Logging abounds; rails reach Mackinac...

Michigan's Internet Railroad History Museum


1880 - 1889


  • 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
























  • 1880's:  GR&I extends a branch line from Misaukee Jct. (north of Cadillac) to a new lumber town called Mitchell (on Crooked Lake, named after the Mitchell brothers who owned the mill). - [MRC-09/88]
  • Early:  DSS&A builds depot in St. Ignace. It was moved to the waterfront in 1946 as a part of a consoldation of rail yards.. - [MRDC-8/89]
  • Detroit & Bay City abandons branch from Lapeer to northeast of Lapeer (near North Branch).  [MRRC]
  • Railroads in the United States generally achieve a standard gauge of 4' 8 1/2".  [STOV]
  • About 25% of all track rail is made of steel.  [STOV]
  • The Calumet and Hecla Mining Co. had sunk 17 mine shafts and was smelting its own copper.  [MOD-6/1985]
  • Between 1880 and the turn of the century, Detroit became a major center for shipbuilding, cigar manufacturing, and the production of pharmaceuticals.  Other major manufactured products included railroad cars, paints and varnishes, foundry and machine shop products, as well as beer.  [BOM]
  • The Milwaukee Junction industrial area begins to grow. [CRP1]

  • February 8:  Chicago & Grand Trunk Ry. completes line from Valparaiso, Indiana to Chicago, completing the Grand Trunk's connection between Port Huron and Chicago.   [MDOT/IT-10/1972]

  • February 12:  Lake Huron & Southwestern Railway is sold to the Tawas & Bay County Railroad.  [MRRC]

  • April 1:  Chicago & West Michigan opens line from White Cloud to Mud lake.  [MRRC]

  • July 1:  Grand Rapids & Indiana RR began summer-only "dummy trains" to resorts north of Petoskey.  [MDOT]

  • August:  Toledo, Ann Arbor and Grand Trunk Railway opens line from Ann Arbor to South Lyon.  [MRRC]

  • September 10:  Ontonagon & Brule River Railroad chartered to construct a rail line from Ontonagon southeast to the Wisconsin state line.   [MDOT]

  • September 13:  The Port Huron & Detroit completes its line from Croswell to Sand Beach (Harbor Beach).  [AB]

  • September 30:  Flint & Pere Marquette opens line from Clare to Harrison.  [MRRC]

  • October 1:  Detroit, Mackinac and Marquette opens line from Marquette to Onota.  [MRRC]

  • October:  Toledo, Ann Arbor & Grand Trunk Railway is completed between Toledo and Ann Arbor.  [MRRC]

  • December 31:  Michigan Railroad Mileage Totaled 3,823 miles.   [MDOT]

  • C&NW completes line from Quennesec to Iron Mountain.  [MSL]

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

  • 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.  [MDOT]

  • Steam heat is introduced in passenger cars.  [STOV]

  • Streetcar line is extended out East Jefferson to the city limits, at Grosse Pointe. [DWS]

  • New (current) depot built at Chelsea on the Michigan Central with unusual gabled roof.  It is used in 2001 as a community center and museum.  [MHM]

  • The Michigan Central builds a new stone depot at Lawton.  It continues to exist in 2001.  [MRP-I]

  • Nationally, there are 93,267 miles of railroad track, 3,938 miles in Michigan.  [STOV]

  • Michigan Central builds a depot in Niles and Augusta.  Still in existence as of 1974.  [IT-12/1974]

  • Grand Trunk builds new depot at Holly.  Continues to exist into 1974.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The most important industries in Detroit were iron and steel, tobacco products, foundries, machine shops, meat packing,flour milling, boots and shoes, and men's clothing.  [BOM]

  • January 17:  The Port Huron & Northwestern opens their line between Zion and Marlette, over high bridge.  [AB]

  • April 14:  The first through train from St. Louis on the Detroit, Butler and St. Louis Railroad (later Wabash/N&W) steamed into brush Street depot.  The DB&SL used the Brush Street station until March 18, 1883.  [MRC-6/1973]

  • May 3:  A Mendon man, Leonidas Woolley, receives a patent for a locomotive headlight.  [MT]

  • May 21:  Thomas A. Scott, former President of the Pennsylvania Railroad passes away at age 56.  He had relinquished the presidency in June, 1880.  [MRRC]

  • June:  Buckley and Douglas Rail Road opens 8 mile line fro Manistee River to T22N R13-14W to T23N R13-14W in Manistee County.  Abandoned in 1889.  [MRRC]

  • June 1:  Detroit, Butler & St. Louis RR (later Wabash) completes line from Montpelier, OH to Detroit, offering a direct route to St. Louis and Kansas City.   [MDOT]

  • June:  Detroit, Mackinac & Marquette reaches Munising Jct. from Marquette.  [SOO-1/1991]

  • August:  A forest fire sweeps through the Thumb, destroying forests but clearing huge expanses of land. Thereafter, logging operations give way to farming.   [HB-Sum/1993]

  • August 14:  First train from St. Louis on the Wabash Railroad arrives in Detroit.  It uses the D&M depot.  [EMR4]

  • Fall:  St. Joseph Valley Railroad is opened between Berrien Springs and Buchanan with narrow gauge.   [PMHS]

  • August 15:  Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Ry. opens line from Delray to the Ohio state line near Morenci.  [MRRC]

