Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, May 29, 1994, pg. 4
During the weekend of April 16-18, a landmark in Albion was removed and shipped to a Museum in Illinois. It was the old Interurban Car No. 26 which sat for 60 years next to 1110 Austin Avenue, the residence of Mrs. Larry Bearman. For many years it served as the residence of Frank and Dellie Gunn, with their antique store located in the portion of the car nearest the road.
Originally however, the car was used on the Michigan Railways, the Interurban Line which ran across Southern Michigan from 1903 to1929. In February 1913, the Michigan United Railways ordered 10 cars: 4 coach, Nos. 50-53; and 6 passenger cars--Nos. 24-29. The cars were constructed in late 1913, and finished by the spring of 1914. Car #27 is known to have been completed in April of that year. The group of new interurban cars were shipped on their own wheels to the Gull Lake Junction, and then to Albion where they were electrically fitted at the local interurban car shop on the west side of 27 Mile Road and Austin Avenue. The new cars were placed into operation in June, 1914.
For many years, Car No. 26 rolled back and forth across Southern Michigan carrying passengers and freight. On September 28, 1928, it was involved in a collision with a “brother” Car No. 25 at “Emery’s siding” west of Albion, near the old historic Reuben Emery farmhouse on what today is Michigan Avenue. The cars were not repaired, as the interurban operation was winding down at that time.
Car #26 was purchased by an interurban employee who lived on Irwin Avenue. It was shipped there and used for storage for a few years. Around 1932, Frank Gunn purchased the car, and his son-in-law Larry Bearman drove Car No. 26 on Irwin Avenue, through downtown Albion, and to Austin Avenue, lifting up the overhead wires along the way.
The old Car No. 26 served as home for the Gunn’s, as well as their family antique store for many years. In the early 1950s they sold the old bell for the interurban to a young lad from Illinois named Norm Krental. Norm subsequently became very much interested in interurban history and the restoration of old interurban cars. He became a volunteer at the Illinois Railway Museum, and remembered the interurban Car #26 at the Bearman’s who inherited it after the death of the Gunn’s.
Krental has been very active through the years in securing old interurban cars, photographs, and their histories. In 1971 they were able to secure for the Museum a “brother” Car No. 28 which had been sitting for many years at Duck Lake at the Charlotte Landing. It was donated at the time by Orville Hale. However, the car had been stripped of many parts, and the Museum had no patterns to replace the missing pieces.
This year, Mrs. Beatrice Bearman agreed to donate the interurban Car No. 26 to the Illinois Railway Museum. It was dismantled the weekend of April 16-18 by several volunteers, including Norm Krental. The parts will be used to restore car No. 28, which is sitting at the Museum in Illinois today. Thus the legacy of Car No. 26 will live on, along with the history of the interurban line through Albion. Anyone interested in visiting the Museum may write: Illinois Railway Museum, P. O. Box 427, Union, Illinois.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1928 photograph of Car No. 26 at the Taylorville repair facility after it was involved in the crash. Our second photograph shows Car #26 being dismantled this past April by Norm Krental and crew. Special thanks to Norm, and Mrs. Larry Bearman for supplying me with the information for this article. If any of our readers have old interurban photographs, including those of “Taylorville” (the repair shops), the Interurban station on E. Erie St., and the original one on S. Superior St., let me know, as we can feature more interurban articles in the future.
1928 photograph of Car No. 26
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic