Tomorrow, the Lake Cities will begin operating between Chicago and Pontiac, Michigan, thus bringing to a close an era that began on Aug. 3, 1980, when the Chicago-Detroit Saint Clair was renamed and became a Chicago-Toledo train.
The purpose of that move was to offer connecting service at Toledo with the Lake Shore Limited for Michigan passengers.
That move was a fulfillment of a plan that Amtrak had in 1971 but never implemented. The original Lake Shore was to have a Toledo-Detroit connecting train, but it never operated due to poor track conditions. By 1980, the former Penn Central route the train would have used had been rebuilt by Conrail.
A budget shortfall that led to a massive Amtrak route restructuring in 1995 would doom the Lake Cities in Toledo. Since this April day in 1996, passengers connecting in Toledo to and from Michigan points have traveled by bus.