Shiawassee County, Michigan
Railroad History

Durand Depot 1918

History of Shiawassee County Railroads as taken from 'Past and Present...Shiawassee County' --1906

Very soon after Michigan became a state the legislature passed "an act to provide for construction of certain works of internal improvement," by which a board of commissioners was authorized to cause surveys to be made for three railroad routs across the southern peninsula. These were called Central, Southern, and Northern Railroads.

In the course of time the Michigan Central and the Michigan southern were built, substantially as proposed in those early plans.

The Northern line was surveyed and located to run from St.Clair to Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Grand river, passing through the central part of Shiawassee County. More than sixty thousand dollars was expended in clearing and grading, considerable work being done in the Owosso area, but the plan was abandoned in 1841.

Many other railroad schemes began to attract public attention. In 1837, a company incorporated with a capitol stock of five hundred thousand dollars was given authority to construct a railroad "with a single or double track" from Detroit to Shiawassee village, by the way of Byron, but no part of the line was ever built.

Not until 1856 did a railroad become an accomplished fact. In that year was completed the line now known as the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee division of the grand Trunk system, the pioneer train reaching Owosso on the 1st. of July, amid a joyful demonstration by the inhabitants.

Eighteen years before, the eastern link of this road, known as the Detroit & Pontiac railroad, was completed as far as Royal Oak, the track being composed of strap rails, and even of wooden rails for part of the distance. In the fall of 1839 the road extended to Birmingham and steam was introduced as a motive power. In September of that year the Pontiac newspapers contained the advertisement of "Henry J. Buckley, agent and conductor," informing the public that the trains were running two trips a day between detroit and Birmingham and making connections at the latter place with a daily line of 'post coaches" for Pontiac and Flint, andsemi-weekly line to Lyons, on the Grand river, by way of Byron and DeWitt.

The Detroit & Milwaukee Railroad, as it was first named, enters the county in the township of Vernon, crossing the western boundary in Middledbury, nearly due west of Owosso. The stations on the line within the county are Durand, Vernon, Corunna, Owosso and Burton.

The line now called the Saginaw division of the Michigan Central Railroad was opened for traffic between Lansing and Owosso in November, 1862, the entire line being completed in 1867. Its route lies through the townships of Sciota, Bennington, Owosso and Rush, crossing that of the old Detroit and Milwaukee at Owosso.

The Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Company was incorporated in August 1874, the object of its formation being the construction of a line between Lansing and Flint, as a link in the through line between Port Huron and Chicago. This was completed and formally opened in February, 1877 and was operated as a part of "Chicago & Lake Huron" road. A few years later the entire line came into the possession of the Grand Trunk Company and it is now known as the Grand Trunk Western. It is an important part of that great system, having an immense freight traffic, and having a double track it's entire length. The road enters the county in Vernon Township. having a junction at Durand with three other lines, and passes out of the county at it's extreme southeastern corner, it's Shiawassee stations being Durand, Bancroft, Morrice, Perry and Shaftsburg.

The Cinncinnati, Saginaw and Mackinaw division of the Grand Trunk Railroad runs from Durand northward through the extreme eastern portion of the county to Bay City. This is an important branch of the main line and a good feeder, bringing considerable business from the properous sections of the county through which it passes.

The Toledo, Saginaw & Muskegon division of the Grand Trunk Railroad runs from Owosso to Muskegon, a distance of one hundred and seventeen miles. This line passes through a good section of country, many thriving towns and villages being on the line.

The Toledo,Ann Arbor & Northern Michigan Railroad was projected in 1885 by James Ashley and his sons, H.W. and James ashley. This road had a varied experience in building and but for the indomitable will of the projectors would have failed. It runs from Toledo, Ohio, in a northwesterly direction across the state to Frankfort, Michigan, and from that point immense steel ferries now transport heavy loaded trains across Lake Michigan to Menominee, Kewaunee, and Green Bay. The road has a large business in hauling ore and grain as well as other products.

The road now known as the Ann Arbor enters Shiawassee county in Burns township near the southeastern corner and cuts diagonally across the county, passing out of it through Fairfield township in the northwest corner. The stations in the county are Byron, Durand, Vernon, Corunna, Owosso and Carland. When the railroad was first built the division and shop[s were located at Owosso, which became an important railroad center.

