Timeline - 1920

  • January 5: The Jennings and Northeastern RR discontinues service in Jennings. [IT-4/80/MRC-9/88]

  • January: An international union of railroad policemen of the Unites States and Canada, under the name of the Brotherhood of Railroad Patrolmen, has been formed in Chicago. The Chicago local is No. 1 and its territory covers the Chicago District. The enrollment is composed of 900 railroad patrolmen and watchman. [RA-1/1920]

  • March 1: The USRA returns Michigan railroads to private ownership following the World War. [MDOT]

  • March: H. K. McHarg, Jr., the son of the principal stockholder of the D&M, arrives from out east to work on the road. Following disagreements with McHarg, J. D. Hawks resigns his position on May 16th. McHarg Jr. was appointed Vice President and General Manager. One of his first acts was to order the removal of the long famous turtle trade-mark from cars, locomotives, advertising and stationary. Hawks Died in September, 1921. [GW}

  • April: DT&I awards a contract to build their new bascule bridge over the Rouge River in River Rouge. (Short Cut canal) [RR-1920-0925:491]
  • April 5: Detroit voters approve a $15 million bond issue to build a street railway system, referred to as the Municipal Operation. [DWSS]

  • April 5: A Pere Marquette ferry becomes stuck in the ice off Point Sauble, after leaving Ludington. Eleven passengers try to walk to shore. Suddenly the ice flow breaks up, and the winds carry the piece holding the group out into Lake Michigan. Hundreds of spectators line the shore and watch as the Coast Guard, with great difficulty, rescues the group. [MT]

  • April: Railroad strike worsens economic situation in Detroit;  many factories close due to general downturn. [DWS]

  • May 4: The new Michigan Central/New York Central bridge over the Rouge River was placed in service. It is a Strauss single leaf bascule bridge of 125 feet clear span with a square crossing. It provides two tracks and is designed for Cooper’s E-70 loading with full impact allowance. It replaced a jointly owned swing bridge which was erected in 1887. The project was paid for by a 1917 appropriation of Congress in the sum of $490,000 to improve the Rouge river to permit the use of this stream by large lake freighters at the Ford Motor Company. Total cost of the project is $541,000. Channel depth is 21 feet below normal water level. [RA-9/17/1920]

  • May 19: Pennsylvania Railroad begins passenger service from Detroit to eastern cities. [MDOT]

  • May 26: A Michigan Central locomotive blows up three miles south of Bay City. On train 202, enroute from Mackinaw City to Detroit, with two sleepers, two day coaches, mail and baggage cars, the locomotive's boiler exploded at 6:30 a.m. The train had two engineers, who were killed. The fireman was badly injured and hospitalized. The boiler blew clear of the trucks, turned three somersaults and landed on the right of way 500' from the explosion. The trucks of the engine and tender remained on the track. The train was stopped by automatic breaks. While the tracks are being cleared, MC trains north to Bay City are using the short line from Vassar to Bay City. [MusC-5/26/20]

  • May: Gala party opens unusual two-story Pennsylvania freight house in Detroit. [MDOT]

  • June 13: First Baltimore & Ohio RR passenger train leaves Detroit's Fort Street Union Depot for Washington. [MDOT]

  • Summer: Work begins on the Michigan Central, New York Central and Wabash track elevation at Livernois Avenue, Dix Avenue and Waterman Avenue in Detroit. As a part of this work, the City of Detroit is to extend Military Avenue across the right of way of these railways and will construct a subway at its own expense. [RA-7/23/1920]

  • July 10: Henry and Edsel Ford purchase the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton RR for $5 million and immediately begin modernization of property and rolling stock. Also noted as July 9th. [MDOT/EMR4][NYT-19920-0711]

  • August: The Ann Arbor Railroad is authorized to abandon its New Haven spur, extending from a connection with the main line near Owosso, through the townships of Caledonia and New Haven in Shiawassee County, a distance of about seven miles. The Liberty Coal company and Owosso Sugar Company were served by the line objected.  [MPUC]

  • December 31: Michigan Railroad Mileage Totaled 8,734 miles. [MDOT/STOV]


  • The Pennsylvania RR begins serving Detroit over its new line from Carleton, the last main line trackage laid by a major railroad in Michigan. [MDOT]

  • Port Huron & Detroit RR takes over the Port Huron Southern. [IT-4/81]

  • Soo Line builds a new, larger brick station at Manistique, to replace a wooden structure which was built around 1887. [MRC-6/1984]

  • A new stone depot is built on the M&NE in Northport.  It is used until the C&O ceased operations in 1970. [BWC-2/1990

  • Pere Marquette installs new automatic block signals between Grand Ledge and Elmdale (26 miles of single track, 34 signals), and between Wyoming and Grand Rapids (3 miles of double track, 8 signals). They are of the Union-motor type, using polarized line overlap. [RA/1-1920]

  • The Pennsylvania Railroad (GR&I) builds a new red brick depot at Kalkaska. [BOM]

  • Toledo, Ohio is considered to be the third largest railroad center in the United States, largely due to the amount of coal traffic handled. [COHS-10/98]

  • Michigan Central constructs a new brick depot at Constantine, after its other depot was destroyed by fire.  The brick depot lasted until the early 1980's. [MRC-9/1985]

  • The Pere Marquette builds a new eight stall round house with a 90 foot turntable in New Buffalo, MI. [PM45]

  • Pere Marquette builds a new 500-ton capacity coal dock in Saginaw. [PM45]

  • Pere Marquette completes yard construction in New Buffalo and Plymouth. [PMHS]

  • The E&LS extends its Hendricks branch to Boney Falls dam.  [EDP-12/27/1950]

  • Detroit's population hits 993,678.  [BOM]

  • The Fruit Growers Express Company is formed, owned by the ACL, PRR, B&O, Southern, N&W, NH, C&EI and others.  [SAM]

  • Trial radio communications is tried on the VGN, NYNH&H, PRR, C&O and others but not adopted at that time due to technology limitations and government regulations.  [SAM]

 

 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