Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, March 16, 2014, pg. 6
Albion is fortunate to have a rich railroad history. We are also fortunate to still have passenger trains stop at our depot, and the service is really used here. Our present brick railroad depot was erected in 1882. Our brick depot replaced an original small wooden structure which served our community from the 1840s when the railroad arrived, through the Civil War, and beyond into the early 1880s.
There are no photographs of Albionís original train depot, but there is an artistís depiction of it in the 1866-67 "Birdís Eye View of Albion" by artist Albert Ruger (1828-1899). From our Historical Notebook this week we present that portion of the View and will make observations here.
An artistís depiction of the Albion Train Depot in the 1866-67 "Birdís Eye View of Albion" by artist Albert Ruger
The big building you see in the center would be a freight depot. This is where products would be loaded, unloaded and stored for shipment. Its location would be the parking area just north of the main track today. In front of it is a smaller building. That was the passenger depot. We assume the small building just to the left is an outhouse, as Albion did not have a municipal sewer system in those days. Further left, or "even" with the left side of the freight depot is a small round building with a pointed roof. We assume that this could have been a waiting area.
Notice that the tracks are split. Apparently the north track serviced the freight depot, and the south track serviced the passengers. The south tracks ran where the depot parking area is today and alongside the billboard. This track was used for many years even into the 20th century as a spur track and serviced nearby factories such as the Union Steel Screen Company which was located where todayís fire station sits, and the building across the street. Iíve read that some of the tracks still lay buried under the sidewalk between N. Superior and N. Clinton Sts.
Notice that N. Clinton St. did not extend over the tracks in this view. To the north are shown the proposed tracks of the Amboy, Lansing and Traverse Bay Railroad. When this View was drawn, the route was proposed, but the tracks were not laid until 1872 a few years later. This line eventually became known as the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad. This is why Vine St. is so "thin." The railroad came in and took up some of the space formerly occupied by the street.
On the far left of this view just south of the tracks we see some stalls in a long building. This was part of Albionís "stockyard" area where sheep, cattle, and other animals were unloaded for area farmers. The animals would then be herded and driven along the middle of S. Eaton St. to W. Erie St. and to points south and west to their farm destination.
To the far right is a large building with a lot of windows. This was Parkerís Hotel, located where the Post Office parking lot is today. Railroad passengers thereby had easy access to a nearby hotel for lodging.
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic