Wyandotte, MI Depot; Alan Loftis 2003
Wyandotte, MI, Depot , 2003; Alan Loftis

Wyandotte is about 15 miles south of Detroit, on the west shore of the Detroit River, on a line between Detroit and Toledo. In the "Golden Age" of railroads, quite a few railroads had lines through Wyandotte. The first of these lines was built by the Detroit, Monroe and Toledo RR in 1856. It may have been just a construction company. Upon completion, it was leased to the Michigan Southern.

In 1872 the Toledo, Canada Southern & Detroit built through Wyandotte, as part of its line connecting Detroit and Toledo. The Canada Southern Railway had completed a line across southern Ontario. They expanded into Michigan hoping to build their own line to Chicago. This never happened, as all the new construction, and an economic downturn forced the Canada Southern to suspend bond payments in 1873. Cornelius Vanderbilt, owner of the New York Central, stepped in, paid off the creditors and gained control of the Canada Southern and its subsidiary, the Toledo Canada Southern & Detroit. Technically, it remained a separate railroad, but it was controlled and operated by the Michigan Central, which was also  controlled by  the Vanderbilts .

In 1876 the Michigan Southern had also come under NYC control. So the two lines running side by side, through Wyandotte, were both Vanderbilt companies. Both were eventually merged into the New York Central.

Portico at south end
Portico and Michigan Central (east) Side, Photo by Louie Pittoli

The depot shown here was built in 1891 as a Union Station, for use by both the Michigan Central (on the east side) and the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern (on the west side). It was just a  passenger station. Separate buildings were used for freight. However, the building did have a room at the north end for baggage and express shipments. It must have been quite a busy place. The 1896 LS&MS timetable showed ten passenger trains a day through Wyandotte. Eight stopped there and two ran through.

There were a number of earlier depots. For ten years, from 1855-1865, a box car was used as the Michigan Southern depot . It was eventually replaced by a  wooden building. But in an age when  a cities status was judged by the size and quality of its depot, this "shoddy" building incensed the people of Wyandotte who argued long and loudly with the railroad for better accommodations. The Michigan Central also had a depot, probably not much better liked.

The new union depot opened under the management of C. L. Carl, former ticket agent for the Lake Shore Road. Station agent F. E. Welch of the Michigan Central and station agent R. V. Goodremont of the Lake Shore remained in the old wooden depot building to transact the freight business. The Michigan Central Freight depot was raised several feet and continued to be used for freight. The old Lake Shore depot was pulled across the tracks to the west side and converted into a freight house.

Wyandotte depot, west side
West Side, Used by LS&MS Railroad, Photo by Louie Pittoli

North End, baggage/express room
East Side/Baggage Room End, Photo by Alan Loftis

Old postcard view shows different roof

Tracks through Wyandotte remain very much in use. The present owner, Norfolk Southern, runs about 20 trains a day through Wyandotte. The route is operated as a double track main line with southbound trains using the former Michigan Southern tracks, and northbound trains running on the former MC tracks. The depot is presently used by the Wyandotte American Legion.


July 2003
Louis Van Winkle
Research assistance by John Engfehr
Photos by Alan Loftis and Louie Pittoli

E-mail questions or comments to louisvw@mc.net

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