In 1893 the division was removed to Durand and remained there for years, when it was returned to Owosso. The shops have grown in size and importance and built passenger and freight cars and also do all kinds of repair work, being splendidly equipped with all modern appliances. The road has been wisely managed and has become a very important piece of railroad property, which increases in value every year as the northern country through which it runs become better developed.

The Mech. and Store Dept. of the Ann Arbor Railroad won this award in 1930. The Ann Arbor was part of the Wabash Railroad at this time.This photo was taken in front of the old backshop at Owosso.

McKeen Motor Car


Wallace Brothers Circus Train Disaster

Knights Templar Wreck

Train Schedual

Railroad Bridges


Ever Wondered What Those Whistle Signals Were All About ?

Chesaning Central & Owosso Railroad

Area Depots

In 1858, the first Railroad into Lansing was from Owosso and it was known as the Ramshorn road which was owned by A.L. Williams of Owosso.

Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad Co.

Owosso & Corunna Street Railway Co. Steam Operated

Michigan United Traction Co. M.U.T. Interurban

Central Michigan Railroad Depot at Westown Owosso, on right.

History of the Central Michigan Railroad and other Mid-Michigan Railroads


The railroad first came through Owosso in about 1856. By 1900, the Ann Arbor Railroad used the Owosso railyard for engine and car repairs. This 17 acre site is located east of the Owosso downtown area and on the south side of the Shiawassee River. Section 9 of Caledonia Township and Section 24 of Owosso Township.

A hugh fire at the Ann Arbor Car Shops killed two employees in Dec. of 1895.

This site is about 1/2 mile long from east to west and 500 feet wide. A residentual area lays to the south of the rail yards.

This site has gone through many phases of operation since its inception. Buildings including a round house have been erected and razed over the years. Facilities to accommodate the engine fuels include: wood, coal and now for diesel operations.

Buildings on the property today include an office used for operation and dispatch of trains, a car and engine repair shop, a metal and wood shop, as well as storage facilities for miscellaneous parts and a fuel storage tank farm.

The Ann Arbor Railroad terminated its operation in 1973 and its facility was acquired by the Grand Trunk Western Railroad. The Grand Trunk does not have an active use of this site.

On Thursday Nov. 15, 2001 Thomas Landris, 49, of Durand and Gary Chase, 58, of Owosso were killed in a train wreck. Engineer Landris and Conductor Chase were involved in a near head-on crash in a wooded area in Oakland County, Michigan, spilling about 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Two other employees of the Canadian National Railroad were injured.


Steam Locomotives

James M. Ashley

Builder of the Ann Arbor Railroad Co.

No Ann Arbor Steam Engines are known to exist today.

First Ann Arbor Railroad passenger train in 1889
Notice the deer head above the headlight.

Engine #1

Another Pic of Engine #1

Engine #2

Engine #3

Engine #5

Engine #6

Engine #7 at Owosso in 1887. This engine is a Rogers 4-4-0.

Engine #8

Engine #9

Engine #10

Taken at Cadillac in 1890

Engine #13

Engine #20

Engine #29

Engine #29

Engine #38

Engine #42

Engine #43 in about 1905 Baldwin loco #16025 built in 1898 (4-6-0) and scrapped in 1944

Engine #44

Atlantic 4-4-2...... Cadillac, MI circa 1940

Engine #45

Engine #46 in about 1900

Engine #48

Engine #101 Baltus Martin, Engineer....At Owosso - Early 1900's

Engine #107

Engine #120

Another pic of Engine #120

Heres a great shop of Engine #121 at the Turn Table at Owosso in March 1940

Another pic of Engine #121

Engine #130 4-6-0

Another pic of #130 taken at Owosso, MI on 6/4/36

Engine #151

Engine #153

Engine #185....later re-numbered 2492

Pictures of the Wreck of #185

Engine #202 at Owosso

Engine #1520

Engine #1611 with Train 52 Cadillac, Michigan July 31, 1950

Another pic of Engine #1611

And another pic of #1611 taking on water

Another pic of #1611 at Owosso in about June of 1945

Engine #1612

Engine #1614 at Durand

Engine #1614 in May 1938 in front of the AA Depot at Owosso

Engine #2171

Engine #2176

Another pic of #2176

Nice winter scene in the Owosso railyard in the 1940's of Ann Arbor Engines #2173, #2175 and #2552

The Ann Arbor Railroad used 3 Wabash engines which were Mikato style steam engines which were built by the Brooks Locomotive Works in about 1922. These were numbered 2204 (200 lbs boiler pressure), 2218 (200 lbs) and 2257 (210 lbs).

