Timeline - 1871

  • STATISTIC: Miles of railroads in operations this year: 2,116.  Miles built this year 478. [MRC/72]

  • January 2: Kalamazoo and South Haven Rail Road completes line from Kalamazoo to South Haven. [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • January 31: The Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw (JL&S) reaches Kawkawlin from Wenona (Bay City). [NK]

  • January: A bad snow hits mid-Michigan.  Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad is putting 2 and 3 locomotives on each train and still had delays of 6 to 24 hours.  One I&L passenger train took 4 hours to make the first mile west of Ionia on the Big Hill.  The locomotives took "many cords of wood" to get over this hill. [I&L]

  • February: Michigan Air Line opens route from Three Rivers to Niles. [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • The Michigan Airline is also completed north of Jackson between 1870 and 1871. [AAD]

  • March: The Ionia & Lansing and the Detroit, Howell & Lansing Railroad companies are consolidated.  The I&L is leased and operated by the Michigan Central Railroad company.  (Note:  The DH&L was not yet completed between Detroit and Lansing. [I&L]

  • April 15: The legislature approves a law which requires that railroad companies provide and carry at each enf oe each and every car owned or used by the said company for conveyance and carriage of passengers, a good and serviceable axe, properly sharpened, provided with a proper helve or handle, and at all times in a condition for immediate use.  The act also required a carpenter's saw.  The items had to be suspended by leather beckets or straps upon the inside of the car, near the door.  The baggage car of a passenger train also had to contain two or more lifting jacks or screws, each of sufficient power to readily lift one end of any loaded car attached to a train.  There was a fine of $50 for each train run without this equipment and the railroad was held liable by law for all damages by reason of neglecting this equipment. [MCR/1873, p. 328]

  • April 17: The legislature enacted a law requiring passenger train conductors to announce the next station in all cars.  [MDOT]

  • Spring: A telegraph line is installed on the I&L, between Greenville and Ionia. [I&L]

  • May 17: The Detroit, Howell & Lansing completes its route from Detroit to Plymouth.  This line made its entrance into Detroit over what is presently known as the West Detroit branch, and connected with the Michigan Central at what is now known as West Detroit.  The original DH&L used the Michigan Central's 3rd Street station until 1893. [COHS-2/1998][PM45]

  • May 30: The Flint & Pere Marquette open their line from Wayne to Northville. [MCR-75]

  • June: The Peninsular Railway builds tracks through the northwest corner of St. Joseph County, on its way from Lansing to Valparaiso, Indiana.  It becomes the GTW/CN. [NK]

  • July 4: The DH&L completes line from Plymouth to Brighton. [COHS-2/1998]

  • July: Detroit, Hillsdale and Indiana Railroad opens line from Ypsilanti to Saline. [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • August 3: Detroit, Howell & Lansing RR opens Detroit-Lansing line after separate construction projects meet successfully in Fowlerville.  The line begins at West Detroit (Oak). [MCR-75/MDOT/COHS-8/1997]

  • July: The Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad reaches Standish from Wenona (North Bay City). [MCR-75]

  • August 1: The Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan reaches Gowen from Greenville. [I&L]

  • August 22: The first through train is run on the Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan between Detroit and Greenville. This is made possible as a result of the earlier merger of the I&L and the DH&L. The trip took 8 hours and consisted of a locomotive, baggage car and two coaches. The train carried Governor Baldwin, Ex-Mayor Mills of Detroit, James F. Joy, H. H. Smith the President of the road. The train went all the way west to Gowen to observe track laying crews do their work. [I&L]

  • August 31:The JL&S reaches Standish from Kawkawlin. [NK]

  • August: The Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan open their line from Greenville to Howard. [MCR-75]

  • September: Mansfield, Coldwater and Lake Michigan opens line from Allegan to Montieth. [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • September: The Detroit, Hillsdale & Southwestern opens their line from Saline to Manchester. [MCR-75]

  • September:  The Flint & Pere Marquette open their line from Lake to Evart.  [MCR-75]  Note: [R&LHS-Winter/2000] shows the destination as Reed City, not Evart.

