Passenger trains exit the landscape...

Michigan's Internet Railroad History Museum


1950 - 1959


  • 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.


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  • Mid-1950's:  The NYC demolishes its Woodward Avenue station on the Detroit to Bay City branch.  [MRC-4/1983]

  • March 7:  The Copper Range Railroad experiences a strike by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, which results in a complete suspension of operations until April 28.  [CRAR]

  • June:  Production begins at EMD's London, Ontario plant.  [LTimes/9-16-2003]

  • July 19:  Ann Arbor RR runs last passenger train  from Elberta to Toledo.   [MDOT]

  • July 30:  PRR ends passenger service between Grand Rapids and Muskegon.  At the end, the line employed a "doodlebug".  [PRHTS-W-2000]

  • December 31:  Michigan Railroad Mileage Totaled 6,803 miles.   [MDOT]

  • Pennsylvania discontinues passenger service from Muskegon to Grand Rapids.   [MDOT]

  • Buses transport 38% of intercity passengers.  Trucks transport 16% of intercity freight traffic.  [STOV]

  • Nationally, there are 223,779 miles of railroad track.  [STOV]

  • Pennsylvania Railroad leads the country in freight revenue.   [STOV]

  • The Copper Range Railroad purchases its first diesel locomotive.  [CRAR]

  • The last steam engines run on the former Port Huron & Northwestern lines of the Pere Marquette.  [AB]

  • The Escanaba & Lake Superior purchases a Russell snowplow from the Ford Motor Company's abandoned logging railroad at L'Anse, Michigan.  [EDP-12/27/1950]

  • March 31:  Last passenger train operated on the Detroit & Mackinac Railway.   [MDOT/HI]

  • April 21:  Department of Street Railway operators in Detroit strike, halt public transportation for 59 days.  Strike ends June 19.  DSR's longest strike.  [DWS]

  • April 30:  GTW abandons service on the D&H branch (Detroit & Huron RR) between Cass City and Bad Axe.  On that date, Walter Miller, the station agent at Cass City, handed Conductor George Morgan the final running order:  "Engine 5038 run extra Cass City to Bad Axe and return to Cass City".  [MRC-3/87 and 8/1988]

  • Nahma & Northern abandons line north of Nahma.  [MRRC]

  • The Mackinac Transportation company handles 34,786 cars across the Straits of Mackinac, the largest number carried by the car ferry during any one year from 1940 until August, 1984 when service ceased.   [MDOT]

  • January 4:  C&O car ferry "Spartan" launched.  Along with sister-ship "Badger", these are the largest, best-equipped and last coal-fired passenger-carrying steamships built in the U.S.   [MDOT]

  • Pennsylvania Railroad passenger train service is discontinued between Grand Rapids and Cadillac.  [MDOT]

  • The LS&I/C&NW completes tracks from Duncan to the Humboldt and Republic Mines.  [MRC-10/1987]

  • June 16:  The last steam engine, a Hudson type 4-6-4, number 5434, is run on the former Michigan Central portion of the New York Central.  [MT]

  • September:  The New York Central abandons its line from Monroe to Ida.  [MRC-5/1973]

  • December 8:  The Chesapeake & Ohio  restarts car ferry service between Port Huron and Sarnia. It had been stopped by the Pere Marquette  in 1933.   [AB]

  • December 29:  Electric train operations through the Detroit River railroad tunnel ends, replaced by diesel locomotives.    [MDOT]

  • Detroit, Caro and Sandusky Railway abandons the remainder of its line from Caro to Roseburg (:former Detroit, Bay City & Western).  Other portions had been abandoned on several other years.  [MRRC]

  • A half-dozen U.S. railroads offer TOFC "piggy-back" service.  [STOV]

  • The Copper Range Railroad experiences a heavy movement of forest products on the Gay branch, and increaed shipments of copper rock from Painesdale to the Freda mill on the Freda Branch.  [CRAR]

  • May 8:  DT&I ends all passenger service, removing a mixed train near Springfield OH.   [IT-2/80]

