Durand Union Station - Michigan Railroad History Museum
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All-Aboard to Discover 19 Train Museums in Michigan

Michigan’s railroad history extends further back than the state itself, with the first railroad tracks having been laid in 1833 on the Erie & Kalamazoo Railroad between Adrian and Toledo, Ohio.

From that moment forward, railroading played a major role in the growth and development of the land that would soon become Michigan, helping to fuel the economy and allowing new residents to settle in nearly every corner of the state.

To celebrate that time-honored heritage, there are many train museums in Michigan to explore. These are just a few of the Michigan museums where you can enjoy interactive and immersive exhibits about the important role that trains played in the history of the Great Lakes State.

Durand Union Station — Michigan Railroad History Museum
Durand Union Station Model Railroad Engineers | photo via dusmre

Durand Union Station — Michigan Railroad History Museum

Durand

The Durand Union Station is a historic train station that now houses the Michigan Railroad History Museum. The 120-year-old building has a distinct architectural style, which has allowed it to become one of the most photogenic historic train depots in the country.

Visitors who are interested in exploring the museum will find that it boasts one of the largest collections of railroad industry artifacts in the state of Michigan, making it a favorite among those who are truly passionate about trains.

In addition to preserving and protecting the historic station itself, the museum also works to showcase the rich and powerful heritage of railroading in Michigan.

The Durand Union Station Model Railroad Engineers (DUSMRE) is a depot partner and is open to the public on Saturdays and some Sundays. This educational NPO operates and maintains a large HO Scale layout located in the Baggage Room of the station.

Some of its current exhibits include African-Americans in Railroading, Presidential Whistle Stops, Car Ferries and Trains Across the Lakes, and Hobos and Hobo Culture.

The museum is open year-round, though it has limited hours during the winter months.

Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn - Henry Ford Museum &Amp; Greenfield Village
Henry Ford Museum | photo via @cori_williams9888

The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village

Dearborn

As one of the most famous tourist attractions in Michigan, The Henry Ford is a must-visit museum for train lovers. Inside the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, you will find the Railroads exhibit, which has several train cars on display.

Perhaps the most impressive, however, is the Allegheny Locomotive, which is one of the largest steam locomotives ever built. The Allegheny stretches more than 125 feet and was designed to power through the Allegheny mountains.

Museum visitors can walk into the engine and blow the powerful horn of the Allegheny for themselves, giving them insight into what it might have been like to be this mammoth locomotive’s engineer.

On the same campus as the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, you will find the seasonal attraction, Greenfield Village. Train aficionados will love having the opportunity to ride around the village on a bona fide steam engine, allowing everyone to enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of railroading.

The Henry Ford Museum of Innovation is open year-round, while Greenfield Village has seasonal operating hours.

Michigan Transit Museum-Mount Clemens
Michigan Transit Museum | photo via sarah_schiel

Michigan Transit Museum

Mount Clemens

Housed in the historic Mount Clemens Train Station, which was built in 1859, the Michigan Transit Museum offers visitors a glimpse into the state’s railroad history.

In addition to having a few small and engaging exhibits about railroading at the turn of the 20th century, this Michigan train museum also offers seasonal train rides. Guests may be able to choose from summer rides, trick-or-treat rides during the fall, and holiday rides in December.

The museum is open year-round on Sundays.

Saginaw Railway Museum, Saginaw - Terrific Museums
Saginaw Railway Museum | photo via @whittnee_nicole

Saginaw Railway Museum

Saginaw

Established in 1982, the Saginaw Railway Museum is a small yet mighty train museum in Michigan. Housed in a tiny green depot in the heart of Saginaw, this museum strives to provide immersive experiences for those who want to learn more about the important role that railroading played in the local community.

This museum has seasonal hours between May and October.

Charlevoix Historic Train Depot

Charlevoix

The Charlevoix Historic Train Depot is lovingly maintained and preserved by the Charlevoix Historic Society. Considered to be one of the most picturesque historic buildings in the community, it has long been a favorite photo spot among travelers and locals alike. Today, the historic train depot operates as a venue for special events, such as weddings and banquets.

Steam Railroading Institute - Owosso, Michigan
Steam Railroading Institute | photo via @steamrailroadinginstitute

Steam Railroading Institute

Owosso

The Steam Railroading Institute is a non-profit organization in Owosso that is committed to keeping steam alive in Michigan and throughout the country. Located in the heart of downtown Owosso, this museum operates out of the former Ann Arbor Railroad’s steam shops and roundhouse.

The museum focuses specifically on steam engines, and guided tours are available for small groups and visitors on select dates between April and September. While on the tour, visitors will be able to see the type of equipment that is needed to maintain steam engines, and also get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the institute’s most famous engine, the 1225 Pere Marquette.

The Steam Railroading Institute truly comes to life during the holiday season, however, when visitors from around Michigan flock to Owosso to enjoy a magical ride on the North Pole Express. These epic journeys allow visitors to step on board the Pere Marquette 1225 — which is the train that inspired the Polar Express — and enjoy a nostalgic experience as they travel to the Village of Ashley’s Country Christmas.

