Agitation of projects for securing a railroad into Grand Rapids began in 1845, when the growing hamlet was only twelve years old.

On June 25 of that year the citizens held a meeting and resolved to petition the legislature for a charter for a railroad from Battle Creek to Grand Rapids.

On Dec. 1, following, at another meeting, it was resolved that application be made for a railroad from Port Huron, or some point on the St. Clair river, to Grand Haven.

In 1846, the legislature granted charters, severally, from Jackson, Battle Creek, and Kalamazoo, to Grand Rapids, but there was little practical result for several years.

However, the general demand for a railroad from somewhere grew more and more imperative until, in the spring of 1853, active work began on what was then called the Oakland & Ottawa railroad.

In 1855, by consolidation, this became known as the Detroit & Milwaukee railroad, and the arrival of cars over this route, in July, 1858, was an occasion of much interest and of very considerable rejoicing among the pioneers of that day.

The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern was the next railroad to reach the city, and it came in 1869, the construction having been pushed from Kalamazoo by way of Allegan, with great energy and celerity, by Ransom Gardner, from which circumstance it was familiarly known in those days as "The Gardner Road."

Early in the winter of 1856 the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad Company, which had been organized to construct a railroad from Hartford City, Ind., to the Michigan state line, and had later decided to continue the road to Grand Rapids and beyond, petitioned Congress to grant land aid, to make possible the construction of the road from Grand Rapids to the Straits of Mackinaw.

Instead of a land grant direct to the railroad companies the grant was made to the State of Michigan and the bill was approved by President Pierce, July 3, 1856.

By act of the legislature, in 1857, this land grant was transferred to the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad Company.

After many discouraging delays, the tracks from the south were completed to Grand Rapids, Sept. 13, 1870, and the entire line, from Fort Wayne, Ind., to Petoskey, Michchigan was finished on Nov. 24, 1873.

In 1886 the company projected an "air-line" branch to Muskegon, and on Dec. 1, of the same year, it was open for business, thus bringing that important port on the west side of Lake Michigan within about an hour's ride of Grand Rapids.

The Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad was one of the chief factors in the development of Northern Michigan, and it is interesting to note in this connection that the land included in the Congressional grant was sold to actual settlers at an average price of almost precisely $12 per acre, the highest average price ever paid for railroad grant lands in America.

The Michigan Central railroad was built from Jackson to Grand Rapids in 1869, and was then known as the Grand River Valley Railroad.

The first train from Jackson over this line arrived, Jan. 1, 1870.

The Grand Rapids, Newaygo & Lake Shore Railroad Company was organized, Sept. 11, 1869, and completed a line from Grand Rapids to White Cloud, Sept. 24, 1875.

A road from Holland to this city was opened, Jan. 6, 1872, and these lines with their connections became known as the Chicago & West Michigan Railway.

The Grand Rapids, Lansing & Detroit division of the Detroit, Lansing & Northern Railroad was opened between Grand Rapids and Lansing, in July, 1888, and in December, 1896, the Detroit, Grand Rapids & Western Railroad Company was formed and operated the line until it was merged into the Pere Marquette system, Jan. 1, 1900, together with the Chicago & West Michigan, the Detroit, Grand Haven & Western, and the Lowell & Hastings Railroads.

The Grand Rapids, Grand Haven & Muskegon Electric Railroad Company was organized, March 6, 1899, and on Feb. 1, 1902, it ran its first cars between Grand Rapids and Muskegon.

On June 18, 1903, it first ran cars into Grand Haven, where it connects with a line of lake steamers.

This road does a large business and is a great aid to the traveling public.

The Grand Rapids, Holland & Chicago Railroad Company was organized in 1901, and it operates an electric line from Grand Rapids through Holland to Macatawa Park and Saugatuck.

The first car ran over the line from Holland to Grand Rapids, in September, 1901, and in 1902 it inaugurated a fast express between Grand Rapids and Chicago, connecting with the Graham & Morton boat line.

The road runs through the "fruit belt" and in season does a large business in transporting fruit to market.

A line to Kalamazoo completes the list of electric roads which makes the Grand Rapids the center in this respect of a considerable sized territory.

The original movement for the establishing of a street railway in Grand Rapids was made by William A. Richmond, John W. Peirce, Henry Grinnell, William H. Withey and others, who, on May 19, 1864, secured the passing of an ordinance by the Common Council which gave them the right to construct a street railway from the Detroit & Milwaukee Railway Station down old Canal and up Monroe and Fulton Street as far as Jefferson Avenue.

This charter was repealed, Oct. 11, 1864, and a new one passed, granting similar privileges to George Jerome, of Detroit; Daniel Owen, of New York, and Thomas S. Sprague, of Saginaw.

The cars were started, May 10, 1865, and the Monroe avenue line was the only railway until the summer of 1873, when the Division avenue line to the old fair grounds on Hall Street at Jefferson Avenue, was constructed, and cars began running there early in September of that year.

In 1875 a line to Reed's Lake was put into operation.

From the lake it came down Sherman and East streets, Wealthy Avenue, Lagrave, Monroe, Division and Lyon and through Bond Street.

Within the ensuing ten years lines were built in Scribner, Stocking and West Bridge streets, crossing both the Bridge and Pearl Street bridges in their connection.

They were all consolidated into a single corporation in August, 1885, and the new arrangement brought all the lines constructed prior to 1886 under one control.

On February 16, 1885, an ordinance was passed granting a franchise for the construction of a cable railway in Lyon, Union and Michigan streets.

The first one completed was in Lyon Street, from the foot to Grand Avenue, and horse car lines in connection were constructed from the foot of Lyon to Market and down Grandville Avenue to the south city line; also across Fulton Street Bridge to the west city lines, and one north from Lyon on Barclay Avenue.

The horse car branches were running in October, 1887, and the cable in Lyon Street was drawn to place, April 13, 1888; grip cars ran on the 16th and soon began regular trips.

Some seven miles of roadway were completed, and on April 24, 1891, an ordinance was passed by the Common Council permitting the two street railway companies to consolidate and discontinue certain parallel lines.

In July, 1891, the consolidation was completed and the street railway system of Grand Rapids became known as the Consolidated Street Railway Company of Grand Rapids.

Electricity was substituted as a motive power and the cable and horse soon disappeared.

A steam railway extending north of the city, past the Soldiers' Home to the bank of Grand River was later made an electric line and added to the system, being afterward extended to Comstock Park.