Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, October 11, 2020, pg. 3

Albion once had a railroad freight depot to handle the large amount of rail shipments in and out of the city by various manufacturers and suppliers. The Michigan Central Railroad freight depot was a large wooden structure located north of the main tracks at 315 N. Clinton St. Today this is the site of Gina’s Pizza.

Early on the morning of Wednesday October 13, 1920, the Michigan Central Railroad freight house complex was destroyed in a spectacular blaze.

Also destroyed was the Frank E. Nowlin grain elevator which was located on the western side of the structure. The fire was caused by spontaneous combustion in the "dust-room" on the western end of the building. The fire was reported by Chief of Police Clyde Stoddard, who happened to be at the railroad passenger station across the tracks to meet the 1:49 am westbound train when the fire began. Unfortunately, the fire spread quickly because the door at the eastern end was open due to maintenance, and the draft spread the fire throughout the entire structure. The Albion Fire Department did a tremendous job along with volunteers in saving neighboring residences and structures from the fire droppings in the vicinity.

As far as losses, the Albion Recorder reported, "Two freight-cars filled with merchandise about to be shipped out, together with an empty freight car were consumed inside of the freight house. Two other rail-cars, one containing six Ford cars including touring cars and one sedan billed to [local Ford auto dealers] McCarty and Bealer of this city, and the other carrying a carload of wire for the Consumers Power Company, were burned in the yards nearby with their contents." Mr. Nowlin’s company suffered $15,000 in total losses. In total, the blaze did $100,000 in damage.

The following year, a new replacement smaller freight office was constructed adjacent to the south side of the Lansing branch tracks. For many years this was the New York Central Railroad freight office at 303 N. Clinton St. Today the replacement building houses Gina’s Pizza at 301 N. Clinton St. Oh, it’s the same building, just different address numbers were given in the city directory listings.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1915 view of the MCRR freight depot complex, with spur tracks, now Gina’s parking lot, in the foreground. The MCRR passenger depot would be across the tracks on the right.

1915 view of the MCRR freight depot complex


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