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"The Land of Healthful Delight": Highlights from the Rod and Susan Wilson collection of Rochester History

Travelling to and from Rochester

In 1838, the new state of Michigan encouraged an ambitious project -- the Clinton Kalamazoo Canal -- to connect Lake St Clair to Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, the financial panic of 1837-1841 and the competition of the railway led to the quick demise of the project, with only the portion from Mount Clemens to Rochester being completed.

Clinton Canal Bank Five Dollar Note

Two bank notes issued by the Clinton Canal Bank of Pontiac, 1837. The bank was chartered to help finance the project.

In 1869 the village of Rochester was incorporated. The arrival of the railroad in the 1870s and 1880s connected it to Detroit and other neighboring population centers, quickly turning it into a transportation hub and providing efficient passenger and freight service that allowed it to grow rapidly.

Ed Barnes, station agent at Rochester Junction, on the small steam inspection car he built

On September 27, 1899 the first electric interurban railway car operated by the Detroit, Rochester, Romeo, and Lake Orion Railway reached Rochester.


In 1901, the DRRLOR and 11 other lines were purchased and absorbed into the Detroit United Railway (D.U.R.). Until 1931, the DUR allowed people from the area quick access to Rochester employers.

By then, the automobile had proven to be a more convenient and faster mode of transportation. Before the 1920s, local roads had been impassable in poor weather.


By the 1920s the road infrastructure improved significantly thanks to the construction of cement and concrete roads.