Railroad: Cincinnati Northern Railroad Company

The Cincinnati Northern railroad was created in 1897 to purchase the Cincinnati, Jackson & Mackinaw railroad including the branch from Ohio north into Michigan and Jackson. The CN was purchased by the Big Four in 1902 but operated semi-autonomously as CN into 1930 when it was incorporated with other lines into the New York Central system.

This railroad used MC and LSMS yard facilities in Jackson from its inception.


Cincinnati Jackson & Mackinaw RailwayCincinnati Northern Railroad → Big Four ( NYC)


Acquired: Chicago, Jackson & Mackinaw Ry in 1894

Became: Controlled by Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis ( Big Four) in 1902. Merged into the NYC in 1930.

Reference: [MRRC]


CN Logo The Cincinnati Northern Railroad was the eventual name of a railroad line which was built north beginning in 1878 from Cincinnati, Ohio via Van Wert towards Michigan.  The road was originally planned to be a 3' wide narrow gauge but became standard gauge. It never had narrow gauge in Michigan.  In 1887, it entered Michigan from the south and combined with the east-west Michigan and Ohio railroad at a junction called Addison Junction, which was just east of the hamlet of Addison in northwest Lenawee County.


Time Line

1888. Around 1888 under CJ&M ownership, the line was referred to as "The Mackinaw" line.  CN main line operations into Michigan were limited to two passenger trains north and south each day, often with connections at Addison Junction to Battle Creek. Note: The east-west line from Dundee to Allegan had as many a four trains in each direction each way per day for a period.

1896. It combined with the Cincinnati and Jackson railroad through lease to reach Jackson from Addison Junction. The line never went north of Jackson.

1897. The east-west line from Allegan to Dundee (via Addison Junction) was spun off to the Detroit, Toledo & Milwaukee Road.

1899. An article in the Detroit Free Press indicated that the "long-anticipated consolidation of the Cincinnati Northern and the Detroit Toledo & Milwaukee has occurred, with the CN making a long time lease of the DT&M. Offices will be combined and the business will be conducted as one road. [DFP-1899-0110]

1902. The DT&M, which remained owned by the CN until 1902 when it was transferred to the Michigan Central. By 1902, the CN was controlled by the Big Four (the CCC&StL). The railroad uses 56 and 60 lb. rail. [MCR-1903]

1930. The CN was leased to the Big Four, and then combined into the New York Central System. It was operated as the Big Four division of the NYC. [HCN]

Early 1930's. During the depression in the 1930's, the line was cut back to freight operations.

1950's. In the later years of steam operation, the NYC operated the line with 4-8-2 Mikado locomotives. An attempt was made to use Mohawks (4-8-2) for they were too heavy for the lighter rail on this division. Mikado's were used until steam was replaced by diesel power in the 1950's. [HCN]

CN/ Big Four trains used the Union Station in Jackson for passenger operations, reaching it through a connection at OD Tower to the Air Line, and then to the MC main line at Jackson Junction. Freight trains terminated and started from MC's Jackson freight yard at Elm Street. MC shops also maintained the CN/ Big Four locomotives in Jackson. [HCN]

CN Railroad Map