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The Wayne Junction

Wayne Junction, 1890s.

In 1832 it was decided to build a railroad from Detroit to Chicago to connect these two growing cities. The cost would be $3,200 per mile due to the unimproved and wild wilderness that the tracks had to cross. In any case construction began at Detroit and reached Wayne by 1836, with the first train not arriving until February 1838. That first train could hold 66 people and could travel at the “dangerous” speed of 11 mph. It also often needed horses to pull it up inclines or if the weight was too much. There was no depot in Wayne at the time, passengers just got off the train onto the ground or perhaps a small platform.
The railroad continued to be built west, hitting Dexter by 1841 and finally Chicago in the 1850s, nearly 20 years after they started in Detroit. Wayne got its first train depot and freight house in 1855, the depot later being moved to Sophia and becoming a house. Both buildings were torn down in the 1960s. In 1872 a new larger passenger depot was built just east of Wayne road along the tracks. Around the same time a new north-south railroad was being run between Monroe and Holly, which reached Wayne in 1871. This new railroad, the Flint and Pere-Marquette, also known as the Holly, Wayne and Monroe railroad began operating in 1875.
Wayne now was at a junction of a north-south and east-west railroad, making an ideal site for industry. At the junction, a hotel popped up in the 1870s called the Fie House, it still survives as it was moved to the end of Brush Street and became a house. In 1888, citing Wayne’s great railroad access, a carriage company set up shop and ran successfully for many years, beginning a tradition of cars and automotive manufacturing which still goes on today, and is still largely based on shipping by rail.
In 1898, the Detroit streetcar system had followed Michigan Avenue out to Wayne and continued on to Jackson and beyond. A streetcar station was on the SE corner of Michigan and Wayne Road until the 1930s. A branch of the streetcar began at Wayne going up to Northville and beyond. The streetcar system lasted until 1928 when the increase in automobiles hurt their business. This also hurt the passenger train system, with Wayne’s passenger depot being demolished in 1924 and not replaced.
The railroad could have passed through any number of small settlements, but we are lucky they chose a sleepy little town of less than 100 people back in 1838. The two railroads that run through Wayne are still very active today, and Wayne owes a great debt to them for 180 years of growth.

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