  • September 20:  The Detroit, Hillsdale and Southwestern Railroad, formally operated between Detroit and Hillsdale by the Michigan Central, comes under Lake Shore & Michigan Southern control.  [MRC-7/1973]

  • October 10:  Detroit, Mackinac & Marquette, the Michigan Central and the Grand Rapids & Indiana form a joint subsidiary, the Mackinac Transportation Company, to operate car ferry service at the Straits of Mackinac.  The original boat is the Algomah which carried passengers and freight, and was designed to tow the barge Betsy, which had a capacity of 4 railroad cars.  This arrangement lasted until 1887, when the St. Ignace was built and placed in service.   [MDOT/SOO-1/1991]

  • October 20:  Construction of the Pontiac, Oxford & Port Austin RR begins at Caseville to bring rail service to the Thumb area.   [MDOT]

  • December 1:  Port Huron & Northwestern opens its Court Street station in Port Huron.  [AB]

  • December 18:  Michigan Central RR reaches the Straits of Mackinac from Bay City.  [MDOT]

  • December 19:  Detroit, Mackinac & Marquette RR completes line into St. Ignace creating a through route from Marquette to the Straits.   [MDOT/MRRC/AAD]

  • December 31:  Flint & Pere Marquette (Manistee Railroad Co.) completes line from Walhalla to Manistee.  [MRRC]

    December 31:  The Port Huron & Northwestern completes its line from Marlette to East Saginaw.  It is officially opened for service on February 21, 1882.  [AB]

  • Railroad car ferry service begins between Lower and Upper Peninsulas.  [DWS]

  • Canadian Pacific Railway Co. founded.  [DWS]

  • Port Huron & Northwestern Ry completes narrow gauge line from Port Huron to Marlette.   [PMHS]

  • Bay Springs & Southeastern, a private logging road, opens 6 miles in Charlevoix County, from Sec 27 T33N R6W to Sec. 10 T32N R5W.  [MRRC]

  • Charon and Bougette Lumber Co. builds 4 mile long 3' gauge line in Lake and Mason Counties.  [MRRC]

  • Chicago & West Michigan acquires a line from Grand Rapids to White Cloud.  [AAD]

  • Muskegon Lake Railroad opens line from Muskegon to Port Sherman.  [MRRC]

  • Nahma & Northern opens logging road north from Mahma.  [MRRC]

  • The predessor line to the Detroit & Mackinac is sold to the Alger, Smith & Co., and General R. A. Alger is made President.  [GW]

  • The Mackinac Transportation Company is created to buy and operate a ferry across the straits. The Algomah, a steamer, was placed in service.   [AAD]

  • Muskegon River and Rose Lake Ry. abandons 7.5 mile long, 3' gauge line between Muskegon River and Rose Lake.  [MRRC]

  • Michigan Central builds a new depot in Cheboygan.  Depot continues to exist to at least 1974.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The Detroit, Toledo & Milwaukee (or predecessor) builds a new six-stall roundhouse in Marshall.  It was abandoned in 1932 and later moved to Greenfield Village.  [DRK]

  • Lake Shore & Michigan Southern builds depot at Hillsdale.  Continues to exist as of 2001.  [IT-12/1974]

  • Flint & Pere Marquette builds Potter Street Depot in Saginaw.  Depot continues to exist as of 2001, but is damaged by fire.  [COHS-8/1997]

  • January 20:  Bear lake and Eastern Rail Road opens 3' gauge line in Manistee County from Pierport via Bear Lake to Cleon Twp.  Abandoned in 1902.  [MRRC]

  • February 1:  Bay View Little Traverse and Mackinac Rail Road completes line from Bay View to Harbor Springs.  [MRRC]

  • February 21:  The PH&NW officially opens its line from Marlette to East Saginaw.  It has been completed on December 31, 1881.  [AB]

  • April 4:  Saginaw, Tuscola and Huron Railroad opens line from Saginaw to Sebewaing.  Converted to standard gauge in 1891 after control by Pere Marquette.  [MRRC]

  • June 1:  Chicago and West Michigan builds 1 mile line from Front St. to River Avenue, Grand Rapids.  [MRRC]

  • July 1:  Tawas & Bay County Railroad sold to Alger, Smith and Co..  Becomes the East Tawas and Bay County Railroad.  Line was extended from Prescott to the Michigan Central at Alger.  [HI]

  • July 3:  Grand Rapids & Indiana RR reaches Mackinaw City from Kegomic.   [MDOT/MRRC]

  • August 14:  Ontonagon and Brule River Railroad opens line from Ontonagon to 20 miles east.  [MRRC]

  • September:  Flint & Pere Marquette takes delivery of two boats, F&PM No. 2 and No. 3, which were wooden steamers used to transfer bulk-break freight across Lake Michigan.  These were not car-carrying ferries.  [COHS-8/1997]

  • October 2:  William Ashley sells his graded line from South Lyon to Pontiac.  It later becomes the GTW Jackson Branch.  [HB-Sum/1993]

  • October 3:  The Port Huron & Southwestern completes its line from Port Huron to Almont - the Almont branch.  It is consolidated into the Port Huron & Northwestern on December 9, 1882.  [AB]

  • October 9:  The Grand Trunk Detroit-Port Huron trains begin using the Brush Street Station.  Until this time, they terminated at the MC Third Street Station, or the Woodward Avenue Station.  The GT also closes it's ticket office, waiting room and baggage room located at 13 West Fort Street, opposite City Hall.  [MRC-6/1973]

