Station: South Lyon, MI

GTW Train at South Lyon South Lyon MI Union Station South Lyon Union Depot South Lyon MI Union Station South Lyon MI Union Station South yon Depot and Freight House Union Station at South Lyon GTW Local at South Lyon GTW Local at South Lyon GTW Local at South Lyon South Lyon was founded in 1832 and was called Thompson's Corners. In the same year, the surrounding township was named Lyon for Lucius Lyon a member of the State Legislature. The village was given a name for its location within the township. South Lyon was incorporated as a village in 1873 and as a city in 1930.

Photo Info: Top, Grand Trunk 1037 pulls a train west across the diamond at South Lyon in 1905. This is a view of the original South Lyon station before it burned down. 2nd photo, the new South Lyon station under construction. This depot replaced the older, smaller depot (top photo) which had burned down. [South Lyon Historical Society]. 3rd photo, a clear shot of the new depot shortly after it was built. It appears that the PM train order signal is operated by levers inside the depot. 4th and 5th photos, the depot in the 1970's. The 4th taken from the east side. The track in the foreground is the GTW Jackson branch. The C&O main line from Plymouth to Grand Rapids is behind the depot. The 5th photo is taken from the GTW right-of-way, looking south past the depot and across the C&O diamond. What looks like a crossing before the depot is a road. The interlocking signal post for the crossing is at the right. The siding branching off to the left is the interchange track with the C&O. 6th photo, a view of the union depot and freight house. 7th photo, a vertical view of the station and track diamond in 1972. [Craig Gardner]

More South Lyon photo info: 8th-10th photos, the GTW local train leaves South Lyon after servicing the Michigan Seamless Tube mill. The first photo (8th) of of the short train crossing Stryker Street. The 9th photo is of the train crossing the C&O at Ten Mile (Lake Street). The 10th photo is north of the diamond and shows the short passing track just north of the lumber yard. In 1982. [Karl Miller photos, Marty Benard collection]

South Lyon was home at one time to three railroads.

In the summer of 1871, the Detroit, Lansing and Northern was built west from Plymouth on the way to Lansing and Ionia. In 1880, the predecessor of the Ann Arbor Railroad built a line into town from Ann Arbor. The goal of this line was to continue on towards Pontiac but that did not occur under the original owners. The line from Ann Arbor was pulled up around 1890. In 1883 the Grand Trunk built their Jackson Branch from Pontiac to Jackson, which crossed the Pere Marquette near the elevator (photo above). The GTW branch line continued to serve South Lyon until the early 1980's. 


After the first DL&N depot was destroyed by fire, the PM and GTW built a union station to serve both roads. The depot used a "witch's hat" design, which was also used at a few other locations in Michigan. In the mid-1970's, the depot was moved from its track-side location and became the center piece of historic McHattie Park in the city about 1/2 mile away.

The largest industry in South Lyon was the Michigan Seamless Tube Company, which established a tube/pipe factory here before World War II. The plant was served by the GTW Jackson Branch on the west side of town. The plant had several sidings. In later years, scrap steel was loaded here from the plant for recycling.

The former GT branch line is now a paved bicycle trail through town and Reynold Sweet Parkway follows the original route. After the track was removed and in preparation for the Parkway, it was discovered that the railroad roadbed was built on over forty feet of peat, which required massive removal to give the new road a substantial base.

Today, South Lyon hosts the CSX main line from Detroit to Grand Rapids, and a controlled passing track is located here.

Time Line

1871. The Detroit, Lansing & Northern comes to South Lyon, heading from Detroit to Lansing.

1875. Twenty-one cars drawn by two locomotives, when rounding a curve near South Lyon, on the DL&LM railroad, struck a broken rail and one wheat and nine cattle and sheep laden cars went down the embankment. The accident happened at three o'clock this morning. Forty head of cattle and 120  sheep were killed or mutilated and were dispatched. The weight of the engines broke the rail, as they passed on in safety. The train hands were in the caboose car at the rear and none of them were injured. The embankment is only eight feet high, but the cars were demolished so great the shock. The morning passenger train were detained a few hours but the road was reopened and in perfect order. [DFP-1875-0216]

1879. The South Lyon Herald reports that a contract has been let to Budd & Williams for building the Pontiac extension of the Toledo and Ann Arbor road from Ann Arbor to Wixom, 23 miles. Work is to be commenced at once at South Lyon and the road is to be finished by January, 1881. [PHTH-1879-0909]

1881. September 6. The day that the new time table for regular trains from South Lyon to Ann Arbor on the new Toledo, Ann Arbor & Grand Trunk went into effect, the first regular train started from South Lyon as announced. When it arrived within about five miles of Ann Arbor the engine and entire train ran off the track, causing a delay of several hours, but doing no harm. [DFP-1881-0906]

1882. The Grand Trunk tracks reached the town of South Lyon, which held a big celebration with a street parade. [LDP-1976-0204]

