Niles area page:
Niles Time Line:
- 1848 - The Michigan Central arrives from
- 1849 - The MC extends its main line west
to New Buffalo.
- 1871 - The Michigan Air Line builds east
towards Cassopolis and Three Rivers
- 1882 - The Big Four build their line
between Elkhart and Benton Harbor, via Niles.
- 1919 - MC expands its Niles freight
- 1937 - The Air Line is abandoned east from
Niles to Three Rivers.
- 1960's - The Niles Terminal is downgraded
following the opening of Robert Young Yard in Elkhart.
- 1980 - The former Big Four line, now under
Conrail ownership, is abandoned north of Niles to Benton Harbor.
Niles was founded by a French Jesuit in
1690 who was given land by the French Government. A military
post was built in 1697 and the town became known as Fort St. Joseph.
The fort fell to the British in 1761, to the indians in 1763, and to
the Spanish and Indians in 1780 and 1781 at which point it was
A permanent settlement was begun in 1828 by
people from Ohio. It was first called Pogwatigue ("running
water"), and was changed to Niles in 1829, named after the town
newspaper editor. The town was incorporated as a Village in 1835
and as a City in 1859.
is the only city in Michigan to have been under four flags:
French, English, Spanish and American. [MPN]
railroad first came to Niles when the Michigan Central built here in
1848 on its route to Chicago. The line was extended west of town
in 1849. The Michigan Air Line, later a MC property, was built
east towards Three Rivers in 1871, and the Big Four built through town
from Elkhart to Benton Harbor in 1882. At some point, the MC
built a short branch line south to South Bend, including a siding at
1919, the Michigan Central dramatically expanded the terminal at
Niles, and it became a major MC classification yard on the west end of
the MC's main line. The MC also split freight operations
(eastbound on the Air Line Branch, and westbound on the main line)
between Niles and Jackson for a time.
Air Line branch, east from Niles was abandoned in 1937. In the
1960's, the Niles Terminal was downgraded following construction of
the NYC Robert Young Yards in Elkhart. In 1980, the north
section of the Big Four, now under Conrail ownership, was pulled up
from Niles north to Benton Harbor. The South Bend branch was
also removed in the 1980's.