  • November 13:  Cincinnati, Wabash and Michigan Railway completes line from Benton harbor to Goshen, IN.  [MRRC]

  • November:  The Chicago & West Michigan opens it's line from New Buffalo to LaPorte.  [LS]

  • December 11:  Port Huron and Northwestern Ry. completes line from Palms to Port Austin.  [AB/MRRC]

  • December 28:  Ithaca and Alma Railroad Company completes line from Alma to Ithaca.  [MRRC]

  • C&NW opens line from Iron Mountain to Iron River/Crystal Falls.  [MSL/MRRC]

  • Port Huron & Northwestern Ry. extends narrow gauge line from Marlette to Saginaw.   [PMHS]

  • Port Huron & Northwestern Ry. completes narrow gauge branch line from Palms through bad Axe to Port Austin.   [PMHS]

  • Burt and Gamble Lumber Co. builds 3' gauge railroad, 7 miles long from Grand Marais southerly.  Abandoned about 1890.  [MRRC]

  • Butters and Peters Co. builds 3' private logging road, 4 miles in length near Tallman in Mason County.  [MRRC]

  • Chickering and Kysor open private logging road near Fife Lake in Grand Traverse County.  3 miles long; 3' gauge.  [MRRC]

  • The White River Railroad opens a line from White Cloud to Troy.  Later becomes a part of the Chicago & West Michigan (PM).  [PM45]

  • Port Huron & Northwestern Ry. incorporates, constructs and absorbs the narrow gauge Port Huron & South Western Ry., connecting Port Huron with Almont.   [PMHS]

  • Grand Trunk Western opens Port Gratiot "Block I" Car Shops, in Port Huron (destroyed by fire in 1913) [CB]
  • Sebewaing depot is built in the early 1880's - [MRC/0689]

  • Pere Marquette builds depot in Saginaw.    [IT-12/1974]

  • The first passenger station is built in Hastings on the MCRR Jackson-Grand Rapids line.  It was replaced in 1922.  [MHM]

  • 511 people are injured or killed in railroad accidents, including 12 passengers, 61 employees and 67 others killed.  428 of these deaths and injuries were caused by "carelessness", as ruled by the Michigan Railroad Commission.  [AAD]

  • The Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad publishes a guide which highlights hotels and resorts along its line, including Omena, Northport, Old Mission, Elk Rapids, Charlevoix, Bay View and Harbor Springs.  The GR&I markets itself as "The Fishing Line".  [BOM]

  • Vast salt and bromine deposits are discovered in Manistee.  They replace lumbering as the foundation of that city's success.  [PM45]

  • Michigan Central opens new depot in Grayling, Topinabee and Mackinaw City.  All continue to exist as of 2001.  Depot in Mackinaw City is now a restaurant in a boutique mall.   [IT-12/1974]

  • Saginaw, Tuscola & Huron RR was built in 1881 and reached Sebewaing by 1882.   [PMHS]

  • Detroit Union Railroad Depot & Station Company completes line from Delray to 18th Street, Detroit.  [MRRC]

  • Escanaba and Lake Superior Railway Co. (not E&LS) opens line from Narenta to Metropolitan.  Later sold to C&NW.  [MRRC]

  • March 18:  The Wabash Railroad begins using the facilities of the Detroit Union Railroad Station and Depot Co. for passenger operations.  The depot is located on Detroit's west side at the foot of Wabash Avenue.  (This depot is not be be confused with the Fort Street Union Depot, which opened on January 21, 1893.)  [MRC-6/1973]

  • April 2:  The East Tawas and Bay County Railroad becomes the Detroit, Bay City and Alpena Railroad.  [HI]

  • Spring:  The Hermansville & Western, a tramway, replaces its tramway with iron rales between Hermansville and 8 miles west of Hermansville.  [SOO-10/1991]

  • March 1:  Mecosta Railroad opens 3' line from Muskegon River to Horsehead Lake.  Abandoned in 1888.  [MRRC]

  • March 18:  According to Farmer's History of Detroit, Wabash trains begin arriving and departing from the 12th Street Union Depot, located between Woodbridge (west of Jefferson and the Detroit River).  Note:  According to MCRR agreements, the Wabash trackage at Delray was not altered to that allignment until July 19, 1892.  [EMR4]

  • May:  Tracks are laid from Pontiac to Imlay City on the PO&N.  [HB-Sum1993]

  • June:  Battle Creek Railway Co. opens line in Battle Creek.  [MRRC]

  • July:  Marquette, Houghton & Ontonagon RR connects L'Anse with Houghton by rail, after the state approves a large land grant.  [MDOT/AAD]

  • September 23:  Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Western Ry. opens line from Wisconsin stat4e line to Watersmeet.  [MRRC]

  • October 3:  The Pontiac, Oxford, and Port Austin Railroad passenger train reaches Caseville.  [MHM]

  • October 8:  Pontiac, Oxford and Port Austin Railroad completes line from Pontiac to Caseville.  [MRRC]

  • November 18:  Railroads accept and implement William F. Allen's plan for 4 standard time zones.  Goes into effect at noon.  Most of the public accepts this system.  [STOV]

  • November 29:  Michigan and Ohio Railroad completes line from Allegan to Dundee.  [MRRC]

  • December 31:  Michigan Central RR opens car ferry service between Detroit and Windsor.  [MDOT]

