Timeline - 1873

  • STATISTIC: Miles of railroads in operations this year: 3,350. Miles built this year 333. [MRC/72]

  • January 1: Saginaw Valley and St. Louis Railroad completes line from Paines to St. Louis. [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • January 13: Northern Central Michigan Railroad opens line from Eaton Rapids to Lansing. [MRRC]

  • January: The DL&LM branch line from Ionia to Stanton and Sheridan is completed.  A depot in Stanton is completed but the press is critical because the depot contains only one waiting room. The paper recommends two, one for men and one for ladies.  The Stanton branch is described as a rouge piece of track, requiring 3 hours to cover the 25 mile length. [I&L]

  • March 31: The Detroit & Bay City opens their line from Otter Lake to Vassar. [MCR-75]

  • May 1: The Toledo and Woodville Railroad  (later in Ohio becoming the PRR) enters Toledo from Tiffen, Ohio.  It enters the city of Toledo in the Stock Yards district, passing over the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton near the junction at East Toledo Station, and then swings almost due north, passing over the Lake Shore's approach to its Maumee River bridge.  It then follows the east bank of the Maumee north, opposite the Middle Grounds and Toledo's downtown, before bridging the river.  Their terminal area is located on Summit Street, near the corner of Olive Street, which was virtually at the end of the bridge. [AATHS-Spr/2002]

  • Early: The Toledo and Woodville (later PRR's) passenger station is fronted on Summit Street while the freight depot was located across the track adjacent to the river.  A small yard ran northward along the west bank of the river.  Their terminal was equipped with a turntable but no roundhouse or shops.  These facilities were developed on the east side of the river where a new engine house was built and a church was purchased and turned into a machine shop. [AATHS-Spr/2002]

  • May 1: Legislature passes a law requiring trains to be equipped with air brakes and that a bell or whistle must be sounded when approaching crossings.  [MDOT]

  • May: The Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw reaches Otsego Lake from Wells. [MCR-75]

  • June: The Canada Southern tracks from Monroe reach the Wabash tracks in Toledo via the PRR. [AATHS-Spr/2002]

  • July 21: The Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore opens their line from Muskegon to Big Rapids. [MCR-75]

  • July 31: Detroit & Bay City Railway completed Vassar to Bay City city limits. [MCR-75/DWS/MRRC]

  • July: The Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw reaches Gaylord from Otsego Lake. [MCR-75]

  • August 29: On the Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad, near Muir, an express train was stopped due to the loss of a driving wheel.  The flagman did not go back far enough, and another train struck the first killing four passengers and injuring 14 more. [MCR/73]

  • September 18: Panic of 1873.  Stock prices fall on news of investment banking firm Jay Cooke & Co.'s failure;  begins depression that lasts through most of the decade.

  • September 1: Canada Southern Ry. (Toledo Canada Southern and Detroit Ry. Co.) complete line from Grand Trunk Junction (West Detroit) to Toledo. [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • September 15: On the Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad near Lowell, four died and ten more were injured when a train was thrown from a track by running over a cow which had broken through a fence.  The Coroner's jury ruled that the accident was unavoidable, as far as the railroad was concerned. [MCR/73]

  • September: Canada Southern Bridge Company completes line from Slocum Jct. (Trenton) to Stony Island (Grosse Isle).  Abandoned about 1925. [MRRC]

  • October 11: Mineral Range Railroad completes narrow gauge Hancock to Calumet line. [MCR-75/MDOT/CRH]

  • October 13: Peninsular Railroad opens line from South Bend to Valparaiso, Indiana. [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • October 16: Central Market, Cass Avenue and Third Street Railway Co. opens line in Detroit. [MRRC]

  • October 31: A new state law takes effect stating that no regular passenger train shall be run in the State without an air-brake attached thereto, or some like or equally effective device, to be approved by the Railroad Commissioner, which may be applied by the engineer of the train for checking the speed of a train of cars.  [MCR/1873 page 299].

  • November 13: Chicago and Canada Southern Railway opens line from Slocum Jct. (Trenton) to Blissfield [MCR/75][MRRC]

  • November 19: The Detroit Transit Railway (East Side) is opened from a connection with the Detroit & Milwaukee Road near Riopelle and Orleans to a point 1.5 miles away using street running.  The line followed Guion St. to Walker, across walker to Wight and up to the Detroit Stove Works. The company became the Detroit Manufacturers Railroad on January 30, 1902.  It was leased to the MCRR on April 1, 1902, because the MCRR did the most business with the company. [EMR4]

  • December 7: Michigan, Midland and Canada Railroad opens line from St. Clair to Ridgeway. [MCR-75/MRRC]

  • December 18: Detroit and Grand Trunk Junction Street Railway opens line in Detroit. [MRRC]

