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PLYMOUTH – The history of the railroad in Plymouth will be celebrated this summer and fall with a special exhibit that opens June 13 at the Plymouth Historical Museum.
Trains came to Plymouth in 1871, with the opening of both the Holly, Wayne & Monroe Railway line (north-south) and the Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan Railway line (east-west). The Holly, Wayne & Monroe Railway merged with the Flint & Pere Marquette Railway (later Railroad) in 1872. The Detroit, Lansing & Lake Michigan Railway was reorganized several times and by 1893, it was part of the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad. The crossing of the two lines in Plymouth created the Plymouth Junction, with a roundhouse and a turntable for changing train directions.
Plymouth was also served for a couple decades by the Detroit, Plymouth & Northville Railway, later known as the Detroit United Railway. This line was nicknamed the “Interurban” and consisted of electric trolley cars that ran between cities. The Interurban line ran through downtown Plymouth from 1899 until 1927, when the line was abandoned.
“Plymouth Rides the Rails” explores the history of trains in Plymouth, from 1871 to the present. Plymouth’s livelihood is still greatly affected by trains, as is evidenced by the two-year reconstruction of Sheldon Road to create an underpass for the east-west CSX line. (Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad merged with Chesapeake & Ohio in 1947; the latter is now CSX.)
A major component of the exhibit is the myriad model trains loaned to the Plymouth Historical Museum by local collectors. Most significantly, the Museum received a $1,000-valued model train of the Pere Marquette Streamlined Passenger Train from the Chesapeake and Ohio era (1950s-60s). The train was donated by the Lawrence Scripps Wilkinson Foundation Collection of Famous Trains, and is on display in the Pere Marquette Train Station on the Museum’s Main Street.
Additionally, the Plymouth Historical Museum received a grant from CSX and gift cards from Home Depot for this exhibit. With the money, the Museum was able to build a new permanent display on the Museum’s Main Street that includes a part of a 1900s-era Pere Marquette caboose. Visitors will be able to walk up onto the back of the caboose, and the education department will use the caboose to teach children about train safety.
There is something for everyone in the new exhibit! Even Thomas the Tank Engine can be found here – children can play with a Thomas the Tank Engine layout loaned by Tony’s Mower Shop & Trains.
The exhibit runs through November 1.
The Plymouth Historical Museum features a 19th-century Victorian recreation of Main Street, tracing the growth of the small town from the railroad depot to the general store. The largest Lincoln collection in the state of Michigan is housed in a separate room off of Main Street. And a Timeline of Plymouth History is the newest permanent exhibit, featuring displays on the Daisy Air Rifle, the Alter Motor Car, World Wars I and II, communication history, and much more.
The Plymouth Historical Museum is located at 155 South Main Street in Plymouth. The Museum is open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m.
For more information call (734) 455-8940 or log on to http://www.plymouthhistory.org.