February 23, 2012

Durand Union Station

My parents were visiting us for a few days mid week.  John had to go out of town for work the last day of their visit.  Lincoln & Spencer had Friday off of school and Thursday they had a morning field trip to the movies.  I like to see the potential of all this and maximize!  
Since, John was going to be out of town and my parents were going home, we decided to follow them home.  Now that the boys are in school, our adventures have been drastically reduced, boo!  I like to take advantage of the random days they get off, they are very few and far between.
The plan was to cross the border on Friday and have our first Canadian lighthouse exploration!  woo hoo!!
So, my parents headed out Thursday morning and took Jax and Lucky with them.  I was able to take the boys to their field trip.  We saw "The Secret World of Arriety".  Good flick, fun times with my boys.

We were able to head out right from the movies.  We had the van already packed and we didn't have to go home and pick up Lucky - huge time saver.  I very rarely have my two big boys alone, so I wanted to make a memorable day out of it.  Next stop--Happy Meals!!

Happy Meals
The next stop is one that I have been meaning to make for a long time--Durand Union Station.  I usually have Jackson and Lucky with me, and it just seems too complicated.  Although, now that we've been we'll definitely go back with the whole family.  Jackson and John would love it!
Durand, MI is a small little town right off of I-69, totally worth stopping.  It has that nice historic small town feel to it.  I wasn't quite sure how far into town it was, this was a spur of the moment idea and a fun surprise for the boys.  I plugged the railroad station into my navigation and went for it.  On the way there we stumbled upon this little park with a train and railroad crossing sign.  Of course, we had to get out and explore.  The boys thought this was the surprise and they loved it!
It turns out that it is a beautiful memorial to a terrible train accident in 1923.  It claimed four lives and 32 people were injured.  Click on the picture of the historical sign below to read the details.

click on pic to read

tiger drinking fountain

Now on to the main event--Durand Union Station!  The station was originally built in 1903.  Eighteen months later it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1905.  In it's hay day, 142 trains and approximately 3,000 passengers passed through daily.  Since then the use of railroads has diminished greatly.  In 1974, the station was abandoned.  It seemed as though it was going to be torn down.  In 1979, the community rallied to save it.  The city purchased it for $1 and now it is the State Railroad History Museum. (read the complete history here)

(image from Durand Union Station)

The Durand Union Station is now being used again as an Amtrak Depot.  It also houses the Michigan Railroad Museum.  On the day we went it was closed, due to flooding damage.  It will be open again soon, they are working hard to get it back in tip top shape.   Also, on Saturdays they have a model train exhibit open.  You can rest assured that we will be back on a Saturday!
They boys had so much fun they didn't even realize they were missing out on anything.  We were the only visitors in there and the employees were super friendly and happy to have us.  They gave the kids conductor hats, they showed us around and they even unlocked the ticket booth and let us inside.  It was definitely a fun day with my boys.  They can't wait to go back with Daddy and Jackson.

inside the ticket booth