the making of modern michigan

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Bloomfield Blossoms: p. 94-95
Smith, Kay, 1925-

Bloomfield Township Public Library

Bloomfield Township (Mich.) -- History

Railroads -- Michigan -- Birmingham

Williams, Alfred (""Old Sault"")

Item Number

part of 'Bloomfield Blossoms' by Kay Smith

text, image


THE RAILROAD COMES TO BLOOMFIELD The first train entered Bloomfield Township in 1839. It was horse drawn, with open boxes instead of railroad cars. A colorful character named Alfred "Old Sault" Williams with his partner Sherman Stevens of Pontiac controlled the line, called the Detroit and Pontiac Railroad. Old Sault was well known as a practical joker although the joke was on the early residents when they discovered he'd cornered the entire salt market and charged outrageous prices for the commodity. This is why he was called Old Sault. Williams decided that a thriving little town like Birmingham should have a regular steam locomotive in keeping with the community's progressive spirit. He advertised in the papers that beginning June 1, 1839, two steam trains a day would operate between Detroit and Birmingham. People made a picnic out of the great day, and stood in open- mouthed wonder as a sure-enough steam locomotive chugged into town. It was quite a sight in the parade in 1840, decorated with evergreens and flowers. This was the first railroad chartered in the Northwest Territory. Since this was only a decade after the first trains had been imported from England to this country in 1829, it was quite a marvel for this rural area, and greatly increased the citizens' ability to get their produce to the market in Detroit.

Bloomfield Blossoms: p. 94-95 part 1 Bloomfield Blossoms: p. 94-95 part 2

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