  • December 31: Michigan has 3,719 miles of track, operated by 47 railroads that are in active operation or partly built.  Of this amount, 55 miles are double track, and 410 are of sidings. [MCR/73]


  • Northern Central Michigan RR completed its rail line from Jonesville to Albion. [MDOT]

  • The Saginaw Valley and St. Louis Railroad Company laid tracks from Paines Junction to St. Louis, along side an adjacent plank road. [MHM]

  • Allouez Mining Co. builds 4' gauge route 2.25 miles from Allouez Mine to stamp mill in Keweenaw County. [MRRC]

  • The Canada Southern completes their line across Ontario. [NYC-Q1/1996]

  • Corner stone is laid for Michigan's new Capitol Building in Lansing. Five railroads, constructed over the last 10 years now serve the city. [DWS]

  • Detroit's stagecoach lines cease operations due to competition from railroads. [DWS]

  • Locomotive fireman organize. [STOV]

  • Michigan Central builds depot at Jackson.  Longest living passenger depot in the United States. [IT-12/1974]

  • Flint and Pere Marquette Railroad builds new wooden depot at Clio. The station was used by the railroad until 1960.  It continues to exist in 1999 as a museum. [MRP-I]

  • Grand Rapids & Indiana builds depot in Kalamazoo. Depot continues to exist as of 2001. [IT-12/1974]

  • Grand Trunk changes its tracks in Canada to standard gauge. [IT-10/1972]

  • The Lake Shore purchases 160 acres of land east of Cleveland. This site becomes the Collinwood yards and shops. [LS]

  • In an effort to strangle the Wabash, the Lake Shore (under Vanderbilt control) bans all Canada Southern rail cars from its tracks in Toledo. To counter this embargo, the Wabash, Canada Southern. [AATHS-Spr/2002]

  • The Lake Superior Ship Canal at Portage Lake (Houghton and Hancock) was opened, allowing ship passage across the Keweenaw Peninsula. [BOM]

  • George McCrumb builds, at his own expense, a railroad depot at Eagle for the DL&N. [I&L]

  • The following roads built track in 1873:  Michigan Midland & Canada: 12; Mineral Range: 15; Traverse City Railroad: 26;  Chicago & Canada Southern (including the Toledo,Canada Southern & Detroit): 90; Chicago & Northwestern: 9; Detroit & Bay City: 35, Grand Rapids & Indiana: 79; and the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw: 8. [MCR/73]

  • The Pennsylvania Railroad enters Toledo from the east. [EMR4]

  • The Patterson Railroad builds from Belding to Kidd.  Later becomes the Pere Marquette. [PM45]

  • The Saginaw valley & St. Louis Railroad builds a line from St. Louis to Paines. It becomes part of the Pere Marquette later. [PM45]

  • The Mineral Range Railroad connects Houghton with Hancock. (by ferry?) [BOM]

  • 1873 – Businessmen build a narrow gauge railroad, called the Mineral Range Railroad between Hancock and Calumet. Its purpose was to people and merchandise, particularly copper ore from mill mines to stamping mills. [CRH]

  • Andrew Carnegie founds nation's first large-scale steel plant in Braddock, Pennsylvania. [DWS]

  • 26 Michigan railroads transported 9,631,230 passengers. Railroads owned 1,322 locomotives and 30,675 railroad cars.  (Including roads which also operated out-of-state).   [MCR/73]

  • Michigan railroads reported 825 miles of steel rail, with the remainder being of iron.  Some of this steel rail is operated outside of Michigan.  Steel rail is reported to last four times longer by the Michigan Central and other railroads.  The weight of rail per yard varies, from 35 lbs. on the Mineral Range narrow-gauge track to about 1/2 mile of 65 lbs. track on the St. Clair & Chicago Air Line.  Most larger roads use 60 lb. rail on their main lines.  [MCR/73]

  • 257 railroad accidents were reported in 1873, with 94 fatalities.  By far, the most prolific of all accidents was caused by the coupling of cars.  48 persons were injured doing so, which is 19% of all people reported injured in 1873.  Coupling, "switching", and "falling from train" were responsible for 32 percent of all casualties and all but three of those so hurt were employees. [MCR/73]

  • The new General Railroad Law passed in 1873 requires that on or after the 31st day of October, 1873, no regular passenger train shall be run in this State without an air-brake attached thereto, or some like or equally effective device, to be approved by the Railroad Commissioner, which may be applied by the engineer of the train for checking the speed of a train of cars". [MCR/73]

  • In response to a question from the Michigan Commissioner of Railroads about fencing railroad tracks, the Hecla and Torch Lake Railroad reports that their road runs "through forests" and fences are deemed unnecessary.  "Where fences are not maintained, a 'hot-water jet' attached to [the] locomotive boiler, and under control of the driver, would be found very useful in accelerating the movements of animals upon the track in the way of approaching trains, when running at low speed". [MCR/1873]

 

 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