Michigan tourist railroads you must visit include restored depots to a National Historic Landmark in the Windy City and everything in between in the Great Lakes State. Here’s our list of must-see Michigan tourist railroads, museums, and displays — for almost every region in the state.
Friends of the Coopersville & Marne Railway
As one of Michigan tourist railroads and powered by an EMD SW9 diesel locomotive, this railway’s 14-mile, 90-minute roundtrip excursion travels through farmland and over an open-deck girder bridge. At Marne, you can watch the engine uncouple, run along a passing siding, and couple to the other end. Excursions run Wednesdays and Saturdays from May through September with special theme trains in other months. Look for a new station at 306 E. Main Street.
Location: 306 Main Street, Coopersville
Durand Union Station
This 100-year-old depot museum was the second busiest depot in Michigan, and its lower level has been restored to its former glory with terrazzo floors and oak trim. Still functioning as an Amtrak depot, the building also houses the Michigan Railroad History Museum. Open Tuesday through Sunday year-round, closed Sundays in February, the museum contains changing exhibits on state and local railroading.
Location: 200 S. Railroad Street, Durand
E-mail: Form on website
Flushing Area Museum
The museum’s collection includes permanent displays of railroad artifacts as well as local historical exhibits. It is housed in the Flushing depot, which was built in 1888 and provided passenger service until 1971. The building was restored to its former appearance by the Flushing Area Historical Society. It is open Sundays, from 1 to 4 p.m., from April to December.
Location: 431 West Main Street, Flushing
Houghton County Historical Museum
The museum includes the restored Mineral Range depot, which contains a collection of Copper County railroad artifacts, and other historic buildings. The museum operates the Lake Linden & Torch Lake Railroad. A narrow gauge 0-4-0 Porter steam locomotive or a diesel engine takes you on a half-mile ride. The locomotive is currently undergoing a rebuild. Please check the website for updates and the return of train rides. The museum is open from June through September.
Location: 53102 Hwy M-26, Lake Linden
Michigan Transit Museum
The Michigan Transit Museum is housed in a depot restored to its 1900 appearance and includes railroading exhibits from that time. The transit museum displays several locomotives and railcars. It also offers a 30-minute, round-trip train ride that departs from Joy Park. Located near the Selfridge Military Air Museum, the transit museum is open weekends year-round, and trains run Sundays, June through October.
Location: 200 Grand Avenue, Mt. Clemens
E-mail: Form on website
New Buffalo Railroad Museum
In addition to featuring mementos and artifacts on the history of the greater New Buffalo area, the Museum serves as a monument underscoring the importance of the railroad to the area’s development. The museum is housed in a replica of a Pere Marquette depot that stood nearby. It features artifacts from the Pere Marquette, Michigan Central, Chesapeake & Ohio, Chessie Systems, and CSX Transportation. Pullman Company memorabilia is also on display. You can walk through a restored Chessie boxcar featuring a new Veterans Display, a Pullman WWII troop sleeper that contains World War II artifacts, and a C&O caboose. It is open Saturday and Sunday, April through October.
Location: 530 South Whittaker Street, New Buffalo
Phone: 269-820-1504 or 202-669-4423
Saginaw Railway Museum
The Saginaw Railway Museum is housed in the former Hemlock, Michigan Pere Marquette railroad depot, built in 1907 and in service until 1976. Moved 12 miles east to its present location in 1983, the Saginaw Railway Museum sits next to a Lake State Railway mainline and features an Alco RS1 locomotive, two small switch engines, a Chessie System caboose, a C&O Maintenance of Way kitchen car that houses the Donald Etter Book Collection, and an HO Scale model railroad layout in the basement. Other artifacts include an 1800s “armstrong” interlocking switch tower and artifact and photo displays. Please visit the website or e-mail for current hours.
Location: 900 Maple Street, Saginaw
Southern Michigan Railroad
The railroad offers passenger excursions between Clinton and Tecumseh. Along the 2-hour round trip, the train crosses River Raisin and the Red Mill Pond on a trestle. Rides begin in June and go into December with Santa specials. In the fall, you can see the colors or travel to the Clinton Fall Festival and Appleumpkin Festival. Some rides leave from Tecumseh.
Location: 301 Bartlett Street, Clinton
SS City of Milwaukee
The SS City of Milwaukee, a national historic landmark, is the last surviving traditional Great Lakes railroad car ferry. Built in 1931, the City of Milwaukee served the Grand Trunk Western and Ann Arbor Railroads. The car deck houses three Ann Arbor boxcars, along with an idler, that serves as exhibit spaces. The Coast Guard cutter Acacia is docked on site, and tours of both ships are offered. In summer, the car ferry provides bed & breakfast service, and in fall, it becomes a ghost ship. Tours are offered from May through September.
Location: 99 Arthur Street, Manistee
Wheels of History
This history museum is housed in a pre-1905 wooden railroad passenger car and a caboose. Exhibits include photographs and artifacts of area railroads, logging, Lake Superior fishing boats, and everyday life in early Brimley. Be sure to visit the museum gift shop. It is housed in a ¾-sized replica of the original Brimley depot, which burned down in 1944. It is open on weekends from mid-May to mid-October, with an expanded schedule (Wednesday through Sunday) during summer.
Location: 6799 South M-221, Brimley