  • The Detroit, Bay City and Alpena is created and extended north from Tawas to AuSable, connecting with Alger, Smith & Company's logging road which went to Mud Lake and their mill at Black River..  An extension is also built from Prescott to a new junction called "Alger" and a connection with the Michigan Central.    [GW]

  • The Detroit, Bay City and Alpena charters the Steamer "Ossifrage" which provides through service from Black River to Alpena.  [GW]

  • Butters and Peters Co. build private logging road in Mason County (also called South Branch RR) 7 miles from the South Branch River, possibly in T16 & 17N R15W.  [MRRC]

  • Chippewa Lake Logging RR opens 3' gauge line, 3 miles in length in Mecosta County.  Abandoned after 1883.   [MRRC]

  • Crapo Lake & Northwestern opens Otsego County logging road 8 miles, from Crapo Lake northwesterly in T29N R1&2W.  [MRRC]

  • Houghton and L'Anse Railroad completes line between namesake cities.  [SSJB/MSL]

  • Marquette and Western Railroad completes line from Marquette to Ishpeming.  [SSJB]

  • DSS&A completes line from Nestoria to Iron River, WI.  [SSJB]

  • Lac la Belle and Calumet Rail Road opens 31 mile 3' main line from Mohawk to Phoenix.  Renamed Keweenaw Central on April 25, 1905.  (1883 date may not be accurate).  [MRRC]

  • The Michigan Air Line reaches Jackson from Pontiac.  [AAD]

  • The Toledo and South Haven extend their narrow gauge line from Lawrence to Hartford.  [AAD]

  • The Chicago & West Michigan Railroad opens a line from Troy to Baldwin.  Later becomes part of the Pere Marquette.   [PM45]

  • Incandescent lights are first used in Detroit.  [DWS]

  • Construction begins on new Michigan Central Railway depot at Third and Woodbridge to replace previous depot which was destroyed by arson.  [DWS]

  • Pontiac, Oxford & Port Austin Railroad builds a new, modest board-and-batten depot in Dryden.  [MRC-12/1985]

  • Flint & Pere Marquette is overburdened with cross-lake freight.  They take F&PM Ludington vessels No. 1 and No. 2 boats (purchased in 1881), and cut them in half, in the middle.  They are lengthened 36 feet to gain greater carrying capacity.  [COHS-8/1997]

  • Woven wire fence invented by Lenawee County man;  Adrian factory begins production.  [DWS]

  • Railway trainmen organize into a union.  [STOV]

  • Lake Shore & Michigan Southern builds new depot at Coldwater.  Continues to exist as of 1974.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The Pontiac, Oxford & Port Austin builds a new depot at Dryden.  [MRP-I]

  • The City of Detroit begins layout of Grand Boulevard, completing it in 1887.  It was intended to serve as a peripheral road connecting all of the earlier major radial traffic arteries.  [BOM]

  • The Northern Hay Fever Association establishes a resort at Topinabee on the Michigan Central Railroad line north of Indian River.  [BOM]

  • January 1:  Grand Trunk (Michigan Air Line Ry.) opens line from Ridgeway to Jackson.  [MRRC]

  • January:  Menominee Branch Railroad completes line from Menominee to Green Bay.  [MRRC]

  • Mid:  Saginaw & Mt. Pleasant RR (F&PM) converted to standard gauge.   [PMHS]

  • Mid:  Saginaw, Tuscola & Huron RR builds a 9 miles to Bay Port.   [PMHS]

  • June 9:  Marquette and Western completes line from Marquette to Ishpeming.  (Later leased to DSS&A).  [MRRC]

  • June 27:  The Ann Arbor Railroad is completed as far north as St. Louis. [AAD]

  • July 19:  Paris & Pere Marquette River Railroad opens 3'1" line from Upper Paris west 16 miles.  Abandoned in 1889.  [MRRC]

  • August:  Toledo, Ann Arbor & North Michigan opens like from Owosso to St. Louis.  [MRRC]

  • November:  Paddlewheel car ferry "Lansdowne" began more than 90 years of crossings between Detroit and Windsor, the longest service of any railroad car ferry in the world.  [MDOT]

  • November:  Michigan's first mechanical interlocking plant was installed at Wasepi at the crossing of Grand Rapids & Indiana and Michigan Central Railroads.  [MDOT]

  • Milwaukee, Lake Shore and Western Ry. opens line from Watersmeet to Ironwood.  [MRRC]

  • Potts Salt and Lumber Co. opens line from McKinley southwesterly 14 miles.  [MRRC]

  • First railroad service to Ironwood started by Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Ry. Co.  [MDOT]

  • Cadillac & Northeastern opens 3' private logging railroad from 10 miles in length, from Cadillac to NW corner of Lake Missaukee.  [MRRC]

  • Gogebic Range is opened for iron mining, the last range developed in Michigan.  It became a major iron producer on both the Michigan and Wisconsin sides of the river.  [MSL]

  • Grand Trunk builds depot at Gaines and Morrice.  Depots continues to exist as of 1974.  [IT-12/1974]

  • Saginaw, Tuscola and Huron Railroad builds a new board and batten depot in Elkton in 1884.  The depot continues to exist in 1999, though it has been moved to a site downtown.  [MRP-I]

  • Winter:  The winter of 1884-85 was severe, with snow as deep as five feet in northwest Indiana.  Temperatures in January remained below zero most of the month.   [LS]

