far as the railroad was concerned.  [MCR/73]

  • September:  Canada Southern Bridge Company completes line from Slocum Jct. (Trenton) to Stony Island (Grosse Isle).  Abandoned about 1925.  [MRRC]

  • October 11:  Mineral Range Railroad completes narrow gauge Hancock to Calumet line.  [MCR-75/MDOT/CRH]

  • October 13:  Peninsular Railroad opens line from South Bend to Valparaiso, Indiana.  [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • October 16:  Central Market, Cass Avenue and Third Street Railway Co. opens line in Detroit. [MRRC]

  • November 13:  Chicago and Canada Southern Railway opens line from Slocum Jct. (Trenton) to Blissfield  [MCR/75][MRRC]

  • November 19:  The Detroit Transit Railway (East Side) is opened from a connection with the Detroit & Milwaukee Road near Riopelle and Orleans to a point 1.5 miles away using street running.  The line followed Guion St. to Walker, across walker to Wight and up to the Detroit Stove Works. The company became the Detroit Manufacturers Railroad on January 30, 1902.  It was leased to the MCRR on April 1, 1902, because the MCRR did the most business with the company.   [EMR4]

  • December 7:  Michigan, Midland and Canada Railroad opens line from St. Clair to Ridgeway.  [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • December 18:  Detroit and Grand Trunk Junction Street Railway opens line in Detroit.  [MRRC]

  • December 31:  Michigan has 3,719 miles of track, operated by 47 railroads that are in active operation or partly built.  Of this amount, 55 miles are double track, and 410 are of sidings.  [MCR/73]

  • Northern Central Michigan RR completed its rail line from Jonesville to Albion.  [MDOT]

  • The Saginaw Valley and St. Louis Railroad Company laid tracks from Paines Junction to St. Louis, along side an adjacent plank road. [MHM]

  • Allouez Mining Co. builds 4' gauge route 2.25 miles from Allouez Mine to stamp mill in Keweenaw County.  [MRRC]

  • The Canada southern completes their line across Ontario.  [NYC-Q1/1996]

  • Corner stone is laid for Michigan's new Capitol Building in Lansing.  Five railroads, constructed over the last 10 years now serve the city.  [DWS]

  • Detroit's stagecoach lines cease operations due to competition from railroads.  [DWS]

  • Locomotive fireman organize.  [STOV]

  • Michigan Central builds depot at Jackson.  Longest living passenger depot in the United States.  [IT-12/1974]

  • Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad builds new wooden depot at Clio.  The station was used by the railroad until 1960.  It continues to exist in 1999 as a museum.  [MRP-I]

  • Grand Rapids & Indiana builds depot in Kalamazoo.  Depot continues to exist as of 2001.  [IT-12/1974]

  • Grand Trunk changes its tracks in Canada to standard gauge.  [IT-10/1972]

  • The Lake Shore purchases 160 acres of land east of Cleveland.  This site becomes the Collinwood yards and shops.  [LS]

  • In an effort to strangle the Wabash, the Lake Shore (under Vanderbilt control) bans all Canada Southern rail cars from its tracks in Toledo. To counter this embargo, the Wabash, Canada Southern[AATHS-Spr/2002]

  • The Lake Superior Ship Canal at Portage Lake (Houghton and Hancock) was opened, allowing ship passage across the Keweenaw Peninsula.  [BOM]

  • The following roads built track in 1873:  Michigan Midland & Canada: 12; Mineral Range: 15; Traverse City Railroad: 26;  Chicago & Canada Southern (including the Toledo,Canada Southern & Detroit): 90; Chicago & Northwestern: 9; Detroit & Bay City: 35, Grand Rapids & Indiana: 79; and the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw: 8.  [MCR/73]

  • The Pennsylvania Railroad enters Toledo from the east.  [EMR4]

  • The Patterson Railroad builds from Belding to Kidd.  Later becomes the Pere Marquette.   [PM45]

  • The Saginaw valley & St. Louis Railroad builds a line from St. Louis to Paines.  It becomes part of the Pere Marquette later.  [PM45]

  • The Mineral Range Railroad connects Houghton with Hancock.  (by ferry?)  [BOM]

  • Andrew Carnegie founds nation's first large-scale steel plant in Braddock, Pennsylvania.  [DWS]

  • 26 Michigan railroads transported 9,631,230 passengers.  Railroads owned 1,322 locomotives and 30,675 railroad cars.  (Including roads which also operated out-of-state).   [MCR/73]