The Ann Arbor Railroad had 8 Mikato Engines: Numbers 2480, 2481, 2482, 2490, 2491, 2492, 2493 and 2494. These Ann Arbor marked engines ran on 200 lbs of boiler pressure.

A man from Japan designed this engine and had several made which were shipped to Japan and the Wabash Railroad also ordered several.

Below....Engine #2218

Engine #2257 at Washington St. Owosso with Engineer Charlie Tufford

Engine #2352

Engine #2380

Engine #2430

Engine #2480 at Owosso

Engine #2481

Engine #2482 at Owosso on 6-4-39

Engine #2491

Scrapping Ann Arbor Engines at Owosso in the 1940's

Ann Arbor Diesel Locomotives

The Ann Arbor's first diesel-electric was built in January of 1941, by the Whitcomb Locomotive Works, a subsidary of the baldwin Locomotive Works. The 44-tonner was purchased to work at the Owosso Yard as a one man engine.

"One Spot"

The 380 HP unit is powered by a pair of Caterpiller D-17000's engines, driving Westinghouse traction motors. The unit weighs 85,000 lbs. and has a tractive effort of 25,700 lbs.

In Oct. of 1965, No. 1 was sold to the Dundee Cement Co. and in 1973, sold to George Evert Jr., operator of the Toledo, Lake erie and Western Railway Co. In 1983, it was still working for TLE&W at Waterville, Ohio.

Engine #2

Engine #21

Engine #56

Engineer Walt Eldridge on Engine #392

Engine #389

Ann Arbor Railroad Engine Wrecks


The Great Wallace Brother's Circus Train Wreck

Engine Head-on Crash

Ann Arbor Engine #10

Ann Arbor Engine #26

Ann Arbor Engine #44

Ann Arbor Engine #44...1899

Engine Wreck

Engine Wreck between Hamburg & Lakeland on 11-21-08.

Another View

And Another View

Engine Wreck at Marion, Michigan

Another View of Marion Wreck

Ann Arbor Wreck 5 Miles West of Owosso, MI.....circa 1930

Circa 1928 at Pomona

Lester Lundie, formerly of Owosso, who worked for and retired from the Ann Arbor Railroad on the wrecking crew, shown above, 6th gentleman from the right.

The Wreck of the Ann Arbor #185

Ann Arbor Steam Crane

Crane #3187

Crane #3723

Elsie Wreck

More Crane Work

Building the Toledo, Ann Arbor & North Michigan Railroad with the Ann Arbor Bucyrus Steam Shovel circa 1890 near the north end of the line.

Ann Arbor Wreck...Ann Arbor Passenger #7 and Ann Arbor Freight #42 .... At Mesick, MI.....3-18-05

In the Snow

Gas Driven Hand Car

Sherman Depot....later called Mesick

Snow Plows

Plow #4502

Ann Arbor Russell plows #4501 and #4500 at Owosso

Ann Arbor steel Russell plow #4501

Ann Arbor Russell plow #4500


The Windsplitter at Owosso

Grand Trunk Western

Grand Trunk Steam Locomotives

1888 Michigan Railroad Map

Grand Trunk State of Michigan Map...1905

1894 Grand Trunk Western Caboose

Aerial Photo of the Railyards at Owosso, MI .....1935

Last Run of the Grand Trunk Engine #6405

Last Run of the Grand Trunk Passenger train

Railroad Maps


"Specials" .... Special Railroad Runs

The Great Wallace Brothers Circus Train Disaster

Knights Templar Disaster

More Shiawassee County History

Last Update: 10-1-08
This is a personal website and is not affiliated with any Shiawassee County governmental agency, company, railroad or society.