  • December 31:  The GTW drops the coach from it's mixed train between Pontiac and Jackson.  The line becomes freight only.  [MRC-9/1975]

  • C&O begins use of Detroit River tunnel and discontinues car ferry at Detroit.    [MDOT]

  • The Copper Range Railroad installs AB Power Brakes on all non-interchange cars in compliance with orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission.  [CRAR]

  • First use of television in railroad communications.  [STOV]

  • February 15:  The last steam locomotive, switching locomotive No. 468, is retired from the Soo Line System, making the road all-diesel.  [SOO-S/1994]

  • May 10:  The mechanical interlocking tower at Clare is changed to an automatic interlocker.  [MSAI]

  • August 1:  Transportation of passenger trains by car ferry discontinued between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace.    [MDOT]

  • August:  The Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Railroad begins using a Budd RDC car between Marquette and St. Ighace.  [SOO-S/1994]

  • September 25:  Canadian National Railways discontinues passenger service on its Detroit River car ferries and substitutes bus service through the auto tunnel.    [MDOT]

  • November 30:  Manistee & North Eastern is merged into the C&O.    [PMHS]

  • December 1:  Chesapeake & Ohio begins using the New York Central railroad tunnel to reach Windsor from Detroit.  The C&O's car float operations are curtailed.

  • December 30:  Last Grand Trunk Western "mixed-passenger and freight" train out of Grand Haven.     [MDOT]

  • December 31:  One of state's last "mixed passenger and freight trains," Grand Trunk Western service from Pontiac to Caseville was withdrawn.   [MDOT]

  • December 31:  Mixed train service is discontinued on the GTW's Pontiac, Oxford & Northern line.  The current twice per week freight normally turns at Pigeon.  Service to Caseville is rare due to a lack of customers.  [MRC-7/1975]

  • New copper mine is opened on Ontonagan.  [DWS]

  • LS&I completes track to the Eagle Mills Pellet Plant.  [MRC-10/1987]

  • The MC/DSS&A discontinues transfer of railroad coaches in the carferry across the Straits.  Through passengers must now take a cab to the State Highway Department dock, board that ferry to St. Ignace, and then board the South Shore train.  [MRC-3/90]

  • January 1:  The GTW PO&N branch discontinues mixed trains, becoming a freight-only line.  [HB-Sum-1993]

  • January 3: The NYC consigned to scrap the lat two steam locomotives which were used on their Detroit-Mackinaw City run. [MRF-/1981]
  • January 5: The NYC tests their Aerotrain, composed of 10 coaches and a single 1,200 hp diesel locomotive makes a non-stop test runs between Chicago and Detroit. It consumes only $18 in fuel during the 283 mile run. After the run, it is put on display at the MCRR Detroit passenger terminal. [MRF-3/1981]
  • April 7:   Detroit's last street car makes final run.  [DWS/MRF-4/90]

  • April 8, 1956: The once-great Detroit Street Railway system comes to a close, as the Woodward Line is abandoned. Detroit Common Council has voted to sell 140 of the DSR cars to Mexico City for $4,000 each. The original cost of 183 cars, purchased in 1947 to 1949 was $22,000 to $30,000 each. [MRF-3/1981]
  • April 29:  New York Central's high-speed experimental passenger train, "Aerotrain," enters Detroit-Chicago service.   [MDOT]

  • Summer:  C&O builds their Tunnel Yard yardmaster's tower, south of Rougemere Yard. A small engine facility is also built there for Windsor-bound trains.  [COHS-2/02]

  • November 19:  Last regularly-scheduled passenger train on "The Old Road" through Coldwater, Hillsdale and Adrian to Toledo.   [MDOT]

  • Interstate highway act signed into federal law.  [DWS]

  • The C&O discontinues car ferry service on the Detroit River. Chessie freight trans now use the MCRR Detroit River Tunnel to Canada. Car ferry #10 is transferred to Sarnia and #14 is leased to the Wabash and will remain on the Detroit River. C&O Boat Yard operations are transferred to Rougemere Yard where3 the C&O is building a new three-story yard office and yard masterís tower. Improvements are also being made in their diesel facility and their icing facilities at Rougemere. [MRF-3/1981]
  • Escanaba and Lake Superior discontinues passenger service.  It had a combined total passenger revenue of $17.22 in its last year.  [MSL]

