It wasn’t until 1903 that the Flint and Pere Marquette railway extended tracks from Harbor Beach north to Port Hope in the Upper Thumb. Financed by local businessmen, a standard gauge rail line was laid the final seven miles. The following year a modern depot was built to host passengers and cargo. Now passengers could come in from anywhere in the country and Port Hope could ship out commodities to other markets.
The Depot was the End-Of-The-Line
The railway owners deemed Port Hope to be the end of the line running up the eastern shore of Lake Huron. So an engine house, water tower, and a “Y” turn-around were built to maintain the depot. Up until sometime in the 1930s, there was a daily train that ran from Port Huron to Port Hope in the morning with a return trip in the late afternoon. The run took three hours. Trains continued to run to Port Hope to another fifty years. The last freight runs the ceased operation in 1982.
The Restored Port Hope Depot Today
Today the Depot has been exquisitely restored. You can see exhibits in the passenger waiting room, the station masters office, luggage, and freight room. Each room has been painted to match the original color. The station looks brand new. One of the most interesting items on display was a pair of glasses found trapped for over one hundred years behind window trim in the station master office. The wireframe glasses are extremely fragile yet look brand new.
Port Hope Chimney
A landmark that you can’t miss is the 80-foot sawmill chimney that was constructed in 1858 by John Geltz. The chimney still stands in perfect condition. It is noted as one of Port Hope’s historical landmarks.
Model Railroad Shows History of Port Hope and Harbor Beach
In the lower level of the depot, there is an extensive model railroad being built by volunteer craftsmen. The model depicts how the depot and Harbor Beach depots and freight yards looked when the railway was active in the early 1900s. Volunteers are still at work creating this area it looked. It’s a fascinating exhibit in miniature. The model railroad can be seen when the depot is open or by appointment at 989-550-5298.
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