Michigan Central Railroad (MCRR)
In September 1871, the Michigan Central Railroad (MCRR) leased the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railway through Standish. The very first depot stood south of the present historical site. Built of wood, this structure deteriorated so quickly that by 1877 it became a serious problem for the MCRR. During that year, the village was informed that a new depot would be constructed of large fields stones donated by local farmers. The stone depot was completed in 1889.
Turn of the Century improvements
The depot suffered a fire sometime during the construction phase although there is no official record of a specific date. In the late 1880’s into the 1900’s, a volunteer band of about 18 musicians put on weekly concert in the summer time at the Band Stand (the current one is a “near” reproduction).
End of an Era
By 1927, the Depot Park began to diminish in use and to deteriorate for lack of upkeep. 1929 found passenger business falling away as fast as it had once grown. Only four passenger trains ran through town daily. In 1941 the N.Y.C. Railroad laid heavier rails on their main lines in hopes that they could carry heavier loads but the loads were not there to haul because the increasingly popular truck lines were already hauling them.
October 28, 1955 saw the last steam engine passenger coach pull into the M.C.R.R. Standish Train Depot.
Visitors can view railroad artifacts, documents, uniforms and more in the Depot’s museum room.
Founding of the former M.C. Standish Train Depot
October 4, 2009 at 10:27 AM
The Village of Standish was without a railroad until the early part of 1871 and was a product of the construction of the railroad line between West Bay City and Mackinaw. Construction of the line began in May of 1870 by the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad, which had completed a line from Jackson, Michigan, north through Lansing, Owosso and Saginaw to west Bay City in 1867. Mr. Hugh MacDonald of Standish, and his team graded the first railroad grades through this area. Founder John D. Standish permitted a right-of-way to the Jackson, Lansing, and Saginaw Railroad Co. to construct a railroad line north through Standish. In September of 1871 the line was built through Standish, and only went as far north as Wells Station, just south of Alger.
It is known that the first train depot was built in 1871 or 1872 on the south side of W. Cedar Street on the east side of the railroad tracks. The original depot was most likely a wooden, white pine structure, built in connection with the new railroad that had been authorized and laid in 1871. By 1885 railroad business was growing dramatically, eight passenger trains ran through Standish daily. The wooden structure lasted until the late part of 1887 when deterioration became a problem. In 1887 the Michigan Central Railroad informed the local residents of Standish that they would provide Stone Masons to build a new depot, if local farmers would haul in their large field stones for the exterior building material and foundation. The grounds for the new depot were cleared and graded by the Standish Business Men’s Association.
The Bay City Times circa 1888 expressed the opinion “the station “when finished” will be the finest depot on the line between Bay City and Mackinaw.” In 1889 The Standish Train Depot was completed through the efforts of C. L. Judd of Saginaw, the Standish Bank, Stone Masons (provided by the MCRR), and area farmers who had donated the stones, the stone building was constructed to be an outstanding depot in the north. The railroad was an essential part of the expansion of Standish, It gave way to rural and urban community development growth. The line was completed to Mackinaw City at the Straits of Mackinac several years later and became the Michigan Centrals Mackinaw Division.
The last steam engine passenger coach to pull into the MC Standish Train Depot was on October 28, 1955. The automobile began to take over and in 1965 the railroad had discontinued all passenger service. Glen Gray was the station agent in Standish from 1942 through 1947. Also as part of his official duties he was required by the government to deliver telegram messages to the families of service men who died serving the country during World War II. Mike Kiley was the traveling freight agent at the Standish Depot from the early 1940’s to 1965 or 1966 when he retired. He used the telegraph to communicate with the trains using Morse code. Mike was the last person to work at the depot before it closed in the mid 1960’s.