  • April:  Allegan and Lake Shore Railroad builds a 3-foot gauge railroad from Allegan west five miles.  Abandoned in 1889.  [MRRC]

  • April:  The Lake Shore announced it would replace all old covered bridges between Ligonier and Goshen, Indiana on the Airline, with stone bridges.  [LS]

  • June 5:  State law now requires railroads to place automatic couplers on all cars.   [MDOT/MT]

  • July:  A passenger coach was built for the Cadillac and Northeastern Railroad and passengers were now more comfortably carried between Cadillac to Lake City.  [MRC-7/87]

  • October 11:  Crawford and Manistee River Railway opens line 10 miles in length in Kalkaska County, from Sec. 13 T25N R5@ to Sec. 25 T26N R6W.  Abandoned in 1904.  [MRRC]

  • Decrember 1:  Hancock and Calumet Railroad Co. builds 3' line from Hancock to Calumet.  Made standard gauge in 1900.  [MRRC]

  • December 8:  William Henry Vanderbilt falls to the floor in his office and dies.  [MRRC]

  • The Toledo, Ann Arbor and North Michigan (later the Ann Arbor Railroad) reaches Durand  [MHM]

  • Cadillac & Northeastern extends 3' logging railroad 4 miles from Lake Missaukee to Lake City.  [MRRC]

  • A wooden bridge is built which allows the original Mineral Range Railroad to reach Houghton from Hancock. [CRH]

  • Frank Hecker and Charles Freer found the Peninsular Car Co. in Detroit to manufacture railcars.  [DWS]

  • Canadian Pacific Railway is completed.  [DWS]

  • The GTW builds a small, brick depot in Fenton.  It continues to exist as of 1999.  [MRP-I]

  • Michigan Central opens new depot in West Branch.  Depot continues to exist in 2001.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The state legislature forbids railroads from blocking road crossings for more than five minutes.  [AAD]

  • Grand Trunk builds depot at Charlotte.  Depot continues to exist as of 2001.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The Peninsular Car Works builds their facilities at Milwaukee Junction in Detroit.  [HWC]

  • 90% of all United States' copper, and more than 40% of U.S. iron ore is being produced from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

  • March 26:  First passenger trains crosses the newly built Portage Canal bridge between Houghton and Hancock.   [CRWS]

  • April 6:  City of Detroit suffers from a 24" snowfall, stopping streetcar and train traffic.  [DWS]

  • May 17:  Black River Railroad is sold to the Detroit, Bay City and Alpena Railroad.  [MRRC]

  • June:  Toledo, Ann Arbor and Mt. Pleasant completes line from Alma to Mt. Pleasant.  [MRRC]

  • July 1:  Saginaw, Tuscola and Huron Railroad opens 3' line from Sebewaing to Bad Axe.  Converted to standard gauge in 1891 after purchase by Pere Marquette.  [MRRC]

  • Summer:  Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern Michigan RR reaches Howell.  New (current) depot built.  [MHS]

  • Mid:  Saginaw, Tuscola & Huron RR built from Bay Port to Bad Axe - Mid/1886 - [PMHS]

  • Mid:  Construction begins on the Chicago, Kalamazoo and Saginaw Railway (CK&S) from Kalamazoo to Hastings.  Reaches 19 miles northeast towards Hastings by September 20th.  [NYC-2/1989]

  • August:  Detroit, Lansing & Northern opens line from St. Louis to Howard City.  [MRRC]

  • September 1:  Detroit's first electric railway line started on Dix Avenue (Vernor Highway).  Also a Van Depoele system.  [EMR4]

  • September 3:  Grass Lake and Manistee River Railroad opens 8 mile long line from sec 33 T25N R5W and sec 17 T25N R4W to Manistee River in sec 35 T26N R6W.  [MRRC]

  • September 18:  Highland Park electric streetcar begins operating on Woodward Avenue from Baltimore to Manchester.  [DWS]

  • September 20:  Detroit, Bay City and Alpena Railroad completes line from Black River  to 3 miles south of Alpena. The entire DBC&A is converted to standard gauge.   [MRRC/GW]

  • October 11:  The first DBC&A passenger train reaches Alpena.  [GW]

  • October 20:  Manistique Railway opens line from Seney to Hoist.  [MRRC]

  • December 1:  Grand Rapids & Indiana opens line from Muskegon Jct. (near Grand Rapids) to Muskegon.  [MRRC]

  • The Detroit, Bay City and Alpena was extended north from AuSable to Alpena.  All tracks were widened to standard gauge.   [HI]

  • Detroit, Bay City and Alpena constructs several branck lines between 1986 and 1890, including the Rose City Division.

