Key Concepts

PDF Print E-mail


The Interurban


On April 18, 1896,  the Battle Creek Daily Journal confidently predicted a "REAL ESTATE BOOM" as soon as the proposed electric railway was running between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. According to the newspaper, a "deal was closed" to connect the cities "by an electric street car line."  Work would commence "as soon as the right of way can be secured." 


Street car service had begun 13 years earlier,  when horse-powered cars first appeared in Battle Creek.  Electric cars were introduced in 1891.  Almost immediately, local entrepreneurs began speculating about extending service to neighboring cities.  Businessmen began approaching their counterparts in Kalamazoo, Richland, Augusta, Galesburg and Gull Lake about an interurban line connecting the Gull Lake resort with Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.


They proposed "to start a car from the bank corners in Battle Creek every hour, and from the main four corners in Kalamazoo at the same time.  The fare between the two cities will be 25 cents."


The citizens of Augusta and Galesburg were said to be "jubilant over this new move."   Predicting that a number of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo families would want to escape to the country for the season, the villagers were sure they would lure the city folk into buying summer residences, once fast transportation was available to the city. 


About the same time the newly-formed Bicycle Club was proposing a cycle path along  the same route, to accomodate the growing number of "wheelmen and wheel women" in Battle Creek. 


The newspaper actively supported these projects, noting that local citizens would have a "choice as to the way in which to reach our celery neighbors, the railroad, the electric railway or the wheel.


Implementation of these ambitious plans took a little longer than originally anticipated.  The first "interurban" did not actually run from Battle Creek to Galesburg until June 28, 1900.  The line to Gull Lake was opened just in time for the Fourth of July, while service began to Kalamazoo on August 1, 1900.  The interurbans continued to run until 1928, when they were replaced by motor buses.