Michigan Transportation History

Christian H. Buhl


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Christian H. Buhl (May 9, 1812 – January 23, 1894) was a businessman, industrialist, and banker in Detroit. He had a short political career as the Mayor of Detroit in 1860 and 1861.


Christian H. Buhl was born to German immigrant parents in Butler County, Pennsylvania, May 9, 1812. He got involved in the fur trade with his brother Frederick Buhl. They moved to Detroit and started F. & C. H. Buhl Company. Christian Buhl left the company in 1855 to go into hardware. Buhl's partner in hardware was Charles Ducharme. After Ducharme died, Buhl brought his sons into the business and renamed it Buhl, Sons & Co.

Buhl then got involved in iron production in Sharon, Pennsylvania (see Sharon Iron Works). In 1864, Buhl bought the Detroit Locomotive Works. In 1880, he merged it into the Buhl Iron Works. He was also an organizer of the Peninsular Car Company. Buhl also organized the Detroit Copper and Brass Rolling Mill Company. Buhl was the principle builder of both the Detroit, Hillsdale & Indiana Railroad and the Detroit, Eel River & Illinois Railroad. He served as president of both railroads.

Buhl also got into banking. He was one of the investors in teh 1845 Michigan State Bank and then in 1883, the Second National Bank of Detroit and its successor the Detroit National Bank. He was president of the DNB for one year.

In politics before 1854, Buhl voted Whig and was elected to City Council as a Whig from the Second Ward in 1851. After 1854, Buhl voted Republican. In 1860, he was elected mayor of Detroit.

In 1842, Buhl married Caroline DeLong of Utica, New York, and they had five children. Three of these children died before achieving majority, but Theodore D. Buhl and Frank H. Buhl worked with their father in many of his enterprises. Theodore Buhl lived in Detroit all of his life. But Frank Buhl moved to Sharon, Pennsylvania, to oversee the family interests there and became a prominent man of that community.

Buhl was a philanthropist to many Detroit charities. In 1885, Buhl donated a substantial law library, worth around $15,000, to the University of Michigan Buhl also was a patron of the arts promoting the Detroit Art Museum. He also served as a trustee to the Detroit Medical College. He was also an active parishioner of the Fort Street Presbyterian Church.

Christian H. Buhl died January 23, 1894.


Most of this information is available through

Silas Farmer, The History of Detroit and Michigan: The Metropolis Illustrated (Detroit: S. Farmer & co., 1889), 1043.


Clarence Monroe Burton, s.v. "Christian H. Buhl," Compendium of History and Biography of the City of Detroit and Wayne County, Michigan (Chicago: Henry Taylor & Co., 1909), 320.

Citation: When referencing this page please use the following citation:

R. D. Jones, "Christian H. Buhl," Michigan Transportation History (Ypsilanti, MI: 2020), www.michtranshist.info/.

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Page last modified on March 23, 2020, at 01:13 PM EST

Page last modified on March 23, 2020, at 01:13 PM EST