  • Railroads (34.8%), busses (31%) and airlines (31.5%) each transport about 1/3 of the nation's intercity passengers.  [STOV]

  • C&O 1601, one of the largest steam locomotives in history, is moved to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.  The size of the locomotive required raising the door of the museum (similar to Henry Ford's problem when he tried to drive his first automobile out of its garage).  [DRK]

  • July:  EMD begins testing its Aerotrain, a new lightweight concept in passenger trains.  [LTimes/9-16-2003]

  • September:  Algonac Transit Company closes and tracks removed.   [IT-4/81]

  • November:  Mackinac Bridge opens to traffic.  [DWS]

  • December 31:  GTW closes its Haslett station.  The depot was torn down some years later. - [GTWHS 08/01]

  • The Detroit & Mackinac lays track to the new National Gypsum tramway (to Lake Huron) south of Tawas City.  [DMHS]

  • The state's last logging branch railroad is constructed by the Lake Superior & Ishpeming from Cusino at the border of Alger and Schoolcraft counties, northeast approximately sixteen miles to Sunrise Landing, between Triangle and Hemlock lakes.  During the seven years of operation, a total of 4,884 carloads of chemical wood for the chemical company at Marquette, 1,109 carloads of pulpwood logs and 2,706 carloads of veneer logs were moved.  The branch line ended in 1964.  [MH-11/1993]

  • Two thirds of U. S. rail is 100 lbs. or heavier.  [STOV]

  • According to annual reports filed with the Michigan Department of Transportation, this is the last year that the Copper Range Railroad makes a profit ($19,036 on $630,960 in revenues).  It looses money in each subsequent year until it is abandoned in 1973.  [CRAR]

  • Passenger movement by air exceeds railroads for the first time.  [STOV]

  • Passenger trains operate over 112,000 miles of U.S. railroads.  [STOV]

  • The New York Central consolidates the Commordore Vanderbilt with the 20th Century Limited.  The extra fare for the 20th Century is eliminated.  [LS]

  • January 12:  Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic RR discontinues St. Ignace-Marquette passenger service and becomes a freight-only line.   [MDOT/MRC-3/90]

  • March 3:  DT&I abandons a portion of their Tecumseh branch, between Lear (originally Detroit Jct., north of the Ohio state line) to Adrian, reverting back to trackage rights on the Wabash.  [IT-2/80]

  • GTW ceases using electric locomotives in the Port Huron-Sarnia tunnel.  Replaced by diesel locomotives.  [MHM]

  • Transportation Act of 1958 permits faster passenger train discontinuances.  [STOV]

  • July 25:  Pennsylvania RR discontinues its "Red Arrow" passenger train from Detroit to New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC.   [MDOT]

  • August 6:  Annpere interlocking is converted from a tower operation to an automatic interlocker.  Supervisory control is transferred to C&O dispatchers in Grand Rapids.  [MSAI]

  • October:  CPR replaces conventional passenger train from Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie with an RDC car.  This was the first RDC car into the Sault.  [IT-5/81]

  • December 24:  "Beeliner" discontinued between Jackson and Bay City, via Owosso and Saginaw.  [MDOT]

  • New York Central's "Beeliner" a self-propelled passenger, baggage and mail car, ceases operations from Jackson to Grand Rapids.  [MDOT]

  • GTW stops using their Battle Creek roundhouse.  It is razed in 1974.  [IT-12/1975]

  • Heavy vertical lift bridge completed between Houghton and Hancock.  The twin-towered, vertical lift bridge carries four highway lanes on the upper segment and a railroad track on the lower level across the Portage Lake Ship canal.  When fully raised, the lift span provides a clearance of 104 feet for shipping.  [CRWS/BOM]

  • "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 Railway.  [MDOT]