Submitted by scott on Wed, 11/17/2021 - 11:30

The "Little Railroad that Could"

Construction of railroads caught the interest of rail fans, business entrepreneurs and investors west of the Allegheny Mountains in America in the early 1800s. In April of 1833, a charter was granted to the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad Company by the Michigan Territorial Council to construct a railroad from Port Lawrence on Lake Erie (now Toledo) to Adrian in Lenawee County in the Michigan Territory, and then on across Michigan to the Kalamazoo River, which would give access to Lake Michigan. Construction of the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad reached Adrian in 1836 becoming the first railroad to reach into the Michigan Territory.

Railroad construction was becoming so popular that even before the Erie and Kalamazoo tracks reached Adrian in 1836, the new Palmyra and Jacksonburgh Railroad Company, under the control of the Erie and Kalamazoo, received a charter to construct a branch railroad 46 miles long, north off the Erie and Kalamazoo via Tecumseh, Clinton and Manchester into Jacksonburgh in Jackson County. Construction began in 1837, the year the Michigan became a state. From Palmyra, along the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad, the new Palmyra and Jacksonburgh Railroad reached Tecumseh in 1838, to remain there for nearly twenty years. Plagued by financial problems, the new railroad branch struggled for several years, borrowed money from the state, but could not succeed. In 1844, it was sold to the state for operations of its Southern Railroad, and the Palmyra and Jacksonburgh Branch line began operations for the State of Michigan.

Southern Railroad to Adrian from MonroeTwo years later, in 1846, the state sold its Southern Railroad (including the Palmyra and Jacksonburgh Branch) to a new company, the Michigan Southern. Under its direction, construction began again, and the Palmyra and Jacksonburgh Railroad reached Clinton in 1853, Manchester in 1855 and Jacksonburgh in 1857. The Jacksonburgh Branch was completed, forming the first rail connection between Lake Erie and Jacksonburgh, Michigan.

The Michigan Southern Railroad, between 1846 and 1852, completed the former state Southern Railroad across Michigan, around Lake Michigan into Chicago. The Palmyra and Jacksonburgh Railroad was not part of the Michigan Southern Railroad's link with the western territories in American, and continued serving the railroad industry through the Civil War years.

In 1855, the Michigan Southern Railroad consolidated with the Northern Indiana Railroad and became the Michigan Southern and Northern Indiana Railroad, still including the Palmyra and Jacksonburgh Branch line.

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