loading background

Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

loading media...
Railroad Race

Railroad Race

April 3rd, 2013

Citizens of Grand Rapids were so anxious for the advantages of the new railroad line that they had offered a bonus of $10,000 if the line was completed on time.


It was 1869, it was all about a funny little locomotive and a $13,000 race; 1,000 people were there to see the finish.

This wasn’t the first railroad to reach Grand Rapids, that honor belongs to the Oakland and Ottawa railroad, later part of the Detroit, Grand Haven and Milwaukee line, which had arrived in 1858.

But the new railroad was of great importance to Grand Rapids, opening up new territory to the south, and sounding the death knell of the Kalamazoo stage line. The Daily Eagle noted: “The much-needed, long-promised and anxiously-awaited railroad connection of our city with the world southwardly is consummated. No more shall we be confined to the old stage line.”

Citizens of Grand Rapids, so anxious for the advantages of the new line, had offered the company a bonus of $10,000 if the line was completed and a train run into Grand Rapids on or before March 1, 1869.

But on February 28th the finishing touches were still being put on the bridge across the Grand River southwest of the city, where more than 200 workmen were employed. About 5 o’clock that afternoon the draw was swung for the first time. It worked perfectly. The next day, on the last day of grace, the funny little locomotive arrived in Grand Rapids. The citizens of the city, as promised, gave the Kalamazoo, Allegan and Grand Rapids railroad $13,000. 

Full Details

TitleRailroad Race
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; railroad; trains
Pubdate StringApril 3rd, 2013

Like Us on Facebook
site by GRCMC