Albion Recorder & Morning Star Columns


We have a special anniversary coming up here in Albion on July 4. It was 180 years ago that the first railroad train arrived in Albion. The State of Michigan financed the building of a strap-iron railroad across Southern Michigan in the early 1840s, and the tracks reached Albion on June 25, 1844. On July 4, 1844, the first train arrived, a locomotive named the Rocky Mountain. It was powered by wood and a few barrels of water. Another locomotive on that first line was nicknamed Storm. Albion was then in direct connection with the rest of the world “out east” from whence its inhabitants had come.

Passenger service was instituted December 11, 1844. The first passenger train was nicknamed the Antelope, consisting of an engine and four cars. The tracks to Marshall and Battle Creek were completed in the following months. A person could travel by rail from Detroit to Marshall in a period of 7 ½ hours for a fare of about $3; it took half an hour to ride from Albion to Marshall.

One hundred years later on Saturday, July 8, 1944, Albion held a celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the railroad. New York Central Railroad officials from Detroit and Jackson came to the event which was headquartered at the Parker Inn Hotel on E. Michigan Avenue. A special large Mercury passenger locomotive, engine and caboose was parked on the tracks north of the Post Office and attracted numerous persons. Unfortunately, the temperature reached 96 degrees during the afternoon, and spectators often sought relief under Albion’s trees that day.

A celebration parade was held on Superior St. beginning at 2:30 pm which attracted some 8,000 persons along the route. E. Floyd Hoaglin served as parade chairman. Numerous “pioneer” themed entries from businesses, clubs and individuals were included in the event. Music was provided by the Albion City Band, and the Boosters and Knockers Club provide provided its vocal quartet attired with top hats, long dark coats, and gray striped trousers.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the Railroad Centennial parade, in front of the Albion Bakery on S. Superior St. On the left we see Maurice Osborn (1902-1980) on his high-wheel bicycle. Next is the Frost Shoe Store bicycle entry which states, “Frost Shoe Store 1867-1944.” The bicycle is driven by Richard “Dick” Wolcott (1928-1956), with Robert Frost III (1928-2013) on the back. They are dressed in pioneer garb. The man on the far right on another bicycle is unidentified.

Albion is fortunate that we still have active passenger service serving our Michigan Central Railroad depot on N. Eaton St. today. When is the last time you took a train ride from the Albion depot?

One Reply to “Historical Notebook: RAILROAD ARRIVED HERE 180 YEARS AGO

  1. What a great article about Albion’s history! Frank Passic’s column is my favorite part of the Morning Star.

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