  • The Manistique Railway builds a line from Seney to Grand Marais.  [MSL]

  • The Cincinnati, Jackson and Mackinaw Railroad is extended from the Indiana state line through Lenawee County to Jackson.  [Adrian Daily Telegram, 6/26/1975]

  • From 1886 to 1888, the Toledo, Saginaw and Muskegon Railway (later GTW) builds from 20 miles west of Owosso to Muskegon, a distance of 96 miles.  The route used trackage rights to Owosso by way of running over the Toledo, Ann Arbor and North Michigan Railway (later AA).  [IT-10/1972]

  • The Soo Line is completed from Iron Mountain to Hermansville.  [SOO-10/1991]

  • Michigan Central RR depot at Ann Arbor constructed.   This granite block building was designed by Frederick Spier, which was influenced by the great American architect Henry Hobson Richardson.[MDOT/MHM]

  • The Acme White Lead and Color Works builds a plant on St. Aubin at the crossing of the MCRR Bay City line, in Hamtramck Township. It becomes one of the world’s largest paint manufacturing facilities. It was acquired by Sherwin-Williams in 1920 and is closed in 1977. [CRP1]
  • Michigan Central RR depot at Kalamazoo is built.  Continues to exist as of 2001.    [IT-12/1974]

  • Detroit's population is 116,340. [D18]

  • Ann Arbor Railroad builds a depot at Howell.  Continues to exist as of 2001.  [IT-12/1974]

  • U. S. Supreme Court reverses 1877 decision in case of Wabash Railroad v. Illinois (where states regulated railroad rates);  proclaims only Congress has the right to regulate interstate commerce.  [DWS/STOV]

  • January 6:  Mason and Oceana Railroad opens 3' line from Buttersville (near Ludington) to Crystal Valley.  Abandoned in 1909.   [MRRC]

  • January 19:  New (current) depot opens in Dexter on the Michigan Central Railroad.  [MHS]

  • January:  Michigan Central Railroad opens a new depot in Dearborn.   [DPG]

  • March 1:  Colfax and Big Rapids Railroad opens 3' gauge line, 8 miles from Big Rapids to T15N R9W.  Abandoned in 1889.

  • March 9:  Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic ("The South Shore") created by consolidation of several railroads.   [MDOT]

  • May 1:  The Geogebic & Montreal River (later "WC" and "SOO") build depots at Hurley, Wisconsin, Ironwood and Bessemer.  The depots at the first too locations were 25' x 100'.  [SOO-W/1996]

  • July 6:  Geogebic & Montreal River RR (later "Soo Line") began operating passenger trains on the line between Ironwood and Bessemer.   [MDOT/MRRC]  Note:  The [SOO-W/1996] gives the date for rail completion as approximately April 25.  The line was dispatched out of the Ashland, WI depot.

  • July 10:  Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel opens.  The 600 room resort hotel was built by the Michigan Central, the Grand Rapids & Indiana RR, and the Cleveland Steamship Company.   [MDOT]

  • The wooden depot at Manistique is constructed.  It lasted until 1920.  [MRC-6/1984]

  • July 27:  Potts Logging Railway is created near Oscoda.  [MRRC]

  • August 12:  The Toledo and South Haven reaches South Haven from Hartford.  [AAD]

  • September 1:  C&NW builds line from Iron River to Watersmeet.  [MRRC]

  • September 24:  Toledo, Saginaw and Muskegon Ry. opens line from Ashley to Carson City.  [MRRC]

  • September:  The Detroit, Mackinac & Marquette rails reach Sault Ste. Marie from Soo Junction.  Passenger service begins on October 6th.  [MDOT/MSL]

  • The Soo Junction depot is build by the DM&M where the Sault Ste. Marie branch leaves their Marquette-St. Ignace main line.  The depot is a 1-story wood structure, with wooden platform.  [SOO-1/1991]

  • November 20:  Milwaukee & Northern RR completed line into Champion from Milwaukee.  [MDOC]

  • December:  Lowell and Hastings Railroad opens line from Lowell to Freeport.  [MRRC]

  • December 31:  Michigan's only international railroad bridge, the 1.2 mile series of spans across the rapids of the St. Mary's River at Sault Ste. Marie was opened.  The double bascule spans were, at the time, the largest of this type of in the world.   [MDOT/IT-5/81/AAD]

  • C&NW extends its line from Iron River west to the Gogebic Range mines.  [MSL]

  • Soo Line completes line from Sault Ste. Marie through to Minneapolis.  [MSL/AAD]

  • The Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern reaches Cadillac.  [AAD]

  • The Wisconsin Central (original) builds a branch from Mellon, WI to Bessemer, MI  [SOO-W/1996]

  • Interstate Commerce Commission established which provided first federal railroad regulation.  Thomas M. Cooley of Michigan is its first chairman.  [MDOT/STOV]

  • Eighty-nine logging railroads operated in Michigan; the state had more logging railroads than any two combined U.S. states.   [MDOT]

  • New MCRR depot in Grass Lake opens.  Designed by Detroit architects Spier and Rohns in Richardsonian Romanesque style, replaces original depot.  It  housed rail operations for sixty-nine years.  {MHM]

  • Ephraim Shay receives patents for his geared locomotive - used in logging operations.  2,770 were built.   [MHM]

  • The Michigan Central opens a sprawling red-stone, red-brick, red-tile roofed station in Kalamazoo.  The station continues multiple use in 2001 as a train and city transit system station.  [MRP-I/BOM]

  • Grand Trunk builds new depot in Walled Lake.  Depot is currently used as offices for Coe Rail.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The Soo Line builds a new depot in Hermansville.  [SOO-10/1991]

  • The Michigan Central Railroad opens a new station in Battle Creek at 55 West Van Buren St.  It is a solid, low-lying Richardsonian Romanesque depot.  The city's population at the time was 9,000.  The former depot on North Monroe was discarded.  [BOM]

  • Flint & Pere Marquette purchases docking property in Milwaukee to provide proper terminal facilities.  F&PM No. 3 and No. 4 were also delivered to the company this year.  They are bulk-break freight carrying vessels.   [COHS-8/1997]

