Michigan Central Railroad Line
Bill of Landing
New York Office, 173 Broadway
Classification List on Back
By the 1890s the Michigan Central was a formidable system, covering roughly 1,700 miles. Its main line linked Buffalo with Chicago via Detroit with connects to Toledo, Mackinaw City, South Haven, Grand Rapids, and Lansing. Its superbly engineered main line, particularly the CASO segment, allowed trains to cruise at speeds of 60 mph to Detroit.
~ the Michigan Central Railroad ~
The Michigan Central Railroad (reporting mark MC) was originally incorporated in 1846 to establish rail service between Detroit, Michigan, and St. Joseph, Michigan. The railroad later operated in the states of Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois in the United States and the province of Ontario in Canada. After about 1867 the railroad was controlled by the New York Central Railroad, which later became part of Penn Central and then Conrail. After the 1998 Conrail breakup, Norfolk Southern Railway now owns much of the former Michigan Central trackage.
At the end of 1925, MC operated 1871 miles of road and 4139 miles of track; that year it reported 4304 million net ton-miles of revenue freight and 600 million passenger-miles.
The line between Detroit and St. Joseph, Michigan, was originally planned in 1830 to provide freight service between Detroit and Chicago by train to St. Joseph and via boat service on to Chicago. The Detroit & St. Joseph Railroad was chartered in 1831 with a capital of $1,500,000. The railroad actually began construction on May 18, 1836, starting at "King's Corner" in Detroit, which was the name by which the southeast corner of Jefferson and Woodward Avenue was then known. Note that this is not the location of Michigan Central Station, which apparently replaced this building.
The small private organization, known then as the Detroit and St. Joseph Railroad, quickly ran into problems securing cheap land in the private market, and abandonment of the project was discussed. The City of Detroit invested $50,000 in the project. The State of Michigan bailed out the railroad in 1837 by purchasing it and investing $5,000,000. The now state-owned company was renamed the Central Railroad of Michigan.
By 1840 the railroad was again out of money and had completed track only between Detroit and Dexter, Michigan. In 1846 the state sold the railroad to the newly incorporated Michigan Central corporation for $2,000,000. By this time the railroad had reached Kalamazoo, Michigan, a distance of 143.16 miles.
The new private corporation had committed to complete the railroad with T rail of not less than sixty pounds to the yard and also to replace the poorly built rails between Kalamazoo and Detroit with similar quality rail, as the state-built rail was of low quality. The new owners met this obligation by building the rest of the line some 74.84 miles to the shores of Lake Michigan by 1849. However, rather than go to St. Joseph, instead they went to New Buffalo. This was because they had decided to extend the road all the way to Chicago.
This involved passing through two other states and getting leave from two state legislatures to do so. To facilitate this process, they bought the Joliet and Northern Indiana Railroad in 1851. Thus they reached Michigan City, Indiana, by 1850 and finished the line to Kensington, Illinois, (now a south Chicago neighborhood) in 1852, using Illinois Central trackage rights to downtown Chicago. The completed railroad was 270 miles in length.
The Michigan Central Railroad (MCR) operated mostly passenger trains between Chicago and Detroit. These trains ranged from locals to the Wolverine. I
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