Print

Railroad: Grand Rapids & Indiana railroad


BuiltGrand Rapids & IndianaPennsylvania

Built: 1870 (Grand Rapids to a point 20 miles north)

Became: Pennsylvania railroad (after World War I)

Reference: [MRRC][AAB]


Bulding a railroad from Indiana north to Grand Rapids and northern Michigan was originally an idea which began in Hartford, Indiana. The southern point was changed to Fort Wayne and land grants were secured in the Michigan legislature which would fund construction. The founders searched for capital to build the line and secure the land grants but it was not forthcoming. A company affiliated with the Pennsylvania railroad was formed in 1869, known as the Continental Improvement Company, and they had two months to complete construction. They were successful which was quite an effort considering that rail had to be brought in.

The remainder of the line from Fort Wayne north through Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids to Cadillac was completed in 1871 and Petoskey was reached in 1874. The line was extended to Mackinaw City, arriving in 1882 (one year after the Michigan Central reached the same town). Other branches off the main line to Muskegon, Lake City, and Traverse City (and others) were folded into the GR&I over the years. Some are still operating under state ownership or by other railroads.

Though owned by the Pennsylvania, the line was operated as the GR&I until after World War I. It was renamed as the Pennsylvania railroad but called the GR&I for many years thereafter. This property was conveyed to the Penn Central corporation in 1968. Since that time, much of the line was sold to the State of Michigan or abandoned.