Grosse Ile Parkway Bridge and its Former Railroad History

Grosse Ile, MI, an island of the Detroit River, once was served by the Canada Southern Railway, which later became part of the Michigan Central Railroad. (Right of way)

Bicyclists on railroad bridge, 1897 (Grosse Ile Historical Society)

A railway bridge connected the Island to the mainland of Michigan. Canada Southern Bridge Company, a subsidiary of the Canada Southern, built the rail bridge in 1873. East of the island, railroad cars would be ferried across the river into Canada, where they often would travel to Buffalo and other eastern US cities, that were quicker to access via Ontario than Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

This bridge, pictured above, would carry rail, automobile, and bicycle traffic until 1932, when it was converted into the Grosse Ile Free Bridge, which remains standing today, although not for rail traffic. Notably, it was closed in 2020 for repairs but is planned to reopen at some point.

Grosse Ile Michigan Station, 1900. This station now houses the Grosse Ile Historical Society.

The railroad line in Grosse Isle would only last until 1929, but the bridge remains operational. The bridge is known as the Grosse Ile Parkway Bridge, or "Free" bridge, to differentiate it from the Toll bridge that is also used to get to the island. The road is now known as Grosse Ile Parkway.

Wayne County converted the bridge crossing the Trenton Channel into the Wayne County Bridge for use by vehicular, bike, and pedestrian traffic in 1931. A number of the original support piers and other parts of the bridge served as the foundation for the Wayne County Bridge.

Thanks as always for reading!


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