Rockford, MI October 2002

Hidden behind this doll house like exterior, is the former GR&I depot. Additions to both ends conceal the shape of the depot building itself. However, out back, on the track side placement of the doors and windows shows some clues to the history of this building.

In 1857 the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad had won a land grant to build a railroad from Grand Rapids to Traverse City. By 1869 they had made very little progress and the state ordered the railroad to surrender its charter. Desperate to save their railroad, the Indiana interests behind the GR&I, turned over construction of the line to the Continental Improvements Co., which was controlled by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The land grant was written focused on 20 miles of track north of Grand Rapids (thus including Rockford). It had to be completed by July 1869 or the whole deal was off. So construction by the Continental Improvements Co. started in Grand Rapids and proceded 20 miles north. It was completed just in time. After that, the construction proceded north and south from Kalamazoo. The Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad was completed from Fort Wayne, IN through Kalamazoo, to north of Grand Rapids, MI in 1870. The Pennsylvania took the land grants and had a nice feeder to their main line. Construction continued north, reaching Cadillac in 1871, Petoskey in 1874, and finally Mackinaw in 1882.

The GR&I was absorbed into the Pennsylvania RR in 1921. The line was operated by Pensy successor, PennCentral, but the line north of Grand Rapids was not selected for inclusion in Conrail.

The Michigan Department of Transportation bought the entire GR&I line from Grand Rapids to Mackinaw City in 1975 and contracted the Michigan Northern Railway Company to operate the route. In the mid 1980's state money ran out and the line was abandoned. The right-of-way is now the White Pine Trail.

Track Side, Note placement of doors and window.

Rockford Depot, from the collection of Tim Shanahan

The reasearch by Tim Shanahan in greatly appreciated. I had been to Rockford many times, and never saw anything that looked like a depot. Tim located several photos showing the old depots and their location relative to other buildings still standing in Rockford.

Michigan Passenger Stations Home Page

November 2002
Louis Van Winkle
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