With the development of electricity and motors, lightweight railroad lines were developed to run between urban areas in Michigan and other states. These lines were know as “interurbans”. Interurban trains were usually one car or a car with a trailer or two. The first car was motorized and the trailer was without power. Both were heated with coal stoves. They primarily transported passengers, allowing city dwellers to easily access their rural surroundings, and rural residents to enjoy the social and cultural happenings in the city. Some trains also transported freight or were used for delivery of farm products to the cities.
The Detroit United Railroad, or the D.U.R., began service from Detroit to Farmington, MI in 1901. The main junction was at Grand River Ave. and Orchard Lake Rd. A power plant was built by the Detroit and Northwestern Railway in 1899, and a car barn across the street. Passengers could transfer to the Orchard Lake Route north to Pontiac, or could stay on and continue through town to Northville.
In Troy, MI, the electric powered rail cars of the Flint Division of the D.U.R. provided a critical commercial and recreational linkage. Food and products needed in downtown Detroit could conveniently be transported from farms in the Big Beaver/Troy Corners area. The interurban ran through the city along Livernois Rd. and continued north to Rochester and Flint.
The D.U.R. became a victim of the depression in the 1930’s and the growing popularity of the automobile. It laid a foundation for the connection between communities that exists today.