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Season's Greetings!

Enjoy this article from the December 2022 WestConn Manifest

Happy Holidays on the Michigan Central

John Garofalo

Photos by the Author

Michigan Central Railroad station in Jackson, Michigan – 1/1/2010

For a week after Christmas 2009, Anthony Gruerio and I made a railfanning swing through Michigan. Our main objective was to photograph the abandoned Michigan Central Station in Detroit, which at the time was rumored to be coming down. Fortunately, the impressive old building still stands and is being transformed by the Ford Motor Company. We also sought out other stations and interlocking towers to photograph.

The Michigan Central Railroad (MC) built some handsome stations, mainly using brick or stone. Many years ago, during my time as an internal auditor, I visited Amtrak stations along the Michigan Central from Niles to Detroit. It was nice to be back on the MC at the end of 2009. I recalled the wonderful stone station in Ann Arbor houses a restaurant called the Gandy Dancer. New Year’s Eve dinner in the old the Ann Arbor station was a good choice. The first day of 2010 found us in Jackson. It was a sunny, but cold day.

Michigan Central’s brick station in Jackson was completed in 1873. It replaced one built in 1841. The station is long and narrow, measuring 44 feet x 325 feet. A separate L-shaped brick express building was built at the east end. Although not as ornate as some MC stations, Jackson’s Italianate design, with high windows, lends itself to railfans’ cameras.

I had not been in the Jackson station since June 10, 1977, when I was a newly-minted Amtrak Internal Auditor and R. Rogers was the ticket agent. Conrail and the New York Central Credit Union had offices in the building back then. A 1978 refurbishment and subsequent improvements returned the building to its grand look of 1873. I don’t think I have ever seen a waiting room so nicely decorated for the holidays than in Jackson. A local railfan/station volunteer did a splendid job getting the old station ready to greet Christmas travelers annually (unfortunately, decorating the station is no longer allowed).

Although it was a cold 2010 New Year’s Day in Jackson, Michigan, Anthony Gruerio and I found the warmth of the holiday season inside the station. You could sense it was Happy Holidays on the old Michigan Central!

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