[Front Side of Marker]
The first railroad operated west of the Alleghenies, the Erie and Kalamazoo, was chartered on April 22, 1833 to connect Port Lawrence (later named Toledo) with the Kalamazoo River via Adrian. A horse-drawn car made the first trip from Toledo to Adrian on November 2, 1836, running on strap iron strips spiked to oak rails. From 1852 to 1857 the line, then part of the Michigan Southern Railroad, was the only unbroken link from the East Coast to Chicago. As a part of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern, the New York Central, the Penn Central and the Conrail systems, "The Old Road" as it continued to be known, carried passengers until November 1956. The trackage in the Blissfield area later became the property of the State of Michigan.
[Reverse Side of Marker]
In addition to being the first railroad built west of the Allegheny Mountains, the Erie and Kalamazoo was in 1837 the first line west of the Alleghenies to operate a steam locomotive. Built in Philadelphia, the locomotive, the "Adrian No. 1," was brought west via the Erie Canal and Lake Erie. When the locomotive ran out of wood or water, passengers had to scour the countryside for them. A simple round trip between Toledo and Adrian took one day. The Erie and Kalamazoo was also the first western line to operate as an interstate railroad, to carry U.S. Mail and to build a branch line. As a separate corporations, the Erie and Kalamazoo existed as a leased railroad, paying regular dividends to its shareholders, for more than 125 years.