Station: Detroit, MI

Detroit was founded about 1701 by French settlers. The British took possession 1763 until 1783 at which point the United States took over but did not occupy the city until 1796. The town was incorporated in 1802 and became a city in 1815. Detroit was the capital of Michigan from 1837 to 1847 when it was moved to Lansing. [MPN]

Detroit is located along the Detroit River in central Wayne County. The city grew rapidly during the industrial revolution and became a major manufacturer of railroad cars and wheels, stoves and other general merchandise. The population of Detroit reached over 1.8 million people but declined after the 1950's to about 650,000 today. Detroit has been served by a number of railroads over the years:

  • Michigan Central (later NYC, PC, Conrail, NS/CSX)
  • Grand Trunk Western (later CN)
  • Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (later NYC, PC, Control, NS/CSX)
  • Pere Marquette railroad
  • Wabash railroad
  • Detroit, Toledo & Ironton
  • Detroit & Toledo Shore Line
  • Detroit Terminal (owned by MC, LSMS and GTW)
  • Detroit River Tunnel railroad
  • Pennsylvania railroad
  • A number of belt line and industrial railroads
  • Various interurban railroads and street car lines


Key: MC & LSMS | GTW | PM | Wabash | PRR | Other

1838 - Central railroad (later MCRR in 1846) built west from downtown, reaches Chicago in 1855.

1838 - Detroit & Pontiac, later Detroit & Milwaukee builds from Brush Street station to Durand and beyond via Milwaukee Junction. Becomes GTW in 1928.

1842 - Central station in Detroit moved to Third Street. Line to Woodward Avenue removed.

1855 - Lake Shore & Michigan Southern reaches Detroit from Monroe and Toledo. Uses Brush Street Station via Milwaukee Jct. area until new MC Depot is built.

1859 - Chicago, Detroit & Canada Grand Trunk (later GTW in 1928) builds northeast from West Detroit (Grand Junction) to Port Huron area.

1871 - Detroit Lansing & Northern (later PM in 1900) reaches West Detroit from Lansing and Plymouth on original line. Uses MC depot until about 1893.

1872 - Detroit & Bay City built north from Bay City Jct. towards Lapeer and Bay City. MC takes over in 1881.

1873 - Toledo, Canada Southern & Detroit arrives in Detroit from Monroe and Toledo. MC takes over in 1882.

1881 - Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific builds from Montpelier, OH to Detroit via Adrian and Delray. Uses line from Delray to West Detroit until 1893 and then uses Fort Street Union depot.

1888 - Zug Island is created by cutting a canal to the Rouge River. A blast furnace is built on the island in 1902. Canal enlarged by Ford in 1922.

1892 - MC Exposition and Delta spurs built in Delray area.

1893 - Fort Street Union Depot builds from 3rd street southwest to Delray. Becomes part of Union Belt of Detroit.

1893 - DL&N line from Oak (in Redford) reaches downtown via Delray. Uses Fort Street Union Depot.

1895 - Detroit, Delray & Dearborn (MC) reaches Delray from (west) Dearborn. Most removed in 1912.

1898 - The Detroit & Lima Northern (later DT&I) builds from Delray (West End Avenue) across Zug Island to Trenton and Ohio.

1902 - Detroit Manufacturers railroad built along river, east of Brush Street Station. Leased by MC in same year.

1903 - Packard automobile plant opens. Served by MC on what becomes the Detroit Belt Line in 1909.

1904 - Delray Connecting railroad is built by Detroit Edison.

1905 - Delray Terminal railroad is built.

1909 - MC Detroit Belt Line built from east of Milwaukee Jct. to Transit Jct. at Detroit River. Extended to North Yard in 1915.

1910 - Ford Highland Park plant is opened. Served by Detroit Terminal and GTW.

1911 - Dodge Assembly plant on the Detroit/Hamtramck border is built. Closed in 1980. Becomes Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly in 1985. Originally served by MC Belt Line and GTW.

1912 - Detroit Terminal railroad builds belt line around Detroit, reaching Ford Rouge, Highland Park and east side of Detroit. Owned by GTW (50%), MC (25%) and LS&MS (25%). Dismantled in 1980's.

1912 - MC builds Junction Yard branch, using part of DD&D, to Junction Yard and Town Line. Serves Rouge Plant.

1917 - Ford Rouge Plant construction begins. Completed in 1928. Served by most Detroit railroads.

1917 - The Lincoln Motor plant is built along Livernois, open until 1952. Served by Pere Marquette. Purchased by Ford in 1922.

1921 - Cadillac Fleetwood Plant at West Detroit begins operations, until 1987. Served by MC and likely others. This was built on the former Michigan Car works.

1922 - Pennsylvania railroad reaches Detroit via Ecorse Jct., Wabash and Union Belt to FSUD. PRR sent passenger trains to Detroit via PM trackage rights from Toledo since around 1900.

1923 - DT&I builds a branch from the Rouge Plant south to Flat Rock, connecting with their main line.

1925 - Chrysler Jefferson Assembly plant opens in 1925 until 1990. Served by Detroit Terminal. Becomes Jefferson North Assembly in 1991.

Does not include interurban, street car lines or ferries. Only major plants listed. Many, many more.

Source = [MRL], [Wiki] and others.

Detroit industry...

Wolverine Tube Division, was located at 1411 Central Avenue, north of the Wabash Railroad. This company was owned after 1955 by the Calumet & Hecla Company and processed copper into seamless copper tubing.