Timeline - 1877

  • Depression continues.

  • Labor violence comes with a strike which begins in Martinsburg, West Virginia, and spreads after many railroads lower wages 10%.  Railroads nationwide are shut down for a week, until federal troops restore order after firing on striker and killing several.   [STOV][SAM]

  • January 1:  Chicago and Northeastern Railroad opens line from Lansing to Flint.  [MRRC]

  • January 28:  The Lake George & Muskegon River Railroad, Michigan's first logging road, begins operation in Clare County.  [MT]

  • May:  The Michigan Railway Guide was established as a monthly publication by Emil Schober.  [HWC]

  • June 9:  The Escanaba Tribune reports that a new water tank has been built at Powers (also known as Station 42) for use on all C&NW lines serving that station.  [ATDC]

  • June 16:  The Menonimee Range railroad reaches Quinnesec from Powers.  [ATDC]

  • July 17:  Great Strike begins when Baltimore & Ohio Railroad workers walk off the job;  sets off series of sympathy strikes and work stoppages; national crisis. The strike was over by August 5.   [DWS/LS]

  • July 23:  About 40 Michigan Central yard men went on strike following a 10% wage reduction.  Fellow-workers left their jobs the next day.  The MC stopped receiving freight but there was no strike by trainmen.  MC workers in Jackson went on strike as well.  It is not clear whether trains actually stopped running.  MC officials met with workers at Windsor and agreed to a compromise which increased wages.  [AAD]

  • July 26:  First telephone conversation in State of Michigan takes place between the office and a shed in the Detroit freight yard of the Michigan Central Railroad.  [IT-5/81]

  • August 17:  The first train reaches the Breen Mine, near Iron Mountain, on the Menominee Range RR (C&NW).  [ATDC]

  • October 1:  Toledo & South Haven opens 3' gauge line from Paw Paw to Lawrence.  [MRRC]

  • October:  The DL&N depot at Portland burns, to the delight of some residents who wanted a new depot built on the east side of the river.  Every man, woman and child carried pails of water in an attempt to extinguish the blaze and save adjacent buildings.  The telegraph operator attempted to signal Ionia or Lansing for aid, but the smoke drove her out and the operation had to be abandoned.  The building was insured for $100.  A new depot was completed on January 22, 1878.  [I&L]


  • Rail line (eventually the Ann Arbor RR) completed to Cadillac.  [MDOT]

  • C&NW opens branch line from Powers to Vulcan and Quinnesec.  [MSL/AAD]

  • In 1877 the Chicago & North Eastern Railroad reached Durand from the west.  [MHM]

  • Russel Alger company builds 3-4 mile long tramway northwesterly from Harrisville.  [MRRC]

  • The Michigan Air Line is built from Port Huron to Romeo.  It was slowly extended, reaching Jackson in 1883.  [AAD]

  • The Chicago and Northeastern Railroad completes a 48 mile line between Flint and Lansing.  [AAD]

  • The Toledo and South Haven, a narrow gauge line is completed from Paw Paw westward some 9 miles to the town of Lawrence.  It is 3' gauge.  [AAD]

  • Vanderbilt interests propose a Detroit River tunnel from Grosse Isle to Canada, but work is never begun - 1877 - [MDOT]

  • George S. Sheffield of Three Rivers invests a three-wheel, hand-pumped "track velocipede" for use by track inspectors;  his company ultimately produced thousands for worldwide use.  [MDOT]

  • Paw Paw RR is converted from standard gauge to 3 ft. gauge after being merged with the Toledo & South Haven.

  • Toledo & South Haven begin the experimental use of specially-built 3-foot gauge cars with trucks which could be used to carry standard gauge cars without removing their standard gauge trucks. This experiment lasted until 1881.  [PMHS]

  • Commodore Vanderbilt passes away.  Son William Henry Vanderbilt expands and solidifies control of his railroad empire.  [MRRC]

  • As of 1877, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern continue to use a track gauge of 4' 10".  Adoption of standard gauge was slowed by the Great Strike (see July 17th, above).  [LS]

  • The Great Railroad Strike of 1877 begins.

  • Vanderbilt interests acquire control of the Michigan Central.  James Joy resigns as President.  [AAD]

  • Michigan Central Railroad builds depot at Indian River.  Depot exists as of 1974.  [IT-12/1974]

  • The present day town of Wequetonsing was founded as a Presbyterian resort by the people of Allegan.  It is on the the GR&I between Petosky and Harbor Springs along the lake shore.  [BOM]

  • First telephones are installed in Detroit.  [DWS]

  • First use of telephones in U.S. for railroad communications.  [STOV]

  • Ephraim Shay, a Cadillac-area lumberman, invents a novel solution to the problems that traditional rod-driven locomotives encounter when trying to negotiate steep grades and tight curves.  He built an experimental locomotive that served as the prototype for the legendary Shay gear driven steam locomotive.  It was more powerful and less likely to spin its wheels on steep grades.  [MH=11/1993]

 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