- Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad
The Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad at its height provided passenger and freight railroad services between
Cincinnati, Ohioand the Straits of Mackinacin Michigan, USA. The company was formed on January 18, 1854.
After grappling with financial difficulties for many years, the company opened service between Bridge Street in
Grand Rapids, Michiganto Cedar Springs, Michiganon December 25 1867, a distance of about convert|20|mi|km.
The gross earnings of the railroad in 1867 were about $22,700. In July 1868 it had 2 engines in service: the Pioneer and the Muskegon. At that time the company also utilized a single passenger coach and single baggage car, six box cars, 24 flat cars and five hand cars.
By 1869 the railroad was again in trouble with its creditors, and the courts appointed a receiver, Jesse L. Williams of
Fort Wayne, Indiana, to control the company. Under Williams' direction the Continental Improvement Company was hired on May 1 1869to complete the line between Fort Wayne and Little Traverse Bayin Michigan. Fifty-one days later, on June 21 1869, the Continental Improvement Company had laid the last rail connecting Cedar Springs to Morley, Michigan. Williams was discharged as receiver on June 20 1871.
The track from the south into Grand Rapids was completed
September 13 1870. The line extended north to Paris, Michiganby October 1 1870and a train first traveled between Fort Wayne and Paris on that date. [ [http://www.michiganrailroads.com/RRHX/Stations/CountyStations/MecostaStations/ParisMI.htm Station: Paris, MI ] ]
In June 1871 the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad Company took control of the road and property of the
Cincinnati, Richmond and Fort Wayne RailroadCompany, extending the line south to Cincinnati.
The line between Paris and
Petoskey, Michiganwas completed November 25 1873. The road was opened to Mackinaw City, Michiganand the Straits of Mackinac on July 3 1882. The total length of the line at this time was convert|529|mi|km.
In 1886 the company added an "airline" branch from Grand Rapids to
Muskegon, Michigan, allowing travel between the two cities in about 1 hour.
As of July 1888, the railroad had expanded its fleet to 66 locomotives and 3,100 cars. Its gross earnings were close to $2.3 million in 1887.
A branch providing service between Walton Junction on the main line to Traverse City was completed in December 1872, bringing a wave of immigration to that area. This branch offered service to Traverse City, Northport and many towns between by 1909.
In 1891 the Grand Rapids and Indiana railroad featured the longest North-South line in the country. The railroad served to accelerate the settlement of
Northern Michigan, which was largely a wilderness in the mid 1800s.
July 2 1896the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad reorganized as the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railway.
Lumber to Tourism
During the last quarter of the 19th century,
Northern Michiganhad few residents, but the railroad netted a profit of over $300,000 as early as 1876. Most of the profit came from hauling lumber from northern Michigan south. The 244,000 tons of lumber hauled in 1876 represented 70 percent of the railroad's freight business for that year, and shipping forest products remained the main source of business for the railroad for the next decade.
By the late 1880s the forests were depleted and the railroad began to depend more on tourist business. Even before completing the line to Mackinac City, the railroad marketed itself as "The Fishing Line" and published tourist guides advertising the fishing opportinities and resorts along its line.
In 1886 the Grand Rapids & Indiana joined with the
Michigan Central Railroad, which had built its own line into Mackinaw City in 1881 and the Detroit and Cleveland Steamship Navigation Company to form the Mackinac Island Hotel Company. This new company built the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, which opened in 1887.
By 1907 four passenger trains were running north to and from Mackinaw City daily. Passenger train fares were not enough to support the railroad and ridership declined. In 1909 the railroad reported a profit of 24.4 cents for every passenger for each mile carried; by 1921 the railroad was losing 19.5 cents per passenger mile.
The Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad was bought by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1918. In 1975 the
Michigan Department of Transportationbought the railroad and it largely ceased operation in 1984, although the portion of track from Cadillac north to Mackinaw City is operated by Great Lakes Central Railroad.
Michigan Northern Railwayalso operated some of the GR&I system until the mid 1980s in northern Michigan.
During the 1990s much of the old railroad right of way between the north side of Grand Rapids and
Cadillac, Michiganwas turned into the White Pine Trail State Park.
*"History of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan". Baxter, 1891. Munsell & Co. (pgs 530-534) [http://www.hti.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=micounty;cc=micounty;q1=grand%20rapids%20and%20indiana%20railroad;rgn=full%20text;idno=bad1773.0001.001;didno=bad1773.0001.001;view=image;seq=00000660]
*Michigan Passenger Stations - Rockford Michigan [http://user.mc.net/~louisvw/depot/rockford/rockford.htm]
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