Timeline - 1976

  • Early: President Ford signs the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 which creates Conrail, a private, for-profit 34,000 mile freight railroad. [STOV]

  • Early: GTW opens a new car shop in Flint. [IT-10/1976]

  • Early: The Nichols interlocker at Battle Creek is redesigned, merging the PC and GTW into one line through Battle Creek.[ITT-2/1976]

  • March 26: Penn Central runs its last train on the Bay City branch. It is abandoned from Utica 9MP 26.8) to Millington (MP 7.6), except for a small piece of track near Lapeer. The Penn Central train, pulled by Geep #7311 with 15 cars, was sent to clean up cars on the line north of Rochester. [CW]

  • April 1: Conrail begins operations in Michigan. [MDOT]

  • April 1: GTW purchases Conrail line Denmark Spur and other lines north to Kawkawlin. [IT-4/80]

  • April 1: The GTW purchases the former Penn Central Saginaw to Bay City line, plus branches to Essexville and Midland.  GTW abandons its own line from between Zilwaukee and Bay City. [NK]

  • April 1: State subsidy program begins with Michigan Northern Railway offering Comstock Park-Mackinaw City service including Traverse City branch. [MDOT]

  • National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) purchases Kalamazoo to Indiana state line route from Penn Central Transportation Corporation. [MRRC]

  • April 1: Hillsdale County Railway Co. starts subsidized operations in Hillsdale County. [MDOT]

  • April 1: Penn Central RR ceases operations and 200 miles of Michigan track is abandoned. [MDOT]

  • April 1: Conrail abandons the former GR&I north of Sturgis. [NK]

  • April 1: The State acquires the Ann Arbor RR including rolling stock and right-of-way from Toledo, OH to Ann Arbor, and from Ashley to Cadillac. [MDOT]

  • April 1: State purchases Kawkawlin to Sallings portion of the Penn Central and leases it to the Detroit & Mackinac Railway. [DJB]

  • The State of Michigan leases the Penn Central line between Comstock Park (Grand Rapids) and Mackianw City to the Michigan Northern Railway, its operator. [NK]

  • April 30: Conrail sells Canada Southern Railway and Detroit River Tunnel Co. to Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific jointly. [MRRC]

  • Spring: The very new Michigan Northern Railway suffered its first major derailment at Walton Jct., while turning on to the Traverse City branch.  Someone had removed 30 tons of rail at the curve.  One trainman suffered injury and damage was done to the engine. [MRC-7/1976]

  • July: The Huckleberry Railroad begins operation as a narrow-gauge passenger line on the ex-PM trackage northeast of Flint (PM's former Otisville sub). [IT-4/1976]

  • Summer: GTW opens a new 3-track car shop in Battle Creek. [IT-10/1976]

  • Summer: The former Michigan Central depot at Saginaw West Side is razed. [IT-10/1976]

  • Summer: The "Witch's Hat" depot at the C&O/GTW diamond in South Lyon is being moved to a new location in a South Lyon city park. Although distinctive, the conical roof on the building isn't unique - similar roofs are on GTW depots at Fowler and Saranac on the GTW's Owosso-Grand Rapids line. [IT-4/1976]

  • Summer: The Milwaukee Road and Chicago & Northwestern are operating a joint unit ore train between Groveland Mine near Iron Mountain and Granite City Steel Co. near St. Louis. Joint use of locomotives is made with the C&NW unit always in the lead due to signal requirements. [MRC-9/1976]

  • September: Chessie System installs new $7.8 million microwave system which replaces pole lines running along trackside. [IT-12/1974]

  • Fall: Chessie System has its third major derailment at the C&O/GTW diamond at Trowbridge in East Lansing.  Cars smash through CTC equipment buildings controlling the C&O main line from Ensel to Plymouth.  Emergency 24-hour train order stations are established at South Lyon, Fowlerville and Trowbridge.  75 train orders a day were issued during the 1-week period while repairs were made.   [IT-12/1974]

  • GTW is authorized to abandon the Grand Rapids subdivision from Marne to Grand Haven. The line has not been used for some time due to lack of traffic. [IT-4/1976]

  • The Penn Central closes the AA Owosso engine shops, transferring all engine maintenance to the Stanley Yard engine house in Toledo. [IT-10/1976]

  • October: The stone and brick depot at Lenawee Junction (LS&MS) is razed. [IT-10/1976]

  • Late: The winter of 1976-1977 was one of the most severe of the century. [MRC-6/1977]


  • The City of Detroit lays 3/4 mile of narrow-gauge (2' 11 7/16") track from Grand Circus Park south along Washington Boulevard to Cobo Hall in a rebirth of the Detroit Citizen's Railway. [BWC-4/1990]

  • D&M donates former Michican Alkali #8 (now painted as D&M #8) to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, along with a baggage car, and two passenger cars. [HI]

  • The ABWD brake valve is introduced by WABCO. [SAM]

  • Contrasting step edges and handrails are mandated by the FRA, to be completed by 1979. [SAM]

  • Conrail removes Eaton Rapids to Vermonville segment of Jackson to Grand Rapids branch. [IT-12/80]

  • Conrail removes remainder of the CK&S north of Kalamazoo. [NYC-2/1989]


 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