  • Michigan railroads reported 825 miles of steel rail, with the remainder being of iron.  Some of this steel rail is operated outside of Michigan.  Steel rail is reported to last four times longer by the Michigan Central and other railroads.  The weight of rail per yard varies, from 35 lbs. on the Mineral Range narrow-gauge track to about 1/2 mile of 65 lbs. track on the St. Clair & Chicago Air Line.  Most larger roads use 60 lb. rail on their main lines.  [MCR/73]

  • 257 railroad accidents were reported in 1873, with 94 fatalities.  By far, the most prolific of all accidents was caused by the coupling of cars.  48 persons were injured doing so, which is 19% of all people reported injured in 1873.  Coupling, "switching", and "falling from train" were responsible for 32 percent of all casualties and all but three of those so hurt were employees.  [MCR/73]

  • Depression continues.

  • March 27:  Kalamazoo's first Grand Rapids & Indiana depot burns to the ground.  It is replaced by a new depot which is still standing at the same location.  [MT]

  • May:  Grand Rapids & Indiana RR opens their line from Fife Lake to  Petosky, connecting that city from  Fort Wayne.   [MCR-75]

  • August 5:  The Toledo and State Line Railroad leases itself to the Pennsylvania.  The line runs from the PRR's Summit Yard on the waterfront to Alexis.  [AATHS-Spr/2002]

  • September:  The new Union railroad bridge in Toledo (just north of the Lake Shore bridge) is opened for service.  The bridge was used by the Wabash and Canada Southern, and to a lesser extent the Pennsylvania (which had its own bridge north of this location).  [AATHS-Spr/2002]

  • December 1:  Flint & Pere Marquette RR completes the line from Reed City to Ludington.  [MCR-75/MDOT/MRRC/AAD][PM45]

  • East Saginaw and St. Clair Railroad (controlled by Flint & Pere Marquette) opens line in Saginaw, eventually going to Port Huron via. Vasser [MRRC]

  • Glencoe, Pinconning and Lake shore Railroad builds east-west line from Pinconning to Glencoe.  [MRRC]

  • Depression continues.

  • January 25:  The Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore Railroad's engine 205 and a baggage car ran off their track 1/2 mile north of Godfrey's mill siding, killing the Engineer and injuirng the Fireman.  [MCR-75]

  • May 27:  C. Moore, an employee of the Grand Trunk, stepped in between two cars to pull the pin, and caught his foot in the frog.  He was killed instantly.  The Coroner's jury ruled the case an accident.  In future years, the Michigan Railroad Commission required railroads to affix a plank board in the frog to minimize this common killer of railroad employees.  [MCR-75]

  • June 3:  First communications transmitted by telephone by Alexander Graham Bell.  [DWS]

  • June 7:  The Flint & Pere Marquette begin using the Michigan Central's 3rd Street Station, giving up usage of the D&M depot.  [EMR4]

  • June 30:  The Flint & Pere Marquette runs its passenger trains from Wayne Jct. to the MC Third Street Station, using trackage rights on the MCRR.  [MRC-10/1976]

  • July 14:  The Pere Marquette negotiates trackage rights on the Michigan Central tracks through the City of Lansing, 1.08 miles of track.  This agreement covers the joint use of the union station.  [PM45]

  • July 20:  The Sandwich & Windsor Passenger Railway began oprating from Windsor to Sandwich.  [EMR4]

  • August 15:  Chicago, Saginaw and Canada Railroad opens line from St. Louis to Riverdale.  [MRRC]  [MCR-75] lists this as St. Louis to Rosedale, not Riverdale.

  • September 24:  Grand Rapids, Newaygo and Lake Shore Rail Road completes line from Sparta to White Cloud.  [MRRC]

  • September 24:  The Grand Rapids, Newaygo and Lake Shore open their line from Newaygo to Morgan.  [MCR-75]

  • December 1:  The Chicago, Saginaw & Canada completes their line from Rosedale to Cedar Lake.  [CCR-75]

  • December 1:  Mrs. A. Clark, a passenger on a Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore train No. 3, fell or walked off the rear of the train one mile north of Norris station.  "It is supposed she was partly asleep."  [MCR-75]

  • First bridge between Houghton and Hancock is built.  Wooden frame with middle span swing.  [SSJB]

