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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Wolverine in Cheboygan County, Michigan — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Michigan Central Railroad

 
 
Michigan Central Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, August 16, 2019
1. Michigan Central Railroad Marker
Inscription.  
In the northern Lower Peninsula, the first railroads were built to move lumber from station to mill and from mill to cities. Later, their main business became moving passengers from one town to another. Many northern counties quadrupled their population between 1870 and 1880 after the railroad came. As a result, the interior and northern reaches of Michigan were quickly settled.

The Michigan Central reached Mackinaw City in 1881. In 1887, the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island was completed as a joint project of the Michigan Central and the Grand Rapids & Indiana railroads. Millionaire railroad tycoon William Vanderbilt, who by then had gained control of the Michigan Central, attended the grand opening. A new industry -- tourism -- was born. All along the northern lakes and rivers, from Charlevoix and Petosky to Grayling, Gaylord and Vanderbilt (named after the tycoon), to Cheboygan and Mackinaw, trains brought visitors to resorts and hotels and promoters touted the clean air, beautiful scenery, excellent fishing and freedom from hay fever. Easterners came to see the wild, western reaches of the country, and southern Michigan city
Michigan Central Railroad Marker - upper left images image. Click for full size.
2. Michigan Central Railroad Marker - upper left images
Top: Mackinaw City; bottom: Mullett Lake.
dwellers came north to see the wilderness.

Gingerbread railroad stations dotted the landscape along the line. The Grand Rapids & Indiana operated the Northland Limited, with sleeper cars originating in Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, to join up in Fort Wayne, Ind., for the trip to Traverse City, Petoskey and Mackinaw City. The Michigan Central ran its trains through Bay City, Grayling, Gaylord, Vanderbilt, Indian River and Topinabee, and Cheboygan to Mackinaw City.

In the 1950's, Detroiters who vacationed in the North Country traveled the "Timberliner," a weekend train that left downtown Detroit each Friday afternoon during the summer. Filled with businessmen, it wound its way north to cottages along the Michigan Central route through Grayling to the inland lakes north of Indian River and to Cheboygan or Mackinaw. There was a return trip Sunday evening so men could be back in the office Monday, while mom and the kids stayed Up North and enjoyed the summer. Friday's trips often were spent in the bar car, playing cards and trading fish stories. At the final destination, more than one traveler would be delivered into his family's arms, only slightly worse for wear.

Railway lines reached a mileage high of 9,100 miles in Michigan in 1910. In Detroit, Henry Ford was at work producing a new mode of transportation. Just as the railroads had replaced
Michigan Central Railroad Marker - lower left image image. Click for full size.
3. Michigan Central Railroad Marker - lower left image
steamships as the preferred mode of cross-country travel, automobiles were on replacing railroads. The 1920's saw a decrease in ridership and a slowdown in building a new track. However, train travel increased during the Great Depression of the 1930's. The railroads also began efforts to improve service and to offer more comfortable accommodations. With World War II, and its' gas rationing, there was again a great increase in train travel. Stations were jammed with soldiers and citizens who had no gas for their cars or no cars at all. But the postwar ecomonic boom during the '50s cemented the public's love affair with the automobile. When this was coupled with the vast expansion of air travel, the railroad's fate was sealed.

The many unique railroads gradually consolidated into a few trunk lines. The Michigan Central, which combined with the Lakeshore & Michigan Southern, later merged into the New York Central.

Footsteps rang hollow in the empty railroad stations, once built to reflect pastoral charm and urban grandeur. Some deteriorated and were dismanteled, but many in Northern Michigan were turned into shops, cottages or restaurants.
 
Erected by Michigan DNRE (Department of Natural Resources and Environment).
 
Location. 45° 16.35′ N, 84° 
Michigan Central Railroad Marker - upper right images image. Click for full size.
4. Michigan Central Railroad Marker - upper right images
Top: Topinabee; bottom: Cheboygan.
36.118′ W. Marker is in Wolverine, Michigan, in Cheboygan County. Marker is on Depot Street south of East Main Street (County Highway 58), on the right. Kiosk with marker is just south of the Wolverine train station next to the North Central State Trail. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Wolverine MI 49799, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within 15 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Michigan Central Depot (within shouting distance of this marker); Inland Waterway (approx. 9.1 miles away); W. W. Fairbairn (approx. 14.8 miles away).
 
Categories. EnvironmentIndustry & CommerceParks & Recreational AreasRailroads & Streetcars
 
Michigan Central Railroad Marker - middle right image image. Click for full size.
5. Michigan Central Railroad Marker - middle right image
1913 Michigan Central Railroad map.
Michigan Central Railroad Marker - lower right images image. Click for full size.
6. Michigan Central Railroad Marker - lower right images
Top: The park at the Indian River Station.
Michigan Central Railroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Joel Seewald, August 16, 2019
7. Michigan Central Railroad Marker
View looking south from the former Michigan Central station in Wolverine along the North Central State Trail.
 

More. Search the internet for Michigan Central Railroad.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 21, 2019. This page originally submitted on August 21, 2019, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan. This page has been viewed 55 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on August 21, 2019, by Joel Seewald of Madison Heights, Michigan.
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