Timeline - 1880

  • 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 C&NW completes its line into Florence, WI from the east. [ICHS]

  • The Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railroad builds a branch line from Edmore to Remus and later this year is extended to Big Rapids where a connection is made with the GR&I. Later becomes part of the Pere Marquette.  [PM45][I&L]

  • The Saginaw Bay & Northwestern Railroad builts north from Mt. Forest to Bentley. It comes under Michigan Central Railroad ownership in 1883.

  • 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]

  • Mather introduces the first, humane stock car. [SAM]

  • Lima Machine Works builds the first Shay Locomotive. [SAM]

  • It was noted that during a large fire in Negaunee, the fire equipment from Ishpeming was quickly loaded on railroad cars and taken by a locomotive to the fire. [EHMT]

  • 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]

  • Experiments begin using electric lighting in underground mines. [IOHT] 

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