Durand, MI
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The Historic Durand Union Station was completed in 1903 in the grand Chateau revival style at the junction of Grand Trunk Western Railroads and Ann Arbor Railroads. Durand developed as a railroad town including a large roundhouse. At the railroad’s peak six different railroad lines converged on the town. The large two-story station in addition to the usual passenger amenities of a main waiting room, ladies and men’s lounges, and a dining room; contained railroad offices and crew sleeping quarters on the second floor. In 1971 passenger service ceased with the creation of Amtrak and the station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1974 the station was officially abandoned by the Grand Trunk Western and threatened with demolition. This same year, Amtrak Blue Water service began operations restoring passenger service to the city on September 13, with a trailer for passengers in the depot parking lot. In 1979 the City of Durand purchased the station and the building was slowly restored, becoming the home of the Michigan State Railroad History Museum, Information Center and Archives in 1990.

Today the large station building has been fully restored. On the first floor is the main Amtrak waiting room that is opened and closed by a caretaker for an hour around the morning and evening Blue Water train times. The large room has maroon walls historical information along some of them and strangely multiple pianos, include a few in the large Ladies and Mens lounges/restrooms. The ticket office is closed but is still in its historic grander along the corner of the station by the place the historically GTW and the Ann Arbor railroad tracks still cross each other. A monitor in the ticket window (visible from outside) shows the track and train location feed in the Durand areas from CN’s centralized train control system. There is finally a QuikTrak machine in one corner for Amtrak ticket purchases.

The rest of the station is still open to the public as the Michigan Railroad Museum (admission free), the former dining room contains the main exhibits which touch on a variety of railroad themes. Upstairs is a ballroom (with nice views down to the track junction), and special rooms run by separate historical societies for the GTW and Ann Arbor Railroads. This is finally a Model Railroad Exhibit. Here is a large layout that includes a neat representation of what the historic yards in Durand once looked like. The layout is on the ground floor of the station and is only accessible by heading outside and through the rest of the museum. If you visit plan to come on Saturday afternoons, the only time all the rooms are open (the first floor and main museum is open most days).

To board trains, passengers head outside the station and to a fenced off platform through a little gate that is opened and closed only when the train has arrived. The platform looks primitive and unimproved. This leads out to a narrow platform and second wooden crossing to a second track. The station is wheelchair accessible with a wheelchair lift stored somewhere in the station building but there is no clear wheelchair lift enclosure. There is mostly white with black text Durand signage on the station but an older Amtrak pointless arrow Durand sign hangs on the edges of the depot, facing the parking lot

Road access to the station is complicated because the grade crossing of Railroad Street in front of the depot has been closed across the tracks for safety reasons, this has disconnected the station from the rest of Downtown Durand. Instead to access the station and museum passengers must make “3 Rights” to get to the station, as a sign says on the gate, and make a half-mile confusing detour via Main Street crossing the tracks on Russel Street and turning back to the station at the now dead-end of Ann Arbor Street through a residential neighborhood.

A park in downtown across the tracks from the station houses Steam Engine #5632, a Grand Truck Railroad baggage car, Caboose #75003, and a former switching tower, further contributing to the fact Durand was a railroad town.


Photos 1-20: November 25, 2018; 21-78: July 20, 2018

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Amtrak

Last Updated: 20 December, 2019
This website is not affiliated with Amtrak, their official website is here, A source I have used countless times while compiling this section is Amtrak's Great American Stations
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