In 1857, a railroad company was formed in Saginaw, MI with the objective of building a rail line from Pere Marquette, which would later become Ludington, to Flint. It took nearly two years for the first rail of the new Flint line to be laid near Washington and Potter Streets in Saginaw. From that point, an additional three years was needed in order for the new line to become operational.
January 20, 1862 marked the inaugural trip on the new line. On this day, the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad opened its first section of the new track that would allow passengers to travel from Saginaw to Mount Morris. One hundred Saginaw residents did just that, taking the 26.1 mile trip.
After nearly 20 years of service, a new station was designed by New York Architect Bradford Lee Gilbert. Known to local residents as the Potter Street Station, the Flint and Pere Marquette Railway Saginaw Depot was constructed and opened in 1881, during the peak of of railway passenger service.
During the early 1900s, the automobile and improved roads and highways gave way to other methods of transportation, and ultimately began the downward trend in rail transportation.
In 1964, the last passenger train departed the Potter Street Station. The rail line would continue to be used for freight until the station was closed in 1986.
Following its closure, city officials ordered then parent company, CSX Transportation, to demolish the station by fall of 1988. Upon hearing the news, area residents and history enthusiasts began developing rescue plans for the location.
The Saginaw Depot Preservation Corporation (SDPC) purchased the building in 1988, with the title being transferred from CSX to SDPC in January of 1990. The following year, a fire severely damaged the station, causing it to require a new roof. Upon application by the SDPC, Governor John Engler awarded a grant in the amount of $181,600 to the City of Saginaw for the stabilization of the depot.
Today, the Saginaw Depot Preservation Corporation continues its work to restore this piece of Saginaw’s rich history. The group meets on the second Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Savoy Grill, 127 S. Franklin Street, Saginaw, MI 48607. If you would like to be a part of this historic restoration, please contact the SDPC at (989) 327-7574.