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Heritage Railroad Industry

Railroads opened up the heartland and the western frontiers of the nation during the late 1800s giving birth to new communities and industries. Where large cargo ships supplied the needs of the large coastal cities, rail systems did as much to the growth of inland communities. Here in Michigan, railways kept the lumber boom thriving by allowing lumber companies to penetrate into the deep forests. The railways had no competition until the our modern roadway system came into being the latter half of the 20th century. Even today, railroads dominated the long-distance heavy haul business.

The first commercial railway system in Bay County started up in 1867. It connected Bay City and Saginaw taking a route along the east side of the Saginaw River. Before this, trains loaded with logs ran routes from the deep forests haul logs to the mills along the river. Passenger trains soon followed and for the first time people were able to quickly travel long distances inland. Horse and buggy trips to Detroit that took a day or more to make could be accomplished by a train trip in only hours. The rapidly changing environment and the birth of mechanization must have been an amazing experience for the early pioneers that lived during this time period.

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