Other railroading information.

Sections of books, publications and other research materials pertaining to railroad history in Michigan, compiled and provided to MichiganRailroads.com by historian Don Meints.

Contemporary railroading in Michigan.

Michigan railroad history.

The Michigan Railroad Story is a series of articles which examines the role and impact of railroads in the migration of people to and around Michigan and the development of industry and natural resources in our state.

Car Ferries | Ports | Docks

Northport MI

Railroads, ports and docks go hand and hand, especially in the early days. The first settlers came to the lower and upper peninsula of Michigan by water.

Detroit's early railroad depots were along the water. The Michigan Central railroad's main passenger station from around 1845 to 1908 was at the foot of Third Street. It was no coincidence that the Detroit and Cleveland Navigation Company was located across the street. Settlers could get off their steam-powered paddle-wheeled ship, freshen up, and then cross the street to board their passenger train go to west to Ann Arbor, Jackson, and even Chicago.

Detroit's other early railroad, the Grand Trunk, started their passenger trains at the Brush Street station, at the foot of brush (just west of the present Renanisance Center). The third railroad into Michigan from Toledo was the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern which also used the Brush Street station.

As railroads developed across Canada from Toronto and Buffalo, railroad passenger ferries brought people across the river to Detroit, followed by railroad car ferry operations which also terminated near both of these waterfront depots.

Railroads also had car ferries which operated from ports on Grosse Isle, Port Huron, the Straits of Mackinaw, and many towns along both sides of Lake Michigan.

Ports were also used to transload mine products from railroad to ship, and visa versa. Copper ports included Houghton and Hancock. Iron ore shipped from Marquette, Gladstone, Escanaba, and a number of other locations even including St. Ignace for a short period. Limestone was shipped from many ports along Lake Huron (some of which continue to today).

Coal shipped to almost everywhere. Whenever you had an industrial port, boats brought coal north from Ohio and other states to power industrial and municiipal power plants.

The Car Ferries | Ports | Docks section of RRHX attempts to document the major connection points between rail and water in and near Michigan.

Photo info/credit: The Manistique, Marquette and Northern Ferry No. 1 at the dock at Northport loading rail cars for a trip across Lake Michigan to Manistique. [Alan Loftis collection]

The Evolution of Michigan railroads contain maps which show the progress of railroad construction in the lower and upper peninsulas by year. Abandonments are also shown during each year.

Note: Arrow buttons don’t work. Use the hyperlinks instead. Additional categories such as Detroit, Grand Rapids and Marquette will be added in the future.

Test message. Mines south of Portage Canal

A listing of mines, and processing facilities in southeast Michigan, generally located in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Monroe counties in the Lower Peninsula. These are mostly underground salt mines and open aggregate mines (such as road gravel).

A listing of mines and processing facilities in northeast lower peninsula of Michigan, centered north, west and south of Alpena  and north and east of St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula. These are mostly limestone, rock and gravel mines extracted mostly by the open pit method.

A listing of mines, stamp mills and smelters in the Gogebic range of Michigan, generally located in Gogebic County and nearby Iron County, Wisconsin in the Upper Peninsula. These are mostly iron mines, but include other minerals such as copper in the White Pine area..

A listing of mines, stamp mills and smelters in the Marquette range of Michigan, generally located west and south of Marquette in Marquette county in the in the Upper Peninsula. These are mostly copper mines, but include other minerals such as gold and uranium..

A listing of mines, stamp mills and smelters in the Menominee range of Michigan, generally located in Dickenson and Iron counties of Michigan in the Upper Peninsula. These are mostly iron but include other minerals.

A listing of mines and processing facilities in the Saginaw Bay area of Michigan, generally located in Arenac, Bay and Saginaw counties of the Lower Peninsula. These are mostly aggregate, salt, and marl mines..

A listing of mines and processing facilities in west Michigan, generally located in and near Grand Rapids in the Lower Peninsula. These are mostly gypsum, lime and other products for producing plaster but include other minerals..

This is a listing of major mining companies which owned more than one mine location.

A listing of other mines, mills and processing facilities in Michigan not included in the other categories.

This website is missing old photos for a number of locations in Michigan and nearby counties in other states. If you are a rail photographer or a photo collector, you are encouraged to share your collection with others on michiganrailroads.com. All photos will be acknowledged when used on a page, but we don’t generally accept photos with the photographer’s name or photo location embedded in the photograph.

Photos taken prior to 1930 (including old postcard photos) generally preceded copyright laws. More recent photos require the permission of the photographer or in some cases the collector if the photographer is deceased.

To submit a photo, send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or submit a contact form at the bottom of any page to talk with the editor. Thank you.


Railroads in History chronicles 463 railroad companies which were actually operated in Michigan at one time or another.

There are about twice as many railroad companies which were authorized by the State of Michigan or incorporated under railroad and general corporation law. Many were "paper" railroads and were never built. Some were "construction railroads" which were built and immediately sold to other railroads.

This website section covers only railroads which were built and operated. "Paper" railroads where construction was never begun are not included.

For a comprehensive listing of all railroad companies - built or unbuilt, see the excellent two-volume set Michigan Railroad Lines, by Graydon Meints, available through Amazon books or other book sellers. These books are also available through public library exchange.

The Stations and Locations section of this website contains a compilation of cities, villages, hamlets, junctions, interlocking towers, industrial locations, logging camps, control points and other locations along railroad lines in Michigan.

They are organized by county. At the bottom of some county lists, you will find subcategories containing information about Industries or Docks. If you don’t know which county your station is located in, use the search feature.

Mines (copper, iron, coal, aggregate) are in their own section (Mines and Mining) on this website.

Symbols in location page names indicate:  ♦= page includes photos   ♣ = page includes extended information

The Stories | Articles section contains stories about the history of railroading as told by newspapers, trade magazines and the editor's own writings.

This website uses a system of footnotes generally indicating the source of information used in the articles. As an example, [MRL] recognizes Graydon Meints book "Michigan Railroad Lines", which was published by 2005 by the Michigan State University Press. See the Bibliograpy page on this website for all bracketed footnotes.

The Time Line section is a compilation of events showing the progress (or regression) of railroads over the last 200 years. Also shown are events related to mining, railroad car ferries, technologies, and economic conditions, all of which affected railroads over time. They are color coded with a “key” at the bottom of each page.

Additional events in history are shown at the bottom of Station, Time Table and the Railroads in History sections.

Timetables show station listings for main and branch lines for specific railroads. These are in a format generally based on what was in employee timetables of the era.

Lines changed ownership over the years and are categorized here approximately as they were in 1916, a peak time for railroad mileage in Michigan. As an example, the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern is now under New York Central but the Michigan Central is a stand-alone entity as it technically did not join the NYC until 1930.

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