Interurban Rail

Did you know that Michigan has an interurban rail system? No? Because it doesn’t. But it used to.

I’ve long considered myself a bit of a buff when it comes to public transportation, but this weekend, at a holiday party in Grass Lake, MI (outside of Jackson), I learned that there was a whole section of local transport history that I was completely ignorant of.

We took a break (!!!) from the holiday party to go and visit the Lost Railway Museum (!!!) and the kids had a great time (!!!)! It’s a donation museum, and has two interurban rail cars that are in the process of being restored. It’s got a video presentation all about the history of interurban rail, why it was popular, and what put it on the chopping block.

Can you ring the bells on the cars? YES, YOU CAN! And holy cow, did my kids ring that bell. I may have also done a small amount of ringing. I cannot be blamed, the switch is in the floor, shut up it was awesome! Also, wicker seats!

To know that a system like BART existed before the advent of the inexpensive automobile, and that it was both frequently-used and popular enough to involve two competing companies, here in Michigan, has given me hope. Not only can it be done, but we’ve done it in the past!

Check out the museum’s page here, and drop by if you’re in the area. I highly recommend it.