Station: Saginaw, MI

Saginaw was founded in 1816 as a trading post on the Saginaw River. The original town was platted in 1823 on the west side of the river. East Saginaw was founded in 1850, and was incorporated as a village in 1855 and a city in 1857. The entire Saginaw area was well known as the logging capital of east Michigan in the second half of the 1800's. East Saginaw was combined with South Saginaw in 1873 and with Saginaw City (west side of river) in 1889. [MPN]

The first railroad to enter (East) Saginaw was the Flint and Pere Marquette, coming up from Flint in 1862. [MRL]

Railroad construction activity in 1867 was substantial, with F&PM lines extended across the river towards Midland as well as north to Bay City. 1867 also brought the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw (Michigan Central) up from Owosso on the west side of the river. 

The Pere Marquette line west towards Alma was built in 1873, and a connection was built from the Detroit and Bay City Railroad from Denmark Jct. about 1879. Narrow gauge lines to Vassar and Reese were built in 1873 and 1882 respectively and converted to standard gauge later. In 1888, the predecessor to the Grand Trunk Western arrived from Durand and was built through Saginaw to Bay City. [MRL]

It is important to emphasize that before railroads arrived, Saginaw was served by at least three tributary rivers (the Shiawassee (from Owosso and St. Charles), the Tittawabasee (from Midland and Gladwin counties), and the Cass (from Frankenmuth, Vassar and Caro). These rivers combined in South Saginaw and into the Saginaw River. This brought millions of board feet of pine to the Saginaw area for processing.

Saginaw was located over ancient underground brine deposits. The steam generated by saw mills were used to process brine into salt (called "salt blocks"). This was a second source of sales for saw mills and area businesses as commercial refrigeration was not yet invented and salt was used for curing foods.

On this website there are 33 individual locations associated with Saginaw and East Saginaw.


Time Line:

     Key: F&PM lines - MC Lines - GTW Lines

1862 - The Flint & Pere Marquette builds south from Saginaw to Mount Morris in Genesee County, then to Flint in 1863.

1867 - The F&PM builds north from Saginaw to 23rd street in Bay City.

1867 - The F&PM builds west from Saginaw to Midland and later Ludington.

1867 - The Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw (later MC) railroad builts north through Saginaw (west side) to Bay City.

1873 - The Saginaw Valley & St. Louis (later PM) builds a line from Paines to St. Louis (and later Howard City). The line uses JL&S trackage rights into Saginaw from Paines.

1879 - The Detroit & Bay City railroad (later MC) builds a "cut off" from Denmark Jct. (near Vassar) to East Saginaw. Around the same time, the line was extended across the river by way of a draw bridge to Southbound Junction (JL&S).

1882 - The Port Huron & Northwestern (later PM) builds a narrow gauge line from south Saginaw to Vassar via Hoyt, which becomes a branch line to Port Huron. The line is later changed to standard gauge and truncated at Hoyt, with the western section becoming part of the PM belt line around Saginaw and East Saginaw.

1882 - The Saginaw, Tuscola & Huron (later PM) builds northeast from Saginaw to Sebewaing and Bad Axe.

1888 - The F&PM builds the Saginaw Belt Line, around the west side of Saginaw, from west of Mershon south to the Fordney area.

1888 - The F&PM builds its Zilwaukee Spur, from Mershon 6.1 miles north along the west side of the Saginaw River.

1888 - The F&PM builds their West Side branch from Mershon south along the west side of the Saginaw River 3.1 miles to near Fordney. From here, they use MC trackage rights to Paines and west to Mt. Pleasant.

1888 - The Toledo, Saginaw & Mackinaw railway (later GTW) builds north into East Saginaw from Durand. The line crosses the Saginaw River on their own drawbridge and proceeds north from Saginaw to Bay City.

1891 - The F&PM builds the "loop line" between the Saginaw Yard and the Bay City branch.

1893 - The F&PM builds a 1.6 mile branch to Crow Island, off their Bay City branch.

Reference - [MRL]. Street railway lines are not indicated.