Toledo & Ann Arbor Railroad and Car Ferries

Frankfort, Michigan, History of Railroad













In 1892, the Toledo & Ann Arbor Railroad connected with the Frankfort & Southeastern and thus connected Frankfort to the rest of the world by rail. For the first time, the railroad became an alternative to shipping products from Frankfort by boat. As a consequence, farmers, orchardists and fishermen all were able to ship by rail.

railroad2The sound of the train whistle became part of living in Frankfort. The railroad provided jobs for many, on the train, in the depot, in the roundhouse and the yards and on the crews of gandy dancers. In 1912 the Ann Arbor Railroad leveled what used to be the Island in Frankfort and there built the Frontenac Hotel, a grand edifice for Frankfort. During construction, the Frontenac was destroyed in a gale, and then burned down only a decade after it was finished.


The railroad vowed to rebuild but never did. Finally in 1976, after a complex and troubled history of mergers, sales, bankruptcy, and state ownership, the state privatized the line and the new owner closed the railroad down, and the rails and ties went for salvage.

Today the Betsie Valley Trail follows the old railroad of the Frankfort & Southeastern from Frankfort and Elberta to Thompsonville.


For more information regarding the Ann Arbor Railroad, please visit the Ann Arbor Railroad Technical and Historical Association.
















Bob Laubach (1923-2015) recalls the Ann Arbor Car Ferries.