  • The Mackinac Transportation Company orders the car ferry St. Ignace, with a bow propeller ten feet in diameter, which is the first single-ended car ferry at the straits.  She is used until 1893. [AAD]

  • Nichols Interlocking placed in service in Battle Creek - first interlocking on the MCRR.  [IT-12/79]

  • First vestibule passenger cars are placed in service between New York and Chicago, replacing open ended cars.  [STOV]

  • Electric lighting is introduced in passenger cars.  [STOV]

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

  • DSS&A completes line from Soo Junction to Sault Ste. Marie.  [SSJB]

  • Lansing Transit Railway (MCRR/LS&MS) opens 2 mile line from Grand St. in Lansing to the MCRR. (date approximate).   [MRRC]

  • The Wisconsin Central Gegobic branch installs mine spurs near Colby and Hoyt.  The following mines were serviced:  Colby, Colby South 15, Palms Mine, Aurora, Tilden Mine (1st), Ashland Mine (spur left the main line near the Ironwood depot), Trimble Mine and the Montreal Mine.  [SOO-W/1996]

  • Interstate Commerce Commission established by act of Congress to control certain practices of U. S. railroads.  [DWS]

  • January 1:  Tracks of the Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie & Atlantic Ry (later "Soo Line")  reached Sault Ste. Marie.   [MDOT]

  • January:  Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Co. opens line from named city to Canada.  Owned 25% by the DSS&A, 25% by the Soo Line, and 50% by the Canadian Pacific.  [MRRC]

  • April:  Wooden car ferry "St. Ignace" entered St. Ignace-Mackinaw City service, the first ship to provide a rail link between Michigan's two peninsulas.  First boat to be equipped with a bow propeller.   It burned in 1916. [MDOT]

  • June 11:  Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie & Atlantic and three other roads merged to form the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Ry., familiarly known as the "Soo Line".   [MDOT]

  • June 23:  A new interlocking is proposed for the Iron Mountain and Southeastern and the M&N Railway near Champion, Michigan.  [MSAI]

  • July 27:  The Michigan Central Railroad opens a new depot in Battle Creek.  It was designed by Rogers and McFarlane of Detroit, one of several Richardsonian Romanesque-style stations between Detroit and Chicago in the late nineteenth century. Thomas Edison as well as Presidents William Howard Taft and Gerald Ford visited here.  [MHM]

  • August 1:  Grand Trunk Ry. of Canada (Toledo, Saginaw and Muskegon Ry.) completes line from Carson City to Muskegon.  [MRRC]

  • August 10:  C&NW builds line from Ishpeming to Republic.  [MRRC]

  • August:  Detroit, Lansing & Northern completes line from Grand Ledge to Grand Rapids.  [MRRC]

  • September 1:  St. Joseph Valley opens 3' gauge line from Buchanan to Berrien Springs.  [MRRC]

  • October 23:  Toledo, Saginaw and Mackinaw Railroad opens line from Durand to Flushing.  [MRRC]

  • November 20:  Manistee and Northeastern opens line from Manistee to Nessen City.  [MRRC]

  • Alpena & Hubbard Lake builds 3' gauge logging road 18 miles from Alpeena to Hubbard Lake.  Abandoned in 1892.  [MRRC]

  • The Milwaukee and Northern builds north from Green Bay to Iron Mountain, and extends to a junction with the DSS&A at Champion.  [MSL]

  • Canada and St. Louis Railway opens line from Sturgis to Goshen, Ind.  [MRRC]

  • DSS&A completes line from Nestoria to Iron River, WI.  Running rights are negotiated from Iron River WI to Duluth, MN via the Northern Pacific.  [SSJB]

  • The railroad grade crossing at Beaubien Street, Detroit is installed.  The tower was built around 1916.  [MRC-6/1996]

  • The Lowell and Hastings Railroad builds from Elmdale to Lowell.  Later becomes the Pere Marquette. [PM45]

  • The CK&S reaches Hastings from Kalamazoo.  [NYC-2/1989]

  • The Detroit & Bay City Belt Line, known as the "Belt Line", was built across the GTW Mt. Clemens Subdivision west of Chene St., running 4.35 miles under lease by the MCRR until it was sold to them and reincorporated on May 3, 1909 as the "Detroit Belt Line Railroad".  The line connected with the Detroit Manufacturers Railroad and most DMR business was shipped over the Belt Line.   [EMR4]

  • The highest railroad bridge in Michigan, was built over the Manistee River between Baldwin and Kaleva by the Chicago & West Michigan Ry Co.   [MDOT]

  • Depot in Flushing, MI is built - (burned in 1980).   [IT-4/80]

  • Michigan Central opens new brick depot in Battle Creek.  Still exists as of 2001 as a restaurant.    [IT-12/1974]

  • The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern opens a new depot in Hudson, Michigan on the "Old Road".  The depot is designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge of Boston in a Richardson Romanesque style.  It replaced the original depot, which was built in 1856.  The original depot was moved down the road to Cadmus.  The move was paid for by the residents of that town.  [NYC-Q1/1996]

  • Pere Marquette builds depot in Muskegon.  Continues to exist into 1974.  [IT-12/1974]

  • Michigan Central opens new stone depot in Standish.  Still exists as of 2001.  [IT-12/1974]

