Timeline - 1872

  • STATISTIC: Miles of railroads in operations this year: 3,017. Miles built this year 901. [MRC/72]

  • STATISTIC: 64 persons are killed this year in train accidents, including 2 passengers (getting on or off a moving train), 38 employees (from a variety of accidents, the largest of which was 'coupling cars', and 24 other people (mostly people walking on the track). The railroads with the greatest number of fatalities in Michigan were:  Michigan Central (27), Flint & Pere Marquette (14), and the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (9).

  • SNAPSHOT: Most main line railroads use about 30-40% steel rail, and about 60-70% iron rail.  Branch lines are almost all iron rail. Most rail is 50-60 lbs per yard.  Railroads report that steel rail is predicted to last 4 to 20 times as long as iron rail. [MCR/72]


  • January 1: Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore opens line from Montague to Pentwater, and from Holland to Grand Rapids. [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • January 1: Flint & Pere Marquette opens line from Wayne to Monroe. [MCR-75]

  • January 7: Northern Central Michigan Railroad opens Jonesville to Albion line. [MRRC]

  • January 10: Michigan's first Grange is organized.  By 1875, 600 local Granges will form throughout the state. The Grange movement will become one of the leading lobbyists for railroad rate regulation. [MT]

  • January 21:  On the F&PM railroad at Mt. Morris, a John Enhoff leaned out from the platform of the moving passenger coach he was riding on and his head struck a cattle chute.  He died after five days. [MCR/72]

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

  • February: The Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan open their line from Ionia to Stanton. [MCR-75]

  • May 9: Grand Rapids, Newaygo and Lake Shore Rail Road opens line from Grand Rapids north to Sparta. [MCR-75]

  • May 21: One employee was killed and three others badly injured, when their logging train struck a "drove" of cattle, throwing the train off the track.  This occurred on the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad extension, probably between Standish and West Branch. [MCR/72]

  • May: A large forest fire, fueled by stumps and brush in the deep pine forest, threatens Howard City.  A fire engine was summoned by train from the GR&I.  The town was saved except that the DL&LM engine house was burned down.  This engine house had been formally located in Greenville and moved to Howard City when the latter became the terminus of the road. [I&L].

  • June 4: The Holly, Wayne & Monroe Railway is opened and consolidated on the same date with the Flint & Pere Marquette Railway. This company did not plan to operate trains into Detroit because of ta lack of support from Detroiters.  The F&PM used the D&M Detroit depot until June 7, 1875.  On that date, they began sharing the MC depot on 3rd Street. [EMR4]

  • June: The Grand Rapids, Newaygo & Lake Shore open their line from Sparta to Casnovia. [MCR-75]

  • July 23: Elijah J. McCoy, a black inventor, raised in Ypsilanti, patented the first automatic lubrication system for locomotives and other machinery, a device so effective that it was difficult to sell imitations that weren't "the real McCoy"; thus McCoy's name became synonymous with anything genuine or authentic. [MDOT]

  • August 25:  Railroad line is completed from Escanaba to Norway/Vulcan in the Menominee range. [DSL]

  • August:  The Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan had trouble with two "sink holes" west of Greenville.  One, at the outlet of Drigg's Lake was three miles northwest of Greenville.  The other was just south of Trufant at Muskellunge Lake.  The usual remedy was to put timbers  and whole trees into the hole to support the grade for the track.  The 2nd sink hole was 30' deep and about 15' of that was under water.  It continued to sink for 2 months before it was stabilized. [I&L]

  • September 11: The Grand Rapids, Newaygo & Lake Shore extend their line from Casnovia to Newaygo. [MCR-75]

  • September 18: The Patterson Railway Co. is complete for 2 miles, from Patterson Mills (later called Belding) to the DL&LM at Kiddville.  The line is immediately donated to the DL&LM.  This line was operated as a branch line until the Grand Rapids, Belding and Saginaw Railroad came under Pere Marquette control in 1900. [I&L]

  • September 30: The Northern Central Michigan Railroad extends its line from Albion to Eaton Rapids. [MCR-75]

  • Fall: The Peninsular Railway Company completes its line from Battle Creek to South Bend, Indiana. [MCR-75/AAD]

  • October 2: Conrad Doyle, an engineer for the Michigan Central, sat down on an adjacent track while waiting at Grand Trunk Junction (West Detroit), fell asleep, and was struck by a passing train and killed. [MCR/72]

  • October 8: The Flint & Pere Marquette open their Flint River Branch. [MCR-75]

  • October 8: Flint & Pere Marquette opens line from McGrew (near Flint) to Otter lake. [MRRC]

  • October 31: Detroit & Bay City Railroad opens line from Bay City Jct. (in Detroit) to Oxford. [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • November 30: The Detroit & Bay City opens their line from Oxford to Lapeer. [MCR-75]

  • November:The Detroit, Hillsdale & Southwestern open their line from Hillsdale to Bankers.[MCR-75]

  • November: Car ferry service between Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron began with the ferry "Saginaw".   [MDOT]

  • Fall: The C&NW opens its line from the Menominee River to Powers, reaching its line to Escanaba which had already been built. [MSL/MCR-75/ATDC]

  • The Detroit & Bay City opens their line from Lapeer to Otter Lake. [MCR-75]

