Jackson Train Station – Living History
Jackson Train Station – Working Living History
We took a day trip to visit friends in Kalamazoo. On our way, we took a quick stop to visit the historic Jackson train station. It was an interesting site and it was like going back in time.
The Jackson station (JXN) is one of the oldest continually operating railway stations in the United States. The brick Italianate depot is embellished with a rich variety of woods harvested in Michigan. The waiting room of the station looked much as it did in the early 1900’s. The waiting area has long wooden pew-like benches facing the tracks. Intricate woodwork surrounds the ticket desk and within the waiting room. A carved walnut arch separated the ticket office from the newsstand and women’s waiting room and crystal chandeliers hang overhead. Back in the day, there was also a telegraph office, baggage room, restaurant, and indoor restrooms.
Jackson Train Station Beginning and Rapid Growth
The original Jackson station was built in 1841 by Michigan Central Railroad. By the Civil War, more rail lines came into the station. It was hosting the Jackson, Lansing and Saginaw Railroad, the Fort Wayne, Jackson and Saginaw Railroad, the Grand River Railway, and the Michigan Air Line Railroad. The station was having 30 arrivals and departures daily. The Michigan Central Railroad needed a “Grand Station” and gave the project to Henry Gardner. He was a master builder for the railroads. Gardner completed the station in 1872. The new Jackson station served as a Union station for several railroads for many years. One interesting aspect of the station is its slate roof so it was more protected against fire from flying sparks from the wood and coal burning steam engines of the late 1800’s.
JXN Station – One Hundred Years of Service
The station was last refurbished as part of the country’s Bicentennial celebrations in 1978. The brick exterior was cleaned, the terrazzo floors were restored and the elaborate wood trim and benches were, refinished. As part of the restoration, an original artwork created by Leland Beamon The large mural depicts the depot in 1904 alongside a modern Turboliner Amtrak train.
Birthplace of the Michigan Coney Island Hot Dog
The train station also takes credit for the invention of the famous Coney Island Hot Dog in Michigan. In 1914 George Todoroff set up a hotdog stand right in front of the station. It was popular with travelers as well as the local community. The hotdog stand ran until Georges son Tom went off to serve in World War II. Today the Jackson Coney Island continues the tradition and is only steps away from the station.
Jackson Railway Station’s Future
In 2002, the depot was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Restoration continues albeit at a slow pace. There are plans to expand the station into a modern transportation hub for the region similar to what was accomplished in Kalamazoo. The station sits between the Ann Arbor station to the east and the Albion station toward the west heading to Chicago.
Jackson (JXN)Amtrak Services
Jackson serves the Wolverine line. The Wolverine runs three times a day from Pontiac – Detroit to Chicago through Jackson. The train took its name from the historic Michigan Central Line. The train is considered a high-speed rail service as it reaches speeds of 110 mph.