Railroad: Michigan Central railroad


"Central" line → Michigan Central Railroad New York Central System


MC Stag Hound locomotive

The Michigan Central railroad was created primarily by Boston capitalists for the purpose of purchasing the "Central" line from the State of Michigan. See "Central" line. In the late 1830's, the state had invested in several public works projects consisting of new railroads and canals. The "central" project was one of these. Though more successful than the other public works projects, th state decided to exist these projects and this line, radiating west from Detroit was sold to the Michigan Central.

The Michigan Central was a profitable and successful railroad over the years, known for many innovations. It became controlled by Vanderbilt interests (NYC&HR) and in 1916 was merged into the New York Central System. But it continued to be called the "Michigan Central" by many, and in fact the great Michigan Central passeger station in Detroit is still known by that name. 

Photo Info/Credit: Top, this is MCRR No. 20, the "Stag Hound", taken in 1854. The locomotive was a product of the Lowell Locomotive Works. Note the large driver wheels which provided speed necessary for passenger train operations. The locomotive was also equipped with an oil headlight for night operations. This was a typical new locomotive purchase in the 1850's. [Doug Leffler collection]


Time Line:

Acquired: 1846 - "Central" line from State of Michigan, Detroit to Kalamazoo.

Built: 1852 - Kalamazoo to Chicago.

Leased: 1870 - Kalamazoo & South Haven. Consolidated in 1916.

Leased: 1870 - Grand River Valley. Consolidated 1916.

Leased: 1871 - Michigan Air Line railroad. Consolidated in 1916.

Leased: 1871 - Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw. Consolidated in 1916.

Leased: 1881 - Detroit & Bay City. Consolidated in 1916.

Operating agreement: 1882 - Canada Southern Railway. (Leased in 1904).

Leased: 1883 - Saginaw Bay & Northwestern.

Leased: 1888 - Lansing Transit.

Leased: 1889 - Bay City & Battle Creek railroad and Battle Creek & Sturgis railroad. Consolidated in 1916.

Control: 1891 - Grayling, Twin Lakes & Northeastern.

Control: 1894 - Buchanan & St. Joseph River. Consolidated 1916.

Control: 1895 - Detroit, Delray & Dearborn (at incorporation). Consolidated in 1916.

Leased: 1902 - Detroit Manufacturers railroad.

Control: 1902 - Detroit, Toledo & Milwaukee (50% with Lake Shore & Michigan Southern). Leased in 1905.

Lease assigned: 1905 - St. Joseph, South Bend & Southern.

Leased: 1905 - Lansing Manufacturers railroad (50% with Lake Shore & Michigan Southern).

Control: 1905 - Detroit Terminal (25%, along with Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (25%) and GTW.

Leased: 1906 - Toledo, Canada Southern & Detroit. Consolidated in 1916.

Control: 1906 - Chicago, Kalamazoo and Saginaw.

Leased: 1907 - Detroit River Tunnel Company.

Control: 1907 - Detroit & Charlevoix. Consolidated 1916.

Leased: 1909 - Detroit Belt Line. Consolidated in 1916.

Leased To: 1930 - to New York Central railroad.

Bought: 1961 - Detroit, Hillsdale & South Western.

Conveyed: 1976 - certain properties to Consolidated Rail Corporation.

Conveyed: 1978 - rail properties to Penn Central Corporation.

Reference: [MRRC]


June 28, 1895. The MC is laying new rails, 80-lb. section on 28 miles of its track west of Niles, Mich. [RG]

August 9, 1895. The MCRR has ordered from the General Electric Co. two search lights whth which to illuminate Niagra Falls. The lamps will be of 100,000 candlepower each, and will have 48 inch reflectors. They will be placed near Falls View station. [RG]

November 29, 1895. The Superintendent of the United State Mail Service has arranged for postal cars on fast trains between Buffalo and Detroit, through Canada, by the Michigan Central. [RG]