  • December: First rail line into Traverse City completed by the Pennsylvania Railroad (Traverse City Railroad) from Walton Junction. [MCR-75/MDOT/MRRC]

  • December:  Marquette, Houghton and Ontonagon Railroad completes line between Champion and L'Anse. [MCR-75/SSJB/MSL/MRRC]

  • December: The C&NW line between Escanaba and Powers is opened, and the first passnger train operates between Escanaba and the Green Bay area. [ATDC]


  • Railroad line is completed from Escanaba to Norway/Vulcan in the Menominee range. [DSL]

  • Detroit & Bay City opens branch from Lapeer to northeast of Lapeer (near North Branch). Abandoned in 1880.  [MRRC]

  • The Chicago and Michigan Lake Shore opens a line from Muskegon to Pentwater, and Muskegon northeast (~this year). [AAD]

  • The Flint and Pere Marquette completes its line from Midland to Reed City.  [AAD]  This date is noted as 1871 by [PM45]

  • The DSS&A reaches L'Anse from the south. [AAD]

  • The Mineral Range railroad connects Hancock and Calumet. [AAD]

  • The Chicago & West Michigan Ry. opens their line from Grand Rapids to Holland.  They also open lines from Holland to St. Joseph and St. Joseph to New Buffalo. [PM45]

  • The Grand Rapids, Newaygo & Lake Shore Railroad Co. opens a line from Grand Rapids to Newaygo.  Later comes the Chicago & West Michigan (PM). [PM45]

  • The Chicago & Canada Southern opens their line from Blissfield to Fayette, Ohio. [MCR/75]

  • The Detroit Lansing & Lake Michigan opens a 1.67 mile long line from Kiddville to Belding. [R&LHS-Winter/2000]

  • The Flint & Pere Marquette Railway opens a 2.6 mile line from East Saginaw to South Saginaw, and build a 1.41 mile long McGraw Spur.  They alsobuild 16 miles from McGrew to Otter Lake. [R&LHS-Winter/2000]

  • The IS&N Railroad opens a 23 mile line from Stanton Jct. to Stanton. [R&LHS-Winter/2000]

  • The Saginaw Valley & St. Louis Railroad (later F&PM) open a 28.6 mile long line from Tittabawasee Jct. ot St. Louis. [RA-Winter/2000]

  • Steam-powered car ferry service on the St. Clair River began with "International II" the first propeller-powered ferry on the Great Lakes, making the crossing from Point Edward, Ontario to Fort Gratiot.  Ferry was the first three-track ferry (dual gauge tracks). [MDOT]

  • Construction of a Detroit River railroad tunnel commenced, but work soon abandoned because of noxious gas and quicksand. [MDOT]

  • The Lake Shore opens new facilities at Elkhart, eliminating the machine shope operations at both LaPorte and Adrian.  The car shop remained at Adrian. [LS]

  • The Lake Shore begins buying coal-burning locomotives, which begins the change over from "wood burners".  28 coal burners were purchased this year. [LS]

  • The steady-energy track circuit (for automatic block signals) is developed by William Robinson.  It is ultimately used for detection and signaling on most railroads. [SAM]

  • The Lake Shore begins carrying a Bible on each coach as a part of its regular equipment.  The practice was continued until 1892. [LS]

  • Flint & Pere Marquette depot at Otisville is constructed. [COHS-7/1994]

  • Most locomotives were still wood-burners at this time.  The Michigan Central Railroad burned 100,835 cords of wood this year alone.  They also burned 59,450 tons of coal but most railroads still burned wood.  Furnishing cord wood was important supplemental income for farm families along the tracks. [AAD]

  • Maximum speeds for Michigan Central Railroad trains was 28 m.p.h.  Branch line trains were limited to 20 m.p.h. or less. [AAD]

  • First annual report issued by the Michigan Commission of Railroads. [MDOT]

  • First depot built in Columbiaville (north of Lapeer) for the Detroit and Bay City RR. Replaced in 1893.  [MHM]

  • 146 persons were killed or injured in railroad accidents. [AAD]

  • The Lake Shore purchases 187 acres west of Toledo, for the purpose of building yards, shops and an engine house.  It will be known as "Airline Junction". [LS]

  • The Flint & Pere Marquette begins running trains using trackage rights over the Michigan Central from Wayne Jct. to Detroit.  This arrangement lasts until 1891.  Prior to the MCRR arrangement, the F&PM ran into Detroit on the Grand Trunk via Holly from 1868 to 1872. [PM45]

  • The Detroit Car Company builds an extensive works on Adair Street. [HWC]

  • The average cost to ship freight per ton on the Michigan Central is $2.76 (local), and $1.19 through.  The same charges on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern are $2.04 and $1.13 per mile.  The average cost of all freight on the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw is $3.02 per ton mile.  The Detroit & Milwaukee charges an average of $3.40 per ton mile for local freight, $1.10 per ton mile for through freight. [MCR/72]

  • The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, in their report to the Michigan Railroad Commissioner, reports that the Flint & Pere Marquette has negotiated an agreement to run its trains on the LS&MS between Monroe and Toledo. [MCR/72]

  • Menominee iron range opens. [MSL]

 

 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