Michigan Central Railroad Company / Depot
Michigan Central Railroad Company
On October 2, 1848, "an era of prosperity" arrived in Niles when the Michigan Central Railroad (MCRR) became the first railroad to reach the city. Additional railroad lines soon followed, but by the 1920s, automobiles, buses, and trucks challenged railroads' dominance. During nationwide consolidation in the 1930s, the New York Central Railroad Company assumed control of the MCRR. Branch lines were eliminated, and the transfer of freight operations to Elkhart, Indiana, in 1958 further decreased rail traffic through Niles. Amtrak's arrival in 1874 maintained passenger service to the city and continued Niles' association with the railroad into the twenty-first century.
Michigan Central Railroad Depot
This Richardsonian Romanesque-style depot was constructed in 1892 by the Michigan Central Railroad Company. Seeking to create a lasting impression of Michigan for passengers traveling to the 1893 Columbian Exhibition, the company hired the Detroit firm of Spier and Rohns to design the station. Built mostly of Ohio sandstone, this depot replaced a ramshackle structure that the Niles Daily Star referred to as "the old cockroach repository." The grounds featured a pond and garden designed by German immigrant John Gipner, who presented roses grown at the station to women arriving in Niles. The depot was showcased in several feature films including, The Continental Divide, Midnight Run, and Only the Lonely.