Logging abounds; rails reach Mackinac...

Michigan's Internet Railroad History Museum




  • Railroad event or related event in Michigan

  • Important non-railroad event in Michigan or outside.

  • Improvement in Technology         Mining.

  • Railroad built or extended

  • Railroad abandoned and/or removed

  • Economic panic or depression        Car ferries.


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1860-1889 Menu


  • January 6:  Mason and Oceana Railroad opens 3' line from Buttersville (near Ludington) to Crystal Valley.  Abandoned in 1909.   [MRRC]

  • January 19:  New (current) depot opens in Dexter on the Michigan Central Railroad.  [MHS]

  • January:  Michigan Central Railroad opens a new depot in Dearborn.   [DPG]

  • March 1:  Colfax and Big Rapids Railroad opens 3' gauge line, 8 miles from Big Rapids to T15N R9W.  Abandoned in 1889.

  • March 9:  Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic ("The South Shore") created by consolidation of several railroads.   [MDOT]

  • May 1:  The Geogebic & Montreal River (later "WC" and "SOO") build depots at Hurley, Wisconsin, Ironwood and Bessemer.  The depots at the first too locations were 25' x 100'.  [SOO-W/1996]

  • July 6:  Geogebic & Montreal River RR (later "Soo Line") began operating passenger trains on the line between Ironwood and Bessemer.   [MDOT/MRRC]  Note:  The [SOO-W/1996] gives the date for rail completion as approximately April 25.  The line was dispatched out of the Ashland, WI depot.

  • July 10:  Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel opens.  The 600 room resort hotel was built by the Michigan Central, the Grand Rapids & Indiana RR, and the Cleveland Steamship Company.   [MDOT]

  • The wooden depot at Manistique is constructed.  It lasted until 1920.  [MRC-6/1984]

  • July 27:  Potts Logging Railway is created near Oscoda.  [MRRC]

  • August 12:  The Toledo and South Haven reaches South Haven from Hartford.  [AAD]

  • September 1:  C&NW builds line from Iron River to Watersmeet.  [MRRC]

  • September 24:  Toledo, Saginaw and Muskegon Ry. opens line from Ashley to Carson City.  [MRRC]

  • September:  The Detroit, Mackinac & Marquette rails reach Sault Ste. Marie from Soo Junction.  Passenger service begins on October 6th.  [MDOT/MSL]

  • The Soo Junction depot is build by the DM&M where the Sault Ste. Marie branch leaves their Marquette-St. Ignace main line.  The depot is a 1-story wood structure, with wooden platform.  [SOO-1/1991]

  • October 10:  The first regular passenger train on the "Soo" branch of the DSS&A leaves Sault Ste. Marie at 6:00 a.m.  [GRDE-10/10/1987]

  • October:  The Lowell & Hastings Railroad is constructed from Freeport to Segwum, south of Lowell.  Elmdale station emerges as a junction with the Grand Rapids, Lansing & Detroit Railroad.   [L&H]

  • October:  The Lowell & Hastings Railroad builds a one stall engine house and turntable on 18 acres of land just south of the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee Railway east of Segwum.  [L&H]

  • November 20:  Milwaukee & Northern RR completed line into Champion from Milwaukee.  [MDOC]

  • December:  Lowell and Hastings Railroad opens line from Lowell to Freeport.  [MRRC]

  • December 31:  Michigan's only international railroad bridge, the 1.2 mile series of spans across the rapids of the St. Mary's River at Sault Ste. Marie was opened.  The double bascule spans were, at the time, the largest of this type of in the world.   [MDOT/IT-5/81/AAD]

  • C&NW extends its line from Iron River west to the Gogebic Range mines.  [MSL]

  • Soo Line completes line from Sault Ste. Marie through to Minneapolis.  [MSL/AAD]

  • The Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern reaches Cadillac.  [AAD]

  • The Wisconsin Central (original) builds a branch from Mellon, WI to Bessemer, MI  [SOO-W/1996]

  • The Cincinnati, Jackson & Mackinaw (later Cincinnati Northern) builds north from Cecil to Addison Jct.  [HCN]

  • Interstate Commerce Commission established which provided first federal railroad regulation.  Thomas M. Cooley of Michigan is its first chairman.  [MDOT/STOV]

  • Eighty-nine logging railroads operated in Michigan; the state had more logging railroads than any two combined U.S. states.   [MDOT]

  • New MCRR depot in Grass Lake opens.  Designed by Detroit architects Spier and Rohns in Richardsonian Romanesque style, replaces original depot.  It  housed rail operations for sixty-nine years.  {MHM]

  • Ephraim Shay receives patents for his geared locomotive - used in logging operations.  2,770 were built.   [MHM]

  • The Michigan Central opens a sprawling red-stone, red-brick, red-tile roofed station in Kalamazoo.  The station continues multiple use in 2001 as a train and city transit system station.  [MRP-I/BOM]

  • Grand Trunk builds new depot in Walled Lake.  Depot is currently used as offices for Coe Rail.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The Soo Line builds a new depot in Hermansville.  [SOO-10/1991]

  • The Michigan Central Railroad opens a new station in Battle Creek at 55 West Van Buren St.  It is a solid, low-lying Richardsonian Romanesque depot.  The city's population at the time was 9,000.  The former depot on North Monroe was discarded.  [BOM]

  • The Detroit Bridge & Iron Works builds a new 160 foot swing bridge over the Rouge River. The bridge is jointly owned by the MCRR and the LS&MS. It is a double-track, rim-bearing swing bridge with a deck girder approach span on the north end. [RA-9/17/1920]

  • Flint & Pere Marquette purchases docking property in Milwaukee to provide proper terminal facilities.  F&PM No. 3 and No. 4 were also delivered to the company this year.  They are bulk-break freight carrying vessels.   [COHS-8/1997]

  • The Mackinac Transportation Company orders the car ferry St. Ignace, with a bow propeller ten feet in diameter, which is the first single-ended car ferry at the straits.  She is used until 1893. [AAD]

  • Nichols Interlocking placed in service in Battle Creek - first interlocking on the MCRR.  [IT-12/79]

  • First vestibule passenger cars are placed in service between New York and Chicago, replacing open ended cars.  [STOV]

  • Electric lighting is introduced in passenger cars.  [STOV]

  • The first electric railway begins operation in Richmond, Virginia.  [SAM]

  • Toledo & South Haven RR is extended from Lawrence to South Haven.   [PMHS]

  • DSS&A completes line from Soo Junction to Sault Ste. Marie.  [SSJB]

  • Lansing Transit Railway (MCRR/LS&MS) opens 2 mile line from Grand St. in Lansing to the MCRR. (date approximate).   [MRRC]

  • The Wisconsin Central Gegobic branch installs mine spurs near Colby and Hoyt.  The following mines were serviced:  Colby, Colby South 15, Palms Mine, Aurora, Tilden Mine (1st), Ashland Mine (spur left the main line near the Ironwood depot), Trimble Mine and the Montreal Mine.  [SOO-W/1996]

  • Interstate Commerce Commission established by act of Congress to control certain practices of U. S. railroads.  [DWS]

  • The first transcontinental shipment of deciduous fruit arrives east from California.  [SAM]