When threatened with demolition in the early 1970s, civic leaders began a campaign to save and restore the depot; the grand Chateau Revival style building now houses the Michigan Railroad History Museum.
Annual Station Ridership (FY 2023): 10,532
- Facility Ownership: City of Durand
- Parking Lot Ownership: Canadian National Railway Company (CN) Grand Trunk Western (GTW) (A subsidiary of CN) / Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)
- Platform Ownership: Canadian National Railway Company (CN) Grand Trunk Western (GTW) (A subsidiary of CN)
- Track Ownership: Canadian National Railway Company (CN) Grand Trunk Western (GTW) (A subsidiary of CN)
The two-and-a-half-storey Durand Union Station was designed by architects Frederich Spier and William C. Rohns, who also designed the Niles and Dowagiac stations, and completed in 1903 for the Grand Trunk Railway System and the Ann Arbor Railroad. This facility was constructed in the Chateau Revival style with Missouri granite brick and Bedford cut stone, with a slate roof. Its turreted west end with its circular porch faces the former Grand Trunk Railway mainline. Its interiors featured marble wainscoting and terrazzo flooring on the ground floor and oak woodwork throughout. The original station contained a ticket office, waiting rooms, ladies’ parlor, gentlemen’s smoking room, large corridors and a dining room. The second floor served as railroad office space, crew sleeping quarters, and telegraph offices. The cost of the structure was $60,000 in 1903.
Less than two years later, the station burned and over 80 percent of the station was damaged, but was rebuilt with improvements, to reopen on September 25, 1905. At that time, six railroad lines converged on Durand, some later consolidated into the Grand Trunk Western (GTW, succeeded by Canadian National) Railroad. The station is sited next to an at-grade diamond crossing with the Ann Arbor Railroad. At one time, Durand Union Station saw 3,000 passengers daily; and in 1911, half the population of Durand worked for GTW.
GTW dropped passenger service between Durand and Muskegon via Grand Rapids when Amtrak began in 1971, and so passenger service ceased for a time. The station’s road back to daily use began in 1971 when it was placed on the National Register of Historical Places, and as early as 1973, town officials were putting together a committee to inquire about interest in restoring passenger service to Durand, if not the station—as it was badly in need of repair at the time. In 1974, GTW officially abandoned the station with the intent to raze it, while Durand citizens organized and found $5,445 to begin restoring the depot for use on the Blue Water service which began that September—and passengers were at first served from a trailer in the depot parking lot on September 13, 1974.
In 1979, the city bought the depot for $1 and proceeded with remodeling and repairs, so that the station was finally able to open its waiting room to passengers again. The work was done through cooperation with the Michigan History Division of the Michigan Department of State, Amtrak and the City of Durand. A $27,200 Michigan Transportation grant financed this initial work.
As with all historical buildings, renovation and repair are an ongoing task. Durand Union Station, Inc. (DUSI) formed in 1985 to support the station’s restoration on an ongoing basis and continue fundraising efforts. Over time, a combination of fundraising and 80/20 matching grants has provided for most of the restorations. After purchase, the first federal grant was $85,000 for a study on the stabilization of the foundation. Intermodal Surface Transportation Enhancement Activity (ISTEA) grants in phases, as well as many private donations first allowed the waiting room to be reopened, and then the rest of the station restored.
On December 25, 1990, the state of Michigan announced that the depot would become the home of the Michigan State Railroad History Museum, Information Center and Archives, which was established inside the former dining room and shared space with the depot’s gift shop. The Durand Union Station Model Railroad Engineers set up an exhibit on the first floor. Additionally, the installation of an elevator next to the men’s room allowed for restoration and development of the second floor, which contains now contains offices, a small museum dedicated to the Ann Arbor and Grand Trunk Western Railroads and a ballroom.
In January 2009, a broken sprinkler system caused flooding in the station and damaged the archives. The station closed for repairs funded by insurance, and reopened in February 2010. With assistance from the Sloan Museum in Flint and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, the museum was able to salvage most of the archives. Currently, the DUSI has projects going to repair the woodwork on the many windows, potentially funded by a grant from a utility company to improve energy efficiency; the construction of an ornate iron fence around the property, which is being constructed in sections and funded through private memorial donations; and parking lot improvements for accessibility and repair, funded by a Michigan Department of Transportation grant.
Durand began as a railroad town when the Detroit and Milwaukee Railway came through in 1856, and growth continued when in 1877 the Chicago and North Eastern railroad reached town, and in 1885, the Toledo, Ann Arbor and North Michigan (succeeded by the Ann Arbor Railroad). In 1886, Durand was incorporated as a village, named in honor of congressman George H. Durand. When the Grand Trunk Railway consolidated, Durand was on the western edge of this system which connected Quebec, Ontario, and the Maritime provinces of Canada with American New England, Port Huron and Chicago.
At one time, Durand’s freight rail yards to the northwest of the station had an unusual 360-degree fully brick roundhouse. The roundhouse was torn down in the 1960s but has been reconstructed in the Model Railroad Exhibit inside the station today.
The station, which is in the city’s downtown, is the site of the yearly three-day Railroad Days festival in the spring, which has been held since May 1975 to pay tribute to the industry that founded the city, as well as providing a source of operating expenses for the station.
The Blue Water Service is financed primarily through funds made available by the Michigan State Department of Transportation.
- ATM not available
- No elevator
- No payphones
- No Quik-Trak kiosks
- No Restrooms
- Unaccompanied child travel not allowed
- No vending machines
- No WiFi
- Arrive at least minutes prior to departure
- Amtrak Express shipping not available
- No checked baggage service
- No checked baggage storage
- Bike boxes not available
- No baggage carts
- Ski bags not available
- No bag storage
- Shipping boxes not available
- No baggage assistance
- No payphones
- No accessible restrooms
- No accessible ticket office
- No accessible waiting room
- No accessible water fountain
- No high platform
- No wheelchair
- No wheelchair lift