  • The Chicago, Saginaw & Canada Railroad builds a line from Cedar Lake to Alma.  Later becomes part of the Pere Marquette. [PM45]

  • The Grand Rapids, Newaygo & Lake Shore Railroad Co. opens a line from Newaygo to White Cloud.  Later becomes the Chicago & West Michigan (PM).  [PM45]

  • The Chicago, Saginaw and Canada Railroad opens a 20 mile long line from St. Louis westward to Cedar Lake.  [MCR/75]

  • Lake Shore & Michigan Southern builds depot at Deerfield.  Depot continues to exist as of 1974.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The Bay View Assembly is created near Petosky.  [MPN]

  • There are 752 railroad stations in the State of Michigan.  Thirty five railroad corporations in Michigan employ 14,691 employees in Michigan, a decrease from the previous year of 1,344.  [MCR/75]

  • SNAPSHOT:  All no-logging railroads in Michigan are 4' 8 1/2" in gauge, except for the following roads:  The Grand Rapids & Indiana and the Mansfield, Coldwater & Lake Michigan railroads are 4' 9 1/4 incles;  The Hecla & Torch Lake is 4' 1" in gauge.  The Mineral Range Railroad is 3' in gauge.  [MCR/75]

  • SNAPSHOT:  Total number of passengers carried in Michigan is10,716,227 with the average distance being ttravelled at 45.86 miles.  No passengers were killed this year, but six were injured. [MCR/75]

  • SNAPSHOT:  There were 201 reported accidents in 1875, 5 more than the previous year.  67 people dies and 134 were injured.  48 accidents resulted from the coupling of cars, including five employees who lost their lives and 48 who suffered injuries which "vary from bruising to severe maiming".  [MCR/75]

  • The Michigan Railroad Commissioner takes up the issue of ventilation of passenger cars, for the purpose of improving health and comfort of passengers.  The Commissioner reports that the Michigan Central is testing two passenger cars with a device known as the "Winchell patent", which may help car ventilation.  [MCR/75]

  • SNAPSHOT:  The Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore Railroad rostered 25 locomotives, 3 snow plows, 18 passenger mail and baggage cars, and 602 freight cars.  The railroad has 82 stations, and employs 827 in Michigan.  [MCR-75]

  • SNAPSHOT:  The Detroit and Milwaukee Railroad owns 34 locomotives, of which 12 are equiped with train brakes.  They also own, 1 snow plow, 39 passenger, baggage and mail cars and 448 other freight cars.  This equipment covers their line from Detroit to Grand Haven, 189 miles - all single track.  68 miles are steel rail, with the remaining iron.  They have 35 stations and carried 366,622 passengers this year, or about 1,000 per day.  Six people were killed in accidents on the road, including 1 passenger and 2 employees.  [MCR-75]

  • The Lake Shore begins service with the "FAST MAIL", a dramatic and important improvement to the development of railroads.  The regularly scheduled express train, from New York to Chicago, via the Air Line, included all-white cars which were showy.  Schedules were reduced from 36 to 26 hours. [LS]

  • Depression continues.

  • August:  The LS&MS ceases to assign specific engines to individual engineers.  [LS]

  • Fall:  Chicago & Lake Huron completes line between Flint and Lansing, making a through line from Port Huron to Valparaiso, Indiana.  [IT-10/1972]

  • Paw Paw RR merged with the Toledo & South Haven RR.   [PMHS]

  • Flint & Pere Marquette builds a pile dock and an adjacent warehouse to expedite privately owned break-bulk boat service that had started in 1874.  All freight was transferred by hand from freight cars to the ships and vise versa.  This sort of service was continued during the period from 1876-1882.  [COHS-8/1997]

  • Russell Wheel and Foundry Co. established by George H. and Walter S. Russel.  Their father, George B. Russell, founded Hamtramck's Iron Works to manufacture first car wheels in the West.  [DWS]

  • Congress establishes the standard rate for transportation and handling mail on land-grant railroads at 50%of regular rates for governmental passengers, and 80% of normal postal rates.  These were eliminated in 1940.  [AAD]

  • Detroit's population is 101,225.  [D18]

  • Depression continues.

