The Harrisville Train Depot is one of few remaining in the northern Lower Peninsula. While many Michigan train stations were constructed of lumber, brick or field stone, the Harrisville Train Depot was constructed of cut stone, making it a meritorious and rare architectural style. The Detroit and Mackinac Railway Company (D & M) considered the Harrisville location important enough to bring in the esteemed architects Spier and Rohns (S & R). S & R gave the small Harrisville Train Depot equal quality design considerations as was provided to their larger, more recognized train depots including the Michigan Central Railroad Depot in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Durand Union Station in Durand, Michigan.
The Harrisville Train Depot architectural style is Richardsonian Romanesque. There are multiple roof lines, including hip roofs with flared eaves, towers with conical roofs and hip knobs/finials and an interior chimney. The hip roof dormers mirror one another, one on the east façade and one on the west elevation. The coursed, rusticated rectangular and square block, with a decorative, smooth-finished limestone horizontal string course/band course, and a bold entrance with a recessed porch are all classic elements of the Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style.
The Harrisville Train Depot constitutes a significant architectural historical legacy in Northern Michigan.
Built in 1901 for the Detroit and Mackinac Railway Company, this cut stone depot was a busy place any day of the week with the bustling lumber business in and around Harrisville. Daily trains arrived or departed to destinations such as Detroit or Cheboygan. As the lumber business diminished and automobile use increased, rail travel became less and less common. The last passenger train left the station on March 31, 1951. Mail and freight service continued through the early 1960's, after which the building was used for occasional storage by the railroad. This depot is one of the few remaining in northern Michigan. The depot is not open for public access inside, but is available for outside photos and is located along the Harrisville Heritage Route Trail.
Harrisville, Michigan is located along the Lake Huron Shore, halfway between Tawas City and Alpena.
Harrisville is the county seat for Alcona County.
Originally bypassed by the Detroit, Bay City & Alpena for an inland route via West Harrisville, the DBC&A later changed their route closer to the lake and Harrisville began receiving rail service in 1901.
According to local lore posted at the depot, the D&M made its first regularly scheduled passenger run into Harrisville on Sunday, December 15, 1901. The cut stone station was completed in January, 1902. That first passenger train, the southbound mail number 10, ran on a new stretch of track from Black River to Lincoln Junction, including Harrisville and other towns along the shore, rather than the inland route via Lincoln (then West Harrisville).
The depot at Harrisville was a busy place. A 1906 timetable shows that four southbound trains and three northbound trains arrived and departed daily (for Bay City, Alpena and Cheboygan). For those that could afford automobiles at the time, the trip look two days, including stops for sleep along the way. On March 31, 1952 the final D&M passenger train passed by the station.
The depot may have been the only witness to one of Harrisville's unsolved murders. In March, 1915, a section man for the D&M found a pocket knife and wallet while on his way to work at the section shed at Harrisville. A "rather large" pool of blood was located between the main and east side track and the body of Henry Pyne was found near the Washington Street crossing, some 400 feet north of the depot. An investigation followed and Pyne's brother was accused of the crime but no trial ever occurred and files do not indicate that anyone was apprehended.
Harrisville had a water tower across from the depot with a standpipe for filling locomotives (see photo). Remnants of the tower exist today.
1901. Harrisville. April 25. Supt. Luce and Engineer Waterman of the D&M railway were here Wednesday, ad at a public meeting agreed to change their route and extend the roadbed here provided a right of way is given through the county, a distance of about 27 miles. [PHDH-1901-0425]
1904. The D&M southbound freight train No. 14 was wrecked as it was approaching the yards last night at midnight. A heavy rain visited this section last evening and caused a washout a half mile north of the depot. The train contained thirty-two cars nearly all loaded and was pulled by the road's new and most powerful engine, No. 29. As it was a very dark night the engineer was unable to see the washout, and when the engine struck the spot it was derailed and ran but a short distance before burying itself to the depth of three feet in the embankment. It then toppled over sideways. The boiler did not explode, but the engine was greatly damaged. Three refrigerator and three box cars were smashed into kindling. Engineer Al Nesbitt and Fireman Fred Markey escaped with bruises, and Conductor James Leonard was cut about the face. This is the third wreck for the D&M here within two years. The work of clearing the track is being carried on rapidly, but it will be a couple of days before it will be clear for traffic. [DFP-1904-0606]
Johnson Seed Co. (D&M) 1910
J. Van Buskirk Planning Mill (D&M) 1910
G. L. Cowell Saw Mill (Pre-railroad on lake) 1887 - 75,000 board feet per 10 hours