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Capac Michigan’s Amazing Historical Museum and Railroad Depot

The Capac Railroad Depot is a bit off the beaten path. Situated east of Imlay City, it maintains the vibrant small-town rural charm found in Michigan. The town is located between Port Huron and Flint. The historic railroad depot is also home to one of the finest small-town museums in the region.

Capac Depot Before 1914
Capac Depot Before 1914

Capac Depot

The Grand Trunk Western opened a station in Capac in 1866. The community was incorporated as a village in 1873. The depot served as the village’s economic focal point. Amazingly this is the fourth depot for this small town. The first depot built north of the tracks burned down in 1880, and a second brick depot was built south of the tracks. It was declared “unsafe” and replaced by a third depot north of the tracks in the 1890s. The third depot was lost to a fire in 1913. This fourth and final depot was sold to the town for $1 and moved to this location in 1988.


Capac Michigan Was The Birthplace of Prest0n Tucker

Preston Tucker at podium
Photograph courtesy of The Tucker Automobile Club of America, Inc. collection at The Tucker Historical Collection and Library, CC BY-SA 2.5

Automobile entrepreneur Preston Tucker was born near Capac in 1903. His father, Shirley Harvey Tucker, was a railroad engineer. His mother was Lucille Caroline Preston. Tucker was involved in many innovative aspects of automobile engineering. He developed race cars for Henry Ford, an early prototype of an armored vehicle, and aircraft engines. However, Tucker is most remembered for the development of the 1948 Tucker Torpedo.

The Kempf Model City

The Capac Railroad Depot Museum is also home to the Kempf Model City. A 1/8th scale diorama of a model town was painstakingly crafted over seven years from 1916 to 1923. The display is 40 feet long.

In 1916 the Kempf brothers Fred, Irving, and Bruce charged a dime to see the town. The owners toured and displayed the miniature city at expositions, state fairs, and retail department stores from 1923 to 1942.


This is actually the second version of the model. The original Kempf Model City was built by Fred S. Kempf in the early 1900s when he was a teenager. The Mechanical Wonder was shown in events across the country, from vaudeville acts to county fairs. Unfortunately, the original model was destroyed due to a horrific train crash, which killed Fred Kempf and his wife in 1915.

Sources

Thanks to the Capac Historical Society Museum and the members of the Quilters in Training Quilt Guild of Capac for their hospitality. The Kempf Center is open Monday through Friday from Noon to 3:00 pm. The Depot Museum is open May through September, Monday through Friday from Noon to 3:00 pm, and Sunday from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

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