Considered to be one of the most beloved and popular holiday excursions in Michigan, this experience is a must-do for anyone who loves the wonder of the season.

Flat Rock Train Museum
Flat Rock Train Museum | photo via swcrchamber

The Flat Rock Model Train Depot & Museum

Flat Rock

Known to locals as the Flat Rock Train Museum, this tiny museum not only showcases the railroad industry’s past but also highlights the powerful role that it plays in modern society today. It’s a favorite among families with young children, and it is particularly well-known for its model train displays.

The museum is open year-round on Saturdays.

Friends Of Coopersville And Marne Railway-Coopersville
Friends of Coopersville and Marne Railway | photo via robertalathrop

Friends of Coopersville and Marne Railway

Coopersville

The Friends of Coopersville and Marne Railway is less of a museum and more of an experience. This non-profit organization located in Coopersville welcomes visitors aboard a vintage train, allowing them to see and experience what life was like when the only way to trek across Michigan was on the railroad.

Described as “90-minute trips back in time,” the train rides on board this railway usually include actors and musicians who help to get passengers into the spirit of the journey.

There are seasonal train rides scheduled throughout the year, including Bunny Rides during the springtime.

Michigan Central Railroad Depot

Standish

As the first stop on the US-23 Heritage Route, the Michigan Central Railroad Depot in Standish is the perfect place for Michigan travelers to take a break from their road trip and stretch their legs. In addition to having all of the facilities required, this museum also provides road-trippers with a dose of culture and history.

The museum features artifacts and exhibits about the role that locomotives played in the growth and development of Michigan at the dawn of the 20th century, and it includes a fully-restored caboose and two English passenger cars that visitors can step inside and explore.

This museum is open seasonally between May and October.

Witch's Hat Depot Museum-South Lyon
Witch’s Hat Depot Museum | photo via itslikemusic

Witch’s Hat Depot Museum

South Lyon

Easily identified thanks to its distinct roof that looks like — you guessed it — a witch’s hat, the Witch’s Hat Depot Museum is a favorite among those who are passionate about railroads.

Not only is the interior of the museum decorated in the style of a turn-of-the-century train depot, but this museum also houses a variety of important artifacts and documents related to Michigan’s railroad history.

Visitors to the museum also have the opportunity to explore a fully-restored caboose, which is a favorite among the local school children, and visit the freight house, which stores the museum’s archives.

The museum has weekend hours throughout the entire year.

New Buffalo Railroad Museum

New Buffalo

It’s impossible to miss the New Buffalo Railroad Museum, which is located in a bright red depot in the heart of the community.

This museum strives to provide a comprehensive overview of the railroad companies that helped the New Buffalo community to grow and prosper. Its museum collections and exhibits include a replica of the Pere Marquette Railroad Depot, a C&O Chessie Caboose, and a C&O Chessie Boxcar.

There is also a Pullman World War II Troop Sleeper car on-site, and inside, visitors will find an entire exhibit dedicated to America’s “Fighting Railroads.” These spartan passenger cars were designed quickly and built to transport the thousands of troops who needed to travel across the country to fight for freedom in Europe and the South Pacific, and this exhibit is one of the few of its kind in Michigan.

This museum is open on the weekends between April and October.

Crossroad Village & Huckleberry Railroad

Flint

Originating in 1857, the Huckleberry Railroad Line traveled from Flint to Fostoria, covering nearly 20 miles. It gained its nickname from its leisurely pace, which allowed riders to get off and on easily (sometimes after gathering huckleberries). It eventually became part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway and later the Chessie System.

East Michigan residents and visitors are invited to slow things down and step back in time into an authentic Great Lakes train town. The village includes nearly three dozen structures, ranging from the Colwell Opera House to buildings with skilled tradesmen.

The railroad currently operates three locomotives, two cabooses, one hopper, and a motor car, each with a fascinating history. Visitors can enjoy 40-minute historical journeys along Mott Lake on an authentic steam locomotive. The trip takes visitors through a stretch of the Pere Marquette railbed. 

The village and railway are open seasonally from late May through September, with special events during the holiday season.

The Lost Railway Museum-Grass Lake
The Lost Railway Museum | photo via experiencejxn

Lost Railway Museum

Grass Lake

History buffs and museum fans alike will love exploring this museum in Jackson County, which recreates a village from the early 1900s.

Long before cars and buses became big, more than a half dozen railways intersected right in Jackson County when the electric Inter-Urban railway system was the primary mode of public transportation.

Visitors can see what this intersection was like and enjoy a virtual train ride called The Boland Express. This virtual experience uses historical footage to bring the past to life as visitors take a train ride from Jackson to Grass Lake before returning home.

The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Thomas Edison Depot Museum-Port Huron
Thomas Edison Depot Museum | photo via the_weigman

Thomas Edison Depot Museum

Port Huron

Tucked inside the historic Fort Gratiot Train depot, which connected Port Huron to the rest of the world, this museum is located at the site where famed inventor Thomas Edison worked as a reporter from 1859 to 1863.