  • Detroit businessman James McMillan, cofounder of the Michigan Car Co. and developer of the Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railroad is elected to the U.S. Senate.  [DWS]

  • Lake Erie, Essex, and Detroit River Railway (owned by whiskey magnate Hiram Walker) opens, connecting Detroit/Windsor with rich agricultural fields of Ontario's interior.  [DWS]

  • The MCRR builds a new wooden depot in Dexter.  It is used today in 2001 by the Ann Arbor Model Railroad Club.  [MRT-I]

  • Grand Trunk builds depot in Carson City.  Still in existence as of 1974.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The state legislature requires that passenger cars must be heated from the outside or by an enclosed heater in the car.  [AAD]

  • Mecosta Railroad abandons 3' line from Muskegon River to Horsehead Lake.  [MRRC]

  • Peak year for Michigan lumber;  state produces more than 4 million board feet.  [DWS]

  • January 3:  Detroit City Railway receives grant for new trackage.  [DWS]

  • January 6:  The first passenger train was run on the Manistee & Northeastern.   [MDOT]

  • January:  St. Louis, Sturgis and Battle Creek Railroad completes line from Battle Creek to Sturgis.  [MRRC]

  • March 4:  Grand Trunk Car ferry "Transit I" was totally destroyed by fire at GTW's wharf in Windsor.   [MDOT]

  • April 1:  Flint & Pere Marquette purchases the Port Huron & Northwestern Railway.  [PMHS]

  • June 1:  Soo Line began running luxury trains across the Upper Peninsula between Minneapolis and Montreal via Sault Ste. Marie.  [MDOT]

  • September 1:  Chicago, Kalamazoo & Saginaw - CK&S - completes Hastings to Woodbury line.  [IT-12/79][NYC-2/1989]

  • September 17-27:  Detroit hosts International Exposition and Fair on Detroit River, on 14 acres between Fort Wayne and the Rouge River, near what is now Zug Island.  Railroads bring attendees in from all parts of the nation.  Tracks laid directly into the middle of the fairgrounds.  [D18]

  • November 8:  The Flint & Pere Marquette, using the Detroit, Lansing & Northern tracks from Plymouth, signed agreements with the Wabash to share the new Fort Street Depot Company depot in Detroit.  The depot company built an elevated connecting track from 18th and West Jefferson to the new terminal at Third and Fort Street.  The new Fort Street Union Depot opened its doors to trains of the Wabash and F&PM on January 21, 1893.  [EMR4]

  • November 15:  The Flint & Pere Marquette line between Yale and East Saginaw (former PH&NW) is widened to standard gauge.  [AB]

  • November 15:  The Flint & Pere Marquette builds a new standard-gauge line between Yale and port Huron, and between Brown City and Deanville (their Quarry spur). [AB]

  • November 17:  Toledo, Ann Arbor and Lake Michigan Ry. opens line from Cadillac to Beecher.  [MRRC]

  • November 25:  Frankfort and South Eatern Railroad completes 3' gauge line from Frankfort to Beecher.  [MRRC]

  • November 25:  Toledo, Ann Arbor & North Michigan RR (later named Ann Arbor RR) began service from Toledo to Frankfort.   [MDOT]

  • December:  Bay City and Battle Creek Railway completes line from B.C. & B.C. Jct. to Midland.  [MRRC]

  • Allegan and Lake Shore Railroad abandons 5 mile long line from Allegan west.  [MRRC]

  • June:  Buckley and Douglas Rail Road abandons 8 mile line fro Manistee River to T22N R13-14W to T23N R13-14W in Manistee County.  Built in 1881.  [MRRC]

  • Fort Street Union Depot in Detroit was constructed.   [MDOT/AAD]

  • Ann Arbor Railroad builds depot in its namesake city.  It continues to exist today as a day care center.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The Pere Marquette builds a fancy stone and brick depot in Muskegon.  It continues to exist in 2001.  [MRP-I]

  • Flint & Pere Marquette constructs a new standard gauge line form Yale to a junction with the Grand Trunk west of Port Huron.  [PMHS]

  • Adrian City Electric Belt Railway opens line in Adrian - 5 miles long.  [MRRC]

  • Saginaw & Mt. Pleasant RR is merged into the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad.   [PMHS]

  • CN&W builds 1-story brick and wood depot and baggage house in Hermansville on their Iron Mountain to Escanaba line.  [SOO-10/1991]

  • The depot at Hoyt, in the Gogebic & Montreal River line, was moved to the promising community of Iron Belt.  A smaller structure took its place at Hoyt.  [SOO-W/1996].

  • The Grand Trunk builds a new brick depot in Flushing.  The depot, in 1999, belongs to the Flushing Historical Society.  [MRP-I]

  • Grand Trunk builds new depot at Lennon and Flushing.  Both continue to exist as of 1974.  [IT-12/1974]

  • All Flint & Pere Marquette trackage north of Port Huron is converted to standard gauge leaving the Almont Branch as the only remaining narrow gauge route.   [PMHS]

  • St. Joseph Valley Railroad is converted to standard gauge.   [PMHS]

  • Paris & Pere Marquette River Railroad abandons 16 mile line west from Upper Paris west.  [MRRC]

  • Plant No. 1 of the Michigan Alkali Company is established near what is now Zug Island to produce soda ash.  [HWC]

  • Michigan is leading copper and iron ore producer.  [DWS]

  • The Dow Chemical Company begins operations in Midland.  [PM45]