Erie & Kalamazoo Rail Road

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The Erie & Kalamazoo Rail Road was the first railroad completed west of the Allegheny Mountains.

In 1832, the territorial government of Michigan authorized a railroad to be built from Port Lawrence, Michigan, which is now Toledo, Ohio, to the mouth of the Kalamazoo River at Lake Michigan. The name of the railroad was to be the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad since the line would essentially connect Lake Erie with the Kalamazoo River. Construction began in 1835, and in late 1836 the first portion of the line, thirty-three miles in length, opened. This first segment connected Toledo with Adrian, Michigan. Initially, horses pulled freight and passenger cars on the line, but in 1837 the first steam engine began service. The steam engine allowed passengers to make the trip between these two communities in approximately three hours.

With the arrival of railroads in Ohio during the late 1830s and the early 1840s, the popularity of canals began to decline. By the 1850s, canals were losing business to the railroads. Railroads had several advantages over the canals, which made the railroads much more popular. While railroads cost more to ship people and goods, they could deliver people and items much more quickly than the canals. Railroads also were not limited by a water source like canals were. As a result of these advantages, railroads quickly supplanted the canals.

See Also


  1. Downes, Randolph. History of Lake Shore Ohio. New York, NY: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1952.  
  2. Howe, Henry. Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes. Vol. II. Cincinnati, OH: C.J. Krehbiel & Co., Printers and Binders, 1902.
  3. Ohio Writers' Project. The Ohio Guide. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1946.