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Michigan Central Railroad Reporting mark: MC

The Michigan Central Railroad (MC) had its beginning in the 1830s. During its early years it went through a troubled history of on again-off again financing. By 1849 it was finally operational and offering service from Detroit to Kalamazoo.

Picture of travel brochure

Travel brochure, 1904
Source: www.archive.org

By 1873, when Cornelius Vanderbilt took control of the bankrupt Canada Southern Railway (CASO), the MC was already part of his vast railway empire. In 1882 MC leased the CASO for 21 years and took over full operations under its Canadian Division. In 1895, MC under the name CASO, went on to increase its holdings in Canada with an 18 per cent acquisition of the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway (THB). From a geographic perspective, the arrangement between MC and CASO made perfect sense.

In 1904 MC extended its lease for another 999 years, however that arrangement only lasted until 1929 when the lease was taken over by the MC's parent company, the New York Central Railroad (NYC). By the 1950s, the MC had been fully absorbed into the NYC and ceased to exist. The NYC merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1968 to form Penn Central, which ended in bankruptcy in 1970.

Today the Canadian Division of MC (formerly CASO) is owned by a consortium of Canadian National (CN) and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). The route has been largely abandoned with only a couple of small sections remaining in use. A number of the original stations are still standing, including the magnificent terminal and yards in St. Thomas, which are currently being restored.