  • Labor violence comes with a strike which begins after many railroads lower wages 10%.  [STOV]

  • January 1:  Chicago and Northeastern Railroad opens line from Lansing to Flint.  [MRRC]

  • January 28:  The Lake George & Muskegon River Railroad, Michigan's first logging road, begins operation in Clare County.  [MT]

  • May:  The Michigan Railway Guide was established as a monthly publication by Emil Schober.  [HWC]

  • June 9:  The Escanaba Tribune reports that a new water tank has been built at Powers (also known as Station 42) for use on all C&NW lines serving that station.  [ATDC]

  • June 16:  The Menonimee Range railroad reaches Quinnesec from Powers.  [ATDC]

  • July 17:  Great Strike begins when Baltimore & Ohio Railroad workers walk off the job;  sets off series of sympathy strikes and work stoppages; national crisis. The strike was over by August 5.   [DWS/LS]

  • July 23:  About 40 Michigan Central yard men went on strike following a 10% wage reduction.  Fellow-workers left their jobs the next day.  The MC stopped receiving freight but there was no strike by trainmen.  MC workers in Jackson went on strike as well.  It is not clear whether trains actually stopped running.  MC officials met with workers at Windsor and agreed to a compromise which increased wages.  [AAD]

  • July 26:  First telephone conversation in State of Michigan takes place between the office and a shed in the Detroit freight yard of the Michigan Central Railroad.  [IT-5/81]

  • August 17:  The first train reaches the Breen Mine, near Iron Mountain, on the Menominee Range RR (C&NW).  [ATDC]

    October 1:  Toledo & South Haven opens 3' gauge line from Paw Paw to Lawrence.  [MRRC]

  • Rail line (eventually the Ann Arbor RR) completed to Cadillac.  [MDOT]

  • C&NW opens branch line from Powers to Vulcan and Quinnesec.  [MSL/AAD]

  • In 1877 the Chicago & North Eastern Railroad reached Durand from the west.  [MHM]

  • Russel Alger company builds 3-4 mile long tramway northwesterly from Harrisville.  [MRRC]

  • The Michigan Air Line is built from Port Huron to Romeo.  It was slowly extended, reaching Jackson in 1883.  [AAD]

  • The Chicago and Northeastern Railroad completes a 48 mile line between Flint and Lansing.  [AAD]

  • The Toledo and South Haven, a narrow gauge line is completed from Paw Paw westward some 9 miles to the town of Lawrence.  It is 3' gauge.  [AAD]

  • Vanderbilt interests propose a Detroit River tunnel from Grosse Isle to Canada, but work is never begun - 1877 - [MDOT]

  • 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.  [MDOT]

  • Paw Paw RR is converted from standard gauge to 3 ft. gauge after being merged with the Toledo & South Haven.

  • Toledo & South Haven begin the experimental use of specially-built 3-foot gauge cars with trucks which could be used to carry standard gauge cars without removing their standard gauge trucks. This experiment lasted until 1881.  [PMHS]

  • Commodore Vanderbilt passes away.  Son William Henry Vanderbilt expands and solidifies control of his railroad empire.  [MRRC]

  • As of 1877, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern continue to use a track gauge of 4' 10".  Adoption of standard gauge was slowed by the Great Strike (see July 17th, above).  [LS]

  • The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 begins.

  • Vanderbilt interests acquire control of the Michigan Central.  James Joy resigns as President.  [AAD]

  • Michigan Central Railroad builds depot at Indian River.  Depot exists as of 1974.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The present day town of Wequetonsing was founded as a Presbyterian resort by the people of Allegan.  It is on the the GR&I between Petosky and Harbor Springs along the lake shore.  [BOM]

  • First telephones are installed in Detroit.  [DWS]

  • First use of telephones in U.S. for railroad communications.  [STOV]

  • Ephraim Shay, a Cadillac-area lumberman, invents a novel solution to the problems that traditional rod-driven locomotives encounter when trying to negotiate steep grades and tight curves.  He built an experimental locomotive that served as the prototype for the legendary Shay gear driven steam locomotive.  It was more powerful and less likely to spin its wheels on steep grades.  [MH=11/1993]

  • Depression continues.

