Wednesday, July 5, 2017

1850 Railroad and Canal Map and Lake Shore and Michigan

1850 RR Map from "Adrian and the LS&MS"
This map illustrates what I learned while studying the history of Pennsy's Panhandle route --- the initial railroad construction in America was focused on connecting navigable bodies of water. In the case of Ohio, the initial railroads went north/south because they were trying to connect Lake Erie with the Ohio River. The Buffalo & New York and the New York and Erie wanted to connect Lake Erie with the Atlantic Ocean whereas the Pittsburgh & Philadelphia and the Baltimore & Ohio wanted to connect the Ohio river to the Atlantic. The Michigan Central and what would become the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern wanted to connect Lake Erie with Lake Michigan. A few years later they wanted to terminate in Chicago rather than Lake Michigan to avoid the time and expense of the ferry operation, and they became part of the railroad crossing war.

After the Civil War, investors understood that railroads were better than canals and riverboats for moving people and merchandise freight so the charters focused on east/west routes to replace water navigation and to connect with the transcontinental railroad. In the case of the LS&MS it meant building a route across northwest Ohio and Indiana that shaved 30 miles off the route for through traffic. This new route became the backbone of the New York Central, and it is now a major artery for Norfolk Southern and Amtrak. So the LS&MS really did start out as "Michigan Southern" when it was focused on Lake Erie transportation, but it soon became the route we are familiar with today when it replaced Lake Erie transportation with railroad transportation.

1881 LS&MS Map from "Adrian and the LS&MS"

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