Station: Jackson, MI

MC Jackson MI Union StationJackson was founded in 1827 and originally known as Jacksonburgh. It was named after U. S. President Andrew Jackson. The town was first platted in 1830. Jacksonburgh was changed to Jacksonopolis in 1835 and to Jackson in 1838. It became the county seat in 1833, incorporated as a Village in 1843 and as a city in 1857.

Railroads came to Jackson in December, 1841 with the arrival of the "Central" road, owned by the State of Michigan. This line became the Michigan Central Railroad soon after. The road built west from Jackson to Albion in 1844. In 1857, the Central's chief competitor, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern built their line north from Tecumseh to give Jacksonian's a second option for rail travel.

Beginning in 1865, a series of railroads were built to or from Jackson. Many were owned, in part, by Jackson community leaders and many had the backing of the Michigan Central. Directorships of these railroads were often in common.  In 1865 the JL&S was built north to Lansing. Three years later, an off-shoot of this road left the line at Rives Jct. (north of Jackson) to Grand Rapids. The following year, in 1869, the Fort Wayne, Jackson & Saginaw arrives from the south and in 1870 the Michigan Air Line was completed between Jackson and Niles. The JL&S and the Air Line were consolidated into the Michigan Central at some point.  In 1883, the "foreign" Grand Trunk Western arrived from Pontiac, and finally the Cincinnati Northern arrived from the south (a " Big Four" line) in 1886

Time Line

  • 1841 - The state-owned "central line" arrives from Detroit
  • 1844 - The central line builds west towards Albion
  • 1857 - The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Jackson Branch is built to here from Tecumseh
  • 1865 - The Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw builds north from Jackson to Lansing.
  • 1868 - The Grand River Valley ( MC Grand Rapids Branch) is built northwest to Grand Rapids.
  • 1869 - The Fort Wayne, Jackson and Saginaw (later LS&MS) arrives from Fort Wayne via Jonesville.
  • 1870 - The Michigan Air Line (later MC) is built between Jackson Jct. and Niles
  • 1883 - The Grand Trunk Western arrived in Jackson from Pontiac.
  • 1886 - The Cincinnati Northern arrived from Hudson.
  • ~1900 - Sometime after 1900, the Jackson & Northern narrow 24" gauge (20 lb. rail) is built north from Jackson towards the area of the current prison. Crosses at M.A.L. Junction. Removed by 1929.
  • 1917, The MC had a wire chief, chief operator and other operators here around-the-clock. [TRT]

Notes from Sanborn Insurance Maps for Jackson

1886 - April

  • The Lake Shore line from Tecumseh now terminates at Liberty Street. The "old wooden bridge" over the Grand River is no longer used.
  • The Grand Trunk roundhouse near Trail Street has 8 stalls.
  • The former Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw roundhouse (near Trail Street, by the GTW) is now the E. R. Smith Boiler Shops.  This roundhouse is off a lead on the Michigan Central line to Lansing.  The roundhouse appears large enough to hold 10 locomotives and is a 1/3 circle.  As of 1886, only three bays appear to be used.
  • The Lake Shore roundhouse is on the west side of Water Street, south of town.  It has 3-bays but appears not to be used.  A freight house also is present.

1893 - January

  • Michigan Central main line is still one track through town.
  • The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern passenger depot is still in place, along what is now Airline Drive.
  • The former Jackson Lansing & Saginaw roundhouse near what is now North Trail is owned by the E. R. Smith Boiler Shop but is now a paper company.  No tracks are connected to the roundhouse but it it still there.
  • The Chicago & Grand Trunk passenger depot is located on the northeast corner of Trail and W. Jackson Street.
  • A "narrow gauge" track runs on the west side of the MCRR Grand Rapids branch, "2 1/2 miles north of the court house".

1899 - November

  • The Michigan Central main line is still single track.
  • The Lake Shore's branch from Tecumseh goes northbound over a new bridge over the Grand River.  The track then arcs northeast to the front of the Michigan Central "Union" station.
  • The Lake Shore's roundhouse along what is now Airline Drive and Water Street no longer has tracks in place.


  • The Michigan Central main line is now double track through Jackson.
  • The Grand Rapids Branch now connects at Pearl Street and a signal tower is now in place on the southeast corner of the railroad, Pearl and Cooper.
  • A pedestrian bridge spans the tracks over the yard east of the Union Depot.  The foot bridge spans the tracks from Liberty Street near Park, to South Van Dorn Street.
  • A freight house (the current NS MOW facility) is labeled " MCRR and Cincinnati Northern Railroad Freight House".
  • The MCRR Roundhouse is now 28 stalls.

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