|The depot, standing on its original location, on Grosse
Ile, MI was built by the Michigan Central in 1904, replacing an earlier wooden
The railroad itself is even older, dating back to the 1870's.
The Canada Southern Railroad had built a line across southern Ontario, linking
Buffalo and Detroit. The railroad desperately wanted to get to Chicago, thus
creating a bridge line between New York state and western U.S. railroads.
The Chicago & Canada Southern was to be its tool in reaching Chicago.
By 1873 the railroad had crossed the Detroit River, by a ferryboat from Gordon,
Ontario to Stoney Island, a 900 ft. trestle to Gross Ile, and a 1400 ft.
bridge with double draw section to the Michigan mainland. They had also completed
a line across the SE corner of Michigan to Fayette, Ohio.
That was as far as it ever got. All this new construction
had been a heavy financial drain on the railroad. In September 1873 the railroad
suspended payments on its bonds. The Commodore Cornelius Vanberbilt stepped
in, and paid off the creditors. In doing so, he gained control of the Canada
Southern and its subsidiary, the Chicago & Canada Southern. He took control
of the Michigan Central in a similar manner. By combining the Canada Southern
with the Michigan Central's line to Chicago, he had a railroad linking New
York and Chicago.
By 1888 the through route had been shifted north to Detroit,
but rail service continued between Gross Ile and the mainland. Not until
1913 was there a road to Gross Ile. Rail passenger service lasted until 1924;
freight service until 1929. Soon after, the railroad
bridge to the mainland was converted to a
The depot has been home to the
Ile Historical Society's museum since 1967.