Timeline - 1851

  • March: The Michigan Southern Railroad reaches Sturgis from Coldwater. [MCR-75]

  • April 15: Michigan Central depot in Detroit destroyed by fire. [DWS]

  • May: Chelsea established as a freight stop on the Michigan Central. [MHM]

  • July: The Michigan Southern opens their line from Sturgis to White Pigeon. [MCR-75]

  • September 25: 12 men convicted for burning MCRR's Detroit Depot in the Great Railroad Conspiracy Case. [MDOT]

  • October 2: Judge Chamberlain of the Lake Circuit Court in South Bend, granted an injunction against the Michigan Central, forbidding them from crossing the tracks of the Northern Indiana Railroad. It also forbid them from building a railroad from Michigan City to the west line of the state. This led to suits and counter suites, and the MCRR went ahead and crossed the Northern Indiana at what later became Porter, Indiana. The MCRR finally won at the United States Supreme Court. [LS]

  • October 4: Michigan Southern Railroad reaches South Bend, Indiana from White Pigeon. [MCR-75/MRRC/AAD]

  • October: The Michigan Southern replaces the old flat bar strap rail with heavy "T" rail from Monroe to Hillsdale. [LS]

  • Late: A new line is built on the Detroit and Pontiac down Dequindre, crossing Jefferson, to the new Brush Street station near the riverThe line from Dequindre down Gratiot Avenue to Farmer Street is pulled upThe Detroit and Pontiac is also relayed with iron T-rails at this time. [AAD]


  • Telegraph is used in U.S. for the first time in dispatching trains, on the Erie.  [STOV/SAM]

  • A land survey of the entire State of Michigan was completed, except for some inland lakes, rivers and island.  Once surveyed, land was sold at government land offices. The first office was opened in Detroit in 1818 and other offices were opened at Monroe, White Pigeon, Kalamazoo, Ionia and Flint. [BOM]


Timeline Key:

  • Railroad event in Michigan
  • Event relating to mining
  • Event related to car ferries
  • Event outside of Michigan
  • Improvement in Technology
  • Railroad built or extended
  • Railroad abandoned and/or removed
  • Economic panic or depression