  • Spring:  Russell A. Alger and Company of Detroit completes 13 miles of railroad in Alcona County, which utilizes 3 locomotives and 51 cars to transport timber.  Three other logging roads were constructed out of Greenbush, one each way.  [HI]

  • April 2:  The Flint & Pere Marquette secures trackage rights in perpetuity on the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad between Paines and Mershon (Saginaw), a distance of six miles, in exchange for a flat payment of $40,000.  PM does not participate in maintenance or operting expense of this section.  [PM45]

  • May:  Rail line completed between Toledo and Ann Arbor  [MDOT]

  • June 24:  Vanderbilt acquires control of the Michigan Central Railroad.  [IT-10/1972]

  • June:  Toledo & Ann Arbor opens line from Toledo to Ann Arbor.  [MRRC]

  • June 17:  Begin to lay track of the Lake Huron and Southwestern Railway, west from Tawas City to Whittemore/Prescott.  It is financed half by logger C. D. Hale and half by the citizens of Tawas City.  It was 3' 2" in gauge.  Originally the line used narrow strap iron screwed to 2x4's and laid on timber flattened on top, the rounded bottom lying in notched cross-ties some five or six feet apart.   [HI/GW]

  • October 21:  A fire destroys the Michigan Central Railroad's fuel supply and seven railroad cars in Dearborn.  [MRC-10/1987]

  • December 28:  Muskegon River and Rose Lake Ry. opens 7.5 mile long, 3' gauge line.  Abandoned in 1881.  [MRRC]

  • Charles D. Hale operates a 3 1/2 mile railway to the AuGres River, called the Lake Huron & Southwestern Railway.  [MRRC/HI]

  • Detroit, Mackinac & Marquette RR incorporated to construct Marquette-St. Ignace line - 9/3/1878 - [MDOT]

  • Grand Trunk builds depot at Perry.  Depot continues to exist as of 1974.    [IT-12/1974]

  • Toledo & South Haven RR is extended from Paw Paw to Lawrence.   [PMHS]

  • William Addis builds private logging railroad in Manistee County.  [MRRC]

  • Alleyton & Big lake Railroad builds 3' gauge road in Newaygo County (T13N R12 & 13W).  [MRRC]

  • Beardand Co. builds a 10 mile long private logging road from Alcona westward.  [MRRC]

  • The Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railroad builds from Stanton to Edmore.  Later becomes a part of the Pere Marquette.  [PM45]

  • January 17:  Fort Wayne, Jackson and Saginaw Railroad completes line from jackson to Fort Wayne.  [MRRC]

  • March:  Saginaw Valley & St. Louis opens line from St. Louis (MI) to Alma.  [MRRC]

  • May 12:  Port Huron and Northwestern Ry. opens line from Port Huron to Croswell.  [MRRC]

  • May 16:  The Toledo and Ann Arbor Railroad is opened from Ann Arbor to Toledo.  [AAD]

  • September 1:  Hobart and Manistee River Rail Road builds 9.2 miles from the south branch of the Manistee River to Hobart (on the GR&I).  3' gauge.  Abandoned in 1890.  [MRRC]

  • October 10:  The wreck of Michigan Central's "Pacific Express" at Jackson kills 18 passengers.  [MT]

    December 15:  Flint & Pere Marquette, under the name Saginaw & Mt. Pleasant, opens 3' line from Coleman to Mt. Pleasant.  Converted to standard gauge in 1888.  [MRRC]  [COHS-2/1995] reports this 3' build date as December 9, 1879 and the standard gauging date as July 13, 1884.

  • MCRR wrecks "Pacific Express" at Jackson, killing 18 passengers - 10/10/1879 - [MDOT]

  • Mid 1879:  Port Huron & Northwestern Ry. line narrow gauge line completed from Port Huron to Croswell.   [PMHS]

  • Several logging firms begin laying logging railroads north and northeasterly from the City of Cadillac. One was extended to Round Lake in February, 1884.   [MRC-7/87]

  • Haslett Park  (aka Pine Lake, aka Lake Lansing) Station opens on the GTW. [ GTWHS 08/01]

  • Saginaw & Mt. Pleasant RR is incorporated as a subsidiary of the Flint & Pere Marquette and builds a line connecting Mount Pleasant with the F&PM at Coleman.   [PMHS]

  • The Saginaw Valley and St. Louis Railroad Company extends tracks from St. Louis to Alma.  [MHM]

  • Hebard and Thurber (logging interests) build private logging road in the area of L'Anse and Pequamingg.  Sold to Ford Motor in 1920.  [MRRC]

  • The Chicago, Saginaw & Canada Railroad builds a branch from Edmore to Lakeview, as well as a line from Edmore to Cedar Lake.  Later becomes part of the Pere Marquette.  [PM45]

  • The Saginaw & Grand Rapids Railroad builds a line from Alma to St. Louis.  Later becomes part of the Pere Marquette.  [PM45]

  • Thomas Edison invents incandescent electric lamp.