Marlette Train Depot – Beautifully Restored History

The Marlette Train Depot is a beautiful and well-restored example of a late 1800s railway station. Other examples of this Michigan’s Thumb include the railway depots in Pigeon, Capac Museum and Depot, and the restored 1903 Port Hope rail station. The tracks were completed in January 1881. The Port Huron and Northwestern railroad constructed the Marlette Branch after citizens raised $15,000 in funding for the construction of the tracks. The tracks were further extended to East Saginaw, creating a total run of 90 miles.

Pere Marquette Berkshire 1211
Pere Marquette Berkshire Locomotive 1211 in East Saginaw

In 1889, the Port Huron and Northwestern Railroad were purchased by the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad. The Pere Marquette Railroad began with the merger of three lumber railroads, the Flint & Pere Marquette, the Detroit, Grand Rapids & Western, and the Chicago & West Michigan. The Marlette Train Depot was constructed in 1890 as a full-service railway depot. The depot was built with a large waiting room, ticket and administration office, and a baggage room. The depot’s interior and exterior woodwork is well crafted and beautiful. An extravagance, but an indicator of the prosperity of the early railway era.

Marlette Depot with Passengers
Marlette Depot with Passengers

The railway was key to the economic growth of the Thumb’s agricultural business. By 1910 Marlette was a twice a day stop for passengers and freight between Port Huron and Saginaw. During World War 1, the United States Railway Administration nationalized America’s railways during the war. The depot saw service by sending freight and troops to fight in the Great War.

The Decline of Passenger Service and Depot Today

The last passenger service out of Marlette ended in 1936. In 2001, the depot was included in the State of Michigan Registry of Historic Places. With its restoration in 2006, the Marlette depot is a favorite among train enthusiasts and photographers. The Marlette depot is open as a historical museum.

Michigan Historical Marker


The first twenty-five miles of track for the Port Huron & Northwestern Railroad opened from Port Huron to Croswell in 1879. Marlette residents lured the railroad by raising $15,000 toward the construction of the tracks. The line extended from Saginaw Junction in St. Clair County to Marlette in January 1881, and Marlette and Mayville’s line opened in the fall. The Flint & Pere Marquette purchased the Port Huron & Northwestern in 1889. Flint contractor E.M. Stewart built this depot in 1890 with a double waiting room, an office, and a baggage room. The Marlette Historical Society bought the building in 1999.

Local Books About Michigan Railroads

Marlette Depot
Marlette Depot

Tuskeegee Red Tail Plane Found in Lake Huron – In April 2014, David Losinski, a diver who flew helicopters for the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, was on a boat diving with his son when, through the murky depths, they spotted the submerged door of the wreckage of the P-39. The aircraft was discovered in 30 feet of water about 5 miles north of Port Huron in Lake Huron. The p-39 was determined to be a training craft for the famous squadron of the Tuskegee Red Tails. 

Plans Underway to Relocate and Restore Original Ora et Labora Colony Cabin – Planning is underway by the Pigeon Historical Society to relocate and restore two cabins originally located in the Christian German Agricultural and Benevolent Society of Ora et Labora. In the 1800s German Methodist religious colony was founded by Emil Baur. Baur was sent by the elders of the famous utopian Harmony Society colony in Economy Pennsylvania to create a new settlement in northern Michigan.

Chippewa Tribe to Co-Manage of Sanilac Petroglyphs – On Monday, December 2, 2019, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Chief Ronald F. Ekdahl was joined by the Department of Natural Resources representative Sandra Clark to sign a ground-breaking Memorandum of Understanding.

Capac’s Amazing Railroad Station and Museum – 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.

Sebewaing’s Railway Depot; Hidden in Plain Sight – Our research shows that this passenger and freight line was in 1882. A narrow-gauge railway was put in place from East Saginaw to Sebewaing by the Saginaw, Tuscola, and Huron Railroad. A nine-mile extension to Bay Port was completed in 1884, then on to Bad Axe in 1886. The railway was converted to a standard gauge starting in 1891. Finally, it was purchased by Pere Marquette in 1903.

Early History of WKAR – AM 1917-1939 – The history of WKAR and early educational radio is marked by periods of experimentalism and growth. This is the early history of WKAR in the mid-Michigan area, and the advancement of the station we enjoy today.

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