Historic Information of the Past

The original depot was built in 1871 (south of M-61) just after the Lansing, Jackson and Saginaw Railroad finished a new line north of Bay City to Wells. The City of Standish was platted around the railroad line, so the railroad was the key to the community’s growth and success.

The construction of the Standish Depot was a two year process. It began in 1887 and was completed by 1889. The depot suffered a fire sometime during the construction phase, there is no official record of a specific date.

A Bay City Times article from 1892 stated; “The MCRR have done much, and are continuing the good work, to make Standish the largest, liveliest, and best town on their road north of Bay City; and have spent more than $10,000 there in the past year, their stone passenger depot alone costing $5,000.”

In the late 1880’s into the 1900’s before television or radios, the volunteer band of about eighteen people would put on weekly concerts in the summer time at the Band Stand of the Standish Depot.

February 1, 1916: Sam Good expects to ship another carload of horses from Standish next Tuesday by express. He ships to Chicago where they are reshipped to Europe for use in the war. The express charges on a car load of horses from here to Chicago is $50.00.

November 1, 1917: Another train wreck at Alger last night made a total of four near the same location in the past month.

During the First World War many flag poles were erected where none had been before. In 1918 the city erected a 62 foot flag pole in the Standish Depot Park.

August 26, 1920: The Standish Board of Commerce decided last night that the M. C. depot park will be beautified and kept in good condition.

In 1921 the Superintendent of Schools organized a group of boys to keep the Depot Park and cemeteries clean. This project only lasted for about six years, and both projects deteriorated from then on.

June 16, 1921: The Standish City Band furnished an excellent outdoor concert in the depot park last Wednesday evening.

July 28, 1921: The schedule of the better sire and dairy train to be run by the Michigan Central in August shows two stops in Arenac County.

August 18, 1921: The D & M Railroad is building a new trestle bridge across the river at Au Gres and plans to extend the spur to Alabaster.

February 22, 1922: Bay, Arenac and Ogemaw counties experienced about as bad a sleet storm as has ever been known. With all the ice damage, no serious accidents were reported. Train service was discontinued for three days.

November 19, 1924: The D&M railroad set a new record for the Bay City to Alpena run. The train averaged better than 48 miles per hour.

July 29, 1925: One thousand soldiers will detrain at Sterling on August 5th… the soldiers will train along the Rifle River north of Sterling.

February 17, 1926: Over 1,000 people in the area attended the meetings at the conservation “white car” provided by the M.C.R.R.

April 21, 1926: The D.& M. R.R. has made application to close its Pine River Station.

September 8, 1926: Work on the MCRR Depot Park in Standish recalls the construction of the Depot 38 years ago. (1888) Through the efforts of C. L. Judd of Saginaw, the Standish Bank and area farmers, the stone building was constructed to be an outstanding depot in the north. The attractive park was also part of the original plan.

In 1927 the Depot Park began to diminish and deteriorate due to the lack of up keep.

In 1929 this passenger business fell off as fast as it grew and there were only four passenger trains daily through town.

June 5, 1929: The M. C. R. R. water tank and pumping station, which have been landmarks at Alger since 1883, are being torn down.

In 1935 truckload after truckload of 30 inch metal pipe came into town by freight to be moved to other locations by trucks. This was for the oil pipeline that was going to be built from Alberta Canada to Port Huron Michigan. It runs nearly the full length of Michigan.

Douglas Honey worked for the N.Y.C. Railroad and became a telegrapher and station agent. In 1936 our local station agent Douglas Honey reported that from June 1935 through June 1936 the railroad brought in 339 cars of gasoline into Standish. Those were the days when all urgent messages went by Western Union (telegraph). If necessary, money could be sent by telegraph also. Douglas worked in the local depot until his retirement.

In 1941 the N.Y.C. Railroad layed heavier rails on their main lines in hopes that they could carry heavier loads, but the loads were not there to haul as the truck lines were already hauling them.

In the 1940s the Fletcher Oil Company built a gas station in front of the Depot, bringing the number of gas stations along “Gasoline Alley” now US-23 to seventeen.

The spring of 1953 was a very dry one and the new diesel trains were causing many fires along the railroad right-of-way by throwing out hot carbon deposits. The old trains used screens to prevent fires along the railway.

February 11, 1953: G. B. Moat has purchased the D.& M. Railroad depot at Twining.

October 28, 1955: The last steam engine passenger coach pulled into the M.C.R.R. Standish Train Depot.

By 1955 many of the depots were sold and moved away from the railroad property. Some were used as barns and others were to become homes or business places.

Robert and Karen Wiltse had the Standish Depot placed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 28, 1991.

On February 17, 1992 the D&M Railroad was sold to the Huron Acquisition Co. becoming the Lake State Railway Company (L.S.R.C.) Excellence In Transportation.

The Authority hosted their first annual Depot Days Festival on October 1st and 2nd of 2005 at the Standish Depot.

Saturday, October 1, 2005: The 1225 Pere Marquette Michigan Steam Engine and restored passenger cars from the Blue Water Chapter pulled into the Standish Depot. It was the first steam engine to arrive in 50 years for the passenger excursion to Grayling and back.

A dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the restored Standish Depot on July 24, 2007 by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

The Standish Historical Depot Welcome Center officially opened their doors to the public on October 1, 2007.

Excerpts from the Arenac County Historical Society; Most dateline items are quoted from the Arenac County Independent, The Story of Standish And Its People 1876 – 1976 by Allen McReady, History of the Standish Depot By MDOT