DID YOU KNOW: Edison and his family relocated from Port Huron from Ohio and the area had a profound impact on his youth and young adulthood as a man interested in science.

The museum houses a variety of exhibits that showcase the trials and tribulations and the creativity of Thomas Edison. Visitors can explore recreated environments and hands-on displays to learn about Edison’s fascinating life. His contributions are presented in interactive displays, a sit-down theater experience, and live presentations.

Visitors can also explore a restored baggage car outside the museum, which includes a recreation of Edison’s printing shop and mobile chemistry lab. 

The museum is open seasonally from early April through mid-December.

Coopersville Historical Museum

Coopersville

The museum’s main building is a former depot for the electric rail Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, and Muskegon Railway that ran from 1902 to 1928.

The building is said to be one of the best-preserved depots in the state and contains exhibits honoring the history of interurban tain and railroad travel in the area. This includes the extensive Larry Cooke and Bruce Quinn collections, which offer a fascinating look into the area’s unique railroad history.

Additional exhibits offer a look at a sawmill exhibit logging artifacts, and other pieces that reflect early settlement in the area. A recreation of a local drug store features an original counter, packages, and other pharmaceutical items.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday; 2-5:30 p.m. on Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday and 1-4 p.m. on Friday.

Flushing Area Historical Society & Museum

Flushing

Trains have historically played a significant role in the Flushing area, with the town located on the Grand Trunk Western’s branch from Durand to Saginaw.

The historic Flushing Depot in East Michigan was built in 1888 with trains that ran until 1971. The center was donated, restored to its former appearance, and reopened as a museum in 1997.

A book was written about the Flushing Depot called “The Situation in Flushing,” a nostalgic look at a boyhood spent adoring trains.

In addition to its place in history, the museum draws huge crowds for its annual Lionel Trains exhibit, which runs in December and is a beloved year-end attraction.

The museum is open on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (February to mid-December) and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sundays from mid-May to mid-December. It is closed all weeks with holidays.

Chi-Town Union Station-Commerce
Chi-Town Union Station | photo via m_chan_mama_usalife

Chi-Town Union Station

Commerce Township

While it may not be considered a museum proper, this is a unique experience train enthusiasts won’t want to miss.

The Chi-Town Union Station is a privately owned collection of exquisite O-Scale trains — an exhibition layout that visitors of all ages can enjoy.

At any given time, computers may operate 20 or more trains with others operated manually by modeler engineers. Visitors can enjoy watching trains go round and round and the exhibits are designed to make it difficult to predict which tunnel a train may emerge from.

Chi-Town Union Station is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and extra days at Christmas from November to March.

Houghton County Historical Museum Complex

Lake Linden

This 15-acre campus houses the Houghton County Historical Museum and the Copper Country Railroad Heritage Center, offering three stories of exhibits celebrating the region’s rail and mining history.

For years, visitors have enjoyed riding around the campus on a 4/10 mile loop on a historic Lake Linden & Torch Lake Railroad steam locomotive. The locomotive dates back to 1915 and was used by a mining company to move copper, ingots, and other materials around the mills and smelters in the area.

NOTE: Rides are currently unavailable as fundraising is ongoing to refit the locomotive and repair tracks and ties.

Visitors to the museum can also visit the one-room Taprock Valley School House, the Leo Chaput Log cabin, and see unique artifacts from simpler times.

The campus grounds are open seasonally from spring thaw into snow begins to fly.

Huckleberry Railroad At Crossroads Village-Flint-
Huckleberry Railroad at Crossroads Village | photo via jeremyt.photography

Visit One of the Best Train Museums in Michigan Today

Whether you are looking to learn more about how railroad tracks were laid in the state, or you are hoping to ride on a steam-powered engine, you will find that the best rain museums in Michigan are worth a visit.

Appealing to train lovers of all ages, these museums allow visitors to discover the past while becoming more aware of the vital role that trains play in today’s interconnected world.

Museum NameCity
Durand Union Station — Michigan Railroad History MuseumDurand
Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield VillageDearborn
Michigan Transit MuseumMount Clemens
Saginaw Railway MuseumSaginaw
Charlevoix Historic Train DepotCharlevoix
Steam Railroading InstituteOwosso
Flat Rock Model Train Depot & MuseumFlat Rock
Friends of Coopersville and Marne RailwayCoopersville
Michigan Central Railroad DepotStandish
Witch’s Hat Depot MuseumSouth Lyon
New Buffalo Railroad MuseumNew Buffalo
Crossroad Village & Huckleberry RailroadFlint
Lost Railway MuseumGrass Lake
Thomas Edison Depot MuseumPort Huron
Coopersville Historical MuseumCoopersville
Flushing Area Historical Society & MuseumFlushing
Chi-Town Union StationCommerce Township
Houghton County Historical Museum ComplexLake Linden