Ask anyone who knows the history of Kalamazoo and they'll tell you it's the railroads that grew the town (and now is the bane of some downtowners' existence). The same can be said for the state of Michigan. A new documentary showcases how railroads grew across the state.

The main goal of railroads, and canal companies before that, was to cross the state from east to west and gain access to the Great Lakes via Lake Michigan.

The name Kalamazoo appears in one of the first railroads to be chartered in Michigan, the Erie and Kalamazoo. Despite the name, the rail line didn't necessarily aim to pull through the city but rather access the Kalamazoo River somewhere along its meandering 178 mile path from Hillsdale County to the mouth at Saugatuck.

The original Erie and Kalamazoo only made it to Adrian, well short of the Kalamazoo River. However the railroad went on to have a larger future merging into what would be the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern and stretching from Chicago to Buffalo.

Watch the entire documentary below to see how railroads began to crisscross Michigan.

BONUS VIDEO - 9 Possible Meanings of the Word 'Kalamazoo'