1883. The Grand Trunk is now running trains over the Michigan Air Line from Ridgeway [Richmond] via Pontiac and South Lyon, to Pinckney. On December 24 the line will be completed and opened for traffic to Jackson. Two trains each way will be run daily between Ridgeway and Jackson. A passenger train will leave Ridgeway at 8:10 am arriving at Jackson at 1:20 pm. and will leave Jackson at 6:30 pm arriving at Ridgeway at 11:10 pm. A mixed train will leave Ridgeway at 9:40 am arriving at Jackson at 6:15 pm and will leave Jackson at 8:00 am arriving at Ridgeway at 3:30 pm. A local passenger train will leave South Lyon at 5:20 am and arrive at Ridgeway at 8:00 am and returning will leave Ridgeway at 5:35 pm arriving at South Lyon at 8:10 pm. [PHTH-1883-1220]

1884: A depot is built jointly by the DL&N and the GTW a South Lyon at a cost of about $2,000. (This was the depot which later burned, being replaced by the witch's hat style depot. [DL&N-1884].

1886. A second attempt at train wrecking on the Grand Trunk about a mile east (north) of South Lyon was horribly successful. Some fiend had taken the bolts out of the fish plates and taken out a part of a rail and dug out several ties with the apparent purpose of demolishing the first train that came along. A special east-bound (northbound) freight, leaving South Lyon shortly after 3 o'clock, was the sufferer, the engine and eight cars being badly demoralized. The engine was smashed to atoms, and all the cars which left the track were badly wrecked. The engineer escaped injury, but the fireman was killed, his body terribly crushed. The brakeman was badly injured and may not recover. There is no clue on the wreckers. Excitement runs high and should they be caught a lynching would probably follow. [LCS-1886-0923] Follow Up: A New Hudson farm hand, about 25 years old was arrested by Oakland County sheriffs deputies. [DFP-1886-0925]

1887. May 5. The Toledo and Ann Arbor railroad has placed an agent at the South Lyon station again, which will improve accommodations for the people there. [LDP-1887-0505]

1890. The DL&N installs a new stock yard at South Lyon. They also repaired and painted the passenger house. [DL&N-1890]

1893. The fast train from Detroit, due at Howell at 7:35 on the DL&N was wrecked near South Lyon. The engine, tender and baggage car were rolled in the ditch and the smoker left across the track. A special came out from Detroit to transfer passengers and mail going east and the engine going east pulled what was left of the train to Howell, which was only a chair car, reaching here at 11:30. The engineer and firemen were bruised. Most of the passengers only shaken up. The engine in the smash-up turned half way round and is headed back for Detroit, and the end of the sleeper was smashed in. [DFP-1893-0310]

1905. Iron ore at South Lyon? South Lyon is all excited over the prospective iron mine. George W. Cooper, an attorney of Detroit, accompanied by C. F. Barry and O. R. Wilcox, mining experts, made a thorough investigation yesterday and found prospects for mine development here far above average. The prospective territory covers several square miles at the edge of the village limits with the Pere Marquette and Grand Trunk railroads for shipping facilities. Samples of the ore assayed at from fifty to ninety percent pure iron. A stock company will be formed immediately with F. J. Vowles, J. M. Major and G. W. Cooper as promotors. [DFP-1905-0909] Editors Note: Nothing became of this.

1909: The PM built a new station here in 1909 to replace their old station which was destroyed by fire. [PMAR-1909]

1909. An inspection by the Michigan Railroad Commission notes that the crossing shanty at this location is located too close to the tracks. They also recommended the installation of an interlocking, in conjunction with the GTW. [MCR-1909]

1917. The GTW had an agent here during the day shift. [TRT]

1926. The PM installs three new color-light signals at their GTW crossing, replacing semaphores. [RSC-1927]

1927. The PM had agent-operators here around the clock, paid 60-70¢ per hour. [PMTA]

1960's. The station at South Lyon was a joint agency manned by a C&O agent. He would route gondolas from Michigan Seamless Tube (on the GTW) to the C&O when he could. In this case, the GTW received only a switching charge of about $15. GTW brought gondolas of iron rods to MST for processing into seamless tube, and removed scrap steel. [GTWHS-2022-Win]


  • Michigan Seamless Tube Company
  • South Lyon Elevator


The following sources are utilized in this website. [SOURCE-YEAR-MMDD-PG]:

  • [AAB| = All Aboard!, by Willis Dunbar, Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids ©1969.
  • [AAN] = Alpena Argus newspaper.
  • [AARQJ] = American Association of Railroads Quiz Jr. pamphlet. © 1956
  • [AATHA] = Ann Arbor Railroad Technical and Historical Association newsletter "The Double A"
  • [AB] = Information provided at Michigan History Conference from Andrew Bailey, Port Huron, MI

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