Today's Railroads in Michigan...
Railroads in Michigan are almost 200 years old, beginning in 1836 and reaching their peak in trackage about 1916. Since that time, each year has seen abandonments and reduced passenger and freight traffic, all coinciding with the deindustialization of Michigan's major cities and a move of passenger to airlines and automobiles. A majority of Michigan railroad lines have disappeared in the last 100 years.
Today, the railroad operations which are left generally fit into one of these six categories:
- Overhead freight/intermodal traffic from Sarnia to the Chicago area via the Port Huron tunnel and Battle Creek on the CN
- Overhead freight/intermodal traffic from Windsor through the tunnel and on NS trackage rights towards Chicago by the CP
- Automobile and auto parts traffic from the Detroit area to points southeast, south and west on the NS, CSX and CN
- Iron ore taconite transport from the Marquette iron range to docks and all-rail shipments to a few steel mills
- Unit trains of coal, grain and sugar beets to power plants, agri-businesses and sugar processing plants near Bay City
- Amtrak passenger trains to and from Chicago, Detroit, Port Huron and Grand Rapids
- The remainding branch lines throughout the state carry only 1-2 freight trains per day each way mostly on shortline railroads
This website is divided into two sections. Today's Railroads features current railroad operation including links to Michigan's operating railroads. The RRHX Railroad History section features almost 200 years of past railroads, from the establishment of the Erie & Kalamazoo railroad in 1836 to today.
Photo info/credit: Canadian National track maintenance crews weld a rail repair at Tappan, near Port Huron. [Dan Meinhard]