From the Advisor/Source Newspapers:
Imagine life without highways, traffic lights and gas stations, when the way you traveled in Macomb County was via a leisurely train ride. The Michigan Transit Museum offers nostalgic weekend rail trips for those curious about this laidback mode of transportation.
The 40-minute journey begins at Joy Park in Clinton Township where passengers board a 1930s passenger car that’s pulled by a diesel locomotive. The ride continues through Clinton Township, passing through Mount Clemens and Harrison Township. The maximum speed of the train is an unhurried 10 mph.
“Not only is the ride relaxing, it’s offers a slice of history unseen by most folks. Trains were the way to get around in years past. They whisked people around long before the automobile was even invented,” said Karl Joost, a longtime volunteer with the museum. “This train brings people back to a time where you just sat back and enjoyed the ride. Grandparents bring their grandchildren and show them what life was like on a train. Many people have never been on a train before.”
The train is run by a crew of about 10 that rotate through positions. An engineer operates the locomotive, a fireman keeps a watchful set of eyes on operations, and a motorman takes tickets and helps passengers. Admissions are sold at a caboose-turned-ticketing booth. At the depot, another person answers questions.
All workers are volunteers with the Michigan Transit Museum, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
“The museum was incorporated in 1973 by a bunch of guys who wanted to promote the history of railroading. The Mount Clemens depot was leased to the museum beginning in 1980, and they restored it to its 1859 appearance. The train began running in 1977, with service to the Selfridge Air Museum,” Joost said. “The entire operation has been run by unpaid volunteers for all of its 40 years. One of the missions of the museum is to educate the public on the history of railroading in Southeastern Michigan and the history of railroading in general.”
The train no longer operates through Selfridge due to security reasons, which is one of the setbacks the museum has experienced in reason years, Joost said. Ticket sales have been down, and the 2013 season began with only 23 of the 320 seats sold. The repaving of Gratiot, as well as several equipment and track issues, has hindered operation. A group of core volunteers is committed to keeping the train rolling, Joost said, and the public is invited to enjoy the historic railroad experience.
The train departs from Joy Park at 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. on Sundays through October. Joy Park is located in Mount Clemens near Joy Boulevard and Gratiot Avenue. Cost is $7 for adults, $4 for ages 4-12. Children 3 and younger ride for free.
The Mount Clemens Depot Museum is open weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For information, call 586-463-1863 or visit michigantransitmuseum.org