A construction crew in Royal Oak unearthed a piece of Michigan history yesterday (6/28), revealing a section of streetcar tracks that once connected the city to Flint, Detroit, Romeo, and Imlay City.

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Discovering the 'Interurban' Railway

There's not a lot of information available about 'Interurban' railways that were popular in the early 1900s. The Wikipedia page says that the electric railway system was used by streetcar-like trains that were self-propelled, and were used primarily to transport passengers between cities and towns. The mode of transportation was popular in North America primarily between 1900 and 1925.

There is limited documentation on the topic, but historians say there were several such railways in Michigan in the early 1900s. Tracks primarily connected Detroit to cities like Monroe, Mt. Clemens, Jackson, and Chicago, but there were also railways in Saginaw, Bay City, Grand Rapids, Lansing, and even the Upper Peninsula.

Royal Oak Discovery

According to the Royal Oak City Hall Facebook page, the Interurban tracks were discovered during road construction at the intersection of Second and Main Streets.

The tracks initially ran between Royal Oak and the city of Detroit but later branched out to Flint, Imlay City, and Romeo.

The post says that in 2015, the Royal Oak Historical Society rescued streetcar artifacts from the Washington Street area.

Facebook Comments Reflect Nostalgia

Many who chimed in on the Facebook thread seemed to long for a simpler time when streetcars were popular and wondered why that mode of transportation got left behind.

Cheryl:  Kind of sad that the infrastructure was not enhanced, rather than abandoned.

Jackie:  So there was mass transit in the “olden days” and now we live in “1 person per vehicle in gridlocked rush hour traffic” days. How is this progress?

Kristin summed it up nicely:  Let's bring back streetcars!

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