Saginaw and Gratiot County State Road
In 1867 goods for Gratiot and Isabella Counties were shipped from Detroit to St. Johns, then hauled by teams of horses to outlying settlements. In an effort to lessen the exhorbitant transportation costs, the citizens of Saginaw and Gratiot Counties elected to build a thirty-two-mile-long plank road connecting Saginaw and St. Louis. In 1869 the state legislature chose Saginaw lumbermen Ammi Wright and William Glasby to construct the road. Wright served as president of the Gratiot Plank Road Company and Glasby as its contractor. By 1870 farmers, merchants and a stagecoach line traveled daily between Saginaw and St. Louis. The road later became M-46.
Saginaw Valley and St. Louis Railroad
As soon as the plank road was completed Gratiot and Saginaw Counties wanted a railroad. In 1873 the Saginaw Valley and St. Louis Railroad Company laid tracks from Paines Junction to St. Louis, alongside the plank road. This line allowed for the export of agricultural and lumbering products and the import of necessary supplies. In 1879 the line was extended to Alma. By that year, parties in the Detroit, Lansing and Northern Railroad Company, who owned a majority of stock in the Saginaw Valley and St. Louis, had taken over the smaller line. The Saginaw Valley
retained a separate title until 1897 when it merged with the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Western Railroad.