  • September: The Grand Rapids & Indiana open their line from Clam Lake (Cadillac) to Fife Lake. [MCR-75]

  • October 8: Chicago Fire begins.3.5 square  miles of city burns. Michigan lumber replaces much of the town over the next thirty years. The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern station at Van Buren and LaSalle burns during this fire. The station was rebuilt. [DWS/DJB/LS]

  • October 25: The DL&LM reaches Howard City and begins using the GR&I depot.  The GR&I tracks passed on the west side of the building and the DL&LM used the east side. [I&L]

  • November: The Flint & Pere Marquette open their line from Evart to Reed City. [MCR-75]

  • November 6: The Flint & Pere Marquette open their line from Northville to Holly. [MCR-75]

  • November 8: The Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan open their line from Gowen to Howard City. The first train ran at 30 mph, even though the route had not been ballasted. [I&L]

  • November 13: Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan opens line from West Detroit to Lansing. [MRRC] Note: [R&LHS-Winter/2000] notes the destination as being at Howard City, passing Lansing.

  • November: Detroit, Hillsdale and Indiana Railroad opens line from Saline to Bankers (near Hillsdale). [MRRC]

  • December 12: Port Huron and Lake Michigan Rail Road (later GTW) opens line from Attica to Flint. [MRRC][MCR/75]

  • December: Grand Rapids & Indiana RR completed line to Clam Lake (now Cadillac). [MDOT]

    December: The JL&S reaches Wells from Standish. [MCR-75]


  • The Chicago and Northwestern Railway reaches the Menominee River from Green Bay. [MSL]

  • The Ionia and Lansing Railroad builds from Kidd to Greenville.  Later becomes the Pere Marquette. [PM45]

  • The Amboy, Lansing and Traverse Bay Railroad is leased to the Michigan Central.  Its line extended from Jackson to West Bay City at the time of lease. [AAD]

  • The Michigan Central opens line from Bay City to Alger. [MRRC/AAD]

  • The Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore Railroad builds a line from St. Joseph to Holland. [AAR]  [R&LHS-Winter/2000] notes the destination as Montague, not stopping at Holland.

  • Detroit & Bay City Railway formed.

  • 559 miles of mainline track were built this year, the most ever in Michigan in a single year - 1871 - [MDOT]

  • Michigan Supreme Court decided that the general aid law for railroad construction was unconstitutional. [MDOT]

  • Detroit Car and Manufacturing Co. is purchased by George Pullman; The works are enlarged to cover the whole block between Croghan (Monroe) Street, St. Aubin and Macomb streets, and the D&M railroad. Detroit becomes center for Pullman car manufacture until he builds plant near Chicago.  [HWC][DWS]

  • Fires in Holland and Manistee cause great damage to cities;  forest fires destroy timber from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. [DWS]

  • A great file destroys much of the Thumb area of Michigan. [BOM]

  • Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan builds a new depot at South Lyon. Destroyed by fire in 1908. [MHM]

  • Michigan Central Railroad builds a depot at Homer. Continues to exist as of 1974. [IT-12/1974]

  • The Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern Railroad builds a new wood depot in Ann Arbor. The depot continues to exist in 2001 and is used as a day care. [MRP-I]

  • The Kalamazoo aand South Haven builds a new wooden depot in Bloomingdale. The station is used in 1999 as a visitor center for hikers on the nearby rail-trail. [MRT-I]

  • The Michigan Central Railroad car repair and manufacturing shops are relocated to Jackson from Marshall.  These shops will eventually employ 3,000 workers. [JCP]

  • The DL&LM builds a depot at Palmer, on their line from Lansing to Greenville. [I&L]

  • LS&MS completes a 69 foot long, 160 foot stone arch bridge on the Old Road at Hudson. [MCR/72]

 

 Timeline Key:

  • Railroad event in Michigan
  • Event relating to mining
  • Event related to car ferries
  • Event outside of Michigan
  • Improvement in Technology
  • Railroad built or extended
  • Railroad abandoned and/or removed
  • Economic panic or depression